- General

Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School ~ Book Review

Providing my kids with a quality education is one of my highest priorities so I was thrilled to read Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School. The authors, founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, Eva Moskowitz, and literacy expert, Arin Lavinia, were determined to do something about the miseducated and undereducated. They took a school where the kids were not on track to graduate and turned it into a top school that offers children a stellar education. It’s a worthwhile read that explains how they raised the educational bar and turned things around.

Teaching is a calling, it is not just a vocation. To excel and be a quality educator one must have a true love for teaching. I am fortunate that my kids attend an excellent elementary school. Most of the teachers are excellent and the level of parent involvement is extremely high. Some say it’s very competitive but that doesn’t bother me. I would rather my kids attend a school where there is healthy competition than a school where they have what the authors refer to in the book as a “pretty good is good enough” attitude.

Why do we treat the teaching profession differently in this country and what can be done about low teacher morale? There are flaws in our education system that desperately need to be addressed. Many problems come from the unions so they are doing themselves a disservice. One of the biggest problems is that we can’t get rid of bad teachers. Job security and tenure hurt the profession. Seniority cannot be the only reason to keep teachers employed. It should work just as any other job: get promoted when you deserve it and get pink slipped when you’re not giving students your best.

Many policies are made at the governmental level by people who do not understand education and brain based research so policies are put into place by those who don’t keep up with new research or take into consideration what is developmentally appropriate for child development. People often have a personal agenda and will vote for what benefits them not necessarily what is best for the teachers and the students.

Like any field, teachers can be competitive. They want to be treated as professionals but unless they teach at a private school, they belong to a publicly managed institution. Those who are content with mediocrity don’t want public employees to excel or the bar will be raised too high and make the mediocre look bad. As they say in the book, “don’t be afraid of competition. It’s what made America great and what may yet save American education.”

Mission Possible gives practical and detailed advice on how they turned an under performing school in Harlem into a top school that is comparable with elite private schools and public schools for gifted students. Their approach is inspiring and workable, not intimidating. However, it is a daunting task. It takes commitment, focus and determination to turn a school around and make such improvements. One of the key components to their success is huge parent involvement and placing focus on the adult’s performance. Moskowitz and Lavinia stress that success depends on the commitment level of the teachers and the parents.

Every child deserves a good education. If your child’s school is not at the level it should be and you want to make it a success, this book is a must read.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead