Mission Possible {Book Review}

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Mission Possible Success Academies Eva Moskowitz Arin Lavinia

Mission Possible (DVD included), by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia ($27.95)

Why do you think this country treats teaching so differently than it does other professions?

Hmmm. That’s quite a thoughtful question. And, sadly, one we can’t seem to find the answer to, regardless of what programs or testing we put into place.

Because we tend to highlight the shortcomings of public schools, I think we tend to view the education system in this country through one lens — a cynical and derogatory lens. With that perspective, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to value that which is at its very core — the teaching profession. We’ve all probably heard the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” That’s a sad commentary on teachers, and education.

Teachers deal with overwhelming challenges as they strive to do what should be considered one of the most important jobs in this country — educating our children. They deal with budget cuts and a lack of supplies, books, computers, and even paper, not to mention a lack of support, respect, and confidence. We don’t give teachers (or students and their families) the tools they need to succeed…then they don’t succeed…then they’re blamed for the lack of success…and on the cycle goes.

Americans want results. Quantifiable, concrete, distinct results that scream success. Anything less is viewed as failure, plain and simple, and suffers a loss of respect and valuation — yet we don’t come up with workable steps for progress and success.

Mission Possible Success Academy Eva Moskowitz

Eva Moskowitz

Is Mission Possible truly a possible mission?

Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia, however, have come up with very workable steps for progress and success…and the proof is in the pudding. Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, while Lavinia is a literacy specialist. The two have come together in Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work In Any School. They discuss groundbreaking, classroom-tested methods for dramatic improvement in teaching and learning. Moskowitz and Lavinia demonstrate how one Harlem charter school, whose students are selected at random, became one of the top schools in New York City and the state within three years. Success Academy students — who are called scholars, which indeed they are — have met or exceeded the test results of public schools for gifted students as well as elite private schools.

So, how did they do it? What’s the formula? And why can’t it be replicated?

I have some good news…it can be replicated. But it will take open minds, significant changes to traditional teaching methods (which aren’t producing the results we want), and hard work. It’s not easy. But it’s do-able.

Success Academies focus on rigor and preparation. For everyone involved. The curriculum has high standards and they teach at a quick pace. Principals and teachers receive a tremendous amount of training and development so that they constantly improve their skills and methods. In one Success Academy, a kindergarten teacher teaches her students — 5-year-olds — like they’re adults. She “aims high and talks to kids like they’re smart.” Guess how that works? The children rise to the challenge and succeed. Consistently.

Mission Possible Arin Lavinia

Arin Lavinia

In Mission Possible, Moskowitz and Lavinia assert that school should be a “magical place” where a top-notch education is the priority. Everyone has to contribute to make that priority a reality, though, which means principals and teachers have to raise the bar, parents have to support not just their children but the teachers and the school, and school reformers  have to stop pigeon-holing the “problem” of education as being just about class size or poverty — and focus on solving the problem, not identifying its cause(s).

 I highly recommend Mission Possible…to teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone who cares about the state of education in this country. It will make you think and, hopefully, will make a difference. You can get a copy of Mission Possible at Amazon.

I was compensated for this post. I received a copy of Mission Possible to facilitate my review. This post contains an affiliate link. However, my opinions are 100% honest and 100% mine.

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  1. Maureen Flood says

    I am a substitute teacher and this sounds like a promising program. Every child deserves to excell. They realy want to, at least the kids I’ve encountered.

  2. Caitlin McClure says

    I know the schools I went to were horrible and didn’t encourage learning. I’m pregnant now and plan on homeschooling if at all possible

  3. Mary Casper says

    Very concerned about the public schools in the us, low test scores, teachers who don’t care and run down buildings

  4. TraciBKY says

    I think one of the issues with the current education system is that the the same approach is used for all students regardless of ability, interests, learning style etc.

  5. says

    I’ve taught before, and I think we don’t give our teachers the tools to become successful. I don’t think I’d ever go back. Around 20% of teachers leave the profession within the first two years…and most of these people spent years preparing for this job. Some of the best teachers I know said they considered dropping out their first year, so I know that some of those drop outs COULD have become great teachers. Compare teaching now to 50 years ago. I don’t believe teachers were better then, but expectations of what teachers were expected to do was less. I don’t mind us having high expectations, but only if we also give them more tools to meet those expections (like more time to prepare, smaller class size, more resources and help, less paperwork, etc.).

  6. Carmela C says

    As a parent, I feel teachers do not spend enough time teaching subjects in class. It seems there is an overview in class, then a ton of homework on a subject my child really didn’t understand. I believe the resources that are needed are not available for whatever reason and then it falls on parents to teach their children what their teacher’s are getting paid to do.
    Years ago teachers taught and if you didn’t understand a child can come before/after school for extra help. Today, teachers are not even available unless you are paying them $30/hr to tutor your child.

  7. Amanda Phillips says

    My opinion of the public school system is rather low and almost none of it is a teachers fault. I think we give them to many children to teach at once, not enough supplies, not enough help, and certainly to many rules to follow. What works for one child may not work for another. The parents should take some blame as well because a lot of parents these days think that the school should be responsible for teaching their children, not them. I have one friend that didn’t even work with her child to learn the alphabet before he started school because it “wasn’t her job. He’s going to school to learn that stuff.” I was rather ticked when she said that.

  8. Susan Smith says

    I have high praises for my local school system for the administrators and teachers but I know that isn’t true about all schools in this county. I think there is always room for improvement.

  9. Marianna says

    I think the public education system is terrible, locally, anyway. Thus why I spend a fortune to send my kids to private school.

  10. Samantha says

    I have just ventured into homeschooling for the first time because public education not only was not meeting my children’s needs, they were spending a great deal of time teaching to the “test” and the remainder teaching politics and activist agendas. I think our educational system really needs an overhaul and am excited to read this book.

  11. Stephanie says

    I feel like the lack of care and attention that is given to the students is the biggest problem with the US Education system.

  12. Brenda Elsner says

    Teachers need more, better teaching tools. I also think that they should teach more about what kids will need to know for when they are ready to move out on their own and not all these extra little classes that don’t help them in the future. More emphasis on reading would also be good since it is used in everything.


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