The best investigative reporter in New York City–and possibly in the nation–is Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News.
Gonzalez writes about politics and occasionally writes about the politics of education. He has written some of the biggest scoops about the inner workings of the New York City Department of Education. He won the George Polk Award in journalism for reporting about the Citytime fraud, a giant high-tech scam in which a contractor ripped off the city for years and eventually agreed to repay almost $500 million.
This morning he revealed that Eva Moskowitz is seeking a big increase in her management fees from the state because she claims to be running a deficit. Today, he writes, the State University of New York is likely to approve “a huge 50% increase in the per-pupil management fee of one of the city’s wealthiest, biggest-spending and most controversial charter school operators.”
Gonzalez writes that “The Success Network, in fact, is a fund-raising colossus, having received $28 million from dozens of foundations and wealthy investors the past six years, and millions more in state and federal grants.” It has reported huge surpluses to the IRS, currently $23.5 million.
Last year, it spent more than $3 million on marketing and recruitment to drum up applicants for its much-ballyooed lotteries. The more applicants for every seat, the more Success Academy looks “successful.” It is a marketing tool in which people and their children are used to get more charters for Success Academy.
Whenever there is a public hearing about closing schools, hundreds of Success Academy children and parents are bused in–all wearing identical T-shirts–to insist on closing more public schools so that Success Academy can take their space and open more charter schools. Why would charter students demand more charters? They are already enrolled in one and they can only attend one school. They are used. You can imagine the opprobrium that would be heaped on a public school principal if he or she hired a bus to take children to public hearings to demand more space or more funding. The principal would be called out, rightly, for using the children and would be fired.
Today Success Academy will appeal for more public funding. It gets whatever it wants from city and state officials (Eva’s charter PAC–called Great Public Schools– made a $50,000 contribution to Governor Cuomo’s campaign).
This is how charters get a bad reputation.