Yesterday I wrote about Juan Gonzalez’s article on Success Academy, which was seeking a 50% increase in its management fee from the state, even though it has a surplus of $23.5 million and spent $3.4 million last year on marketing. The typical charter management organization in New York City has a management fee of 7%, but CEO Eva Moskowitz wanted to increase hers to 15%. Given her surplus, it is hard to see a case for “need,” especially in light of her fund-raising prowess and the presence of several well-heeled hedge fund managers on her board. Needless to say, she is handsomely compensated at a salary close to $400,000 a year.
So here is the update: yesterday, the SUNY Charter Institute gave her everything she asked for. Six new schools plus a 50% increase in her management fee, which will bring in many new millions of taxpayer dollars for her operation.
But there is more to the story. Today, the New York Times ran a story about the “co-location” of a Success Academy school with a New York City public school. (Co-location is a term of art that means that the NYC Department of Education gave free public space in a public school building to a private charter operator, saving the charter the cost of rent and utilities and crowding the kids in the public school out of their classrooms.)
The New York Times article is simply horrifying. The contrast between the Success Academy charter and P.S. 30 defines the meaning of “separate but equal” even though the kids may all be of one race. In one school, the kids get the best of everything. In the other, they struggle with whatever the NYC Department of Education is willing to supply. Some critics call the new system “academic apartheid.” The charter school has fewer students with disabilities. Its teachers work a 9 1/2 hour day, and they don’t last long. When Success Academy first arrived, P.S. 30 was making great strides and earning an A on its progress report. Now it has a D rating, a fact that Success Academy delights in retelling to the reporter.
This charter chain represents the competitive spirit that corporate reformers love. It flourishes by sucking the life out of public schools and killing them.