I am late posting this article because it appeared about the time I started dealing with health issues (a bad fall that took out the ACL in my left knee).
It deserves wide reading because it is an accurate portrait of the money and power behind the charter school movement. I commend the writers, Javier C. Hernandez and Susanne Craig for getting the story that took place behind closed doors in Albany and executive suites in Manhattan. It is the best investigative report that I have seen in the “New York Times” on the money fueling the charter movement.
it answers a few basic questions? Why did Governor Cuomo take the lead in fighting to “save” charter schools after Mayor Bill de Blasio approved 14 out of 17 new charters? How did it happen that Eva Moskowitz bused thousands of students and parents to Albany on the very same day that Mayor de Blasio had scheduled a rally to support pre-kindergarten funding? Which billionaires and millionaires put up more than $5 million to create and air attack ads on television against de Blasio? Who masterminded the deal that gave charter schools preferred status over public schools in New York City? Who arranged that they could not be charged rent, that they could expand and push public school kids out of their buildings, and that the city had to pay their rent if they opened in private space?
The deal in the legislature “gave New York City charter schools some of the most sweeping protections in the nation, including a right to space inside public buildings. And interviews with state and city officials as well as education leaders make it clear that far from being a mere cheerleader, the governor was a potent force at every turn, seizing on missteps by the mayor, a fellow Democrat, and driving legislation from start to finish.”
Money was always a potent factor in the backroom dealings:
“A lot was riding on the debate for Mr. Cuomo. A number of his largest financial backers, some of the biggest names on Wall Street, also happened to be staunch supporters of charter schools. According to campaign finance records, Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school supporters, including William A. Ackman, Carl C. Icahn, Bruce Kovner and Daniel Nir.
Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot who sits on a prominent charter school board, gave $50,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign last year. He said that when the governor asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election, he agreed because of Mr. Cuomo’s support for charter schools.
“Every time I am with the governor, I talk to him about charter schools,” Mr. Langone said in an interview. “He gets it.”
And more is on the way, not only for Cuomo, who not only delivered for the billionaires who love charters, but for Eva Moskowitz, who will not only get a 8 new charters–not just the 5 that de Blasio originally approved–but lots of extra money, which will not be used to pay rent:
“Daniel S. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point and the chairman of Success Academy’s board, began leaning on Wall Street executives for donations. Later this month, he will host a fund-raiser for Success Academy at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan; tickets run as high as $100,000 a table.”
Moskowitz claims that her schools don’t spend any more than real public schools, so it remains to be seen how she pans to spend the millions that Dan Loeb will raise for her schools in a single night.
And the sweetest part of the deal for Moskowitz’s Success Academy 4 in Harlem is that her elementary school can now expand to a middle school and take more space away from PS 149, which was once considered the host school. First, she can evict the kids with severe disabilities (her own charter has none), then, thanks to Governor Cuomo, she can evict all the other students and take the entire school away, if she wishes. Sort of like a parasite that grows and grows.