The movies taught us to believe that sometimes the little guy/gal wins and defeats the powerful. Tou know, movies like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” The students of Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School pinned their hopes on that scenario.

The Young Women’s Leadership Academy wanted their building. They wanted to swap their building, which was smaller and lacked the facilities and services of EARWSHS.

EARWSHS is a transfer school that serves students who have one last chance to get a high school diploma. Many of its students are in their early 20s. Some have babies. The school has a child care center, a large gym, a kitchen big enough for cooking classes, a health clinic, and more.

Last night the city’s Panel on Educational Policy met. They heard hours of testimony, overwhelmingly favoring EARWSHS. The PEP ignored the students and teachers. It voted to make the swap, despite overwhelming opposition.

The students and teachers at EARWSHS has passion and energy.

What did they lack? Money, power, influence.

Leonie Haimson explained the msyor’s favoritism here.

Some clues may be found in the fact that TYWLS is a chain of single-sex girl schools for grades 6-12, founded by Ann Tisch, a member of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in NYC. Ann’s sister-in-law, Merryl Tisch is the former Board of Regents chancellor and now the SUNY board chair; her niece is Jessica Tisch, the current Sanitation Commissioner. Andrew Tisch, her husband, is a billionaire and the co-chair of Loews Corporation. Together with his brother, James S. Tisch, and cousin, Jonathan Tisch, he runs a holding company involved in hotels, oil, and insurance companies. From 1990 to 1995, he was CEO of Lorillard Tobacco Company, and in that capacity testified before Congress that “nicotine is not addictive,” and that he didn’t believe that smoking causes cancer. He currently heads the board of the secretive and controversial Police Foundation, which has been called the “Piggybank of the NYPD.”

Ann Tisch and her wealthy friends have given millions to the Student Leadership Network, the non-profitthat subsidizes her chain of schools, to hire college counselors, trips, and other opportunities for their students. The network recently received $7 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. An investigation by Liz Rosenberg at NYC News service found that from 2006 to 2018, the Tisch Foundation gave nearly $50,000 to the Eagle Academy Foundation, which supports the single-sex chain of schools for boys started by Chancellor Banks.

Moreover, this year, the Student Leadership Network paid $12,000 to one of the top lobbyists in the city, Kasirer LLC to lobby Banks and other city officials.Further digging by Daniel Alicea under his twitter handle Educators of NYC reveals that they have spent over $120,000 on lobbying since 2021. A look at NYC lobbying reports shows the Network has paid Kasirer $194,000 for lobbying since 2020. As a result, they have received $250,000 in NYC Council discretionary funding every year since at least 2016. (I couldn’t find any discretionary funding for West Side High School.)

Money talks.