Success Academy Charter Schools were closed on Wednesday September 28. It wasn't a national or religious holiday, it hasn't snowed yet, and public schools were open, teachers were teaching, and children were learning. Success Academy Charter Schools were closed last Wednesday so its CEO Eva Moskowitz could rally political opponents of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and highlight potential challengers for the 2017 mayoral election. Moskowitz needed kids to fill up the audience so she pulled them out of school and dragged them and their parents to Brooklyn's Prospect Park.
To keep the children and their parents happy, Moskowitz brought entertainment, the rapper turned actor Common. Speakers included potential mayoral rivals Bronx Borough Present Ruban Diaz Jr. and Brooklyn Congressional Representative Hakeem Jeffries. Jeffries dismissed individuals and groups that oppose the charter networks as "haters." Moskowitz is demanding that New York City double its number of charter school seats to 200,000 by 2020.
Officially, the rally was sponsored by a group called Families for Excellent Schools. Except the group is not really about families. Four of its five founding board members are Wall Street brokers. Its big money pro-charter financial backers include the Walton Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation. The Families for Excellent Schools website claims that its executive director, Jeremiah Kittredge, was a public school teacher and labor organizer before he joined them. But according to his Linkedin page, Kittredge only graduated from Brown University in 2008 and has been a professional charter school advocate ever since.
I have questions for Eva and her friends, and maybe also for the Brooklyn district attorney's office. Children and parents who attended the rally got nice blue t-shirts. I want to know who paid for the 20,000 t-shirts (estimated bulk rate $5 each or about $100,000) and the busses that transported participants (estimated at $600 a bus, $60,000 for 100 busses)? Did organizers pay to use Prospect Park and for extra police assigned to the rally (it costs $4,000 just to rent the boathouse for a wedding)? Did Success Academy cover expenses with public money and why wasn't the money for the rally used for education? A pro-charter event organized by Moskowitz and Families for Excellent Schools at the state capital in Albany in 2015 cost an estimated $700,000. Children were pulled out of school that day also. Who keeps paying, besides the children?
On October 6 the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools is planning demonstrations in dozens of cities to support public schools. Parents, students and educators will gather outside of their schools before the bell to hold a rally and march. They are not charter schools, so after the rallies children and teachers will walk into their buildings to start the school day and learn.