Exclusive: Success Academy Makes First School Purchase After Years of Insisting City Must Provide Space
The city's largest charter school network has purchased its first school building — a major reversal after a decade of insisting the city must provide space for all its students. Our education reporter, Lindsey Christ, has the story.
For ten years, Success Academies only opened charter schools in publicly funded space. The charter network's CEO, Eva Moskowitz to said that paying for its own space — would suggest charters don't have the same rights to taxpayer funded facilities as public schools.
But Wednesday, the Success network signed a 68 million dollar contract to purchase space in the new Hudson Yards Development for a new elementary school, middle school and teacher training center. It represents a major shift in policy for the city's largest, highest performing and most controversial charter school network.
"I would much prefer to go into public school space, but I'm not willing to be bullied by the Mayor," Moskowitz said.
She says Mayor Bill de Blasio has not given her schools the space they need to grow.
Actually, her fights over space began long before de Blasio. While Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration was accommodating, communities often pushed back.
Moskowitz responded by busing hundreds of parents to public hearings. The battles have been louder with the current mayor, who is less friendly to charters.
Moskowitz is not known for backing down, recently joking that is why she would not consider being Donald Trump's Secretary of Education.
"If I left and went to D.C., who would keep their eyes on Mayor de Blasio?" Moskowitz joked.
But now she says the political battles have taken a toll, forcing the network to shift its stance against paying for space. The money for the new building is expected to come from donors.
"It's been incredibly difficult," Moskowitz said. "We have to spend enormous energy. If we don't protest. If we don't hold press conferences. If we don't jump up and down we don't get the space that is empty."
This week, fliers advertising the new school were placed in apartment buildings across Manhattan. There are now 41 Success Academy schools and the network hopes to eventually open 100.
However, Moskowitz says she expects charter parents will make sure future mayors will give them space for free.