No charter school chain demonstrates more definitively than Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy that it is absolutely not a public school. It is a private business funded with public tax dollars.
They have previously gone to court to argue that they are not accountable to any elected officials or the state government itself. And now their team of lawyers has sent out a memo to remind staffers that they are not in any way accountable to anybody outside Success Academy walls.
Politico got its hands on that memo. It's the latest in a string of damage control attempts at the charter chain, which has suffered one bad PR moment after another, from a got-to-go list of students to be forced out , to video of teacher cruelty to a child. They've drawn the unwelcome attention of veteran journalist John Merrow. Eva Moskowitz, who is paid more to head up her private chain of 11,000 students than Carmen Farina is paid to manage the entire New York City school system, has been ineffective in beating back the problems, and mostly seems alternately confused and outraged that she has to bother. Moskowitz is a woman who always seems one bad lapse of impulse control away from barking, "Do you know who I am!!??" Most recently the chain hired the same PR firm that has tried to paper over the Flint water crisis.
But the Success lawyers have some thoughts about how the chain should avoid "mistakes." What do they consider mistakes?
Among the top twenty mistakes--
* Providing information-- any information at all-- to elected officials
* Providing any information to lawyers or the press
* Not contacting the advisory team is any of these people are even in the building
* Letting parents get away with threats of going to the press, police, or elected officials
"If a parent makes this threat, contact advisory. Advisory can help
diffuse this situation," the memo reads. "But we cannot let parents 'get
away' with these threats. Feel confident in pushing back on these and
telling parents that threats are not a productive way to resolve
conflict or build the relationship."
The message is clear. Success Academy and Eva Moskowitz answer to nobody-- not parents, not elected officials, not the government, not anybody at all. They are a public school only when they want public tax dollars, but they do not owe the taxpayers a single, solitary word of explanation, and they are in no way to be held accountable for what goes in their business-- not even the parents whose children are their excuse for sucking up those public tax dollars.
Success Academy charters are not accountable schools. They are not even accountable to the invisible hand of the free market (how do parents make informed choices when they are barred from having information). And finally, and most importantly, Success Academy charters are not public schools, and they should stop getting a single, solitary public tax dollar.