New York Times vs. Charter Schools: The “Paper of Record” Fights School Choice

Does the Success Academy have a target on its back? If so, why?

Kate Taylor is an education and regional reporter at the New York Times. Recently, she publishedCharter, Kate an article exposing a video of an NYC teacher at Success Academies inappropriately scolding and yelling at a student for flubbing a math question. The video was not horrendous but it was definitely cringe-worthy and not having any more information about the student or the teacher it most certainly does feel inappropriate at the least.

In 2014, an assistant teacher at Success Academy Cobble Hill secretly filmed her colleague, Charlotte Dial, scolding one of her students after the young girl failed to answer a question correctly. The children’s faces have been blurred and their names obscured to protect their privacy.

You’ve probably already guessed the story does not end there. In fact, it’s just the beginning. To unravel this it’s important for the reader to know that Success Academies is a charter school organization with dozens of elementary, middle and high schools across four New York City Burroughs. It’s also important to know that Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D) has been a very vocal opponent of charter schools and school choice in general.

With over 1800 public schools in the five New York Burroughs serving over 1 million students, the New York Times has strangely chosen to focus on Success Academies, which has an extraordinarily high success rate among it’s students when compared to typical public school students.  CEO Eva Moskowitz writes this:

Charter School Featured
Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, New York, Eva Moskowitz,

“The Times has chosen to focus exhaustively on Success Academy’s mistakes, having now produced 12 articles in a year’s time, while devoting scant attention and resources to reporting absolute horrors committed against children in district schools.

Such willful neglect represents a disservice not only to Times readers – but, more 
importantly, to the roughly 1 million children in New York City’s district schools who could use your help.”

Twelve articles in one year for a couple of dozen schools that the NYT themselves admitted are high-achieving and well-liked among parents? No one likes a mean teacher but as an education reporter myself I have written story after story after story about the horrific abuses against children that take place in public schools across the country by teachers who can’t be fired and who remain on the public payroll and often in the classroom. In California, a once beloved teacher who blindfolded his elementary students and fed them cookies with his semen on it will continue to receive his tax-payer funded retirement package while in prison. Yay, unions!

new -york-times-hed-2013

Students of poor families who are inexperienced at navigating bureaucracy are victimized every day in a system that sees children as dollar signs. Public schools – particularly in New York City – are woefully underperforming on top of their convoluted administrative issues. Considering the amount of tax dollars being spent by our public schools it seems like there are a lot of important stories to cover there.

And yet Kate Taylor and her editors choose to disproportionately focus on a charter school. Twelve articles in one year on a school and a story that in no way involves sexual or physical abuse or feeding kids semen cookies is more than excessive – it’s deliberate.

Charter Boys FinalPerplexingly, it seems as if the public sector would want as many charter schools as possible to thin out their notoriously overcrowded numbers and make a profit, since they are always saying they need more and more money (mainstream public schools retain most of the money per student even when the student has left for a charter). Why don’t people like Mayor DeBlasio and Ms. Taylor support charters?

Charter interior
Success Academy

It doesn’t fit the narrative. Everyone who signs on to school choice programs immediately comes to understand that choosing where your child goes to school is one of the most effective tools a parent has in educating their child. “Choice” schools consistently outperform public schools. They are not limited to the rigid, antiquated union system of governance and can innovate more quickly and effectively.

The public sector of education doesn’t want to admit that despite having access to mountains of money their standards continue to decline (for too many reasons to list right now) while “choice” schools use innovation and flexibility to compensate for fewer dollars, allowing the bulk of the money to be spent directly in the classroom.

Moskowitz bravely takes the New York times to task by posting her own research about the myriad of extremely vile and serious charges being perpetrated by adults in the New York public school system that the Times deliberately chose not to report. You can read the list here but fair warning: it’s disturbing.

Things are bad right now in public education. If the “paper of record” thinks of itself as a champion of the people then perhaps its time is better spent exposing the current atrocities of tax-funded public education instead of attacking schools that have found a way to uplift and educate the minority children public education has so disgracefully left behind.

But perhaps that would be too much “journalisming” for them.

Photo Credit: Yolo Monakhov for New York Magazine
Photo Credit: c-span
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