There is no doubt that charter schools are the new trend in public education and are quickly becoming a radical movement. A charter school is a public school that is run independently from the local public school system and develops programs that meet community needs. Charter schools provide unique opportunities to students living in urban communities and school districts with failing public schools. Anyone can apply to a charter school and students are usually chosen not based on academics, but through a lottery or raffle providing everyone with an equal opportunity, despite academic skills that might be lacking.
But what about a charter school spending $1.6 million on marketing alone?
Recent published financial records from the Success Charter Network, a network of charter schools in Harlem and the Bronx, shows that they spent $1.6 million dollars on publicity and recruiting new students. Other charter schools in the area report spending only about $5,000 on recruiting and marketing, proving that they Success Charter Network is spending vastly more than other charter schools. Furthermore, the members of the community in Harlem and the south Bronx have noted that they have never seen such vehement campaigning to abandon public schools and apply for the charter school lottery.
There are 5 Harlem Success Academies in Harlem and two Bronx Success Academies in the south Bronx, all lead by C.E.O. Eva Moskowitz. Despite public backlash and animosity from the community and the media, Moskowitz stands by her decisions as C.E.O. of the Success Charter Network. However, after spending about $1,300 out of every student’s individual education budget on marketing, many critics are outraged by how much money is being spent on the organization’s propaganda in the community. Although marketing is an important part of running any business, spending one third of the education budget on marketing and recruiting seems to be a bit excessive.
Charter schools are part of the new wave in education. In theory they provide a wonderful opportunity to the students that are chosen to attend them. However, it is also important to consider the children who are not the lucky few who win the lottery to attend charter schools and have no choice but to attend the lack luster schools in their community. Most people would argue that it would be more beneficial for the Success Charter Network to spend at least part of the $1.6 million they spent on marketing on providing more resources to their students or opening more schools that would benefit the young people of the communities in Harlem and the south Bronx.
The astounding fact is that Charter Schools are big business lead by business people rather than educators who truly know what’s best for students. The greatest hope that we can have is that these business people remember who they are working for: the students in their schools who desperately need a better education than what public schools are providing.