“In a kindergarten classroom — its door designating the students inside as members of the Class of 2025 — Mr. Markowitz cornered Mr. Klein. “Why can’t our public schools have a place like this?” he asked a bit testily. “Do you know the resources it takes for a place like this?”
Elizabeth Green of the NY Sun also observed this conversation:
On a visit to the
"Listen to me," he said to the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, as the two toured a classroom, "we have some public schools that are starving for these kinds of resources."
Mr. Klein replied that some schools are doing as well as Excellence with more modest budgets.
Mr. Markowitz was not convinced; he said that while he supports charter schools, he is "conflicted" about the extra resources they sometimes receive from private donors.
"I really believe the jury is out on this whole thing," Mr. Markowitz said, walking out the door.
Is it all a matter of private donors? According to the school’s website,
Excellence is housed in a 90,000 square-foot, state-of-the-
According to InsideSchools, the building was renovated from a former DOE public school (PS 70):
In the new facility, students will enjoy amenities that rival deeply-endowed private schools. Designed by Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern, the renovated building includes an AstroTurfed roof garden/play yard with sweeping city and harbor views, secluded and inviting book nooks on every floor, double-sized science labs, a giant gymnasium complete with climbing wall, a spacious school library, and a state-of-the-
Here are some before and after photos, including this photo that looks like there are about ten kids per class. So where did all the money for this incredible facility come from?
See this 2006 article from Fortune magazine, about the Robin Hood foundation and its founder, “hedge fund maestro Paul Tudor Jones” :
“The school is the product of a pooling of dollars by the
The school's physical plant, including a fabulous AstroTurf roof, would be the envy of any $30,000-a-year private school. Inside, groups of energized young teachers and little boys, kindergarten through second grade (and 100% minority), in white shirts and ties, ready themselves for the coming school year. Principal Jabali Sawicki tells me there is a 170-student waiting list.
Just a few years ago this building was a neighborhood eyesore, a symbol of all that had gone wrong in Bed-Stuy. Originally constructed in the 1880s as PS 70, and later used as a yeshiva, it became a home to drug dealers and prostitutes after a fire in the 1970s - even a venue for illegal cock fights.
Then, in 2004, another organization that Jones supports, Uncommon Schools, committed $30 million ($6 million from Jones personally) to buy and renovate the property. David Saltzman, the executive director of Robin Hood, persuaded Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, to design the facility, which was completed this spring. Signs throughout the school were done gratis by renowned design firm Pentagram. And Robin Hood sent a check for $150,000 for the school's operating budget. Books were donated by Scholastic and HarperCollins, which have given a collective two million volumes to Robin Hood…”
This 2006 article notes how the Robin Hood Foundation raises hundreds of millions per year; from charity concerts of the Rolling Stones (take: $11 million); benefit dinners hosted by Jon Stewart with guest star Beyonce, and the auctioning off naming rights to charter school buildings going for $1 million:
Most charity dinners in
And the cost to taxpayers: $90 million.
In answer to the Fortune reporter’s question: Don't charter schools draw precious resources away from other public schools?
Jones makes no apologies: "Charter schools are the best thing that ever happened to education in
This is Klein’s usual response as well. Wonder why so many other schools in
Can someone explain to me how that competition thing works again?