Employees of Success Academy, New York City's largest charter school network, have been instructed to tell parents an upcoming rally organized by a well-funded charter advocacy group is "not political," according to a document obtained by POLITICO New York.
The five-page document was sent by Success' "advocacy team" and is billed as "messaging assistance" intended to help staff convince families of Success students to attend the Sept. 30 pro-charter rally and march across the Brooklyn Bridge organized by Families for Excellent Schools.
Success administrators are also strongly encouraging parents to attend the rally and march even if it presents hardships for them in terms of arranging for child care or taking time off from their jobs.
"This is not a political event," employees are being asked to tell parents who may be hesitant about participating in a rally with political implications. "This is an event in support of your scholar, our school, and the right for families to have access to equal schools."
But when parents ask the purpose of the rally, staffers should respond, "we are rallying to call on Mayor de Blasio and the rest of our city's leaders to end this system of inequality," according to the document.
The flyer begins with a plea to staffers, in bright red font: "Please do not pass this FAQ out to parents."
Love it - "messaging assistance" put together by the Success "advocacy team" for a "not political" rally.
You just can't make this stuff up.
It's interesting to note that the coverage of Moskowitz and Success has turned the last year or so, with press reporting more skeptically on both (the NY Times article being the most infamous of the coverage.)
This Politico NY piece exposes the machinations behind the scenes that the charter operators pull to get a big crowd:
The document obtained by POLITICO New York lists a series of responses to potential problems from families, including difficulty arranging child care.
"We encourage you to do everything you can to line up child care," employees should tell parents, according to the document. "We know it can be tough, but that is what families did to make sure you would have access to your school."
The majority of Success Academy students — 77 percent — are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, meaning their families live at or below the poverty level.
For parents who feel they cannot take time off from work, employees are asked to respond, "parents took off work to stand up and make sure that you have this great school option for your family. What if they hadn't shown up and taken the day off work?"
The document directly links rally participation with the continued existence of the Success network, and with charter schools in general.
"Families need to keep showing up and standing up — even when it's inconvenient — to ensure our schools can continue to exist and grow, and that other families get access to great public schools for their kids," the document reads.
Staffers are also encouraged to suggest that parents with children in Success' elementary school may not have middle or high school options if they do not help further the cause of school equality by attending the rally.
In a message specifically intended for "those that still need middle school or high school space," the document reads, "You don't want to be in a situation where we can't get middle school or high school space for your scholar's school, and you are wondering if you could have done more."
In addition, the Politico NY piece notes that Families for Excellent Schools lies about the numbers of attendees at their rallies:
FES is known to inflate the size of its protests. Organizers said 21,000 people attended a New York City event last October, while police estimated the crowd was about 8,000 to 10,000.
And the Politico NY article demonstrates how this rally will, indeed, be political, with FES already setting up the optics with pre-rally criticism of de Blasio:
The group has accelerated its attacks on de Blasio this week, ahead of the rally.
On Monday, FES sent an "open letter" from the leaders of the city's large charter networks, criticizing de Blasio for "denying space" to charters.
Later Monday, F.E.S. released a memo critiquing de Blasio's recently announced K-12 education agenda.
So we have Eva Moskowitz and Success putting the screw to parents to get the numbers up for a political rally that they deem "not political" that they'll inflate the attendance numbers for anyway and threaten parents who don't show with the possibility that their kids won't get into a Success middle school or high school.
Nice to see this exposed in the media.