Kids who attend New York City's Success Academy charter schools do remarkably well.
"We are No. 1 in student achievement in the state," says founder Eva Moskowitz, "outperforming all the wealthy suburbs."
They do. Although they teach mostly poor kids, 95 percent pass the state math test, and 84 percent pass the English test. Pass rates at government run schools are 38 and 41 percent. How does Success Academy do it?
For one thing, she keeps kids in class longer. Middle schoolers stay until 4:30 p.m.
Is that too much stress for kids, I ask?
"China and India are not worrying about the length of the school day," she replied. "We have to toughen up."
From what I saw, "toughening up" doesn't make kids hate school. Many told me they "look forward" to going to Success Academy in the morning. One called school "rockin' awesome!"
"Kids like succeeding," explains Moskowitz.
Despite this success, or because of it, the education establishment hates Moskowitz.
When she tries to open new schools, activists protest. New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio complained, "It's time for Eva Moskowitz to stop having the run of the place!"
"Why do they hate you?" I asked.
"What we prove is that there's nothing wrong with the children," she replied. "There is something wrong with a system, a monopolistic system that is not allowing kids to succeed."
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) got his political start as a socialist, has praised Cuba and Venezuela, and isn't fond of competition. To protect New York City's taxi industry, he tried to block Uber and Lyft.
He doesn't understand that competition helps more people than it hurts.
Some specific criticisms of charters like Success Academy:
Criticism No. 1. They are "a scam," says "Young Turks" TV commentator Nomiki Konst, "better funded—by these hedge funders—and they're performing worse than underfunded schools."
But Konst is wrong. Charters like Success Academy do more with less. New York City's regular public schools get $20,000 per pupil.
"I only get $14,500," says Moskowitz.