Success Charter Network has been just that for Eva Moskowitz but not for public schoolsTalk about inflating demand for your product.
The Success Charter Network, a chain of charter schools headed by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, spent an astonishing $1.6million in the 2009-2010 school year just for publicity and recruitment of new students, the group's most recent financial reports show.
The network spent more on publicity and recruitment that year than it did in the previous two years.
In 2009-2010, the seven schools operated by the Success network admitted 1,200 new students. That means Moskowitz spent about $1,300 on marketing for every new enrollee.
The money went to everything you can imagine - bus stop ads, multiple mass mailings of glossy color brochures to tens of the thousands of homes, a small army of part-time workers going door-to-door to sign up applicants, high profile "school choice" fairs.
Community leaders and educators in Harlem and the South Bronx - where those first seven schools were located - say they have never encountered such a relentless and well-financed campaign aimed at convincing parents to desert the public schools.
Many are stunned that the nonprofit Success network is able to spend so lavishly while regular city schools are being forced to cut their budgets.
Moskowitz has left even other charter school networks in the dust. Four Icahn Charter schools in the South Bronx, for example, reported spending less than $5,000 in total on their marketing and recruitment efforts during 2009-2010.
The bulk of the marketing money for the nonprofit Success network came from private hedge fund executives and conservative foundations, many of whom regard Moskowitz as chief organizer and lightning rod for the charter school movement in this city.
Still, all that money hasn't been able to dampen the widespread opposition the Success network generates each time Moskowitz tries to put one of her schools in a pubic school building.
Many neighborhood parents and community leaders say Moskowitz enjoys special treatment from education officials both in Albany and at Tweed.
They say once she sets up in public school, she keeps insisting on more and more space for her programs.
She has repeatedly denied getting any special treatment.
Meanwhile, the Success promotion machine reported spending nearly $1.3million on "outreach programs related to parent choice" in 2009-2010.
"It takes extensive outreach to ensure that all families have access to the schools of their choice," said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for the network.
"Access to opportunity is incredibly important to us and is integral to ... our mission," Friedman said and much of that money went to assisting other charter schools in their promotion efforts.
The Success network even spent $72,000 last year on a videographer whose duties included filming protests against its schools.
Individual schools in the network spent another $245,000 on recruitment and marketing from money they got from the Department of Education.
"We won't apologize for recruiting students for Success Academy charter schools," Jenny Sedlis, the network's director of external relations told me last year.
"As the quality of our education and test scores prove, we are offering kids from long disadvantaged communities the chance to flourish, go to college and be successful."
None of the expenses mentioned above take into account the cost of her titanic and successful campaign in 2010-2011 to establish a new school on the upper West Side of Manhattan.
"What they've spent on getting Upper West Success will far exceed what they've done previously at all their other schools," said Noah Gotbaum, a member of the District 3 community education council who opposed the new Moskowitz school.