Nice Work If U Can Get It
Posted on November 3, 2013
Whatís behind those sky high charter salaries?

Harlem Village Academies chief Deborah Kenny earns $500,000 to run her burgeoning empire of excellence.

The eye-popping salaries commanded by some New York City charter execs are raising eyebrows, not to mention the hackles of haters. As a state-of-the-art technology known as Google quickly reveals, though, itís not just in the Big Apple where charter chiefs are pulling down mad cheddar. But talking about money is so gauche, reader, which is why so many of these excellent execs insist on keeping compensation information to themselves.

A deeper dive
Todayís fiercely urgent question: why do charter executives make so much money? Fortunately this question has many simple answers. 1) You canít put a price on excellence 2) You are a hater for even asking the question and 3) What donít you understand about putting students fir$t? But seriously, there is a major difference between the New York City schools chancellor, who oversees schools attended by 1.1 million students and the executive of five outstanding schoolsó$286K more by my calculations, which is practically enough to pay yet another excellent execís salary. So what exactly do these excellent execs do all day? Letís take a *deeper dive,* shall we?

Buzz bucks
$599K might seem a little steep for running a mini-empire of schools. But when you consider that Harlem Village chief Deborah Kenny happens to oversee schools in between media appearance, that pile of gold starts to looks pretty minuscule. Oprah Winfrey, another celeb with a taste for school improvement recently named Kenny to her Power Listóand she makes $165 million clams per annum. And anyone who has a *media buzz* list as long as the one on the Harlem Village Academies website deserves to be getting paidÖ

Letís get physical
In the old days, running a school required little more exertion than occasionally commandeering the blender from the teachersí lounge (just until after school hours, ladies). But the new breed of excellent charter executive is a far more physically active lot. Take number two on the New York Daily News most compensated list: Eva Moskowitz. A recent day found the chieftainess of the unbelievably successful Success Academies marching across the Brooklyn Bridge because she has that much energy. In her *invitation* to parents and teachers to join her, Moskowitz noted that ďwe canít stand idly by.Ē Tell that to the teachers and leaders of NYCís 1,700 public schools, none of whom even showed up!

Pay 4 performance
Haters have been quick to point out that, based on the number of students who *attrit* from New York Cityís laboratories of outstandingness, such high charter salaries donít exactly add up to *pay for performance*. To them I say: squelch your hate, haters! You obviously donít understand the unique numeracy of merit. Take number 11 on the most compensated list: Seth Andrews, chiefain emeritus of Democracy Prep. 100% of the students at Democracy Prep graduated last year, which is to say 100% of the students who were left after 23% of the students had left each year. In other words: 100% of 100% = $238,000.

Did I say principal? I meant partner
Number 15 on the list, Rafiq Kalam Id-Din, earns $219K to run a school with fewer than 200 students. That may seem a bit rich until you consider that Kalam Id-Din isnít a principal at all but a partner in the Teaching Firm of America Professional Preparatory Charter School. Hereís how it works:

TFOA will use its innovative management structure called the ďTeaching FirmĒ to operate its charter school, one that takes advantage of the unique strengths of the professional-partnership organizational model to maximize the acquisition, development and retention of top human capital to serve our students, achieve our mission and realize our vision.

At the top of that innovative management structure is a familiar figure know as *the partner* who, at least according to the many John Grisham novels Iíve read, almost always gets paid. Speaking of Grisham, who can forget his action-filled page-turner, The Co-Locator, about a rich and powerful law firm that moves into the HQ of a community legal services office?

Students Fir$t
There are some other familiar names on the list too, of course: the comically well-connected Dacia Toll of Achievement Fir$t, Dave Levin of KIPP, or Keep the Income Pump Primed, NY. But is it really fair to single them out merely for doing well by doing good? The members of the NYCís most compensated list could all learn a thing or two from the first lady of putting students first: Michelle Rhee, who in 2012 earned $94K for the 13 hours per week she puts in at Students First. Perhaps Rhee should start a school to teach some of these leading leaders about how to do even wellerÖ

Is your state or city home to an excellent charter executive who is being compensate at rates that some might consider, ahem, excessive? Send info to

The Nice Work if U Can Get It List

Minneapolis, MN: Eric Mahmoud, SEED Academy/Harvest Prep, $237,000, more than any superintendent in Minnesota.
Boston, MA: Roger Harris, Boston Renaissance Charter School, $280,000. John McDonough, the interim superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, makes $250,000.
Source: Edushyster

Edited by twocats (11/03/13 06:32 PM)
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.