Charter Schools in Wealthy Areas at Center of NYC Battle

By Laura Colby, Bloomberg

At Success Academy Union Square, a charter school in Manhattan, parents dropping off kindergartners one frigid morning include a radiologist with a Louis Vuitton bag slung over one shoulder and a fashion designer married to an investment banker. Some arrive in taxis.

Four of every 10 students at the school are poor enough to qualify for the federal lunch program, about half the New York City average. “This is a mixed-income school, which makes me happy,” said Paola Zalkind, Union Square’s principal, who greets each child with a handshake.

New York state law requires charter schools — publicly funded but privately run — to improve student achievement, especially among those “at risk of academic failure.” Still, Success Academy, the nonprofit that is the city’s biggest charter chain, is opening schools in wealthier neighborhoods like Union Square, where the median household income was $103,198 in 2012, about twice the city median, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The evolution of Success Academy illustrates a growing debate nationwide over charters serving higher-income families. California’s Bullis Charter School educates children of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. High Tech High, based in San Diego, has created schools whose students come from diverse economic backgrounds, as do those at Rhode Island’s Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, said Priscilla Wohlstetter, a research professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Upscale Areas

As Success Academy opens in more upscale areas, the non-union chain has become a lightning rod for critics including the new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, touching off a battle that threatens the growth of Success and the charter movement in the city.

“They’re trying to find ways to increase test scores; that’s why they go into the wealthier neighborhoods,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, a membership and union-funded nonprofit that advocates for low-income families. “It’s a false premise and it gets away from what charter schools were supposed to be used for. Charter schools were supposed to help low-income communities.”

Founded by former city councilwoman Eva Moskowitz in 2006, the Success Academy group has outstripped traditional public schools on standardized tests. In mathematics, it says its schools delivered rates of student proficiency on state tests of 82 percent last year — versus 30 percent for all of New York City. Success gets five applications for every open seat, with students chosen by lottery. Donations from Wall Street hedge funds and others almost doubled last year to $23 million.

Space Denied

Mixing people from different economic backgrounds is essential to meeting her goal of excellence for all, Moskowitz said in an interview in her Harlem office, decorated with children’s artwork. “Thousands of kids are now going to failing schools,” she said. “It’s not as if New York is this high-performing educational system and is using its resources effectively.”

The most damaging blows to the charter schools and Success have come from de Blasio, a Democrat who served together on the city council with Moskowitz and took over as mayor in January. De Blasio had previously taken the position that charters with rich donors shouldn’t get space from taxpayers without paying.

“There’s no way Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, OK?” de Blasio said during his mayoral campaign.

In one of the new administration’s first actions, de Blasio’s schools chancellor Carmen Farina said she would move $210 million of funds that had been earmarked for charter school facilities to the mayor’s program to create universal pre-kindergarten.

Charter Suit

On Feb. 27, the city’s education department said it wouldn’t provide space for three of Success Academy’s proposed schools after reviewing previously approved expansion plans. No other charter schools among the 17 under review were denied accommodations. Success has appealed the decision to the state board of education.

Parents at one of the Success schools denied space sued the city this month, asking a federal judge to block the de Blasio administration’s action. Space can be a make-or-break issue for charter schools in New York, since their public funding doesn’t include money to buy or rent facilities.

“You can’t educate kids without real estate,” Moskowitz said. “We’re not going to allow anyone to throw our families off a cliff without a fight.”

Albany Rally

She responded to the mayor’s space decision by closing her schools for a day and busing children and parents to a pro-charter rally in Albany on March 4 in what she called a civics lesson. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo promised state support for charters at the rally.

Success Academy benefits from donations from hedge-fund managers including Third Point LLC’s Dan Loeb, who’s also chairman of the chain. In addition, Success gets money from the government for each student equal to about 70 percent of the roughly $20,000 allocated to regular public schools. Its 22 schools enrolled 6,700 students this year, up from 14 schools and 4,500 students a year earlier.

Five of the 22 schools, four of which opened in the last three years, are located in U.S. Census tracts with incomes above the city median. One is on the Upper West Side, where the median household made $109,313 in 2012.

Three of the nine new elementary and middle schools that Success planned for next year were to be located in affluent areas, before de Blasio’s real estate actions. Success also plans to open its first high school, in midtown Manhattan. Applications to charter schools are allowed from outside their neighborhoods.

Broken Shades

Success Union Square shares its building with Washington Irving High School, a traditional public school that has twice the percentage of students qualifying for the federal lunch program, a common measure of scholastic poverty. Success has bright, newly equipped classrooms, while many rooms in the high school have broken window shades and just one electrical outlet, according to Gregg Lundahl, a social studies teacher at Washington Irving.

“There’s a kind of bifurcation,” said Lundahl, a 25-year teaching veteran and leader of the local chapter of the United Federation of Teachers union. “It’s separate and unequal.”

“Nothing has changed” in Success’s mission, which is “to provide world-class education for kids at scale and improve public education at large so that all kids gain access to educational excellence,” Moskowitz said.

Success’s moves into affluent areas are part of an overall expansion of charter schools in New York, where their number grew from 17 to 183 during the 12-year administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

Charitable Returns

Charter backers include Wall Streeters like Carl Icahn, who has started his own charter chain, and hedge-fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller.

“When it comes to return on a philanthropic dollar, few things beat supporting a high-performing charter school,” said John Petry, co-founder of Success Academy and the managing member of Sessa Capital, a New York hedge fund. “Unlike cancer research, where it’s hard to measure the impact of a donation, with education you can look at objective metrics such as test scores and see how well you’re doing.”

Charters are allowed in 42 states. They educated 2.3 million U.S. children in the 2012-13 academic year, tripling from a decade earlier. The average waiting list increased to 277 students per school from 233 in 2009, according to the Center for Education Reform, a Washington-area advocacy group.
Proficient Scores

Nationwide, the average charter school student gains the equivalent of eight more days’ worth of learning in reading over traditional public schools each year, according to a 2013 study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes. In mathematics, there was no difference.

At the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, director Kevin Welner said the overall results of the study showed charters and regular schools to be about the same. The eight days’ reading advantage, he said, wasn’t practically significant.

Success Academy says it is an outperformer. Its seven schools in Harlem and the Bronx that took state tests last year turned in scores well above their citywide peers. At its Bronx 2 academy, 97 percent of third-graders scored proficient in math, compared with 14 percent in the local city school district. On the English test, 77 percent were proficient at the Bronx 2 school, versus 12 percent in the local district.

Skimming Students

Some researchers say charters in New York skim the most motivated students because only the most involved parents care enough to apply — and because they have fewer troubled children. Success says its special-needs children are 15 percent of its enrollment, versus the 18 percent that the city reports for all schools.

English language learners, often students from immigrant families, are 11 percent, compared with 14 percent. Overall, Success says about three-quarters of its students qualify for the school lunch program, about the same as the traditional public schools, indicating similar levels of poverty.

Student suspension rates range from 14 to 22 percent at four Success schools in Harlem. The suspension rates are 6 and 7 percent in the two regular public school districts that include Harlem. Critics say Success weeds out the children who might bring down test scores.

High Attrition

Moskowitz “is able to push out kids she doesn’t want,” said Diane Ravitch, a New York University education researcher and author. “Her schools have a high attrition rate.”

Moskowitz has called the suspensions a school’s version of “time out,” conveying minimum standards of conduct.

Charters that share buildings with traditional public schools — as all 22 Success academies do — sometimes take resources from them, according to a report published last year by Westin’s Communities for Change. Public School 149 in Harlem lost a music room, a computer lab and a parent room to a Success Academy school in its building, said Barbara Darrigo, P.S. 149’s principal.

Ann Powell, a Success spokeswoman, said P.S. 149 “has 19 sections of students and 33 classrooms, so they have plenty of extra room.”

Moskowitz, who holds a doctorate in American history from Johns Hopkins University, founded the schools with Petry and Gotham Asset Management LLC’s Joel Greenblatt. The three met shortly after Moskowitz, a Democrat, lost a bid to become Manhattan borough president in 2005. The winner, Scott Stringer, was backed by the UFT union.

Moving Teachers

Success Academy students wear uniforms and attend school for extended days. The schools emphasize math, science and writing and require that parents read to their children each night. Turnover among the non-unionized teachers can be more than 50 percent a year, according to state reports on the individual schools. Success says that’s in part because it moves its teachers among its own network of schools.

In a news conference, de Blasio said his decision to deny Success space didn’t represent an anti-charter stance: Two of the proposed elementary schools would have been located in high schools, something that often makes parents of younger children uncomfortable. The third charter, a middle school, would have taken space from a public school in Harlem that serves special needs children.
Taking Space

“Why would you take space from some of the neediest kids in the city?” asked Principal Barry Daub, who said 36 special-education students would have been dispersed throughout the city, some needing long bus rides, if Success had been allowed to take over classrooms in his Mickey Mantle elementary and middle school in Harlem. A statement from Success said the student transfers would have occurred gradually.

The building, which also includes P.S. 149, already shares space with another branch of Success Academy, and Daub said he has had to shrink lunchtime at Mickey Mantle to 25 minutes to accommodate the charter school. Success has its own art room, while the art teacher at Mickey Mantle has none and must push an “art cart” from room to room, Daub said.

De Blasio has said last year in his campaign that he may charge rent on a sliding scale to charters that have the funds to pay. That position was backed in a paper released last month by the University of Colorado’s policy center, which cited Success Academy as a group with millions of dollars in assets.
Left Behind

While an economically diverse charter school can benefit students, it could also harm those left behind in regular public schools, said Erica Frankenberg, an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy at Pennsylvania State University.

“It’s taking away the best and most advantaged,” Frankenberg said.

Success Union Square’s Zalkind sees it differently. “If you really want to close the achievement gap, you have to do socioeconomic integration,” she said. “Because to be successful, you have to be able to communicate with people who are not like you.”

Some of Success’s well-to-do board members and managers — including Moskowitz — send their own children to the schools. Moskowitz, a mother of three, earned $475,244 in the year ended June 2012, according a 990 tax filing — more than twice Mayor de Blasio’s $225,000 pay.

Much of Success’s philanthropy money goes to support an educational institute to train personnel, the creation of a proprietary school management software system and developing a curriculum for the new high school, according to Powell.
Knee Slapping

Some of it covers the schools’ first three years of operations, during which they generally have a loss, Powell said. Success’s schools each pay Success Academy Charter Schools Inc. a management fee. In the school year ended June 30, that sum was $2,029 per student, according to the schools’ independent auditor’s report.

Back in Union Square, Success kindergarten teacher Samantha Crane slaps her knees rhythmically, leading five-year-olds as they chant out the letters to spell “because,” ending with a fist-pump on the final “e.” In science class, the students learn about yeast and chemical reactions, bake bread and take a field trip to local bakeries.

When one child is called on, she has to wait to speak until all of her classmates show they are paying attention. “Lock and look at Rachel.” Crane says. “Three, two, one, go!”

In a science classroom in one of Success’s schools in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, a teacher tells two boys, “Stand still, hands at your sides. This is your warning.” When they don’t move quickly, principal Javeria Khan, a former compliance officer at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has them stand by themselves for about half a minute, while the rest of the students move quietly to their desks. Children get rewards, in the form of smiley-face stickers, for good behavior, Khan said.

Some parents say they don’t mind the rules. “I went to Catholic school myself,” said Marina Eliasi, a stay-at-home mom whose daughter has done well at Union Square. “We chose it for the academics.”

Wyoming ranks low on accommodation of charter schools

by Leah Todd, Star Tribune

Wyoming’s charter school laws are among the most stringent in the United States, a new national report from the Center for Education Reform says.

That may be a reason that only four charter schools exist in the state, said Kari Cline, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Public Charter Schools.

Charter schools are independently run, publicly funded schools that operate under a contract, or charter, which establishes the school’s mission.

Such an agreement can allow charter schools to do things not done in traditional schools, Cline said.

Charter schools have grown steadily since the first charter school law was passed in the U.S. in 1991, said Alison Consoletti Zgainer, executive vice president of the Center for Education Reform and lead author of the report, which was released Monday.

The group advocates for laws that will accelerate the process allowing charter schools to gain approval in each state.

To the Center for Education Reform, strong charter laws allow more than one entity to approve a charter school, place few limits on a charter school’s expansion, fund charter schools equally and allow a charter school autonomy.

Wyoming passed its current charter school law in 1995. Under the law, only a local school board can authorize a new charter school.

Other states allow private organizations, a university or a state charter commission to approve charter schools.

“In order for more charter schools to open or for communities to embrace the possibility, we really have to address multiple authorizing structures,” Cline said.

Entities approving charter schools must be trained in what it takes to start a new school, she said.

“For us, it’s not about changing the law or the landscape to allow the proliferation of charters,” Cline said. “Because Wyoming is never going to be a Colorado, with hundreds of charter schools. Many of our communities don’t have that many students.”

In Colorado, 197 charter schools operate, according to the report. Colorado’s charter laws scored a B on the report, while Wyoming’s scored a D.

In Wyoming, charter school teachers must be certified, just as they must be at any other public school. Students at charter schools are required to take the same statewide tests as other public school children.

Charters in Wyoming are funded through the same school funding model as other public schools, according to the Wyoming Department of Education. The contract between a district and a charter can vary, however, resulting in some variation in charter school funding in the state.

The report scored Wyoming high in several areas, partially because the state does not place a limit on how many charter schools can operate in a district or statewide.

Overall, the organization ranked Wyoming’s charter school laws 40th in the nation.

‘A tough process’

Marcos Martinez spent 2 1/2 years forming PODER Academy, a college-readiness charter school in Cheyenne.

“It was a tough process,” Martinez, the school’s CEO, said. “The application is very detailed, and, you know, the application needs to be that way.”

The school opened in 2012 with 103 students in kindergarten through third grades. Martinez said the rigorous application process made PODER, which is a Spanish word for “to be able,” a better school.

“We took our time with it,” he said. “We had frequent talks with the district. I think that really helped.”

PODER Academy is the only charter school in Laramie County School District 1, a neighborhood district where children must attend the school closest to their residence. Parents support the school, he said. This year, 166 students are enrolled in kindergarten through fourth grades.

The group will soon apply to open a charter high school in Cheyenne, Martinez said.

Martinez said he sees two ways Wyoming can improve its charter school policy: create incentives for an already successful charter school to expand and replicate, and allow more than one entity to approve a charter school.

Spending more on Virginia students doesn’t mean they’re getting smarter

By Kathryn Watson, Watchdog

More money doesn’t necessarily translate to more successful, college-ready students.

A new study by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., finds that, adjusted for inflation, per-pupil spending from 1972 to 2012 has soared 120 percent in Virginia.

But SAT scores have remained virtually stagnant. In fact, when adjusted for participation and demographics, Virginia’s SAT scores actually fell by 3 percent.

Virginia isn’t alone. Nationally, per-pupil spending has increased close to 200 percent, and school employment has increased nearly 100 percent since 1970. Reading and math scores of 17-year-old students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have remained flat, the study found.

“There has been essentially no correlation between what states have spent on education and their measured academic outcomes,” wrote Andrew Coulson, director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. Coulson conducted the study.

Of course, SAT scores aren’t everything. But Cato researchers argued the SAT is a mark of how well-read a student may be and whether he can think critically.

“While SAT scores are not a comprehensive metric of educational outcomes, the SAT measures reading comprehension and mathematical skills that are intrinsically useful,” Coulson wrote.

Delegate Steve Landes, chairman of Virginia’s House Education Committee, said it “does look as if both nationally and in Virginia student achievement is relatively flat in comparison with both state and local funds invested in K-12 education that have increased significantly over the same period. That is disappointing, and we will need to look at the study and results very carefully as we move forward in developing and reforming Virginia’s K-12 education system.”

International testing backs up that lack of correlation between more spending and success in critical cognitive areas.

The U.S. spends more per pupil than almost any nation, yet the U.S. was a miserable 36th in math, 28th in science and 24th in reading, according to the 2012 PISA assessment, ranking below countries such as Slovakia, Latvia and the Czech Republic.

It’s not news to Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform, that more spending doesn’t equal better success.

“The conventional thought is if we just throw more money at the problem we will fix it and things eventually get better,” Kerwin told on Wednesday.

What matters more than spending are parent empowerment, choice and competition, Kerwin said, who added that charter schools provide the best example.

“Charter schools see about 30 percent less funding than public schools, and yet they’re doing so much more with less,” Kerwin said. “And so, the establishment finds that threatening.”

The problem isn’t money. Rather, it’s that traditional public schools lack empowerment, choice and competition.

That’s why charters are outperforming their public school counterparts — charters are renewed annually on a performance basis, and they compete with public schools for students and success.

Competition from charters naturally challenges traditional public schools, Kerwin said.

Charters are just one piece of the school-choice puzzle, but they’re a big one. And once again, Virginia scored an F in the Center for Education Reform’s 15th annual ranking of state charter school laws, released this week.

With just one independent authorizer that can establish charter schools in Virginia, and just six charters, Virginia shares a failing grade with only Kansas and Iowa.

“I think the most important thing in Virginia and what has plagued the charter school sector is the fact that school boards think they have exclusive authority over education,” Kerwin said. “… Making a charter school have to go to a local school board is the equivalent of McDonald’s asking a Burger King to open.”

It’s exactly the kind of scenario Virginians have seen played out in battles like the one between the Fairfax County Public School Board and the Fairfax Leadership Academy, a proposed charter school for at-risk students that got a hearty endorsement from the State Board of Education. The local school board ultimately killed the project, and charter hopefuls had nowhere to turn.

States that thrive are those in which many groups can authorize charter schools, such as respected universities, Kerwin said.

Virginia doesn’t have to languish at the back of the pack in CER’s report forever, Kerwin said.

All it takes is one lawmaker — with the guts to stand up for choice and accountability — to file a bill that paves the way for more authorizers. That, Kerwin said, is the most important step Virginia can take to nurture student success with fewer dollars.

Tennessee Must Strengthen Education Policies to Meet Growing Demand

Volunteer State Ranks 22nd on 15th Edition of Charter School Laws Across the States

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
March 17, 2014

Fewer than half of state charter school laws in the United States earn above-average grades according to The Center for Education Reform’s (CER) 15th Edition of Charter School Laws Across the States: Rankings & Scorecard released today, and Tennessee is no exception, earning a grade of “C” with a ranking of 22nd out of 42 states and the District of Columbia.

“Tennessee lawmakers today have an incredible opportunity to help expand educational options to families and students by improving the state’s charter school law to allow for multiple, independent authorizers and repeal restrictions that limit proven providers from investing in the success of Tennessee’s charter schools,” said Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform.

“While it is true the charter school sector in the United States has grown at a steady, linear pace since the first charter school law was passed in 1991, we know the highest charter school and enrollment growth is in jurisdictions with strong charter school laws,” said Alison Consoletti Zgainer, executive vice president of the Center for Education Reform and lead author of the rankings.

“With the length of the average charter school waiting list increasing to nearly 300 students there absolutely needs to be a sense of urgency around creating strong charter school laws that will accelerate the pace of growth to meet demand,” said Kerwin. “Not only are there hundreds of thousands of students on charter school wait lists, but the U.S. Census predicts the largest influx of school-aged children over the next 20 years at over 11 million. Lawmakers must be thinking outside the box to create a portfolio of new educational opportunities to create the predicted 315,000 new seats needed in Tennessee alone to meet this demographic reality.”

“States where parents have options to choose tend to yield higher growth rates in student achievement,” said Kerwin. Tennessee currently ranks 26th in the nation on the Parent Power Index, which measures how parent-friendly a state’s education policies are as a whole when it comes to parents both being able to have a say in their child’s education as well as gathering data about which education option is best for their child.

“As the nation celebrates twenty-plus years of charter schools and choice programs, history suggests state laws need to be modeled after success, not theory,” Kerwin added. “There should be no excuses from elected officials now that we have powerful evidence of what works.”

Click here to see the 15th edition of Charter School Laws Across the States: Rankings & Scorecard.

For more information about the choices and power parents have over their child’s education in Tennessee, visit the Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index.

National Report Card Reveals States Must Strengthen Education Policies to Meet Growing Demand

15th Edition of Charter School Laws Across the States Released

CER Press Release
Washington, DC
March 17, 2014

Fewer than half of state charter school laws in the United States earn above-average grades according to The Center for Education Reform’s (CER) 15th Edition of Charter School Laws Across the States: Rankings & Scorecard released today.

“With the length of the average charter school waiting list increasing to nearly 300 students, there absolutely needs to be a sense of urgency around creating strong charter school laws that will accelerate the pace of growth to meet demand,” said Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform. “Not only are there hundreds of thousands of students on charter school wait lists, but the U.S. Census predicts the largest influx of school-aged children over the next 20 years at over 11 million. State lawmakers must be thinking outside the box to create a portfolio of new educational opportunities to meet this demographic reality.”

“While it is true the charter school sector in the United States has grown at a steady, linear pace since the first charter school law was passed in 1991, we know the highest charter school and enrollment growth is in jurisdictions with strong charter school laws,” said Alison Consoletti Zgainer, executive vice president of the Center for Education Reform and lead author of the rankings. Strong charter laws feature independent, multiple authorizers, few limits on expansion, equitable funding, and high levels of school autonomy.

“These critical flexibilities and equitable resources must be codified in law, otherwise they fall prey to the whims of politicians. We are seeing this play out right now in New York City under Mayor Bill de Blasio, and have seen it before in Washington, D.C. and in Oakland, California,” said Kerwin.

Among the nation’s 43 charter school laws, there are 5 As, 9 Bs, and 18 Cs, with the remaining 11 states earning Ds and Fs. Three states improved letter grades, with Mississippi jumping from an “F” last year to a “C” in 2014, Arizona going up from a “B” to an “A,” and Wisconsin moving up from a “C” to a “B.” Mississippi had the largest advance in score because of new legislation that increases schools’ autonomy.

“But even the highest-achieving states in CER’s annual rankings still have a long way to go in meeting parental demand and allowing highly accountable charter school options to flourish, as they are ten or more points away from a perfect score,” said Zgainer.

“As the nation celebrates twenty-plus years of charter schools, history suggests state laws need to be modeled after success, not theory,” Kerwin added. “There should be no excuses from elected officials now that we have powerful evidence of what works.”

Since 1996, the Center has studied and evaluated charter school laws based on their construction and implementation, and whether or not they yield the intended result of the charter school policy, which is to ensure the creation of numerous quality learning opportunities for children.

Click here for the 15th edition of Charter School Laws Across the States: Ranking & Scorecard

Major Report on Digital Learning to be Released

Media analysis to serve as roadmap for “digiformers”

Media Advisory
Washington, DC
February 2, 2014

The Center for Education Reform (CER) will release The Media and the Digital Learning Revolution on Monday, February 3, 2014, authored by CER founder, Senior Fellow and president emeritus Jeanne Allen.

Illuminating key trends, the report offers eight conclusions and strategies to improve and increase coverage of digital and blended learning modalities and grow public understanding of these important innovations transforming student learning.

The analysis looked at a 1,600 article data set published in print or online news nationwide in the first nine months of 2013.

Allen is available for comment on The Media and the Digital Learning Revolution. Members of the media should contact CER Communications Director Michelle Tigani at 301-986-8088 or to set up interviews.

About the Author: Jeanne Allen is the founder of The Center for Education Reform and served as its president from 1993-2013. Today, Jeanne is a Senior Fellow and president emeritus, and serves on CER’s Board of Directors. Jeanne Allen is Vice President of Business Development for HotChalk, Inc., an education technology company.



“Mack The Knife” for Michael Moe 

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And he shows them pearly white.
Just a jack knife has old Mike Moe, babe
And he keeps it, out of sight.

You know when that Mike Moe, starts talking school choice
Lots of businesses start to listen,
Fancy gloves though wears old Mike Moe babe, and he’s innovating all through the night.

Now on the sidewalk, ooh, Sunday morning, uh, huh,
Lies a body, just oozing life, and someone’s sneakin round the corner
Could that someone be Mike the Knife

There’s a tug boat down by the river, don’t you know
Where a cement bag just a droopin on down
Oh that cement is just it’s there for the weight, dear
Five’ll get you ten old Mikey’s back in town.

Now d’ja hear ’bout Mikey Moe?  He’s out in Woodside
And investin all his hard-earned cash
And now Mikey spends just like a maverick
Could it be our boy’s done somethin’ rash?

Now Magic Johnson, ho, ho, yeah, Oprah Winfrey
Ooh, Miss Kathy Ireland their friends with GSV
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Mikey’s back in town

Now Magic Johnson, ho, ho, yeah, Oprah Winfrey
Ooh, Miss Kathy Ireland, their friends with GSV
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Mikey’s back in town

Look out, old Mikey’s back!!


“I Get A Kick Out Of You” for Deborah McGriff 

McGriff gets no kick from the inane.
Excuses for kids they don’t thrill her at all.
So tell me why should it be true
That McGriff, we get a kick out of you?

Some reformers are on the wrong train
I’m sure that if McGriff took even one sniff
it would bore her terrifically, too.
Yet, Deborah, we get a kick out of you.

We get a kick every time
Your standing there before me
We get a kick and it’s clear to see
Deborah, we obviously adore you.

We get a kick in a plane.
Flying too high with McGriff in the sky
Is our idea of something to do.
Yes, we get a kick – you give us a boost, Deborah, we get a kick out of you.


20th Anniversary Honorees

“It Had To Be You” for The Gleason Family Foundation 

It had to be you, it had to be you
I wandered around, and finally found
a Foundation who, could make schools be true
Never make us be blue and even be glad
Just to be sad just thinking of you
Some Foundations we’ve seen might sometimes be mean
They can be cross and try to be boss
But they wouldn’t do
For nobody else gave us the thrill
Because the Gleasons, we love you still
It had to be you
It had to be you
It had to be you

20th Anniversary Honorees

“I Got You Under My Skin” for Bill Bennett 

We’ve got you under our skin.
We’ve got you deep in the heart of us.
So deep in our heart that you’re really a part of us.
We’ve got you under our skin.
Reformers tried so not to give in.
We said to ourselves: this Bennett never will go so well.
But why should we try to resist when, baby, we know so well
That we’ve got you under our skin?

Bill, you sacrificed anything come what might
For the sake of having you near
Because of your warnin’ voice that comes in the night
And repeats, repeats in the blob’s ear:
Don’t they know, those fools, they’ll never win?
Can they use they’re mentality, wake up to reality.
But each time they do just the thought of you
Makes the blob stop before they begin
‘Cause the blob’s got you under their skin.


And we’ve got you under our skin.