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.