Dear Commons Community,
As predicted for the past week, Albany was the stage for demonstrations pitting Bill de Blasio signature education initiative to establish universal pre-K against Eva Moskwitz’s charter school advocates. Never was their battle more clear than yesterday, where each took part in simultaneous rallies. As reported in the New York Times:
“The rallies, which took place on a Lobby Day, one of the days when unions, businesses and other groups descend on Albany to push their agenda for the year, highlighted not only the rivalry between the mayor and Ms. Moskowitz, but also his deepening disagreements with the governor on education.
Mr. Cuomo was aligned with [former mayor] Mr. Bloomberg on most school issues and in his budget has offered to help charter schools win more state money. While Mayor de Blasio wants a tax on high-earning city residents to pay for expanded preschool and after-school programs, the focus of his rally on Tuesday, the governor has proposed to pay for preschool without a tax, a plan the mayor calls unreliable and inadequate.
The mayor and governor talked privately after the rallies, a meeting Mr. de Blasio later described as cordial but achieving no breakthroughs. He also said he did not think the governor’s appearance at the charter rally was tantamount to a protest of the mayor.
“We had a big strong rally here of folks who believe in our pre-K and after-school plan who then went out and lobbied legislators for the rest of the day,” he said, referring to his own event. “I’m very comfortable that we took another step forward.”
While she did not speak at the charter rally, the star was clearly Ms. Moskowitz, well-financed and voluble, who once compared a space fight in a Harlem school to a “Middle East war.”
In the crowd, Ms. Moskowitz, …mingled with thousands of people from over 100 charters around the state. Many were from her own 22 schools, which she let out for the day so the pupils and their parents could be bused to the capital. The advocacy group that organized the rally, Families for Excellent Schools, recently started a multimillion-dollar television ad campaign praising charter schools and calling on the mayor not to hold them back.”
Without a doubt, Ms. Moskowitz has become the face of the charter school movement in New York. However, she carries some baggage with her. As described in the Times article:
“She [Moskowitz] has also attracted notice for her salary, $475,000, partly paid by donors, and roughly double what the chancellor earns. “The irony of what is going on is, here is a woman who makes quite a substantial living on the ability to create schools by pushing thousands of children out of their school buildings, and now she is upset that someone is pushing back on her,” said Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city teachers’ union.
The mayor’s office noted that while it canceled plans for three Success charter schools last week, it allowed five more to open as planned. It said that it withdrew space from the three not out of animus toward Ms. Moskowitz, but because those schools would have placed elementary school students with high school students or cut programs for students with disabilities.”
Mayor de Blasio is right on this issue and has shown balance and moderation in his school building space proposals.