The Battle for New York Schools: Eva Moskowitz vs. Mayor Bill de Blasio

The fight between two liberal crusaders with profoundly divergent ideas about how to aid and educate the disempowered.

Beth, I hesitated a lot before sharing this, but I in fact lived in NYC for a few years. I worked as an adjunct at a couple of area colleges, where I taught graduates of the NYC public schools. I also tutored HS students from the Bronx and saw something of their school. I can tell you without hyperbole that most of the HS graduates I taught ("honors" grads included) were semi-illiterate. They could not find Brazil or Italy on a map of the world. They could not understand their textbook. My colleagues teaching remedial math confirmed that many were pretty much innumerate as well.

Oh, and the number one wish of Bronx HS students I worked with: That people don't get jumped in the halls.

You say middle-class people have great schools in New York, but I think you and I are defining middle class differently. These were the kind of school districts we could afford to live in. If we could afford to live in Park Slope, we might have stayed in town.

You might say that really smart and motivated kids will rise above such an environment, but for the most part, you would be wrong. The problem with my students was not their IQ or their work ethic. Most were bright - some very much so - and hardworking. The problem was that their schools were chaotic and that -- and this is the part that I really hesitate to say, though it is true -- many of their teachers had such low literacy and such a poor understanding of subject matter that their "teaching" actively did harm.

1 2018-12-03 18:44:04 - Clem

Audio books.

1 2017-12-02 04:50:46 - Tom Scharf

"...who is promoting public school privatization". Really?
Please tell me how charter schools, which are publicly funded (but get only a fraction of what the public schools get for each student) are privatized. No answer?
It's as clear as crystal that they aren't private, or "privatized", whatever that means. But they can't cherry-pick, by law, and they seem to give their students a dashed good education.
Why would anyone be against this? Apart, that is, from the unions and the politicians that they've bought.

11 2017-10-06 12:56:09 - spindizzy

If the union was the problem in public schools, we'd expect to see highly unionized states with bad schools and the non-union ones with good schools. In other words, we'd expect to see the opposite of what we do in reality.

3 2017-09-11 13:36:16 - Eric

Yeah, sure. Charters are "not allowed" to cherry-pick. But the whole premise of charters is that they'll benefit from having little or no oversight, and it's well documented that the "successful" ones, at least, cherry-pick ruthlessly.

1 2017-09-04 15:03:52 - Eric

Talk about losing our edge. The global economy will not be kind to kids who have grown up protected from emotional scratches.

We have a large group of Americans who now believe it is mean, nasty and selfish (their words) to demand personal responsibility and accountability from individuals. It does not bode well for our country.

2 2017-09-02 14:30:00 - AACNY

" The 2014 results, released last month, put the network in the top 1 percent of all the state’s public schools in math and in the top 3 percent in English. At one Bedford-Stuyvesant academy, where 95 percent of students are black or Latino, 98 percent scored at or above grade level in math, with 80 percent receiving the highest of four ratings."

Wow, Bravo! Eva Moskowitz the Great! I indeed admire you, your spirit, your courage, your wisdom and your perseverance. Your ARE changing America, you are saving America. Yes, you are saving this country and the world from illiteracy and ignorance which can only lead to violence and collapse. THANK YOU!

I am determined to joint in your journey for this country. I have PhD degree in math and teaching math at university now. I will contact with you soon.

10 2017-08-22 14:57:36 - Luke

This has been brought up repeatedly. Public school gifted and talented programs do that honestly and ethically. Moskowitz doesn't. She runs a gifted and talented program that she claims is a regular school, and wants her hand-picked students to be compared against non-sorted ones so that she can claim to be offering better instruction.

Gifted and talented public school programs don't pull funds from the public system and don't pretend that their success is due to better teachers. They admit they've got better students.

14 2017-08-09 01:08:50 - Eric

Not true. The article makes very clear that many of these kids did not come from privileged backgrounds

0 2017-07-26 03:19:50 - Stuart W

It's important not to equate higher test scores with kids "learning." Tests have their place, but anyone who has spent any time working in public schools knows how dramatically scores are manipulated from year to year, with a changes in the cut scores, and total overhauls in format. Student progress is measured from one year to the next, which is often like comparing apples and oranges. So, besides theses test scores, which have been consistently shown to be unreliable measures of student learning, and terrible at indicating teacher quality, what is your proof that charter school students are receiving a better education?

0 2017-07-15 14:03:12 - Middle School Teach

Living in Maine, maybe you are too far away to have heard what a success her schools are and how mostly poor, mostly minority parents are clamoring to get their students into them.

Your comments reveal your biases: "Worming their way into city buildings rent free..." The charter schools are providing a higher quality, FREE, PUBLIC education, Why in the world should they pay rent?

As a child of (union) New York school teachers, of course you would only have heard (mostly fictional) bad things about her, because schools that hold principals and teachers accountable for education and get to say goodbye to the bad or incompetent ones is the principals and teachers unions' biggest nightmare.

6 2017-07-11 10:02:03 - AB

Ravitch offers a slew of practical proposals to solve the problem. You don't want to hear them.

Did your private school take all comers?

Because Unions may do stupid things is no reason to adopt a solution that does not work--there just isn't any evidence that charters work any better than public schools. Success Academy--if it's so good, why don't Scarsdale parents send their kids to it?

6 2017-07-08 21:22:07 - Pecus

Where is the UFT headquarters? About ten feet from the Stock Exchange. You know are probably there right now.

9 2017-06-21 17:31:43 - Michael

For liberal progressive Democrats who have always been union sympathizers that have sought to protect workers throughout the history of the Labor Movement, the United Federation of Teachers (UTF) presents a real 'Catch 22'. It's not ever appropriate for the UTF to protect for eternity the incompetent and destructive teachers that damage the educational experience of our children when, quite frankly, they should be fired.

16 2017-06-17 16:45:23 - Jim

Employees of schools everywhere, including public schools, are allowed to have their children attend.

10 2017-06-01 09:14:01 - AACNY

So, way back in a reply, I asked if anyone could reference any actual research on this topic that made specific comparisons-- not "schools called charter schools" compared to "schools called public schools", which simply homogenizes a broad range of entities in each category. This is not a burdensome request; it is perfectly possible to practice some degree of reductionist analysis in social science.

Big surprise-- we have lots of assertions with nothing to back them up.

Since all the 'experts' commenting here clearly have no science background, let me give a little lesson.

If you believe, for example, that difficulty in firing teachers is the problem, then you should be able to provide a comparison of districts with different rules (where there is a union) and/or different firing rates, controlling of course for SES and other factors we all agree have an effect.

That way, we could make changes to improve both public and private schools, based on science not politics. That is, if all the people commenting cared about our children and not their own agenda.

I'm assuming that people can think of other *specific* factors that could be teased out given that we now *do* have some competing paradigms to compare. This isn't my field so I will ask again: Is there anyone out there who knows of objective research like this? And if it doesn't exist, why aren't both sides insisting that it be done?

6 2017-05-23 07:11:19 - arty

Giving short shrift to Ms. Moskowitz's critics may make for a moving story about an embattled (if extraordinarily well-compensated and well-connected) activist. It's also bordering on dishonesty. It is abundantly clear that the Success Academies both selectively enroll and counsel out students. It is simply true that the chain has remarkable attrition rates, incredible levels of additional funding, and fewer high-speed students than real public schools. The author may feel these facts have limited impact on the school's test-based success, but did not even attempt to justify his belief.

Additionally, the fact that co-location has had an enormous and negative impact on real public schools is well-documented. The Tumblr Inside Co-Location recounts how one of Ms. Moskowitz's own schools encroached on other children's basic needs.

50 2017-05-15 03:06:38 - Jennifer

There are also a number public magnet schools at the elementary level.

0 2017-05-12 13:58:30 - it is i

"Ms. Moskowitz asks a lot of participation from parents, as a condition of admitting their children. She told one group, "If you know you cannot commit to all that we ask of you this year, this is not the place for you."

This quote is from the NY Times, 11/03/08 The Education Crusader slideshow.

It is incomprehensible that the SUNY Charter Institute authorizes any Success Academy schools, when their mandate is specifically for schools serving at-risk students. Are students who have parents "willing to commit to all we ask" the new definition of "at-risk" students? In that case, how does the SUNY Charter Institute describe the students who do NOT have these parents? Those kind of "at-risk students" are not welcome at Success Academy, which, apparently, does not bother the authorizers at the SUNY Charter Institute one bit. Will SUNY allow ALL charter schools to refuse to educate students whose parents can't actively participate in their education? Or is that a special privilege only Success Academy is allowed?

I agree that more schools are needed for parents who are actively involved in their children's education. But I don't understand why Eva Moskowitz gets the exclusive franchise to run them. And I don't understand this reporter's pretense that her schools come anywhere close to addressing the real problems in education that Mayor de Blasio has to address. Perhaps that is why most public school parents support the Mayor, not fake "reformers".

15 2017-05-07 11:31:20 - Picky reader

Yes - and as to your last sentence - other than the automobile - the failing urban schools was the main issue that drove suburbanization!

1 2017-05-01 02:15:42 - Andre

Post to The Battle for New York Schools: Eva Moskowitz vs. Mayor Bill de Blasio (login required)

5VW to Pay $1.2 Billion to U.S. Dealers Hurt by Diesel Scandal33Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete799Inequality Is a Drag957A Scourge Is Spreading. M.T.A.’s Cure? Dude, Close Your Legs.489The Wolf Hunters of Wall Street1194Living Wages, Rarity for U.S. Fast-Food Workers, Served Up in Denmark989The Battle for New York Schools: Eva Moskowitz vs. Mayor Bill de Blasio104The Profits-Investment Disconnect580U.S. to Commit Up to 3,000 Troops to Fight Ebola in Africa245Living on Purpose409Staten Island Man Died From Chokehold During Arrest, Autopsy Finds355Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition775After Losing Scottish Independence Vote, Alex Salmond Will Resign323How Billionaire Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties1Cambodians Gather to Pray, Offer Gifts for 'Killing Fields' Dead1338The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food108My Selfie, Myself1457Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll374A Political Crystal Ball219An Affair to Remember, Differently52Live Updates: Aftermath of Grand Jury's Decision in Michael Brown Shooting in Ferguson1511Shooting Accounts Differ as Holder Schedules Visit to Ferguson101Teenagers Stand Up to Backpage4380A Plea for Caution From Russia818How Obama Lost America334Death by Data281In Florida Student Assaults, an Added Burden on Accusers1625A Punch Is Seen, and a Player Is Out164 The Shifting Politics of Cuba Policy 2207Under Pressure, Cuomo Says Ebola Quarantines Can Be Spent at Home652Germany Fights Population Drop494Trayvon Martin Case Shadowed by Series of Police Missteps167It Takes a Mentor622House Votes to Sue Obama for Overstepping Powers597Don’t Muzzle the Clown443The Humanist Vocation192Weak Oversight, Deadly Cars163More on Sleeping Pills and Older Adults1092The Big Lie Behind Voter ID Laws 128‘Princelings’ in China Use Family Ties to Gain Riches495Doctors Denounce Cancer Drug Prices of $100,000 a Year445Let’s Reject the ‘Inevitable’530Will Portland Always Be a Retirement Community for the Young?733On Election’s Eve, G.O.P. Is Confident, but Voters Are Sour118The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K 1031One Day in an Elevator With Obama, Then Out of a Job630Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse290Cuomo’s Gun Law Plays Well Downstate but Alienates Upstate 999Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?449Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature