Contributing RP Eva Moskowitz, a former New York City Councilwoman, has announced plans to expand her nationally-recognized charter school network into Brooklyn:
Ms. Moskowitz’s push into well-heeled neighborhoods comes at a critical time for her nine-school Success Charter Network, which she launched in Harlem in 2006 and expects to grow to 40 schools across the city in the next few years. Charter school supporter Michael Bloomberg has two years left as mayor, and his successor might not be as eager to provide the city-owned space that new schools often need.
Charters have been elbowing their way into the city landscape since the 1990s by offering an education lifeline to high-poverty areas desperate for quality schools. Now, Ms. Moskowitz, whose abrasive style has made her a lightning rod for charter opponents, is pitching her schools to lawyers, doctors and other professionals.
It’s a fundamental shift for Ms. Moskowitz and the charter school movement. While she has braved five years of slings and arrows, her network’s future—and that of other charter schools—may hinge on their ability to build constituencies in affluent, influential areas.
“The political significance of this cannot be ignored,” said Steven Brill, whose book Class Warfare chronicles the school reform battles raging across the country. “Once you have charter schools flourishing in middle-class neighborhoods, they become impossible to oppose.”
Ms. Moskowitz gives an educational, rather than political, rationale. “We’ve got to have more, not fewer, alternatives to a profoundly broken education system,” she said. “The clock is ticking against our kids.”
While the “Occupy Wall Street” movement gains some steam, some critics are pointing to some of the philanthropy taking place among the masters of the universe. In the following article, Newsweek profiles the work contributing RP Eva Moskowitz is doing to improve education for poor, urban youth in New York City and her support on Wall Street:
It was a scene to curdle liberal blood. A ballroom full of New York hedge-fund managers playing poker … to raise money for charter schools.
That’s where I found myself last Wednesday: at a Texas Hold ’Em tournament to raise money for the Success Charter Network, which currently runs nine schools in some of New York’s poorest neighborhoods.
While Naomi Wolf was being arrested for showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, there I was, consorting with the 1 percent the protesters hate. It’s no surprise that the bread-heads enjoy gambling. But to see them using their ill-gotten gains to subvert this nation’s great system of public education! I was shocked, shocked…
Your ZIP code can be your destiny, because poor neighborhoods tend to have bad schools, and bad schools perpetuate poverty. But the answer is not to increase spending on this failed system—nor to expand it at the kindergarten level, as proposed by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times last week. As brave reformers like Eva Moskowitz know, the stranglehold exerted by the teachers’ unions makes it almost impossible to raise the quality of education in subprime public schools.
The right answer is to promote the kind of diversity and competition that already make the American university system the world’s best. And one highly effective way of doing this is by setting up more charter schools—publicly funded but independently run and union-free. The performance of the Success Charter Network speaks for itself. In New York City’s public schools, 60 percent of third, fourth, and fifth graders passed their math exams last year. The figure at Harlem Success was 94 percent.
Contributing RP Eva Moskowitz received a major endorsement for her efforts to promote charter schools in New York City — from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page.
We write frequently about the charter-school wars in New York City because the battle touches so many aspects of the effort to give children from poor families the education necessary to escape their circumstances.
Today’s report has good news: Results released yesterday of test scores in the New York State Assessment Program showed that the most relentlessly attacked charter schools—Eva Moskowitz’s Harlem Success academies—have outperformed their public-school peers, often by a wide margin.
At all New York City’s public schools, 60% of third, fourth and fifth graders passed the math exam; at Harlem Success, 94% passed. In the state language arts exam, 49% from the city schools passed compared to 78% at the charters. The 94% pass rate for the academies’ black and Hispanic students surpassed the 73% pass rate for white students taking the exam in New York state.
We’ve received a lot of feedback on The Atlantic magazine’s piece that we posted this week, in which former New York City School Chief Joel Klein praised the work that contributing RP Eva Moskowitz has been doing to promote education in the innercity.
Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein penned a lengthy and thought-provoking essay that appears in this month’s Atlantic magazine entitled “The Failure of American Schools.” In it, he reveals a number of disturbing trends and endemic problems that plague the nation’s public schools system.
Klein offers, however, a signal of hope that comes from the work being done currently by contributing RP, Eva Moskowitz, in her Harlem Success Academy:
Eva Moskowitz is Founder and CEO of the Harlem Success Network
At the individual school level, the differences can be breathtaking. One charter school in New York City, Harlem Success Academy 1, has students who are demographically almost identical to those attending nearby community and charter schools, yet it gets entirely different results. Harlem Success has 88 percent of its students proficient in reading and 95 percent in math; six other nearby schools have an average of 31 percent proficient in reading and 39 percent in math. And according to the most-recent scores on New York State fourth-grade science tests, Success had more than 90 percent of its students at the highest (advanced) level, while the city had only 43 percent at advanced, and Success’s black students outperformed white students at more than 700 schools across the state. In fact, Success now performs at the same level as the gifted-and-talented schools in New York City—all of which have demanding admissions requirements, while Success randomly selects its students, mostly poor and minority, by lottery.
These school-level differences ultimately reflect the effectiveness of a child’s particular teachers. Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford, has shown that, while some teachers get a year and a half’s worth of learning into a year, others get in only half a year’s worth of learning with essentially the same students. Imagine the cumulative impact of the best teachers over 13 years of elementary and secondary education. Indeed, even if California raised its performance to Texas’s level, Detroit to Boston’s, the neighborhood schools in Harlem to Harlem Success’s—that is to say, if our least effective teachers performed at the level of our most effective—the impact would be seismic.
By Eva Moskowitz, on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 8:30 AM ET
Contributing RP Eva Moskowitz, a former New York City Councilperson, has been an outspoken advocate for charter schools since her time in public office. Now the founder and chief executive of the Success Charter Network, a collection of seven charter schools in Harlem and the Bronx, she is speaking out on what she has learned from her work. Today, she argues, contrary to conventional wisdom, that class size is not the critical factor upon which to build education policy.
Here’s an excerpt — the link to the entire op-ed piece (originally published in the Manchester Union-Leader) can be found below it:
THAT CLASS size should be small is revered like an article of faith in this country. Its adherents include parents, education groups, politicians and, of course, the unions whose ranks it swells. In many states it is even required by law, which has lead to millions of dollars in fines against schools in Florida and a lawsuit against New York City by its teachers union.
Yet small class size is neither a guarantor nor a prerequisite of educational excellence.
The worst public elementary school in Manhattan, 16 percent of whose students read at grade level, has an average class size of 21; PS 130, one of the city’s best, has an average class size of 30. Small class size is one factor in academic success. The question, then, is whether the educational benefits of class-size reduction justify the costs.
Some proponents contend that because research shows reducing class size is beneficial, spending on this should be prioritized over anything that is unsupported by research. That’s a neat rhetorical trick but unsound logic. The absence of research on, say, teacher salaries doesn’t prove that we should pay the minimum wage to teachers to dramatically reduce class size. Research should guide spending decisions only if it measures the benefits per dollar of spending on all alternatives.