NYC’s teachers’ union enemy #1

Eva Moskowitz, who runs New York City’s largest charter network, is teachers’ union enemy number one, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, an old-school liberal Democrat, campaigned against Moskowitz:

 In May at a forum hosted by the United Federation of Teachers, or UFT, the potent government-employee local: “It’s time for Eva Moskowitz to stop having the run of the place. . . . She has to stop being tolerated, enabled, supported.” In July, on his plans to charge charters—which are independently run public schools—for sharing space with city-run public schools: “There’s no way in hell Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, O.K.?”

As mayor, he’s cut funding for charter construction, announced a moratorium on co-location and threatened to “roll back” co-locations already approved. 

“A progressive Democrat should be embracing charters, not rejecting them,”says Moskowitz, who’s also a Democrat. “It’s just wacky.”

As she reminds every audience, the 6,700 students at her 22 Success Academy Charter Schools are overwhelmingly from poor, minority families and scored in the top 1% in math and top 7% in English on the most recent state test. Four in five charters in the city outperformed comparable schools.

If Success Academy can’t find space to expand, “most at-risk children would be sent back to failing schools,” says Moskowitz.

She’s backing charter-friendly Gov. Andrew Cuomo, another Democrat, reports the Journal.

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  1. If you read the entire article, it’s a real eye opener. Eva Moskowitz pays herself nearly a half million dollars tax dollars a year to oversee a handful of schools. This is far in excess of what is paid for comparable school leaders, public or charter. Her schools have 6,700 students. Her salary is “$475,244 in 2011-12—that’s more than double the pay for New York’s schools chancellor, who runs a system of 1.1 million students.” Taxpayers are already shelling out way too much for this woman’s lifestyle. There is no reason they should be forced to let her use school’s space without paying rent. She can easily afford to pay the rent herself.

    The whole “enemy of the teacher’s union” thing is a distraction. I have no strong feelings about teacher’s unions one way or the other. The real story is about a cunning individual who has found a way to siphon tax dollars into her personal bank account.

    Most charter schools are run by honorable people who really do put the needs of students first. Bad actors like Eva Moskowitz tarnish the reputation of good charter schools.

    • Oh, Eva Moskowitz has a significantly more credible claim to her salary then does New York’s school chancellor. After all, if parents don’t like her schools then they can take their kids elsewhere.

      The same can’t be said for the chancellor of the New York Public Schools.

      Graduate or don’t graduate, learn or don’t learn the chancellor continues to pull a paycheck until his political capital runs out. What parents think of his performance is immaterial.

      • The problem is that her salary does not come from the parents whose children attend her schools. She gets the money from all NYC taxpayers. It’s hardly a surprize that New York City taxpayers are fed up with what she has been doing and have voted for someone who is willing to take her on. Allen, if you like what Eva Moskowitz is doing, great, send her a check. But don’t expect taxpayers to keep picking up the bill.

        • But if those parents didn’t find value in those schools that they obviously don’t find in New York Public Schools district schools they wouldn’t send their kids to her schools and her salary would come to an abrupt end. That’s a consequence the New York chancellor of schools doesn’t have to concern himself with since it’s unimportant whether parents like, or don’t like, the schools he runs.

          And if the election where decided on the basis of de Blasio’s obeisance to the teacher’s unions then all the many states that are going in the opposite direction would show New York for what it just might be, an outlier.

          But I don’t think the issue’s been decided on the basis of the recent mayoral election. de Blssio’s still got lots of poor, black parents to answer to, just the sort of folks many of his supporters like to think they’re defenders of. Which side of the issue will all those rich, white lefties come down on after being treated to the sight of mobs of angry, poor, black parents who don’t want the promises for their children from an organization that failed them.

          • SC Math Teacher says:

            NYC politics being what it is, de Blasio had, and will continue to have, the black vote locked up. He won 95% of the black vote last November:

            It will be interesting to watch, but I don’t see the charter issue changing anything.

          • Things change.

            There was a time, in living memory, when blacks were in the main Republican. Democrats were very much the party of racism and while in some areas of the country that wasn’t the case it was true enough that blacks didn’t look to the Democratic party for much. That changed.

            Now another politically tectonic event is in the process of occurring with blacks supportive of an outcome forcefully opposed by the teacher’s unions and thus, most of the Democratic party. The unquestionable truths that support the public education system are being questioned and being questioned, if not explicitly then in their actions, by poor, black parents.

            That’s a constituency the Democratic party can’t do without and some Democrats appreciate that fact. That’s why Arne Duncan still has his post.

            Other Democrats are more conservative though and aren’t willing to abandon the long-term and very fruitful relationship with teacher’s unions for a constituency which complacency insists will always remain a reliable vote for Democrats.

            But by lining up with the teacher’s unions the Democratic party puts political expediency ahead of the children of those poor, blacks the party relies upon. That’s a situation that can’t long endure and when the cognizance of the alignment of the Democratic party reaches some critical mass black parents, and everyone they can influence, will choose their children over the Democratic party.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            Forgot to mention that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was a republican

        • Not sure I agree. A lot of Success Academy money comes from donors. Impressed by the kids’ results. But also by Eva M. Of course that money then intermingles with the public money.

          Reality: The day she leaves, donations wil decline. We’ll surely see that with Geoff Canada’s recent retirement at HCZ, for example.

          So if you were on the Success board, and you had someone who could fundraise $5++ million a year, would you pay a salary to maximize chance that the kids kept getting what is effectively $4.5++ million of philanthropy? Or would you say “Hmm, on principle, let’s pay Eva $100k, even if it means she departs and our students are worse off?”

          Although I suppose some donors would be able to buy a few more paintings and help a few less kids…

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Someone who could get all students to perform at the level of those 6,700 should get five hundred million dollars, not five hundred thousand.

      We have spent thousands of billions of dollars over the years and have had little improvement. If she could achieve with even half of today’s students what she has achieved with those 6,700, she would be worth, oh, now that I think of it, at least several billion.

      But I’m pretty sure she can’t.

    • I have a couple serious problems with the Success Academy network, the most serious being that their schools violate the New York State charter school law by not admitting any new students after the first day of third grade, but Eva’s salary isn’t one of them.

      She should be viewed more as a superintendent than as a principal or school leader, and on a per-student basis, she is paid less than quite a few superintendents in the New York City area. I’m also pretty sure that her salary is paid specifically from contributions from donors, not state/city per-student funding.

      • Wrong and wrong. There is no superintendent in the entire United States with such a small student load who gets paid anywhere near her astronomical salary. “Tax filings by the Success Academy schools suggest that management fees charged by that network totaled $3.5 million of their schools’ per-pupil funds in 2011-12. In 2013, the Success Network requested and received a raise in management fees to 15 percent of the per-pupil funding it receives from the state and city.”

        Taxpayers are not stupid. They voted the way they did because they are tired of getting ripped off by people like Moskowitz.

        • You need to read a bit more slowly, Ray: there are in fact a bunch of superintendents in just the New York metropolitan area alone who are paid more *per student* than Eva Moskowitz–e.g., a superintendent of a 2000-student district who makes $200K.

          Most of Moskowitz’s salary is in fact paid by private donors: The management fee increase is a separate issue; nearly all of that money goes to pay teachers’ salaries and benefits.

          De Blasio’s so-called “mandate” on charter schools has been wildly overstated–his official campaign platform mentioned charters and district schools working together on best practices, nothing about rent or ending co-locations, and his current approval rating is a lackluster 51%, with all that polling coming before the botched no-cancellation last Thursday. He’s off to a shaky start, and that’s putting it charitably, and he’s in no position to launch a politically motivated attack on options that are incredibly popular for New York City families.

          • True fact.
            Super here makes over 230K, less than 2000 students. EM’s salary is in the ballpark for a NY super. Nothing extraordinary about it. if you dont want to FOIL.

      • I understand that it’s not uncommon for schools using the classical or Core Knowledge curricula and a math curriculum of the same quality to (1) begin the curriculum with k-1 only and add a class a year and/or (2) restrict new entries in grades 3-5 and above. This is done because the curriculum is heavily sequential and kids entering at upper levels will have missed so much background that it’s difficult for them to catch up. A pre-test can be used successfully for some kids and some kids can repeat a year (commonly done with top-level private 7-12 schools). I don’t see this as a fatal flaw. Having to master the year’s work used to be a prerequisite for advancement in most public schools.That’s all separate from the compensation issue

        • New York State law is quite explicit in stating that charter schools must be open to all, and that any type of aptitude-based admission screen is strictly prohibited. By refusing to admit students to fill empty seats (and the network has a sky-high attrition rate in upper elementary/middle school) on the basis that they potentially might struggle to catch up, Moskowitz’s schools are clearly violating the law.

          • That proscription on selection by charters is pretty much standard across the nation. That’s why opponents of charters have to tap dance around the truth by claiming that the application process is sufficiently cumbersome to act as a selection mechanism.

            You’ll notice though that examples, or even credible support, is never offered. The charge of selectivity is simply presented as an unquestionable truth.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            I don’t see that they are “clearly” violating the law at all. In fact, it looks like they are scrupulously non-selective in their admissions.

            However, the high standards and high attrition rate mean that several years on, the classes look very similar to what they would look like if the school did indeed have an “aptitude-based admission screen.”

            On the other hand, all those kids who dropped out had the same opportunity to pass and stay in the school that the other kids had.

            I could see a court going either way.

          • They’d have stood a chance if they hadn’t gone on the record so many times as saying the reason why they can’t let in new kids after the first day of third grade is that they’d likely be too dumb to keep up. Throw in the fact that no other K-12 system in America that I’m aware of — public, private, charter, parochial, etc.–cuts off entry anywhere even remotely as early, and I’m having trouble imagining how a judge or jury would conclude they are adhering to the law. Of course, much stranger things have happened.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            Do they say “too dumb” or do they say “too far behind”? “Not properly prepared.” “Our system requires that all third graders have achieved …”

            If they say the first, I agree; they’re toast. However, if they say any of the last three, I’m not so sure.

            The first is about aptitude. The latter are about achievement. People in education like to believe those two “a” words are very different things.

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    de Blasio will most likely be a one-termer. Moskowitz is a Democrat and if she keeps her head down will out live old Bill. NY’er aren’t nearly as progressive has some think. As soon as you start attacking established institutions and the hobby-horses of the 1% the cold jaundiced eye of the city will turn on you in a New York minute and rip you to shreds.