Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eva Moskowitz As Freedom Rider

Good piece by Eliza Shapiro at Capital NY on the use of civil rights rhetoric for education issues by both charter advocates (particularly Eva Moskowitz and her Success Academies) and the de Blasio administration.

Success Academies compared their pro-free charter school rent rally in Albany a few weeks ago to the freedom rides while the de Blasio administration called the universal pre-K drive a civil rights issue.

The consensus from the article?

Success Academies is off base:

Meanwhile, the civil-rights references from the Success network, led by former councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, has prompted some squirming, even within the charter movement.

One charter school activist I talked to said that the charter movement couldn't accurately compare itself to a movement marked by violence, fire hoses and police dogs, and expressed worry that charter-boosting colleagues, who were clearly winning a public-relations battle against the mayor, were wading into dangerous territory by explicitly invoking civil rights. Another said that the de Blasio administration's use of civil rights language showed that both sides were doing it, but that the analogy between advocacy for students and the fight for civil rights, in both cases, was imperfect.
A spokeswoman for Success declined to comment for this article.

But some city charter advocates privately told Capital they recognize that the rhetoric—particularly the implication that by the de Blasio administration is denying the civil rights of minority students by limiting charters—is a stretch.

Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, says the issue of universal pre-K has a more legitimate claim on the civil rights movement’s legacy than the charter cause does. He pointed to the fact that the mayor’s plan is to make pre-kindergarten available for all the city’s toddlers, while charters are, by definition, only available to some students.

“The claim on the part of the charter movement is much more far-fetched than the claim on the part of the mayor,” Baker said. “Unless you believe that Eva Moskowitz is the new Rosa Parks, which I find hard to credit.”

Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP’s New York State conference, criticized the charter network in loaded terms of her own, referring to the landmark civil rights case that desegregated the nation’s public schools: “Success’ schools have almost turned Brown [vs. Board of Education] on its head,” she said.

Read the whole piece.

Quite frankly, I'm sick of the use of civil rights rhetoric from the corporate education reformers like Moskowitz, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein et al.

And considering how many charter schools are almost wholly segregated by race, it's beyond a stretch to claim they are analogous to the freedom rides, demonstrations, protests and sit-in's of the Civil Rights Era.


  1. Quite frankly, I am sick of people with ideological bones to pick taking potshots at people -- like Ms. Moskowitz -- who are making a positive difference for students with few to no alternatives.

    1. "Positive difference?" I'd imagine the parents of the autistic children at PS 149, you know the kids Eva wants to kick out of their own building, would beg to differ.

    2. I will echo Anonymous #2 here - Moskowitz and the charter entrepreneurs are making a negative difference for the children in the traditional public schools who lose space, money and resources to the charter school juggernaut.

  2. What a non-response.

    1. Not sure what you're referring to. Care to elaborate?

  3. Anonymous 1 and 3: Clearly you are not connecting the dots between charterization and the destruction of our public school system. The picture is far greater than merely offering an alternative to the local public school.

    This is ultimately to produce a product that will toil in the neo liberal global economy with a bowed head and sans critical thinking skills, pay taxes to support the military industrial complex, exist merely to put money in the pocket of the big boss.
    We are all working much harder and longer, for comparitively less money, than our counterparts did 40 years ago, while the extremely wealthy are amassing far greater assets.
    The goal is two fold, to turn a huge profit on education and to create an even dumber population. Return to feudalism is what this is about.

  4. It looks more like fascism to me.