Give the people what they want
Despite all the good she’s done—her Harlem Success Academy 1 ranks in the top percentile of schools in New York State, and the others in the network are no slouches—Eva Moskowitz has earned herself some fierce opponents among Gotham’s upper-middle class. How come? First, a year ago, she sought to locate one of her schools on the Upper West Side—only to see hordes of public-school parents freak out at the thought of their schools competing with a new charter for space, money, and kids. (After some effort, Moskowitz opened the school this fall.) Now she’s back for a rematch, this time in the upscale urban hamlet of Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill. Why the focus on more-affluent locales? As Moscowitz has explained, “middle-class families need options, too.” (The political heft that middle-class folks could provide to the charter movement isn’t a bad reason, either, especially as the majority of her schools are in lower-income neighborhoods.) Voicing an agenda of excellence for all, Moskowitz is finding support from parents who aren’t willing to wait for their zoned schools to improve—and facing opposition from those who see her charters as siphoning resources (and education-minded families) away from the project of improving district schools. There is much to be said for rebuilding neighborhood schools, but we happen to think Moskowitz is right that more parental options will lift all boats, rather than sink revitalization campaigns.
|Click to listen to commentary on Eva Moskowitz's new charter school from the Education Gadfly Show podcast
“Charter School Push Grows,” by Lisa Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2011.
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