Andrew Rotherham and Richard Whitmire discuss the fissure that has occurred within the Democratic party regarding the issue of education reform. There is a Bill de Blasio camp when it comes to education policy, and the duo describe that camp’s “contribution” to the formulation and implementation of principles and programs that shape how kids are schooled:
With charter schools, de Blasio has singled out a special foe, fellow Democrat Eva Moskowitz, who runs 22 Success Academy charter schools that educate 6,700 students. The mayor cites Moskowitz as the kind of charter operator who needs reining in. Classroom and office space that Success Academy receives from the city enrage the mayor: “There’s no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent.”
Why Moskowitz? Apropos of Mark Twain’s adage that nothing is more annoying than a good example, Moskowitz annoys de Blasio. When she was on the City Council, she led hearings into how the teachers union hurt students. It was considered heresy then and still is now.
After Moskowitz was driven from office by the unions, she put her ideas into action through her schools, whose students, nearly all low-income and minority, recently trounced other schools on standardized tests — a result her critics attribute to selecting the best students.
Here is why I don’t believe for a single moment that Moskowitz’s charter school got great results simply by “selecting the best students.” It is because it would take an inhuman amount of time and energy for the heads of charter schools “that education 6,700 students” to pick and choose among low-income and minority students–or students of any race or income group, for that matter–in order to find “the best students” with which to “trounce other schools on standardized tests.” At some point, charter school critics may have to admit–however painful it may be–that in general, charter schools seem to be doing something incredibly right when it comes to educating their students. (Which must be why so many students and their families work so hard in order to be able to get into charter schools, by the way.) And even if there is cherry-picking found in charter schools, the newsflash of the day is that there is nothing unusual whatsoever about cherry-picking. Rotherham and Whitmire again: “In truth, the well-off kids went to far better ‘common’ schools. The less well-off and minority students went to schools that didn’t give them an equal shot in life.”
And to close, here is the consequence of enacting the de Blasio vision of education policy:
Here’s the dilemma:
The schools have similar students, but 88% of Harlem 5 third-graders passed New York’s math test compared with 5% of P.S. 123’s.
So much for the notion that Moskowitz’s charter school kids are somehow cherry-picked. So much for the notion that New York city’s current public school system–which is more interested in keeping teachers and teachers’ unions happy than it is in fulfilling the needs and meeting the demands of parents and their kids–is doing right by its students. And so much for the notion that Bill de Blasio has anything meaningful whatsoever to say about education and education policy. The mayor claims to be interested in addressing income inequality. He’ll only make inequality worse if he succeeds in shielding a clearly failed educational structure from much needed reforms.