“I’m not a Milton Friedman, I just think kids are getting screwed by a system that’s horrible. ”
That from liberal activist Eva Moskowitz who is taking on one of the most powerful and brutal unions in America, the New York City teachers' union.
Moskowitz served on the New York City Council as chairwoman of the education board and earned the wrath of the union by having the temerity of subjecting the contracts of teachers, principals and even janitors to public scrutiny.
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), got its revenge by defeating her in 2005 in her bid to become Manhattan borough president. Undaunted in her quest for giving kids a decent education, she is now the CEO of Harlem Success Academy, a network of four - soon to be seven - charter schools in that famed inner city neighborhood.
Almost all of Harlem Success’s students are black or Latino, and three-quarters qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. Last year, 100 percent of Harlem Success’s third-graders passed the standardized state math exam, and 95 percent passed the English test, far outpacing the local school districts and ranking the school 32nd among all of New York state’s 3,500 public schools.
For Moskowitz, it’s the result of “high behavioral and high academic expectations.” For her critics, it’s another reason to hate her. The union imports activists to protest her schools. Last year, a charming mob greeted Harlem Success children arriving for the first day of school with chants of “Don’t be fooled, abort charter schools.”
Harlem Success and the attendant union thuggery is now the subject of a documentary, The Lottery, so named because of the demand for the Academies. Newark, New Jersey mayor, Corey Booker said he can no longer attend such events for the heartbreak of families not winning acceptance to these types of charter schools (Incidentally, we've seen Booker on T.V. a couple of times. Impressive dude. He represents what we hope is a new breed of big/mid-size city Democratic pols who aren't beholden to the unions, machine politics nor ideology but rather pragmatism. Hell, if Al Sharpton can come out in favor of charter schools and former California Assembly speaker Willie Brown warns of the unsustainability of public pension funds then anything is possible).
Check out trailer for the movie below.
Again, how big GOP can't seem to get itself organized by backing school choice/vouchers and charter schools is beyond us (and this is where the GOP lacks Jack Kemp's vision). For all the hand wringing the Republican pols do about wanting to win over minorities, here is the perfect opportunity as supporting efforts like Harlem Success is a) absolutely the right thing to do, b) is electoral gold with minorities and c) will completely piss off the unions.
What's not too like about all that?