Give the people what they want


piling in the water photo

Charters rise the school-performance
tide (Photo by Mike Haller)

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

Click to play

Click to listen to commentary on Eva Moskowitz's new charter school from the Education Gadfly Show podcast


School Push Grows
,” by Lisa Fleisher, The
Wall Street Journal
, October 31, 2011.