Thursday, February 25, 2010

Political pull by charter school operator exposed

Some parents have asked me why I am involving myself in such a controversial issue as charter schools, seemingly unrelated to class size. But I don’t think it is.

District public schools that have a higher concentration of high-needs students are losing classrooms, libraries and intervention spaces to charter schools, which is neither equitable or good policy.
This is especially damaging, given the fact that only three out of 13 district schools slated to lose space next year to charters have reached their mandated class size reduction targets. For more on this see here, my comments on the charter co-locations that were voted on by the PEP last night.
Yesterday, on Good Day NY, when asked why the Chancellor seems biased towards charters, I said I didn’t really know, but that I suspected that many of the charter school operators are receiving preferential treatment because of their political connections.

A perfect example is revealed in today’s column in the Daily News by Juan Gonzalez, and in the emails he FOILed between Eva Moskowitz and Chancellor Klein.

Not only did the Chancellor intercede repeatedly with his own staff to get her chain of charter schools more space, when she had already received more than the formula would allow, helped her recruit parents for her schools by giving her access to their names and addresses, and also appeared at numerous fundraisers and helped her raise a million dollars from the Broad foundation, explaining how politically useful she was in organizing thousands of charter school parents to support Bloomberg, the continuation of mayoral control and raising of the charter school cap.

As Klein wrote to Dan Katzir of the Broad Foundation, “she’s done more to organize parents and get them aligned with what our reforms than anyone else on the outside.”

In her emails, Moskowitz repeatedly refers to her “army of parents” and many of them were indeed at attendance last night in the PEP meeting, along with their kids, cheering and chanting in support of their expansion into district buildings – all of which were approved, except for one.
Click on the email above, and check out the others on the Daily news website here. You'll be amazed.

You can also check out my appearance on Democracy Now .