For the third time in as many years, Eva Moskowitz, czarina of the Success Academy charter school empire and heroine of the campaign to privatize our public school system, has used school children during school hours as political props and done so with absolute impunity. On the contrary, judging from the ecstatic headlines of today’s tabloids, you’d think the employment of school children for political gain is a noble act.
The first time Moskowitz politicized children was in the aftermath of a lawsuit filed jointly by the NAACP and the UFT based on the historic case of Brown vs Board of Education. Both the NAACP and the UFT filed against what they perceived were “separate and unequal “ facilities in the school building Harlem Success Academy, “ co- located” with PS 149 in Harlem. The case is still pending. In protest of the suit, in an act of political surrealism increasingly common in the privatization campaign, Moskowitz led a group of almost entirely African American students to the Federal Building on 125th in Harlem where she held a rally against the NAACP in front of the statue of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
The second such use of children was when Moskowitz employed hundreds of students as ambulatory human advertisements for mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota by marching them over the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of a school day.
Yesterday, Moskowitz went further still, much further still, bussing thousands of children to Albany as part of a rally organized by something called Families for Excellent Schools.
Who paid for such an event?
I have a hunch if was the same people who are lining the re-election campaign coffers of Governor Andrew Cuomo who — Surprise! Surprise! — appeared at the children’s crusade rally to express his love for charter schools, if not for adequately funding public schools.
Meanwhile, the press media went gaga over Eva’s event, with not a single questioning word about the use of children for political gain.
It should be noted that any NYC public school principal or teacher who attempted such a stunt would be removed from her position post haste with ringing condemnations of child abuse and the like from the very same New York Daily News and New York Post. It should be noted that, unlike the Divine Ms. Moskowitz, NYC principals are one and all beholden to rules such as the following from the Chancellors Regulations: Section 1. C. 2, which refers to activities during school hours: “Personnel may not be involved in any activities, including fundraising, on behalf of any candidate, candidates, slate of candidates OR POLITICAL ORGANIZATION/ committee during working hours.”
It should be noted that NYC teachers are expressly forbidden from as much as wearing a political button and are liable to face disciplinary charges if they do.
It should be noted that charter schools such as Success Academy never tire of promulgating the fiction that they are public schools rather than private organizations unaccountable to public oversight that have the great good fortune of being publicly funded.
Moskowitz rationalizes using children in her overtly political actions by claiming that the children, some as young as five or six, are engaging, not in scripted play-acting or political brainwashing — but rather, in civics lessons. As far as I can see, this absurdity – along with the presumption that children can truly comprehend the complexities of the assault on public education and the place of charter schools in this battle — appears to be completely unquestioned by the press. Consider the New York Times account of the event which, while more truthful than the nonsense in the Post and Daily News, makes no mention whatsoever of Moskowitz’s unseemly use of children.
Under the absurd banner of the “War on Charters”, the Post has no problem insinuating that that children bussed to the state capital were in fact “supporters” of charter schools.
Indeed, in their silly comparison between the sizes of Moskowitiz’s rally and that of Bill de Blasio’s rally for universal pre-K, both the News and the Post seem to consider the kids as you would adults.
It’s hard to say what is more disgusting: Moskowitz’s shameless use of children enlisted for the building of her publicly funded empire ? Cuomo’s shameless pandering to her billionare backers and contempt for the millions of non-charter school non -billionaire backed students and parents ? Or the media’s celebration of both ?
Meanwhile, there is Bill de Blasio, continuing to call for funding for universal pre-K, a program that will unquestionably improve the lives of millions of children, especially the poor, and simply the right thing to do, being jeered and lambasted in the press for drawing a smaller crowd than that of the bussed in kids.
I look at this kind of stuff and feel ashamed to be an American.
Thanks to Michael Fiorillo for his help with this post.