As I write thousands of New York City charter school students and their parents are unwittingly preparing to play their vital roles in what is being billed as a Rally for School Equality. In actuality, the event is not merely a massive, insidious and grossly unfair attack on Mayor Bill de Blasio, but the publicly funded opening volley in education entrepreneur Eva Moskowitz’s mayoral campaign. Moskowitz, the founder and virtual queen of Success Academy Charter Schools which have received unconscionably preferential treatment from both the Bloomberg administration and Governor Cuomo, has made no secret of both her outright contempt for de Blasio and her lust for political power. The rally will consist of students drawn solely from publically funded privately managed charter schools. Accompanying the charter school students will be hundreds of charter schoolteachers, charter school administrators and charter school staff. All will be on the clock and paid by public funds provided by NYC taxpayers.
Those wondering why not a single public school teacher, administrator or staff will be present at a rally ostensibly for school equality are advised to ponder NYC Department of education Chancellor’s Regulation D-130, which states: “Personnel may not be involved in any activities, including fundraising, on behalf of any political organization during working hours.”
Rest assured, any public school student who participated in this rally would be marked absent and the school held accountable. More to the point any public school teacher who participated in such a stunt would, at the very least, have their pay docked for thief of services and be brought up on disciplinary charges. Any principal would be seriously reprimanded and may well find his or her job in jeopardy.
Somehow this inconvenient fact, like so many inconvenient facts, has escaped the attention of Eva Moskowitz and Families for Excellence Schools in their heroic efforts to create equality in schools.
To circumvent the unseemly, if not out right reprehensible reality of using school kids as political pawns and public funds for a political rally, Moskowitz and her allies have done what Moskowitz and her allies do: they abuse the language and call it something else.
(See the use of “scholar” for “student.” ) In this case, the transparent political nature of the rally is deemed irrelevant by calling the event “a civics lesson.” The public are meant to perceive it as a kind of gigantic field trip, if one in which the hedge fund managers and billionaires who bankroll Families for Excellent Schools just happen to fund buses, lunches, and entertainment (in the form of Jennifer Hudson ), as well as tee shirts, hats, balloons, and posters. The entire latter items are branded with the slogan – “Don’t Steal Possible” – that is of itself a political accusation, if one that is highly ungrammatical.
By its name alone The Rally for School Equality should be seen by people who respect language as a transparently political event. At any rate, any conceivable room for debate was rendered absurd by the FES’s shockingly cynical and massively aired video in which a voice oozing concern and outrage tells of a white child is said to be going off to college while a black child, condemned to a “failing school”, is headed to hell. The ad ends by blaming such a situation, itself a lie, not on Mayor Mike Bloomberg who ruled NYC schools like a deranged king for twelve long years, but on de Blasio who has had do deal with the deliberately destructive policies of his predecessor.
Other than allow people like Eva Moskowitz and Families for Excellence Schools to privatize the public school system, it is unclear what the protesters want de Blasio to do. Close schools certainly and fire mass numbers of teachers to be sure but they can’t come right out and say that. They seem to suggest that all de Blasio need do is wave his magic wand and make “equal” what people like Eva Moskowitz and organizations like Families for Excellent Schools have done everything in their power to systemically make unequal for years now. What else can result from cheery picking students, booting out all who threaten to fail the sacred tests, commandeering any and all public school space they can get their hands on; above all, swathing their students in the ill-gotten largess of their hedge fund backers so as to make public schools children feel like decidedly second class citizens.
Their cynicism is as is breathtaking as their stated goal is irreproachable. After all, what decent person can be against school equality?
That Moskowitz and her confederates would use children as political pawns and public funds for political rallies should only shock those who have not been paying attention for the past five years or so. That she is has been allowed to do so again and again and again should enrage and disgust us as it reveals the rank cowardice of our elected officials, Danny Drum being a very notable and courageous exception. Despite all this, we expect favorable coverage from all local TV networks. Expect glowing editorial praising Moskowitz and FES in tomorrow’s New York Post and Daily News.
This is the place we have fallen to in what was once the most sophisticated of American cities.
Addendum: This concerning Ms. Moskowitz from the ever watchful Perdido Street School: http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2015/10/eva-moskowitzs-city-hall-steps.html