Posts Tagged ‘Eva Moskowitz’

Paul Ryan Comes To Harlem

May 14, 2017

In a sense, the visit of such a person to such an institution made perfect sense, that much the more in the Age of Trump. After all, here you had Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, one of the leading proponents of the ceaseless war on the remnants of the social contract, fresh off his successful orchestration of a billionaire tax cut masquerading as a health care bill intended to strip millions of healthcare, visiting Harlem Success Academy, the flagship school of Eva Moskowitz, one the most successful practitioners of the publically funded privately managed scams called charter schools.

The two, after all, have a lot in common. Both owe their careers to the largesse of the richest people in the country and, in the case of Moskowitz, the politicians in their employ. Ryan, of course, is a prime example of such an employee.

Hence, Moskowitz beckoned, Ryan came.

Despite their almost limitless financial backing, and a government that seems pleased to give them both almost anything they ask, both parade around as heroic strivers for the underclass against the wily tyranny of the status quo, i. e. the public sector and labor unions.
Both are corporatists, through and through.
Please note that Harlem Success Academy is but one of three schools housed in the building in which Ryan made his visit.
What was the purpose of Ryan’s visit? A visit that necessitated police barricades and TV crews at 7:30 in the morning when I arrived to teach in the school that Ryan had no intention of visiting . A visit that brought hundreds of furious protesters whose whistles and howls I could hear intermittently throughout the day, one especially loud volley signaling Ryan’s arrival, another, his hasty exit.

For Moskowitz, Ryan’s visit was a public relations bonanza, made to show the world how connected to power she really is. A few years ago I literally bumped into presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the hall of my school as he was leaving Success Academy after visiting with Moskowitz.

It is not hard to imagine what would happen if a public school official called Ryan’s office and offered a tour of a public school.

For Ryan the visit was an opportunity to show how much and how deeply he cares about the children and people of Harlem, even if he and Donald Trump and a bunch of rich white guys recently celebrated stripping them of their healthcare while taking aim at Medicare.

Full disclosure: Ryan, who arrived hours late, did make a last minute gun-at-the –head, perfunctory visit to a special needs class in the 811 school which Moskowitz tried ruthlessly to gobble up as part of her ever expanding empire, to hell with the special needs kids who are schooled there. Almost certainly agreed to because of the pressure asserted by 811 teacher Mindy Rosier, Ryan was reportedly escorted into a classroom of children who had no idea who he was, smiled, said hello, shook the principal’s hand and was hustled up the stairs for an hour long visit with Success Academy.

Using children for political props is nothing new to Moskowitz, even if the same act would find any DOE principal out of a job and possibly in jail should they pull such a stunt. Over the past few years Moskowitz has bussed children up to Albany and had them parade over the Brooklyn Bridge, all on school time, all as their teachers were on the city’s dime, all under the pretext of giving the kids a “civics lesson.”
Ryan’s visit, presumably, was just another such “lesson. “

But what, precisely, was the nature of the lesson? What did the students learn? That it was somehow OK for the Speaker of the House of Representatives to visit their school and not the public school next door in the same building? That the students my colleagues and I teach are somehow not as important? That passing savage health care bills that will destroy people’s lives and render millions helpless so the richest people in the country can have yet another tax break is just fine?
That some people count and some people don’t ?

Yes, it made perfect sense that these two should meet, as it is so perfectly revealing of the nature of all things in the Age of Trump.

Ryan and friends celebrating stripping millions of Americans of healthcare.

Addendum: http://thechiefleader.com/news/news_of_the_week/house-speaker-gets-a-private-look-at-success-and-a/article_a5d7128c-2ab7-11e7-8d4d-6364c3ca180d.html

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The Sorrows of Empire and the Cult of Eva Moskowitz

May 12, 2016

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Another day, another scathing article about Eva Moskowitz and Success Academies, her would be charter School Empire beloved by billionaires and hedge fund managers. According to leaked documents, SA’s damning teacher turn over rate is mirrored in the upper echelons of Eva Land. There is, states the document, an “exodus from the organization’s top ranks.”
Apparently, even those attracted to the snake oil Moskowitz has been peddling for years, even those benefiting form the millions and millions of philanthropic hedge fund dollars, can not stand working for this person.
“We don’t have a qualified talent pool to fill the spots left by the departing school leaders,” said one executive in the risk assessment”, in one of the documents. “We are already in the territory of putting people in leadership role[s] who are not quite ready yet.”
Yikes!
Then there is the matter of Moskowitz, currently garnering a salary of $567,000 ,attempting profiteer on yet another student data system scam.
“As consequential as any of those exits was the departure of the Success’s chief technology officer, Steven Gittleson, which followed a period of internal recrimination over the network’s floundering $20 million student data system, called SMS.
That system-wide data tracker was created internally and budgeted for a minimum cost of $20 million as of August 2015, according to an internal budget document.
The broader hope was that SMS — like other aspects of Success’s operations — could set a standard for student data systems and a model for charter schools across the country, and possibly become an additional source of revenue through licensing deals.
Moskowitz and Gittleson signed a profit-sharing agreement in 2014, according to a copy of the contract obtained by POLITICO New York, that would have allowed the network to commercialize the product and eventually sell it to other educational organizations.”
Sweet!
Then there is this kind of stuff:
“I am concerned, “ said one writer of the report,” about high-performing employees and executives being ‘poached out’ of this organization as we become more prominent in our branding,” said one senior leader. “It also leads to loss of tribal knowledge, creating a high stress environment.”
“Branding?”
“Tribal knowledge? ”
What is this stuff ?
Is this the language of the public school system that Moskowitz and her supporters, despite all evidence to the contrary, claim SA to be.

Then there is the moral degeneracy of spending $700,000 on a rally.

$700,000. On a rally.

“The documents reveal uneven returns on political spending, including more than $700,000 on a pro-charter rally last year in Albany…”

Finally, there is the matter of Eva herself.

“CEO ( Moskowitz ) possesses unique knowledge of and insight into the Success Academy pedagogy,” a description of the issue in the risk assessment reads. “Absent the CEO, the organization may struggle to achieve outstanding scholar outcome.”
Please ponder again.
“Unique knowledge of and insight into the Success Academy pedagogy.”
“Absent the CEO, the organization may struggle to achieve outstanding scholar outcome.”
If this is not a description of the leader of a cult, I don’t know what it.
Spooky.
And the public is paying for it.

School Children Again Used as Props as Taxpayers Pay for the Opening Salvo in Moskowitz’s Mayoral Campaign

October 7, 2015

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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.

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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

Thoughts on Friedrichs Vs. California, Eva Moskowitz, and Human Dignity

October 4, 2015

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Some time within the next few months the U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. If the justices decide in favor of Friedrichs, all public employee unions across America will be decimated and all public employees would immediately become “at will” employees laboring under the Right to Work model.
For anyone wondering what a Right to Work model would mean for a teacher in New York City one could do worse than take a long hard look at what lays within the recently leaked five page internal document addressed to the staff of Eva Moskowitz’s non-union Success Academy.

From what one can gather from the leaked SA doc, outside of having zero job security, no say whatsoever in working conditions and working endless hours, the “at will” teachers at Success Academy are apparently obliged to do whatever it is their leader orders them to do or else. According to the document, this would include (but not be limited to) debasing their language, creating a false sense of crisis and conning the parents of their students into attending whatever it is master Moskowitz desires them to attend regardless of whether they could afford it or not.

The document was written by something called Success Academy’s “advocacy team,” whose job apparently is to supply “messaging assistance” to staff. In this case the “messaging assistance” consists of not only helping teachers convince SA families to attend a rally but to help teachers convince these families that the transparently political event is somehow not political by supplying the language they are to use with the parents. (The rally, organized by the sleazy and cynical Families For Excellent schools, yet another billionaire created front for school privatization, was meant to take place on Sept 30 but was postponed because of rain.)
“This is not a political event,” employees are being asked to tell parents who may be hesitant about participating in a rally with political implications, reported Politico. “This is an event in support of your scholar, our school, and the right for families to have access to equal schools.”

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Of course, for anyone who has been unfortunate enough to “co-locate “ with a Success Academy, the fact that Moskowitz forces her teachers to debase the English language is evident on a daily basis. Take, for instance, the word “scholar .’’ Here is a word you will hear SA teachers saying in passing 10, 20, 30 times a day. You will here it drop incessantly from the lips of administrators in meetings between your school and Success Academy. Once I heard it while waiting to see the nurse when a teacher from SA called a mother on his cell phone to inform her that “your scholar fell down in the playground and hurt her elbow. “ In every other part of the English speaking world the word scholar is commonly understood to mean a distinguished academic, a specialist in a particular discipline or, at the very least, 
a person who is highly educated.

Not in Moskowitz land. There the word “scholar” means every student in Success Academy, excepting of course those kids with lousy test scores who are booted out and into the land of non-scholars as quickly as possible. In Success Academy “scholars “ are children as young as five.

Now I understand the rationale behind this misuse of language – somehow addressing them as “scholars” inspires them to great heights and all that — but as I do not support forcing teachers to debase their language, never mind to practice magical thinking on other people’s children, I whole heartedly reject it. And I do not find it harmless. It is to use language in the same manner and for the same reason as an ad company: to sell a product. Misuse of language is never harmless. As even one of Moskowitz’s five year old “scholars” knows, calling an acorn an oak tree does not magically make it into one, even if Eva Moskowitz demands you say it does.

Then there is Moskowitz’s singular use of the word “civics, ” as if taking 9000 school kids up to Albany or marching them across the Brooklyn Bridge during school time is actually engaging them in a “civics lesson. ” This too one assumes must also be echoed ad infinitum by the teachers in her employ. Of course, if this outrageous behavior is indeed presented to SA students as a civics lesson, you can rest assured that there would be no mention of the fact that the exact same actions are strictly forbidden for a public school, that any public school teacher involved in such a stunt would be sighted for theft of services and any principal who allowed it would have his or her job on the line.

One can also safely assume that SA teachers would be careful not to mention the extremely un-civic demand given by their “advocacy team” that their memorandum be carefully kept away from parents less they see how completely they are held in contempt.

To my way of thinking, to oblige teachers to debase their language, act against their conscience, and betray their intelligence while insulting that of their students’ parents or risk losing their livelihood is morally, intellectually and spiritually grotesque. Simply put, a person who has been stripped of their language by being forced to speak another’s has been stripped of their personhood. And yet, as “at will” employees, even if such a teacher wishes to grieve such degradation, they have nowhere to grieve it.

That said, I have no doubt whatsoever that, even if Moskowitz is extreme, these kinds of demands and worse will begin to be made in schools across the board and across the United States should the Friedrichs decision be made against public unions. Should that nightmare scenario come to pass, all of those who remain public school teachers will find themselves working to one degree or another for some one like Eva Moskowitz. Those who have been trying to recreate American schools in their image will have removed the last barrier to complete and utter domination. They will flood American schools with their corporate apparachiks who, like Moskowitz, will delight in making humiliating demands and in destroying the careers of seasoned teachers — all for the good of the children, of course. Should that nightmare scenario come to pass, the war against public school teachers which has been raging for over a decade, fueled by the richest individuals on earth in cahoots with the most powerful politicians in the United States, may at last end with the both American children and their parents on the losing side. At the very least, it will be an enormous step backward and, if the Moskowitz model is any guide, a massive and insidious assault not only on the dignity of teachers but on all Americans from coast to coast.

SAT Scores Point to the Systemic Failure of Education Reform

September 5, 2015

SATs
So on Labor Day weekend the College Board releases SAT scores that show that said scores have slipped to the lowest level in ten years, with New York scores falling below the national average.

What to make of this? What to make of this in a nation where public education has long ago been hijacked by private citizens and absolutely dominated by their untested and unproven notions of “education reform”, all of it designed to make students “ college and career ready, “all of it centered on test scores as the ultimate criteria of both student learning and teacher “effectiveness.”

I, for one, find the use of test scores as anything more than one criterion among many to be as cynical and intellectually lazy as one can get. But that said, those who live by test scores should have the integrity to follow out their own logic. If their reforms are working, why after a decade are SAT scores going down? If they are
not, why are they allowed to continue ?
One would think that the people responsible for such failure, should they be reasonable and decent people, might be somewhat humbled at what they have essentially inflicted upon a generation of other peoples’ children.
But humility and decency are qualities in short supply amongst education reformers.

At any rate, New Yorkers were given a prelude to the SAT revelation – the ocean between the promises of reformer and the results of reform — in June 2014 with the startling news that not a single one of the “little test-taking machines
of Eva Moskowitz’s endlessly praised Harlem Success Academies was able to pass the test needed to enter New York City’s selective high schools.
Not one.
That news too should have been met with humility but, of course, it was simply buried, as this too is likely to be buried. But in the mean time you can rest assured that as you read this there are well paid mercenaries busy figuring out some angle with which to blame this failure on teachers and argue the need to double down on the insane policies ed reformers have been allowed to inflict on millions of American children.