Not all heroes wear military uniforms. I have the greatest respect for our military and we owe our freedom to the men and women who serve in our defense. But some heroes fight their battles with pen and pencil rather than guns and grenades.
I’m speaking of Eva Moskowitz, a Democratic woman who is a thorn in the side of the Democratic Party, especially those in New York City. Moskowitz has the audacity to care more about the poor, minority children of New York than the politicians and teachers’ unions that are supposed to represent these children in their pursuit of an education.
As anyone who has ever studied the plight of the poor in inner cities knows, the path to escape from a lifetime of dependency is education. Education opens doors – doors of opportunity – to jobs that lead to meaningful work and greater influence and affluence. Housing and Urban Development Secretary and former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is the prime example of someone who escaped poverty and obscurity through education.
Moskowitz was exposed to the problem of New York’s failing public schools as a child who grew up in Harlem in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though she is white, she was forced to endure the same failing education system as her minority friends. Fortunately, she was blessed with parents who were both professors who supplemented her education. She would go on to achieve high academic goals including a Ph.D in history from Johns Hopkins University.
What makes Moskowitz special is she saw a problem that surrounded her and she determined to do something about it. What makes her a hero is she was willing to challenge her own political party and the leaders of minority groups to make education better for the minorities.
The Success Academy
Moskowitz founded The Success Academy, a charter school in Harlem, in 2006. Today there are seven Success Academy schools just in Central Harlem. She wanted a better education for the children of New York City where education was still failing thirty years after her own experience. By giving parents a choice of where to send their children, Moskowitz is giving those children a chance to live a better life.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Moskowitz can now report the latest performance numbers for her school choice movement since the results of the 2017 New York state tests were released. Here are the amazing statistics:
- Almost half of Central Harlem students attend a charter school
- Students meeting rigorous Common Core math standards have more than doubled since 2013 – from 1,690 to 3,703.
- Students attending charter schools account for 96% of that growth.
- Black and Hispanic students from Success Academy schools outperform white students across the city by 33 points in math and 21 points in reading.
- Low-income students outperform the city’s affluent students by 38 points in math and 24 points in reading.
Parents are noticing the difference. This year 14,000 Harlem children were entered into a lottery for charter schools but only 3,000 spots were available. Across the city there are 48,000 students on charter school waiting lists.
I’m sure no one would contend that black and Hispanic students are genetically superior to explain these outstanding results. So the schools must get the credit. You might expect liberals who claim they are concerned about the poor and minorities would be elated at these results. Sadly, you would be wrong.
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) recently called for a moratorium on charter schools, claiming they created a system that was “separate and unequal.” Lily Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, also opposes charter schools. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten even went so far as to say school-choice and charter schools were the “polite cousins” to Jim Crow segregation. Progressive New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio is also opposed to charter schools.
In other words, when school choice and charter schools benefit blacks and other minorities, the NAACP and the teachers unions call these schools “racist.” When blacks and other minority students succeed, Democratic leaders oppose more of the same school choices.
If you’re confused you’re not alone. What’s not confusing is the agenda of these organizations that profess to be concerned about the plight of minority children but in fact are only concerned with their own political power and campaign coffers.
My hat’s off to people like Eva Moskowitz and Education Secretary Betsy De Vos who are fighting an uphill battle to improve the education and the lives of thousands of minority children despite the obstruction of those who should be applauding their efforts and supporting their work. They are true heroes.