A lot of back and forth in New York City about the Moskowitz v. de Blasio charter school showdown. A few thoughts:
1) On the big question, Success Academy’s Moskowitz is clearly winning at this point. School chancellor Farina’s softening of tone is an indication that there is political pain being felt. The mayor’s approval ratings are barely higher than Derek Jeter’s spring training batting average – taking a hit to 39 percent (for a bunch of reasons, some with nothing to do with education).
2) Farina’s saying “charters are on their own” is being used to show she has an inner Cruella de Vil. Except the quote is being taken out of context. If you listen to the interview she clearly means the schools independent not that those kids are on their own.
3) This new argument that the choice in one of the colocations is Moskowitz v. special ed kids is great politics and being sold to reporters but ignores the facts. No students are being displaced, it’s about future students, and the impact analysis for the colocation in question (pdf) indicates that there is suitable space elsewhere for those programs.
4) Mayor de Blasio is creating two new political forces in education over this – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Moskowitz. Their strategists couldn’t have wished for such fat pitch right across the plate.
5) In real terms it is hard to characterize the de Blasio administration’s specific decisions on colocation as an all out war on charter schools. But it’s the context that matters – budget decisions, the rhetoric during the campaign and subsequently (including the stunningly personal and vindictive rhetoric about Moskowitz), and the fact that all the schools involved are in Moskowitz’s network that is turing this debate into one that people are watching. And, it’s the most visible hot war in the the education cold war happening within the Democratic Party.
6) Moskowitz’s closing schools and taking students to Albany to protest against the de Blasio policies is emerging as a flashpoint. Reasonable people can disagree about such a move but neither “side” in the education debate has clean hands here. The people now denouncing Moskowitz were silent or applauding when schools in WI and MI closed because everyone was off protesting, for instance. The AFT gave the leader of one MI protest an award for getting so many teachers to skip work. On Twitter someone remarked that Wisconsin was a once in a lifetime thing so it’s excusable. OK, sure, but if you’re a desperate New York City parent betting on one of these schools as your child’s ticket to a quality education you probably feel the same way about your child’s school being at risk.
7) Hottest thing written about this yet? Peggy Noonan’s WSJ column today. Yikes!