2008-05-02 / Columnists

School Scope

Eva At It Again
Commentary By Norman Scott

Norman Scott Norman Scott Eva Moskowitz, former NYC councilwoman and failed candidate for Manhattan borough president (we can guarantee she would not have appointed an independent voice to the Panel for Educational Policy as did Scott Stringer who defeated her), has used her down time between political campaigns to open a charter school in Harlem, squeezing her way into a public school space.

The NY Post ran an op-ed from her on how great Joel Klein and charter schools are. In a piece worthy of any comedy routine, among the best lines are these.

"Suppose you ran a school and you had some good ideas you wanted to try. Then imagine that you couldn't try those ideas because dictating your policies were people hundreds of miles away who'd never visited your school and didn't have any experience running one."

Eva did have experience, briefly as a drop-in teacher and she did go to school, so that is why she feels she should run one. Even lawmakers in Albany went to schools once and have as many qualifications as Eva does. And poor Joel. He's never had the joy of running a school himself. Or a school system. But why not give him the largest school system in the nation as a playpen?

Now, according to Eva, the public schools in Harlem suck. You know, all that red tape. But...but...Eva... Hasn't Joel Klein been running all these schools? For 7 years? Isn't it his red tape? Here's a funnier line: "Remarkably, Chancellor Joel Klein, despite these handicaps, has made meaningful improvements to the public schools over the last seven years. But he's being forced to fight with one hand tied behind his back."

Poor Joel, suffers over having to give teachers 50 minute lunch hours and some prep time. And health care. Now we know why all those schools in Harlem are failing. Bet those Catholic schools, where teachers make half what public school teachers do, are making out ok. Boy, if Joel could only get that hand untied we would really see improvements.

Warning: the following is satire (One reporter emailed me to make sure after I published it on the ednotes onlineblog.)

"Scarsdale Success" To Give Parents Choice - Finally

Tired at being barricaded inside their zoned schools, a group of Scarsdale residents have asked some Harlem African-American ministers to open a charter school in Scarsdale, NY. They will urge space be found to cram it into a current public school. The school will be called "Scarsdale Success" and will be modeled on former NYC city council member Eva Moskowitz' "Harlem Success" school.

"It is not fair to the people in that community that charter schools are only being opened by white people for black residents in Harlem," said a spokesperson. "Free choice of schools should be open to white folks, too. Why should the good people in Scarsdale have to send their children to a conscripted public school without having the freedom to choose alternatives? Our individual rights are being subverted in favor of some

misguided notion of collectivism that favors the status quo."

"But, aren't they wealthy enough to send their kids to private schools if they are not happy with the public schools?" we asked. The spokesperson said:

"Do you know what they pay in taxes to support the public schools? Aportion of that money should go to open a variety of charter schools so they can have a choice. What if a parent is not happy with the progressive curriculum and wants his or her kids to have a testprep all-day education like the kids in Harlem? What if a parent is sick of all the trips and excursions his or her kids go on and prefers they stay in school all day and work to close the achievement gap with Shaker Heights, Ohio? What if you are a minority in the community and you don't want to go to the school with the majority-chosen principal? The only model that avoids the tyranny of the majority and respects the individual rights of parents and students is the school choice model."

Won't cramming a charter school into an existing public school cause class sizes to rise? "Class size is overrated. Better to have a class of 50 with a good teacher than a class of 10 with a low quality teacher," said the spokesperson.

"I'm sick of having to elect school boards and having a say in running our schools," said a Scarsdale supporter of the plan. "We want what the residents of Harlem have - no say at all in how their schools are run. Like them, we want outsiders to come in and take the burden off our hands by telling us how to run our schools. I've noticed too many of our kids do not look at the teachers and nod on cue as they are taught at Kipp schools." We want some Kipp of our own.

Some Scarsdale residents plan to petition Mayor Bloomberg and Joel Klein to come in and take over their schools. "Better yet," said a parent leader, "we hope Eva Moskowitz gets off her missionary kick in Harlem and comes on down."

I'm writing this on the eve of my trip to Tokyo for the Asian Open FIRST LEGO League robotics tournament. See reports on my robotics blog: http:// normsrobotics.blogspot.com/.

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