Eva Moskowitz finds her big-time ‘friend’
ALBANY—Eva Moskowitz said she would go to the president of the United States to help her students if she had to. For now, she's stopping at Andrew Cuomo.
Moskowitz, C.E.O. of Success Academy charter schools in New York City, helped organize a massive rally outside the state Capitol on Tuesday, where she said she was “delighted” to have the governor's support.
Cuomo spoke at the event, pledging his commitment to getting charter schools the money and facilities they need to “thrive,” while down the street New York City mayor Bill de Blasio fought what is shaping up to be a losing battle for his tax-the-rich pre-kindergarten plan.
“It's just nice to have friends and supporters,” Moskowitz said, when asked about Cuomo. “We have felt kind of alone in this fight.”
During the mayoral campaign, de Blasio threatened to charge charter schools rent and pledged that Moskowitz's schools specifically would not enjoy the same treatment under his administration as they did under Michael Bloomberg's. He fulfilled that promise last week when he overturned three Bloomberg administration approvals for co-locations, all Success Academy schools.
“We never expected... I mean, I frankly thought the rhetoric of the mayor would change once he got into government,” Moskowitz said, responding to de Blasio's decision to reverse the co-locations. “Campaigning is generally different, so I didn’t expect to be in this position. And we're feeling very vulnerable.”
Capital reported last week that charter groups were pivoting their lobbying strategy toward Albany, given the unlikelihood of getting any help from City Hall. When asked about the political implications of the rally, Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman, painted herself as a school leader who focuses on teaching children how to read and write rather than navigating politically complex situations.
“I spend my time in schools,” she said. “You have to talk to the electeds about what their positions are.”
Moskowitz didn't directly answer what kind of help she was seeking from Cuomo.
“I really don't know,” she said.
Referring to the co-location reversals, she added: “We've just got this news on Thursday. There are constant announcements, anti-charter sentiment, and we just thought, we've got to go to Albany to find leadership.”
She said the rally, which charter supporters claimed drew 11,000, although it looked to reporters like far less, “was just kind of thrown together,” and she denied that she came to Albany with intentions to undercut de Blasio's pre-K rally.
“There's very little time left in the legislative season, so we had to get here quick,” Moskowitz said, explaining the timing. “We're at a pretty critical time from an instructional point of view. It would be hard to do this much later.”
Responding to de Blasio's criticisms that Moskowitz decided to close her schools and bus her students to Albany for the day, she said: “The mayor's trying to shut our schools forever, and he's going to criticize us for taking the largest civic field trip in history for one day?
“Not very persuasive,” she finished.