A high-profile New York City charter school founder and advocate, Eva Moskowitz, says data show competition from charters is improving academic performance in the city’s traditional public schools.
Moskowitz heads up the fast-growing charter school network, Success Academy, which has been at the center of a high-profile standoff with the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, over forcing district schools to give building space to charters. Writing in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Moskowitz uses the numbers to defend the controversial co-location policies her network has relied on to expand.
Finding and paying for facilities is a persistent problem for charters nationally, and is often cited by advocates has one of the biggest hurdles facing the charter school movement.
In the op-ed, Moskowitz drew parallels to free-market West Germany and communist East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall in arguing that competition from charters drives academic improvement in regular schools. She compared test results among areas of New York City with high and low numbers of charter schools:
Of the 16 charter-rich districts, 11 rose in the rankings. And of the eight among those 16 with the highest charter enrollment, all rose save one. The district that jumped furthest, rocketing up 11 spots between 2006 and 2014, was District 5 in Central Harlem, which has the city's highest charter-school enrollment (43%)."
As for the city’s 16 “charter-light districts,” Moskowitz wrote that none rose in the state English and math proficiency rankings while 13 fell.
Reaction to the op-ed, which was posted online the day after Thanksgiving, has been trickling in over the long weekend on Twitter:
— Rob Schmults (@schmults) November 29, 2014
But, Moskowitz’s op-ed didn’t answer everyone’s questions, especially those who claim that charters pressure poorly performing students to leave:
— Neil OBrien (@nobrien64) November 30, 2014
Although a problem for charters across the country, facilities is an especially charged issue in New York City where a state budget law passed last spring requires the city to either provide buildings or pay rent for new or growing charter schools.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.