How Eva Moskowitz Outmuscled the Teachers Union


"How Eva Moskowitz Outmuscled the Teachers Union" was originally released on Nov. 7, 2014. The original text is below.

In November 2003, Eva Moskowitz, then a freshman member of the New York City Council, held explosive public hearings about how union contracts imposed inane work rules on public schools. The city's political establishment was astonished.

Mosowitz—a former history professor, public school teacher, and self-proclaimed liberal, whose politics up until that point seemed to resemble those of every other Democratic politician in New York—was sacrificing her political career to take on organized labor. Exposing the consequences of teacher union contracts was a direct affront to the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which wields enormous influence in New York City elections.

Moskowitz didn't pussyfoot. At one point in the hearings, she even played audio testimony from a whistleblower with a disguised voice. She said that many of her sources declined to appear because they feared union retribution. She also went toe-to-toe with Randi Weingarten, the UFT's confrontational leader.

Two years later, when Moskowitz ran for Manhattan Borough President, Weingarten and the UFT mobilized against her and sunk her candidacy. So Moskowitz left politics for the time being; if she couldn't transform the system from within, she would build an alternative to the public schools.

Today, Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Academy, which is the city's largest and most successful charter school network. With 32 schools around New York City—staffed by a non-union teaching force—Success Academy posted test results last year that astounded education policy experts.

Meanwhile, Moskowitz and her charter school allies started building a powerful coalition to counter the outsized political influence of organized labor. In March, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) tried to squash Success Academy's expansion plans, Moskowitz bused 11,000 charter school parents and kids up to the state capital in Albany to protest—and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo came out in support. De Blasio retreated. Success Academy could move forward with its expansion plans after all, and state lawmakers quickly passed a bill to protect charter schools from future interference by the mayor.

Reason TV's Nick Gillespie sat down with Eva Moskowitz to talk about why her schools are so successful, whether her model is scalable, how labor contracts hurt  schools, and what moved her to sacrifice her political career to bring attention to the corrosive influence of unions on public education.

About 17 minutes.

Written, shot, and edited by Jim Epstein; interview by Nick Gillespie; additional camera Anthony L. Fisher.

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  1. I guess opposites attract. Margaret Marshall used to be Chief Justice in Massachusetts (where she proclaimed a right to gay marriage). He late husband was First Amendment champion Anthony Lewis.

    But she herself isn't so hot for free speech. Of course she denounces Citizens' United. She thinks free-speech jurisprudence has unleashed "a tsunami of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, degrading, violent, and horrifying words and imagery."

    She thinks Americans "cede the conversation to First Amendment vigilantes." Far better, she declares, to follow the more balanced approach of the European Court of Human Rights.

    1. unleashed "a tsunami of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, degrading, violent, and horrifying words and imagery."

      Which, of course, is irrelevant if you believe in the principle of free speech. It covers unpleasant speech along side mundane or innocuous speech.

      1. It's actually the point of having a free speech amendment. No one (well, almost no one) is trying to shut up people who say "we're all brothers and should all live in harmony with each other and fluffy pandas, la la la la la"

    2. So the former Chief Justice of the Mass. High Court is unfamiliar with the legendary precedent of Sticks & Stones v. Words, nice.

  2. General Stan McChrystal endorses "national service" -

    "Trust in government is near all-time lows, and social trust ? trust in others ? is lower among millennials than previous generations....

    "...We are increasingly likely to live among, befriend and work with people with views and backgrounds similar to our own. We have sustained a series of wars for more than 13?years with less than 1 percent of the population serving in the military, creating a gap in experience and understanding between those who serve and those who do not. We lack common experiences that bind us as a people. We have lost our confidence in doing big things as a nation....

    "So today I'm calling on voters, donors and future candidates to work together to make a "service year" a common expectation and opportunity for all 18- to 28-year-old Americans. This would be an American version of universal national service ? appropriately voluntary but socially expected. ...

    "...there is no better common ground than the common experience of serving our country."

    1. 13th Amendment? What 13th Amendment?

  3. Loyal dog rides for 20 miles on the side of an ambulance taking his master to a hospital.

  4. Good video, Nick. 16:51 beautiful minutes of the best reasons to get rid of public schools.

  5. Why the Democrat Party Does So Poorly with Working Class Whites

    "Democrats can adopt populist rhetoric, but there's no guarantee working-class whites will buy it. Indeed, in parts of the country?like the Deep South?it's a lost cause. The Democratic Party is too associated with blacks and too associated with welfare to win over enough whites to make a difference."

  6. NYT Columnist on What Whites Just Don't Get

    "But we in white society should be equally ready to shoulder responsibility. In past articles in this series, I've looked at black/white economic inequality that is greater in America today than it was in apartheid South Africa, at ongoing discrimination against African-Americans in the labor market and at systematic bias in law enforcement. But these conversations run into a wall: the presumption on the part of so many well-meaning white Americans that racism is a historical artifact. They don't appreciate the overwhelming evidence that centuries of racial subjugation still shape inequity in the 21st century."

    1. ongoing discrimination against African-Americans in the labor market

      What is "Affirmative Action"?

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  8. sacrifice her political career

    She went from being one controversial freshman member of the City Council to CEO of a charter school movement actually changing NYC's school system. It sounds more like "She parlayed a brief foray in politics into..."

    Way to go.

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  10. Unfortunately, the discrimination at schools still exists and I am not confident that we can improve the situation even in several years. We have to change the attitude if every separate teacher and leader. Is it possible to do? I am not sure. But still, there are so many talented children who can create masterpieces better than any custom essay writing service uk but they have no opportunity to revel their talents. And what happens next is that they cannot find the place on social arena and become unhappy and sometimes even dangerous but it is not their fault.

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