There’s something about Eva Moskowitz, one of the city’s foremost champions of charter schools, that drives Mayor Bill de Blasio bananas.
Could it be that she’s, you know, successful? The mayor has made it clear how he feels about successful people. He feels they need to give something back, as if they were not giving anything back already.
In the case of Ms. Moskowitz, the mayor isn’t saying that he’ll raise her taxes, although in a fit of pique, he saw fit to criticize (and inflate, by about $25,000) Ms. Moskowitz’s annual salary of $475,000 as CEO of Success Academies, which manages 22 successful charters.
Mr. de Blasio’s complaint about Ms. Moskowitz’s salary (he noted that she makes more than him and his first deputy combined) reeks of the sort of haves versus have-nots resentment he has been trying to stir up in New York. Never mind that her salary might actually be a reflection of her worth and performance.
And so the mayor is making good on his campaign promise to make life difficult, if not impossible, for the well-compensated and highly successful Ms. Moskowitz. He revoked an agreement, negotiated in good faith by his predecessor, that would have allowed three charters to operate in public school buildings. All three charters, wouldn’t you know, were operated by Success Academies.
If you thought that brass-knuckle political payback was something practiced exclusively on the western banks of the Hudson River, well, you were wrong.
One thing’s for sure: Mr. de Blasio is not a hypocrite. He often assailed Ms. Moskowitz by name during his campaign, knowing that she was Public Enemy No. 2 (Michael Bloomberg earned the top spot) among the union bosses and radical-chic parents who put convenience and ideology ahead of merit and excellence. Indeed, some critics of charters would argue that there really is no such thing as merit and excellence—they are merely constructs designed to further oppress the masses. Right on!
During last year’s mayoral primary campaign, Mr. de Blasio told a crowd, “There’s no way in hell Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, O.K.?”
Mr. de Blasio was referring not to his antagonist’s housing arrangements but to the Bloomberg-era policy of allowing charter schools to locate within already existing public school buildings. Charters operate in those buildings without paying rent, because, as Ms. Moskowitz herself noted, the charters are public schools. And “public schools do not pay rent,” she said.
Mr. de Blasio has a very different view. He and his core supporters seem to regard charters as quasi-private schools, which they certainly are not. While the de Blasio administration did approve five other Success Academies for co-location within public school buildings, the mayor has been upfront about his opinion of charters in general and Ms. Moskowitz in particular.
Even Mr. de Blasio’s fellow progressive Democrats are increasingly standing up for school reform. As the Observer reported earlier this week, Governor Cuomo stood with Ms. Moskowitz and the charter parents and children who trekked to Albany to protest the shuttering of their shools.
As we have noted repeatedly on this page, Mr. de Blasio continues to conduct his mayoralty as if he were still on the campaign trail. And yes, he showed that he is a brilliant campaigner. But that time has come and gone.
Now he has to prove that he knows how to govern. As he might have learned from recent events in Fort Lee, grudges make for awful public policy.