VID: How One New York Educator Beat the Teachers Union

“How Eva Moskowitz Outmuscled the Teachers Union,” interview by
Nick Gillespie and produced by Jim Epstein. About 17 minutes.
Original release date was November 7, 2014 and original writeup 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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