Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Eva Moskowitz Makes Money!

If the Children are Learning, Give Her a Raise

What's a successful school worth? What's the price for children learning and succeeding?

For some investor/philanthropists, a great school leader or network leader is worth paying a bigger salary than the Chancellor of the New York City Schools.

Last week Daily News columnist Juan Gonzales wrote a hit piece on Eva Moskowitz, a former City Councilwoman and now head of the Success Charter School Network, which pointed out that she made (gasp!) more than $300,000 for each of the last two school years, which is more than the Chancellor Klein's $250,000 salary.

So what?

Mr. Gonzales dismissively compared Ms. Moskowitz running four new schools to Chancellor Klein "running 1,400 city schools" or SUNY Chancellor Jack Ryan "managing" 70 campuses.

Mr. Gonzales, neither Chancellor "runs" anything. They have others doing that. Rather, they each respectively oversees large public school and university systems - important jobs, to be sure, and worthy of a high salary on the public payroll.

Eva Moskowitz, by contrast, works for a non-profit organization that helped found four public schools, which has invested resources toward improving the City's public educational system for thousands of students in upper Manhattan. In fact, Ms. Moskowitz is the only charter founder that ever opened three charter schools simultaneously and successfully - something unprecedented in New York.

Ms. Moskowitz opened these three schools in part because the organizations headed by Chancellors Ryan and Klein approved her plans to do so; the first by approving her applications, the latter by providing building space.

Mr. Gonzales' hit piece against Ms. Moskowitz questions why she earns what she does. Yet he fails to understand the herculean efforts to start the charter network nor does he connect the investment by the officers of the Success Charter Network, including Joel Greenblatt and John Petry, toward expanding public school opportunities that thousands of parents in Harlem are demanding. Did Mr. Gonzales observe the Harlem parents attending the education fair last weekend? There are plenty of district school administrators making six-figure salaries that these parents obviously want no part.

Eva Moskowitz was a gutsy pro-education Councilwoman who went onto building a public education network of charter schools to improve the options in Harlem for thousands of families. It's early, but the signs are positive that her students are meeting and exceeding state performance standards. Children learning, not her salary, is what counts. If private-sector money subsidizes the schools in the process, why should Juan Gonzales or anyone else paint such a negative portrait?

Would that the charter school movement had more gutsy former politicians getting paid well to create and oversee great public schools. It's worth it.

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