Shame on Eva

House Speaker Paul Ryan — fresh from celebrating passage of a health care bill in the House that would leave 24 million people uninsured and give a generous tax cut to billionaires — headed to Success Academy I in Harlem on May 9 for a personal guided tour led by Eva Moskowitz. 

It was yet another reminder that Moskowitz has allied herself with proponents of school privatization and the interests of the 1 percent. Moskowitz, who receives tens of millions of dollars in funding for her school network from Wall Street billionaires, led Ivanka Trump on a tour of the same school in November. 

Ivanka Trump didn’t visit PS 149, the district school that shares the building with Success Academy. Accepting an invitation from the principal, Ryan visited a special education class at PS 149 — a bitter irony considering that the House health bill would cut billions of dollars in Medicaid funding for support services for students with disabilities. Without that funding, the nation’s school systems will be hard-pressed to provide the services mandated under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Despite lotteries that purport to give every student a “choice,” a comparison of the students enrolled in Success Academy I with those attending PS 149 shows this kind of choice simply enables a sorting process that leaves students with the greatest needs predominantly in public schools.

According to the DOE’s data for the 2015–16 school year, nearly 33 percent of the students at PS 149 have disabilities, compared with 13.9 percent at Success Academy I. Twenty-six percent of the
PS 149 students live in homeless shelters or doubled up with friends or family, compared with 7.3 percent at Success. The State Education Department provides another salient fact: In the 2014–15 school year, PS 149 suspended nine students while Success Academy suspended 139 students. 

Protesters outside the school greeted Ryan with shouts of “Shame!” That’s an apt summary of the travesty perpetrated not just by Ryan on health care, but by Moskowitz on education.

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