Two websites registered recently — one earlier this month — raise an intriguing possibility: Could a charter school leader jump into the next mayoral race?
The website addresses tout Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Charter network, and Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Academy charter schools, for mayor. Neither site includes any content.
The websites, EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com and GeoffreyCanadaForMayor.com, might reflect mounting concern among charter school supporters that Mayor Bloomberg’s successor will not continue his level of support for charter schools.
The nervousness may have increased when Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress last week. Of all the likely mayoral candidates, Weiner had appeared to be one of the more supportive of charter schools.
“Personally, as a New Yorker, Bloomberg’s successor has weighed heavily on my mind,” Democracy Prep charter network founder Seth Andrew, who registered the URL touting Canada in December, said in an e-mail statement. “While I think Mr. Canada would be a great choice, we’ve never talked about it and he’s made it publicly clear that he loves his day job.”
Andrew used his personal email and mailing addresses to register the Canada site.
EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com was registered anonymously through a hosting service based in California on June 6, according to WhoIs.Net, which publishes records of web site registrations.
Responding to a request for comment by e-mail, a spokesperson for Moskowitz said that she had never heard of the domain. “Looked into it. Don’t know anything about this domain. Let me know if you find out who bought it,” Jenny Sedlis, the director of external affairs at Moskowitz’s charter network, wrote via e-mail.
The next mayor’s position on charter schools will be crucial to how much support the schools get from the city Department of Education. The dozens of charter schools that now get free space inside city school buildings do so only because Mayor Bloomberg has committed to that policy. State law does not grant charter schools any public space.
In the last several weeks, Democrats for Education Reform, a lobbying organization that supports charter schools and other aggressive educational changes, has been interviewing possible New York City mayoral candidates over meals.
“Call it The Great Suss Out of 2011,” Joe Williams, the executive director of DFER, said by email. He did not indicate that the group has identified any emerging favorite, and he said that the group has not met with either Moskowitz or Canada.
Besides Weiner, the other likely candidate who might support charter schools is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Though Quinn has been mainly quiet on charter schools, she recently told the Daily News editorial board that she is against the state’s seniority-based layoffs law — a position that resonates with supporters of charter schools.
Other likely candidates, including Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, Comptroller John Liu, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, have sided with the city teachers union in most education debates.
For years, Moskowitz has talked openly about her plan to run for mayor of New York one day. But since she opened her network of charter schools in 2006 with an ambitious goal of opening 40 more in a decade, the mayoral talk has seemed distant.
Moskowitz last ran for office in 2005, when she made a bid for Manhattan borough president after gaining prominence as chair of the City Council’s education committee. The United Federation of Teachers strongly opposed Moskowitz and supported her opponent, Scott Stringer, helping him narrowly defeat Moskowitz. Stringer is considering a bid for mayor in 2013.
Since then, Moskowitz has made something of a science out of organizing parents of Success charter schools. Parents at Success schools attend hearings and public meetings about space decisions, and many of them attended a recent rally in Harlem to protest the NAACP’s involvement in a lawsuit opposing the co-location of charter schools inside district space.
A flyer sent home to Success parents indicated that attendance was required, and school officials opened their doors late to make time for the rally — an unprecedented decision by a school leader who once kept classes open on a city snow day.
Canada has been less active in organizing parents politically, though he did lead a campaign to renew mayoral control.
Marty Lipp, communications director at Harlem Children’s Zone, said that he was unaware that the domain name for Canada had been registered. “Geoff has said on numerous occasions that he has no interest in any jobs other than working here at the Harlem Children’s Zone and continuing to do so,” Lipp said.
Moskowitz recently signed a book deal with the education publisher Jossey Bass, according to an announcement on the web site Publisher’s Marketplace.
The book’s working title is listed on the web site as “The Secret of the Success Academies.” The listing describes the book as an account of “how the students of this rapidly growing group of charter schools, featured in the documentaries ‘The Lottery’ and ‘Waiting for Superman,’ have achieved some of the highest standardized test scores in New York State — rivaling their peers in schools in the wealthiest suburbs.” Moskowitz is listed with a co-author, Arin Lavinia.
Asked about the book, Sedlis wrote in an e-mail, “Eva Moskowitz is writing a book on techniques of teaching. She has spent the last five years immersed in instruction and wants to share what she’s developed.”