Local advocacy groups are gathering outside Success Academy Harlem 1 to condemn a visit from House Speaker Paul Ryan planned for mid-day Tuesday. The visit, first reported by Politico, makes Ryan the latest in a string of GOP notables invited to tour the charter school, following House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Ivanka Trump, who visited in November.
Alicia Arrington of the Alliance for Quality Education, which helped plan the protest, said it was especially galling for Ryan to visit given his push to pass the American Health Care Act, the House Republicans’ Obamacare replacement, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates would result in 24 million more uninsured Americans in 2026 compared to the current law.
“The healthcare bill Speaker Ryan is backing would severely hurt [our] communities,” said Arrington. “It would most negatively impact black and brown communities.” More than 90 percent of the 14,000 students in Success Academy’s 41 schools are black and Hispanic.
This isn’t the first time Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, a Democrat, has come under fire for her embrace of Republicans. In November, she met with President-elect Donald Trump about becoming his education secretary, and later backed Betsy DeVos, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, for the role.
In a March interview with Chalkbeat, Moskowitz defended her support of DeVos. “Education should be a bipartisan issue,” she said.
Arrington said she didn’t disagree. “Education should be a bipartisan issue,” she said, “but there’s also right and wrong.”
Update: In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Moskowitz praised the visit. “I was pleased to welcome Speaker Ryan to our flagship school in Harlem today,” she said. “The education crisis in our city and country is profoundly damaging to millions of children, and parent choice has proven to be an effective lever in education reform.”
Ryan’s office released a statement as well. “The quality of teacher training and preparedness was extraordinary,” he said. “They have a lot to be proud of, and these remarkable kids are getting a great education.”