I broke out my dressy clothes, some earrings, and my red lipstick for the April 20th fundraiser for Eva Moskowitz in New York City. I was not a guest. As a mere teacher, I could not afford to attend the Third Annual Spring Benefit that began at 6:30 pm. Cocktails and dinner were served and of course you needed to dress to the nines. Governor Cuomo was originally scheduled to be the keynote speaker, but alas, he was busy puffing away on cigars in Cuba. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries from Brooklyn took over as the keynote speaker and the other guests included Eli Broad, Campbell Brown, Katie Couric, Daniel S. Loeb, and even our ole school chancellor Joel Klein. Seats started at $1,250.00 and tables began at $15,000.00. I wasn’t there to party, I was there to make some noise.
I got there early with some of my dapperly dressed friends. About 5 of us, walked over to Cipriani on 42nd Street holding some cleverly informative flyers. We handed them out to the guests. What was great about this action, was that this flyer was in the Success Academy colors. Guests thought that we were the welcoming committee and gladly took them. They thanked us and smiled, even the stepford wives like teachers. After about 20 or so minutes, more than 50 loud protesters arrived onto the scene, circling around the front entrance. These protesters were from several advocacy groups such as NYCC, Citizen Action, Strong Economy for All Coalition, VOCAL, AQE, as well as the amazing Hedge Clippers. These Hedge Clippers work to uncover the influences that hedge funds and billionaires use to sway government and politics in order to bolster their own power and wealth. Their most recent post was quite timely, posted early that same morning, Hedge Fund Hypocrisy: The Double Standard of Success Academy is a great article that you all should read. “Success Academy doesn’t attract just handfuls of hedge fund managers – more like hordes.” They included a list of “over 50 hedge fund managers and hedge fund spouses who have notable ties to Success Academy. Though the hedge fund industry’s affinity for Success Academy is well known, this is the first time such a list has been published.”
Back to the protest…
For approximately 45 minutes we chanted and did mic checks in front of Cipriani. When we first got there, there was a small protest “pen” off to the side. This little pen was completely ignored. There were four or five police officers keeping an eye on us and when it was obvious that we were not going away, they moved the “pen” around us already in action. This space was considerably larger than what they had originally planned for. The police officers didn’t seem to mind us protesters, but the guests visibly did. I believe the only reason why the “pen” was moved, was because those guests did not want to walk past or through us. Also, during this time, we still had a couple of others continue giving out those flyers to those stragglers. I would so love to post this incredible flyer, but was advised that I shouldn’t by the authors, whose decision not to post I will respect. It stated some of Success Academy’s proud “solutions” with counter information….you know, the truth.
Pamela Garcia, parent and member of NYCC gave a powerful mic check and led commanding chants. Others did a mic check too. I was given the floor after one of those guests made a comment putting us protesters down for not seeing how incredible Success Academy is. I responded back to her, “you can tell that to my special needs students who were almost kicked out by her last year.” That prompted a Hedge Clipper to get me going. I don’t need a mic or any other kind of amplifier. I still proudly have my booming Brooklyn voice.
We concluded our protest chanting, “we’ll be back.” We most definitely will……
Overall, this was one of my favorite protests. I am proud to have stood by so many from different organizations and the wonderful people in them. Even though some of our messages might be slightly different, we still had common ground and united we spoke up and out....AND loudly at that!
Earlier morning on April 21st, a dear friend sent me this article by Eliza Shapiro from Capitol NY. It is about last night’s event and how much money Miss Eva took in. Her oh so generous friends made her empire over $9 million richer. How nice for her!
Even earlier that morning, I checked out the feed of Success Academy on Twitter and I found the posts appalling. Here are some of those gems....
"We have not just closed the education gap. We've reversed it." - @MoskowitzEva #RedefiningPossible #InsideSuccess
and another....Founder @MoskowitzEva to guests: "Visit our schools and become an ambassador for #edreform." #RedefiningPossible
and another... "I stand here because I unequivocally support quality public ed & that's what @MoskowitzEva & SA provide." -@RepJeffries #RedefiningPossible,
then there is this one..."City govt & union bosses are institutionalizing failure. We will unapologetically back you up while you fight for kids." - @campbell_brown
let’s not forget.. "You push these kids because their path is tougher and they have to be stronger." - @campbell_brown #RedefiningPossible
and finally there is this…."If we want fewer people in prison it starts with reforming education." - @DanLoeb #RedefiningPossible Yes, because Mr. Loeb knows exactly how to fix this problem. Easy to say when you are worth how much???
April 20th was one of many protests that I have gone to in the name of saving public education. It will also be far from my last. As long as there are Evas in this world determined to destroy my beloved profession and bust up unions, I will stand loud and proud for my kids, because they do not deserve anything less.