U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is set to dip her toes into the world of New York City charter schools this week, meeting with its most controversial figure and another local school leader.
DeVos plans to meet Wednesday with Eva Moskowitz, the CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools who met with President Trump during his search for an education secretary. Moskowitz, a Democrat whose network now includes 41 schools in the city, has stuck up for DeVos and her support of private-school vouchers as others in the charter school sector have kept their distance.
“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” Moskowitz told Chalkbeat last month.
On Tuesday, DeVos will meet with Valerie Hoekstra, the middle-school principal at Inwood Academy for Leadership, a charter school in upper Manhattan. That school won a 2009 fight with New York state to be allowed to give admissions preference to students who are learning English — a push with particular relevance when the city’s charter schools are often dinged for not serving as many high-needs students as surrounding schools.
The school’s 2016 test results for math and English were below state averages, with 18 percent of students proficient in English and 21 percent proficient in math. That’s well below the proficiency rates at some charters, including Success Academy.
Inwood Academy has expressed pride in its low student attrition numbers and its policy of filling all vacancies that open at the school, something not all charter schools do.
Hoekstra herself, according to her biography on the school’s website, started her career as a special-education teacher at an Air Force base in North Dakota, joined Inwood Academy before it opened in 2010 and became its middle-school principal in 2015.
Neither meeting will be open to the press or include a school visit, according to DeVos’s public schedule.