Eva Moskowitz stood behind a sign that accused her massive charter network, Success Academy, of threatening to call the police on first-grade students.
She smiled widely for the news cameras and wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
To the activists who had gathered in front of Moskowitz’s apartment building in Harlem, her surprise appearance during their protest was further proof of the charter mogul’s disconnect from the immigrant and minority communities her schools serve.
“I think that spoke volumes,” said Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education, the union-backed group that organized the protest. “Her agenda is not about children. If it was, she would be out here apologizing.”
Social justice organizations, immigrant support groups and education activists called for Wednesday’s protest after Moskowitz met with Donald Trump about possibly becoming his education secretary, and led Ivanka Trump on a low-key tour of a Success Academy school in Harlem last week.
Moskowitz announced last week that she wasn’t interested in the cabinet position, which has since been offered to Michigan philanthropist Betsy DeVos, but pledged to work with the future president to advance school choice.
Parents at Wednesday’s rally found Moskowitz’s reluctance to openly criticize the president-elect alarming.
“To run an organization that states they are for student success while supporting a man who says these kids are terrorists, that their families don’t belong here?” said Angel Martinez, a member of the New Settlement Parent Action Committee. “It really shows where we are as a nation that this is the norm right now.”
Success Academy did not return a request for comment.