It is not often that black tie awards dinners serve as a round in a prizefight. Last Monday New York City’s Manhattan Institute held is annual Alexander Hamilton Dinner and used the occasion to deliver intellectual knockout blows against the city’s radical leftist mayor William de Blasio and his circle.
To do so, the Institute honored George Kelling, co-author of “Broken Windows Policing,” perhaps the most important American article on crime prevention ever published, and Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter School. Both Kelling’s police tactics – take civic order seriously, stop petty criminals from creating a climate of lawlessness in neighborhoods – and Moskowitz’ education tactics – expect the highest level of achievement from children regardless of family background, insist on students developing full English proficiency – have come under fire from those around the mayor since Mr. de Blasio took office in January 2014.
For example, the city’s school chancellor, Carmen Farina, has charged that charter schools screen out poor performers to boost their test scores. Among charter school advocates, the outspoken Ms. Moskowitz has come in for particularly vitriolic fire. The United Federation of Teachers has labeled her “evil.” Meanwhile, the mayor’s allies have agitated for an end to broken windows policing, arguing that a disproportionate number of the petty criminals apprehended are minorities, hence the policy must be anti-minority.
The data tell a totally different story than those the de Blasio crowd tell – and the Institute used the evening to lay that data data out.
Let’s start with Broken Windows. Several of the evening’s speakers noted (and, in case you didn’t get the message, the Institute repeated it in cards at each of the hundreds of table settings) that in 1993, immediately before Broken Windows was put into widespread practice in the city, New York’s murder rate was 26.5 per 100,000 residents, or 7.9 percent of the homicides nationwide. Today the rate is four per 100,000 or 2.4 percent of the national total. Kelling’s introducer, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jason Riley., added that this data point alone means that thousands of minority men are alive today who would be dead but for the policy’s success.
As to Broken Windows leading to higher rates of incarceration, since the policy was introduced, felony arrests in New York have dropped by 60,000 per year from 1990 levels. The city’s jail population has declined 45 percent from 1992.
Does Broken Windows lead to heavy-handed harassing? The department expects its “enforcement contacts” in 2015 to be down by one million from the pre-Broken Windows era.
Far from being anti-minority and alienating minorities, a 2014 Quinnipac Poll showed that 56 percent of African-American and 64 percent of Hispanic New Yorkers “strongly support” Broken Windows policing.
The data the Institute presented on Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter schools that night packed just as strong a punch.
As of the end of 2014, Success Academies operated 32 charter schools in the city serving 9,000 students. If the academy’s network was a single school, it would rank in the top 1 percent of New York State’s 3,560 school in math attainment and the top three percent in English proficiency.
Twenty-nine percent of NYC students ranked as proficient in English in 2014 state exams and 35 percent in math. For Success Academy student the proficiency rates were 64 percent in English and 94 percent in math.
Why? It turns out that the composition of the academy’s student populations is no different than those in nearby the district public schools. But Manhattan Institute research has found that academy’s English language learners, like those in other of the city’s charter schools, become English proficient more quickly than district school counterparts. Though the academy’s schools educate overwhelmingly poor and minority students, their test scores rival those of affluent Westchester County
Why did the UFT call Ms. Moskowitz “evil”? Because her schools are the most prominent example in New York City and perhaps the nation that the longstanding excuses that teachers’ unions and education bureaucracies fall back on to explain the horrible performance of so many inner-city schools (what can you do, they say, with so many kids coming from impoverished, minority, single-parent homes?) is wrong.
Last Monday the Manhattan Institute punched back at the de Blasio leftists – and on the basis of data rather than bullyboy power — knocked them out.