House Speaker Paul Ryan visited a Harlem charter school on Tuesday—drawing the ire of city officials and spurring calls for protests.
Ryan visited the Success Academy 1 Charter School in Harlem on West 118th Street, part of a network of charter schools run by Eva Moskowitz, who was once under consideration to serve as President Donald Trump’s education secretary.
His nearly hourlong visit included meeting with special-needs students at a public school that shares the building with the charter school.
And while the event was closed to the media, Mindy Rosier, a special-education teacher at the public school, told reporters that Ryan briefly met with autistic students in her school.
“The class they went into is an extremely friendly class,” Rosier said when asked to describe how students reacted to Ryan’s visit.
Ryan's visit wasn't welcomed by some, with more than 150 protesters gathered outside, shouting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as the speaker entered the school.
Dozens of protestors, several banging drums and chanting "Health care for all, not just for Paul" marched on the sidewalk just across from the school's entrance behind police barracades starting at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Nearly a dozen police officers stood on guard outside of the school.
Margot Becker, 56, an Upper West Side resident said she wanted to send the message to Ryan that the GOP and Trump agenda was "not welcome in New York City."
"We do not want Paul Ryan in our city visiting a school on Malcolm X Boulevard, a school with mostly minority children to have a photo op," Becker said.
Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education, criticized Moskowitz for inviting Ryan to visit the school, who she called a "divisive figure."
"Why do you bring someone like that to the school? For political points and monitary gains," Ansari said.
One of the groups behind the protest, The Working Families Party, called out founder and CEO of The Success Academy Charter Schools Eva Moskowitz for standing with Ryan, who they criticized for the recent passage of the GOP healthcare bill in the House.
“What Moskowitz, Ryan and Betsy DeVos share is misguided market fundamentalism that believes students and patients need nothing but more competition,” Working Families Party National Director Dan Cantor said. “But that competition guarantees some people will lose, and that's the wrong way to treat public goods like education and healthcare. It's a dystopian agenda that every leader in New York must reject.”
Moskowitz was considered for education secretary by President Donald Trump before he selected DeVos for the role. Several big names have visited Success Academy in the past including Ivanka Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Success Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Ryan’s office could not be immediately reached.
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Monday, speaking at an unrelated forum in the Bronx, called on protesters to rally against Paul’s visit. The Democratic leader has been vocal in her opposition to the Trump administration and the Ryan-backed plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“I just got an alert here which is disturbing to me that Speaker Ryan will be in New York City visiting a charter school in Harlem and I hope we organize ourselves to send a very strong message about what we believe about all that he is doing,” Mark-Viverito said. “And coming into Harlem at that, right, where the decisions they’re making are having severe, detrimental impacts on communities that we represent is pretty, pretty disturbing.”