September 30, 2015
By Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte
Brooklyn, NY – The recent commercial and open letter to the Mayor by for-profit charter school leaders using Black and Latino children and their families as political pawns is a disgrace and is in itself racist. They continually use this tactic to pit parents of color against each other to disparage the Mayor and our public district schools.
From day one, the Mayor has introduced and implemented reforms in order to begin to remedy years of damage and neglect. Part of that neglect is the money due to New York City through the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.They say that changes are not happening quickly enough. But we all know that these types of systemic changes cannot happen overnight. The needs of students of color and their families have been ignored institutionally for decades and as a result these children have been stripped of their right to a decent quality educational experience.
A bottom line approach in the past overlooked the context in which these children were living. The Mayor and the Chancellor have developed a strategy that gets to the root cause of some of these complex issues, including Universal Pre-K, the development of community schools, the investment in renewal schools, adjustments to the school discipline code, and the vision for readying all of New York City's public district school children to compete in our global economy. All of these actions are a true testament to how much the Mayor cares about the whole child, and not just their grades.They say that charter schools are the answer.
There are some successful charter schools, however, studies have shown that on average charter schools have not proven themselves as a solution to our struggling public school system. They constantly put forth a narrative that our district schools are failing, however there are successes that are occurring in district schools as well.They say that parents are being denied choices, which is another cliché used to justify the privatization of schools. Privatization benefits millionaires and siphons off public resources — our taxpayer dollars.
Choice seems to only be defined by those who would choose charter schools, but there are parents who are choosing their public district schools, and we need to preserve that option by providing adequate funding and additional resources not taking them away.