OPINION: #PathtoPossible march to support public charter schools
Earlier this month, Families for Excellent Schools put out a report proving that public charter schools are the Path to Possible for the highest-need kids in New York City. They have been responsible for almost all of the gains made in the worst performing school districts. Without them, thousands of New York City’s children would be left behind in failing schools. And, as the report makes crystal clear, if we had twice as many charter schools we could eliminate the achievement gap for our kids who need it most. That is why on Sept. 28, I will march with thousands of parents in support of public charter schools.
My daughter, Alisha, is in the seventh grade at a public charter school in East New York. I chose to send Alisha to a charter school because the rest of the schools in District 19 for students her age are some of the worst in New York City. I refuse to set my daughter up for failure. She deserves the best education possible, and her public charter school provides that. From her first day of school there, Alisha was told she would go to college. Now she is on the path to success.
But I am very worried about my son, Josiah. He is 8 years old, and he has special needs. He goes to a district elementary school. I’m afraid to send him to a district school once he leaves elementary school. He is so smart, but they won’t know how to teach him properly. Their test scores prove that. I can’t accept this for my child, and no one should have to accept it for their children.
All around us, thousands of children are having their futures decided by their zip code. Brooklyn houses some of the most underserved communities in New York City. In Brownsville, almost half of the children in traditional district schools are doing so badly on their state tests that we know they can barely read or do simple math. But public charter school students in Brownsville do almost three times better. In Brownsville’s District 23, a full 90 percent of growth in student success has come from charter schools.
In Bedford-Stuyvesant’s District 16, the numbers are just as bleak for district school students. Over three fourths of them failed the state reading or math exam. At the same time, 82 percent of growth in student success has come from charter schools.
The only schools successfully teaching our highest-need kids are public charter schools. District schools are putting these children on the path to failure. We know exactly what we need to do to stop this.
Right now public charter schools serve over 100,000 students. If we were to double that number to 200,000 students, then the achievement gap in those high-need districts would disappear. Brownsville would outperform the entire city and Bedford-Stuyvesant would close the gap. That means children in these areas who have been trapped in the cycle of inequality and injustice would finally break free.
Too many kids don’t get what Alisha has. Thousands of Brooklyn kids are on waitlists, desperate to get out of their failing schools. It doesn’t have to be this way. According to recent studies, there are over 150,000 open seats in New York City schools. There is more than enough space to double the number of public charter school students. The only thing keeping these kids locked out of empty classrooms is politics.
This is unacceptable. This new report is more evidence that public charter schools are the answer to closing the achievement gap. Thousands of low-income Black and Hispanic parents are desperate to get their sons and daughters into charter schools. And there are thousands of empty classrooms ready to be filled with our highest-need kids. That’s why I’ll be marching on Sept. 28. I’ll be marching so that every child in New York City has the opportunity to go to an excellent charter school. I hope that you’ll join me and let our city leaders know that New Yorkers support the proven solution to our education crisis.
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