(Albany, NY) On February 15, 2020, nearly two hundred New York City parents and students traveled to the state capital in Albany to attend a special discussion about collaboration between district and charter schools. They heard from panel co-sponsor, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo and many other elected officials, as well as advocates and school leaders focused on sharing best practices and focusing on ALL kids, regardless of school type. This was the fifth consecutive year StudentsFirstNY hosted a panel discussion at the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus weekend.
Elected leaders who participated in the discussion included:
- Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Bronx (Co-Sponsor of Panel)
- Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez, Bronx
- Assembly Member Victor Pichardo, Bronx
- Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, East Harlem
- Senator Brian Benjamin, Manhattan
- Senator Kevin Parker, Brooklyn
- Senator Kevin Thomas, Long Island
Panel members included:
- Moderator Derrell Bradford, NYCAN Executive Director
- Crystal McQueen-Taylor, Regional Senior Director, New York City Uncommon Schools
- Rev. Al Cockfield, Founder, Lamad Academy Charter School
- Yvonne Guillen, Public Prep Advocacy and Community Outreach
Panel Co-Sponsor, Bronx Assembly Member Marcos Crespo welcomed the large crowd and reminded everyone in attendance that: "All of us can teach each other a lot of things. We can acknowledge that as individuals, we should acknowledge that as educators... We should remember that charter schools started as laboratories of innovations... It has to be something we put into practice."
Long Island Senator Kevin Thomas said: "I am a supporter of charter schools and public education... Parents need a choice. They need a choice. So when they see the public education system is not working, they need a choice. And I will fight to make sure parents have a choice."
Brooklyn State Senator Kevin Parker said: "I am here to tell you that I am rejecting this politics of division, of the difference between charter schools and traditional public schools. I am rejecting that. We all must have relationships with all of the schools in our districts."
Harlem State Senator Brian Benjamin added: "We all have to do our part, to make sure that we protect our children and they know that we love all of them, regardless of what school they go to, we love all of them. Whether my kid goes to your school or someone else's school, we're all in this together."