Today, Queens parents called on the State Legislature to raise the charter cap and provide better school options for their children. Read their statements below.
Nina Doster, Parent and Organizer
My name is Nina Doster, I am an organizer for StudentsFirst New York, an organization’s that made it a mission to improve public schools for New York City children.
We are here today in Queens, perhaps the most diverse borough in the City to call on state lawmakers to do something to offer parents a choice.
The public schools are failing the children of Queens. There are more than 16,000 students in the borough who attend failing schools. Seven of the boroughs failing school have been failing for more than a decade.
Parents need options and right now they don’t have them.
Of the 210 charters schools in New York City there are just 14 charters in Queens. That’s right, just 14. Compare that to Brooklyn where there are 87 charter schools.
To fix this problem, the state legislature needs to take action, and raise the cap on charter schools. Offering these parents an option is the only sensible thing to do to provide true equity.
But the clock is ticking. In less than a month, the legislative session will end and lawmakers will go home for the summer. We are asking, no demanding, that they recognize that they must take action and raise the cap.
Crystal Lee- McJunkin, Parent
My name is Crystal Lee- McJunkin, I am a parent of a child who attends Redwood Middle School in Jamaica.
When they say public school parents don’t get involved in their child’s education, I know they aren’t talking about me. I am an active PTA member and very involved with my community tenant association.
Here’s what I know about public schools in Jamaica: They are not serving the needs of the community. When my son was in elementary school at PS 140, he had a teacher that was overwhelmed and could not handle her class. It was so bad that the teacher gave students fake progress reports. The teacher would say my son did well for the day and when my son got home he told me he did not understand what was taught for the day.
I have applied for charter schools in the past and my son was only accepted to ones outside of Queens. This is not just about my son, but all the children of Queens, who deserve more quality schools. We want more options and the best way to do that is to raise the cap on charter schools.
If lawmakers in Albany are serious about improving education in Jamaica, they need to step up to the plate and deliver more charter schools to the neighborhood and Queens as a whole.
Maria Fuentes, Parent
My name is Maria Fuentes and I’m a parent of four children who attend public schools -- PS 182 and PS 86, Gateway School and one right here at the High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety.
My kids are all special needs, so they need extra help in their education. Help, that they are not receiving.
One of my children was falling behind in his work, so I asked to set up a meeting with his teachers. The meeting was set, confirmed, but right before the meeting was supposed to happen, the school called me to cancel it.
For nearly two months, I’ve been asking to reschedule our meeting with the school, but that’s has not worked either. There is no transparency, nowhere for parents to turn to for answers and I feel like me are penalized for asking for help.
There needs to be more accountability. We need more quality schools in our communities. 14 charter schools for the entire borough of Queens just won’t cut it.
All children should have access to a great school and an awesome teacher in the classroom and right now that’s not happening. Schools are failing our children. We need a change.
If the state legislature is serious about improving the education of students here in Jamaica and all across Queens… they will vote in favor of raising the cap of charter schools.