Collaboration and Parent Power: Working Together to Provide All Children Access to Great Schools

On Saturday February 16th, more than 200 public school parents and students braved the weather and the long trip to Albany for a special panel discussion. The conversation, co-sponsored by Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez and StudentsFirstNY, focused on school collaboration and ensuring the best education opportunities for students in low-income communities.


Parents and students heard from state leaders, each of whom spoke about how we can all work together to truly put students first.

Elected officials who were kind enough to address the group included:

  • Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, East Harlem (Co-Sponsor of Panel)

  • Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Bronx

  • Assembly Member Victor Pichardo, Bronx

  • Assembly Member Karines Reyes, Bronx

  • Senator Kevin Parker, Brooklyn

  • Senator Brian Benjamin, Manhattan

Panel members included:

  • Moderator Derrell Bradford, NYCAN Executive Director

  • Crystal McQueen-Taylor, Uncommon Schools Senior Director of External Impact

  • Mariela Meza, KIPPNYC Advocacy Associate

  • Anyta Brown, Brooklyn District & Charter School Grandparent

  • Gloria Alfinez, Bronx Public School parent


Charter school parent and East Harlem resident Claudia Perez asked her Assembly Member and panel co-sponsor, Robert Rodriguez: “What can a parent do to advocate to the City or to anyone else and to let them know they are not satisfied with the options in their neighborhood?” Rodriguez responded: "At some point, you have to get angry about the way things are and voice that frustration. We really are listening to a letter, a note, an email… If I get a handwritten note from a constituent, you are definitely going to get a response and I’m going to have read it."


Bronx Assembly Member Marcos Crespo told parents: "Today we are sending a clear message. We’re here to work together. We’re here to support each other, no matter what school you go to… We, as elected officials, need to be responsive to all children and all schools, deliver the resources and accountability."


Bronx Assembly Member Karines Reyes, a proud mother of a 3rd and 8th grader in the Bronx, said: "You can't tell a parent to wait for the Department of Education to get their act together. You can't tell parents to wait for funding...We don't have that luxury, our children don't have that luxury. The clock is ticking. This movement speaks to that. It's time that we stop politicizing our children's education."


Moderator Derrell Bradford asked parents in the audience a series of questions about their children's education. Parents gave mixed reactions when he asked if their child loves their school, but an overwhelming response when he asked whether "schools are strongest when they are supported by committed parents who have chosen for their kids to be there."

To view the highlights of our panel, please click here or watch below.

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