Last year, I did something I had never done before: I wrote a petition and put it on Change.org. I did this because my daughter’s pre-kindergarten class, where she had grown and learned so much, was being forced to shut down. It didn’t seem right to me — shouldn’t other children be able to have the same opportunity as my little girl? Quickly, I realized that lots of other New Yorkers felt the same way: 35,000 parents and supporters signed my petition.
Now, one year later, I’m taking my advocacy from the Internet to Albany. Yesterday, I joined a dozen other SA parents at the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. We came to show our support as opening arguments began in Success Academy’s legal appeal to offer a progressive, world-class public pre-K free of City Hall’s interference.
For over a year, the city has been holding public funding hostage from our pre-K scholars — demanding Success Academy sign a 38-page DOE contract that would strip away the schools’ independence from government bureaucracy. Without the school aid that all other pre-K students in the city get, Success Academy had no other choice but to suspend all of its pre-K programs for this entire school year.
For over a year, the city has been holding public funding hostage from our pre-K scholars — demanding Success Academy sign a 38-page DOE contract that would strip away the schools’ independence from government bureaucracy.
As I listened to the arguments in court, I thought about what Success Academy has meant to my family. Before she started Success Academy pre-K in Harlem, my daughter, Elizabeth, was extremely shy and timid. She often spoke very quietly, her eyes looking at the floor. But after a year of pre-K at Success Academy, she went through a complete transformation — in fact, she’s now quite the chatterbox. She learned and grew so much from her interactions with the other kids and teachers and was ready to thrive when kindergarten came around.
On the other hand, my son, Richard, who is in fifth grade at a Success Academy middle school, went to a neighborhood pre-K, where he was bullied and had a very challenging year. It took the district six months to even address the problem — the same amount of time it took my daughter to come into her own at Success Academy.
The major differences between Richard’s experience at a DOE pre-K and Elizabeth’s at Success has shown me firsthand how Success Academy can make such a notable difference in how our children learn, even at a young age. Charters schools are independent of local control by law, so they can be innovative and creative in their lessons.
Success Academy pre-K was the best option for my family, and it’s just wrong that Mayor de Blasio is trying to deprive other families of the same opportunities. The city should be encouraging Success Academy to open even more pre-K classes, not shutting them down.
That’s why I put my petition up on Change.org and why I decided to take time out of my workweek to make the three-hour trip up to Albany. I know that plenty of Success parents before me rallied, marched, and fought for my family and thousands of others to be able to give our kids the best education possible. Monday, it was my turn to pay it forward. My hope is that by doing my part and going to Albany to fight for every child’s right to a quality early education, thousands of other children will have the opportunity to learn and grow in Success Academy pre-K.