Success Academy Moms Appeal to First Lady Chirlane McCray
December 11, 2019
**For Immediate Release December 11, 2019**
SUCCESS ACADEMY MOMS APPEAL TO FIRST LADY CHIRLANE MCCRAY
56 Success Academy Queens Mothers Sign Letter to First Lady to Ask for Her Support in Finding School Space for their Children to Learn
New York, NY — On the heels of yesterday’s parent-led press conference, Success Academy Queens mothers sent a letter to First Lady Chirlane McCray, appealing to her as a mother and asking for her support in their fight to secure a school for their children.
The letter, signed by 56 moms and five fathers of Success Academy Queens scholars, is printed in full below:
“Dear First Lady McCray,
Thank you for all you’ve done for children and families in New York City.
Like you, we are parents, and our kids mean everything to us. We want the best for them — we want them to have the opportunity to follow their dreams, to be and do whatever they set their sights on.
A great education can be life-changing. It can propel kids to and through college and into careers and lives of prosperity. A great education ignites dreams and fuels their transformation into reality.
Finding a school that’s right for your child and being able to choose the school that is the best fit is critical to us as parents. Most of us experienced firsthand other schools — parochial, district, and charter schools — before we came to Success Academy. We bear no ill will and have no harsh words against other schools, but we know that Success Academy is the right school for our kids, and we are committed to staying there.
All we’re asking is that our kids be able to have a seat, to use excess space in underutilized buildings. We don’t want to displace other children. There are six public school buildings in our area with 400, 500, 700, as many as 990 available seats, according to the city’s records. All we ask is that our kids receive the same treatment and the same amount of space as district school students. They just need a place to learn, with the same facilities that all public school kids get.
Over the past several months, we have turned our lives upside down advocating for our kids. We have made hundreds of phone calls, sent thousands of emails. We have personally visited Senator Sanders, Assembly Member Cook, Council Member Richards, and Council Member Miller.
We were so relieved when the chancellor told Errol Louis in September that we would have a school. But then nothing happened. A month later, 200 of our fourth graders came to City Hall to plead for a middle school. You and the mayor walked past them, not even glancing our way, ignoring them.
A year ago, the mayor stepped in to help families at P.S.150 in Tribeca who were going to have to leave their school for a site 20 minutes away. As he told reporters, as soon as he heard about P.S. 150’s problem, he met with Chancellor Carranza and said, “We’ve got to figure this out, there’s got to be a way to save this school.” In less than a month, the mayor solved the problem, telling those families, “When there’s accountability, it makes a difference.”
All we ask is for that same accountability to be applied to our public school children.
Two years ago, the Department of Education told Success Academy that a search for a long-term, permanent location was under way, and that community engagement had begun. Two years is a long time for kids to live with uncertainty, to not know if they will have a school next year. To be ignored.
As a mother, you must know how we feel. You have wanted the best for your own children. You have sacrificed for them. You have felt the same love we have for our babies. Surely, you understand our pain, our frustration. Please help us.
In the spring of 2014, the mayor made a wonderful speech at Riverside Church. The month before, he had also refused space to middle schoolers. His words echo with us today:
“I am devoted to each and every child of this city…. And I won’t choose between our children in this city any more than any parent can choose between children of their family. I will reach out to all of the children, in traditional public schools, in charter schools, in religious schools. They are all our children, they all deserve a solution.”
We believe the mayor meant those words then, and we believe he can honor them now, just as he can honor the city’s commitment to provide a long-term permanent middle school for our children.
Thank you for hearing our plea.
AnnDena McCleary-Bucknor, SA South Jamaica
Sophia Curtis, SA Springfield Gardens
Mohammed S Bhuiyan, SA South Jamaica
Nahida Sultana, SA South Jamaica
Giselle Valiente-Sukh, SA Far Rockaway
Itan Okhiria-Onipede, SA Springfield Gardens
Donna McKoy, SA Far Rockaway
Nimmi Ramsundar, SA Queens 1 MS
Raxann Smith-Walton, SA South Jamaica
Sandrian Campbell, SA Rosedale
Barbara Wilson, SA Far Rockaway
Kristian Smith, SA Far Rockaway
Jeanie Martin, SA South Jamaica
Patricia Denzine, SA Queens 1 MS
Jere McConner-McLean, SA South Jamaica
Shuan Jacobs, SA Far Rockaway
Winsome Hall, SA Far Rockaway
Taiesha Crump, SA Far Rockaway
Miriam Contreras, SA Far Rockaway
Jasmine Ross, SA Far Rockaway
Gregory Adams, SA Far Rockaway
Michelle Ross, SA Far Rockaway
Jamaal Salah, SA Far Rockaway
Alexandria Aponte, SA Far Rockaway
Hema Saroop, SA South Jamaica
Alfaz Usman, SA South Jamaica
Courtney Robinson, SA Far Rockaway
Amber Ortiz, SA Far Rockaway
Marietou Balde, SA Far Rockaway
Tatiana Nunes, SA Far Rockaway
Ana Arias, SA Far Rockaway
Tamoy Berryman, SA Far Rockaway
Tatianna Clarke, SA Far Rockaway
Rajesh Sukh, SA Far Rockaway
Felecia Alert, SA Far Rockaway
Catherine Rowe, SA Far Rockaway
Kimberlee Coleman, SA Far Rockaway
Dulcie Clarke, SA Far Rockaway
Keisha Clarke-Goldin, SA Queens 1 MS
Pershimia Milliard, SA South Jamaica
Erica Nelom-Bryant, SA Far Rockaway
Petal Leuwaisee-Rose, SA Far Rockaway
Kimberly Panico, SA Far Rockaway
Odetta and Jerome Melville, SA Far Rockaway
Dana Elvira, SA Far Rockaway
Alberta Smalls, SA Far Rockaway
Kentaye Daniels, SA Far Rockaway
Deandrea Jordan, SA Far Rockaway
Barbara Smalls-Jordan, SA Far Rockaway
Charlene Smalls, SA Far Rockaway
Charmaine Hill, SA Far Rockaway
Melanie Gilliam, SA Far Rockaway
Courtney Robinson, SA Far Rockaway
Jason McKoy, SA Far Rockaway
Shamika Afia Simmons, SA Far Rockaway
Danielle Jenkins, SA Far Rockaway
Edwin Nunes, SA Far Rockaway
Charlene Tucker, SA Far Rockaway
Tamika Adeniji, SA Springfield Gardens
Suefan Marquez, SA Far Rockaway
Shadea Josephs, SA Far Rockaway
ABOUT SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOLS
Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K-12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 45 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 18,000 students, primarily children of color from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are students of color, 16% have disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy schools received more than 17,000 applications for about 4,000 open seats for the 2019-20 academic year.
For more information about Success Academy, go to successacademies.org.