Parents set 2013 education priorities

This week, Brooklyn’s Families for Excellent Schools hosted a town hall meeting of roughly 100 public school parents with children at schools in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, East New York, and Bushwick . In a two hour meeting led by parent volunteers, participants discussed a range of education issues affecting their families and children, including: school safety; teacher and principal quality; school choice; classroom and curriculum standards; and parental involvement, among others. Following a lengthy discussion about these issues and a presentation on the Mayor’s broad power to affect public school quality in New York City, parents identified the key areas to focus on during this mayoral election and raise with the candidates at an event in June.

“With two children at public school in Crown Heights, I’ve found very few organizations or politicians that speak to my concerns—so tonight was a rare opportunity to say what issues are important to me,” said Amanda Blair, a parent and chapter leader with Families for Excellent Schools. “I know that if our children are going to get the education they deserve – whether it’s therapy for my son, a longer school day, or high quality teachers – we’ll need to make sure schools and politicians are hearing from parents directly.”

“Until tonight, I had no idea how much power the mayor has over public schools, and how much could change next year with someone new in office,” said Beverly Reese, a parent and volunteer with Families for Excellent Schools. “I know I’m going to be thinking long and hard now about who I vote for, based on the issues in education we discussed tonight.”

“For too long, a handful of groups with other interests have claimed to speak for parents in New York City,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, executive director of Families for Excellent Schools. “In fact, the only ones who can and should speak for parents are parents themselves—and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish by empowering parents to organize in their communities, rally for their own causes, and hold the next mayor accountable for giving every family an excellent education.”

As members of the organization, parents involved in Tuesday night’s event were among more than 5,000 across the city who organize, canvass, and recruit fellow parents to fight for policies that protect and increase the number of great public schools in New York City. All of them reside in historically low-income neighborhoods such as the South Bronx, Harlem, Washington Heights, and those represented tonight in central Brooklyn.

Today, Families for Excellent Schools is active in more than 50 schools throughout six neighborhood clusters across the city. Tuesday’s town hall was the second in a series of events designed to hold the mayoral candidates – and the eventual victor – accountable to students and their families for improving public education.

To learn more about Families for Excellent Schools, visit their website: www.familiesforexcellentschools.org/

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