By Julie Stapleton
As a Neighborhood Coordination Officer in the New York Police Department, I spend my days strengthening the relationships between police officers and Queens communities. In my efforts to make New York a safer, stronger city, I’ve gotten to know my community inside and out, and I’ve learned a lot of important lessons.
One involves the many ways that education can affect lives. The school experience doesn’t just prepare them kids for college and their careers, it also shapes the way they interact with other New Yorkers, and helps determine whether they play a positive role in their neighborhoods.
Having seen the effects of a great education on so many children in Queens — and, sadly, having seen the effects of a bad education, too — I knew that I wanted my own son, Ayden, to get the best possible public education. So after some research, I put his name in for the lottery at Success Academy South Jamaica.
Luckily, Ayden won a seat. He loves SA South Jamaica, where he’s in first grade, and I know that his teachers are helping him grow into a good neighbor and responsible member of our community.
Unfortunately, tens of thousands of parents in New York City haven’t been so lucky. More than 48,000 families have submitted applications for their children to attend public charter schools, just as I did, but have been put on waiting lists because city charters don’t have enough room to accommodate all who want to attend. Every year, these lists get longer and longer, as more families decide that public charter schools are their kids’ best shot at a world-class public education.
Last Tuesday, dozens of public charter school parents, including many from Success Academy schools, traveled to Albany to advocate for these families. They met with state legislators and told them why it’s so critical that public charter schools are able to grow, and expressed a belief we all share: that every kid should get to go to a school where excellence is the expectation rather than an anomaly. Finally, they asked these elected officials to support our city’s charter schools.
I was proud to see so many of my fellow charter parents take a stand in Albany, and I hope to see more and more of our state and city leaders standing with us too. Working together, we can make sure that all children in New York City reap the benefits of a great public education and become forces for good in their communities.
This guest editorial was written by Julie Stapleton (South Jamaica).