On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo’s security staff forcibly removed an Alliance for Quality Education staff member from a clergy breakfast when she spoke out with two parent leaders in an effort to call the Governor’s attention to the fact that New York State owes public schools $3.8 billion in unpaid Foundation Aid. Later in the day the Bronx representative of the Governor, Sophia Zayas, publicly attacked the pair on Twitter, using derogatory language.
“We confront the Governor with public call-outs like we did on Tuesday not because we want to, but because we refuse to be erased. The Governor has been an outspoken advocate for millionaires and billionaires but never stands up for the educational rights of our children. As a parent, I will continue to be an outspoken voice on behalf of the children of New York to ensure all of our kids have access to a high quality public education. No matter the forum or method, parents and advocates will be heard. If the Governor won’t come to our schools to meet with us, we’ll continue to go to his events to express our concerns.” said Rasheeda Harris, a New York City public school parent.
“The Governor’s response to parents has always been to dismiss us. Instead of having his staff call us names on Twitter why not reach out and invite us to sit down and meet. Our goal is to ensure our schools are fully funded. Governor Cuomo can either be an ally or an obstacle in this fight,” said Grisel Cardona, a New York City public school parent.
“We raise our voices, not for entertainment or fun, but because we are dedicated to justice. We are tired of the systemic racism in education funding that plagues New York’s schools. As advocates it’s our responsibility to lift up the voices of those most marginalized. New York’s kindergarten students may not be able to protest the Governor or speak up in a crowded room, but when he proposes a budget that underfunds our public schools, kindergarten students are the ones that feel the impact. Their classrooms lack resources, their opportunities are limited and their future is on the line. It is our responsibility to remind the Governor that budgets are moral documents. The real test is whether the state budget will reflect the moral vision of quality education for all,” said Maria Bautista, Campaigns Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
“We are extremely disturbed by Governor Cuomo’s staffs’ inappropriate treatment of parents and leaders— it shows the lack of respect he and his office have for New Yorkers and their concerns. Governor Cuomo claimed to care about civil rights at his event with Martin Luther King III — the funding of schools serving Black, Brown and low-income children is a civil rights issue. The Governor has refused to meet with parents and rarely visits our public schools, to see for himself the damage of chronic underfunding. Parents are not included in the decision making process, but are left to deal with the impact of underfunding have every right to call out the Governor and his record on education equity. But peaceful actions by civilian leaders should not be met with physical force or hateful rhetoric,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.