Jeffries & Thousands Challenge Educational Inequality Through Public Charter School March


About 25,000 students, parents, and educators marched in Prospect Park today alongside city officials, including Central Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and rap artist Common in support of New York City’s public charter school system to double in size to serve 200,000 students by 2020.

The march in embraced a theme of educational equality and access, with a call to action for Mayor Bill De Blasio’s office and educational policy-makers to change their politics toward charter schools and let them expand to reach every child in the city.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

“Every child deserves to have an option [of going to a public charter school] regardless of race, regardless of color, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of immigration status, regardless of zip code,” Jeffries told the huge crowd. “Every single parent and child deserves the opportunity to make sure their child can get a wonderful education.”

The event was made possible through the Families For Excellent Schools organization that is dedicated to reforming educational policy in order to ensure that every child receives the best education possible to them. The organization, founded back in 2011, is a partnership between educators and families and currently serves more than 50,000 families and 90 schools in the tri-state area.

Charter students and families gather at the Path To Possible March in Prospect Park on Wednesday to double the size of the charter school sector in the city. Photo by Kelly Mena

“If city leaders will stand with public charter schools and give them equal access to public space, together they can double their reach to serve 200,000 kids by 2020 and close the racial achievement gap once and for all,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families For Excellent Schools who appealed to city officials for their support on transforming the city’s educational policy.

This fall, city charters surpassed the milestone of educating more than 100,000 students per year, or 10% of the total school population. As a result, New York City’s public charter school system wants to increase this number so more students are able to receive a quality education without being hindered by affordability.

One parent at the event, Brennan Burkhart, who came out to the rally with his daughter in support of Success Academy in Cobble Hill, can already see the difference a charter school education has afforded his daughter in just one year. “We see a very sharp learning curve and she’s really progressed significantly since finishing her first year of kindergarten,” Burkhart said.

Since 2013, public charter school’s in underserved neighborhoods, particularly school districts with children of low-income families and of color have shown a 19 percentage point increase in reading and math, which is three times as much academic growth as their peers trapped in district schools and outperforming the city average by 10 percentage points.

Doubling the public charter sector to 200,000 children would boost the number of students passing state exams far enough that they would surpass New York City’s district-wide averages which will eliminate the citywide achievement gap, advocates said.