For the last two decades, City Council candidate Shawn Rux has worked as an educator in New York City, extolling the virtues of public schooling, and the importance of educating children.
“Everyone has a right to a quality education,” Rux said, adding that in his own life, school has played a pivotal role in building a successful career trajectory.
Now working as a deputy superintendent for city schools in Far Rockaway, Rux hopes to channel his experience as an educator into his next venture –– running for city council in the special election for District 31.
The district, which covers Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, and Springfield Gardens, is currently held by City Councilmember and Queens Borough President-elect Donovan Richards. Richards will vacate his seat in January to take the Queens Borough President office, triggering the special election.
Whoever wins in the special election will have to run again for the seat in the 2021 city council elections in June. So far 10 candidates for District 31 have filed with the New York City Campaign Finance Board for the 2021 elections.
Now that the race is heating up, Rux hopes to make education a cornerstone of his campaign, and fix inequities he says have been laid bare by the ongoing pandemic.
Specifically Rux wants to increase access to technology for lower income students who may not have access to critical resources like internet connection to attend their classes.
“So many of our kids in marginalized communities are already on the other side of the digital divide,” Rux said. “We talk about preparing for the 21st century, but we’re in the 21st century. The fact that we’re still having an issue with students still having access to laptops and wifi is kind of absurd when you think about it.”
Though he wants to put more tech in school-aged children’s hands, Rux is also clear that it should not come through increased taxes from parents who are already strapped for cash.
Rather than taxing the community, Rux believes the state should step up by providing more Fair Student Funding (FSF) a way of calculating money for public schools that considers the total number of students, and the financial needs of those students.
“If schools received 100% of their Fair Student Funding, then that would absolutely offset some of that cost of that to be able to provide some of those technological devices that our schools need,” Rux said.
Though Rux has a strong background in public education, police reform and accountability is also particularly important to him. He has had a number of negative encounters with the NYPD, he said.
One evening in 2016, Rux recalled leaving work to participate in a praise service at Glory of Light Tabernacle Church in Far Rockaway when he said he was hassled by plainclothes officers.
“I turned the corner to get to the church, two men, dressed in regular clothes, grabbed me up, and throw me up against a wall. My initial thought is ‘I was being robbed,’” Rux said.
Though he later saw their badges with their names and identification numbers, they were obscured during the encounter, he said.
Despite the negative interactions, Rux said he supports police. He adamantly rejects defunding them, he said, though he believes in a more strategic allocation of resources.
“There are certain funds that could be moved around. Some of those funds could be shifted to education,” he said. “At the same time we need to spend more time on community policing, and really building relationships.”