Voting Rights And Educational Rights, Our Communities Need Total Equity Now!

October 19, 2020

Concerned about the impact of the health crisis on students’ achievement and well-being,

Total Equity Now and other New York organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Black and Brown families and educators have called upon the governor, the state legislature, and policymakers to ensure that students receive the learning opportunities and support to which they are entitled under state education law.

Our initial joint outreach earlier this year to Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and then-Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa (who currently serves as Interim Education Commissioner) strongly encouraged state leaders to pass and implement the Education Rights Transparency for New York Families Act, which has been introduced in both the Senate Bill (#S8407) and the Assembly (Bill #A6179) and drawn broad support from organizations who work with and on behalf of families who have been harmed by educational injustice and violations of state law.

Presently, New York’s education laws and regulations are scattered over countless State Education Department and advocacy-group web pages. Typically, the rights information is presented using complex legal and policy language, limiting its usefulness to families who may not have advanced degrees but know that their children need and deserve an excellent education.

Additionally, the state currently lacks a transparent, family-centered system for monitoring and reporting on the full range of opportunities required under the state constitution, state statute, and the Regulations of the State Education Commissioner.

The introduction of remote learning has added yet another dimension to the inequalities that characterize the schools that our Black and Brown children attend. Building a system that provides essential information to and shares power with our families is an important and urgent part of the solution.

No family should be left in the dark about the learning opportunities and supports guaranteed by state law. Not during a crisis, not ever.

If we’re committed to true justice, real equity, and self-determination for Black and Brown people, it’s critically important but not enough to ensure that our communities know and can exercise their voting rights when election season rolls around.

Every family, on every block, must also know and be equipped to defend and advance our children’s educational rights. Education power and voting power go hand in hand.

Thank you for your time and attention.


Total Equity Now

Supporters of the Educational Rights Transparency for New York Families Act include:

Adelaide Sanford Institute
Alliance for Quality Education
African American Clergy and Elected Officials Organization
Association of Black Educators of New York, Inc.
Black Child Development Institute – Albany
Black Child Development Institute – New York City
Black Women’s Leadership Caucus, Inc.
Dominican Bar Association
Fellowship of Reconciliation USA
Harlem Council of Elders
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
NAACP Brooklyn
New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women
One Hundred Black Men, Inc.
Total Equity Now
United Way of New York City

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