OPINION: Charter School Day of Action

Credit: South Bronx Classical Charter School

By Petra Milteer

Last Tuesday, I traveled to Albany with dozens of my fellow public charter school parents. After hearing motivational words from elected officials including the Bronx’s own Assembly Member Victor Pichardo, we took to the halls of the Capitol and shared a simple message with state legislators: public charter school students deserve fair treatment.

I’ve been an advocate for public charter schools ever since my sons, Beniah and Micaiah, started attending South Bronx Classical One. Beniah is currently in third grade there and Micaiah is in second, and both of them love their school. After seeing what the other public schools in our neighborhood are like, I chose SBC I for my sons because I knew it would challenge them to learn more and dream bigger.

Fortunately, I was right. The entire South Bronx Classical network is run by caring school leaders who dedicate themselves to our kids, and I’ve been thrilled to watch Beniah and Micaiah develop a real love of learning. Even though they’re still in elementary school, I know that SBC is laying the groundwork for them to attend college someday and achieve their goals. Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better school experience for my sons.

Although I was lucky enough to win seats at a public charter school for both of my sons, thousands of parents in New York City don’t have this same opportunity. Because public charter schools don’t get the same resources from the state and city governments that traditional public schools do, it’s harder for them to meet rising demand from parents. City charter schools educate more than 100,000 children per year, but are still able to accommodate only a fraction of the students who apply, leaving more than 48,000 on waiting lists. In the Bronx, there are thousands of families on these waiting lists.

This isn’t fair, and it has to change. Public charter schools want to grow and accept more children, and the demand is clearly there — elected officials just need to give them equal access to the resources that expanding their schools will require.

Tuesday was far from the first time I’ve stood up for public charter schools, and it certainly won’t be the last. As long as there are thousands of families on charter school waiting lists, and as long as charter schools receive a different allocation of resources than other district schools, I’ll keep making my voice heard on the steps of City Hall or up in Albany. Parents like me, who have seen the impact of public charter schools firsthand, won’t rest until these excellent public schools get the fair treatment they deserve.

Petra Milteer is a parent activist whose two sons attend the South Bronx Classical Charter School.

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