Quality Education Is the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

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“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies, you may tread me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” The Success Academy Bronx 2 dance team opened up their performance with these words. These beautiful words are from one of my favorite poems, “And Still I rise,” by Maya Angelou. Angelou’s poem expresses her deep faith in her own strengths and a people’s strength during the Black Power Movement.

I cannot think of a poem more befitting to the Parent Rally to Albany on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. I am a teacher at Success Academy Bronx 3 and was at the rally. I was not there chanting, “Save our schools!,” at the top of my lungs because I care about my own job security. I was there, because to me, access to quality education is the civil rights issue of our time and something I take incredibly personally.

Mayor de Blasio’s decision to evict children — predominantly black and brown children from low-income communities — hurts me to the core. Not only am I a teacher in such a community, but I also am a black woman who grew up in a community in which children faced similar obstacles to those of my students. I know firsthand that although quality education is a universal right, most do not have access to it. Children at Success Academy (a public charter school) do.

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