On Saturday, March 4th, New Yorkers took to the streets to march for equity in public education. The People’s March for Education Justice was held in 8 cities across the state. The marchers’ demands are:
- fully resourced public education, starting with early childhood and including higher education.
- to end the privatization of public schools and to end high stakes testing.
- to end the school-to-prison pipeline.
- to Raise the Age and decriminalize our youth.
Teachers, parents, students, and community members across the state showed up with signs and chants declaring their dissatisfaction with the inequity of the NY state public school system. In NYC, marchers started outside of the Trump International Hotel & Tower at Columbus Circle. Alliance for Quality Education Advocacy Director Zakiyah Ansari kicked off the march in the 20 degree weather by declaring that “cold weather won’t stop us from fighting for what’s right.”
The lead plaintiff in the original Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, Robert Jackson, spoke as well. Through a megaphone, Jackson explained, “If you don’t know, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity started in 1993 and ended in 2006, when the highest court in the state of New York declared that the state must provide every child with the opportunity for a sound basic education. And the court stated that the state of New York must provide the funding to do that – and Governor Cuomo has not done that.” This isn’t the first time Jackson and Ansari walked the streets of New York to defend the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. They walked 150 miles from NYC to Albany in 2006 to hear the court ruling, and again this past October to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the ruling while shedding light on the lack of funding provided.
To send a clear message to Governor Cuomo, the marchers headed down Broadway, and made their way to Governor Cuomo’s office building. Zakiyah and others spoke outside the Governor’s building. Coalition for Educational Justice’s Natasha Capers emphasized the need for a culturally relevant education, a Make the Road parent discussed the importance of a decent and well rounded education for her children, and Raise the Age advocates spoke of the injustices of incarcerating 16 and 17 year olds as adults in NY. Throughout the closing speeches, Ansari urged the marchers to take action in their communities and to call their representatives, explaining that the march is not enough and that action must be taken to produce real change. Although many topics were discussed, there was a common message on behalf of all speakers and marchers: education is a right, and we will fight until each child is served.