Systemic racism permeates every corner of our society, and the structures of racial and social injustice must be torn down. As a public school special education teacher right here in the Northwest Bronx, the vast majority of my students are people of color and I see the inequities they face every day, inside and outside the classroom. The struggles our city faces, from problems in our school system, to the housing affordability crisis, to disparate health outcomes, disproportionately affect people of color.
Racism in our schools: Black and brown students are disciplined at higher rates than white students, and are more likely to be penalized with measures such as detention, suspension, and expulsion. This must change. We must end the school to prison pipeline by removing NYPD from our classrooms, and supporting our students with social-emotional learning and mental health education, and providing enough social workers to meet their needs. We must provide learning opportunities that reflect the diversity of skills and abilities our children have, and all of our children must see themselves in the curriculum. We must invest in restorative justice practices and anti-racist policies that lift up historically marginalized and oppressed people.
Criminal justice reform: This past summer, we saw New Yorkers come together in protest over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others who lost their lives to police brutality. The response to these protests by NYPD was unacceptable, and pulled back the curtain on systemic issues with how our city is policed - systemic issues which I have seen right here in our Bronx schools. We must define the role of policing in our city, and ensure mental health crises and homelessness are not in the hands of law enforcement. We must also push forward with the plan to close Rikers Island, a human rights atrocity, and work diligently to reduce our jail population.
Voting rights for non-citizens: Any child who walks into my classroom gets the same dedication as any other child, regardless of immigration status. I believe that every New Yorker, no matter what their citizenship status, should be able to vote in our municipal elections. Non-citizens in our city pay taxes, attend our schools, and make vital contributions to our economy. They deserve a voice in our government, and the freedom to participate in our electoral process.