Parent, actor and activist Cynthia Nixon welcomed everyone to the recent launch of North Star Fund's Education Justice Fund and called the quality of our public schools "a measure of economic justice."
She thanked North Star Fund for supporting the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Coalition for Educational Justice, dynamic organizations that represent parents, students and advocates for better schools. "The school system only works when everyone's voice is heard," Nixon continued. "We don't need top-down leadership and committees with no power. We need a grassroots movement."
Need for school reform
Over the past decade, New York City schools have endured significant alterations in school governance, rampant school closings and new, semi-private school openings, cult-like emphasis on standardized testing, and the imposition of increasingly high-stakes evaluation metrics on students, schools, and educators. The Education Justice Fund is a partnership of community, labor, and private philanthropy to build a strong future for New York City's kids.
Working in coordination with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, North Star Fund seeded the Education Justice Fund with a challenge grant of $200,000 in November 2012. Every $2 donated to the Education Justice Fund is matched with $1 from North Star Fund. The match comes through the Activism's Future Campaign which is ensuring a steady flow of resources to grow grassroots social justice organizing in New York City.
Oona Chatterjee, of the Annenberg Institute, noted that the goal is to award the full $600,000 in grants as soon as possible. She voiced appreciation for the major contributors who provided the initial matching dollars: the American Federation of Teachers, the United Federation of Teachers, and The Schott Foundation for Public Education.
Cynthia Nixon (green dress) advocates for parents and students to play a major role in reforming the NYC public schools. Photo by Jason Masten.
North Star Fund's executive director, Hugh Hogan, spoke of the model New York City's schools could be for the rest of the country. He also paid tribute to the progressive coalition partners, led by parents and students, who will use the funds to expand their grassroots organizing, particularly in low-income communities of color, and to build on their recent hard-fought victories on school safety and discipline, college-readiness and funding for academic supports, and interventions for students in the middle grades.
"We are also excited about the potential for more groups to build on the work they are already doing to keep 'the public' in our public schools. We need to be training the next generation of critical thinkers, and artists and activists and scholar athletes, not just test-takers able to protect the status quo," says Hogan.
The coalition member organizations that will benefit from contributions to the Education Justice Fund are:
- Future of Tomorrow
- Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation
- Highbridge Community Life Center
- Make the Road New York
- New Settlement Apartments
- New York Communities for Change
- New York Civic Participation Project
- Sistas and Brothas United, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
Click here to support the Education Justice Fund.