• September 15, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

OPINION Why is Mayor de Blasio targeting Qns. families?

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 11:51 am, Thu Aug 29, 2019.

It’s hard to believe that my son is about to start middle school. He’s excited about having his own locker and the robotics course he’ll be taking. He’s looking forward to meeting new classmates and having more independence at school.

Instead of the normal anxiety that comes when your child is starting a new school (and middle school, no less!), my husband and I are going into this new school year with deep pits in our stomachs. Our son has a great middle school, but our younger daughter’s education is threatened because Mayor de Blasio is refusing to provide a location for a second Success Academy middle school in Queens.

If de Blasio continues to ignore Queens families — our community has made more than 350 calls to his office begging him for a location — our daughter may be among the 400 scholars who will be forced out of Success over the next two years. There are four Success elementary schools and only one small middle school. After this year, there will not be enough space for all the students going into middle school.

If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a virtual replay of the mayor’s attack on a high-performing middle school in Harlem five years ago. This time it’s Queens, but the victims — the children of working families like mine — are held hostage just the same by the politics of a man who was able to choose the best schools for his children, but would deny hundreds of families in Queens that same right. Ironically, one of the schools the mayor was forced to find space for back in 2014 is our elementary school: Success Academy Rosedale! It’s like he has targeted Queens families!

My husband and I chose Success Academy for our son after a district school failed us. Our son, Nathaniel, attended kindergarten at a district school. Imagine my shock when his district school teacher told us there was nothing more she could teach our son. Nathaniel had advanced through all materials by February that year, and she told me I should look elsewhere! So we applied to Success Academy Rosedale, and we were lucky enough to get a spot for our son the next year through the lottery. He started there as a first-grader and immediately started thriving — he did so well in his first year that his teachers recommended he skip second grade completely and go straight into third. Our daughter, Charleigh, started as a kindergartener three years ago.

Last year, our school was ranked in the top five K-8 schools in all of Queens, with 88 percent passing English language arts on the state exams, and 96 percent passing math. Compare that to the district middle schools in this part of Queens: Only two out of 55 middle schools have pass rates of 80 percent. I refuse to accept that this education might be taken away from my children for no other reason than politics.

In the school districts around the four Success Academies in Queens, there are five buildings with at least 500 unused seats. Most of these schools have seen enrollment decline steadily for the past five years — because the schools are low-performing and families like mine want something better.

I wish I could spend the short time left before school starts just playing with my kids, making sure their uniforms still fit, helping them finish up their summer homework and celebrating when my kids find out which friends will be in their classes next year. Instead, I’ve been calling my elected officials, writing emails to the mayor and even going to parent informational meetings about middle schools in the area. I’m doing whatever I can to ensure that my daughter will get the same educational opportunity as my son.

The mayor has the power to provide Success Academy a location for this middle school — he fought to keep mayoral control of NYC’s schools. And I won’t stop fighting for my children, to safeguard their future and the futures of all the children at Success Academy. Because of Success, my children are succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. We can’t go back to the education system that failed my son. I will not risk my daughter’s future. I demand that Mayor de Blasio listen to the very people who elected him and provide us with a middle school location in Queens.

Rosanaly Diaz-Scott is a licensed real estate sales agent who lives in Queens Village with her husband and their two children.

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