BY JASON COHEN
Being prepared for school, attendance and reading books were the issues addressed at last week’s Community Education Council legislative breakfast.
On Friday, January 31, the CEC held the annual event at Tosca Marquee, 4034 E. Tremont in Throggs Neck.
A few hundred parents, educators and elected officials packed the hall to discuss their educational concerns.
“We asked you to come and join us to discuss community and education because we have arrived at a moment in out history where we can no longer ignore the most fragile among (us),” said CEC president Farah Despeignes. “It is time to act and to save our future.”
Despeignes said a few weeks ago the country celebrated Martin Luther King Jr., who stood for justice. But, yet where is the educational justice and funding for students that live in poor communities, she said.
Just because these neighborhoods aren’t wealthy doesn’t mean the kids don’t deserve the same opportunities, she stated.
“The reality is that the schools are not equipped to truly address the issues in a sustainable manner,” Despeignes opined to attendees.
The forum’s keynote speakers were Senator Luis Sepulveda and District 8 Superintendent Dr. Erika Tobia. Sepulveda praised Despeignes and the other parents for trying to get the best education possible for the kids.
“The CEC and Farah, the work that they do, the commitment that all of you have to our schools, is something that you all should be applauded for,” he said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all of you.”
These experiences of working with people like Farah and working with all of you, it gives me the energy and the oxygen to fight in Albany for the children.”
Tobia said there are three things kids need: more pencils, to attend school every day and books. If they have a pencil that’s a small step in being prepared, she said.
“Give the kids a pencil,” she exclaimed. “Give your kids what they need.”
Children also need more books to read. She said it’s crucial that students read a certain amount of books each week.
“People need to know what level their kids are reading on,” Tobia said. “We are not going to get kids to learn how to read unless we get books that interest them into our classrooms.”
Lastly, attendance in school is imperative. The more days they miss the more they fall behind, she exclaimed.
“Kids have to come to school every single day,” Tobia said.
Also, in attendance at the breakfast was Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
As she paced back and forth in a walking boot, she stressed how she is battling everyday for funding for our schools. She said she will not let the underserved communities in the borough continue to receive less money.
“My great grandparents knew that education was the literal entryway to having opportunity to making sure you can go from low income to middle class,” Biaggi said. “With education anything is possible.”