Every child deserves an equal shot - no matter what zip code their classroom is located in. I am a proud graduate of the of the New York City public school system, despite the challenges I faced. My school was the basis for Jonathan Kozol’s book, Savage Inequalities, which talks about the disparities in education between students of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds. I was one of the lucky ones: I made it to Northwestern University. But every day I think about the classmates I left behind: those who were unable to attend or graduate from college because of a broken system.

And this system is more dysfunctional than ever. However, I believe the public school system can be fixed. Together we will lay a foundation that will allow our children to grow and flourish.

That foundation includes legislation like the Raise the Age Act, which raises the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old. Because our students deserve to be in school, not in jail.

Diversity in education is incredibly important to me, particularly when it comes to the next generation of health care professionals. Trust between doctors, nurses, and emergency medical professionals and their patients is vital, but it is difficult to build that trust with someone who has not walked in our shoes.

That is why I am proud to continually fight for additional funding for programs like the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) run by Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine; a program that works to recruit students of color into medical programs from 14 Bronx high-schools.

As an Assemblyman, I fought for and won $56 million in grants to make New York State the first and only “My Brother’s Keeper” state, securing vital resources for men and boys of color so that they can not only complete their education, but also develop professional skills and secure rewarding careers afterwards. If we want to break the cycle of poverty and uplift our communities, that foundation starts with our children.

As Public Advocate, I will:

Advocate for Smaller Classrooms and Better School Resources:

Smaller classroom sizes allow for more one-on-one interaction between teacher and student. As Public Advocate, I will fight for smaller classroom sizes, more resources for teachers and students, and for billions of dollars in money owed to our City schools from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. It’s time for this money - intended for classroom and school resources -  to be paid out. I will also push for additional funding for necessary school supplies so that teachers do not have to pay out of pocket for their students’ success.

Support All Our Students:

Every high school student should receive rich and rigorous instruction that prepares them for success after high school graduation. This includes providing English Language Learners (ELL) with accommodations to fully participate in college-and career-prep courses and access assessments, translations of course materials, bilingual courses and/or support from bilingual teaching assistants. There should be professional development for teachers and leaders on how to support ELLs enrolled in advanced coursework. As Public Advocate, I will work to make colleges more accommodating for all students, especially those with work and family obligations. We need to support these students throughout their college career to ensure that they complete their degrees. Completing a degree gives students the best shot at obtaining employment and paying down their student loan debt. I will also support our community colleges as an alternative to for-profit schools.