Charter school parent and Brown v. NY plaintiff Maria Dalmau talks about what she's thankful for this holiday season: a quality school for her children.
It’s the time of year when people really take stock of what they have to be thankful for. I am lucky that it’s not only this time of year that I realize my good fortune: finding a great public charter school for my daughters.
Nothing is more important to me than my children’s education. Seeing so many bad schools in Rochester, I am so thankful for Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter School and the excellent education it is providing my girls.
My daughters Samantha and Marianna are in fourth and first grade and have attended EMHCS since kindergarten. Their school outperforms the district by huge margins on the state exams, and the staff has gone above and beyond to make sure my daughters receive the best education. We are thankful for teachers who never give up on their students.
My daughter Samantha has a wonderful brain that would have been wasted if not for EMHCS. I tell her that her brain is awesome, but it works differently than other kids’. She has ADHD and when she needed extra services, EMHCS was there alongside me fighting to make sure the district provided what she needed. That’s dedication my daughter wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. My baby’s amazing intelligence would have been wasted if she didn’t get into a charter school. I’m thankful she isn’t lost like so many others.
As wonderful as EMHCS is, it struggles every day due to inequitable funding. Charters receive thousands of dollars less per child than district schools, and no money for their buildings. Money goes from the classrooms to instead pay for rent and building maintenance. And EMHCS pays for two separate school buildings while it looks for one building to house all its students. It is so hard for a school to add more resources and expand when challenged like this.
EMHCS is constantly fundraising, and literally penny-pinching. The school held a penny drive to encourage the students to contribute. But the sad reality is this fundraising isn’t enough. Almost all of the families at EMHCS are from the inner city and are low income. We all do what we can but wish we could do more.
For all of these reasons, I am also part of the Brown v. New York charter funding lawsuit against the state. Parents like us want equitable funding for kids – no matter what type of public school they attend. The lawsuit is proceeding – another reason I’m thankful this holiday season.
There is no reason a school working this hard to provide a solid education to its students should face this inequality. I am thankful that my children are receiving a great education, but I can’t help but think of the families who haven’t been given this chance.