On February 2, 2012, Jeremy Del Rio represented 20/20 Vision for Schools as a witness on congregation and school partnerships at the NY City Council Education Committee hearing concerning the Department of Education’s pending eviction of sixty-eight congregations from schools on February 12. Below is his prepared statement in support of Resolution 1155.
February 2, 2012
Testimony before the NY City Council Education Committee
By Jeremy Del Rio, Esq., Executive Director
20/20 Vision for Schools
Chairman Jackson and honorable education committee members:
I am Jeremy Del Rio from 20/20 Vision for Schools, representing more than 100 organizations that have partnered with local public schools to improve educational outcomes for vulnerable students since 2008. Several of those partners are among the congregations threatened with eviction in ten days. I am also a public school parent.
Others will testify to the discrimination, Constitutionality, and disparate impact of the Mayor’s Unequal Access policy. I am here to speak to a second tragedy it exacerbates.
Last June, Mayor Bloomberg lauded a record graduation rate of 65%. One month later, the City disclosed that only 25% of those students graduated college or career ready.
After a decade of reform, the odds that graduates of New York public schools will finish equipped for life is still only one-in-four. Three out of every four students who believed us when we told them graduation is their ticket out of poverty were betrayed by empty promises. Remediation awaits the lucky ones.
New York City can do better. Indeed, we must do better.
Today I urge the City Council to elevate this conversation from solely a debate about space to a long-term strategy that partners local schools with community stakeholders who can invest in the sustainable reform of our City’s schools.
Rather than evict congregations, mobilize them for the leverage they alone can provide in the fight for educational justice. Loving neighbors, pursuing justice, educating children – these are universal religious imperatives. Regardless of tradition, 70%-90% of the faithful are directly or indirectly connected to schools, positioned for impact.
Transformational change requires us to see beyond parochial interests and forge partnerships on behalf of 1.1 million students. Let’s model for them how neighbors of all faiths can co-create a more just New York. We can begin by passing Resolution 1155.