UFTers advocate for their students

Beginning with Children students enjoy the chance to meet with Gov. David Paterson.

More than 100 UFT-represented charter school educators, along with their students, parents and administrators, hopped aboard buses headed to Albany on Feb. 2 for the chance to meet with state legislators and advocate for their schools. They came from Beginning with Children Charter School in Brooklyn, Future Leaders Institute in Manhattan and Renaissance and Merrick Academy in Queens. The UFT groups met with legislators privately and heard from elected officials at the convention center, together with thousands of other charter advocates during what has become an annual charter school advocacy day.

The bus trip up provided ample time for students and parents who wanted to speak publicly to prepare what they wanted to say, said Chapter Leader Craig Garber of Beginning with Children. “The words they spoke were their own,” Garber said. “It was powerful to hear the children speak about their school in such a positive manner,” and equally impressive to hear from parents.

Benjamin Santiago, a parent of three students who have attended the school, said, “Both my sons graduated from there and are doing so well because of the education they received.” Garber said, “This was true advocacy, from the heart and mind.” Students had an educational day, learning about lobbying first hand, and meeting the governor and state legislators.

Garber (right) discussed educational issues with state Sen. Martin Dilan.