A cast of heavy hitters in education and politics are slated to hold a town hall meeting this Saturday to talk about the future of public schools — including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Organized by activists and parent leaders in Queens, the town hall meeting is slated to offer “a bold new vision” for education that addresses the ways in which public schools reflect “the nation’s growing inequality” — a result of “divestment and privatization,” according to an invitation.
The event — billed as part town hall and part pep rally — is notable because it includes some of the highest-profile voices in New York who support similar sets of education policies: increased education funding, support for teacher unions, and strict limits on charter schools.
Robert Jackson, a newcomer to the state Senate and lead plaintiff in a landmark school funding lawsuit, is expected to sketch out his own education vision. He will be joined by Diane Ravitch, a New York University professor and historian who is a staunch supporter of traditional public schools and a critic of charters as a method of “privatizing” public education.
After their remarks, state Senators Jessica Ramos and John Liu will offer their own thoughts, along with Ocasio-Cortez, all of whom unseated powerful — and more conservative — Democrats during last year’s progressive wave election. In her first few months in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has vaulted into the role of one of the country’s highest-profile Democrats.
“The whole idea is to focus all of the positive energy we had in 2018” and build momentum on education issues, said Nuala O’Doherty, a parent council member in Queens who helped organize the event. “It’s amazing when you bring AOC into the room everyone accepts your invitation,” referring to Ocasio-Cortez.
The discussion is expected to cover topics such as school segregation, class size, and funding, O’Doherty said, “issues that matter to our community.”
“This forum will energize teachers, parents, and students to come together and fight for a more just and equitable public education system,” the invitation says. It is open to the public.
The event is sponsored by Jackson Heights People for Public Schools and will include a constellation of other education advocacy organizations. It is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, at Fiesta Hall, 37-62 89th Street, in Queens.