Opinion

Parent’s Perspective: I Want to Send My Son to an NYC Charter School, but There Aren’t Enough Seats to Go Around. Please Lift the Cap to Help Families Like Mine

By Wanda Colon | April 24, 2019

Zeta Charter Schools on Facebook

In my neighborhood, a good school is hard to find. Trust me – I have looked. I live in the Bronx, New York, and have been researching schools for my son for over a year now.

This is my first child, so I am working hard to get it right. I can’t risk sending him to the wrong school. My nieces and nephews have attended both district and charter schools, and I’ve seen how charter schools have done a better job with their education. Traditional district schools are not an option for my son because I have seen them fail too many children in our community.

I began researching charter schools when my son started day care. He’s currently enrolled in universal pre-K, and the people running his program, who I have come to trust, have told me that charters offer a more in-depth educational experience.

I applied to 10 charter schools, but my son was wait-listed at all of them except one. I feel lucky that he got a spot somewhere, but it’s not where I really wanted to send him.

Sadly, we’re not the only ones in this situation. Traditional district schools are failing so many families like mine, but there aren’t enough spaces in charter schools to go around. Last year alone, there were 52,700 children on charter school waiting lists across New York City. More than 20,000 of those were in the Bronx.

Waiting lists keep growing, but there are no more charter schools on the horizon. That’s because even though so many families want to send their kids to charter schools, there is a cap on the number of charters we can have in New York City.

That’s unacceptable, and it is something that needs to change. Families in our community deserve better options for our kids.

The school I wanted for my son is Zeta Charter School, which has the best curriculum for him. I got a flyer from Zeta last year, and I followed up by researching the school online, meeting with administrators and talking to parents who have children there. I think it’s the best fit for my son, but there aren’t enough seats.

This experience is all new to me, and it’s one of the most stressful things I have ever been through in my life. I just want my son to do well, and I feel like if I don’t get him the right start to his education, he may fall behind and never catch up.

School is such a fundamental part of a child’s success in life. I want to find a place that will help shape my son into an independent thinker who values hard work. I want a place that has great teachers, parents who care as much as I do, a dedicated principal, disciplined students and a lively environment where kids enjoy learning and teachers and parents work together.

Wherever my son ends up going to school, I am going to be an active parent and I am going to do what I can to make it the best school it can be. I will always support him and his education, and I won’t stop fighting for my son, and for kids in our community, to get the education they deserve. I just wish that someone would take action and raise the unfair cap on New York City charter schools so that parents in the Bronx won’t be stuck in the same situation as me.

Wanda Colon is a Bronx mother of a 5-year-old boy who will start kindergarten in September.

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