New York Assemblyman Marcos Crespo is the latest example of an influential Democrat offering full-throated support for school choice, including options such as tax credit scholarships.
At a press conference in Miami last week, Crespo pointed to Florida’s tax credit scholarship program, the nation’s largest private school program, as giving New York a “playbook for something that works.” (The program is administered by nonprofits such as Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.)
Crespo repeatedly referred to Miami scholarship student Valentin Mendez, who preceded him at the press conference. He also referenced the Catholic school education that helped shape U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Like Crespo, Sotomayor hails from the Bronx. Her success wouldn’t have been possible without the school, and without her mother’s sacrifice in paying tuition, Crespo said. “Us in government,” he continued, “have a responsibility to create more opportunities for more Justice Sonia Sotomayors.”
Here are Crespo’s remarks in full, edited slightly for length and clarity.
I want to thank you and CREO for bringing us all together on this important conversation. It’s hard to follow Sen. Sandoval and Valentin and his testimony. But I’ll share with you what’s happening in New York.
I represent the community in the southeast section of the Bronx that has been known for far too long for all the social ills associated with urban communities and low-income communities. We have talked for years that education is our priority. We have talked about fixing a broken system that continues to fail to graduate and prepare enough students in our community, particularly minority children, Hispanic children, low-income community children. We’ve talked about the fact that 80 percent of the kids graduating from our school system, when they go to college, they need remedial courses because they’re not prepared for the academics they’re going to confront there. Think about that.
We talk about the economy of the state, and whatever state you’re in, whether New York or Illinois or Florida or wherever you are in this country, you’re not competing with just your own local community businesses. You’re competing in a global market. We talk about the failure of this country to be competitive with other superpowers around the world, and we have that conversation but we don’t do anything about it or enough about it.
I’m here today, and I’m here with friends who are Republicans and Democrats because as the senator said, this isn’t a partisan issue. The issue of education is a moral issue. It’s a rights issue. And it is an issue of opportunity and growth that is going to keep this country to be the great country that it’s been. We cannot do that without preparing the next generation. We cannot achieve that without empowering our young people to be the leaders of tomorrow. We say that far too often as a punchline and not as a real goal, and as a commitment for anyone regardless of what label you use to describe yourself and your politics.
I don’t know that an elected official, or a bureaucrat working at a state education agency anywhere in this country, can know better what’s best for Valentin than his mom who spoke here earlier. No one can tell her what’s best for her son.
In every state in this country, we talk about diversity. We talk about the strength of our diverse communities, we talk about the diversity of faith, of cultures and languages that make the United States what it is, certainly New York what it is. But then we don’t translate that very concept into the way in which we provide opportunities. Ladies and gentlemen, one size doesn’t fit all. Continue Reading →