We are the plaintiffs of Wright v. New York, and this is why we are fighting for educational justice for all parents.
“Kids shouldn’t have to go to school and be scared of their teachers.”
My name is Laurie Townsend and I’m a mother from Queens, NY. I am fighting on behalf of my son, Nakia Townsend, Jr., who is 11 years old. When Nakia was in 2nd grade, his science teacher shoved him and when Nakia was in 4th grade, the same teacher targeted my son again and shook him by the shoulders. I filed several complaints with Nakia’s school and even pursued a solution through the Department of Education. Even though I was told my claims were substantiated, the teacher was able to eventually return to the school and create an environment of fear.
This is unacceptable. As a parent, I trust schools to provide my son, and all children, a safe and productive educational environment.
I am standing up because we are out of options, and because this is not just about my son. There are so many other kids in our state in similar circumstances. No parent or child should have to go through what we have.
“Laying off our teachers, just on the basis of seniority, doesn’t take our students’ needs into consideration. I think that is wrong.”
My name is Mona Pradia and I’m from Rochester, NY. I have been working with children in and out of schools, off-and-on, for nearly 20 years. I am fighting on behalf of my daughter, Adia-Jendayi, who is 14 years old. When my daughter was in 4th grade, she had teachers who communicated regularly with me and implemented a plan to make sure my daughter was on the right track. Before she entered the 5th grade, I learned that the teachers who were supposed to continue with Adia’s academic plan were laid off. They were chosen for layoffs because they had less seniority than other teachers in the school. Adia’s 5th grade more “senior” teachers lacked classroom management skills, and were ineffective in engaging students in the educational process. Adia did not thrive in the classroom that year. She and other students should not be cheated out of a quality education.
“Through the experiences of Kaylah and Kyler, I’ve learned that good teaching makes all the difference.”
My name is Keoni Wright and I’m a proud father from Brooklyn, NY. I am fighting on behalf of my seven-year-old twin daughters, Kaylah and Kyler. When my twins entered Kindergarten, they had the same desire and motivation to learn. They were split up for the first time and placed in two separate classrooms. Kaylah had a great teacher who assigned homework everyday and often communicated with me about her progress. She excelled in the classroom. Unfortunately, Kyler did not receive the same kind of effective teaching. At the end of Kindergarten and to this day, I see Kyler struggle with reading through no fault of her own. I want my daughters to have the best of everything. At the very least, they are entitled to a quality education with effective teachers. And, that’s why I became a plaintiff in this case.
“I refuse to accept that my daughter is not getting the education that she deserves.”
My name is Angeles Barragan and I’m from the Bronx, NY. Like so many others, I moved to this country to make sure my children have a better life than I did. When I think about the education my daughter, Natalie, is receiving, I feel I am failing her as a mother. I sent Natalie to Kindergarten knowing her letters, shapes and colors, but by the time she had finished Kindergarten, she had lost what she learned in Pre-K. I made several attempts to switch Natalie out of the classroom, but I was denied every time. Because of the poor instruction Natalie has received she repeated the 2nd grade. Natalie is a smart girl and she deserves opportunities. Natalie’s teachers and the education system have failed her.
“Jada’s experience is not unique. The Rochester Public School district is ranked number 692 out of 696 districts in the state. That means only four districts are performing worse than Rochester in the entire state. But somehow 66% of Rochester’s teachers are considered effective based on the state’s teacher evaluation system. Something isn’t right. The math doesn’t add up.”
My name is Carla Williams and I’m from Rochester, NY. I’m fighting on behalf of my beautiful, bright daughter, Jada. What’s unique about Jada’s story is that in the 8th grade, Jada wrote an essay comparing the lack of education she and her classmates were receiving to modern day slavery, as told in The Life and Narrative of Frederick Douglass.
I was proud of her, and I was proud of her writing. Jada’s teachers should have been proud of her too, however, her teachers were not pleased. Instead of acknowledging Jada’s powerful reflection, they instead bullied her, isolated her and made her school year extremely unpleasant.
Jada’s teachers acted unprofessionally and because of these laws, I feel they weren’t held accountable for their actions. The way Jada’s teachers acted in response to her essay did not contribute to an effective learning environment.
“I care because I’m a parent and a veteran teacher. I’ve seen a lot of great teachers and I’ve seen a lot of not so great teachers. I’ve also seen how kids pay for it when they do not have an effective teacher.”
My name is DeLaine Wilson and I’m a mother from Albany, NY. I am a 15-year veteran teacher who has taught at various grade levels in public and private schools in Albany. I am participating in the lawsuit on behalf of my 16-year-old daughter, Metorcery.
I learned that my daughter’s teacher barely provided instruction in class. Even worse, he gave his students the answers to his exams because the tests “did not matter.” How is a student encouraged to learn when they are not being challenged or when the teacher discourages real learning and encourages shortcuts?
My daughter and I are frustrated because she feels as though she went to school for a whole year but learned nothing and was unable to do well on her state regents exam, despite her desire to learn.
My daughter has heard too often that her education is not her teacher’s problem. Instead of protecting students from teachers who discourage a desire to learn, these laws protect even those teachers who have checked out. These protections are at the direct expense of our children’s education and I want to do everything I can to help my child grow.
“The teacher, in my opinion, should be a pillar of safety.”
My name is Tauana Goins and I’m from Far Rockaway, NY. I’m fighting on behalf of my daughter, Tanai, who is 9 years old. Tanai used to love and enjoy going to school but now it has become something that she is fearful of. When Tanai was in 2nd grade, she would come home and tell me about inappropriate/threatening things that her teacher was saying in the classroom. Unfortunately, Tanai was placed with the same teacher in the 3rd grade where I noticed Tanai rarely came home with math homework. I tried to tutor her and work with her, but because she was so ill prepared for her math state assessment, she failed.
The laws in New York State protect abusive and ineffective teachers. Even though Tanai’s teacher instilled fear and threatened my daughter and other students, the teacher has stayed in the classroom with no consequence. That is unfair to the students and not a status quo I am willing to tolerate.
“Students should be educated, not tolerated.”
My name is Ginet and I am from Brooklyn, New York. I am participating in the lawsuit on behalf of my 13-year-old son, Raymond Jr. I am very involved in my children’s education and am constantly encouraging them to strive for success. I was very disappointed when Raymond was doing poorly in his 7th grade English class. I quickly realized that my son rarely received homework assignments. In class, the teacher wasn’t teaching lessons, but regularly passing out worksheets and short passages to read for the entire class period. This is not teaching and, of course, my son wasn’t learning. I went to speak to the teacher to see how Raymond can improve in the class, but didn’t receive specific feedback.
I want Raymond to be somebody. If his teachers are not going to teach him and provide him at least a basic educational skill set, who will? I make sure he is fed, that he is loved and taken care of. His teachers need to do their part as well.
“I am an involved parent. I am at my child’s school multiple times a week. There is no reason why I should find out my children are behind at the end of the school year.”
My name is Nina and I am from Queens, New York. I am speaking on behalf of my children, Patience and King. I am very involved in my children’s school where the administration and teachers know me personally. Last year, both of my children were struggling in the classroom and I was surprised that neither of their teachers informed me about their challenges since they saw me so often. I had to hire a private tutor to focus on Patience’s reading, and I saw improvements in her reading in just 4 weeks.
Not only did my childrens’ teachers fail to keep them at grade level, they failed to keep me informed. Any parent—and certainly an involved parent like myself—should hear from teachers when their kids are not doing well in school. It shouldn’t be a surprise at the end of the year. If teachers are not doing their job, then they shouldn’t have the job. These laws protect ineffective teachers that prevent our children from receiving the education they deserve.