City Council Candidate, Anthony Beckford’s Letter to De’Blasio and Carranza regarding their planned School Re-Opening:
Dear Mayor De’Blasio and Chancellor Carranza:
I am writing you today, not only as a Community Leader, Mentor, a Former UFT Member, President of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn and City Council Candidate. I am writing to you today as a Father. A Single Black Father; if that opens your eyes a bit more. In April 2020, myself and many others demanded the immediate closing of all schools in New York City to prevent the death toll that ended up occuring due to the delay in school closings by you both. Many in our communities have lost loved ones and have gotten severely sick themselves. Let us be very real and clear about the fact that it was not just elderly New Yorkers and those with pre-existing conditions who have died. There have been medical frontline workers, MTA personnel, young adults and children who have died. I have lost close friends and my daughter’s classmates have lost family members and friends as well. Many teachers have died and many have witnessed the death of their loved ones. Due to the city’s lack of response and slow moving approach, to the demands to close and to provide immediate large scale testing and other measures to stop the spread and to provide the much needed assistance, advocates like myself and others have had to be on the frontlines providing many of the services needed. We are talking about food, mask and hand sanitizer distributions to wellness checks and collaborating with medical facilities to provide free covid and antibody testing. Many of us, like myself, ended up severely sick to what seemed like the brink of death and after recovering (which many were not able to do), we were back on the frontlines doing what we can to protect New Yorkers.
With the school season approaching, you both have yet to make the right decision to keep schools closed, at least until January, despite all of the failed attempts in other states and countries. Despite, the pleas and demands of Children, Parents, Advocates, Teachers and Staff Members. You both have had Unions such as DC 37, United Federation of Teachers, CSA, the New York State Nurses Association and also the MORE Caucus along with parents and community leaders tell you that schools cannot open in September. I do not know what the disconnect is or the purpose of the dismissiveness of the people, but it is neglectful, careless and will not be tolerated. Our children and their teachers as well as all school staff, will not be your test subjects and sacrificial lambs. The schools do not have adequate ventilation, the City does not have enough PPE supplies to provide without putting other New Yorkers at risk due to another shortage, the ventilation system would need to be upgraded to be able to comply with MERT filters, bathroom sinks and toilets as well as water fountains will need to be touchless. Even with all of that, we still have the issue of children with asthma who cannot wear masks for long periods of time, lack of nurses in our schools and overcrowded class rooms due to the closing, charter school takeover and lack of funding for our public schools.
De’Blasio, you have met my daughter Harmonee who is 8 years old and have conversed with her. You have seen how serious I am about her upbringing and future, so you must also know that I will not remain silent on these matters. Not just for her well being, but for the well being of over 1.1 Million children and their families, as well as their teachers and their families. So make the right decision. The same way you stated that gyms and indoor dining cannot be opened, is the same way you need to make the decision that schools cannot be opened. You know as well as I do, that you would not send your son and daughter to school in these conditions if they were still in elementary, Junior High or High School.
– Keep schools closed till at least January 2021, and revisit the possibility of re-opening from there.
– Provide expedited certification for childcare facilities that meet social distancing and cdc guidelines and expand the voucher programs for parents and guardians who make less than $65,000 a year.
– Remove Asbestos from all schools, replace ventilator systems with upgraded systems that can use MERT filters and make toilets, sinks, soap dispensers, water fountains and sanitizing stations touchless. (This will help with re-opening plans and safety measures, but also provide job opportunities as well to help in the jump start of the economy)
– Provide access to Mental Health Services for students, their families and teachers.
– Expand the school food program to all schools, so that adequate access is afforded to all communities. (Be sure to provide Kosher and Halal meals)
– Provide IPads / Laptops to all students, as well as Free Wifi Access before September 7th.
– End all plans for layoffs. Cut the salary of City Council and Mayor by 15% and use that for wages for teachers. Do an actual cut of $2.5 Billion from the $6 Billion Militarization budget of the NYPD and cancel up to 4 NYPD classes, which will cover wages, further hiring of teachers and resources and services needed in underserved communities. This is what real redistribution looks like.
– The Immediate Resignation of School Chancellor Richard Carranza
– A taskforce consisting of Teachers, Parents and Student Advocates that will provide oversight for any proposed re-opening plans.
Single Father, City Council Candidate, Mentor, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, President of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn and Newly Elected County Committee Member.