National Action Network’s Membership Director, Dominique Sharpton, the eldest daughter of civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, voices opposition to the MTA’s proposal to end student metro cards—
New York, NY (December 15, 2009) –Dominique Sharpton, the eldest daughter of civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton and the national Membership Director for National Action Network is voicing her opposition to the MTA’s proposal to end student metro cards in New York City. In the following statement, Dominique makes the case that the future of our students should not be jeopardized for the sake of decreasing the budget deficit.
“It perplexes me that in a time when America is trying to come together to improve the education system and create a safer and more productive educational atmosphere in the public school system, that the MTA is suddenly proposing to cut programs that help our children commute to school in order to balance their looming budget deficit. For years, student metro cards have been sought after as a reward provided by the City for students to be able to ride the subway and buses for free while dropouts and children not in school had to pay the standard fare.
Student metro cards provide incentives for children to want to go to school allowing them the opportunity for a brighter future. The proposed cut sends a message that students have to rely on their parents—many of whom can’t afford adding a couple more thousand dollars to their household budget in order to simply get their children to school safely every morning.
With the available discounts, the annual cost for a family with two kids riding the trains will be around $1,500 and up to $3,000 for four children. This is a clear indication that parents with lower incomes will not be able to afford such an increase in their budget creating a more serious problem in our communities if our children are unable to go to school. So, while the President is working to increase employment in this country, the MTA is working to prohibit our children the chance to go to school. The end result will be more dangerous streets, increasing teen violence and our communities becoming less desirable for everyone to live in.
The MTA’s budget shouldn’t affect the lives and education of our children and should instead work to protect children’s welfare. The fact that the metro card has the word “student” on it says enough in and of itself. Many of the children in our communities going to school are already dealing with the lack of proper learning tools such as books, overcrowded classrooms, teachers who don’t care, the prospect of being labeled as “disorderly” and the prospect of being placed in special education classes with prescribed medication to control their behavior as well as the sentiment that in some schools they need to carry weapons in order to protect themselves. Cutting programs that provide student metro cards will increase student drop-out rates, community violence, arrests, and further the destruction of future generations in this city.
It is being suggested that before the proposed cut can be approved there should be a series of public hearings to discuss the implications of this effort. The National Action Network will take whatever necessary actions to ensure that our children will continue to have a chance to be educated in this city and that they ALL have access to a successful future. I too was a student who used my student metro card every single day to get to school. It was convenient and with it came a sense of pride that I had an advantage over those that I passed standing in lines waiting to purchase their metro cards. In some instances I witnessed young people being arrested for hopping the turnstiles to ride the subway for free. Disabling 550,000 children the right to go to school and jeopardizing their education is a much deeper issue that needs to be addressed than improving the budget at the expense of their education. If the proposed cut is approved, we will not only fail as a community, but we will fail as a nation! By enabling “Insufficient Fares” for students, we will be securing “Insufficient futures”.