"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right." -Rosa Parks
We are NYC parent leaders, elected officials, and educational advocates dedicated to creating an equitable educational system
Shino Tanikawa is a mother of two daughters. She became involved in public education when her older daughter started Pre-Kindergarten at PS3 in the West Village in 1999. She started with volunteering in the classroom and at fundraisers. From there she moved up to be the Treasurer then Co-President of the PTA. She has served as an officer of the PTA at four schools and as a member of the School Leadership Team at five schools.
Shino has served on the Community Education Council District 2 in Manhattan’s Community School District 2 since 2009. She has served as Vice President and President at various times. As a member of the CECD2, she has authored many resolutions, formed partnerships with Community Boards and elected officials, advocated for more school seats in District 2, including 75 Morton School, and worked to increase parental engagement at the policy level.
She is also the Co-Chair of the Education Council Consortium (ECC), a group of parent leaders who serve on Community Education and Citywide Councils. Through the ECC, Shino advocates on issues that affect parents of all public schools in NYC and works to empower parent leaders as policy level partners.
Shino has served on a variety of task forces, including the Blue Book Working Group, the School Diversity Advisory Group, and the Fair Student Task Force.
Professionally, she is the Executive Director of the NYC Soil & Water Conservation District, which works to promote sustainable ways of managing stormwater and urban soils through outreach, education, and policy.
Patricia Laraia is a dedicated public servant who has more than 12 years’ experience in community development, public education, and politics. She currently serves as a member of the County Committee in the 66th Assembly District, and as the Vice Chair of the Schools and Education Committee in Manhattan Community Board 2. Patricia has held multiple leadership roles in various District 2 School Leadership Teams and Parent Teacher Associations. She is also one of the founding members of the 75 Morton Community Alliance, which advocated for, and eventually built, a new middle school in New York City’s West Village.
Patricia is best known for her relationship building skills. She is credited with helping to facilitate bonds between people with diverse views and backgrounds. She is an outspoken advocate for education equity, often serving as a voice for Black and brown families in District 2. Patricia attended St. John Fisher College, where she earned a BA degree in International Studies. Patricia and her husband are proud parents of two sons who attend schools in District 2 of NYC.
Cheryl Wu, MD is the mother to a middle schooler in downtown Manhattan, and serves as a parent member on the School Leadership Team at 75 Morton. Prior to that, she also served on the PTA and SLT at PS3. During her last year at PS3, Cheryl successfully launched the first annual Science Fair, with a group of science-minded parents. The Science Fair continues annually in the spring at PS3 to this day.
For her day job, Cheryl is a pediatrician in the underserved Chinatown community for children of immigrant families. She understands well the discrimination impoverished Asian American children face in NYC’s public educational system, in the form of language barriers, cultural differences, lack of educational services, and lack of family and social services. These barriers often lead to children “falling through the cracks” and face discrimination their families may not even be aware of. Cheryl has had much experience advocating for some of the most underprivileged segments of our society, and she recognizes the immense need for outspoken advocates for those who do not have a voice.
She believes ALL children in New York City deserve a good education, not just those from families with the means or resources to be able to attend “select” schools.
M. Starita Boyce Ansari, PhD is the proud parent of a Black boy, and chairs the Education Committee of the NAACP Youth Council. Her spouse is the cousin of Elbert Williams, who was the first Black NAACP Officer lynched while fighting for Voting Rights of Black people. Dr Ansari’s grandfather was one of the founders of Paragon Progressive Federal Credit Union. Her professional expertise is the impact of the economics of discrimination on education equity. Dr Ansari believes no child is born a bigot, and is the founder of The New 3Rs, a non-profit organization that educates children through humanistic story-telling.
Akeela Azcuy, PhD is a mother of three children. She is a graduate of public K-12 education in New York City. Raising her kids in the same community she grew up in, public school was a natural choice. She became involved in public education when her older son started Pre-Kindergarten at her local public elementary school. She started with volunteering in the classroom and quickly became a class parent. She currently serves as Co-PTA President at her children’s public elementary school. She also serves on the School Leadership Team and attends President Council meetings.
Akeela is currently member of the Community Board 2 and a member of CB 2’s School and Education Committee. She has been an active member of Community Education Council 2’s Diversity Committee when it was working on creating equity in the middle school admissions process for district 2.
She is a core member of a school building team that is working on creating New York City’s first public school to educate children with language based learning differences. She works with a team who is committed to bringing equity into literacy instruction for the children of NYC.
Akeela holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with specialized training is working with children and families
Mar Fitzgerald is the mother of a wonderful 5th grader. As the child of Civil Rights Movement leaders, community activism is in her blood. She currently sits on the Community Board 2 Schools & Education Committee, is Chair of Village Independent Democrats (VID), and served on the Executive Board of the PS41 PTA for years. Mar is an elected County Committee member in the 66th Assembly District and co-Chair of the CB2 Equity Working Group. She is dedicated to furthering the important work and conversations around social justice in Manhattan, NYC and the world.
Every child should have access to the resources they need to reach their fullest potential.
We are Families for REAL Equity in Education.
How do we achieve REAL Equity?
R = Reclaim – for 66 years since Brown v. Board of Education, NYC has not integrated its public school system. We are reclaiming the word ”justice” in order to attain what those brave black students have fought for in 1954. They have yet seen the results of this case executed, and we are committed to making it a reality in NYC.
E = Educate – we cannot change that which we cannot see. We will provide resources to help educate the willfully ignorant, or the unexamined, in order to begin a conversation about how to bring about thoughtful change.
A = Align and Amplify – we work to amplify all marginalized groups’ voices, concerns, and experiences; we recognize especially in a city like New York, that the diversity of its voices is beautiful and should be celebrated with an amplifier.
L = Leadership – we are building parent and student leaders of tomorrow in the way we support and model warm and compassionate leadership in the fight against inequities. “Everybody can be great.. Because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love to serve.” (Martin Luther King, Jr)
— Our Mission
We are recreating our public school system into one that ensures every student has access to safe, well-resourced, high-quality schools that celebrate, respect and enrich their individuality, culture, well-being and academic potential.
— Our Vision
We envision a public educational system that is equitable to all children regardless of race, faith, gender, and class.
— Our Story
We came together as a group of grassroots parents in District 2 in Manhattan, initially in a working group against screens in middle schools.
Since then, we have faced a lot of opposition from the parents who want to keep the status quo. We realized that we are fighting against an entrenched system of resource centralizing, structural discrimination, and systemic inequities. We have come together to put forth this effort to dismantle the inherent inequity of NYC’s public educational system.