The New York Twenty: Real Charter Champions profiles the everyday people who are the champions to their children: parents and grandparents who make the critical choice to send their kids to charter schools. Over the next several weeks we will be sharing the real stories of charter parents around New York State. Get to know Anthony Crossman, a Mount Vernon charter dad.
Anthony Crossman and his wife, Paula, have lived in Mount Vernon for nearly two decades and have seen the struggles district schools face year after year. And when their two daughters were old enough to attend school, the Crossmans looked for one that would give them the foundation to become anything they want to be. That was when they chose Amani Public Charter School.
“Amani means so much to the families it serves because it is offering something different and better than what the district is,” Anthony said. “Amani helps its students continually out-perform the Mount Vernon school district on state tests –and the school is serving students who’ve been historically underserved and ignored.”
The Crossman’s own children have become advocates for the school as well.
Each year they travel to Albany during the legislative session to plead their case for fair funding, and explain to lawmakers the struggle Amani Public Charter School faces to make ends meet. Because Amani is a different kind of public school, the school is funded differently and denied state facilities funding for the school building – a huge challenge for many charter schools.
“My daughter Abigail is now used to lobbying elected officials in Albany,” Anthony told us. “This was Abigail’s second year going to the State Capital to plead the case for equal funding. Even in 8th grade, she understands the importance of advocating and educating lawmakers about how critical it is to fund her school fairly.”
The Crossmans know that Amani doesn’t have all of the same resources as other schools in the district – but the teachers work hard to make sure their students succeed and achieve.
“Our school often goes without some of the things you’d expect a school to have. But we see how hard the teachers and Amani’s founder, Deb Stern, work to make sure all of the students are getting a world-class education. It is so important to us to have this option. I want my kids to become anything they want to be.”
Amani has a huge waitlist and many families are trying hard to get their child a seat there. It’s part of why the Crossmans and their daughters take such an active role in advocacy.
“Families in our community need and deserve options, and we want to extend this chance to more children. But we can't do it without support from legislators – so we’ll keep fighting.”