Brooklyn Jewish, Catholic High School Students Push For Education Tax Credit in Albany to Launch Orthodox Union Campaign for Bill

Students from Yeshivah of Flatbush and Nazareth Regional High School met with Senators Martin Golden and Simcha Felder (center), sponsors of the Education Tax Credit bill in the New York State Senate, during the OU Advocacy-Teach NYS advocacy mission to Albany.

OU Advocacy-Teach NYS, the nonpartisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, launched its campaign to pass the Education Investment Incentives Act (EIIA), also known as the Education Tax Credit, with an interfaith advocacy mission to Albany on Thursday composed of 30 Brooklyn high school juniors, half from the Yeshivah of Flatbush and half from Nazareth Regional High School.

Passing the Education Tax Credit is the top priority for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS during the 2015 Legislative Session. By encouraging individuals and corporations to make charitable contributions to public schools or scholarship-making organizations, the tax credit could generate an unprecedented amount of support to tuition-paying families.

The high school students met with more than 30 legislators including Senators Martin Golden and Simcha Felder, sponsors of the bill in the Senate, and Assembly Member Michael Cusick, sponsor of the bill in the Assembly. The delegation was officially recognized on the floor of the Assembly by Assembly Member James Brennan, who represents the district where the Yeshivah of Flatbush is located, and welcomed by Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, Speaker Pro Tempore.

Noting that the tax credit would provide the “best education opportunities” for families, Senator Golden told the delegation that the bill is “important to you, to your moms and dads, and to your families.”

Each legislator the students met with emphasized the importance of their advocacy and their presence in Albany. “It’s your job to show legislators how important the education tax credit is,” said Assembly Member Steve Cymbrowitz.

Former Assembly Member Karim Camara, the newly-appointed director of New York’s Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services, reinforced that message, encouraging students to “show their righteous indignation” to legislators. “The Education Tax Credit is not about religion. It’s about children getting the best education they can and finding ways to expand access to education.”

“Today’s mission served two purposes: to introduce our state legislators to some of the students who are directly affected by the Education Tax Credit bill, and to demonstrate to our students that advocacy—making your voice heard—can influence legislators and have a powerful impact on our daily lives,” said Arielle Frankston-Morris, Director of Field Operations for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS.

“This advocacy day is a perfect example of the interfaith, grassroots movement that has brought the Education Tax Credit to the brink of passage here in New York,” said Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference. “We’re very proud to stand together with the Orthodox Union in this cause.”