I mentioned in a previous post that two charter school students from Harlem were among those testifying in favor of extending term limits at the City Council earlier this month. Their school head, Seth Andrew of Democracy Prep, sent me their testimonies, which he said they drafted on their own, on blank pieces of paper, by hand.

Andrew said the students had the opportunity to testify either for or against extending term limits. Both came out in favor. (Not a surprise, since Andrew also said that his students testified at the invitation of James Merriman, the executive director of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence and a political ally of Mayor Bloomberg.)

The testimonies are worth a read. Here’s how seventh-grader Daniel Clarke Jr. explained the connection between term limits and education:

Well, this chancellor has made a lot of progress in seven years, but he’s not done…YET. My school goes from grade 6 to 8 right now, but we are supposed to grow all the way to grade 12. Unfortunately, we can’t do this without a public school building, and this chancellor says he wants to give us one. He wants to close bad traditional schools and grow good ones like mine. If you pass this bill, my school will have a chance to take me all the way to college. If you don’t, the progress can’t continue and my school might not be able to grow. But I deserve a great high school, and there aren’t any others in my neighborhood like Democracy Prep that are open to all kids.

Term limits prevent my family from having a choice, both in schools and in mayors and what we need are more choices, not fewer. This bill is not about Mayor Bloomberg or the City Council; it is about giving our community choice, voice, and progress for the kids of New York City. Thank you for Listening, I’m Daniel Clark Jr.

The full testimonies are after the jump.

Testimony Before The New York City Council
Government Operations Committee
Friday, October 17th, 2008

Prepared Remarks of Zyaire Taylor, 13

Good Afternoon City Council Members
My name is Zyaire Taylor. I’m here in support of the bill to extend Term Limits. Let me tell you why. I am an 8th grade student a Democracy Prep Charter School in Harlem. My school is a public school –anyone can attend and are admitted by lottery- and I believe that my family deserves a choice and voice. My mom isn’t here today because she’s at work but she made a choice for me to go to Democracy Prep instead of my local school.
The difference between my local school and Democracy Prep is that my local school was very dangerous and I wasn’t getting the education I know that I deserve. One of our DREAM values At Democracy Prep Charter School is accountability and I believe that the schools and the city need to continue this Accountability like we have at DPCS.
So what does this have to do with term limits?
Term Limits could take away both accountability and the choice that our parents should have. They need this accountability and choice both for schools and elected officials. Term limits also take away the rights of people because they don’t have a choice of who they want to choose as an official.
In my history class at Democracy Prep I learned about the difference between a representative democracy and a direct democracy. The bill today is about representative democracy which means the city council, who was elected to represent the people, should make the law and not the people themselves.
We elected you to represent us and to make difficult decisions for your community and for my mom and me. I support this bill, and I hope you do to, because voters should have a choice in who represents them both in the city council and Gracie Mansion.
This bill is not about Mayor Bloomberg it is about choice, voice and progress for our schools and our city. I hope you will support it.

Thank You.

Remarks as delivered may differ from the prepared remarks

Testimony Before The New York City Council
Government Operations Committee
Friday, October 17th, 2008

Prepared Remarks of Daniel Clarke Jr., 12

Good afternoon, my name is Daniel Clarke Jr. and I’m here to support the bill to extend term limits. I am 12 years old and a seventh grade scholar at Democracy Prep Charter School in Central Harlem. I’m on the DPCS Debate team and my Principal gave me the choice to be here today and to testify how I chose. The reason I am in support of the bill is that I believe my family deserves a choice, both in schools and in Mayors.

First, just for the record, a charter school is a public school. I’ve been to both kinds of public school, and at my old traditional public school my dad and I didn’t believe I was getting a good education because sadly, at my old school there would be more fights than education. But I was lucky enough to be selected in the lottery for Democracy Prep, and DPCS is totally different. My teachers want me to do well in life, and I’ll tell you that the DREAM Team at Democracy Prep really wants every single kid to work hard, go to college, and change the world. That’s what we’re doing here today.

So what do term limits have to do with education and charter schools you say?

Well, this chancellor has made a lot of progress in seven years, but he’s not done…YET. My school goes from grade 6 to 8 right now, but we are supposed to grow all the way to grade 12. Unfortunately, we can’t do this without a public school building, and this chancellor says he wants to give us one. He wants to close bad traditional schools and grow good ones like mine. If you pass this bill, my school will have a chance to take me all the way to college. If you don’t, the progress can’t continue and my school might not be able to grow. But I deserve a great high school, and there aren’t any others in my neighborhood like Democracy Prep that are open to all kids.

Term limits prevent my family from having a choice, both in schools and in mayors and what we need are more choices, not fewer. This bill is not about Mayor Bloomberg or the City Council; it is about giving our community choice, voice, and progress for the kids of New York City. Thank you for Listening, I’m Daniel Clark Jr.

Remarks as delivered may differ from the prepared remarks