Jamaal was born and raised in New York City. He spent his early years in public housing and later in rent-controlled apartments. He didn’t have much growing up, but his mother provided him all that he needed: love, a stable family, and a sense of community. Jamaal now lives in Yonkers with his wife and three kids, and he works as the founding principal of one of the best public middle schools in the city.
Jamaal has fought for teachers, students, and families for twenty years. As a leader in the opt-out movement across the state, Jamaal connected parents from diverse backgrounds to the fight. He has been a steering committee member for NYSAPE, where his work centered on successfully dismantling Common Core in NY and decoupling teacher evaluations from student test scores. He has also been a member of the New York State Early Childhood Blue Ribbon Committee, where he championed early childhood learning standards. He worked with Bronx Legal and Visiting Nurse Services to push for policy that trains every teacher in New York State in trauma-informed practices. He worked with Avenues the World school, Negus World, and Hip Hop Saves Lives to implement innovative design thinking and social justice curriculum. He has also led efforts to educate elected officials on the impact of toxic stress on health and education outcomes. He recently earned his doctorate in education focusing on the benefit of the community school model, which is an alternative to charter schools and the roadmap to fixing our public school system.
After seeing the failures in our education system, Jamaal started Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA). Located in the Baychester neighborhood of the Bronx, CASA is an innovative public school with a strong emphasis on student voice, holistic education, cultural awareness, and love. Through his work in education, he has seen firsthand how low-income families are locked out of opportunity by a system that’s rigged for the wealthy and privileged few. Through his work as an advocate and a Principal, he has seen the results of inadequate housing, homelessness, mental health, the racist immigration system, the school to prison pipeline, food deserts, and trauma filled environments.
While our leadership is focused on wars, and privatization of government services, our kids and communities have been legislated out of the American dream! We need an advocate like Jamaal to center families and community as has done for the past 20 years. We need to right the wrongs of No Child Left Behind, the ‘94 Crime Bill, and a system that breeds inequality.
While the current leadership has failed to produce results, Jamaal has been successfully fighting for families in the state. With this election, we can build the movement by putting Jamaal, an effective advocate, and educator, into the halls of Congress so he can continue to work for not just the state of New York, but our country.