Like many other New Yorkers, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the results of the Democratic Primary for Congress a few weeks ago. On June 26, 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic Primary for US Congress here in NYC. As a 28-year-old Latina woman from the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez could make history as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress if she wins the general election in November. Ocasio-Cortez ran against Joseph Crowley, the incumbent of 20 years. He is a popular Democrat from Queens with a large following. Crowley did not show up to their first debate, citing scheduling conflicts. Although he showed up to the second debate, he sent someone else in his place to their third. It was clear to Ocasio-Cortez that he didn’t take her seriously enough to even show up to two out of three of their face-offs.
Ocasio-Cortez teaches us a very important lesson -- she was on the front lines of her campaign. She went door-to-door the day before the election to reach voters. She attended rallies, community events, and was a friendly face to businesses and people in her Bronx neighborhood. She conversed with her constituents and listened to their concerns. At Impact Network, we strive to be involved with our students to ensure they succeed. We spend time analyzing attendance data and test scores, mentoring and coaching our teachers, and working with our school support officers to ensure we are providing the best education possible. We are on the front lines of our students’ education, building relationships with them.
Ten months earlier, Ocasio-Cortez was serving tacos at a restaurant in Union Square. Now, she is running a campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. She truly embodies the message we strive to send to our students everyday: anything is possible. No one thought she would win. Ocasio-Cortez states in her campaign video, "women like me aren't supposed to run for office—I wasn't born to a wealthy or powerful family. But we have to ask ourselves... who has New York been changing for?" The New York Times did not even cover her campaign. And yet, against all odds, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won against a seasoned Democratic incumbent. We are proud to teach our Impact Network students that they too can succeed against all odds.