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Billionaires get handouts. My students don’t even get toilet paper.

School supplies are one thing, but when a roll of toilet paper is too much for our budget, something has gone seriously wrong.

Old, broken chairs in an abandoned school

I have had the privilege of teaching in New York City public schools since 2005. Last year my class and I received the rare opportunity to attend the Lincoln Center ballet. I couldn’t wait to see the joy on my student’s faces as they took in the opulence.

During intermission, I took two students to the restroom. As I stood outside waiting for them, I wondered what they had noticed; was it the marble counter tops, or the brass knuckling on the chairs? Eventually the door flew open, and the glowing faces of my students greeted me.

“Ms. Brezler, did you know their bathrooms have TWO toilet paper rolls?!”

***

While billionaires get a handout, my students — and students across the country — get one roll of toilet paper. Every year that I’ve been a teacher, that roll is gone well before the year is over. Simple hygienic necessities should not be subject to budget constraints. Our teachers and students deserve dignity and respect.

Currently, Republicans control 32 State Legislatures and 33 Governor’s seats. They have over 4,000 elected officials with exposure in their local communities, ready to run for higher office.

This is how they have gotten more than 300 abortion restrictions passed in the last five years and how they can get away with gerrymandering districts, packing the courts, and changing the tax code to benefit the wealthy while middle-class families struggle.

My entire career has been spent serving in economically disadvantaged communities, first on the west side of Yonkers and more recently in the Bronx. I have seen the consequences of all of those actions first hand.

I personally am done putting up with it. If these lawmakers won’t stand up for my kids, then I’ll do it myself: by running for State Senate in New York.

I’m running because it’s time for something new. We need to end the game of musical chairs in Albany and allow the Independent Democratic Conference to cede control to Republicans. We have to face the facts. As Democrats, we don’t have a bench. We need young people who can keep up the momentum and represent working and middle-class New Yorkers.

I’m running because I’m tired of our representatives looking out for themselves while our education system lags, our taxes increase, and people across the state suffer because we can’t provide a fundamental right to health care. And while my kids get excited over the luxury of an extra roll of toilet paper.

We need to start building our bench right now to ensure our future isn’t a repeat of the past. I don’t put up with bullies in my classroom, and I certainly won’t put up with the bullies who have welcomed themselves into Albany. Together with not just New Yorkers, but people all over the country who believe in fairness and dignity for all, we can build a future that we can be proud of.

Katherine Brezler is a second-grade teacher in The Bronx and a candidate for New York State Senate in the 37th District.

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