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Parents turn to prayer, fast to stop mayoral control's renewal

A group of New York City mothers are appealing to divine intervention to stop the renewal of mayoral control, with a daylong fast that starts a minute before midnight tonight.

“I am hoping that the legislators in Albany, if they don’t have direct knowledge of how bad things are for our children, that they will be influenced by the hand of the Lord on their heads,” said Benita Lovett-Rivera, one of the event’s organizers.

From tonight until 8:19 p.m. tomorrow — the official sunset — opponents of mayoral control citywide will abstain from eating and drinking. At 7 p.m. they will gather in small groups for “fervent” prayer and to sing the protest song “We Shall Overcome,” Lovett-Rivera said. She told me she has heard from nearly a thousand people who said they would participate.

The fast was the brainchild of a small group of mothers who attended a recent town hall meeting about mayoral control in Brooklyn (that Elizabeth moderated), where Major Owens, the former longtime congressman from Brooklyn, said he wished opponents of mayoral control would mobilize to stop the school governance law from being renewed, rather than just hold forums about it.

After the event, the mothers, who also included a District 13 activist and two members of the Parent Commission on School Governance, discussed what they could actually do, given their limited resources and short time frame, Lovett-Rivera told me. We can pray, she said they decided.

“We all felt very spiritually this is such a big fight for those of us who don’t have the armor of financial power and political clout,” Lovett-Rivera said.

She said she opposes mayoral control after witnessing the effects of the current administration on her family and community. Her son was shunted into a new small high school where he did not get the preparation or support he needed for college, she told me.

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