Sandy and Sidney Socolar may be retired, but their lifelong advocacy for social justice and equitable education is reflected in their longstanding support of the Notebook.
Both New York residents, Mr. and Ms. Socolar have made securing rights for all New Yorkers the center of their life’s work. Ms. Socolar, a union organizer turned child-care activist, and Mr. Socolar, a college professor, are especially dedicated to strengthening the city’s system of publicly funded child-care and health-care reform.
Ms. Socolar spent years in union organizing, but made a career change after getting a master's degree in social work at the University of Chicago in pediatric medical social work.
There she met and married her husband, Mr. Socolar, professor of physical sciences at the university. The couple had a daughter and son – Paul, the Notebook’s longtime publisher – and then moved to New York City, where Ms. Socolar's 50-plus years of pioneering education advocacy began. Mr. Socolar continued his dedication to being a public health advocate.
Working with Children’s Health Service, in 1964 she set up New York’s first family day-care program designed for working mothers. Ms. Socolar then worked as a director in city-funded family child-care programs, where in 1976 the Preschool Association of the West Side (PAWS) hired her to develop a child-care information service and referral database that helped New York City parents find quality, affordable child care. It was one of the first such child-care resource and referral databases in the country, and with some help from her husband, Ms. Socolar created the first computerized database of New York City child-care centers and preschool programs.
She worked tirelessly as the director of the child-care information service at Child Care Initiatives until she retired. Mr. Socolar, who had been working as a professor, retired nearly three years before his wife. After Ms. Socolar's retirement, she continued – for 28 years, pro bono – to work as a child-care policy analyst for District Council 1707, AFSCME. Sidney Socolar has advocated for health-care reform through New York’s Rekindling Reform project.
Given their enormous commitment to fair and equitable education policy, the Socolars’ support for the Notebook was “natural” and their membership, Mr. Socolar said, is “probably as old as the Notebook itself."
“The Notebook has made us more conscious of all of the ways that important movements can develop and grow,” said Mr. Socolar.
The couple find the Notebook to be an important resource for education advocacy to all of the Philadelphia community. They were staunch supporters from the time that their son, carrying on the tradition of dedication to social justice, helped found the Notebook in 1994.
“It’s a publication for parents, students, and advocates that should be available in every city," Ms. Socolar said. “Every parent, student, and advocate should have the bottom-line resources to make decisions about education. It is an invaluable resource.”
Mr. Socolar said that the Notebook’s importance lies in its role as a prototype for other organizations and publications.
“It is an excellent model for organizations devoted to the interests of the public, largely because of the way it keeps constituents of the movement closely informed on the nitty-gritty of their target system.” said Mr. Socolar.
In addition to her membership, Ms. Socolar volunteered with the Notebook as a proofreader for many years.
“I enjoyed proofreading. It was something I started doing in college for Smith’s student newspaper. To me, there is a certain pleasure in finding and correcting mistakes. It's like a puzzle. I proofread for some other publications and then for the Notebook. It was a real treat to proofread for the Notebook. I liked the feeling that it was useful.”
“It is important for organizations or projects to develop a strong community base; they draw strength from this base,” said Mr. Socolar. The Socolars are still fortifying the Notebook’s community base through their membership.
Ms. Socolar turns 100 years old in May and will be honored for her work in child-care advocacy by LiLY, which stands for Lifeforce in Later Years, an organization that works to enhance the quality of life for older New Yorkers.
Ami Irvin is an intern at the Notebook.