Chanting the words “parent power,” more than 1,500 parents, students and advocates — including several hundred from Bridgeport – flooded the steps of the State Capitol on Thursday afternoon, demanding that state legislators reverse cuts to charter school funding.
“We here together because of an urgent truth,” said Christopher Mercer, a parent of two children attending Bridgeport schools who led the rally. “The Connecticut State Legislature is about to deny 861 public school students access to a great public charter schools.”
Mercer’s own daughter is currently on multiple waiting lists for charter schools in Bridgeport. A kindergartener, Mercer says his daughter is often praised for being smart and intuitive, but is not being challenged enough at her traditional public school.
“I don’t believe she’s being prepared for her future. I know that she is capable of so much more.”
Mercer and his daughter weren’t alone. Princess Tompkins, another Bridgeport parent who spoke at the rally, spoke of her son, one of the 861 students at risk of losing their placement if the state legislature doesn’t reverse cuts to charter schools.
“Last year when I learned that Capital Prep was coming to Bridgeport I was so excited, but when I became aware my son has been accepted it literally brought tears to my eyes,” said Tompkins.
“More than 800 student will be losing time while we wait to attend a great school if this funding does not come through.”
The funding Tompkins is referring to is the $20.9 million for additional charter schools seats from Gov. Dannel Malloy’s February budget plan that was stripped by the Appropriations Committee advanced last Monday.
Malloy was also in attendance at the rally, voicing his support for funding Capital Prep Harbor School and Stamford Charter School of Excellence, two new schools that were approved last spring by the State Board of Education but whose funding was eliminated by the Appropriations Committee.
“Let’s work together for the outcomes that are best serving our young people particularly in our urban environments” said Malloy to the cheering crowd.
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