Yesterday, in front of a crowd of nearly 3,300 people stationed behind the Fairfield County Superior Courthouse, Bridge Academy Charter School Junior Taylor Riley asked an important, yet heartbreaking question: “Why am I worth less?”
“Why do public charter schools receive less funding per student than other public schools do?”
This is the very question that thousands of parents, students and activists who braved the rain on Tuesday morning to march across Bridgeport’s East End to Baldwin Plaza want answered.
Yesterday morning’s “Fight for Fairness” march was the last of three events, which included press conferences in New Haven and Hartford, organized to highlight the disparities in the way Connecticut funds public schools.
Chris Mercer, a Bridgeport parent of two who acted as MC at the rally that followed the march, said that all public school children were being treated unfairly – especially charter students.
“Each charter school student is given $2,800 less per year than the average traditional public school student,” said Mercer. “I am not willing to accept that my child is worth less than any other child in Connecticut.”
This is a topic that Education Bridgeport! has covered before.
In order to undercut the charter movement, anti-reformers have perpetuated the myth that charter schools are flush with cash, but this simply isn’t true.
Even in Bridgeport, whose schools already receive thousands less per-pupil than Hartford or New Haven, charter schools receive on average $1,550 less in taxpayer funding per student than traditional public schools.
Bridgeport Board of Education member Rev. Kenneth Moales called the disparity a penalty on students for exercising choice.
“We are fighting the state for equality,” added Moales. “not against public schools.”
In addition to fair funding, during their speeches parents urged state leaders not to cut education funding.
“We’re marching to make it clear to our leaders that if they propose spending cuts that hurt our children, parents will fight back,” said Louis Reed, a parent from Bridgeport.
While no cuts are currently sent in stone, earlier this month the Department of Education was asked to come up with $4.5 million in cuts to its budget, according to the Connecticut Mirror.
“As the state is about to do budget negotiations, we want to make one thing very clear,” said Bridgeport parent Ebony Barnes. “Parents across Connecticut will not tolerate cuts to our schools.”
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