In the State · Waterbury

Why Are Top Schools Being Left To Fight For School Funding? Brass City Parents Rally Against Cuts

It’s become an unfortunate, perennial event. Every year families whose children attend charter schools are forced to fight to retain their school’s funding — and, it appears the fight for funding next year has already begun.

On Tuesday, students, parents, and staff at Brass City Charter School in Waterbury rallied, urging state lawmakers to reject $11 million in proposed cuts to charters.

In October, the state Department of Education submitted their budget reduction plan to the State Board of Education, which approved the cuts. Theses cuts, which in Brass City’s case specifically affect seat-growth — or the number of new seats at charter schools— came in response to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s request that state agencies reduce their budget by 10 percent to make up for expected revenue shortfalls in 2017-18.

You might think that cutting back on new seats isn’t a problem, but in real terms, this would mean that kids currently in the fourth grade at Brass City Charter wouldn’t be able to advance on to the fifth grade at the same school.

Originally featured on the Northeastern Charter School Network blog Extra Credit, Brass City Charter parent Lisa Gordon-Green gave a stirring testimony on the potential impact of these cuts:

“…The prospect that this school would go to grade eight and give our son a stable, solid foundation for high school and beyond appealed to us greatly. But if the state approves this $11 million dollar cut in funding to charter schools, my son and his classmates might not get that chance. It is wrong and unfair that in order for Connecticut to balance its budget, they would consider a harmful budget cut that could potentially take that opportunity away from them.

Sometimes, I think the state only looks at the here and now and not the harm their decisions could ultimately do. Instead of depleting funds to education, why not seek to cut spending in areas that would not affect children and ultimately society?

The fact is that for many families, including my own, a public charter school is the BEST choice for our children. To know that these schools are still making exceptional strides despite already being significantly underfunded as opposed to other public schools was impressive. However, charter schools deserve to be funded fairly and taking even more money away from them is the wrong move.

If the state continues to take away opportunities for children to explore educational opportunities and keep up with the challenges and changes of the world, then our children stand no chance of being successful citizens that contribute to the growth and development of society and the economy.

Education is the LAST place these cuts should be taking place! Although I am new to Brass City Charter School and the public charter school system as a whole, I know first-hand the positive benefits this environment is providing to our child, and I know that I want him to grow with this school.

We have to remember that our children are our future. THEY will be the leaders of tomorrow and having access to the best educational opportunities possible is the only way our children will become the great leaders we need them to be It’s up to us to protect their education…”

To read the Extra Credit Blog and Lisa Gordon-Green’s full testimony, Here’s a link to the full post.

Essentially if theses cuts become a reality, children, like Lisa Gordon-Green’s son, would be forced to switch schools, not because the school isn’t doing well, but merely because bureaucrats at the State Department of Education arbitrarily decided on cutting charter school funding.

That’s what’s frustrating about this proposal. It’s not at all based on what programs and schools are actually working to help children.

Last year, over 82 percent of Brass City students met or exceeded grade-level expectations in both reading and Math on state exams, despite having a population of students who are mostly low-income and non-white. These students aren’t just beating out their peers in their own district, their scores are on par with those of Connecticut’s affluent suburbs.  In other words, Brass City is nearly erasing the achievement gap.

While charter schools aren’t the only schools facing cuts and closures— Connecticut magnet schools and the state’s Vocational-Technical School System will also be hit— the situation facing Brass City Charter is a prime example of the problem with how the state currently allocates funding: It’s completely irrational.

It makes no sense that schools that are doing well, helping children, are left fighting to retain funding. Aren’t these the schools we should be expanding?

What do you think?

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