It’s time to address inequity in Connecticut’s schools

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Families for Excellent Schools march.

As Connecticut emerges from this latest budget negotiation, it’s time for us to address a long-standing inequity in our public schools.

Thanks to Connecticut’s outdated and unequal system of funding public education, thousands of our highest-need kids are being valued less by the state, given less money simply because of the type of public school they attend. Charter school students are given just 74 cents on the dollar compared to their peers in traditional public schools.

Now, you might think that because I’m writing this, I’m a charter school parent. But I’m not.

My grandsons go to traditional public schools. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take a stand against a system that treats thousands of students unfairly. Charter schools have worked wonders for thousands of families in New Haven, where I’m raising my grandsons. Parents who choose to send their children to charter schools deserve to be treated equally by the state of Connecticut, not valued less.

This funding shortage means that students and parents are forced to choose between an AP English class or a chemistry lab. Between band and art. Between drama club and basketball. It means that kids who are already behind have to settle for less, just because of the type of school they go to. That is not fair to our kids.

All public school students, whether they attend traditional public schools or public charter schools, should be supported equally.

There is a growing movement for change building across Connecticut. In November, I was one of 3,300 parents, students, and educators who marched across Bridgeport to call for fair funding for all students in Connecticut. Before the march, parents organized smaller rallies in New Haven and Hartford.

Over the coming months, the parent leaders of the Fight for Fairness campaign will continue to organize our communities, meet with our elected officials, engage community leaders, and build support for a funding system that treats all public school students equally.

We want our elected leaders to know that we’re not going anywhere. Until every student in Connecticut gets the support from the state that they deserve, the Fight for Fairness campaign will continue to advocate for change.

Sharon Lewis is the New Haven Chapter Lead for Families for Excellent Schools.

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