What will it take before a majority of Connecticut voters demand remedies to low voter turnout such as happened Nov. 3? Something must be done to energize the voting process. Even in presidential election years like 2016, more voters, especially young adults, must believe that their votes count.
Connecticut’s funding system for all public schools is fundamentally broken. This dysfunction causes the incessant fighting over the state budget each year. Connecticut needs a funding solution for every school – charter, district, magnet, and the rest – that ensures that all students have the resources they need to learn.
Having witnessed numerous shootings, murders, break-ins, drug arrests and gang activity, the residents of Bridgeport’s Trumbull Gardens are accustomed to hearing gunshots in the night; and another shooting is hardly front page news. But even by the jaded standards of inner-city life, the shootings June 11 were exceptional in their brutality, their random nature and the utter disregard for human life displayed by the killers. And yet, aside from Mayor Bill Fitch and his rival in the upcoming primary, former mayor Joe Ganim, the Bridgeport police and some local clergy, the silence from Connecticut’s leaders is telling.
Before students of all colors can succeed equally in Connecticut’s public schools, we must be bluntly honest about why disparities exist. An achievement gap would exist if we gave every student equal opportunities and some children still failed to achieve. In a myriad ways, we do not give all our children the same opportunities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in school discipline policies that exclude children from the classroom.
Each legislative session, we engage in the same political fights that yield only incremental progress towards the goal of providing quality education for all children. These unproductive debates, which pit traditional schools against public charter schools, underscore the need to solve our fundamentally broken funding model that currently plagues our education system.
Last week, the state’s Appropriations Committee proposed a budget that includes cuts of more than $20 million dollars to public charter schools — including funding for Capital Prep Harbor and Stamford Charter School for Excellence — two approved schools that families have been demanding and are counting on. This budget would stifle the progress we’ve made in the past few years and would hurt the future of children across our state.
Connecticut legislators have apparently decided not to hold a hearing on HB 6616, a measure that would phase out the use of coal to generate power and provide a smooth transition away from power plant jobs. The coal-fired Bridgeport Harbor Generating Station has been polluting the air for years, We demand evironmental justice and the right to be be heard on this bill.
Fairfield County, a region marked by sharp disparities in income and in urban and suburban life, faces particular challenges in assuring all its residents a quality education. Today, a special report, “Education, Diversity and Change in Fairfield County,” explores the issue through in-depth policy reporting, interactive maps and charts, photo galleries and opinion pieces written by teachers from the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University.