Parents, teachers and students rally in Bridgeport to "Fight for Fairness"

Posted by on 11 / 10 / 2015 0 Reactions

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Following events in Hartford and New Haven, 3,300 parents, students, teachers, and community leaders marched through Bridgeport as part of the “Fight For Fairness” March.

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** NOVEMBER 10, 2015
Contact:  Andrew Doba, andrew@stuloeser.com, (203) 850-7400

PARENTS, TEACHERS AND STUDENTS RALLY IN BRIDGEPORT TO “FIGHT FOR FAIRNESS” 

Coalition Demands Fair Funding for Charter Schools and All High-Need Students; No Cuts During Budget Negotiations

(Bridgeport, CT) – Following events in Hartford and New Haven, 3,300 parents, students, teachers, and community leaders marched through Bridgeport as part of the “Fight For Fairness” March.  Parents from across Connecticut called on state legislators to fund all public school students fairly, and warned state officials not to cut funding for charter schools during the current budget crunch. 

The March began at Washington Park and concluded with a rally at Baldwin Plaza.  The message to legislative leaders was simple – students in public charter schools should be treated fairly when it comes to funding their education.  

Right now, Connecticut’s public charter school students are given less funding and are treated unfairly under the law. Though they are public school students like any other, each public charter school student is given, on average, $2,800 dollars less per year than their peers in traditional public schools.  This is in spite of the fact that the vast majority (73%) of public charter school students are from low-income homes and communities.  

"It's absolutely unacceptable that public charter school students are treated as less than their other public school peers," said Jeremiah Grace, Connecticut state director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network. "State leaders must recognize that public charter school students have thousands of dollars less in support than their peers. Charter students cannot face any cuts in the short term, and deserve to be funded equitably by our state moving forward."  

"I’m not willing to accept that my children are worth less than any other child in Connecticut," said Ebony Dennis Barnes, a parent who spoke at Tuesday’s rally. 

In addition to the push for fair funding, speakers at the rally urged legislative leaders not to cut money for public charter schools during the current budget negotiations. 

"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 New Haven. 

Rally participants were joined by a number of local and state elected officials, including Bridgeport City Councilwoman Milta Feliciano, City Councilwoman Aidee Nieves, City Councilman Jose Casco, and Bridgeport Board of Education member Kadisha Coates.  

The March for Fairness was the third event in a series that began with parent mobilizations in Hartford last week and New Haven this week. In each city, parents called for fair funding for public charter schools. Advocates are planning a broader campaign over the course of the year focused on leveling the playing field for public charter school students.  

Coalition members supporting the march include ConnCAN, the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN), Achievement First, and Families for Excellent Schools. To learn more about this critically important debate, visit www.fightforfairnessct.org.

Key Statistics on Connecticut’s Unfair School Funding:

· State charters receive $2,800, or 26%, less per student than their host districts even though they educate students with similar levels of need.

· On average, host districts and state charters educate the same percentage of kids in poverty about- 73.2%. 

· However, CT provides funding for state charter schools based an arbitrary number that has nothing to do with student learning needs. 

· And, unlike traditional public schools, which get a combination of state and local per pupil funding, charter schools get no local per pupil funding. Some districts do provide voluntarily provide support, but this is voluntary and the amounts range wildly from nearly $80 (Hartford) to $9,000 (Stamford) per pupil for each seat—leaving students’ educational futures uncertain.

· Connecticut is one of only two states where charter schools are funded through a separate item in the state budget that must be approved in the state budget every year.

· Other than Hawaii, Connecticut is the only state that uses a separate state budget item each year for charter funding—and Hawaii’s law requires that charters receive equitable per pupil funding.

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