Why not Support Educational Models that Clearly Work?

My family and I have been residents of Bridgeport for approximately two decades now. I am a parent to three children who attended traditional, magnet, and public charter schools in my city and have been advocating vigorously for educational equity in our state for the past 12 years.

February 10th was a moment of great joy when I heard the Governor announce his budget proposal to increase our charters’ per pupil funding. It took me back to the many moments we have come before our state elected officials to appeal for equity in funding for our children in public charter schools. I felt so much gratitude to all those who have stood by us and fought for what is right and not what is popular. While I know we still have work to do; I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you.

It is no secret that the fight for civil rights in our country continues on, despite the public outcry for change. Recently I was meditating on this, and it struck me that since the inception of our public charters in CT, the fundamental rights of black, brown, and minority children in marginalized communities like mine have been, and continue to be, taken away from them by the elected leaders that claim to advocate on their behalf. Let’s let that sink in; it’s appalling.

I am a proud hard-working Mexican American married to an equally hard-working upstanding man of color. We have been blessed with three children that through grit, determination, and the education provided by a wonderful charter school in my city, are now all college students. My son, who has learning disabilities, is now in his first year of college at Sacred Heart University pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. My twin daughters are seniors in their last semester of college at Boston College and Bucknell University, both majoring in psychology.

I want to share that parents don’t care about public charters, public traditional, or other forms of public schools. They care about schools that are going to meet the needs of their children; Keep them safe, and inspire greatness in them. Our state’s public charter schools have, and continue to, do this for our sons and daughters. It is for this reason why I ask our elected leaders: why not support and divert resources to models that clearly work?

While I hear the baseless arguments of those that oppose a mother like me for having chosen a public charter school for my children, I can’t help but wonder who those arguments are in service of as it is clearly not the kids. Mothers like myself live in poor communities plagued with pervasive educational/opportunity gaps – which I will emphasize were here decades before public charters were ever part of the educational landscape. My message to the nay-sayers is, parents in my community are not going to buy into the us versus them narrative when it comes to our schools – we care about what works for our kids. So instead of pitting schools against one another, let’s instead work to provide educational opportunities for all kids – they deserve a fighting chance!

Let’s come together and fight for justice and equity for all of Connecticut children. Let’s make sure all children are equally funded based on their needs. Let’s make sure we come away from divisive rhetoric that only hurts our most vulnerable, yet our most deserving Black, brown and minority beautiful children that are shattering glass ceilings and opening doors like never before!

Parents and community members can learn more about and join me in my fight for education justice by visiting www.educationjusticenow.org.

Claudia Phillips
Bridgeport, CT

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