The 4,000 parents, educators, and community leaders who will stand alongside me on the New Haven Green this morning have one thing in common—our children cannot wait.
We are parents who have seen the crisis of failing schools up close, in our homes, in our streets, and in our cities. And we are community leaders who have seen our children, who all have equal potential to be great, have the doors of possibility close before them.
I will be standing side by side with 4,000 other parents who want bold, urgent action to give every child access to an excellent school because I think of my son Tayvone every day and hope a different future awaits for my daughter Breanna.
Tayvone has a learning disability, and was enrolled in failing schools until then. That school refused to help him see his potential and shape his future. Instead, they put him on medication and placed him in a restrictive classroom. He was tracked into a specialized middle school, and was warehoused all the way through high school.
The school system failed Tayvone. Sometimes, it feels like I failed Tayvone. I couldn’t save him, but I was determined to save my younger daughter. Her name is Breanna.
Breanna started at a failing school where 4th graders were reading on a kindergarten level. But then we got lucky: she was accepted into an excellent school of choice in Bridgeport. The transition was hard, but she’s become quite the math whiz. She’s on track to succeed in high school and college. Her future is bright.
Every kid in Connecticut deserves this opportunity. But we know there are 40,000 kids still stuck. Kids like my son.
For these children—most of whom are black and brown and come from communities without means —time is not an option. They need us to act now, to give them access to the excellent schools they desperately need.
Today, I will be standing on the New Haven Green to demand an excellent school for all 40,000 students who are stuck, and for every child in Connecticut. We will be bold, and beautiful, and 4,000 strong.
Our kids deserve nothing less.
Tara Maxwell is a district and charter parent in Bridgeport.