A class at the Achievement First Bridgeport Elementary School. (Pre-COVID photo.)

I am the mother of two young Black boys in Bridgeport and an eldest son in the military.  I am part of a steady drumbeat of families calling for our children not to be pushed aside when it comes to equity in education.

For years, I have written letters, attended meetings, and made calls to elected officials. I often ask myself, am I making a difference? Then, I think of all the children’s beautiful faces and the teachers who are pouring so much love, care, and inspiration into our kids. My frustration turns to determination. It doesn’t waver, even in a pandemic. I am still here.

I am here to say that it is time to stand up for what is right and stop an educational system that funds kids like mine as second-class citizens. My sons attend Achievement First Bridgeport Academy, a public charter school. For years, I’ve been fighting against the unacceptable truth: that funding public charter school children — overwhelmingly children of color– is below what the state has determined as the minimum amount of funding per student. It is time for our elected officials to stand up for what is right, not what others decide is “feasible” in the budget.

Our leaders must fight for funding focused on the students’ needs regardless of zip code, class, or socioeconomic background. Parents must demand, with me, that all students receive the same funding regardless of the Connecticut public school they attend. Right now, the state values my children’s education less than their peers in other nearby schools. That’s not only unfair; it’s unconscionable.

This is not just a problem in theory. The future of children just like mine is in the balance right now at Stamford Excellence. Those children need a middle school to continue attending Stamford Excellence, one of our state’s top-performing public schools. The future of children just like mine is also in the balance in Danbury. Danbury Prospect is waiting to open its doors — families are anxiously awaiting a better educational opportunity. They are waiting for the moment their kids can attend a public charter school with a proven track record of excellence in education. They are waiting for our elected officials to take a stand.

I am calling on our leaders to make this the year when Connecticut finally becomes a state that can pride itself on achieving educational equity in funding for all its students – regardless of the type of public school they attend.

Bernadette Gillot Lamousnery lives in Bridgeport.

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