As the Connecticut legislature considers education bills this spring, I urge the Greater Danbury community to voice our support for both increased funding for traditional public schools and funding for the Danbury Charter School. It is not either/or, but rather both/and, because Danbury families need both better funded schools and more educational options.
Opponents of the Danbury Charter School argue that funding the charter would take money from the public school system, but that is false. Charter school funds come from a different state revenue stream, and so blocking the charter school these last five years has resulted in less money for Danbury. This needs to stop. Our kids deserve more investment in schools – indeed, the future of the city and state depend on it.
Our kids also deserve more than one school option. In a city Danbury’s size, what’s best for kids is not one school of 3,350 students. Some students thrive there, but others get lost. English language learners are particularly vulnerable in such a big place. Bigger schools have more electives, but small schools give parents confidence that their kids will be seen and understood. One size does not fit all.
And it’s not just size – different schools can focus on different things. As Danbury High School becomes a hub of six career academies, some students may not want that. They might prefer the International Baccalaureate curriculum to be offered by the Danbury Charter School. Again, it’s not about better or worse, but rather about which program is the best match for each student.
Connecticut’s legislators have an opportunity now to begin writing the next chapter of Danbury public education, a chapter where a well funded ecosystem of options provides equity and opportunity for every young Danburian. Let’s get the job done.
Kristin Kearns-Jordan is a Trustee of the Jordan Family Foundation, New Fairfield.