As Bishop, I serve the Lord and I serve my communities. And in doing so, I go where there is injustice. I go where people are oppressed. And I go where there is good that I can do to help our people access their god-given right to education and to realize their full potential.
And so I come to Hartford, week after week, and especially on May 4, the National Day of Prayer. That day I joined 343 people of faith to Wrap the Capitol in Prayer and call for change. We need $300 million in fair funding for education now.Not in a year, not in two years, not in five years, but right now. We have no more time to wait.
FaithActs and our allies have been on a journey for years to close Connecticut’s immoral racial funding gap. As demonstrated by those gathered on May 4, we’ve built power to demand justice for all of Connecticut’s children. When the governor flat-funded education, we used our collective power to get $150 million more into the budget.
And while we celebrate this victory, we acknowledge that we’ve won the battle but not the war. Now is the time to fully fund education once and for all.
And yet, our current version of the budget has less than half of what our children need.
You can’t drive half a car to get to work, you can’t eat half a meal and expect to be full, you can’t use half a pen and expect to write, so how on earth do we expect our teachers to teach and our children to learn with half the funding they deserve?
The truth is that our state has never given Black and brown and low-income children what they need to succeed. Our education system funds our schools based on property taxes, after allowing the value of the properties in question to be determined by racism.
Giving our children half of what they need will not fix a system that is wholly inequitable by design.
This inequity is not what God intended. Our education system cannot be permitted to give our children crumbs while their neighbors feast.
We need $300 million because that is what it would take to finally fund one Connecticut education system where our kids get equitable funding no matter their race or their zip code.
It benefits ALL school children, and that’s why this issue has the broadest support ever assembled in Connecticut. Our state also has the money. We have a $3 billion surplus. Telling our students to wait is unconscionable, especially in a state that currently spends $788 million dollars more to educate white students than students of color.
Along with the hundred who joined me at the Capitol, I am calling on our legislative leadership and Gov. Ned Lamont to commit to fully funding education in this budget. We ask our legislators to commit to taking a leadership role in the effort to find the additional $150 million — out of the $3 billion surplus — to fully fund our children, grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren in their education. The time is right now.
Bishop Daniel Bland is the pastor of Revival Church in the Greater New Haven Area and a proud member of FaithActs for Education.