Once again, the community of Danbury finds itself echoing with disappointment as its calls for the funding of an already approved charter school are ignored.
Despite steadfast advocacy, relentless negotiations, and meeting every expectation set before them, the voices of this resilient community have been turned a deaf ear for the fifth consecutive legislative session.
Over 250 parents and community leaders who testified at the appropriations hearings were ignored. The community showed the support of thousands with emails, press conferences, marches, and everything a community could possibly do, but the message by state leaders was still the same: Politics will continue to trump the needs of the mostly Black and Latino community in Danbury.
Our community in Danbury has been begging for this school – and it shouldn’t have to. Parents shouldn’t have to beg for great school options. And, other schools are being opened after having followed the same process that Danbury has. So, really, we have all kinds of injustices here – kids being denied a great education (which they need for successful futures), communities being denied fair and equitable processes. And, well, Danbury is sick of begging, just to get what the community deserves while these same politicians that are blocking the funds for the charter school in Danbury have just voted to open two charter schools in two other cities. This isn’t fair, and it is discriminatory to our mostly immigrant community.
There must be a clear realization and assessment of continued support by African American and Latino leaders of legislators who oppose schools that serve a population that is about 94% students of color. Black and brown legislators should take up the mantle and the cause of charter schools and the plight of black and brown communities across the state. This issue that has now manifested itself in Middletown as well shows the fallacy of allowing single white senators in any given community to decide what is best for black and brown children. The struggle for educational options is at the core of a fight for equity and inclusion for these disenfranchised communities. And we must all be united in this cause.
It’s not just about constructing a new building or opening another educational institution. This school represents hope, a doorway to equal opportunities for families hailing from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. It is a crucial step toward the empowerment of Black and brown communities, who too often find themselves marginalized in the corridors of decision-making.
The repeated dismissal of the pleas from communities like Danbury and Middletown speaks volumes about the prevailing systemic bias. If communities that have met every benchmark are denied what’s rightfully theirs, what hope does it offer for others striving for the same goal? It sends a disheartening message: their efforts, no matter how valiant, may be rendered futile. That following the process and the rule of law means nothing in Connecticut.
The harsh reality is that this continued denial will only serve to widen our state’s already gaping achievement gap. When communities, particularly those of Black and brown citizens, are not given due attention, the inequality in education becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, with disadvantaged families finding it harder to break free.
As constituents, we must remind our elected representatives of their duty to every community, not just those that bask in affluence or align perfectly with their political viewpoints. Each child, regardless of their skin color or their family’s income, deserves the chance to learn, grow, and prosper in a quality educational environment.
This situation calls for more than just disappointment. It calls for action. We must band together, and demand that our voices be heard. We must remind them of the commitments they’ve made and their obligations to the communities they’ve vowed to serve.
We will not be deterred by this setback. The spirit of determination and the will to fight for our children’s future remains undiminished. This struggle may be arduous, but we, as a community, possess the resilience to persist until our pleas are answered. We ask all community leaders, politicians and parents to join us in this fight. The decisions about our children’s futures should be in the hands of the parents and not politicians.
For Danbury and similar communities across our state, change isn’t a mere desire; it’s a necessity. Our fight for an equitable education system won’t cease until justice is served. Let this not be an end, but the ignition of a renewed, steadfast struggle for our children’s brighter future.
Lucas Pimentel is CEO of LEAD (Latinos for Educational Advocacy and Diversity).