Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined charter school advocates Thursday at the state Capitol to rally against $47.1 million in cuts proposed by the Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee earlier this month.
He said the cuts would roll back the education reform package they passed last year “over the objection of some, but ultimately by agreement with many.”
Malloy continued: “We can do a lot of things with a little money and we need a little more money to be back in this budget when it gets passed. We need to make sure we keep our promises. We need to make sure we get ready for the common core. We need to make sure we train our teachers in the evaluation process. We need to make sure we fund more charter schools and local charter schools as well.”
Malloy, who opened the rally, said “getting education right is the civil rights issue of our time.”
He continued: “We cannot throw away 40 percent of our children in Hartford, in New Haven, in Bridgeport, in New Britain, in New London.”
Capital Preparatory Magnet School Principal Steve Perry told the crowd, estimated at around 300 by Capitol Police, that it’s important for them to remember “there are people who work in this building who don’t care if you ever go to school.”
Perry continued: “They’re more willing to build a prison then to put you into a good school.”
And when they argue they don’t have the money to fund these initiatives, Perry said, what they’re really saying is that they don’t have the will to make sure you have a good future.
“They don’t care if you go a school where no one’s able to read as long as you don’t send your kids to their school,” Perry told a cheering crowd. “I love you too much to lie to you. I don’t want you to think for a second that everyone has your best interests at heart.”
The budget proposed by the legislature’s Appropriations Committee would cut some $10 million over two years from the “Commissioners Network” of failing schools targeted for turnaround. The governor’s budget envisioned targeting 25 schools as turnaround schools over the next two years, but the Appropriations budget cuts it to a dozen.
It also cuts more than $10 million that had been set aside for new state charter schools. The committee proposal also would eliminate $26 million over the next two years to boost the teacher and principal evaluation system expected to be rolled out in the fall.
“Gov. Malloy’s budget proposal would go a long way to improve our public education system,” said Jeremiah Grace, state director of the Northeast Charter Schools Network. “It treats public charter students more like their district school friends when it comes to funding and increases access to high-performing public charters.”
Jennifer Alexander, acting CEO of ConnCAN, said the cuts the committee proposed “decimate” reforms that are essential to improving public schools.
“State legislators must realize that a stronger commitment to educating our kids for tomorrow’s jobs will make Connecticut a better place to live and work,” Alexander said.
The legislature’s Appropriations Committee co-chairs Rep. Toni Walker and Sen. Toni Harp, both of New Haven, will be in charge of negotiating the budget with the administration.
Charter school advocates are hoping some of the funding is restored during those closed-door negotiations, which have yet to begin.