Photo: Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media
This past month, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Gamin signed the city budget after months of proposals, discussions, and meetings. Unfortunately, our kids’ education was short-changed yet again.
The City Council voted to give the Bridgeport school district only a $1.33 million increase. This was after the Board of Education had requested a $16 million increase. That amount was what our schools needed to keep functioning at the bare minimum and to stop cutting services. Now it seems likely that more cuts will be coming.
This matters to me because I have young son who attends Luis Marin School, which is, it turns out, the worst school in the district for academic achievement. I moved from Spain to Bridgeport two years ago — our family was looking for a city where we felt welcome, a house of our own, and a place for us to grow. My hope is that my son can have a bright future in Bridgeport. And this is why I joined other mothers with Make The Road CT to fight for a good education for our kids.
To me, a quality education means that my son is given opportunities to succeed and develop his mind. I want my son to be able to take music classes. I want my son in math classes that prepare him for the future. If my son needs extra help, I don’t want him to be told that no extra help is available. I want my son and all kids to feel valued and that our district believes in and invests in their future. But right now that is not happening.
At my own school, Luis Marin, we met with the principal and I know that they are trying to do the most with the little that they have. But the persistent budget cuts are affecting the quality of education. Just this year, the school requested funding for a another social worker and for a bilingual special education teacher — both requests were denied due to lack of funding.
Our students need resources to reach for their dreams. A better future for Bridgeport will never come if our students are denied the opportunities for a better future.
Bridgeport suffers from a persistent achievement gap. The four-year graduation rate for Connecticut is 87 percent, while for Bridgeport it is only 72 percent. The percentage of students proficient in math standardized testing in 4th and 8th grades are 44 percent and 37 percent in CT, but for Bridgeport students that rate is 7 percent and 8 percent, the lowest in the state.
Bridgeport parents like me are tired of the lack in investment and active divestment in their schools and education. We know this budget season is over, but we want the city to know that we’ll still keep fighting to make the sure the current funds are used in ways that best benefit our students.
These last few months, parents like me with Make The Road testified at City Council meetings and met with the Board of Education. We’ve found our voice and learned how to use it. The city should should remember — as parents, we know what our students need.