Selected readings on US charter schools
As the pastor at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit –and as a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education– I found the Connecticut Post’s recent editorial “Wrong way to spend education dollars,” Jan. 14) to be misleading and insulting to those of us attempting to better the lives of children in our community.
Along with 23 other individuals, last month I submitted a letter of intent to the state Department of Education regarding my desire to launch a new, high-performing public charter school in Connecticut.
Your editorial arrogantly suggests that I was wrong to do so, and that the state would be wrong to approve my request — as well as 23 others — to launch a new public charter school.
I have seen firsthand just how effective good charter schools have been in my city. I have seen these high-quality schools change the lives of people in my congregation. Bridgeport, like other school districts within Connecticut, should provide students and parents with more options! We are cautious to protect choice about birth, sexual preference, and the right to bear arms but hesitant to provide adequate choices for our children’s learning. Something is grossly wrong with our society.
The editorial board has sent the message to me, and more importantly the students in Bridgeport who have benefited from attending charters, that we’re wrong for wanting to continue enhancing public education choice in our city.
As it stands, Connecticut has the worst achievement gap in the nation and Bridgeport is home to the lowest-performing school district in the state of Connecticut, with 96 percent of the city’s schools performing below state average.
Charter schools in Connecticut are all public, nonprofit schools, and the vast majority of them are out-performing traditional public schools in their host districts. The only real limitation of charters is that there aren’t enough seats to meet the demand of parents.
As I told the state Department of Education, my proposed Bridgeport Prestige Academy would prepare young men in grades 3-8 for admission to and success in demanding college preparatory high schools.
Your editorial board seems to think that continuing down the same public education path that has created our worst-in-the-nation student achievement gap will magically work someday. But it’s the editorial board’s math that doesn’t add up.
Your editorial board really believes that $21.4 million is too much to spend to better the lives of 1,863 mostly low-income black and brown children?
Today, there are roughly 8,000 ninth-graders in Connecticut for whom high school will take more than four years. We know that high school dropouts in the class of 2011 alone will lose more than $1.4 billion in lifetime earnings because they don’t have a diploma.
My math tells me that spending $21.4 million on 2,000 of those students is the smartest investment we can make. Like my mother told me when I complained about the cost of my children’s tuition, “If you think that education is expensive, try ignorance”!
I say the status quo is failing Bridgeport’s students. I say if things don’t change, more and more young African-American and Latino children will continue to fall through the cracks of a broken education system.
Source: ctpost.com – by Kenneth H. Moales Jr.
Senior Pastor/CEO, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
Vice president, Bridgeport Board of Education