Black students

I Finally Found a School That Believes in My Sons, So Why Won't Connecticut Fund More Schools Like It?

As a mom of five young men of color in Connecticut, I too often feel like society has set a ceiling for what my sons can achieve. As a family, we don’t accept that ceiling—we push through it every day, and together we prove to everybody that my sons can achieve whatever they set their minds to. The first step in this fight was to ensure that my boys have access to a great school. Three of my children have been lucky to attend Capital Prep Harbor—a public charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut—where they are told they can. They are challenged each and every day to be the best they can be inside and outside the classroom. They are in a school full of opportunity and with hope for a future very different from the one society has set for them. When I was growing up in Bridgeport, parents didn’t have the option to choose a charter school. My mom found a way to pay for private school so that my brother and I would get a quality education. Later on, she moved us to a different community with better public schools. Now, as a parent of my own children, I’ve faced a similar struggle. Before I knew about charter schools, I went into debt to pay for private school for my kids. Meanwhile, parents just a few miles away were sending their kids to great public schools right in their neighborhood. Look, raising kids is hard, but it shouldn’t be so unfair. The odds shouldn’t be stacked against you because of where you live. Connecticut is home to the largest opportunity gap in the country and parents, like me, can feel this inequality every day. That's why we are here, and that is why I am choosing to fight. To remind parents just like me, that if we are going to see a world where our children are given the same opportunities and resources—no matter what public school they attend—then we need to get active.

Getting Active

And so I'm joining with other parents to get active. I am proud to introduce a new Connecticut-based campaign called My Child. My Choice. We are a group of people united in the belief that children of color have been denied access to a quality education as part of a broader system of discrimination in our country, including here at home in Connecticut. We launched our campaign with our first video. It’s called “What Do You See.” I hope you’ll take a minute to watch and share it. “What Do You See” is dedicated to all the moms who fight this battle every day. Some of us have been lucky. We’ve found great public charter schools for our kids, schools that we chose. Unfortunately, not everyone has that choice and charter schools in Connecticut are still deeply underfunded. https://www.facebook.com/MChildMChoice/videos/188631705169024/ So what can we do about it? We need you to get involved. It’s time for parents, educators and community leaders to come together and say, “Enough is enough.” That is the mission of My Child. My Choice—to disrupt this unacceptable status quo and demand better for our children. So please take a few minutes to like us on Facebook. We need your help to build this movement. We need to fight to make sure money follows our kids from one public school to another. Right now, when parents choose a public charter school for their kids, they lose out on thousands of dollars in state funding that rightfully belongs to their children. We have to speak out about this injustice, so that our elected leaders hear us.
Samaris Rose-Smith is a full-time parent organizer and community activist from Bridgeport, Connecticut. She has been a professional advocate of charter schools for over three years and an advocate of the communities in Bridgeport for almost 10 years. A mother of five energetic boys and wife to her childhood sweetheart, she enjoys helping people and finding solutions to the problems that face her ...

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