Nearly all of Connecticut’s public charter schools were represented at the Capitol in Hartford this week for the second annual Charter School Awareness Day, hosted by the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN).
Connecticut is nearing the 20th anniversary of its charter school law, and the day was celebratory, as parents, students, and educators had a chance to share their stories and experiences with law and policy makers.
The schools celebrated the diversity of the movement and were joined by nationally-recognized Hispanic education reform leader, Julio Fuentes. Fuentes is the President and CEO of Hispanic CREO (the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options). He spoke on the importance of school choice for families both in Connecticut and nationwide.
“Parents have a fundamental right to choose a school that fits their children’s needs, yet across our country it’s treated as a second-class right,” Fuentes told the crowd. “This systemic discrimination hurts poorer children of color the most. Barring a child from an equal opportunity to attend a quality school is every bit as insidious as making someone recite the Preamble to the Constitution before letting them cast a ballot. It’s wrong and must be changed. Children and families who exercise their right to choose charters cannot be treated as second-class citizens any longer.”
Fuentes spoke to NECSN staff, including CT Advocacy Manager Jose Alfaro prior to the event at the Capitol for Episode 2 of The Grade podcast. Julio talks about the importance of school choice and empowering communities and parents – it’s a great conversation.
NECSN also honored local advocates with the second annual Torchbearer Awards, giving them to school leaders Matt Nittoly of Norwalk’s Side by Side Charter School and John Taylor of New Haven’s Booker T. Washington Academy.
The awards celebrate members of the public charter school community that do an exceptional job advocating on behalf of schools, students, and families.
Jose Alfaro also told the stories of some of the “fiercest” advocates he knows -- parents Wanda Simmons of Bridgeport’s Capital Prep Harbor School and Rochelle Duyan of New London’s Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication. The two women were awarded Torchbearer Awards for their activism on behalf of charter school children.
CT State Director Jeremiah Grace’s comments to the crowd and the awards presentation were live-streamed over Periscope and Facebook live. You can watch the presentation in its entirety on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/necharters/
Photos were posted throughout the event on Facebook and Twitter. You can check them out at Twitter.com/necharters or search the hashtag #CharterStrong.
For more pictures of the event click here.