News release from FaithActs for Education:
FaithActs for Education, joined by other social justice advocates, this week released its “People’s Plan for Education,” a direct, community-driven response to the state’s school reopening plan.
“The state fails to prioritize Black, Brown, low-income and special education students. Connecticut is not ready to open bars, but it’s ready to open schools?” said FaithActs for Education Executive Director Jamilah Prince-Stewart. “By denying our community a seat at the table, decision makers are saying they don’t care what happens to our children. And every time they do that–which is almost always–our children pay the price. It must end.”
In short, FaithActs’ “People’s Plan for Education” demands changes that will support families, meets kids’ basic needs, promotes equity, is anti-racist, and adequately funds schools.
“Don’t say Black Lives Matter but then create plans and policies that prove you don’t mean it,” Ms. Prince-Stewart said. “Whether at the hands of police, the coronavirus, or lack of education, countless lives are being lost because our community is denied a seat at the table. We are tired of leaders doing things ‘for’ us but not with us.”
FaithActs developed the People’s Plan after holding more than 120 one-on-one meetings with parents, students and educators.
“We’re sick and tired of being denied a seat at the table so we created our own table,” said Pastor William McCullough, Senior Pastor of Russell Temple CME Church in Bridgeport and founder of FaithActs. “This plan is for the people and by the people.”
Joining FaithActs in the call for educational justice are the Bridgeport NAACP, Justice 4 Jayson, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Bridgeport, the Bridgeport Youth Coalition, Bridgeport Generation Now and HerTime.
The plan was released Monday at a rally outside Bridgeport City Hall following a hearse-led 50-car caravan through the city. The rally can be seen here in its entirety.
“That hearse represents the death of our children at the hands of our educational system,” said Rev. Carl McCluster of Shiloh Baptist Church. “This didn’t begin yesterday but it has to end right now.”
Parents and students also shared their concerns and emphasized that the FaithActs plan was created by community members with deeply personal stakes in the school system.
“Bridgeport schools have been suffering, not just for the past four months, or four years, but for 40 years. This pandemic only highlighted the uncertainty and fear that Bridgeport parents have always felt,” said Chantel Mendez, FaithActs leader and mom of high schooler Coryn. “This plan doesn’t just belong to you or the people on your task force! It belongs to all of us because this is our community and these are our children. Nothing for us without us.”
“I’m afraid of what the next school year will look like,” said rising Bridgeport 10th grader Amaryllis Medina. “This crisis is an opportunity for racial transformation.”
The full “People’s Plan for Education” is below. But key demands include:
— That Governor Ned Lamont and the Connecticut General Assembly equitably fund all Connecticut public school students and schools, and provide stipends for low-income families who choose to or must homeschool their children;
— That State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, the State Board of Education, and the State Department of Education provide all students with high-speed home internet and appropriate devices to learn at home, and establish and require a high-quality statewide K-12 curriculum for remote and blended learning;
— That Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim and the City Council increase local funding for education by disinvesting in police, and remove police officers from Bridgeport schools and replace them with social workers and counselors;
— That Bridgeport Superintendent Michael Testani and the Bridgeport Board of Education conduct virtual PPT meetings and provide the services special needs students are entitled to, partner with churches and community organizations to secure additional space for safe learning, offer free access to virtual mental health services for all public school students, provide live teaching over video and weekly opportunities for families to connect with educators during remote learning, and provide remote learning support for students who are unable to attend reopened schools.
About FaithActs for Education
FaithActs for Education is a grassroots 501(c)(3) community organizing nonprofit based in Bridgeport. We are people of faith building power to get our children the education they deserve. We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to graduate from college, take care of their family, and fulfill their God-given potential. We build relationships, leaders, and power through community organizing and civic engagement. We are 70 churches, 500 members, and 1700 committed voters strong.
Learn more at:
The People’s Plan for Education
FaithActs believes children will thrive if state and local leaders prioritize students, families, and educators throughout the coronavirus pandemic. This crisis is an opportunity for radical transformation. The People’s Plan for Education will create an educational experience that supports families, meets kids’ basic needs, promotes equity, is anti-racist, and adequately funds schools.
We demand that Governor Ned Lamont and the Connecticut General Assembly:
— Equitably fund all Connecticut public school students and schools
— Provide stipends for low-income families who choose to or must homeschool their children
— Provide funding for Alliance Districts to use additional community spaces for safe learning
— Change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day and make Juneteenth a state holiday
We demand that Commissioner Miguel Cardona, the State Board of Education, and the State Department of Education:
— Provide all students with high-speed home internet and appropriate devices to learn at home
— Establish and require a high-quality statewide K-12 curriculum for remote and blended learning
— Require and provide the necessary support for cohort classes where students can be 6 feet apart before reopening schools
— Require districts to assess students at the beginning of the school year to determine their learning gaps
— Require and provide funding for schools to hire at least one full-time nurse
— Hire more teachers of color
We demand that Mayor Joseph Ganim and the Bridgeport City Council:
— Increase local funding for education by disinvesting in police
— Remove police officers from Bridgeport schools and replace them with social workers and counselors
— Remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from Seaside Park
We demand that Superintendent Michael Testani and the Bridgeport Board of Education:
— Conduct virtual PPT meetings and provide the services special needs students are entitled to
— Partner with churches and community organizations to secure additional space for safe learning
— Provide families with adequate time to complete remote learning assignments
— Partner with local universities and businesses to provide 1:1 tutoring to students who need extra help
— Offer free access to virtual mental health services for all public school students
— Provide remote and blended learning professional development for educators
— Provide live teaching over video and weekly opportunities for families to connect with educators during remote learning
— Provide remote learning support for students who are unable to attend reopened schools
— Rename Columbus School with the input from students, parents, and educators
Like the people who wrote it, this plan is a living and breathing document. It’s subject to change and growth.