On Tuesday, December 13, a group of New Haven-based public charter school parents met with Representative Toni Walker to discuss funding, pledges, and the possibility of gaining legislative support for charter schools.  

The event, organized with our partners at Achievement First, aimed to advance the discussion about great schools in Connecticut. Parents were prepared with questions and a range of stories about how their children’s education and lives have been positively impacted by being a part of their charter communities. 

The evening started with a speech from AF parent, Kim Hart, who met Representative Walker over ten years ago at the state capitol while advocating. “I found out she was my state representative, and whenever I needed anything I would call her or leave a message and she was always helpful,” Hart said. She reiterated that charter parents are just looking to have their scholars treated fairly, before turning the microphone over to the audience. 

Integration of technology, a challenging curriculum, and a dedicated staff are just a few of the reasons parent, LeeAnn Pettruzzelli, has had an amazing experience at Elm City College Prep Elementary. Her question for Rep. Walker was pretty straightforward: “Will you sign the pledge for fair funding?” 

Sharkia Bookert, a parent of three children at Achievement First schools asked the important question, “What can we as parents do right now to encourage the legislature to support charters?” She went on to tell Representative Walker that she wished more people, especially in the state house, understood how amazing these schools are. “Because of their dedication, they get results!” 

Garrett Munroe, parent of a 10th grade scholar at AF Amistad High School, talked about how he’s confident that his son is receiving a quality education, but says that doesn’t stop him from worrying about the students in his neighborhood, and across New Haven who are underserved. “They all deserve a quality education, and all of our children should be funded equally.”

Mr. Munroe’s also spoke about his son, Taylor, who dreams of being an engineer, and his nephew, a graduate of Amistad who is currently studying at Yale. “These kind of stories should happen more often, and not be the exception to the rule for inner city children like ours,” he said. 

Rep. Walker was receptive to the stories and questions, and agreed that charter schools should be funded equally, but acknowledged that fiscal challenges in the state make it tough to find the necessary funds.