Monday, June 20, 2016

Charter schools step up political action - Connecticut Post

Charter schools step up political action - Connecticut Post:

Charter schools step up political action

The charter school movement — backstopped by a billionaire club that includes Michael BloombergPaul Tudor Jones and Ray Dalio — wants to put its stamp on the Legislature in Connecticut.
Connecticut Forward, a newly-launched nonprofit advocacy group, will survey House and Senate candidates across the state on their support for public charter schools. The litmus test will determine which candidates receive financial and grassroots support from the group’s dues-paying members, who will be made up heavily of parents.
Families for Excellent Schools, which has wrangled Bridgeport administrators over education reform, is behind the election year initiative.
“That struggle has lots of allies and lots of adversaries, and it will continue until every kid in the state has access to the education that they deserve,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, the CEO and co-founder of Families for Excellent Schools. “I actually think the biggest adversary here is the struggle of time.”
Connecticut has 24 charter schools, with five in the state’s largest city, Bridgeport, enrolling 2,350 students. There are three charter schools in Stamford and one in Norwalk.
New York City, on the other hand, added about 180 charter schools during Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor. Bloomberg’s former press secretary, Stu Loeser, runs the public relations and media consulting firm hired by Families for Excellent Schools.
In Bridgeport, FES successfully fought a proposed moratorium on charter schools in 2015. Some skeptics still view the push for public charter schools as a step toward privatization by wealthy outsiders, however.
Claudia Phillips, a parent leader in the Bridgeport chapter of FES, said it’s high time that the charter school movement becomes a player in legislative races.
“This is about choice for families,” Phillips said. “Parents are left with no choice.”
Phillips’ 14-year-old son attends Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Middle School. Because there is no charter high school in the city, he will join his 16-year-old twin sisters taking the bus to Amistad Academy in New Haven.
“They have to be up by 5 o’clock in the morning,” Phillips said. “We do what we have to do. It’s sad.”
State Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, D-Stamford, took a more agnostic approach on charter schools, saying she helped secure Charter schools step up political action - Connecticut Post:

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