Pleading for Funding

Children and their parents paraded before the Appropriations Committee Wednesday at the state capitol.
Dozens walked through a hearing room at the Legislative Office Building as a sign that they do not want lawmakers to cut funding to charter schools like Amistad Academy.
Julius Bennett is an 11th grader there.
"At the old school I used to go to I was almost put into special education, but here at Amistad my list of colleges include Yale, MIT, Uconn," Bennett said as he testified before the committee.
Many of the charter school supporters wore blue t-shirts that read "Mind The Gaps," a message to legislators to continue funding education to help close the achievement gap.
Amidst the sea of blue t-shirts, there were others who fear what budget cuts could do.
"I felt sick because there are lots of voices of women throughout the state, and men, who are silenced when you take away a commission like ours," said Teresa Younger, the Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
The Commission on the Status of Women is one of six commissions that would close under Governor M. Jodi Rell's proposed budget.

The others are the African American Affairs Commission, the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, the Commission on Children and the Commission on Aging.
Chuck Oakes turned to the Commission on Aging when he became a caregiver to his elderly parents in West Hartford.

"I became a caregiver and caretaker for aging parents who decided to stay at home in an aging place," Oakes said. "The commission was a fabulous resource of information for me."

Echoing over and over again during nearly seven hours of testimony, concerns about cuts to education.

"I want you to pass by New Britain, during school time and you can see how many kids aren't in school," said Alex Torres, a freshman at New Britain High School.

Sue Weisselberg with New Haven Public Schools said, "We're concerned about cuts in funding because we feel we'll slide backwards."

Julius Bennett, that 11th grader at Amistad Academy, worried that he wouldn't be able to finish his charter school education.

"I can't imagine myself not going to Amistad as a 12th grader," Bennett said.

Rep John Geragosian, the House Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, listened to the pleas.

"I think we have some very diff cult choices to make and education is definitely a priority," Democratic Rep. Geragosian said.

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