Last month when New Britain Pro-Education members held its second annual rally it looked like that would be the only event of the year. After getting requests from parents, students and teachers, a second rally was held Wednesday night at Central Park and more rallies are promised to occur.
“Parents at the first rally asked that this not be a one time thing and then people forget about it,” said Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, school board president. “We want to make sure there is one event after another to keep the message alive.”
The message is built around urban education students getting the same funding as suburban students.
“We are here this evening in a show of support and solidarity for the education of our young people here in New Britain,” Saavedra told a crowd of over 100 people who packed the park. “Equality is not just a word and poverty is not our destiny. We need to come together and demand our leaders equalize the playing field for our urban students.”
She said schools are not failing because of bad teachers or students. Rather society has failed the schools.
“We are continuously asked to do more with less,” Saavedra told a cheering crowd. “We do not need to be told how to close the achievement gap. We need to be provided the funds to do what we know has to be done.”
Mayor Tim O’Brien who increased the school board budget by $500,000 this year said “for too long the tenor of the discussion around education has been one of devaluing education.”
“When I got elected mayor my top priority in my budget was increasing education,” O’Brien said. “We want to make sure our kids have a good future and education is the key to that good future.”
O’Brien said New Britain is outnumbered by population of the suburbs, but that should not be an excuse why they allow our city and other urban centers to be forgotten.
“Education is a very, very important and it is a civil rights issue,” said State Rep. Robert Sanchez. “Without education our future is very bleak.”
He said a state plan that brings extra funding into the City of New Britain was approved.
“It’s not the best plan, but it is a start,” he said. “Whenever there is something at the state level, please go to the hearings and speak on it.”
New Britain High School Principal Michael Foran said is important to continue beyond this event.
“Often we are defined by others,” he said. “We need a voice so we will no longer be defined by others.”
Various schools gave musical performances. Following the rally, students, parents and educators marched to City Hall to tell the Common Council to fund education. There were 45 people signed up to speak with the youngest Bryson Smith telling the council, “I love my school.”