It’s school choice time in CT


There are many issues occupying our hearts and minds these days. A school choice movement in Connecticut – offering parents of underperforming public school systems vouchers and college savings accounts for better educational choices – is expected to be part of this, which could have a significant impact on education. future generations.

The recent Supreme Court decision in Carson v. Makin supports the school choice movement by removing a public funding barrier that makes access to parochial schools a choice for more families in more states.

The problem in a nutshell

Many public school systems, often in inner cities, are underperforming or even failing. Parents of children in these schools have few other public options. Yes, there are magnet and charter schools that are public, receive state funding, and do not charge tuition, but admission is determined by lottery, the luck of the draw.

This can and must change, as is the case with school choice in other states.

There’s a better way

School choice empowers all parties involved, saves taxpayers money, and provides parents with essential educational choices for their children. In Bridgeport, for example, it costs nearly $17,000 to educate each student. In parochial schools, the cost of educating students is much lower and the results obtained are far superior. At Bridgeport Catholic Academy, which educates about 900 K-8 students on four campuses, the cost of educating a child is only about $7,000. More than 85% of Catholic Academy students cannot afford the annual tuition of $5,150 and are therefore eligible for need-based financial aid. Many families participate for as little as $100 per month

Bridgeport Catholic Academy raises more than $2.2 million each year, provided by generous private donors and foundations to cover scholarship funding for families in need. The academy welcomes students of all faiths; 40 percent of all students are non-Catholic. It is important to note that teacher compensation is based on a merit system, where one of the factors in a teacher’s compensation is the results or success that their work brings to students.

Connecticut does not offer school choice programs such as vouchers and college savings accounts to help parents with educational options and the funding needed to select a better alternative for their child, such as the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport.

School choice momentum in other states

Other states are spreading, especially after COVID. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 30 states have introduced bills to establish or expand educational choice programs, including strongholds like Virginia and New Jersey that have traditionally opposed school choice. Giving parents a choice and helping to save taxpayers’ money has helped break down other long-standing political barriers.

One such obstacle is teachers‘ unions, which understandably oppose school choice programs, claiming that funds to expand choice are taken from public schools. However, this assertion is not valid. In Indiana, lawmakers have funded voucher programs, but 93% of all education funding still goes to public schools – not a grab at all. State lawmakers are stepping up to reject the idea that teachers’ unions should have a monopoly on how K-12 education dollars are spent. These states are leading the way in building education systems that give parents more choice, with better outcomes for their children and more productive use of city and state education funds.

So why not in Connecticut?

As with many political issues, change comes from building a coalition of support and leadership on issues that matter to taxpayers.

According to the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, as of May 2016, Connecticut does not provide any financial assistance (in the form of vouchers or tax credits) to parents wishing to send their children to private schools instead of public schools. This must change.

Parochial schools, like Bridgeport Catholic Academy, provide better outcomes for students with less money than their public school counterparts, while saving taxpayer dollars. In Bridgeport alone, where the education budget is funded primarily at the state government level, choice programs would provide significant savings to all state taxpayers. More importantly, as parents are able to choose the educational model that best suits their children, student achievement would improve at all levels. Thus, the outlook for Bridgeport as a whole is improving, bringing further cost savings to Connecticut.

Vouchers should be adopted in Connecticut to give all parents, especially those in inner cities like Bridgeport, an equal opportunity to educate their children in the best school of their choice while saving taxpayer dollars. We must demand this of our state legislators. The future of our children trapped in the state’s underperforming public schools depends on it.

John J. Kennedy is a member of the board of trustees of Bridgeport Catholic Academy.


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