Letter: City Council Candidate Veasna Roeun On ‘Charter Schools’

All of Connecticut’s charter schools are public schools, but Danbury state lawmakers as well as local Democratic politicians prefer to lie to our community. Such an embarrassing tragedy that the discourse around charter schools is an ideological debate rather than a logical political discussion informed by facts.

Over the past four years, supporters have helped our community collect over 5,000 signatures. The proposed school received a pledge of $ 25 million for its construction and the developers offered to meet almost all the conditions. Yet it is not enough to bring some local Democratic politicians to the table. Note of fact, the school is supported by nearly all Democratic state-level lawmakers.

Bringing a public charter to Danbury will inspire healthy competition and promote best practices; it will encourage our traditional schools to strive and achieve higher standards. How? ‘Or’ What? If the charter school does not meet high state standards, it is put on probation. This is good because for decades our schools receive more money when students fail; hence, rewarding terrible practices. This current system has no incentive for innovation and tangible improvements. This harms the most vulnerable population of predominantly immigrant children who are doomed to become a permanent underclass. So, we ask ourselves why and must reinvent the functioning of our education system.

The Union’s grip, Andrea Gardner, Senator Kushner, Bob Godfrey, Roberto Alves, Kenneth Gucker, David Arconti and Kate Konneta are pushing Danbury into a precipice where in the near future we could have a large part of our population few educated and Danbury will become an unwanted place for families. It is shameful for them to continue to exploit the lack of knowledge and to misinform the community. The first lie begins in a conversation with them saying, “We support public schools, not charter schools.” They deliberately inform our community by tricking them into believing that CT charters are private and for profit. The point is, they are public and closely monitored by the state.

To make this more urgent, the proposed school already has a house at 358 Main Street, which is the site of the future building. Our previous and current mayors were ready to sit down and explore reallocating funds to cover shared special education expenses.

The community is asking for educational options… it is asking for choice. Some politicians refuse them and revert to the “parrot policy”. These “politicians” repeat the same lines and misinformation, once again, completely ignoring the facts. They repeat “charter schools take money out of public schools” and we say, “OK, let’s let the mayor agree to a reallocation of funds while exploring a bigger grant for all schools”. They take a break, then go back to parrot mode, “charter schools take money from public schools.” It’s almost comical if our children’s future weren’t at stake.

Kate Konneta always says that because the charter school only helps 770 students, around 6%, then it’s not worth opening the school. We then wonder why Abbott Tech? Why does the Magnet school exist? They serve our Danbury students less than the charter school would. In fact, they enroll students from surrounding towns. The only difference is the control of the Union. All 770 public charter entries will be reserved for Danbury students.

The uncomfortable fact is that the teachers’ union is forcing all candidates to oppose the public charter in order to receive their approval. This approval comes in the form of monetary support, canvassers and votes. It robs our representatives of the ability to be objective and independent, which should never be a practice we expect from our politicians. It tears the community apart.

Let’s call an educational summit where all stakeholders can compromise towards a solution that allows the public charter school to be downtown while addressing all concerns and providing more resources and assistance to our traditional schools. The solution to this impasse must be comprehensive and include all stakeholders. We have a new way forward: assume our best intentions and unite. Let’s all work on a holistic approach to move our city forward.

Stop the “parrot politics” and engage in an honest, evidence-based conversation where the common goal is to do what’s best for our community and our children.


Veasna Roeun
Candidate for the municipal council of the 4th district

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