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Hartford - More than 150 students, teachers and parents along with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and some legislators gathered outside the state Capitol on Thursday to protest cuts to education proposed by the legislature's Appropriations Committee.
"Let's be very clear, getting education right in Connecticut is the civil rights issue of our time," Malloy said. "We cannot throw away 40 percent of our children in Hartford, in New Haven, in Bridgeport, in New London. … It is time for change and you have got to make sure it happens."
In his budget, Malloy had proposed budgeting about $6.89 billion for the state Department of Education. Under the Appropriation Committee's proposal, about $6.73 billion would go toward education spending.
"I don't want you to think for a second that everybody has got your best interests at heart," said Steve Perry, rally speaker and founder of Hartford-based Capital Preparatory Magnet School. "A lot of y'all have escaped some of the worst schools in America right down the street from some of the best schools in America."
Many of the protesters were from charter schools.
Malloy had proposed spending $10.2 million over two years to open one new state charter school with 170 slots, whereas the committee budgeted zero funds for the school. State charter schools are primarily funded by the state as opposed to local charter schools, which are primarily funded by local or regional boards of education.
The committee proposed the same spending increase for local charter schools as Malloy did - $820,000 over two years, to provide funding for two new local charter schools. In total, committee proposed spending $157 million on charter schools over two years.
The committee also proposed spending $10.2 million less than the governor on Commissioner's Network schools in the upcoming two-year budget. In total, the committee proposed spending $17 million on network schools over two years.
Commissioner's Network schools, or lowest performing schools, are given additional funding and support in hopes of improving student achievement. There are currently four Network schools, including John B. Stanton Elementary School in Norwich.