Waterbury students are being denied access to the resources that would increase their chances of succeeding and as an advocate for the community I love it is my responsibility to call out those responsible. Mayor Neil O’Leary, Superintendent Verna D. Ruffin, and the Waterbury Board of Education (WBoE) are at fault and easiest to blame. However, there are others who have failed to protect the basic educational rights of Waterbury’s students, especially Black and Brown students.
Despite assurances from State Department of Education (SDE) officials Irene Parisi and Desi Nesmith, the Waterbury American Rescue Plan funding was conditionally approved on March 11th, without any communication from the SDE. Through this conditional approval we know our advocacy and organizing is working. However, this conditional approval will still allow the City of Waterbury to use an unprecedented amount of funding for building maintenance and property improvements instead of investing these precious COVID relief funds into the educational programming that would help alleviate the consistent low-level educational success of Waterbury students’ experience.
Waterbury’s plan to spend $57 million of their $89 million of American Rescue Plan on property is unprecedented as well as egregious. The $57 million is more than the next 20 school districts combined and more than the 10 school districts most similar to Waterbury in population and demographics. The organization I’ve co-founded, Radical Advocates for Cross-Cultural Education (RACCE), has long pushed against this plan since the first round of funding in 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the vast inequalities facing many of our communities. Waterbury is a prime example of this undeniable fact. During this most difficult time, our schools have become a space that showcases a lack of racial equity that perpetuates long-known social problems like poverty, violence, crime, and health disparities. The WBoE had…
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