Advocates and Supporters Rally for Funding for Charter School in Danbury

On March 27, hundreds of charter school advocates and supporters from Middletown and Danbury converged on the State Capitol to urge state lawmakers to approve the funding for charter schools in their respective communities and to take offense against what they describe as a campaign of disinformation from their detractors.

By Al Robinson -

When you ask if charter schools are a viable alternative to traditional schools, the answer in Danbury becomes lost in politically entrenched warfare. 

Danbury is home to the largest and one of the most over-populated high schools in the state, with a majority of the student body being of Latino descent. Pro-charter school parents also contend that the city's elementary and secondary education schools are equally overcrowded and incapable of tackling the challenges of children from Central and South America for whom English is not their primary language.

The State of Connecticut website ( defines a charter school as "publicly funded schools that are run independently of the school district and may also have a specialized focus. Charters are granted by the State Board of Education and schools may enroll students in Grades PK-12 as established in their charters." The website further states that "the general purpose of charter schools is to establish an alternative means of education within the existing public school system, which provides innovative learning opportunities to improve the education of students."

Although the State Board of Education approved a charter school for Danbury in 2018, in the last six years, funding for the school has been blocked by members of the city's Democratic state delegation, led by State Senator Julie Kushner, a former union leader, and leading state lawmaker for labor causes. 

Charter school opponents argue that charter schools are not a good choice as they take desperately needed resources from public schools in Danbury, which they describe as drastically underfunded at the local level. 

Supporters counter that charter schools are public schools that are successful in cities across Connecticut, will not negatively impact traditional public schools, and receive oversight from the State Board of Education.

One of the city's leading charter school supporters is Danbury State Rep. Rachel Chaleski, who spoke out forcefully at the rally against charter school critics.

"I also know what it's like to challenge the strong, often irrational, illogical, and sometimes very hurtful, opposition to opening a small public school. The misinformation campaign has left our Danbury community divided and bruised, and yet here we are, still fighting to make a difference in the lives of our young people. Our community deserves better than the political math and fear-mongering against education opportunities that have been successful in all other large cities across the state." 

As we enter the 2024 election cycle, if the turnout and enthusiasm displayed at the March 27th rally are a preview of coming attractions, then the political tug-of-war over funding for a charter school in the state's seventh-largest city is far from being settled.