Duanecia’s Testimony: Protect Our $150 Million Win for Kids

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My name is Duanecia Evans Clark. I am the Executive Vice President of Strategy for FaithActs for Education, and I am here to speak in support of H.B. 5212.

I testify before you today as a leader of Connecticut’s only Black-led, faith-based education advocacy organization representing more than 100 churches and 11,000 congregants across our state. Our work at FaithActs –and the work done in this room today – impacts thousands upon thousands of children. I’m here to speak with you about one.

My daughter Ada was born during the pandemic, inheriting a broken education system at a time when the cracks, gaps, and chasms exponentially deepened.

When the governor proposes taking money previously planned for K-12 education in order to fund early childhood, he’s not just pitting my daughter, her classmates and other preschoolers against older children. He’s pitting my daughter against a future version of herself.

He’s suggesting that we plant seeds today that won’t bloom tomorrow.

He’s depleting the school system my daughter and her peers will eventually go into.

He’s proposing we fund her preschool journey so that she can go on to a resource-starved public school experience. 

He’s asking that we tell her what our government has told Black children for generations:  Settle for less. Wait your turn. Accept a system that is plainly unequal and unfair. 

I refuse this choice for my child and for any of our children. 

I refuse it especially because it is a false choice – we are one of the wealthiest states in the country and one that has enjoyed a budget surplus not just this year, not just last year, but over five years.

We do not have to rip away funding from K-12 education in order to fund early childhood.
That our government would choose to is neglect. It is immoral and unconscionable.

Just eight months ago, our Governor ushered in a $150 million increase to public education, after tireless advocacy from the broadest coalition ever assembled in support of an education issue here in Connecticut. To be clear, that money is not extra, it’s not a “nice to have,” and it’s not fluff that can be cut as soon as the first opportunity presents itself. 

It exists in the budget so that we can get one step closer to equity because – let us not forget – equity is far, far away. One hundred years after the Great Migration – when many of our ancestors fled the South for better opportunities in the North – a Black student in Mississippi receives a better education than a Black student in Connecticut.

The governor’s proposed cuts would devastate our most vulnerable public schools — right as they are beginning to pick themselves back up in the wake of the pandemic. We cannot allow this to happen.

I support HB 5212 because we deserve a Connecticut that doesn’t tell my two-year-old daughter she deserves funding one year, but not the next. We deserve a Connecticut that fully funds our public school children, as it promised only eight months ago. 

Please vote “yes” on this bill and Fund one Connecticut education system. Do right by our kids.

Duanecia gave this testimony to the Education Committee on February 28, 2024.

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