Carrying this Burden – by Kim Buckley
Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” In a time in which economic disparities grow, and the achievement gap in Connecticut continues as one of the widest in the country, Mandela’s message resonates as we decide how to treat Clinton’s children at the budget referendum on May 10.
People often compare Clinton to surrounding communities, so let’s look at the numbers that really matter. According to the 2016 Connecticut School Breakfast Report Card, 22.7 percent of Clinton’s children are eligible for free and reduced lunch, a measure of poverty. According to the same report card, in Old Saybrook, only 17.5 percent of students are eligible. Haddam-Killingworth? 9.9 percent. Madison? 4.9 percent.
Study after study shows that the one consistent barrier to student achievement is poverty. Students from low-income families struggle with educational deficits and lack the access to enrichment readily available to their wealthier peers. Too many of Clinton’s children, many more than in the surrounding communities, are carrying this burden with them to school every day. The Clinton Public Schools endeavors to help them lift that burden and develop the knowledge they need to ensure a financially secure future for themselves, their families, and our community. When people argue that we cannot afford to support our schools, the simple truth is that Clinton cannot afford not to.
Mandela also famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Given the unique and significant burdens Clinton’s children face, we must come together as a community to give them the one weapon sure to help them win the battle against poverty and change their world: a quality education. We must vote “Yes” to the education budget on May 10.