Hartford · Reform

A Coward’s Tragedy

Why is Jonathan Pelto — an out-of-work politician-turned-blogger, resident of a pricey secluded home in a largely white and well-off suburb — Hell-bent on attacking school reform efforts miles away in Hartford? What does Pelto have against a high-quality education in one of the poorest major cities in America, largely comprised of Hispanic and Black residents?

Pelto lives in Mansfield, a secluded enclave 30 miles east of Hartford. Mansfield appears tailor-made for a man of Pelto’s sensibilities. The town’s average home value is $265,100, and nine out of every 10 students perform at grade level. [Facts About Mansfield; Department of Education Performance Report, Mansfield School District, 2012-2013]

Not too shabby. The perfect ivory tower from which to lob verbal grenades at the low-income, minority-populated schools 30 miles away, or for that matter, similarly situated Bridgeport.

For comparison’s sake, it should be noted that more than six out of every 10 students in Hartford are not performing at grade level. [Department of Education Performance Report, Hartford School District, 2012-2013]

You see, rather than having a real job, Pelto spends his days in Mansfield blogging and criticizing any assortment of school officials in cities like Hartford.

He’s done the same to officials in Bridgeport. The result has been a conversation focused less on what matters — how to provide access to the high-quality education every child deserves — and more on whatever small-minded, angry accusations Pelto wants to level that day.

Hartford is also a convenient target.

It may be only 30 miles away, but there are light-years’ difference between Hartford and Mansfield.

Hartford is frequently called one of the poorest cities in America, with a population that Census records say is mostly minority based, 39 percent black and 43 percent Hispanic. [United States Census Bureau, Quick Facts, Connecticut]

One would think that Pelto – considered a liberal during his limited stay in public office – would embrace opportunities for poor and minority students.

One would think that the liberal Pelto would support public officials and educators who are working against headwinds and crosswinds in getting impoverished children the education, structure and support they need to break the chains of poverty.

One would think that Pelto, a college graduate, would champion opportunities for less fortunate students to follow his steps into higher education.

One would think that Pelto, himself a father of two girls, would support every Hartford parent’s quest to secure a high-quality education for their own children.

But you’d be wrong.

Apparently, Pelto is just fine with minority children getting substandard educations, while his own girls get the best.

Apparently, Pelto is just fine with parents’ frustrations in seeing their children finish the school day no closer to a better life than when they began.

Apparently, Pelto is just fine with criticizing schools and leaders and parents who are trying to create a better future for kids whose futures looks bleak.

It’s clear that Pelto doesn’t have much of a heart or a conscience, or the courage to actually try to create a better future for children in Hartford, miles away from his secluded, wooded home.

Instead of giving Pelto credence he doesn’t deserve, we should celebrate the parents, educators and officials in Hartford who have that courage.

Pelto should be ashamed.



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