In the State · New Haven

[VIDEO] Norwalk’s Board Watch Celebrates Successful Year: Could This Help Other Districts?

Imagine what could happen if parents and community members were actively involved in the school board process? According to Katherine Villanueva, it’s made a big difference.   Villanueva is a mother of three and one of Norwalk’s first Board Watch volunteers. I spoke to her last week during a celebration recognizing Board Watch’s first year: What is… Continue reading [VIDEO] Norwalk’s Board Watch Celebrates Successful Year: Could This Help Other Districts?

In the State · New Haven

Doesn’t This Sound Familiar? New Haven School Board Infighting Ends In Halted Superintendent Search

In case you need a “poster child” for why politics and education don’t go together, recently New Haven’s school board seems to be taking cues from Bridgeport — where infighting and rancor halted their search for a permanent superintendent nearly three years. If you need a refresher, here’s footage from Bridgeport’s last year: At the… Continue reading Doesn’t This Sound Familiar? New Haven School Board Infighting Ends In Halted Superintendent Search

New Haven

New Haven Students Want Their Voices Heard: “The Youth Is Our Revolution”

High School students in New Haven are telling the adults to listen. And, we should. A group of around a hundred students from High School in the Community, Wilbur Cross Metropolitan Business Academy, and Cooperative Arts, held a rally on New Haven’s green, on Monday, issuing a series of demands that include more student representation,… Continue reading New Haven Students Want Their Voices Heard: “The Youth Is Our Revolution”

Bridgeport · Hartford · In the State · New Haven

If Charter Schools Are “Discriminating” Against English Language Learners, Then So Are Magnet Schools

Can we please have a real discussion on charter school demographics? I say this because the misrepresentation of facts on the subject has gotten seriously out of hand. Last week, former state legislator-turned-blogger Jonathan Pelto attacked Bridgeport charter schools, claiming that they refuse to educate their fair share English Language Learners and other students that require additional services (He… Continue reading If Charter Schools Are “Discriminating” Against English Language Learners, Then So Are Magnet Schools

New Haven

New Haven Register: Black Principals Discuss Fostering Student Success And Their Roles As School Leaders

Research shows that diverse schools and classrooms benefit all students, yet, in Connecticut, some students go through their entire education without ever being taught by a teacher of color. Minority teacher recruitment has been a persistent issue in Connecticut (and the country as a whole) but one district has made some strides, at least in terms… Continue reading New Haven Register: Black Principals Discuss Fostering Student Success And Their Roles As School Leaders

In the State · New Haven

On The Parent Express Trail: Two State Legislators Discuss Education Priorities Going Into 2017 Session

Tomorrow begins the legislative session for the Connecticut General Assembly. This year will be an important one. With both the CCJEF decision and budget deficit looming, it’s likely there will be major education decision on the table. Two weeks ago, during the Connecticut Parents Union parent express bus tour I sat down briefly with two… Continue reading On The Parent Express Trail: Two State Legislators Discuss Education Priorities Going Into 2017 Session

In the State · New Haven

A Tale of Two Realities: Education Advocates Hash Out Differences At NAACP Hearing On Charter Schools

In October, the NAACP ratified a resolution supporting a nationwide moratorium on charter schools — garnering both criticism and praise. On Saturday afternoon, both sides came together.

The NAACP’s National Task Force for Education Quality held the first of seven hearings, at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Connecticut, seeking input from their members, parents and teachers. The task force was organized by the NAACP’s National Board of Directors after the charter school resolution was ratified. 

At times heated, over 200 attendees looked on for nearly four hours while both sides debated the merits of charter schools. One agreement did seem to emerge: While the room was deeply divided, many spoke of quality as paramount — unfortunately, it was the facts where viewpoints diverged.

The “elephant in the room”

“Being pro-public does not mean I’m anti-charter,” said Ph.D. Edward Joyner, a member of the New Haven Board of Education, who was one of six expert speakers at the event. “But, there should be quality indicators.”

Joyner, who said he fully supported the NAACP resolution, argued that charter schools were not being held to the same standards as district schools. His argument fell in line with other “pro-public” speakers, who decried charter schools for allegedly diverting resources away from district schools while cherry-picking their students.

On the other side of the issue, charter school advocates denied cherry-picking — something which Connecticut’s NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile called the “elephant in the room.”

Cherry-picking, or expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate was actually among the five recommendation laid out by the NAACP’s charter resolution.   

“The notion that public schools engage in any type of segregation is absolutely false,” said Jeremiah Grace, the Executive Director of Northeast Charter School Network, in response to the NAACP’s recommendation. “Public charter schools have no legal or possible way of selecting their students. Admission is determined by a blind lottery.”

Not everyone agreed. Shonta Browdy, chair of the NAACP Greater Hartford branch’s education committee, who also spoke at the hearing, said she’s witnessed local charter schools counsel out students. “They come in droves,” she said of low-performing students pushed back into the public school system after October 1st.

The story may be more complicated.

When asked about admission to his school, Dr. Steve Perry, founder of Capital Prep Magnet in Hartford and Capital Prep Harbor Charter School Bridgeport, said that students were admitted by lottery. He then explained that no matter the school, a certain level of support must be granted to students with IEPs, though even district schools send some students with severe needs out of the district to private outplacements.

Perry’s not wrong. Bridgeport Public Schools, for example, spends $16,150,000 on tuition for students in out of district placements. While there has been anecdotal evidence that certain schools have “counseled” students out, most studies have not found any compelling evidence this is an overarching trend.

The focus on school type is a distraction

Yale University Professor of Child Psychiatry James Comer took a different position. To Comer, the NAACP’s focus on school type was a distraction from the real problem. “That’s not the problem.”

The real problem, in Comer’s view, is that schools are not child development centered. “The energy that we lose by focusing on the wrong thing is not available to focus on providing experiences that would support the development of children,” said Comer.

Others echoed Comer’s sentiments — “This is not an either/or debate,” argued Grace during his testimony. “In fact, this is a with/and situation, in which black families should have the right to choose the school environment that will best serve the needs of their children.”

“I couldn’t imagine a world where the NAACP says let’s pause. Let’s have a moratorium on the Harlem Children Zone or Community Roots in Brooklyn, or all these wonderful and lovely charters schools that are doing great work by our students” said Tenicka Boyd, a New York City parent and organizer for Students First NYC.

“This doesn’t exist in a world of power points and statistics,” said Boyd while describing the situation of parents she works with. “This impacts real students and real students lives.”

 

 

In case you’d like to view it, the entire NAACP Task Force On Education Quality hearing on charter schools can be viewed here.

New Haven

New Haven Public Schools Face $4.6 Million Budget Deficit

From the New Haven Independent:  The school district is facing a $4.6 million deficit in its current budget, one it is confident can tackle, but it is concerned about a bigger, scarier deficit looming next year. That’s what the Board of Education learned from Interim Superintendent Reggie Mayo and Chief Operating Officer Will Clark during… Continue reading New Haven Public Schools Face $4.6 Million Budget Deficit

Bridgeport · In the State · New Haven

Connecticut Clergy To General Assembly: It’s Time To Fix Broken School Funding System

On Monday afternoon, a group pastors gathered on the steps of Grace Baptist Church in Norwalk, calling on Connecticut’s General Assembly to take immediate action to fix the state’s broken school funding system. “I implore each citizen of Connecticut to rise up,” said the Rev. Carl McCluster of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport. “Not against the fair… Continue reading Connecticut Clergy To General Assembly: It’s Time To Fix Broken School Funding System

Bridgeport · New Haven · Students

Sorry, Not Sorry: Recent Events In New Haven Prove “High-Stakes Testing” Is A Complete And Utter Myth

Editor’s note: The following rant is not for the eyes of children. You have been warned. —–   What does the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and high-stakes testing in Connecticut all have in common? Stumped? Well, I hate to break it to you, but none of those things exist.   Have I destroyed your… Continue reading Sorry, Not Sorry: Recent Events In New Haven Prove “High-Stakes Testing” Is A Complete And Utter Myth