Achieve Hartford provides education advocacy rooted in the belief that strong schools leads to a strong future. Executive Director, Paul Holzer, joins Newsmakers to discuss how critical shared responsibly is when it comes to educating our children.
For the average small and large businesses located in Greater Hartford, the notion that their future workforce will come from graduates of urban high schools is often more of a hypothetical scenario than a reality.
But what if a business had a partner agency that worked with urban youth …
After noticing a spate of principal vacancies, Achieve Hartford! reviewed school system data and found that about 16 percent of city principals left between 2012 and 2014, including five people who became central office administrators elsewhere. That’s better than the national turnover rate for principals, a quarter of whom leave their jobs each year, according to a recent study from School Leaders Network.
Paul Diego Holzer
Connecticut is not alone in having so many dramatically different communities abutting each other, just a few minutes and miles separating them into their small towns, suburbs and densely populated cities.
Throughout U.S. metro areas, thin lines on the map reflect a wide, national divide. Fortunate students who attend the highest-performing schools are just up the road a piece from those unfortunately at the other end of the spectrum.
It’s not a good situation … and everybody knows it, especially those of us in Connecticut.
Greater Hartford is blessed to have unique backing for quality integrated education, in the form of the Sheff v. O’Neill case. In fact, to rectify past segregation, the State has delivered more options and opportunities for Hartford children than almost any place you can name. Still, as strong as they have been, the state, city, and Hartford Public School efforts over the past decade have fallen short of securing the upgrades necessary at neighborhood schools. We simply have not elevated the quality of education in Hartford as much as our next generation deserves – and our economic future requires.
Amazingly, still less than one third of Hartford students perform at grade level.
It’s time to re-think things.
While Sheff was never meant to solve all of Hartford’s problems, it’s time for all Sheff parties and affected citizens to better address the perceptual and real issues of low-performing Hartford schools, as Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez and her colleagues have pointed out in their transition report.
For what we believe are necessary course corrections, we have detailed eight recommendations on our website at achievehartford.org. Here are just a few of these guideposts:
The original promise and remarkable progress of Sheff should not be lost to bureaucratic inflexibility or heedlessness toward Hartford families’ experiences. At most Board of Education meetings, including the one Dec. 16, parents come forward to express their frustration at losing the lottery year after year. Thousands of others, never in attendance, don’t even apply.
By listening, learning, and revising approaches on behalf of Hartford children, we can identify and implement changes in policy that would allow more Hartford families to be touched positively by Connecticut’s unique acknowledgment of – and determination to step up and remedy – past segregation.
Another iteration of segregated and low-performing schools won’t do it. With Sheff and the leadership at every level on board, our state and Hartford could be different. We could be even smarter about how we tackle our state’s biggest constitutional obligation – and more successful.
Wherever you look lately (tragic killings of and by police), hatred seems to haunt our country. It doesn’t make sense, relatively speaking.
The givens are that every U.S. metro area is segregated and that Connecticut has the largest educational achievement gap in the country (between white/affluent and minority/poor children). Most important, we are actually working on it.