Why was last month’s Hartford Board of Education meeting not our finest moment as a city?  It is because the confusion folks had in the audience about the community school strategy signaled that, despite having funded the community schools strategy for almost a decade, Hartford still does not have an overall vision for how we are going to win the war on poverty, or how all HPS strategies (community schools, student centered learning, etc.) are meant to come together. 


Confusion was on display when HBOE members January 17th were doing due diligence, trying to figure out not only whether community schools were a good strategy, but where they fit into a larger strategy to turn around neighborhood schools, for which the Board is responsible.


As an example, at Milner school, with so much student turnover year to year, such a high concentration of student need relative to resources provided, expecting turnaround over a period of a few years is unrealistic. That’s the case for too many neighborhood schools – whether they operate with the community school strategy or not.


So what’s Hartford’s current path to realistically give all neighborhood school students what they need to be successful? We don’t know – do you?


With an ever-more challenging set of conditions in place for our neighborhood schools, and the ever-decreasing provision of supports, it’s no wonder so many leave at the first chance they get.


The Bottom Line


We believe that, despite all the PhD’s and graduate degrees we have at central office and throughout our city, we still do not have the in-depth conversations needed to address the needs of Hartford children (especially those most vulnerable), and we hope that the past Board of Ed meeting’s discussion on the “return on investment” of community schools was the start of a much larger, overdue discussion.


In its most basic form, the larger conversation we hear the Board of Ed wanting to have is one that creates a “Maslow’s hierarchy” of needs for neighborhood schools, as the following graphic suggests:


While the above diagram is simple to prove a point, we look forward to getting into more detail on this in a forthcoming publication.