Category: Press Releases
Achieve Hartford! Issues Statement on the Resignation of Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez

Hartford, Connecticut (September 9, 2016) – Achieve Hartford! issued a statement today on the abrupt resignation of the Hartford Superintendent.

Yesterday’s announcement by Superintendent Narvaez of her resignation sent a shock wave throughout our school system and our community.  While the tendency right now would be to let the resignation of our city’s education leader lead to a resignation in our own hearts, our children demand the exact opposite from us right now.

While Mayors, boards of education and superintendents change over time, it is the community’s consistent voice demanding excellence from our school system and from our leaders that matters most. We are faced with the challenge of finding opportunity amidst our challenges to ensure we deliver on the promise of a top notch public education for every student in Hartford.

In that spirit, Achieve Hartford! offers three recommendations for how city leaders can best handle the impending leadership transition:

  1. First, because there are more than 3,000 staff employed by HPS, all in need of stable and inspired leadership to provide 110% effort for our children, we recommend that the Mayor and Board of Education look for a permanent candidate among our local pool of talent and forego a national search process.  The intent must be to stabilize the district as quickly as possible and ensure the District’s execution of the strategic operating plan continues uninterrupted.  There are already serious financial barriers to the full implementation of much needed reforms, and we cannot let disruption in leadership throw things off course. We must identify new leadership within weeks, not months.
  1. Because the most negative consequence of the Superintendent’s announcement is the further erosion of trust in government felt by our community, we recommend the Mayor and Board of Education look for a candidate with a track record of inspiring partner engagement at all levels – school, neighborhood and city – and among all types of partners – family, nonprofit, corporate, philanthropic, etc.  The next superintendent must be chosen based on his or her ability to lead a school system of our size and complexity, and also on the ability to close the perceived gap between what central office values and what partners on the ground value.
  1. Lastly, because the challenges this year (and those to come) are significantly impacted by the City’s inability to afford running so many schools, we recommend that the Mayor and Board of Education look for a candidate who supports the portfolio strategy for school governance and consolidation, and who is well suited to guide the Board and community through a process that fundamentally changes what the District looks like years from now.  The direction to move in right now is consolidation with an eye to helping more students gain access to our region’s highest quality school options.  We encourage the Board to look for a candidate who sees other education agencies as potential partners, not competition.  It’s a challenging new world of fiscal constraint we live in, and our next Superintendent must be prepared to lead in that new world.

Achieve Hartford! will hold a series of meetings with key partners at the grasstops and grassroots levels to discuss this latest challenge, and how we can help our city turn it into a great opportunity. Please email us for more information.


Achieve Hartford! Urges Legislative Action To Make New State School Finance Equity Ruling Stick

Hartford, Connecticut (September 8, 2016) – Achieve Hartford! announced today it stands behind yesterday’s call by Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher for a complete – and long overdue – re-do on school financing in our state, which he correctly identified as riddled with policies “so befuddled or misdirected as to be irrational.”

Here is the Achieve Hartford! statement reinforcing the judge’s decision:

Yesterday, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a ruling in the historic Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell case, in which the judge forcefully noted, “To keep its promise for adequate schools for all children, the state must rally more forcefully around troubled schools.  It can’t possibly help them while standing on the sideline imposing token statewide standards.”

“The judge’s decision and revealing footnotes indict the mindless momentum of the General Assembly as regards poor districts and schools,” Achieve Hartford Executive Director Paul Diego Holzer said today.  “The fact of the matter is that the legislature can no longer improperly kick the can down the road, as the judge concluded, through ‘misdirected and befuddled policies that allow rich school districts to flourish and poor districts to flounder’.

“Educating our neediest children is not the problem of our neediest cities; it’s a workforce issue for the entire state, regardless where you live in Connecticut,” Holzer emphasized.  “But while redistribution of funds is part of the solution, it is certainly not the only part.  We call on our Hartford delegation to not wait until the session begins to come together in consensus on how this ruling impacts Hartford students and to address the serious state education funding inequities and quality issues, so carefully laid out in this ruling.

“State and local government have a job to do.  That job has not been done when you look at the outcomes among so many Hartford students.  Now is the time to fix the way education is delivered in our neediest cities, notwithstanding the intense financial constraints.  We must ensure high quality teachers in every classroom and no longer allow grade school children to be denied the basics of reading and math, yet allow them to graduate nonetheless.  They need to be prepared for high school and post-secondary education both for their own futures and that of our region and State.  The truth is we know what we need to do, and now we must heed this mandate to do it, both through removing and changing policies that stand in the way and by revising the funding formula.”


Achieve Hartford! Inaugural event – Inspire Hartford

Achieve Hartford! is excited to announce that tickets are now on sale for Inspire Hartford, a celebration of the city’s highest achievers—it’s students. Attendees will experience an education transformation and see 21st century learning in action as they support improvement in Hartford’s schools. This inaugural event will be held on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at the XL Center in downtown Hartford. Visit inspirehartford.com to learn more.


Achieve Hartford! Receives Grant from the Travelers Foundation for Accountability

Community Engagement, and Research Programming (August 14, 2015) –

Hartford, Connecticut (August 14, 2015) – Achieve Hartford! announced today that the Travelers Foundation has awarded the organization $150,000 for its strategy: Accountability, Community Engagement, and Research.

“Partnering with Achieve Hartford! is a natural fit for us,” said Erin Haberman, Program Officer, Travelers Foundation. “Travelers is committed to improving academic success and educational equity for Hartford Public School students, and Achieve Hartford!’s values and mission align well with what we aim to accomplish.”

Activities of the strategy include the execution of Achieve Hartford!’s publications, student centered blended learning, degree completion, research, and school choice and data initiatives (smarterhartford.org) the first online tool of its kind in the nation.

“We thank the Travelers Foundation, a founding partner of Achieve Hartford!, for their dedicated support. Their commitment to our organization has helped position us to lead both local and state-wide agencies in collaborative capacity-building efforts to accelerate school improvement,” said Paul Diego Holzer, Achieve Hartford!’s executive director.

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Achieve Hartford! Appoints Katharine Chaney-Jones to Board

Katharine Chaney-Jones, a Financial Services Representative with the Barnum Financial Group, an office of MetLife and part of the MetLife Premier Client Group, has been named to the Achieve Hartford! Board of Directors, the non-profit education advocacy organization announced today.
“Katharine has had a highly successful business career marked by a strong commitment to improving the lives of others, and we are very pleased to have her join the board,” said Paul Diego Holzer, Executive Director, Achieve Hartford!  “Her understanding of educational issues, her energy, and her extensive experience working with people from all walks of life will be a valuable resource for the entire organization,” Mr. Holzer added.
“Helping people of all ages become more financially literate is a major value and goal of mine, and that commitment led to my providing workshops in the Hartford Public Schools among other places in the community, “noted Ms. Chaney-Jones.  I am honored to be part of an organization that is working so diligently on positive systemic change in education and is providing such benefit to the community.”
Ms. Chaney-Jones and her team at Barnum provide financial guidance to individuals, families, businesses and non-profits across the state on issues such as retirement and estate planning, among others. Her professional awards include being named a Five Star Wealth Manager for 2012 and 2013 and Five Star Wall Street Journal award as one of the top 10 wealth managers for the east coast area for 2014.  She is a life member and the CT State Chair, Communications Committee, for the Million Dollar Round Table, recognized internationally as the standard of sales excellence in the life insurance and financial services industries.


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