Shocker (not) – CT Department of Education Fails to reach minimum integration goals

File this one under proof that failing leadership and failing policies lead to failing results.

Despite a court ordered agreement, five years ago, that the State of Connecticut would create a system in which at least 41 percent of Hartford students attended “integrated” schools, the State Department of Education announced yesterday that the state had failed to reach that goal…Again.

The failure will mean a new round of court intervention and negotiations in the ongoing effort to meet the Connecticut Supreme Court’s rulings related to the Sheff v. O’Neill case.  It is the case where the Connecticut Supreme Court made clear that under Connecticut’s State Constitution every child has the right to attend a racially diverse school.

The Malloy Administration defended their effort to date and while the state has opened a series of new magnet schools and implemented programs to provide some incentives to suburban towns to accept more urban students, those monitoring the developments over the past two decades recognize the state’s overall efforts have been extremely limited when compared to the magnitude of the problem.

The 41 percent threshold was an initial goal agreed to by the parties; however, the present system is providing an appropriate environment to only 37 percent of Hartford’s students.

One of the most significant problems associated with the overall racial isolation issue is that the State of Connecticut has been diverting more and more money away from the effort to reduce isolation and, instead, spending it on charter schools.

In fact, measured by percentage growth, funding for charter schools has been the fastest growth area in the entire state education budget, and that was before Governor Malloy went all in on charter schools.

As readers of Wait, What know, the urban charter schools are actually making the racial isolation problem worse because all the charter schools are more racially isolated than the public schools in those same communities.

For example, in Hartford, where 93 percent of the students are minorities, the two charter schools, Achievement First Hartford and Jumoke Academy are 100 percent made up of minority students.

See the following chart:

District/School % Minority Students
Hartford Schools 93%
AF-Hartford Academy 100%
Jumoke Academy 100%
New Haven Schools 87%
AF- Amistad Academy 98%
AF-Elm City Prep 99%
Bridgeport Schools 91%
AF-Bridgeport 99%
Park City Prep 99%
Bridge Academy 99%

Equally troubling is the fact that charter schools clearly have a bias against providing services to Hispanic students.  Again, using Hartford as an example, whereas 52 percent of the students in Hartford are Hispanic, less than 1 in 10 Achievement First students are Hispanic and there are virtually no Hispanic students at the Jumoke Academy.

The problem is equally apparent when examining the total failure of charter schools to teach students who are not proficient in English or come from homes where English is not the primary language.

District/School % Hispanic % ELL* % Homes where English is not the primary language
Hartford Schools 52% 17% 43%
AF-Hartford Academy 10% 5% 5%
Jumoke Academy .4% 0 0%
New Haven Schools 37% 12% 28%
AF- Amistad Academy 35% 12% 12%
AF-Elm City Prep 21% 9% 9%
Bridgeport Schools 48% 13% 40%
AF-Bridgeport 42% 6% 6%
Park City Prep 36% 2.5% 2.5%
Bridge Academy 30% .4% 17%

As bad as the news is, the proposed action from the Malloy Administration is even worse.

Last week the State Board of Education announced its new initiative to reduce racial isolation.  In addition to providing more funds to suburban communities to take urban students, the primary proposal was… BUILD at least two more charter schools.

That’s right.

The Malloy Administration’s plan to reduce isolation is to give the corporate education reform industry the funds to build more charter schools — despite the fact that the charter schools have proven, beyond a reasonable doubt — that they provide an education environment that is even more racially isolated.

With an approach like that, the proponents of reducing racial isolation and protecting civil rights should simply say to Governor Malloy: “If you aren’t going to be serious about your Constitutional and moral duty to Connecticut’s minority students, then we’ll see you in court!”

  • jschmidt2

    This is what happens when courts and politicians try to fix schools. Is the goal to have an integrated school or to have a school that teaches students? Because it appears you can’t have both. If they would concentrate on how create better schools instead of counting on integration to do it the money would go further. Their assumption is that if you integrate you will automatically have better schools. But the bright bulbs don’t realize that good schools come from local control, good teachers/administrators and parent involvement. If you’re busing a kid 30 miles to go to Hartford or in reverse how much parental involvement are you going to get when a parent has to drive 30 miles for a parent teacher conference or school performance? Some inner city parents don’t even have cars. The whole concept of integration over distances is ridiculous. THe kids spend more time on the bus than they need to. So if I were a parent of child in surrounding town of Hartford, I;d be hesitant about sending my kid into the inner city even if it was the best school around, charter or not. It is apparent the politicians, unions and judges don’t know how to make a better school because throwing money at the problem has been a huge failure. Most likely your inner city schools are in many cases old, and in need of massive upgrading. They have trouble attracting good teachers because of the lack of discipline, and lack of expectations. Without those 2 nothing will change and the schools answer is to insult the student by lowering expectations. The majority of problem in this country from continuance of poverty to the lack of wise decision making can be put at on the lousy public school education. We;ve lost a couple of generations of kids to this, not because of bad, teachers but because the politicians and the court have no idea what to do. As those great words of the governor in Blazing Saddles,” We better do something to keep our phony baloney jobs.” I’m sure your readers from both sides of aisle will have a lot of good ideas.

    • LaurieLima

      I braved the storm and sent my daughter to a Hartford school…I quickly took her out. The “bill of goods” was outstanding but the delivery fell down and they admitted with a chuckle “we were not ready to open the school” I have to share with you the phone calls I received “Can you tell your daughter not to talk” were the overwhelming requests from the Teachers. I did not quite no how to respond to that except to say “No” My daughter was educated in Glastonbury Schools until that point and she did, in fact, carry more knowledge than her peers in the “brand new Hartford School” What I did do was ask the Administration and Teachers to think about prompting a conversation about the difference in the education they had received….they did not like that idea. They wanted her to dumb down and they were not shy about saying it. Ultimately I took her out because of security …there was none, the kids were walking in and out of school at will (she was 13 yrs old) After being in rich white schools, magnet schools, and urban schools I can honestly tell you the expectation dropped because the Teachers knew that urban kids had no resources to sue…in the rich white schools it was common knowledge and a point of conversation within the school that the parents themselves could do serious damage simply because they had the money to! Everything about how the kids were treated was different in the rich white school and it was not about the resources…it was how they handled the kids, spoke to the kids even bringing them home quietly and putting them under house arrest rather than “create a judicial situation” From experience I can tell you…when “urban children” are treated like rich white kids then the gap will begin to close.

      • Luv2Teach

        I could tell you that I treat my “urban” students the same way I treat my own “suburban” children and their suburban friends. With love, respect, caring and understanding. Your experience was unfortunate, and I have seen that kind of behavior in my years of teaching. But I have seen many more caring and hard-working teachers. The school you’re referring to obviously isn’t being run correctly. But please don’t generalize how urban public school teachers treat their students. That’s not the answer. We need support and basic needs to deal with the enormous amounts obstacles we face daily to teach our kids and try to make a difference in their lives!

        • LaurieLima

          My own children were mistreated in urban public schools as was my foster son BUT what I can tell you is this….a few bad apples do spoil the bunch…in other words there were plenty of good and respectful teachers around who ALSO were afraid and did not know how to handle the situations students were facing. I am sorry to say that I fully believe there should be a career long weeding process to rid the schools of bad teachers. It is better for everyone!

        • Linda174

          Can we get rid of ineffective politicians, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, parents, etc….too? Lets not just rid society of bad teachers…there is dead wood everywhere. And when we are done, there will still be an “achievement gap” as well as an opportunity gap, income gap, athleticism gap, social skills gap, etc. etc. etc..

        • LaurieLima

          I absolutely agree with you…there is incompetence everywhere but when you are free to fire (or at least ask for your money back) the problems have a chance to correct themselves. In Connecticut even criminal convictions do not preclude a Teacher from teaching…they are not even required to report their arrests and convictions. The “leader’ who made our life a living hell (with the help of our local poltician who was ousted for it) ) has multiple duis (judicial website exposure) I don’t believe anyone like that should be near our children. Let them be a plumber…or a lawyer or or…anything but near our kids.

        • Linda174

          Your experiences or anecdotes are so much different from mine. Teachers and all who enter school buildings, even to volunteer or chaperone, must be finger printed. Many teachers are let go before tenure and if they want a teacher our with tenure they find a way to harass or intimidate that person. If a teacher receives tenure who is ineffective, please be aware that teachers do not make those decisions. An ineffective teacher was chosen by an ineffective administrator and if you think the problems are teachers only, you are in for a surprise. Where is the accountability for school administrators and we have plenty of them….they are multiplying. We are top heavy and bottom weary. Weeding out inefficiency delves way beyond the front line workers.

        • LaurieLima

          I absolutely agree with you. Our experience with great Teachers was motivated by a great Principal and the reverse was true as well. When I went looking to the State Board of Ed for support and guidance….I almost fell off my chair at the ongoing list of employees listed on the Internet and although all those seats were filled and paychecks were rolling out no one could or would help us. I counted 17 layers of “management” over Teachers…what is THAT all about. I had and have no clue.

    • Linda174

      Very little of the race to the trough money will go directly towards children, teaching and learning. It will go to testing companies, consultants, more administrators, and various educrap. States awarded their NCLB waivers may want a waiver for their waiver because it is going to cost them much more than the federal $$ they receive to implement the required components: common core training, materials, SBAC testing, computer software, hardware, fees to grade the tests, evaluators,…..the list is endless and it is an industry in itself whose purpose is to suck from the taxpayers. The kids are just props for the eduvultures.

      Education Profiteering; Wall Street’s Next Big Thing?

      Education privatization would not, per se, create a net new stimulus for the economy. But by diverting large existing flows of money from the public to the private sector it would create new profit-making ventures that could be capitalized and transformed into stocks, derivatives and leveraged securities. The pot has been sweetened by a 39 percent federal tax credit for financing charter school construction that can double an investor’s return in seven years. The prospect of new speculative opportunities could well recharge the animal spirits upon which Wall Street depends.

      Some “liberal” privatization promoters claim that charter schools should not be considered private. But that’s an argument the management companies that run the schools only use when they are asking for more government funding. At the same time they argue in courts and to legislatures that as private enterprises they should not be subject to government audits, labor laws and other restrictions.

      • jschmidt2

        my experience with non profits private schools s that they are better than public schools. One they can take motivated children and parents, two, they are no tied to the testing regimentation of the public schools, three, their decision making is for the student, not the administation or politicians, four, discipline is better mostly because of number one, and students can be disciplined or kicked out. I have no experience with profit making charters. But I think you are on target.

        • Linda174

          They may be better than some private schools for the reasons you mention, but they are not better than ALL public schools.

          Teachers make decisions all day long, easily multiple decisions each period times five periods a day (125 kids each year) for 181 days (for me, past 26 years) and they are always for our students. Who else would they be for?

          We are trying to navigate though the forced tactics being disguised as “reforms” that are nothing more than a destruction of the teaching profession for the purpose of profits, union busting and privatization. We will continue to shield our children from the nonsense.

        • Linda174

          Typo…I fixed..I meant public in the first sentence.

        • LaurieLima

          I have to agree with you…especially knowing first hand that the decisions in public schools ARE political in nature, what is best for the children is secondary to many things. It has been my experience as well.

        • Linda174

          Not my experience as a teacher for 26 years and a parent of children who attended 13 years of public schools.

    • Linda174

      Watch when you have time. Part III especially disturbing. This will become a very, very expensive unfunded mandate. We need a waiver for our NCLB waiver:

      Stop Common Core, American Principles Project and the Concerned Women of America in Georgia made the following video series on the Common Core State Standards possible. Jane Robbins of American Principles Project gives a broad explanation of the problems of the Common Core.