According to the Hartford Courant, “The governor’s office confirms that Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, will visit Hartford’s University High School on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. Duncan will speak on college accessibility and affordability. According to Duncan’s office the event will include U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and others.”
Considering Duncan et. al. are coming to speak about college affordability, choosing Hartford’s University High School of Science and Engineering, rather than one of Connecticut’s public colleges or universities is an interesting choice.
Considering Governor Malloy has instituted the deepest budget cuts in Connecticut history to the state’s public institutions of higher education, cuts that have led to significant tuition increases, it could be that the Governor’s handlers are worried that they won’t receive a warm welcome.
[Back in the fall of 2010 I attended a University of Connecticut Young Democrats meeting with candidate Dan Malloy in which he took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and promised to put an end to Governor Rell’s approach of shifting costs from the state to students and their families. What a sad commentary that Malloy has done far more to increase college costs for Connecticut’s families than Rell ever did].
In any case, Malloy and Duncan are not appearing at one of Connecticut’s public colleges or universities, they are speaking at a Hartford public school.
As so-called education reformers perhaps Malloy and Duncan are more comfortable sticking to the corporate education reform environment that has become Hartford’s School System.
Hartford’s University High School of Science and Engineering is a prime example of a place where the hard work and real achievement of teachers and students have been overshadowed by the political spin that is the centerpiece of the corporate education reform industry.
According to University High School’s most recent STRATEGIC SCHOOL PROFILE filed with the Connecticut State Department of Education the school gets 51 percent of students from 35 towns surrounding Hartford and 49 percent of its students from Hartford.
Of the student population, 30 percent is White, 34 percent African American, 23 percent Hispanic and 13 percent from “other ethnicities.”
Although it is interesting to note that the school claims that only 2.8 percent of its students are English Language Learners (meaning that they are not proficient in the English Language). The number is unbelievably low considering the significant number of students from Hispanic and other ethnic backgrounds.
Furthermore, the school reports that only 7.5 percent of its students need special education services, far fewer than the percentages in Hartford or the 34 sending towns.
And then the numbers become even more suspect.
According to the Strategic School Profile, University High School of Science and Engineering graduated its fourth class with a “100% graduation rate.”
The school adds that “100% of graduating seniors applied to and were accepted into a 2 or 4 year college. 90% of graduates are attending a four-year college or university; 8% are attending two-year colleges; and 2% post graduate year.”
However, the school also states that 185 students qualified as truant meaning that 48% of the entire student body was absent for an extremely extended period of time. Not that truancy necessarily prevents a 100% graduation rate and 100% college attendance rate but the statistic is rather odd.
In addition, another troubling statistic is that only 10.6 percent of the juniors and seniors at Hartford’s University High School were enrolled in college credit courses of any type. Compare that number to Buckley High where 14.6 percent of the juniors and seniors were taking college credit courses.
Of course, both schools do significantly better than Capital Prep where absolutely no students were enrolled in college credit courses.
Over the last few years it has become painfully clear that Secretary Duncan, Governor Malloy and the Obama and Malloy administrations are addicted to policies that are “data driven.”
And playing with the numbers to ensure they match the policy goals is not unheard of.
So, with tuition skyrocketing at Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, increases that are a direct result of Governor Malloy’s budget cuts, it will be very interesting (and entertaining) to hear the spin that will be coming from Duncan and Malloy on Tuesday afternoon.