As previous Wait, What? posts explained, (See: Breaking News – Hartford Mayor nominates anti-gay marriage leader for vacancy on the Hartford School Board and Update – His group’s anti-gay marriage position did not represent his own beliefs says Bronin nominee for school board) Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is trying to put Harold Sparrow on the Hartford School Board.
And what is Harold Sparrow’s experience with education?
- Closing the Hartford YMCA’s successful and popular Read to Succeed Program…
- A founding member of a charter school in Boston that is now ranked among the worst schools in Massachusetts…
- A former trustee for two private schools, one that charges $45,000 a year and the other $37,000 a year…
When nominating Sparrow, Bronin cites his “extensive experience in organizational leadership and management,” but under Sparrow’s so-called leadership, the YMCA closed its successful Read to Succeed Program last May.
Read to Succeed was a specialized literacy program that had been successfully educating Hartford residents to read for more than 30 years. By all accounts it was an extraordinary program and Sparrow’s handling of the situation was a blight on the reputation of the YMCA.
Although the YMCA’s Mission Statement reads that it provides literacy education services to adults, the program was shut down in disregard to widespread anger and opposition.
Hartford Courant’s articles and its Letters to the Editor section was filed with outrage and condemnation.
Comments and observations included;
“Read to Succeed does not duplicate the services of any other community adult literacy program — it is a unique, individualized program that helps adults with learning disabilities.”
“The YMCA of Greater Hartford has lost its mission! Why close one of the only programs at the Downtown branch that impacts Hartford residents and aligns with the states workforce ready literacy skills and the YMCA’s own mission?”
“Truth is the Read to Succeed literacy program is needed now more than ever before as our future workforce demands for literacy skills is at its highest.”
“It’s a great loss for our community, especially those who are trying their best to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and be educated in a more firm and direct way.”
“This vital program teaches adults with dyslexia and other cognitive challenges how to read using a multisensory language approach.”
“[Due to] the impending termination of the Greater Hartford YMCA’s Read to Succeed program, countless Greater Hartford area residents will be denied the benefits of this life-changing adult literacy program.”
“Most students at Read to Succeed have been unable to find success in conventional adult remedial programs.”
“Read to Succeed has offered the hope of a better, more productive life. Students have realized the importance of adult literacy skills to raise children who have strong literacy skills, to keep themselves and their families healthy, to be self-advocates, to reduce crime and to be active in their communities. “
In addition to the mishandling of the Read to Succeed issue, Harold Sparrow’s experience with education policy is extremely minimal, at best.
Sparrow served on two elite, private school boards, the Park School Board of Trustees in Brookline, Massachusetts from 2002 to 2008 and the Beaver Country Day School in Newton, Massachusetts form 2008 – 2011. The Park School charges $37,000 a year to attend while the Beaver Country Day School’s tuition is $45,500 a year.
Neither of these experiences would possibly prepare him for the challenges facing Hartford’s public schools.
In addition, according to documents filed with the Department of Education in Massachusetts, Sparrow was a founder member of the Boston Bridge Charter School, which is now one of the lowest performing schools in Massachusetts.
Interestingly, while his on-line bio reference his time on the two fancy private schools, there is no mention of his role with the Bridge Boston Charter School in Boston Massachusetts.
A rush vote by the Hartford City Council on Mayor Bonin’s nomination of Harold Sparrow is expected today – Monday, January 30, 2017.