Malloy balks at efforts to require the state to further desegregate Hartford’s schools

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Malloy balks at efforts to require the state to further desegregate Hartford’s schools (CT Mirror 8-23-2013)

Wait, What?

“Gov. Dannel P. Malloy drew a line in the sand on what he is willing to agree to.”

Wait, what??

Malloy says…“Let me be very clear, I don’t think failing to reach a standard is a reason to then raise the standard”

Wait, What???

“I don’t have a problem with the benchmarks as they currently exist. I have a problem when people say, ‘Well you didn’t meet that benchmark, so we are going to raise it.’ That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Wait, What????

As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the “I have a Dream Speech,” Connecticut’s Governor says he doesn’t support further efforts to desegregate Hartford’s isolated schools?

And after forcing Connecticut’s students, teachers, parents and taxpayers to waste hundreds of thousands of hours and tens of millions of dollars to adopt the “tougher” Common Core Standards he says…”I have a problem when people say, ‘Well you didn’t meet that benchmark, so we are going to raise it.”?

Wait, What??????

Wait, What??????

As soon as I manage to get the bits and piece of my brain stuffed back into my scull I’ll respond in greater detail…

Until then,  Wait, What the___________?

Read the CT Mirror story here:  http://www.ctmirror.org/story/2013/08/23/malloy-balks-efforts-require-state-further-desegregate-hartfords-schools

Failing our obligation on school integration

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In a recent commentary piece written for the Stamford Advocate and other Connecticut newspapers owned by Hearst Media, Wendy Lecker, the outspoken school advocate wrote about our nation and state’s failure to truly deal with racial isolation in our public schools.

Wendy Lecker’s observations come almost 50 years to the day that Martin Luther King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The piece is a stunning reminder of how far we are from King’s vision of a better world.

Wendy Lecker’s piece can be found at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Wendy-Lecker-Opportunities-of-school-integration-4721158.php or you can read it below.

“Fifty years ago, Alabama Gov. George Wallace infamously declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,” while Martin Luther King Jr. challenged us to imagine the day when our country’s children would “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

And here we are, in 2013, witnessing the racist rant of an NFL player, racist jokes by a cooking host and, more tragically, the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager, who aroused the suspicion of his killer by being an African-American teenage male with a hoodie in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

All are recent and vivid reminders that racial stereotypes and racism have a strong and enduring grip on our nation. No one can seriously argue that we are living in a “post-racial” society.

In Connecticut, issues of race are ever-present. We have not achieved the goal of providing Connecticut’s children with racially integrated schools. And some of our elected and appointed officials are actually moving us in the wrong direction.

On the front page of The New York Times, Greenwich’s superintendent criticized the state’s racial balancing law as an outdated “civil rights era” discussion. Even though the district’s elementary schools are now segregated, he dismissed the issue, citing the town’s overall high test scores.

Equally if not more appalling, at the state level, Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education are on an unrestrained campaign to expand the number of charter schools, leading to even greater racial isolation. In the name of “education reform,” they revive the words of George Wallace and trample upon the dream of Martin Luther King.

Why should school segregation be a concern? Decades of research, based on real-life experiences, prove that integrated education has a profound and direct impact on reducing racial stereotypes and prejudice, lasting into adulthood, for children of all races. Products of school integration are more at ease with people of different backgrounds and seek out integrated environments for their children. In many cases, the impact of integrated school experiences was most evident after the students finished school. Adult graduates of integrated schools have a superior ability to navigate diverse, cross-cultural work and societal settings, as compared to those who were not educated in integrated schools. Moreover, the studies controlled for other factors, making it clear that being in an integrated environment on a daily basis in school was the cause of more tolerant attitudes. Indeed, a substantial number of graduates grew up in segregated neighborhoods and would not have interacted with children of different races otherwise.

Many of the graduates had more positive racial attitudes than their parents. One white woman noted her comfort in any neighborhood in her city, as compared to her mother’s panic when even driving through predominately non-white areas. Graduates overwhelmingly felt that despite any difficulties of integration, such as longer bus rides or occasional tensions, the experience was valuable. Furthermore, the research confirmed that the earlier children are exposed to integrated settings the better.

These graduates understand that some of the most important lessons in public schools extend beyond books. As one remarked: “I think that I learned something there that you can’t teach anybody. … I just learned a lot by being around so many different kinds of people.” Another observed that “I know a lot of people who … test really well, but you put them out in the real world and … they can’t make it.”

The kind of education these students received, that broadened their emotional as well as intellectual horizons, is exactly what our nation’s founders envisioned. As Thomas Jefferson declared, an education that safeguards democracy is one that erases “the tyranny and oppressions of body and mind.”

This comprehensive vision of education has been replaced by a narrow-minded focus on measured results — test scores. So it is no wonder that integrated schools are not a priority for educational policy makers. Consequently, American school segregation is on the rise. Rather than work to reverse this trend, our leaders push programs, such as school choice, that increase segregation.

As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, persistent racism tears at our social fabric. By abandoning school integration, we miss the opportunity not only to ensure a stronger democracy, but to equip all our children with the tools to thrive in our multicultural society and global economy.”

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

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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!”