No Child Criminal Left Behind: Public School Prisoners in Connecticut

On November 17, 2008, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a study which has found a bit of ink for the racial disparity aspect: minority students are more likely than white students to be arrested at school for committing similar crimes. According to the report: “In 2006-07, African American and Hispanic students together accounted for 69 percent of the student population in East Hartford, but experienced 85 percent of school-based arrests. Likewise, the same year, in West Hartford, African American and Hispanic students accounted for 24 percent of the population, but experienced 63 percent of arrests” (25). To be more specific, “African American students involved in physical altercations at school in West Hartford were twice as likely to be arrested as similarly situated white students” (26) and “in East Hartford, both African American and Hispanic students involved in disciplinary incidents involving drugs, alcohol, or tobacco were ten times more likely to be arrested than were similarly situated white students” (26). The report finds that “in West Hartford, in 2005-06, for every 1000 Hispanic students in the student population, there were 30 arrests of Hispanic students, and for every 1000 African American students, there were 43 arrests of African American students. By contrast, for every 1000 white students, there were only 5 arrests” (37). If this were not infuriating enough, the ACLU writes that the disparities with school-based arrests also:

exemplify a broader trend, observed in other school districts, toward overpunishing students of color for offenses whose definition is largely subjective. No clear objective definition exists for the terms “fight,” “physical aggression,” or “physical altercation,” so the determination that a student has engaged in such conduct may require educators to exercise considerable discretion. But research suggests that educators view certain behaviors more harshly when observed in students of color than when observed in white students (e.g., a white student who talks back is cited for “insubordination,” while an African American student engaging in the same conduct is found to have engaged in “threatening.”) (41)

This part of the report is both devastating and unsurprisingly; though I do not wish to imply that this is not serious, there is more to this report which is being overlooked.

To continue with the theme of disparities, the ACLU finds that students with disabilities are “disproportionately impacted” by school-based arrests. Continue reading “No Child Criminal Left Behind: Public School Prisoners in Connecticut”

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Being a “Journalistic Force” During a Global Crisis

Although the Hartford Courant has been undergoing cutbacks and redesigns, it vows to remain a “journalistic force.” What does a journalistic force do when a major global news story breaks? Well, it depends. Hundreds are killed. More are wounded. This ongoing crisis is the result of terrorism. While 9/11 warranted immediate coverage, this is like apples and oranges, if you are part of Connecticut’s Journalistic Force. This story is occurring in Mumbai. Maybe the news team can’t find Mumbai on the map. Maybe it’s too far away, they think, for Americans to care.

Meanwhile, what do they do? On Thanksgiving Day, the main news items on the Courant website were related to a road race, part time jobs, and a pastor. These are the type of story expected to run on Thanksgiving, as they are done well in advance, or only need last minute pieces of information inserted to fill-in-the-blanks.

On the day after Thanksgiving, when more people are working (presumably), this story is pushed further down on the page online. What is more important than the lives of over 100 people? According to the Courant, what’s relevant to our lives is Black Friday and how many people were given tickets the past few days.

If this news outlet were not so full of itself, if it only covered local stories, then this oversight would be forgivable. Local blogs, for example, are local with a purpose and do not have the funds to pay for international correspondents, nor do we run AP stories as a rule. But there is an expectation that the news media will cover actual news, and not rank canned stories above those of international importance. This is unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable!

A few days ago, Colin McEnroe devoted time on his WTIC 1080 show to Twitter. During the course of the show, someone remarked that (and I’m paraphrasing) we should continue to trust the current media for our information, and not rely on Twitter. Not that I could trust the mainstream media before this, but to find out any information about the Mumbai crisis, I have been following people on Twitter who live in Mumbai and can help to evaluate which information being leaked is accurate or inaccurate. Why trust them? Why not? They at least have a sense of what is important.

For updates on what is going on in Mumbai, here are some suggested links, some of which are “traditional” sources, and some of which are not:
Vignetting Life
Roasted Coffee Beans
Tejaswi Rathore

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Happy Holidays!

from december 31, 2007At 5:30pm this Friday when Constitution Plaza is illuminated, the Hartford Festival of Light will enter its 45th season.
November 26, 2008
LED lights will be incorporated into this year’s display.
November 26, 2008 Continue reading “Happy Holidays!”

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A Very Special Creative Cocktail

I reluctantly dragged my tired self about four blocks down the road to Real Art Ways last night. It’s been a rough week. It’s been a rough semester. The Creative Cocktail is a highly social event, and to be honest, I wanted to just stay in and watch Sex and the City episodes until I overdosed on couture. I’m grateful to have ventured out into the freezing cold.

Although this did not interest me much, loads of people came out to see Sam Brown, who draws Exploding Dog. I saw so many people blissed out over meeting him, and he was cordial with everyone. And P.S., if you are a fan and missed this, you really missed it. He was drawing pictures for people there.

In the theatre, I listened to a Hartford Symphony Orchestra Horn Quartet rehearsal session. They were practicing for a performance down in New Britain. I loved listening to the HSO perform at the Hartford Cares event this past summer, and made it a point to sit in on this session, during which they answered questions about the French Horn and the orchestra. On the way out I was given a $5 coupon for an upcoming event, which may motivate me to go see the Holiday POPS! Spectacular at the Bushnell in December.

This month’s Creative Cocktail signature martini was something involving apple cider. I didn’t order one, but I did commandeer a friend’s for the purpose of eating the cinnamon/sugar off of the rim. It made me want to bake a pie more than order my own drink.

When I thought I was leaving, I thought wrong. Someone had brought a few bikes that he was letting people ride around the parking lot. I don’t know what they would be called. Electric hybrids? All I know is that I pedaled twice and was zooming! I fell so immediately and deeply in love that I didn’t care that I was wearing heels and likely to crash trying to ride with wrong footwear. This is the best machine for the essentially lazy person who wants to reduce environmental pollution. Sadly, they cost a few thousand dollars. I do not see one of these in my future.

The Creative Cocktail is the third Thursday of the month at Real Art Ways. It does not require cocktail dresses, the eating of cocktail shrimp, use of cocktail napkins, or ingesting of actual cocktails.

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Public Charter Revision Meeting

Loved Heather’s announcement of the December 10th public meeting. I can’t imagine how they could get that kind of information disseminated. Have they tried carrier pigeons? The meeting is at 6pm in City Council chambers.

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Trash Talk

swag.jpgClarence W. Corbin, the Director of Hartford Public Works, and Marilynn Cruz-Aponte, Assistant to the Director of Public Works, spoke to residents as part of the Understanding City Services workshop series tonight at the Hartford Public Library. Corbin mainly covered the single-stream recycling pilot program, while Cruz-Aponte dealt with the proposed Hartford Bulky Waste & Recycling Center.

Corbin’s presentation included background on the single-stream program which was introduced to selective areas in Hartford last May. Much of what he talked about has previously been reported on at Urban Compass, as a press release was sent by the Mayor’s office a few days back. Some of the key facts that he shared:

* It costs about $70/ton to dump garbage, whether it contains recyclable materials or not

* Hartford dumps about 45,000 tons of municipal solid waste (per year, I’m assuming, though he didn’t give a time frame)

* The “Go Green – Use Blue” program collects from 1000 households in the city each day

* 86% of the households in the program are compliant

* $4160 in rebates have been awarded to residents so far

* The single-stream program will only be available to those in 1-6 family residences.

singe.jpgThe Department of Public Works is working to figure out how to expand the program, and they expressed hope that all 1-6 family residences in Hartford will be able to participate.

What struck me as annoying from a treehugging hippie point-of-view is that so much of their presentation focused on economics rather than on health or environmental benefits. Are we really only concerned with taxes and revenue?

Cruz-Aponte announced plans for the new Hartford Bulky Waste & Recycling Center, which she described as both a “transfer station” and a “convenience center.” Because the landfill will be closing on December 31, 2008, we need to find another way to dispose of our trash. She explained that residents will still place trash in city-issued bins and pick-up will continue in the same way, so that part of the process will not be changing. After the trash leaves the premises, it will be brought to the transfer station, where it will be—wait for it—transferred. The Hartford Bulky Waste & Recycling Center will also permit residents to drop off recyclables, electronics, and bulky waste like tires; however, they will not be collecting hazardous waste. There is a possibility that this center will also have a “swap center” where residents can leave items that are in good condition, and others can pick them up. Right now we have a swap center– it’s called the curb. Continue reading “Trash Talk”

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For Your Social Calendar


Drop by the Hartford Public Library (5:30 for refreshments, 6 for the talk) for a program on the Department of Public Works. “Learn about the new Transfer Center and Single-Stream Recycling. Bring your questions about leaf collection, street repair, snow removal, garbage collection…” I know you can’t contain your excitement over this, but let’s be real– these routines keep the city going. Almost rear-ended a leaf-collection machine because of lack of traffic police? Show up and ask questions about the unsafe work conditions! Experienced flooding because they waited until last week to start with leaf collection? Livid because jerks keep dumping their leaves in the bike lanes? Know that snow removal is plain pathetic? Come by and let your voice be heard.

November 20

La Canción Puertorriqueña/The Puerto Rican Song: In Our Times-In Our Voice
Singer Songwriters José Saavedra & Walter Morciglio
These two cantautores will share their songs and the poetry in their first US East Coast Joint Tour. Be prepared for an evening that will blend poetry and songs that portray the reality of Latino and human struggle of our times. Two-time Latin Grammy Nominated Producer/Songwriter Morciglio presents material from his fourth album, El Album Gris. Morciglio’s productions credits include such artists as Roy Brown, Antonio Cabán Vale “El Topo”, Andy Montañez as well as José Saavedra. Saavedra who has been developing his musical career for the last fifteen years, most recently in Tucson, AZ will present a collection of songs from his three albums: Ver Cada Ver, Versos ReVersos, Veredas Verdes.

The show starts at 8pm at La Paloma Sabanera (405 Capitol Ave) and costs $10.

November 23

Queers Without Borders and the CT Transadvocacy Coalition will be showing Out Rage ‘69 a film from the KQED four part documentary “The Question of Equality.” This contains interviews and archival footage of Sylvia Rivera, the Gay Liberation Front, and more.

Doors open at 5pm, dinner follows at 5:30, and the film begins at 6:30. This is held at the Metropolitan Community Church, which is located in Colt Memorial Parish House of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church (155 Wyllys St.)

November 25

Tribute to “The King (Hector Lavoe) & Queen (Celia Cruz) of Salsa” on at The Bushnell at 8pm.

Some of you may know that salsa annoys me very quickly. When it blasts through my walls, it makes me rage. The one exception that I have found to this is Celia Cruz. I spent Christmas in Paterson a few years ago, and the local station played her music incessantly. This tribute sounds like a fun night, but a pricey one. VIP tickets go for $100, but the cheap tickets start at $25.

There will also be a Meet & Greet at Andrea’s Restaurante (371 Franklin) from 5:45-6:45. There will be a Spanish-style buffet, raffles, and giveaways. There will also be an afterparty at La Casona.

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Question of the Day

If we ignore the Hartford Courant and their regurgitated opinion pieces that lack any research, will they quietly implode? Can we speed up their implosion process? The newspaper has become an embarrassing source that many people, unfortunately, still rely on for information.

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A Poem and a Shag

Tonight you can be fully entertained for a total of $3.00.

There is an open mike at La Paloma Sabanera (corner of Capitol and Babcock) that begins at 7:30. If you are performing, get there at 7pm to sign up. It seems like a free-for-all type of open mike– poetry, music, whatever. The cover is $3.00 and there’ll be refreshments available.

Then, saunter down to The Warehouse in Parkville. It’s a brand new venue at 45 Bartholomew. There hasn’t even been a grand opening yet, it’s that new. What’s happening there tonight is the monthly dance party, Shag Frenzy. I’ve had a great time in the past when it’s been at other venues (The Webster Underground, Sweet Jane’s). This is partly because of the music, and partly because it doesn’t reek of meat market, and mostly because there are plenty of people ages 30+. Bring your dancing shoes and 80’s music fetish.

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Community Conversation on Hartford Non-Profits

One of the many events happening this coming week:

On Tuesday, November 18, the young leaders of Public Allies Hartford will need your help.

Last month, the group of 9 AmeriCorps social change makers initiated a 10-month long Team Service Project aimed at strengthening Hartford’s non-profits, which an October 2008 United Way survey says are already suffering from the global economic crisis.

As a way for the Allies to better understand what initiatives the city needs to help the nonprofit sector, the team is holding an open Community Conversation from 6-8 p.m. in the Christ Church Cathedral House Auditorium at 45 Church Street, Hartford. Free parking will be available in the lot on the corner of Market and Columbus Blvd and free food and a free gift will also be provided. Continue reading “Community Conversation on Hartford Non-Profits”

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