Failing Students Through Social Promotion, Poor Planning, and Skewed Testing Policies

The post about grade inflation (2/12/11) in the Hartford Public Schools created some discussion about whether or not such a practice was detrimental to the students. Some readers found that the practice could serve as a safety net, while others found it to simply present a false sense of hope.

There has yet to be any discussion of this issue among members of the Board of Education. I hear that if such discussion occurs, it will be in March. I still have not heard a peep from Superintendent Adamowski, David Medina (spokesperson for school system), or the principal at one of the schools practicing the questionable grade policy. To make this more interesting, while Medina is not responding to citizen inquiries about ethical practices, he has had the time to do some cheerleading for two superintendent candidates.

Troubles in the system. Troubles in the classrooms.

I have since been contacted by other teachers within the school system who are finding social promotion to be an even bigger concern. One has stated that his/her eleventh grade students are unable to read or write beyond a third grade level. Ideally, students in the eleventh and twelfth grades would be getting prepared for college-level work, but because of this inability to perform at grade level, such idealism does not play out. Students are apparently able to graduate from city high schools without being able to write a basic persuasive five-paragraph essay. Continue reading “Failing Students Through Social Promotion, Poor Planning, and Skewed Testing Policies”

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Place this Place: February 28th

I will be unspeakably disappointed if Connecticut Museum Quest‘s Steve does not guess this first. I suppose you can go look on his website for clues as to what this is, but given the volumes of material there, it may take you days.

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Wisconsin Solidarity at State Capitol

On Saturday, Hartford joined other cities across the nation as it hosted a Rally to Save the American Dream– a show of support for public employees in Wisconsin, 12,000 of whom are expected to receive layoffs as part of the Wisconsin governor’s plan to blackmail his state’s public workers into surrendering their bargaining rights. People gathered in major cities, including Juneau, Honolulu, Austin, Atlanta, Boise, Charleston, Chicago, Madison, Philadelphia, and New York. Organizers say that 30,000 people representing 66 cities, including every state capital, were planning to rally yesterday.

Continue reading “Wisconsin Solidarity at State Capitol”

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The Hollander has a Heartbeat

This ain’t Hartford Stage. Not the Bushnell either.

Hartford’s latest performance space is in The Hollander, located at 410 Asylum Street. This building has ground floor commercial space; above is a mix of market-rate and affordable apartment units. While most of the apartments are occupied, the same can not be said for the commercial space. From Asylum Street and High Street, pedestrians can view what is an all too familiar sight downtown– vacant storefronts.

Now, HartBeat Ensemble is using one of the spaces for the next few months, bringing some life to the spot.

This Thursday, March 3rd, HartBeat Ensemble will be hosting Improv Idol — a competition between several improv groups, including one from Yale. From April 28-May 21st, this same space will be used for Flipside, HartBeat Ensemble’s spoken word play about the war on drugs.

Yesterday afternoon, HartBeat allowed the Center Without Walls to use the performance space for MASQUE. The MASQUE Theatre Company is comprised of Larry Hunt and Adelka Polak, who perform (mostly) non-verbally with masks that they create. Saturday’s free show evoked amused shrieks from the children who made up about half of the audience. The vignettes included grotesque masks, some audience participation, and a visit from lemurs. Later in the show Adelka performed barefoot on the concrete floor; even though they turned the heat on before the performance, most people kept their coats on inside.

Reusing old factories and buildings for art spaces is not a new concept, but all others I’ve seen have been more finished. Artistic-looking ducts and pipes might be left exposed, but the wiring tends to be covered and walls are sheetrocked. Instead of waiting around for all of that to happen with this space, HartBeat has been using it, mostly as they found it, making some improvements for safety. Without any fancy signage or decor, people managed to find the spot and enjoy themselves. There’s a thought: people do not require upscale amenities to be drawn downtown.

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Transparent Political Education

That smell? That’s the lingering aftermath of yesterday’s fecal explosion over who the next Top Model Superintendent will be. In recent weeks there have been rumors about who would be appointed to this position, but instead of being straight with the people, we have been teased with coy statements.

Jeff Cohen of WNPR has been tracking the complete breakdown in communication, which points at how instead of addressing each other directly, the school system and the Mayor are going at it via the media. Instead of just answering Segarra’s inquiries about school bonuses, for example, school spokesperson David Medina sent Adamowski’s response in the form of a press release. Continue reading “Transparent Political Education”

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Happy Single-Tasking Day

You all know someone who is like this. He can not bear to shut off his cell phone. Any conversation with him is interrupted by phone calls and text messages. You never have his undivided attention for more than fifteen seconds. Maybe you are him. If you are, you might have noticed how little you manage to accomplish, despite having every piece of technology ready at your fingertips. Or, you get a lot done, but what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in an abundance of errors.

Today is Single-Tasking Day. The Dull Men’s Club notes:

In the 60’s when productivity began to skyrocket, experts predicted that by the year 2010, we would be working 30 hour work-weeks and enjoying more leisure time.  But we have taken out our extra productivity in a higher standard of living and more ‘stuff’ rather than in a more relaxed life.  As a result our society is reporting whole new illnesses:

  1. Toxic Success Syndrome
  2. Adult Attention Deficit Disorder
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

[…] While most remedies involved medicating and managing symptoms, few suggest changing the lifestyle that creates these problems.  Why don’t they just suggest doing less and going slower?

That is the challenge for today. Do one thing at a time. Slow down, pay attention to what you are doing, and relax.

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Casa Linda: February 22, 2011

This secluded area of the West End is surprising. It’s mostly hidden, despite being in the space between Asylum Avenue and Homestead Avenue. All of the homes on this street appear to drip with wealth. At the same time, a look at the assessor’s website indicates a wide range of home prices. Some were purchased in the low $100,000 range not all that long ago. There are several homes that cost around half a million dollars. One house was purchased a few years ago for over one million dollars. The home in the photo was modestly priced for its size and location.

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Putnam Heights Revisited

Due to an overwhelming influx of topix-style comments, which regular readers know are not the norm here, I felt pressured to simply pull the original post about the fire on Putnam Heights. This blog is commercial-free and provides me with no payment for my time and energy. I found that the time required to moderate Thursday’s onslaught of nonsense and offensive comments — not dissent, mind you, but off-topic and irresponsible gibberish — was cutting into the time I spend on my professional work. I have since received some technical help that will allow me to deal with comments more easily — regular readers/commenters will have comments automatically approved, and new ones can wait in a queue until I have time to address them — and without delaying the discussion that most regular readers want to have. I will say that I regret deleting that post, but given the circumstances, it was the best thing for me to do at the time, as I am dedicated to my professional career and to not allowing my blog to be a hang out for LCD comments.

Some of those comments were likely the result of people reacting to something they “heard” was on my blog, but I contend that my meaning was misrepresented; those who read this and who know me know that if nothing else, I do not mince words. The removal of that post was intended as a temporary measure, so as I considered how to rewrite it and include updates (several readers were disappointed, as was I, that the post was removed) I was reminded of why I began blogging here in the first place. Far too often, I have felt that how events are presented in the mainstream news media are not wholly reflective of what ensued. I have been unsatisfied with the usual lack of depth that important issues receive, while more frivolous ones — like analyzing Lady Gaga’s choice of transportation to an award show that does not directly effect the vast majority of readers — is given the analysis we should be applying elsewhere. Beyond this shallow and sometimes inaccurate treatment of news stories, I find that the corporate news media relies too heavily on what so-called officials have to say.

This is where my observations about the fire on Putnam Heights come in. Continue reading “Putnam Heights Revisited”

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The Market at Hartford 21

This time, it looks like it’s really going to happen.

On Friday, 300 people attended a job fair at The Market at Hartford 21, and the search for full- and part-time employees continues today. There are 75 positions open at this much-anticipated (by some) food store in Downtown.

Unlike other attempts to get something started in the space, this one appears to be about to become reality. Shelving and fixtures were visible from the street and graphics had been applied to the windows.

When Al’s Market and Deli opened at 241 Asylum Street last summer, many residents expressed excitement about the prospect of being able to get food every day of the week and late into the evening. With the opening of The Market at Hartford 21 only — according to Google Maps — an eleven second walk away from this existing market, one wonders what will become of Al’s once the upscale grocery opens.

The new market is slated to open around the Ides of March.

UPDATE: (17 March 2011) Review of newly-opened Market at Hartford 21

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