In Hartford, Officials to Promote Education Bill

As Governor Malloy’s approach to education reform receives criticism, some proponents of the bill rush to its defense, leaning on false dichotomy to alienate those who do want youth to experience more quality education, but do not believe that SB 24 is the way to best achieve this.

The result: the lobbyists’ message — promoted heavily through social media and slick email blasts — is the one readily taken as factual information by lazy and/or understaffed news outlets.

The Office of Legislative Research, in its analysis of the bill, pointed out many ambiguities and potential legal challenges. One such issue, they wrote, could arise from disenfranchising voters by replacing elected local board of education members with those of the State’s choosing.

This potential legal challenge became very real yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled that the state’s takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education was in violation of the law.

Despite the clear legal challenge to the section of the bill which would reduce local control of public schools, Malloy himself will be embarking on a statewide promotional tour for his bill, beginning with a stop in Hartford on March 1, 2012. His one-hour engagement at the Village South: Center for Community Life (331 Wethersfield Avenue) will begin at 7pm. Continue reading “In Hartford, Officials to Promote Education Bill”

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Front Street: Progress, or Just Frontin’?

A peek inside the space destined for use as a cinema shows slow progress.

The floor is still gravel. Sheetrock has been installed, yet the space appears far from life as an entertainment venue.

Chain-link fencing around part of the building, along with a portable toilet, indicates some work is happening somewhere on site. The cinema is now slated to open this summer; its opening has been delayed several times.

In mid-February the Hartford Business Journal reported that the HB Nitkin Group, which is the developer of Front Street is seeking to build apartments on a surface lot between Prospect Street and Columbus Boulevard. Last week, an asbestos and lead abatement company was spotted on Front Street, presumably to check out a mold issue. Continue reading “Front Street: Progress, or Just Frontin’?”

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Deciphering the Education Reform Debate: Part Two

Earlier in the week, Real Hartford posted key pieces of testimony from teachers, parents, policy wonks, and concerned residents who had spoken out on Governor’s Bill No. 24 (SB24).

Yesterday, Governor Malloy spoke on Where We Live, primarily about this controversial “Act Concerning Educational Competitiveness.” When pressed for examples of successful models or for how he would define a good teacher, he flailed, unable to provide much response to either. He did, however, repeatedly tell people to read the 163-page document.

Here are some highlights from the bill. Continue reading “Deciphering the Education Reform Debate: Part Two”

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Scenes from the Sidewalk: Installment 40

Sidewalk mattress clutter — been there, done that.

Last night was “trash night,” which is often the beginning of larger objects’ indefinite stays at the curb. Months ago, a neighbor set out several of those glorified paper bags filled with leaves. For an unknown reason, one bag was never removed until weeks later. There was nothing sketchy about what was in the bag. It was placed at curb when the City announced leaf recycling time.

Items that are not being disposed of properly have a worse outlook.

The normal curb life of bulky items is an ugly one. They tend to be slowly disassembled. They might get pushed or kicked into the gutter. Migration is not out of the realm of possibility.

I have seen cabinets set out in salvageable condition get rendered completely useless. The drawers are pulled out. A loose handle will get separated. That handle will wind up in the gutter, two houses down. A week passes. That piece of hardware will turn up two blocks away. Continue reading “Scenes from the Sidewalk: Installment 40”

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Deciphering the Education Reform Debate

It’s been reported that when the USA PATRIOT Act was originally introduced, nobody in the U.S. Senate read the bill before signing it.

Right now in Connecticut, Governor Malloy’s unwieldy 163-page Act Concerning Educational Competitiveness (SB24), is getting a lot of attention, yet there are some who would be content having the bill pushed through with little understanding of the terminology or the issues.

In what has been turned into a war against teachers, truthiness is replacing actual truth. Tenure, for instance, is being presented as a way of keeping ineffective or “bad” teachers employed until their frail, limp bodies have to be carted away. Tenure actually guarantees due process, granting teachers the right to not be fired for arbitrary reasons.

For those outside of the classroom, it may be a surprise that teachers’ jobs are threatened for reasons outside of competency issues. In Hartford, in low performing schools where gains in adequate yearly progress are modest, some teachers have received the message that they could be let go, even though they are fairly new to the school where these achievement issues have had a long history. None will go on the record because they fear job loss. Tenure would alleviate some of those fears of speaking truth to power. Continue reading “Deciphering the Education Reform Debate”

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Kids Talk Back

Youth –whose voices are frequently undervalued by adults –are speaking out on bullying.

Two teens — Council Brandon and Peython Echelson-Russell — from Hartford and West Hartford recently hosted and produced an hour-long radio show about bullying. The show explores the Aggressors, Victims, Bystanders (AVB) program and looks at what happens when those who are bullied become bullies.

Ditch any preconceived notions you have about how a youth-produced show might sound. This is not amateurish stuff.

BULLIED: Teen Stories from Generation PRX, produced by WNPR Connecticut Public Radio, is presented by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Audio is available online.

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Braza on the Plaza Opens

After months of waiting, Braza on the Plaza has opened. They originally planned to open at their Constitution Plaza location in October.

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