Dr. Ronald Taylor
Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez
Do you want substance or style?
That is the question when it comes to Hartford’s finalists for superintendent.
On one hand, you have a candidate who saunters into the audience, does call and response, and cracks jokes. He compliments the nature of each question, goes on tangents, and often never responds to what was asked. Afterwards, an audience member will describe him as “Steve Perry-esque,” not exactly a compliment.
On the other, you have a candidate whose job interview jitters seep through on occasion, but who seems genuine and approachable. Sometimes she uses the language of the administration rather than that which might be more accessible for all parents, but she described herself first and foremost as a parent whose child has special needs. Continue reading 'Superintendent Search: Substance or Style?'»
The “Choice Watch: Diversity and Access in Connecticut’s School Choice Programs” report released last week suggests ways that “open choice” schools in Connecticut should work to reduce segregation across racial, linguistic, and ability lines. The report finds that most school choice programs are actually integrated as far as socioeconomic status is concerned, with integration defined quite broadly: enrollment between 25-75% minority students. Continue reading 'How to Make Schools More Integrated'»
“It’s really no choice at all,” says Robert Cotto, who plans to vote against the “Resolution Requesting Commissioner’s Exercise of Statutory Authority Relative to John C. Clark Turnaround Committee,” an item on the Hartford Board of Education’s special meeting agenda for April 8, 2014.
The false choice, Cotto is referring to, is that which was presented to the Clark Turnaround Committee: parents and teachers requested to see more than only the Friendship School after which they might model Clark as it undergoes its re-branding; this did not happen.
In March, Morgan Barth of the Connecticut State Department of Education vehemently denied that it had issued an ultimatum to the committee, but if consensus was not reached on the vote for a school model, the CSDE would be stepping in to assert its authority over teachers, parents, and other community members. Barth and other CSDE representatives have said at various times that they favored the Friendship Model. As voting members, they have been able to block consensus all along.
On March 27, there was one vote against the Friendship School as the lead partner with the Clark School. Although the Hartford Public School’s resolution states “there is significant support within the Clark community expressed by parents and other stakeholders to partner with Friendship,” some of the “yes” votes have been attributed to the absence of choices given to the Clark Turnaround Committee. Continue reading 'BOE to Vote on Edu-colonialism at Clark School'»
University of Hartford’s Wilde Auditorium was filled for Tuesday’s third annual Corine E. Norgaard Women in Leadership Lecture Series, and the audience was not just students required to attend for their business classes.
Amy Quigley, a marketing executive from the Boston area, spoke about building a personal brand and making connections, explaining that one’s expectations, memories, stories, and relationships with a brand drives the decision to support it.
Brands are not static, she said. One memorable example she gave was of Angelina Jolie, who used to be known as “kooky,” but who has essentially relaunched herself as a “humanitarian” in recent years. Continue reading 'Interest in Branding Alive and Well'»
Photo courtesy of Tufts University
Dr. Joanne Berger-Sweeney, currently serving as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts College and previously as Associate Dean at Wellesley College, has been announced as the next president for Trinity College. Her scholarly work is in neurobiology.
If we are to judge Berger-Sweeney by her past achievements in helping other colleges enter a new era in terms of diversity, Trinity College’s future with her looks promising.
Jimmy Jones, who has served as Trinity’s president since 2004, will be stepping down at the end of June.
In recent months, the entire Weaver High School community has been mobilized by the Hartford Board of Education’s poor communication about the school’s temporary move to the Lincoln Institute and the plan to eventually rehabilitate and rebuild the north end school. Tuesday night’s Board meeting once again found students, teachers, and Weaver families demanding action and answers from the Board. There were few to be found, but much talk of “due diligence.” The uncertainty and anxiety among the Weaver community was palpable, as too was the growing mistrust of the Board and its hollow words. Speakers, including Principal Tim Goodwin, admonished Mayor Segarra, who was not in attendance, for suggesting that Weaver’s low enrollment could affect the school’s reconstruction. Goodwin demanded that enrollment issues be taken off the table and not be a part of the discussion. He cited the school’s continued improvement according to multiple metrics, including decreased disciplinary referrals. Through the years, Weaver High has been especially hampered by the breaking up of Hartford’s traditional high schools and the “school choice” reform scheme. Lastly, it was clear Tuesday night that Michele Rhee’s privatization front group StudentsFirst had attempted to glom onto Weaver’s struggle, going so far as to blindly hand out as many of their unrelated t-shirts as possible to students.
Since the Board’s failed attempt to hand the Clark School to the Achievement 1st charter school corporation two months ago, Clark was entered in to the Commissioner’s Network of schools in need of “turnaround.” A “turnaround committee” of parents, teachers, and the State Department of Education has been meeting to develop a plan for Clark. Parallel to this, HART was contracted by the Board to garner support among the community for another charter takeover of the school. This time a charter school corporation called Friendship Charter School of Maryland has been identified as the favorite by the Commissioner of Education. As has been reported in Real Hartford, the Clark community is unwilling to be bullied, bought off, or threatened into this deal. During Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Kishimoto blamed outside interests for the problems with the committee. In her report on Clark, she warned of parents being “lobbied heavily by organizations placing pressures on parents on matters beyond the immediate and urgent needs of Clark School students.” She chided these mysterious groups and mentioned that parents were complaining to her personally about the “pressure.” Continue reading 'Hartford Promises'»
Photo is courtesy of Andy Hart
The Clark Turnaround Committee was informed Tuesday that more site visits would be possible, and that the Friendship School model (use of the word “model” has been debated) is not the one that must be picked. As of Friday, parents, teachers, and community members were fighting for the ability to do just that, as a press conference was held to shine light on the need for more time, better communication with the State Department of Education and Hartford Board of Education staffers, and self-determination.
Tentative meeting dates, including those for school site visits, were discussed at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon at the Clark School. According to the agenda, school site visits in New Haven and New York City are possibilities at the end of March and early April.
After SDE representative Andrew Ferguson reprimanded the parents, teachers, and community members on the committee, saying “there has to be urgency from everyone at this table,” teacher Kimberly Daly responded, “to be honest [...] we were not given the models to look at.” Daly, referring to her notes, said that at the February 19th meeting, she asked that an appointment be made for the Turnaround Committee to visit an Expeditionary Learning model school — Hartford schools Moylan and McDonough already use this model, and the Sánchez school will be fully using it in 2014-2015 — yet, she said, no appointment has been scheduled. Continue reading 'Clark Told “Friendship is on Hold”, Okay to See Others'»
The Hartford Board of Education was not suggesting a leadership change or closure, said outgoing Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto at a BOE meeting in January. At the time, she reassured everyone that the schools accepted into the Commissioner’s Network would not experience the rushed overhaul that was witnessed at the Milner School a few years back. Parents and the community were told that they would be able to examine a number of school models that could be replicated; those schools could include ones within the district. Kishimoto herself cited Betances as an example of a school with a model that could be followed elsewhere.
Now, the Clark School community says that the Connecticut State Board of Education has served them up with an ultimatum.
At the end of February, the turnaround committee for the Clark School, which includes parents, teachers, and administrators, flew to Washington D.C. to look at the Friendship School model. Hartford Rising!, a group that evolved out of Clark Rising, claims that State Department of Education representative Andrew Ferguson and Hartford Board of Education representative Oliver Barton have told parents that the turnaround committee would not be investigating any other models. Shonta Browdy of Hartford Rising! says parents had been told “either they would approve the Friendship model or all educational funding would be denied.” Continue reading 'Clark School Community Resists Ultimatum'»
What’s the debate? That was the continual refrain at this week’s Hartford Board of Education meeting. The packed house at the Journalism and Media Magnet school had turned out for the vote to renew the district’s $650,000 contract with Teach for America (TFA). Teach for America has been operating with the Hartford Public Schools since the 2007-2008 school year.
TFA, which took in over $319 million in revenue last year, mobilized nearly its entire first- and second-year teaching staff for the meeting. Connecticut TFA, alongside the Office of Talent Management, gushed over the organization’s superior support network during the two year stint required of TFA members. In fact, in the first two years of a Hartford teacher’s career, TFA was on track to match or even beat “traditional” teachers remaining after two years in the district. What happened to TFA teachers after those initial two years was not discussed. With good reason, it turns out.
Currently, there are 3 remaining teachers from that original cohort of 22 TFA hires from 2007-2008. There are now 3 TFA teachers remaining from the 2008-2009 school year; that school year there were 39 TFA teachers hired by Hartford Public Schools. For the 2009-2010 school year, Hartford Public Schools hired 31 TFA teachers, and now there are 4 remaining from that cohort. Then in the 2010-2011 school year, 23 more TFA teachers were hired; there are 4 remaining. Continue reading 'Let the Debate Begin, There is No Debate'»