Photo by Josh Blanchfield
In the days leading up to last night’s Hartford Board of Education meeting, Chair Matt Poland lamented on social media that there was “too much noise” in the debates over public education, especially in Hartford where “pundits, unions, and those comfortable with a broken system” choked out parents and students. It was clear last night that parents and students were more than willing to oblige Poland with the “noise.”
An over-capacity crowd packed in to the Sarah J. Rawson auditorium for the public comment portion of the Board meeting. The main event was Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s proposal to hand SAND Elementary School over to the newly formed private management company Capital Preparatory Schools Inc. SAND would become the first property of administrator Steve Perry’s plan to replicate the model used in his Capital Preparatory magnet school.
Just days after the John C. Clark School had been targeted for an Achievement First charter school take over, SAND was now targeted for private takeover. The evening began with a surreal speech by Poland. The speech, wavering between combative and sentimental, was wholly narcissistic. The narrative? Everyone is out to get me and I’m the real champion of public education…and you are all lying liars. As Poland eagerly put on his mantle of the victim, scores of neighborhood activists passed out stickers against the SAND proposal and attacks on public schools. Continue reading 'Bring the Noise'»
Late last night the Board of Education voted 5-3 against the proposal to replicate the Capital Prep model at SAND.
This is the second time in as many weeks that the BOE has been pressured by parents and the community to not hand a public school over to private or charter management. On Friday, the Clark School successfully fought becoming an Achievement First model.
Real Hartford will have more details about Tuesday’s decision later.
After numerous parents, teachers, and community speakers have voiced dissent, Mayor Segarra has come forward with the promise of not supporting the proposal to give the Clark School (public) over to Achievement First (charter).
In a statement issued late this morning, Segarra acknowledged that there are other ways to improve Clark School without resorting to drastic measures. He says:
At the last Board of Education meeting on October 29, I indicated clearly that any decision regarding a redesign of Clark Elementary would be predicated upon parental involvement and support. I’ve listened to the concerns and given parents’ profound opposition I will not support the conversion of Clark Elementary to an Achievement First Charter School. I am committed to identifying an alternate solution that meets our objective of accelerating student learning and closing Hartford’s achievement gap. I encourage all those invested in this issue to stay involved. We have an obligation to prepare students for the future and to do that requires collaboration from all stakeholders including parents, educators, residents and businesses. We should continue to focus on our common goal of improving Hartford schools so that every student has access to the education they deserve.
While this is something that the Board of Education can still weigh in on, it’s understood that with five of the nine BOE members appointed by the mayor, it’s unlikely that a vote would go in any other direction.
Between the low voter turnout and the small number of ballot items — three ballot questions and four Board of Education spots to fill — one would expect that Hartford’s results would have been among the first returned to the Connecticut Secretary of the State.
Hartford 2013 Election Results (Official)
Following the election, the voting process in Hartford has received sharp criticism from the Courant on more than one occasion. Last week we reported how one resident needed to make multiple stops in different parts of town in order to vote. We continue to hear more from voters who had less than ideal experiences on Election Day.
Voters had reported that the several pages of text required to understand the ballot questions had been missing on Tuesday morning. Some places received these documents hours after the polls had been open. One resident who knew of this issue did not get to vote until early evening, around 5pm. Frank Gordón-Quiroga, whose polling place is at the Hartford Public Library, said the explanatory materials were present, but on the corner of a table. Continue reading 'Snarled Process Offers Results Days Later'»
Photo by Christopher Brown
“You have used the most powerful word in the English language,” Steve Harris, member of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee said, “and that word is ‘no.’”
“No” is what the parents, families, teachers, staff, and community have been saying to the proposal that the public John C. Clark School be phased out and replaced by Achievement First, a charter school.
Photo by Christopher Brown
After this proposal was sprung on the Clark School last month, parents have stood up to say they are not interested in having their children’s school closed.
Before the Board of Education workshop on Wednesday night, nineteen people lined up to speak against this proposal in the cafeteria of the former Milner School on Vine Street in the city’s North East neighborhood, blocks away from the school in jeopardy.
Imam Muhammad Ansari, the President of the Greater Hartford Chapter of the NAACP, said “this issue is a civil rights issue when the parents’ rights are being taken away.” Continue reading '“N” is for No: Community Speaks Against Closure of Clark School'»
In the lead up to most elections in Hartford, various entities — libraries, churches, etc. – provide opportunities for citizens to learn more about the candidates and the issues. This year was marked by an initial absence of forums based on the assumption that four candidates running for four spaces means that there is no contest, and possibly, no reason to learn about the candidates. Real Hartford has gotten reports of voters being told they had to vote for four Board of Education candidates when the truth is that a person could vote for anywhere from zero to four candidates.
When it came time to understanding the ballot questions, even less effort went into translating the legalese into standard American English. The one public forum we heard of which was designed to explain these complicated questions was poorly promoted; the event was not listed on the venue’s website. We received reports yesterday that a person working at City Hall was allegedly part of the problem of misinformation. Few knew that ‘yes’ votes on two of the ballot questions would change nothing unless the State changed policy or essentially granted permission for the city to move forward on those items.
So, with the relative absence of information combined with voters who admitted to not doing their homework, there’s no surprise that voter turnout was astoundingly low, or that there was no consensus across districts on the ballot questions, according to the unofficial election results:
Unofficial Election Results in Hartford 2013
The unofficial numbers show some districts being on the fence. Continue reading 'Unofficial Election Results Show No Surprises'»
Would we even recognize Election Day in Hartford if it weren’t for the near-ritual of shenanigans?
As of mid-afternoon, CT News Junkie reported a low, even by our standards, voter turnout of 2.2% in the city. This number may deceive one into believing that each voter’s experience would be positive, as there’d be no rushing folks away from the voting tables and out the door. Continue reading 'How Many Trips Does It Take to Vote in Hartford?'»
From all accounts, nobody from the Clark School community is asking for this.
It’s not that the parents, children, and teachers are delusional. They know the school could be improved. They have even articulated the needs via a list created by its School Governance Council last spring:
- Additional SPO
- Two additional certified teachers Continue reading 'Clark School: Not Waiting for Superman'»
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto — whose employment in this capacity with the Hartford Public Schools is over at the end of this school year and who has had her request to no longer be evaluated by the Board of Education granted — has angered a number of parents at the Clark School in the city’s North East neighborhood with the proposal that this preK-8 school be phased out and replaced by an Achievement First charter school. Continue reading 'Achievement First Proposed for South Side Now Eyeing a North End Neighborhood School'»