Much of the school superintendent’s transition report is predictable, as its framework had been provided to the public in June. Since coming to Hartford, the new superintendent gathered input from meetings, focus groups involving 700 participants, and surveys completed by 1000 community stakeholders.
What is surprising about the report is not the content in itself but that what has been common knowledge — problems that have persisted for years — is acknowledged in writing by the new superintendent:
- “Portfolio Strategy” used for most of the last decade has serious flaws, including that “schools were created with agreed-upon design specifications, but in several instances, core specifications have not been realized. Sometimes this appears to be due to limited resources, and on other occasions, this seems to be the result of ambiguity around what a redesigned school can expect from the district” (11).
- Schools deemed to be high-performing are said to contribute to inconsistencies in curriculum: “Curriculum across schools lacks consistency and significantly more curriculum work is needed at all levels. Decision-making autonomy for high-performing schools has also led to more curriculum inconsistencies across schools” (8). Continue reading 'Superintendent’s Transition Report Released'»
Robert Cotto, Jr.
What does it mean when changes to educational policy that begin in urban districts go on to shape the policy for schools statewide?
That was a question asked by Robert Cotto, Jr. in his talk: “Connecticut Catches a Case of the G.E.R.M.” at Trinity College as part of the Center for Urban and Global Studies’ Global Vantage Point Lecture Series.
The G.E.R.M. referred to is the global education reform movement, which he said “pushes a prescribed curriculum” and includes “test-based accountability and control.”
“We think the suburbs is where where the action” is in terms of changes to education policy, Cotto said, but cities are where the theories get tested.
In 2012, Gov. Malloy declared that it was the “Year of Education Reform” and unveiled six principles. Of those, three were already being practiced in Hartford and New Haven; New Haven was already using test-based teacher evaluations, and both cities had limited expansion of preschool programs and limited use of conditional funding.
The Hartford and New Haven models “appeared” to be successful, but Cotto chalked that up to what he calls “addition through subtraction,” or test scores getting an artificial boost when students with disabilities no longer had to take the same standardized test. Continue reading 'G.E.R.M. in Connecticut Education'»
Instructions: Skim list. Jot down items of interest on own personal calendar. Enjoy.
- Dave Costa will perform at noon on the terrace of the Downtown Hartford Public Library. Free.
- The Wadsworth Atheneum continues its Movies & Music Under the Stars series with Bombshell, starring Jean Harlow. Music by Criollo Clasico begins at 5:30pm in Gengras Court. Dinner available for purchase. The film begins at 8:15 (dark). Members receive free admission and one free drink. Regular admission prices apply for non-members.
- BECK & CALL: The Servants Tour of the Mark Twain House, directed by Steven Raider-Ginsburg, starts at 7 tonight. Tickets are $22 for adults, $15 for youth. Reservations are required.
- HartBeat Ensemble’s Youth Play Institute presents Change In Your Pocket, a play about food justice. The Youth Play Institute is a project that helps young people to brainstorm topics, develop a play, create the set, act it out, and more. Each play is on a different topic, with past ones exploring issues like violence and harsh punishments in schools. You can catch this three times– today at 7:30pm, on August 2nd at 7:30pm, and August 3rd at 2pm. Tickets are $5. Performances will be in the Carriage House Theater at 360 Farmington Avenue. Park for free in the Mark Twain Museum visitor lot (right across the street from the theater) or on street in legal spots.
- There will be a free screening of Karate Kid in Goodwin Park at sundown. Bring a blanket or chairs and snacks.
- Stop into MakeHartford, MakerSpace to make a blinking light bracelet out of LEDs and duct tape. This is an all-ages workshop. $12. This space is located at 30 Arbor Street. 10-11am. Bring your own safety glasses.
- The Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival returns to the Riverfront from 1-10pm. Live music, children’s activities, food, and more. Raindate: August 3.
- The backlash against the monster SUVs, McMansions, and other forms of conspicuous consumption is firmly here. Tiny: A Story About Living Small screens at Real Art Ways at 2pm. This documentary examines the movement to live in houses smaller than the average parking space. $10 general, $5 members. They say they are only showing this film once, so today is the day.
- Watch the film Powered by Dreams, a documentary about the founder of the Dream Support Network and his steps to recovery after a near-death experience with kidney disease. This is hosted by The 224 (224 Farmington Avenue) at 3pm. Suggested donation $5.
- Reception for artist Victor Pacheco at Real Art Ways, 6-8pm.
- The Dirt Salon (50 Bartholomew) presents Deep Blue Rendezvous, a summer party and art show. Expect rooms decorated to match the theme, along with underwater trash art, video projects, and DJs. It’s suggested that attendees dress for the theme: pirates, mermaids, jellyfish, etc. This is an 18+ event. Advance tickets are $10; at door, $15. 9pm-1am. Continue reading 'August 2014 Events'»
Do you need programmed events? Put on some sneakers and walk around. This photo was taken on a path along the Park River, accessible from where Lorraine Street turns. Park River trails are also accessible from Mark Twain Drive (near Plainfield Street) and Brookfield Street (near Flatbush Avenue).
Here’s some of what is happening in Hartford:
- Love Wins on Oakland Terrace: free family festival from 5-7pm at Glory Chapel, 221 Greenfield Street.
- Drop into Real Art Ways for Real Board (Games). Play the games they provide or bring your own. 6-10pm. Free.
- Fed Up, a documentary about the food industry, screens at Cinestudio at 7:30pm. General admission is $9.
- The Kid, a Charlie Chaplin film, will be screened in the Hartford Public Library at 1:30 and 5:30pm today. Free.
- Love Wins on Barbour Street: free family festival from 5-7pm featuring haircuts, pony rides, face painting, music, and more. This will be hosted by The Hartford Project and the Citadel of Love, 167 Barbour.
- Every Wednesday — as long as it isn’t raining — there will be free yoga in Elizabeth Park at 5:30pm. Bring your own mat or towel. Yoga is in the picnic area across from the Pond House.
- Hartford 2000 is hosting what it calls an “informational meeting” about the proposed Rock Cats stadium. This will be held at the Hartford Public Library at 6pm. Mayor Segarra and other City officials are expected to be presented to answer questions and listen to public opinion. As of publication, only Segarra has been named as a speaker. Continue reading 'July 2014 Events'»
Tuesday night’s Hartford Board of Education meeting was well attended for two main reasons: the recognition of the late, great “Doc” Hurley and the appointment of seven new principals. The audience was filled friends, coworkers, and well-wishers. But once these agenda items passed, the crowd headed for the doors. But many were able to see the final, conflicted actions of a lame-duck, and now rudderless, administration.
The most agonizing of these was the discussion and debate of one of the hallmarks of the Kishimoto administration: the Teachscape teacher evaluation system. The program was on the agenda since the yearly contract was up for renewal. The annual fee for the evaluation system is $206,800. In discussing the evaluation system, the district pointed to the ease of managing well over 1,800 staff members and the wonders of a paperless system. They also pointed to the staff surveys, which found nearly 70% of the respondents happy with the evaluation system. But as board members Dr. Shelley Best and Robert Cotto pointed out, the district’s data revealed that well over 1,300 staff members were dissatisfied with the Teachscape evaluation system or did not even participate in the surveys.
Best and Cotto both pushed the district to explain the benefits of the system that went beyond the ease of electronically managing over 1,800 teachers and staff members. Best pointed out that at no point in the presentation did the district highlight how teachers were benefiting and growing from Teachscape, which is supposed to be the goal of any teacher evaluation system. She also preferred the $200,000 to be spent directly on the teachers in the form of professional development. Board member Mike Brescia also wanted to know why only teachers supportive of Teachscape were mentioned, especially since more than 50% of the entire teaching staff did not participate in the survey. Continue reading 'Twilight of the Kishimoto Administration (sans Kishimoto)'»
Clark School community resisting the plan to give Achievement First, a charter school network, decision-making power over the public school. / November 2013
Remember when the Hartford Public Schools ran ads to promote its school choice program and steer city students away from magnet schools? Now, Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) — which manages a number of magnet schools in the areas — will serve as the lead partner for the Clark School. The Clark Turnaround Committee reached this decision, unanimously, today.
No part of this process went smoothly, beginning last autumn. After parents protested the attempt to give Clark over to Achievement First, a charter network, Mayor Segarra stepped in to support the resistance.
During this months-long turnaround process, members of the Turnaround Committee claimed that an ultimatum was served up: vote for the Friendship School — a D.C.-area charter school system — or else Commissioner Pryor would step in and take over. There were denials that such an ultimatum had been issued, but multiple sources involved in the process claimed to have been told this or witness to it. The reality was that consensus was required; if no consensus was reached, then Commissioner Pryor would have been able to step in.
Parents and community members sit through a Board of Education vote that never needed to happen / April 2014
Then, there was the dog and pony show at the beginning of April in which the Board of Education voted in favor of…does anybody actually know what that was about? Even parents and community members who were brought out to rally beforehand were in disagreement over what their demands were, despite wearing shirts suggesting unity. One community member, wearing a t-shirt in solidarity, did not understand the issue, and wanted to see the public schools Continue reading 'CREC Voted Lead Partner for Clark School'»
Once the contract negotiation process is completed, Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez will be “reintroduced” to the public, according to a message from the Mayor’s Office. This is expected to happen in early July.
To learn about the Board of Education’s selection, see Real Hartford‘s coverage of last week’s candidate forum.
“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'»