Saturday, August 19, 2006

Cold Waters

In Friday's Courant, Rick Green expressed his outrage at the state of Connecticut's urban school performance.

He writes,
Among 50 third graders from Milner School in Hartford, a single boy reached the state goal for reading on mastery test scores released the other day.

More than half of all third graders in Hartford and New Haven lack basic reading skills. Not even this newspaper thinks this is worthy of a front page story anymore: Poor kids failing, folks. Nothing new here.

I don't hear politicians talking about this. I hear nothing. It's nauseating.

We have a school where one student out of 50 is on par. Four miles away - in a neighborhood near my home in West Hartford - it's five out of six third graders who reach mastery goals at Bugbee School.

If a child can't read by third grade, can anyone honestly ask why we need a special "gun court" to handle the teenagers who shoot each other?

It isn't the teachers. It isn't the wasted money. It isn't the teenage parents and the joblessness and everything else that comes with poverty.

It's that I can't find any outrage. News that we have a school where just one precious boy gets our seal of education approval slips by us like dirty water down the drain.

No child left behind? This is every child but one left behind.

When I called former Education Commissioner Theodore Sergi, who cares deeply about urban schools, he told me I'm oversimplifying things. I wonder what the last dozen years have been all about.

Nothing, if you look at Milner.

I was here when former Superintendent of Schools T. Josiha Haig grew so frustrated over the schools that he camped out in front of city hall. I was sucked in by a for-profit company that hoodwinked folks into thinking it could run city schools.

One night in 1996 I saw a parent so mad he poured a pitcher of ice water on a board of education member. Months later I sat in the state Capitol as legislators patted themselves on the back when they "took over" city schools.

I listened, and believed, when a superintendent of schools promised we will never be last again. I spent months in classrooms watching teachers pour themselves into the lives of their children.

Where are we now? Our education commissioner jumps to the superintendent's job in Greenwich, because it's "a microcosm" of Connecticut. Meanwhile, 800 Hartford third-graders read below basic skill levels.

When was the last time you heard Jodi Rell talk about this?

Well, I have news for Rick. I've been listening to this nonsense for more like forty years and the political theatrics change but the problem remains.

Tonight on C-Span American Perspectives I watched a panel of Black concerned citizens discuss the crisis of male black Americans drown in the system. Some of the comments included the assertion that all of America's systems are failing this community, that the churches have become ineffective and too engaged in politics, and that special education labeling is disproportionate to black males as young as pre-school.

All too true and a moral travesty.

If they're looking for new ideas that's what the School 2.0 posts are all about.

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