On the eve of mayoral candidates’ first debate on education, Gary Holder-Winfield slammed Principal Kermit Carolina over survey results revealing discontent at Hillhouse High School.
Holder-Winfield made the remarks in advance of an education-themed debate among the seven candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor in a Sept. 10 primary. The debate is set to take place at 6:30 p.m. at Varick Memorial Zion Church at 242 Dixwell Ave.
All seven candidates, including Holder-Winfield and Carolina, are set to attend.
Holder-Winfield’s campaign highlighted school survey data from the spring of 2013 that the school district released internally to staff last week, but has not been officially released to the public. It cited the following results (which the Independent confirmed) about Hillhouse High, the school Carolina has run for three years:
In the latest school survey, only 12 percent of teachers said they would recommend Hillhouse to their friends, compared to 66 percent across all high schools. And only 10 percent of teachers said that discipline and order are consistently maintained at the school, compared to 72 percent citywide.
Only 38 percent of Hillhouse teachers said they “trust the principal.”
Ratings from teachers and students fell on most questions, including “I am treated fairly in my school” (60 percent of students agreed, a 5 percent drop) to “Administrators encourage collaboration among teachers” (52 percent of teachers agreed; a 6 percent drop).
Fifty teachers, or 60 percent of the teaching staff, filled out the surveys. That’s a drop in participation from the prior year, when 76 teachers took the survey.
“We need to ask ourselves why was the participation in the poll so low considering how important it is for us to get the right data, did teachers feel intimidated by the climate at Hillhouse?” Holder-Winfield’s campaign stated.
Reached Thursday, Carolina said, “I’m disappointed that Gary chose to attack me and my school on this very important and sacred night when we are celebrating the outstanding achievements of the Class of 2013.”
He said he was about to go into the graduation hall and did not have time to address Holder-Winfield’s specific remarks. “I’ll have an appropriate response to this attack on my school after this graduation ceremony,” he said.
In his release, Holder-Winfield touted his education-related work, from parent-driven school governance councils to early childhood reading standards.
“We need more innovative change with the best knowledge in the field, not more of the same,” Holder-Winfield said. Click here to read more of his thoughts on the subject.
In other mayoral campaign news:
Harp Releases Education Plan
State Sen. Toni Harp, who’s also running for mayor, on Thursday released the first part of a five-part education policy agenda.
Harp called for “holding schools accountable” in three ways:
• First, through an “annual public report card that details how well a school’s students perform and what it does with the money that it receives. Taxpayers deserve to see where their money is going and what they’re getting for their money, and this report card will allow them to compare the results from one school to other schools across our education system.”
• Second, Harp vowed to “ensure that our Board of Education scores all schools, including our specialized ones, on how effectively they are teaching our kids and utilizing the resources they receive from taxpayers. We’ve put a lot of effort as a state into instituting a common-core curriculum and set of standards for student achievement, and we need to hold our students, teachers, and administrators responsible for ensuring that our students meet those standards.”
The school system already does a version of “report cards” through its annual process of grading schools and dividing them into three “tiers.” Harp said her scoring system would “go beyond” the current tiering system.
• Third, Harp vowed to “see to it that we use our teacher evaluation system to prioritize sending the highest-performing teachers to our highest-need schools.”
Harp plans to further elaborate on her platform at a rally Friday before the debate.
Harp Names Campaign Co-Chairs
Also Thursday, Harp named four campaign co-chairs for her mayoral campaign:
• Vincent Mauro Jr., special council to the state Senate majority and vice-chair of the New Haven Democratic Town Committee.
• Karen DuBois-Walton, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of New Haven.
• New Haven Sen. Martin Looney, state Senate majority leader.
• Jorge Perez, president of the New Haven Board of Aldermen.
“I’m proud to have such a diverse and talented group of civic leaders chairing our campaign,” said Harp in a press release. “For years, they have been leaders in a variety of sectors – government, housing, public health, education, immigrant rights – and I’m thrilled that they are coming together to move New Haven forward as part of our team.”
The co-chairs’ responsibilities “will include policy development, and acting as surrogates for Toni in addition to other duties.”
Elicker Unveils Early Childhood Plan
As part of his plan to unveil 75 policy “solutions” in 75 days, Alderman Justin Elicker, who’s also running for mayor, unveiled detailed plans Thursday on his thoughts on early childhood education.
He called for pre-K programs to focus on “love and play” instead of letters and numbers. Research shows “the best outcomes follow from programs that allow children to develop complex, loving relationships in a low-stress environment, not from programs that emphasize concrete, academic skills,” he wrote on his campaign website.
He also called for expanding pre-K offerings and providing more scholarships to families who can’t afford private pre-K.
And he said he would create a new childcare training program for parents and other caregivers. The program would build off of the successful work of New Haven’s All Our Kin, which trains low-income moms to set up certified daycare programs in their homes.
Click here to read Elicker’s full remarks on the topic.