Amistad Students, Teachers Demand Change

Christopher Peak PhotoThe directors of Achievement First Amistad High School Wednesday night launched an investigation into whether administrators mishandled the discipline of a student-shoving principal, as nearly 100 people crashed a meeting to make clear that issues in the charter network run far deeper than just one out-of-line employee.

That all happened at what is usually an uncontroversial event: a meeting of a “joint committee” that oversees the Dixwell Avenue charter high school, which is operated by the New Haven-based organization Achievement First.

Amistad has been immersed in soul-searching after the Independent last week published a video of its principal shoving a student and another video by a recent staff member complaining of endemic racism. Amid that news, the principal stepped down last week.

Amistad’s joint high school committee, which includes board members from the three feeder schools of Amistad Academy, Elm City College Preparatory and Bridgeport Academy, originally planned to meet in the network’s Fair Haven offices on Wednesday evening.

But they took the meeting next door to Elm City Prep’s gymnasium. By nightfall, ticked-off students, parents and educators filled the bleachers —  a rare sight for a committee that hasn’t heard a single public comment since November 2014.

Even though they were given only 120 seconds each, no one had a “two-minute problem,” as Zack Murphy, a senior at Amistad, put it.

For nearly two hours, the speakers brought up familiar complaints: a demerit system that punishes the most trivial rule-breaking, top-down leadership that hems in teachers, and an admissions-obsessed drive that sidelines students who aren’t aiming for top-tier colleges.

In the past, those concerns went unaddressed, even after a mass student walkout in 2016, the speakers said. This time, they said, must be different.

“It hurts me deeply when I hear students talking about a prison culture that’s been cultivated in your schools, where you’re treating them like inmates but there’s no accountability for leaders,” said Addys Castillo, the mother of an Amistad freshman, the Citywide Youth Coalition’s executive director and a former correctional officer. “The people that need to be fired are the people that [Principal Morgan] Barth reported to. If that’s not getting done, then what’s the point of this meeting?”

The recent outcry started last week after Steven Cotton, a behavioral specialist and one of the few black males at the overwhelming black-student-body school, quit in protest and posted a viral Facebook Live video about his complaints.

The Independent then published an article about how Morgan Barth, the leader at Amistad, had been allowed to stay on the job after shoving two students at two different schools, while encouraging a disciplinary system that led many to pull their kids out.

Hours later, Barth publicly announced that he’d resigned. He’s being replaced on an interim basis by Emery Sykes, the high school’s dean of college services and school culture and an African-American woman. She has worked at Amistad for 12 years, and she has broad support from the staff.

Now Achievement First is looking into whether higher-ups should be punished too, as many speakers on Wednesday night called for.

Last week, “my son called me and said, ‘Mom, the best thing happened today!’ I said, ‘Well, what happened?’ He said, ‘My principal got fired.’ Now, that right there speaks volumes. It actually gave me chills,” said Jessica Nicholas, a mother of two. “I get calls for him slouching, he gets detention for apparently not focusing, he gets demerits for being late for class during the first two weeks of school. This whole system is a school-to-prison pipeline.”

Amistad’s directors, who said they hadn’t been informed about the October shoving incident until just last week, voted unanimously at the end of Wednesday’s meeting to hire an outside law firm.

Investigators will review the personnel decision to keep Barth for months on after the incident. The firm will put together findings about that decision and recommend policy changes for future personnel decisions, a resolution passed by the committee stated.

Achievement First will contact law firms and present a selection to the chairs of the high school committee and the three boards by Feb. 8. The firm will be expected to complete its report by Apr. 8

Dacia Toll, Achievement First’s president and co-CEO, said she supported bringing in external investigators to hold the administration accountable, all the way up the ranks.

“We’re hiring an independent firm to learn more about how we got to this place as an organization and to hold ourselves, meaning senior leaders, accountable for how this situation was handled, and for any additional consequences and recommended policy changes,” Toll said in a statement.

Speaker after speaker said that Barth’s actions reflected bigger problems throughout Achievement First.

Just within Amistad High School, more than 65 staff signed onto a statement saying that “this one incident is representative of the systematic racial inequalities that are observable throughout the network.” The school employees said they’ve been discussing the discipline system, thinking about how to create “a new and healthier framework for our school culture.”

“Our days have been long, thoughtful and productive,” the statement read, “and they are worth it because we care deeply about our scholars and the future of our school.”

The staff said that it needs the charter network to do its part too.

In particular, they expressed “disgust and disappointment at the lack of transparency” around the October shoving, which most of them hadn’t known about. They said they’d been left out of discussions about Barth’s departure and the search for a new principal. They said, within 30 days, they need to be included in the search.

They said the network needs to use this moment “to examine the entirety of our model with an antiracist focus.”

Students added on to this point, too, by saying that teachers need to consider their kids’ well-being, not just their test scores. “You don’t know what happened the night before or if they had breakfast in the morning,” said Iesha Walker, a recent Amistad graduate. “Know who you’re working for. These are kids of color. You can’t just yell and shout and scream. They get that at home and on the streets already. You have to come and you have to love.”

The staff also said investigators should cast their focus “as wide as possible,” beyond “just the errors related to this one incident” to look at “the systems and organizational culture that made this incident possible.” They said the report should be made public.

“I have so many different feelings about what has occurred, ranging from complete outrage that senior leaders knew this happened and did nothing about it to intense pride that I work with a staff who’s rallying and thinking deeply about what is best for kids at our school,” said Peter Butler, a social worker and dean for the last 15 years. “Please ask more questions. Demand transparency from our leaders. Too many in our organization have been abused and dehumanized by Achievement First’s senior leadership and principals. Please listen to us more.”

The pressure on Achievement First isn’t likely to let up soon. Teachers said they’ll return in 30 days with “a more formal proposal” for what they feel the school needs.

Parents said they aren’t done either.

At one point in the meeting, Andrea Barnes, the mother of a second-grader who she said had “creativity stifled out of her,” turned around and faced the crowded bleachers. She apologized to those in the room, saying she blamed herself for letting these problems get out of hand.

“I’m going to apologize to you, as a parent,” Barnes said. “After this day, I will be more involved.”

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posted by: Bill Saunders on January 23, 2019  10:46pm

Keep Pushing! 
These are the times.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 23, 2019  10:47pm

They Need a The Charter Schools Act like this one.

1. STUDENT RIGHTS – Charter schools MUST be required to retain Special Ed and ELL students. No longer push out, counsel out or expel them out of the school.
2. PARENT RIGHTS – Every charter school board MUST have a parent board member who is the President of the school’s independent parent association.
3. BILL OF RIGHTS – There MUST be a universal Parents Bill of Rights and Students Bill of Rights for charter schools.
4. INDEPENDENT PARENTS ASSOCIATION – Every charter school MUST be required to have an independent parents association.
5. CO-LOCATIONS – The state MUST develop a better process in determining co-locations in public school buildings in New York City because it is pitting parents against each other.
6. ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY – Charter school board members and employees MUST be held to rigorous financial disclosure requirements and conflict of interest prohibitions as all other organizations receiving public money. There MUST be more oversight of Founding Boards. Board members MUST NOT be allowed to be permanent trustees. All employees (principals, directors, staff) MUST not be allowed to serve on the board. All schools must be audited by the State Comptroller.
7. CHARTER CONTRACT & BY-LAWS – Every charter school MUST be required to post their charter and by-laws online to increase accountability and transparency in charter schools and their governing boards. Every board meeting MUST be held at the school.
8. STATE RECEIVERSHIP – The state MUST have the authority to take over a charter school and re-constitute the board of trustees.
9. MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATIONS – For Profit Management organizations MUST NOT be allowed to manage charters. Public money should be spent on public students.
10. COMPLAINT & GRIEVANCE PROCESS – The state MUST develop a formal complaint and grievance process that includes tracking and resolving issues within 30 days.

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 23, 2019  10:50pm

Part Two.

11. TEACHER RIGHTS & PROTECTIONS – Teachers in charter schools MUST be provided with whistleblower and job protections when exposing corruption, financial mismanagement and corporate chicanery in charters. No teacher should be fired for standing up for their students. E.g. East New York Prep Charter School.

12. CHARTER AUTHORIZATION – Authorization MUST only be granted by the Board of Regents.

posted by: Latina on January 24, 2019  6:23am

Dear Parents,
Please consider taking your child out of Amistad . There is nothing to think about because the videos said it all. These systems are not helping students to develop emotionally and is unacceptable. Every child is different and it is important for them to feel safe especially when they are there for many hours. New Haven magnet applications will open soon.  Parents , your child’s wel being matters!! Don’t buy into a charter school.Get out while you can!!

posted by: tmctague on January 24, 2019  7:24am

Who are all those old, mostly White folks on the joint committee?  I thought you had to be under 30 to hold a leadership position in AF. 

Bravo to the students, families, and staff speaking out.  About time.  It takes courage to do that in a system without the protection of a union.

posted by: Olorin on January 24, 2019  8:15am

State BOE: Revoke their charters, close their schools, seize their buildings. Enough is Too Much.

posted by: Paul Wessel on January 24, 2019  8:36am

WWWCD?  (What would Will Clark do?)

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on January 24, 2019  8:42am

Maybe test scores are not the best indicators of school quality.  What’s easily measured gets priority, while intangible values like school culture, student and staff well-being, creativity, autonomy, civic participation, transparency, and personal relationships are sacrificed in pursuit of the metrics.

The state shares the blame for what it incentivizes.  We must protect NHPS from similar data-driven tunnel vision.

posted by: Olorin on January 24, 2019  8:54am

Jill: Exactly. Home Run.

posted by: Conscience on January 24, 2019  9:13am

Jill the Pill has just kept it real. Sound social and emotional development along with self-confidence drives achievement in life. Imagine if our leaders were better socially and emotionally developed. Good character is the foundation. Compassion and concern for others are the seeds for the beloved community. ALL schools should be emphasizing human virtues and the adults and parents in such schools should be setting the example. If I could only animate the pictures of prominent African Americans on the walls of the school. They would climb down and walk off.

posted by: Tupac on January 24, 2019  10:33am

Nothing to see here, except more winey millennials that have something to cry about. Oh and look the independent commenters sticking up for the children lol hilarious.

posted by: 1644 on January 24, 2019  10:41am

Lots of folks piling on here.  Meanwhile, I think of the comments from actual teachers on the article about school suspensions.
https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/school_suspension_disparity/
From those comments,  it seems that there is chaos in the NHPS schools due to no discipline whatsoever.  It’s the lifeboat problem. I, also, think of the elementary Booker T. Washington, which, at least superficially, follows a model similar to AF, although it has 86% “minority” faculty, and is sponsored by Varick church.
https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/charter_schools_sbac_scores_growth/
https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/booker_t_and_the_mgees/
Hopefully, the parents, faculty, and administration at Amistad can find a method that works for most.

posted by: Patricia Kane on January 24, 2019  11:11am

Charter schools are an expensive scam that do not educate ALL children, which public schools must.
They take money away from public education without doing any better, according to reports published in the NY Times.
First there was a drum beat that blamed public schools for the difference between outcomes in more affluent areas versus poor neighborhoods. This completely ignored the apartheid created by red lining so people of color couldn’t get mortgages and even the assignment in public housing based on color.
Schools are not factories and children are not products.
I am someone from a working class background who benefited from public schools that provided music education, trips to museums and the opera, foreign language study and teachers who challenged us intellectually and never controlled us the way the students at Amistad have been controlled. This is NOT education; it’s a detention center with books.
Malloy chose to fund these charter schools, most of them backed by hedge funds. Fairfield County is home to a lot of hedge funds.
Connect the dots.

posted by: ShadowBoxer on January 24, 2019  3:13pm

The bigger issue is the educational inequity inherent in the system.  Connecticut - a hip. “blue” state really is emblematic of academic racism.  As an educator I see radical disparities between say Choate, and Harding High.  I would love for Ned Lamont to decide to be a one term governor, and tackle this evil.  Don’t we like, have to according our Supreme Court?  I know Ned likes compromise, and weed, and tolls, but if I were governor I would make educational inequity a top priority, and probably get thrown out of office four years later.  But sometimes reform needs to be shoved down people’s throats.  I watched this video and feel the guy.  He is on to something.  Godspeed to him and I hope people wake up and call our educational system what it is: pretty evil and dumb.  The Chinese are mining on the dark side of the moon, and their kids are studying robotics and nanotechnology, and our kids can’t read.  And while I’m not advocating for tiger parenting, or the obviation of childhood, we should aspire to something greater.  I hope Ned confronts this, and has it as his legacy rather than fiddling at the margins.

posted by: As2girls on January 24, 2019  3:34pm

https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://www.nhregister.com/opinion/article/Jami-LaRue-Lessons-I-learned-at-Amistad-13558311.php?utm_campaign=CMS Sharing Tools (Desktop)&utm_source=share-by-email&utm_medium=email&data=02|01|adrienne.marable@yale.edu|02a0dac8b89c45b1fa9508d6823a967f|dd8cbebb21394df8b4114e3e87abeb5c|0|0|636839585475222318&sdata=sY9tt8rLKFeP5ZAo2o4jy2IxSa86lCP8UMwxWV+qKXE=&reserved=0

posted by: HewNaven on January 24, 2019  3:35pm

There must be a way to make the debate something more intelligent than “PUBLIC vs CHARTER”

I don’t believe charter critics are lumping Common Ground and Sound School together with Achievement First. Maybe they are? Maybe I’m missing something… My experience with the 2 schools named above tells me they are really valuable to the community, that they add something for students and non-students, that wasn’t there before.

posted by: Blitheringidiot on January 24, 2019  4:18pm

Test prep at what cost?

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 24, 2019  4:22pm

‘‘THIS IS NOT EDUCATION; IT’S A DETENTION CENTER WITH BOOKS!—Patricia Kane
The Black community owes no allegiance to Achievement First charter schools. The have choices. Don’t fall for the charter school hype that their schools are superior to the public schools!
It appears people have been hoodwinked and bamboozled by the Achievement First leadership for years. People should have heeded the warnings of Amistad parents, students and teachers long ago.
When we we hear reports of prison-like, cult-like practices and uniformity and lingo, punitive suppression and repression of individual creativity and expression for the slightest infractions, children suffering from mental and psychological stress, anxiety and depression and physical attacks, it is time for the State of Connecticut, community leaders, parents, teachers and students to act.
We cannot trust the Achievement First administration to resolve this matter. After an INDEPENDENT investigation, it may be necessary to revoke the school’s charter!
I listened to every word Steven Cotton said about Amistad. I believe that everything he said is valid. Why else would the school try to bribe him into silence?
Achievement First is a big business. They are accustomed to lobbying for what they want. They are used to buying influence. It is time to say no more.
The Amistad covers have been ripped off and their ugly naked reality has been exposed to public view.
If Amistad survives there must be REVOLUTIONARY changes, a NEW AMISTAD.
If radical changes, full transparency and accountability, parental and community oversight are resisted, then parents and students should VOTE WITH THEIR FEET and quit that school.
Amistad parents and students have choices, and they should no longer submit to exposing their children to a racially exclusive detention center in their own community controlled by people who do not look like them, live near them, or share their values.
The time of apathy is over!
Save our children from this mess!

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on January 24, 2019  6:25pm

Common Cause reports donations by AF board members to charter industry PACs in CT.  The Build CT PAC donated last year to the barely-contested re-election campaigns of Gary Winfield, Juan Candelaria, and Toni Walker.  From the Common Cause report:

  •  Anthony Davis, $24,750. CEO of Inherent Group, an investment firm. Board member of Achievement First. Donated $20,000 to Equal Education for All PAC and $4,750 to Leaders for a Stronger Connecticut PAC.
  •  Jonathan Sackler, $21,500. Heir to the Purdue Pharmaceuticals fortune. Managing Partner at Kokino LLC. Founding chairman of ConnCAN. Board member and founder of 50CAN, a national charter school advocacy organization. Former board member of the Northeast Charter Schools Network. Former board member at the NewSchools Venture Fund, which funds charter schools. Former board member of Achievement First, and of Students for Education Reform, a charter school advocacy group. Donated $18,000 to Charters Care PAC and $3,500 to Build CT PAC.
  •  Andrew Boas, $9,000. General Partner, Carl Marks Management, LLC, an investment firm. Board member of ConnCAN. Board chair of Achievement First network. Former board chair of Achievement First Bridgeport Academy and former board chair of Amistad Academy charter school. Donated $4,500 to Charters Care, $3,500 to Build CT, and $1,000 to Equal Education for All PAC.
  •  Christopher Kunhardt, $2,500. Retired, former executive at J.P. Morgan. Chair of the board of the Achievement First Bridgeport Academy charter school. Donated $1,000 to Build CT, $1,000 to Leaders for a Stronger Connecticut, and $500 to Equal Education for All.

The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) is a charter school advocacy group that spent $370,000 on lobbying expenses in Connecticut during the 2017-2018 legislative session. Three of the five founding board members of ConnCAN were also board members of Achievement First.

posted by: Christopher Peak on January 24, 2019  7:00pm

@tmctague: The high school joint committee has seven white members, one black member and one Latino member. They are:

Jim Bennett, Retired Owner, Really Good Stuff
Dick Kalt, VP, CRN International, Inc.
Chris Kunhardt, Retired Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc.
Carolyn Greenspan, CEO, Blue State Coffee
Jane Levin, Senior Lecturer, Yale University
Albert Maldonado, Acquisitions Manager, NHR Properties
Genevieve Walker, Director of Programs, ConnCAT
Dick Ferguson, Former COO, Cox Radio
Laura Saverin, Private Investor and Community Activist

Just for clarity in the picture above, the three people seated at the far right are not committee members. They are John Motley, an Achievement First Network board member; Khadijah Muhammad, a parent advocate; and Sarah Blanton, AF Network’s governance director.

posted by: Olorin on January 24, 2019  7:26pm

@HewNaven: The Sound School is a New Haven public school, not a charter.

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 24, 2019  9:58pm

In 2012, a friend of mine (with an advanced psychology degree) substituted at the first Amistad (the former Timothy Dwight School).  That ‘substitute teacher’ came home with her mind-reeling.

The PRISON MODEL”, is one aspect that disturbed her, and was the first thing out of her mouth. 

The corporate embedding of ‘messages’ in standardized testing was another disturbing fact… stuff like
“If one McDonald’s Quarter Pounder costs 2.35, how much do two cost?

The disciplining of children over dress code that family resources can’t keep up with was another.
Some kids were disciplined for having their ‘uniforms’  disheveled and unkempt.

Others punished for wearing ‘family heirlooms’, like a bracelet that was a gift from a grandmother.
To shame a child over this stuff in open class is just cruel!!!

That’s just to name a few ‘issues’...along with the ‘mysteries disappearance’ of the Teacher that was being substituted for!

We then researched Achievement First on-line, not knowing anything about it ahead of time, exept what was ‘directly experienced’.— what we found was that everything that my friend had observed about this Charter School’s draconian discipline was re-iterated in the press by parents!  In EVERY STORY!

7 years later, chickens come home to roost.
Long time coming and well-deserved….

ps.  I ran into one zealous AF Teacher one night last year and reiterated that story about my reservations with AF.
He accused me of lying because, he claimed, AF does not use substitutes.

Not anymore, I snickered to myself…

This organization is the worst of the worst…
Dismantle it fully!

posted by: eastrockcitizen on January 24, 2019  11:10pm

1644 posts a great link to previous story about the lack of order and discipline (and its effects on classrooms and learning) in NHPS schools, which illuminates the quandary here.  It is obvious that Mr. Barth’s physical interaction with a student is unacceptable and he needed to be fired.  But the critiques of the strict disciplinary systems at AF, while valuable, necessary, and worthwhile, are not as simple and straightforward as many argue.

The common complaint and critique of NHPS is that lack of order and discipline from a percentage of students obstructs real teaching and learning for all.  Kids that want to be in school to learn are unable to do so at a high level because of the constant distractions.  Enter AF 2 decades ago.  AF designs a model with high level academics AND a real disciplinary system to reduce the distractions and chaos.  That disciplinary system is absolutely worth critiquing and examining.  But in the process of doing so, listen to the NHPS teachers themselves begging for order and discipline in their classrooms, which I will copy and paste in a separate post because of size limitations.

The quandary is clear: decades of research and stats and anecdotal evidence demonstrating that kids who want to learn are in schools with teachers who want to teach, but the lack of order and discipline leads to chaos and prevents teaching and learning.  AF develops a model in an attempt to address that issue.  And the educational outcomes in that AF model far outperform the NHPS schools (in fact, they perform on par with wealthy suburban schools in many metrics).  Moreover, it is not hard to imagine why students are critical of the system.  The kids with discipline problems surely are opposed to being held accountable.  Many of the kids who never cause issues, and are models of self-control, surely resent strict rules because they themselves (individually) do not need them.  But if they were amid the chaos at HH and Cross, would their tune change?

posted by: eastrockcitizen on January 24, 2019  11:12pm

Quotes from teachers at NHPS schools this week:

https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/school_suspension_disparity/

posted by: ActualNHPSteacher on January 22, 2019 10:52pm
Ok. Here we go. First of all, I’ve taught in New Haven for over 15 years and I have NEVER had a white student in my classroom. My school is not a magnet school, we’re not one of the known “white schools” We’re just a neighborhood school. So, therefore, of course, the statistics will show that students of color are subject to more suspensions. Secondly, principals basically tell the teachers, “Doesn’t matter what the kid did. No one is getting suspended anymore.” So far this year I’ve had 2 students bring knives to school and both times it was swept under the rug. One student in my class is violent and throws objects at other students daily, weekly. Other students feel free to call teachers the “N” word and they know they won’t be suspended. Restorative Practices does not work for all kids. So in the meantime what you have is well behaved kids who are terrorized by these out of control students. And that’s where academics suffer. You can’t have one teacher try and teach 27 students if 2 or 3 of those students are emotionally challenged, out of control and need a smaller environment. The whole class suffers. And I know suspensions don’t work. But if I can get 1 or 2 days of peace to try and educate the majority then I don’t care what color you are: Stay home! As you can see, teachers are overworked, stressed, trying their hardest, and these ridiculous policies from downtown are making teaching in New Haven more and more unappealing.

posted by: eastrockcitizen on January 24, 2019  11:13pm

More quotes from NHPS teachers/employees this week…

https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/school_suspension_disparity/


posted by: pray4newhaven on January 23, 2019 9:57am
As a employee I find this very laughable, the reason suspensions are at a all time low is because students are not being suspended. Teachers, security, para’s are being cursed out, assaulted by students daily and nothing is done because the ADMIN’S are instructed not to suspend students. The students know that they cannot be suspended and please do not let them be apart of Youth Stat there is zero consequences!!

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on January 25, 2019  9:15am

“Thus, our analysis indicates that while AF certainly succeeds in developing children as standardized test-takers and college applicants, the fixation on this narrow aspect of a child’s success may mean that the schools fail to help children develop as people, just as they fail to improve the state of education more broadly.”

http://debsedstudies.org/achievement-first-children-second

eastrock, there’s a chasm between the extremes of utter chaos and prison-like dominance.  Many NHPS find their way to a reasonable and humane level of discipline.

posted by: Seth Poole on January 25, 2019  10:02am

Good for the students, parents and staff within the Achievement First “Team & Family.”

This dialogue is well overdue.  I pray that they finally open their eyes to learn and practice empathy and respect for people and demonstrate it in ways that affirm rather than degrade the members of the communities which they have chosen to serve.

posted by: 1644 on January 25, 2019  10:32am

As2: Your link didn’t work for me, so I am reposting here:
https://www.nhregister.com/opinion/article/Jami-LaRue-Lessons-I-learned-at-Amistad-13558311.php
The author is an Amistad & AF alumna.  She says Amistad taught her to “think for myself, and to think critically. ” She is a junior at Haverford (a well known prison :)) now.

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 25, 2019  12:32pm

1644,

No disrespect for the student featured in the link, but isn’t that article ‘poster-child’ propaganda?

There should be scads of students featured telling there stories about how wonderful AF is.
You don’t single out one…..

posted by: 1644 on January 25, 2019  1:15pm

Jill: Your citation also says that “AF is succeeding in its mission to help more low-income and minority students achieve academically and is invested in the social mobility of its students. ”  It then contradicts itself, saying that this success comes at the expense of “democratic equality”.  Academic success is key to social mobility, which is key to democratic equality.  Acceptance into selective higher education is clearly one route to upward mobility, an escape from the low wage jobs and government dependency many New Haven residents are stuck in.  The other major route, ignored by the narrowly focused Amistad, would be learning a trade, as in the state tech schools.  New Haven offers a wide choice of schools, so students can find a school that fits them.  Not every school should be expected to meet the needs of every possible student.  Parents and students need to shop for the best fit.

posted by: 1644 on January 25, 2019  3:09pm

Bill: Of course it is.  Everything here, is anecdotal, too.  She, does, however, give a different perspective, and an informed one (rather than most of the commentators here, who haven’t attended the school).  Any program will have outliers, good and bad.  My view is that the worth of a school should be judged at about age 25.  Are alumni out of their parents’ house and self-supporting? Engaged in a legal trade?  Anecdotally, here’s a top NHPS school that also failed a student: https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/youth_homelessness_laundry_michaelle_gonzalez/
I am fine with discipline, but it has to be driven by caring.  Students, whether at Amistad, Sound, or Hillhouse, should be able to develop a relationship and trust with faculty to address personal problems.

posted by: wendy1 on January 25, 2019  6:57pm

Charter schools and standardized testing are making some folks very rich while continuing to promote a subculture of poverty in this country.  I am against Charters, testing, and CT RISE.  Our taxes are being wasted on this crap and kids, teachers are being tortured by it.  CT RISE is going to make someone richer just like EPIC….but not you.

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 25, 2019  7:42pm

1644,

You miss the finer point.  Singling students out is part of Amistad’s Protocol. (on both ends of the curve).

The article you posted came out of a ‘marketing department’.
It did not come about because of any ‘special student achievement’.

posted by: scarab on January 26, 2019  8:41am

“Just within Amistad High School, more than 65 staff signed onto a statement saying that ‘this one incident is representative of the systematic racial inequalities that are observable throughout the network.’ The school employees said they’ve been discussing the discipline system, thinking about how to create “a new and healthier framework for our school culture.”
You hit it on the head…systematic AND systemic! Where do I sign?

posted by: scarab on January 26, 2019  8:52am

Achievement First Network must be charged with gross educational NEGLECT! Their practice is to hire incompetent administrators who know little to nothing about education and nothing about the population it serves…their mindset is that they are lords over their lowly servants and they must civilize the savage beasts…or better yet, just cage them…pathetic…they harshly discipline and deny children for the slightest infractions…why did the community think they would do otherwise? Where are the competent, caring, conscientious, trained educators who know how to run a school? Oh, right, they are seldom hired to run their own schools and educate children who look like them….

posted by: scarab on January 26, 2019  8:57am

3/5th’s…..I am afraid to ask what Charter School Act does Achievement First Network have??? If any…

posted by: Parentsforsuccess on January 26, 2019  1:14pm

I am glad to see that people are no longer afraid to challenge Charters Schools. One point I would like to make is that Acheivement First is NOT the only charter school in New Haven that has issues with school personal inappropriately handling students. The school on state street needs to be investigated. I am trying to work with staff that has left to get details. Our kids need to be protected.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on January 26, 2019  2:47pm

>>> “Academic success is key to social mobility, which is key to democratic equality.”

I could not disagree more. Democratic equality by definition cannot take your social status, wealth or academic achievement into account.  That it sometimes does is an anti-democratic failing to be corrected, not a reality to be humored and adapted to. 

>>> “Not every school should be expected to meet the needs of every possible student.”

Any educational institution receiving public money has an obligation to meet some adequate level of quality, safety, etc.  And, yes, for every possible student—that’s what public education is.

posted by: 1644 on January 26, 2019  9:35pm

Jill:  Specialized public schools work well in NYC.  Disruptive students with behavioral issues, like those described in the comments of the suspensions article. might do better in an outplacement at a place like High Road in Wallingford.  (It did wonders for a friend’s son.). If we want every school to cater to every child, we may as well dump the magnet model and return to comprehensive schools.