Charter Suspension Rate Prompts Call To Action

Melissa Bailey PhotoAmistad Academy suspended 20 of its 96 kindergarteners last year, a rate 15 times higher than in traditional New Haven public schools.

The high rate of suspensions among Achievement First charter schools across the state prompted “alarm” among members of the state Board of Education, which conducted an emergency review of statewide suspension data at a meeting in Hartford Wednesday.

The meeting came on the heels of a report by the Office of the Child Advocate, and subsequent news stories, that called attention to the hundreds of kindergarteners suspended across the state in the 2011-12 school year.

“For our youngest students, these are rates that are just unacceptable,” state education chief Stefan Pryor said Wednesday. He called the data “alarming.” Pryor ordered an express analysis of school suspensions, which was presented at Wednesday’s meeting.

Click here  to read the department’s 31-page report, complete with lots of colorful charts.

The data show charter schools suspend almost twice as many elementary kids than the traditional districts in which those schools sit.

The top four highest rates of suspension among elementary schools all occurred in schools belonging to the Achievement First network of schools. The schools are public, not-for-profit schools that operate under their own state-authorized charter, outside of the traditional local school district.

“Suspension rates are too high,” acknowledged Achievement First co-CEO and President Dacia Toll, whose group serves over half of the charter population statewide. “It is something we’re concerned about.”

However, she said, it’s important to note what “suspension” means in this context. It doesn’t mean a kid is kicked out of school for a whole day. It’s defined as “exclusion from regular classroom activity” for between 90 minutes and 10 days. (An “expulsion” means getting kicked out of school for more than 10 days.)

Toll said while Achievement First does have higher suspension rates, kids are most often missing for only a short period of time out of the classroom.

“We do have really high expectations for both academics and behavior,” she said; those high standards help the school achieve “high levels of student achievement” and parent satisfaction. The high suspension rate has not deterred kids from returning to the school the subsequent year, she added.

New Haven’s two Achievement First elementary schools had the second and fourth highest suspension rates in the state, according to the state data.

The comparison assumes that all districts are reporting to the state every time they remove a kid from a classroom for over 90 minutes.

“We are really very meticulous about tracking this data,” Toll said. “It’s hard to know whether every district in the state is being that meticulous.”

Achievement First’s Hartford Academy ranked at the top of the list, with 32.5 percent of kids in grades K to 5 receiving at least one suspension or expulsion last school year. New Haven’s Elm City College Prep School came in second with 26 percent; Bridgeport Achievement First posted 20 percent; and Amistad Academy in New Haven had a 13.8 percent rate.

Hartford and Bridgeport had suspension rates of 10.5 and 8.6 percent. New Haven’s reported suspension rate was so low that it didn’t make the list of “districts with high suspension/expulsion rates” for any age group.

Achievement First also showed high suspensions rates in middle school, defined as grades 6 to 8: Amistad Academy suspended 41.9 percent of kids those grades, the fourth-highest rate in the state. Elm City College Prep ranked 11th with a 28.2 percent suspension rate.

Board members expressed “alarm” at two aspects of the data: First, the high rate of suspensions among really young kids. And second, a high rate of suspension among black males.

Statewide, kids under age 7 faced 1,161 out-of-school suspensions and 806 in-school suspensions.

Pryor (pictured) said he has not yet made comparisons with national suspension rates, but no matter what the benchmarks are, Connecticut’s rates of suspending young kids is still too high.

Pryor declined to comment directly on Achievement First because of his role as a founding member of the charter network’s flagship school, Amistad Academy, in 1999. But he said the state will hold all charter schools accountable to their suspension rates when their charters come up for renewal, which happens every five years. And he said the state is setting up a new data system to track suspensions, and will spend the summer further researching the problem.

“We can’t lose our sense of alarm and our sense of outrage,” Pryor said.

Board members agreed.

“I’m just blown away by the under-7 data,” said board member Patricia Keavney-Maruca of Waterbury. She wondered aloud if it has to do with the high-stakes testing kindergarteners now have to endure.

Board member Joseph Vrabely called the data “alarming.” The number of youth suspensions are “staggering,” he said. When a school suspends kids at an early age, he argued, “they’re turned off by the educational process.”

Board member Terry Jones of Shelton warned that when kids get suspended at an early age, the problem “bounces along and escalates” and reverberates through life, often ending in incarceration.

Board Vice-Chair Theresa Hopkins-Staten said the data bring to mind the school-to-prison pipeline: policymakers can predict the size of prisons based on 3rd-graders’ reading scores.

She took particular notice of the racial disparity in discipline.

Black males were suspended more than any other demographic group, no matter which type of school they were in. Statewide, black students were suspended 3.8 times more than white kids.

“We need to be mindful of the issues of race and culture” that lead staff to suspend black boys, Hopkins-Staten warned.

Achievement First

A closer look at the data shows Amistad Academy suspended young kids at a rate 15 times higher than New Haven’s public school district.

New Haven suspended 24 kindergartners, or 1.4 percent of students in that grade; and 38 first-graders, or 2.3 percent of the first grade.

Amistad suspended 20 kindergarteners, which amounts to 1 of every 5 kids. The school also suspended up to five of the 90 kids in the first grade (the actual number wasn’t reported for privacy reasons).

Elm City College Prep Elementary School suspended 16 of 62 kindergarteners and 7 of 61 first-graders.

(Click here to see how many kids were suspended in grades K to 2, by district, in 2011-12.)

“We do think the overall rates are too high,” said Achievement First’s Toll. However, she said they should be seen in context.

She said in Hartford, the one place where Achievement First had the chance to take a deep look at its suspension data, young kids weren’t missing more than a couple of hours of classroom time.

At Achievement First Hartford Academy, which drew heat for issuing 114 suspensions of kids under 7 years old, the school found that 88 percent of the in-school suspensions were two hours long.

Charter schools may be issuing more suspensions, she argued, but the suspensions last for a shorter period of time. Indeed, state data show the average in-school suspension at charter schools lasted one day, compared to a statewide average of 1.3.

Despite all the suspensions of young kids, kids don’t flee charter schools more than other schools, according to state data. The data showed about 85 percent of kids under age 7 who got suspended at a charter school returned to the same school the subsequent year, a figure that’s slightly higher than the state average.

Toll said one might get the impression that “a school with a lot of suspensions is disorderly. But our schools are noticeably more orderly and positive,” she said. Suspensions enforce the clearly delineated rules for behavior at charter schools.

The most common reason for suspensions statewide was violation of school policy. At charter schools, kids were also suspended for an “accumulation of demerits,” according to Ajit Gopalakrishnan (at left in photo with state education Chief Operating Officer Charlene Russell-Tucker), the state bureau chief for data collection and research, who presented the findings at Wednesday’s meeting.

Toll said in Hartford, most of the suspensions of young kids were driven by a relatively small number of kids.

“We clearly need to do better,” she said. “For the kids who are getting repeat suspensions, we have not been good at supporting them and getting them back to class.”

She said one Achievement First elementary school, in Bridgeport, tackled the issue and cut its suspensions by 75 percent over last year. “We need to do that across all of our schools,” she said.

Toll said Achievement First is “looking into alternatives to suspension.” The network used to offer an option called “Saturday extension.” The idea was, “if you misbehave, instead of being put out of school, you get more school,” Toll explained. “We’re taking a look at that again.”

Toll said Achievement First is also “looking to get students back to class more quickly.”

New Haven’s conventional public schools (as opposed to charter schools) ranked high on one metric: The percent of total disciplinary actions that involved kicking kids out of school. Eighty percent of New Haven’s total sanctions were out-of-school suspensions, the fourth highest in the state. Elm City College Prep came in second in the state with 82 percent.

Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries said the district is moving towards more positive behavioral reinforcement and “recuperative” methods, but “when there are severe infractions, we’re going to send them home instead.”

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posted by: Wildwest on June 6, 2013  8:35am

It has nothing to do with race of the kids, its the (kid)parents who put their kids in school with no manners. Please keep suspending them, the parents will learn eventually and might even start teaching their kids how to behave.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 6, 2013  8:37am

Where is Jumoke Academy on this list.

posted by: OhHum on June 6, 2013  8:41am

Toll said Achievement First is “looking into alternatives to suspension.” The network used to offer an option called “Saturday extension.” The idea was, “if you misbehave, instead of being put out of school, you get more school,” Toll explained.

Do you really think it’s a good idea to associate the “idea of schooling”, with punishment? By making a student with a behavior problem come to school on Saturday, this might possibly lead to a higher dropout rate later. Especially if the student associates school with punishment.

posted by: Paul Wessel on June 6, 2013  9:59am

Are 5, 6 & 7 year olds developmentally able to understand concepts like “violations of school policy” and “accumulation of demerits”?

One fears this is a practice designed to push out less compliant students.

posted by: Noteworthy on June 6, 2013  10:23am

This report is shocking. But it is even more so, that the top education guy who himself came out of Achievement First and the charter takeover crowd, along with AF’s Dacia Toll is just now getting alarmed. Where the hell have you been?

Twenty percent of the youngest students are in suspension! That has nothing to do with high academic standards. It has everything to do with how AF’s classrooms are run and how principals are managing these schools. Is this how AF turns the kids into little drones? Public humiliation? And yes, it’s public and yes, those kids who remain will talk about the kid who got taken out.

AF’s policy of suspension is clearly, without a doubt, the wrong one. Toll said one may get the idea that a school with a lot of suspensions is “disorderly.” It is. It’s the administration of that school that is out of order! I’m sorry but this level of suspension is beyond unacceptable.

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 6, 2013  11:04am

“Paul Wessel” asks if 5-7 year old kids are developmentally able to understand concepts such as “violations of school policy” and “accumulation of demerits.”

My answer is that our kids do understand. Perhaps not in the vocabulary of adults but certainly in kid-speak such as “don’t break the rules” and “keep it up and you will get in trouble.”

My child told me when she was in 3rd grade that “we kids know the difference between what how we are supposed to behave in school and how we are not supposed to behave.

Kids get that we adults do not set proper boundaries. And, I submit that our kids want us to set proper boundaries so that they will, intuitively so, feel safe.

However, having said of all of that, the boundary setting has to begin at home or outside of school.

Blaming the schools, either public schools or charter schools, is really illogical although it serves the purpose of allowing our elected officials and legislatures from doing their duty and putting a stop to this nonsense of allowing our schools to tolerate the disruptive behavior of a few to sabotage the learning of the many.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on June 6, 2013  11:33am


This is most definitely about race.  It is about race and the racist perspective that the White dominated ownership of the Achievement First has taken toward its largely African-American student population.

AF style charter schools engage their students under a hermeneutic of suspicion.  They assume, by policy, that their students are in need of “behavior modification”, a perspective that motivates their intense disciplinary model.  It is a model that is both racist and insulting.

What possible behavior by KINDERGARTNERS could justify these children being suspended at all, if only for brief periods of time?  This is ultimately about shaming and beginning the process of turning these precious young minds into the thoughtless drones that the business community wants their employees to be, and for whom the AF style charter schools ultimately work.

This is NOT about education. This is about training.  Train them to be just literate enough and just numerate enough to DO AS THEY ARE TOLD, and just humbled enough to never ask questions about how they are treated, or to never challenge the system that dominates them.

Shame on these non-profit money makers and even greater shame on the parents who subject their children to these institutions of low learning and even lower expectations for African-American children. 

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Riley Gibbs on June 6, 2013  11:47am

There is a demonstrable and statistically significant effect on rate of disciplinary action from race, even when other factors are controlled for. The great majority of the time, it’s not conscious, and the teachers and administrators aren’t setting out to target black boys, but it happens (check “Bad Boys” by Ann Arnett Ferguson). It’s a symptom of a much larger issue of racism that has far reaches; white servers at restaurants, for example, get better tips than black servers, even when the race of the tipper and other factors are controlled for (check the Freakonomics podcast from June 3 of this year).

That said, we should examine what’s happening at Amistad, but we should also consider the possibility that they’re not (entirely) at fault: if we have kindergartners in New Haven coming into school their first year behaving in such a way that warrants (this rate of) suspensions in any school, we should ask why that is. Addressing that will require action from more than just the CSDE or AF.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 6, 2013  11:47am

This is about the ‘philosophy’ of Achievement First, and it is difficult to spin.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 6, 2013  12:17pm


I hate to tell you this, but but your daughter is in no position to speak for the entire student population. 

I am not trying to discredit her—I am sure she is sharp.

However, there appears to be an underlying theme in many recent NHI stories regarding kids, where we expect them to behave like adults.

Remember, developmentally, they are still kids.

posted by: Bishop on June 6, 2013  12:41pm

A couple of interesting data points the author of this article neglects that are worth mentioning if you read through the data:

- Of the total sanctions, NHPS used Out of School Suspension 80% of the time versus AF whose HIGHEST school was a full 20% lower at 61% of the time. AF is far less likely to suspend than other districts listed in the report.

- You have to consider the impact of student population size. If there were ten students in a class, it’s reasonable to assume that one of them might commit a suspension-able offense, but that would represent 10% of the population. However, in a larger district, the impact of an offense might not be proportionately larger but suspension might be a more quick go-to of a district less interested in actually keeping kids in school.

- From the report: “Public Charter Schools evidence the lowest average number of days sanctioned within each of the categories of ISS, OSS and Expulsions.” In other words, even if charter schools DID OSS students more often (which they don’t), the length of those suspensions is shorter, meaning less learning time lost.

- Finally, both ISS and OSS are subjective. There are plenty of schools in NHPS that are completely and utterly out of control. I don’t think we’d say those schools should NOT suspend kids for some of the misbehaviors that they’re exhibiting. Simultaneously, visiting an AF school provokes (in general, though not always) a different reaction that is of calm, order and purpose. The problem with “reducing suspension rates” as a goal in and of itself is that it’s really easy, yet wrong to do. ANy principal could stop suspending kids and be hailed as a hero by the state, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean their school was better off than before. It would simply mean they’d lowered their standards for behavior. And isn’t that the REAL crisis? That we’ve lowered our standards for young black/latino men and women?

posted by: DownTownNewHaven on June 6, 2013  12:41pm

This is very disturbing. If they were what they claimed to be shouldn’t they have less suspensions not more?

posted by: Proud New Havener on June 6, 2013  1:42pm

Samuel T. Ross-Lee, that is simply not true. The children are being trained- they are being trained to be productive members in a learning environment. I am not a teacher at any of the Achievement First schools, but I have had plenty of contact with the schools and know many of their students and find it extremely insulting for you to call them drones. You should be ashamed.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 6, 2013  2:32pm

Samuel T Ross Lee,

I am very slow to pull the racism card, but your observation does have merit. 

If we want to start with some ‘common ground’ and ‘adult modeling’ maybe the 99% White in charge could start a show of ‘integration’ by wearing the same uniforms as the 99% Brown in the classroom.

Yale is no stranger to failed ‘social engineering’ experiments.
In the twenties, it was Eugenics.

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on June 6, 2013  3:12pm

This not shocking—it is disgusting!

posted by: Teachergal on June 6, 2013  3:16pm

Why aren’t we talking about what successful schools are doing. There are many social development/character education programs that work to develop good citizenship in students. Responsive Classroom is one which I used in my teaching that was perfect for developing good character. It emphasizes responsibility, accountability, kindness, team work and a variety of other social skills necessary for working in groups. We began the year with a heavy dose of classroom strategies/procedures necessary to building a caring students. Daily Morning meetings were critical to setting the pace for the day. Yes, it took time but led to the creation of a classroom that could operate without constant discipline problems. Students were taught to take responsibility for their actions and making it right if they did something wrong. Punishments were given out but were the exception to the rule.

It appears to me teachers are under the gun to follow prescribed academic programs that leave little time for the social development of their students. The world is imperfect and many children come in without social skills but we cannot just point the finger at parents. It is the world we live in and educators need to be part of the solution, like it or not.

Does anyone know whatever happened to NH’s social developments program? Is it still in existence? How many teachers fit in social development activities in their school day?

posted by: westville man on June 6, 2013  3:55pm

@ Bill Saunders.- racism as an explanation is not a “card”.  It’s not a game. One can argue about whether it exists in a given instance, just dont demean the entire discussion by calling it a “card”.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 6, 2013  4:27pm

This is not new with AF.This was going on in 2011 with children of Color. Check this out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Former Achievement First parents speak out!

posted by: FacChec on June 6, 2013  4:34pm

One commentator said “it is all about race”

I agree, it is about the children in grades K-5th many of whom are black who have not been trained or disciplined before attending any school.

No kid who has been expelled should ever become a repeat performer, doing so would be a clear indication of the lack of parental intervention, which charter schools demand before acceptance.

“Statewide, kids under age 7 faced 1,161 out-of-school suspensions and 806 in-school suspensions”.

Just think of the lost of control and discipline for the 95% of obedient students.

If you want less discipline and less academic challenge, then allow the expelled to return to the public school system and try to track those suspension/expulsion results.

This story lacks any assessment of the number of the affected K-5 students who are never suspended.

Every kid is not cut out for Charter school challenges, this is just the culling process.

Get over it.

posted by: Wildwest on June 6, 2013  4:48pm

Maybe they should just create smaller classes for the trouble kids or better yet instead of suspending them as a lesson we just pay for teachers to go home with the children and take over the responsibilities of the parents.

I’m sorry but as a parent I dont want my kid in a class with disruptive kids that wont listen to what the teacher tells them to do. I myself always hated school(from 4th-12th) but with strict(ish) parents I made it through and even went off to college.

Mr. Ross-Lee- kids at age 3 can poke another kids eye out with a #2 pencil in a split second. Is that enough of an example for you? They can also disrupt a whole class daily for hours, is that fair to the rest of the class?

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 6, 2013  5:17pm

Keep spreading the gospel, 3/5’s.
People out there, you really need to watch the videos.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 6, 2013  5:48pm

This says it all.

An Appeal to AuthorityEducation Next Issue Cover Th new paternalism in urban schools

By David Whitman
Six Effective Urban Schools
American Indian Public Charter School (AIPCS), Oakland, CA
Amistad Academy, New Haven, CT
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Chicago, IL
KIPP Academy, Bronx, NY
SEED School, Washington, DC
University Park Campus School, Worcester, MA

Yet above all, these schools share a trait that has been largely ignored by education researchers: They are paternalistic institutions. By paternalistic I mean that each of the six schools is a highly prescriptive institution that teaches students not just how to think, but also how to act according to what are commonly termed traditional, middle-class values. These paternalistic schools go beyond just teaching values as abstractions: the schools tell students exactly how they are expected to behave, and their behavior is closely monitored, with real rewards for compliance and penalties for noncompliance. Unlike the often-forbidding paternalistic institutions of the past, these schools are prescriptive yet warm; teachers and principals, who sometimes serve in loco parentis, are both authoritative and caring figures. Teachers laugh with and cajole students, in addition to frequently directing them to stay on task.

Read the rest.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 6, 2013  6:56pm

And watch this, Philp Zimbardo’s TEDTALK entitled, “The Psychology of Evil”. (

Achievement First is the Prison Model for Education.

I in the video Zimbardo also talks about the Milgram Shock Experiment, conducted at Yale.

posted by: ElmCityVoice on June 6, 2013  7:09pm

Amistad suspended 20 kindergarteners, babies! 1 of every 5 kids?!? Can this possibly be true? Where do the children of the founders and board go to school? Are there many, if any, white children going to Amistad? I have to agree with STRL here. Is there anyone on this blog who would be willing have their children go through the shaming process that goes on at AF? If so, please explain.

posted by: Wildwest on June 6, 2013  8:20pm

Bill Saunders- you are back and forth man and I cant tell WTH your point is. Without videos to watch what is your take on this in more than 10 words?

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 7, 2013  1:13am


Why I am back and forth?

My post about adults modeling students behaviour in a non-verbal manner was not a joke.

I posted a TEDTALK video about the psychology behind this pernicious system—watch it. 

My interest in this is not without direct knowledge.

I have a friend with a doctorate in psychology who substituted at Amistad for a week.  When we she came home from the first day in fourth grade, her head was realing.  She told me phenomenal stories that were hard to believe until we started doing a little research.  As a complete outside observer she reiterated shame-baed stories not at all different than 3/5’s post,  Again, I say watch those testimonies

I heard heartbreaking stories for a week.  I would like to encapsulate them, but I am waiting for the full crib sheet from my friend’s experience.

We are not dealing with an abstract notion.
This abuse is happening in our schools.

The public needs to be upset about this.

Though the student successes are grand to spin,
the reasons for student fallout could easily be considered child abuse.

but somebody probably signed some release or something…....

Lawyers, and all…

Hey!!!!  Isn’t a Lawyer also the head of that student Kangaroo Court in the other NHI story???

Just sayin…..



posted by: Bill Saunders on June 7, 2013  2:49am


And Geographically speaking,  I am situated smack between the Career Magnet School and Amistad.

Career Magnet used to be a neighborhood across the connector. 
Amistad used to be my neighborhood school called Timothy Dwight.

After a 35 million dollar renovation, Timothy Dwight was sold to Achievement First in 2009 for 4.5 million dollars to plug a budget gap.

Should I not be concerned???

posted by: Tom Burns on June 7, 2013  3:57am

I would love to pile on Achievement first here but I won’t—I just want to say that character education is a must—showing up, being on time, being thoughtful, empathetic, sharing, including, etc. etc.—these soft skills are much more important than any educational or intellectual endeavor—how do we treat each other and how do we help each other—selflessness is the word—it was good enough for Mother Teresa and our Lord Jesus so its good enough for me—and our students—
by the way a 5,6 or 7 year old can harm others, physically as well as emotionally—they can destroy the educational experience of the other students around them and snuff out the joy of learning for those that have good intentions—and that’s a shame—so what do we do?—we don’t address either type of student very well—we keep the disruptor in school so the other kids can come to school full of fear and we learn to hate the small child who can’t control themselves—kudos to all the bloggers in this article—you are all right on—We have come a ways in New Haven but have much more to accomplish in this realm of our students educational experience—what we do now is not acceptable—this issue haunts me every day—but I promise you it will be at the top of our agenda—We need our parents and community members voices and support—are you with us??

posted by: Proud New Havener on June 7, 2013  5:46am

I need to reiterate my point because it is obvious that many of you are simply prejudiced against charter schools.

Samuel T. Ross-Lee & others, if you actually knew any of the kids that went through the Amistad schools (like the ones who just graduated), you’d know that they are anything but “thoughtless drones.”

The behavior that you call drone-like (being respectful during class) is a prerequisite for engaging and developing one’s individual intellect and creativity. These kids are being very consciously educated to do well in college. It is not acceptable to be disruptive in the middle of a professor’s lecture.

I suggest you go out and meet some of the kids that have gone through the Amistad schools before you start accusing them of being drones. It’s insulting and foolish to do otherwise.

posted by: NHMom on June 7, 2013  3:19pm

Charter School and AF are not synonymous. AF is one of many charter management organization and espouses one of many educational philosophies. Charter Schools are not inherently bad, but AF does have a history or “droning” or “military ” educating kids of color so that they they learn how to follow the rules of the school and pass the tests,but not become independent individual learners and thinkers. @Proud New Havener - I’m sorry, but I do know children who have graduated from Amistad and find this to be true. How wonderful for you that this has not been your experience or observation, but it has been the experience of others.

@Rev. Ross-Lee hit the nail on the head and   @ Paul Wessel - your fear is well warranted

posted by: HhE on June 7, 2013  5:36pm

I think this article in general, and its chart in particular, is missing a critical point.  There is a world of difference between a student being taken out of the classroom for an hour or two so they can collect themselves, and a day (or more) of in school suspension used as a disciplinary tool.  ISS is a very different kettle of fish from out of school suspensions, which many students will see as a vacation (I had a student who made no bones about getting suspended by getting caught smoking so he could have three days off from school as he had used up his absences allowed under the attendance policy.). 

I opine that OSS ought to be used only in extreme cases:  the police have been called or suspended pending an expulsion. 

I have worked in schools that did not use ISS enough.  In one school, ISS was only held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, students still attended first period (to accommodate the attendance system), and could go into the hall during passing to socialise with their friends. 

One of the first questions I would put to these school leaders is, for every student who receives a full day or more of ISS, do you develop a behavior modification plan? 

As always, well said Brutus2011.  I would be very worried about any elementary student who did not have at least a basic sense of right and wrong. 

I do not see how punishing a student is going to get an ineffective parent to become an effective one.  Public schools that I have worked in, as a rule, did nothing to help parents to be better at being parents.  No mater how much of the problem was the parent, no matter how great the crisis with a student was, schools just would not do it. 

Foote however is different.  One summer when I work there, the Head of School came to my class to observe a student.  She latter talked with me about how “We are working with the parents.”  A big part of their success is the homes their students come from, but if there is ever a problem, they are on it—with the ‘rents

posted by: Proud New Havener on June 7, 2013  6:07pm

NHMom, it is just ludicrous of you and Samuel T. Ross-Lee to call these kids drones. Absolutely ludicrous.

I have coached at Amistad and Amistad High School and have gotten to know many of the kids and there is no way you can tell me that they are drones. They are some of the best kids I have ever worked with—intelligent, creative, able to act independently and as a team.

It is just ludicrous for you to insist that they are drones based on your understanding of the methods that Achievement First uses. It just shows how prejudiced the discussion of charter schools and education is in New Haven.

posted by: ElmCityVoice on June 7, 2013  6:57pm

@Proud New Havener-you don’t like the word drones-I don’t like the word prejudice. It’s a charged word. Being philosophically opposed to Achievement First’s strategies for maintaining order is not prejudice. It’s opposition.  They created their disciplinary rules because they think that behavioral modification is needed to discipline black children. Nobody is questioning the kids are great. The kids are great at AF and NHPS. It’s the manner in which kids are being disciplined that’s under discussion here.

posted by: Champ358 on June 8, 2013  8:10am

i agree with the observations that there is a racist cultural bias in AF’s attitude. Given that the ideology and leadership is straight out of the ruling class academic institutions, how could it be any different?

One important aspect that I have not seen addressed is the issue of special ed. I suspect that the high suspension rates are designed to force special ed kids out of AF schools early so that public schools will have the challenge of dealing with our children who have physical and developmental issues. AF culls out those that are likely to have learning problems and sends them back to public school. Charters should continue to receive public funding only if they deal with our children on a fair and equal basis and not be allowed to cherry pick in order to insure high test scores and kudos for the Ivy league philosophies owners.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 8, 2013  2:58pm

From my friends experience substituting at Amistad, there were many children with ‘special needs’ in her classroom, but no real mechanism to deal with their needs but shame-based punishment.

posted by: Proud New Havener on June 8, 2013  4:41pm

I have to disagree strongly with what has just been said and what has been said by Samuel T. and others. Amistad is not racist. Period.

Amistad is not racist, but it is classist. The kids are being consciously prepared to go to college, one of the most important rites of passage for the middle class.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 9, 2013  9:58am

posted by: Proud New Havener on June 8, 2013 4:41pm
I have to disagree strongly with what has just been said and what has been said by Samuel T. and others. Amistad is not racist. Period.

Would you call segregation Racist.

Choice Without Equity:
 Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards

Amistad is not racist, but it is classist. The kids are being consciously prepared to go to college, one of the most important rites of passage for the middle class.

But they are paternalism.

Special Report: Class Struggle - How charter schools get students they want

posted by: Proud New Havener on June 9, 2013  8:43pm

3/5, of course segregation is racist and if you were to use those terms you would have to call Amistad integrationist—but this isn’t about race. It’s just about a school trying to do whatever it can to get it’s kids into college. It’s not paternalistic either, they just happen to be strict and ask a lot more of the kids and their parents (and their teachers) than other schools around here.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 10, 2013  9:15am

@ Proud New Havener

Read the report.You will find it says all charter schools across the country have Segregation.Also how come Charter Schools are not in the white suburbs.What is AF doing to address there problem of Segregation?As far as being strict,How come public schools do not used there method.I have heard about the shirt and follow the teacher with your eyes method.Bottom line as you said Segregation is is racist.

My bad you said 3/5, of course segregation is racist and if you were to use those terms you would have to call Amistad integrationist—but this isn’t about race. It’s just about a school trying to do whatever it can to get it’s kids into college

So how many white children are in Amistad.

posted by: SSSS on June 10, 2013  1:40pm

Charter schools exist in jurisdictions with poor public school options. Period. End of story.

And to make a blanket characterization of Amistad students as “drones” is extremely ignorant and offensive.

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 10, 2013  3:36pm

“SSSS” states that, “Charter schools exist in jurisdictions with poor public school options. Period. End of story.” (and why use the word, “jurisdictions?”

I would like to add, “Why are these school districts replete with poor public school options?

Or who is ultimately responsible for the state of public schools in districts where charter schools exist?

After all, the fact is that charter schools only exist in our communities and not in many other communities.

If you believe NHPS administrators and edu-managers, then the fault lies in the teacher’s lack of relevant instruction and inability to engage our students that is problematic.

Does anyone still believe that teacher ineffectiveness is the causal factor as to why our public school district offers poor school options? Or at least poor enough to allow charter schools to attract students and families here.

Which brings me to my ultimate question:

Why are we not asking our NHPS leaders for their accountability in this systemic failure?

Instead of welcoming charter schools into our midst maybe we should un-welcome our NHPS management, set a new management structure, and take back our city’s schools. 

I’m more than game, are you?

posted by: SSSS on June 10, 2013  3:48pm

Brutus2011, completely agree.  We need much more accountability for administrators as well as a recognition that teachers can only do so much.  Maybe with the changing of the guard in the school system, we will actually get it.  I’m not holding my breath though.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 10, 2013  10:44pm

Tom Burns,

There is another dynamic at work here that my friend noticed while substituting at Amistad.  Quite often, the student’s acting out were also the focus of bullying by their peers.  However, the bully’s were not recognized as such because they were quite often ‘charming’ and followed the ‘rules’.

posted by: Tom Burns on June 11, 2013  1:34am

Bullying is why I became a school counselor and it has been a problem in our schools and society for many years—I wish I could see everywhere it happens, but I can’t, I promise you that where I see it—it will be dealt with in a win-win manner—-
Our children need to know they are safe and valued—and this goes for the teaching staff in many urban districts throughout the country—should we let the teachers be bullied by the students (happens every day)—who will stick up for them—should we let the teachers be bullied by misguided parents and or for that matter their administrators or central office personnel—-how do we protect them from the same behaviors that our students face—if adults don’t model decency and empathy everyday then the bullying will continue from top to bottom—I will tell you this—it will get better, for the path has been cleared and now we just have to walk the walk, together—-Tom

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 11, 2013  9:28am

For all you A F lovers.Explain this.

Achievement First Pledges To Do Better With Disabled Students

Civil Rights Complaint Said Too Often Students With Disabilities Suspended, Given Demerits,0,6932863.story

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 11, 2013  12:21pm


I am sure you are a great counselor.

Sounds like Achievement First could use some of your intervention skills.