83.7% Of Creed Students Get Top Choice

Christopher Peak PhotoAfter the state punished their school for lacking racial diversity, many Creed High students are heading to more integrated magnet schools this fall.

That could create a new problem.

The school system has been rushing to find new schools for Cortlandt V.R. Creed Health & Sports Science High School’s students because the school itself is being shut down this month. And even though many got their top choice, the redistribution of mostly black and brown students from Creed could undermine the district’s ongoing effort to desegregate schools for the entire region.

The state will track the students transferring out of Creed, understanding that they may shift racial diversity in New Haven’s inter-district magnet program next year. But long-term, the influx doesn’t make it any easier to bring in white suburbanites, whom the district needs to avoid financial penalties at 14 state-funded magnet schools that are currently non-compliant with state formulas for integrated school populations.

In a rushed lottery process that ended last week, the district found a way to squeeze in seats for nearly 240 students dispersed by the Board of Education’s decision to close Creed. Principals managed to make room even at some of the most sought-after magnet schools, like Cooperative Arts & Humanities and Hill Regional Career.

During a Board of Education’s meeting Monday night at Celentano School, school officials shared data about where Creed students ended up and previewed plans for diversifying all its schools.

In the first round of placements, 83.7 percent of Creed students landed their top pick, said Sherri Davis-Googe, the director of school choice enrollment. Another 7.9 percent got their second choice; 3.3 percent, their third choice; and 1.7 percent, their fourth choice.

After hand-wringing by parents, who worried their kids would be dropped into a big high school, and objections by two board members, who felt the plans for reshuffling students were too vague, the percentage of Creed students who got the school they wanted turned out to be surprisingly high.

“I think it worked out better than we hoped,” Davis-Googe said. “Because there are so many high schools, we could spread them across.”

The district was able to accommodate so many of Creed’s students by pushing the capacity of its inter-district magnet schools to the limit that would not require more teachers, Davis-Googe explained. She added that many high schools also had empty desks in the upper grades.

Only 3.3 percent couldn’t nab any spots, Davis-Googe added. Those eight kids — seven freshmen and one sophomore — have been assigned to the city’s two comprehensive high schools, Wilbur Cross and James Hillhouse, while they see if they can get off the waitlist.

“More than likely, they’ll get in,” Davis-Googe said.

State Oversight

Contributed PhotoAs they accept Creed transfers, New Haven’s inter-district magnet high schools will get some extra leeway from the State Department of Education (SDE).

In a letter last month, the SDE had said that, by October 2021, every inter-district magnet high school needed to catch up with the “racial isolation” standards defined after Sheff v. O’Neill, the Connecticut Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that ordered the desegregation of Hartford area schools.

To diversify, magnets receive extra state funding —  $7,085 per suburbanite; $3,000 per local —  to reserve at least a quarter of their seats for students from surrounding towns.

According to the latest regulations, they can’t be more than 75 percent black or brown.

That is, unless the SDE’s commissioner gives them a waiver because city schools are trending in the right direction on race or increasing diversity in other ways, such as integrating across geography, socioeconomics, English-language learner or special education status, achievement and other factors.

Currently, only one high school (Engineering & Science University Magnet School) is technically compliant, but even that could change next year with kids from Creed scattered to every school.

The state has said it will give the district some wiggle room to meet its targets.

“We’re working closely with the state,” Davis-Googe said. “They know we closed a school. As long as we’re making growth, they’re going to be understanding.”

But in the meantime, the SDE also asked the district to come up with a “more robust” marketing strategy that includes reallocated school budgets, a revamped website and a social media presence, Superintendent Carol Birks said Monday. It also directed the district to look at adding middle-school athletics.

How Parents Pick

Christopher Peak Photo

While the SDE is giving the district some leeway to get its numbers up, more racial isolation in New Haven’s schools could make it harder to attract white students in the future, national research indicates.

“All things equal, all parents prefer that their children go to a school where their race is the majority,” said Patrick Wolf, a professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas, after reviewing a forthcoming study. “Well, that’s a problem, right? For integration purposes, something has to give. It’s part of the challenge of developing and maintaining racially integrated schools.”

While most parents won’t explicitly say that race matters in how they pick schools, especially compared to academics, their behavior often belies how much demographics matter.

In Washington, D.C., for instance, parents using an online tool to look at schools clicked on racial composition first more frequently than any other criteria, including test scores, according to a 2002 study. On average, those parents chose schools that were whiter than the district as a whole, the study also found.

Parents may have been relying on a strong, proven association between racial isolation and academic performance in most American schools today, but demographics still factored in even when ranking hypothetical schools, another 2016 survey concluded.

A high proportion of black students, even in a theoretical school, held as a “consistent and significant” deterrent to white parents’ likelihood to enroll their kids, the authors, Wichita State University’s Chase M. Billingham and Northeastern University’s Matthew Hunt, wrote after surveying 860 parents.

Only one-fifth of white parents surveyed said they’d pick a low-performing school where more than 60 percent of the students are black, yet more than half said they’d pick the same low-performing school where less than 20 percent of the students are black. Overall, the most common choice for white parents was a high-performing school with less black students.

Billingham and Hunt suspected parents might still by using race as a “proxy” for school quality, so they added details about the building’s age, security protocol and test scores to the mix.

More than demographics, those factors could be huge turn-offs for parents, the study found. However, even after controlling for those variables, the portion of black kids in a school still made a difference in parents’ choices.

School choice, Billingham and Hunt concluded, could worsen racial segregation, especially because districts were largely prohibited from considering race in their lotteries.

But “the results do suggest some hopeful strategies for districts striving to pursue integration,” Billingham and Hunt wrote. “Providing substantial renovations to school facilities, improving test scores, and finding ways to reduce the overt presence of intimidating security … will not eliminate all white parents’ reluctance to enrolling their children in majority-black schools, but these measures will soften that reluctance among many.”

As Creed’s closure causes other city high schools’ demographics to fluctuate, New Haven will get a chance to test Billingham and Hunt’s conclusions. Only this time, the choices by parents in Cheshire, Orange and Guilford won’t be theoretical.

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posted by: tmctague on June 13, 2018  9:42am

Billingham and Hunt suspected parents might still by using race as a “proxy” for school quality, so they added details about the building’s age, security protocol and test scores to the mix.

What a ratchet list of metrics: how about teacher experience, turnover rates, programs offered, and post-secondary achievement?  Hopkins has one of the oldest schools in town - good or bad? 


This whole conversation about integration is ridiculous - it permits segregation in some schools, but not those actually working toward dismantling segregation, simultaneously naming some of the segregated high schools as best in the state.  Perplexing!

posted by: darnell on June 13, 2018  9:59am

Incredible job, NHPS staff!

83.7 percent of Creed students landed their top pick
94.9 percent get into their 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice schools

posted by: 1644 on June 13, 2018  11:28am

tmctague:  While Hopkins is old, its physical plant is new and shiny. Of the metrics you mention,  post-secondary achievement is the only one that should really matter.  Amistad tracks not only college acceptance rates, but whether or not its alumni complete college within six years (a long, but too common, time for a four year degree).  BTW, I have never seen any independent school market itself on the basis of faculty longevity.  They do mention the alma maters and degrees held by faculty, but mostly the college choices of their graduates (since almost all independent, secondary schools are college preparatory).
  On integration, yes, it is socially desirable, but experience shows defacto segregation is not a barrier to academic success.  Look at Amistad, Booker T, or New Canaan. NHI just did a story about an amazing woman of color who got a great education at Cross and will be going on to Yale.

posted by: joshmoejo on June 13, 2018  12:47pm

Let’s be honest here. Real honest. Does reallocating funds for a “more robust” marketing strategy align with our “kids first” mission?  I’d like to challenge New Haven to be a district that is honest enough to admit when it has not resourced our schools with what we need to meet the needs of our students and families (that directly connects to our white flight issues), rather than attempt to put some new shiny object in front of those same families to market them back to the same damn schools!  How about another idea?  Like invest in making robust schools so the marketing does itself?  Creed had kids willing to stand together and fight to keep their school, is that not an indicator of a bigger story than just its numbers?Teenagers working together to fight to go to school, when truancy remains an issue for so many. Why not provide amazing programming for our Riverside, New Light, and New Horizons kids, in order to show how we provide amazing services for our most challenging students, that we are brave enough to say we won’t let go of your students because we actually do put kids first?  Honesty as it relates to the teachers would also be welcome. Have we talked yet about what will happen to all of those teachers who don’t have certainty about where they will be, or how they might be feeling about losing valuable connections to our most vulnerable students?  We need to be a district that tells the truth. About what we need, about what we do, about who we can and can’t serve, and do it well. Reallocating funds to marketing companies does not serve our kids, it serves that marketing company. In 18 years of being a parent of NHPS kids, marketing campaigns in and out and up and down, repeated bad strategy, that doesn’t promote trusted r

posted by: tmctague on June 13, 2018  12:55pm

1644:
I teach at Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven, a magnet school exactly like the ones being mentioned.  My school is sending FOUR students to Yale next year - probably more than any school in the state, private independent schools included. 

My school is 20 years old, and it’s not shiny - so we agree, age of the building is a silly metric. 

1644 - Imagine sending your student to a school that had 22 year old teachers that often left after 2-3 years, with new inexperienced teachers taking their place.  You’re okay with that?  That’s why experience, or disparagingly called ‘longevity’ by you, is important to schools.  I work in one, so I know. 

Amistad tracks it’s college graduation rate just like all other schools in the state, but I don’t think they’ve existed long enough to look at that data.  Amistad only sent one student to Yale, and lacks the diversity that my school has.  They have a newer building, though.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on June 13, 2018  2:34pm

Why is “Fine Too-Black Schools” not a part of the “True Vote?”

[Paul: Thanks for the suggestion! I didn’t include it because I think that’s what they’re already doing.]

posted by: 06511 on June 13, 2018  2:53pm

1644-

To add on to what tmctague said, Amistad’s ranking is also disingenuous because the school does not serve the same students that other New Haven public high schools serve - namely, the literal hundreds of children who arrive in this city - often immigrants and refugees - after September and throughout the school year.

Why more people aren’t extremely critical of their 100% college acceptance rate is beyond me. Without wanting to detract from the absurdly hard work that Amistad students put in, that number should make it clear to all that many students are being shut out or shown the door before they make it to senior year.

I’ve often said that a decent first step would be for Achievement First to be honest about this instead of claiming to play same game that everyone else is playing. No luck yet.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on June 13, 2018  3:30pm

Paul Bass,

But you asked if “Too-White Schools” would be fine in the effort. Allowing for the possibility of Too-Black Schools, whether that is the current status or not, is a legitimate choose among the ones provided.

New Haven cannot force white students to move here and or attend our schools when they don’t live here.  Why should we have to do such a thing?  The “separate is inherently unequal” argument was made within the unstated (within that phrase) context of unequal resources. Black students do not require the presence of white students to learn or succeed.  To state otherwise would seriously question the intellectual capacity of Black students/people qua Black Students/people sans the resource conversation. 

Rev. Ross-Lee

[Paul: Thank you. I agree with you.]

posted by: 1644 on June 13, 2018  3:39pm

tmctague:  1. Yes, we agree that the age of the building is a silly metric.  I think we also agree that the faculty is the most important factor in any education.
2. Congratulations on sending four to Yale.  I know Career has a good record with Yale admissions.  In fact,  a Career alumna was at the last Yale Admissions Alumni Schools Committee meeting I attended.
3. Check out Hopkins faculty pages.  There is no mention of longevity, just schools attended. https://www.hopkins.edu/page/about-us/faculty—staff?deptId=2734. Hotchkiss does mention “employed since” dates in its faculty profiles, and a great portion of its faculty have not been with more than a few years.  Personally,  some of the best teachers I had were new or recent graduates, often spending a few years teaching before attending a professional school.  Some of the longer employed teachers were also great, much revered, but latter revealed as pedophiles.
4.  Four Yale matriculants is fantastic for a non-selective, public school.  That said, its not better than selective, independent schools.  Choate has had 48 alumni matriculate at Yale in the last five years, and more at schools more selective such as Stanford and Harvard.  https://www.choate.edu/uploaded/Documents/Academics/College_Profile.pdf
Hotchkiss has had 31 Yale matriculants in the last four years. https://www.hotchkiss.org/academics/college-advising/matriculation.  With the exception of one graduate going to Fairfield,  all the Hotchkiss grads went to competitive schools.
5.  No, it’s not fair to compare Career to the best independent schools in the state.

posted by: Jeff Klaus on June 13, 2018  5:14pm

06511 - Students who attend Hopkins or Choate put in the same “absurd” level of hard work as Amistad High students.  And if you ask most Hopkins grads, they’ll tell you they received a great college prep experience in high school and that it helped them set course for a prosperous college experience, career, and life. 

So my question is, are you philosophically against hard work in general? Or are you simply promoting the soft bigotry of low expectations for Amistad students?

posted by: 06511 on June 13, 2018  6:03pm

@ Jeff

You may have misunderstood my sentiments, which would make sense because I didn’t adequately explain what was ‘absurd’ (eg, illogical or inappropriate) about the level of work required of most of Amistad’s fine students.

The absurdity is that these students work just as hard as many of their more socially and economically privileged peers at Choate and Hopkins and on top of that they have to bear the emotional and physical costs of the myriad manifestations of white supremacy and the mal-distribution of wealth (distinct but intimately related).

That’s pretty absurd.

posted by: 1644 on June 13, 2018  7:02pm

Rev Ross-Lee:  “separate is inherently unequal” was also made in the context of de jure segregation, something that no longer exists and hasn’t existed in Connecticut for over a century.  No student is told he cannot attend a particular school based on his color, so the stigma of such segregation, even in the context of equal resources, doesn’t exist.  The magnet school program, designed to end racial isolation, is aimed at a “problem”, racial isolation, which does NOT prevent academic success.  Yes, socially it would be great if all our schools were more diverse.  Yet, given the housing patterns, that integration would come at a cost in transportation that undercuts the benefits.  Time on a bus is time that cannot be spent under instruction, studying, on the playing field, sleeping, or just socializing.  Again, the success of kids in racially isolated schools such as Amistad show that, while an extended school day and year, and a demanding, focused course of study, may be needed for success, white kids are not.

posted by: Jeff Klaus on June 13, 2018  7:28pm

06511 - So is your response is that Amistad students, because of factors beyond their control, shouldn’t strive to get into competitive colleges and change the odds for themselves and their families?

posted by: 06511 on June 13, 2018  9:11pm

@jeff

No, absolutely not (though I also refuse to concede that admittance to college alone necessarily ‘changes the odds’ for the students and their families: white supremacy is far too devious for such a singular solution as that) and now I’m not sure how you wrested that interpretation from what I said.

I have deep love and respect for the students of Amistad, many of whom I have taught. They deserve everything they have strived to attain, and much more. My point was that Achievement First schools have long been ranked alongside New Haven Public Schools in spite of the fact that they do not have the same admission policies as these schools and push many students out the door - students who I also love and respect deeply. AF has then used this unfair comparison to excoriate other teachers, schools, and administrators. It is dishonest and counterproductive.

Although I try not to make assumptions about the MO’s of people I don’t know, I find it disturbing that any criticism of AF these days is met with some version of ‘you must not want these kids to succeed.’ It’s akin to a party line recently. I’ve seen Morgan Barth use that approach in the comment section of this very publication. Was there a memo?

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on June 13, 2018  10:38pm

06511,

Of course, there is a memo. The “education” business that AF is works harder on public relations than they do on creating a school with a similar make-up to the schools they often excoriate for not producing the results that they claim. 

They troll every story on this site about education and make claims that are full of half-truths and whole lies.  I have NEVER seen Klaus comment on any other issue in this city, as no other issue in this city allows him to pontificate on his speaking points. 

As much, if not all, of what they say is just not accurate, they have little credibility in the discussion on the education of Public School Students.

Rev. Ross-Lee

posted by: Jeff Klaus on June 13, 2018  10:43pm

06511 - what is dishonest is saying that AF pushes kids out.  They do no such thing. 

And there are plenty of fair comparisons to be made between charter schools and government schools.  Just ask the hundreds of parents who choose a charter school in the school choice lottery.

posted by: JDoe on June 14, 2018  10:31am

“Government schools” - that conjures up a lovely image for public schools and those that devote their energies to them. I guess that makes teachers government bureaucrats? Oh well still better than for-profit, non-educator, fiscally unaccountable, defacto segregated, non-transparent corporate schools - uh… I mean charter schools.

posted by: 06511 on June 14, 2018  11:35am

@jeff

The argument that AF does not push kids out simply doesn’t work with me. I taught at an AF school for years - longer, I’d wager, than most (at one point I assumed that I was going to be, in Doug McCurry’s poor choice of words, a ‘lifer’). While there I kept records. I can tell you the first and last names of every kid who walked in the door but didn’t walk out four years later because they were long gone - over 50 percent of one class alone (all but one or two of the teachers had also come and gone during that period). I played my part in the pushing-out of these students, and it has since been a difficult self-reckoning.

As to your contention that fair comparisons are to be made between AF schools and New Haven Public Schools, this is perfectly knowable. Some guiding questions for you (and perhaps the Indy):

How many new students are registered for New Haven schools between, say, September 30th and June first (I’d guess upwards of 200)?

How many of these newly arrived students end up at AF schools - both upon arrival, and in successive years?

Take a look at Amistad High School in particular - how many new sophomores, juniors, or seniors are accepted each year?

(continued below)

posted by: 06511 on June 14, 2018  11:37am

(continued from above)

Aside from hard, quantifiable data - something very much valued by Achievement First - there are anecdotal ways to get at this question. I invite you to visit Hillhouse, Wilbur Cross, Barnard, or Fair Haven schools, if you have not already. Observe classrooms full of amazing recently-arrived students and students who are differently-abled. Visit the school registration office. Then ask yourself if AF’s admission policies couldn’t be revamped to make the schools more inclusive.

Also, make more of an effort to listen to critical voices from within Achievement First - there are many fine students and teachers who value so much about the schools but have been working - sometimes for years - to push the organization in a stronger direction. It is ironic, in light of the slogan that ‘teachers are platinum,’ that so many of those voices are marginalized.

What you mustn’t do, for the good of the children that Achievement First serves, is respond to legitimate criticism with gaslighting and ad hominem obfuscation.

It doesn’t dignify the worthy mission of Achievement First.

No excuses.

posted by: Jeff Klaus on June 14, 2018  3:23pm

06511 - if you really taught at AF and “pushed kids out”, please identify yourself and the supervisor who approved this.  I call BS.  But if it’s true, it’s no wonder you were asked to leave.

If you prefer to keep it confidential, ask Paul Bass to connect us and I assure you I will engage with you on your claim. 

I am a Wilbur Cross grad so I know the difference between Amistad High and government schools.  One school model is designed around the needs/wants of adults while the other is a challenging and rewarding place to work in service of students.

One more comment on accepting and creaming students.  When the topic of accepting new district arrivals arose several years ago due to complaints lodged by charter bashers, the only people who objected to charter schools taking in recent arrivals to the district were….district officials. 

I don’t know why they weren’t willling to go arm in arm with willing charter operators up to the state legislature to change state law to allow recent new arrivals to be placed in charters but my suspicion is that it would have removed one of the last excuses for the performance gap that they had.  Perhaps Dr. Birks will change things and support expansion of charter student body.  I hope so.

As for pushing kids out, how many students these days get pushed out to adult ed by the district?  Or to specialized schools? 

AF has always served a disproportionately higher rate of low income and minority students than does the NHPS district.  And their attrition rate and graduations rates compare favorably to the district.  Their college acceptance, attendance, and persistence rates are far higher.

If you really cared about the fortunes of children, you would demand more high performing charters (not just AF charters btw) in New Haven.  But that’s not the agenda, is it?

Lastly don’t trust me (I am biased).  But just read last months US News and World Report.

I’ll wait to hear from you about your claim that AF pushed kids out.

posted by: Jeff Klaus on June 14, 2018  9:06pm

DD - Here’s something a bit more current.

http://www.wtnh.com/news/us-news-world-report-ranks-new-haven-s-amistad-academy-top-high-school-in-ct_20180509223125/1170246518

posted by: 06511 on June 14, 2018  10:40pm

@jeff

When I refer to kids being ‘pushed out,’ I’m not talking about some explicit conspiracy between teachers and administrators to remove challenging kids from AF schools. I’m talking about the ‘broken windows’ behavioral system, the constant barrage of deductions and in-school suspensions and expulsions that was (and is) so blind to the best current studies of developmental psychology. Having taught in the upper grades, most of the children who were pushed out (again, over 50 percent at the time, no matter what you claim about attrition) were gone before they even got to my classroom. The problem was systemic, and it started at the top - so as for wanting to know who my supervisor was, the one who approved all this? I’m sure you are well-acquainted.

As for your claim that district officials objected to charter schools taking in recent arrivals, are you referring to the Elm City Imagine negotiations, when AF used rolling admissions as a bargaining chip to garner support from the board of education for it’s ill-planned Greenfield school? I just went back and looked at the memorandum of understanding for that deal (available on the Indy website). It states very clearly:

(Continued below)

posted by: 06511 on June 14, 2018  10:41pm

(Continued from above)

“Amistad and Elm City commit to filling any empty seats in open grades (currently grades K-9) whenever they become available, including in the middle of the school year.  The Board’s district-wide enrollment policy will govern assignment of these students, consistent with magnet and other choice-driven enrollment schools.  With respect to later high school grades (10-12), Amistad and Elm City commit to revisiting the possibility of September and mid-year transfers once the Board has clarified its own policy regarding magnet school admission in the later grades.”

This was all filed under the heading of ‘equity,’ which begs the question: if AF believes such a move would be equitable, and they were willing to commit to it then, why not commit to it now? And instead of using ‘magnet and other choice-driven schools’ as their objective, why not take a step further toward equity and strive to welcome students to the degree that Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross do?

And speaking of Wilbur Cross, that ‘government school’ designed for the needs and wants of adults - it seems to have worked out pretty well for you.

One last note, and I’m truly sorry to be so repetitive here, but again you accuse me of ‘not really caring about the fortunes of children.’ The amazing students that I taught at AF were adept at identifying ad hominem rejoinders (defined as ‘an argument or reaction directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining’) as a disingenuous and often deliberate attempt to shut down intellectual exchange. You should spend more time in some of those classrooms, you might learn a thing or two.

posted by: NHPLEB on June 15, 2018  5:32pm

Does anyone care at all what is happening to the students and teachers and staff at the New Horizons/Riverside/New Light demolition?  The media has been mum about this and the teachers are swinging in the wind about their jobs.  How humane is this???

posted by: Jeff Klaus on June 16, 2018  9:49am

06511 - First, AFs high school attrition rates have improved significantly since their early years.

But more to the point, because you disagree with AFs practices, strategies, and goals, you equate the application of high behavioral and academic standards with pushing kids out?  Got it. 

Bottom line - this is about about choice.  All families ought to have the same ability to choose a school.  Any kind of school.  The ability to chose should not just be the prerogative of the affluent.  Opportunity is the essential promise of America.  And that promise is being broken every day by the government in its imposition on the poor of its dysfunctional school system.

And the beauty of choice is that you can opt out.  And at this point, far more kids and families opt out of government schools in New Haven than charter schools.  The choice begins at preschool where you can find the charter wait lists in the hundreds (are they choosing a charter or are they being pushed away by the government schools?) and it extends throughout the years where choice manifests via transfer to charters, parochials, or moving away to a “better” district. 

You clearly have a personal vendetta towards AF.  Sorry you had a bad experience.  It sounds like it wasn’t a good match.

And I wouldn’t trade my high school experience for anything.  I made lifelong friendships and had experiences and challenges that helped to shape who I am.  But despite the gifts, WCHS was a violent, chaotic school atmosphere which provided a very thin social or educational safety net to its most vulnerable students.  Fortunately I was a able to navigate HS.  But when I got to college, it was apparent that my preparation for the next level was very low.  I had to work really hard to catch up.  Lots of my classmates never caught up.

New Haven families deserve options.  Stop standing in their way.

posted by: 06511 on June 17, 2018  1:31pm

@jeff

“But more to the point, because you disagree with AFs practices, strategies, and goals, you equate the application of high behavioral and academic standards with pushing kids out?  Got it.”

No, you DON’T got it. I very clearly stated that I disagree with some of AF’s practices, strategies, and goals because they are developmentally inappropriate and because they stem from the same flawed rationale that undergird ‘broken windows’ polices that unduly target black and brown children.

“All families ought to have the same ability to choose a school.  Any kind of school.”

Right. I’ve been saying this from the beginning. So if a 10th grader who has fled Columbia arrives in New Haven in March, he should have the chance to enroll in an AF school; if a twelve-year-old Congolese refugee who speaks no English and has had years of interrupted schooling wishes to enroll in AF, she should not be forced to sit through IAs that do nothing to meet her actual needs or recognize her actual strengths, and her choosing to transfer to a ‘government school’ that more adequately recognizes those needs and strengths should not be chalked up to her inability to live up to ‘high behavioral and academic standards.’

(Continued below)

posted by: 06511 on June 17, 2018  1:33pm

(Continued from above)

And while we’re on the subject of choice, let’s not forget what white people of means have done with that choice for generations - move as far away from students of color as possible. And let’s not fool ourselves about what Achievement First families would choose if they were suddenly given the option to send their kids to Choate or Hopkins free of charge instead of Elm City or Amistad. This ‘beauty of choice’ that you speak of isn’t as simple or equitable as you make it out to be.

“You clearly have a personal vendetta towards AF.”

Maybe if I say it enough times, you’ll understand: attacking the motives of someone you don’t know is cheap. It is a way to avoid engaging intellectually with ideas. If you look back at what I’ve written, you will understand what am I asking: how can AF schools change their current practices to be more welcoming to students of various backgrounds in ways that dignify their life experiences? Show me ONE INSTANCE in which I have called for charter schools to be done away with. Show me ONE INSTANCE in which I questioned your personal integrity or rationale. I believe you want what you think is best for the students that AF serves. I have not said anything to the effect of ‘of course you love charter schools, because you are a white capitalist banker who would love nothing more than to see the capitalist takeover of public educational institutions.’ I don’t know you well enough for that. Some of the educators that I respect most in this world are still active AF teachers and administrators. You are doing them - and the students they teach - a great disservice by being so dismissive of the concerns articulated here.

posted by: Jeff Klaus on June 17, 2018  4:11pm

Last comment 06511.  You are being disingenuous by stating how much you respect the teachers, administrators, and students who have chosen to go to AF while you crap all over the strategies and pedagogy.  The irony of your comments is that AF staff are far more satisfied with their work environment than are government schools staff.  The AF community has chosen to embrace the AF mission so they believe and promote a brand of education that you do not.  People aren’t captives.
For the people you say you respect, you treat them with disdain by falsely criticizing how they go about their work.

You reinforce the widespread fallacy that AF gets its results by “pushing kids out” and then you admit that AF does no such thing.  Students leave because its a choice that every child and family makes.  (You also didn’t comment on the fact that NH government schools actually DO steer kids to Adult Ed and specialized schools in high numbers.  Waiting for your response on that fact).

But the bottom line, as I said, is that you clearly have an issue with providing low income students (mainly kids of color) with the same education options that affluent families have for their own children.  My personal opinion (Not AF’s) is that any school that tries to be everything to every kid doesn’t do either.  Our comprehensive high schools are perfect examples of that flawed thinking.  One size does not fit all.

What do you hope or believe will happen if you turn high performing schools into failure factories by calling for similar policies and practices?  Do you not believe that poor children ought to have the same opportunity to soar academically
as do the affluent? Or if you do, how would you accompish it?  Do you advocate for Hopkins or Choate to be forced to take in all kids?  If not, why not?  Are charters and vouchers not part of the equality of opportunity that we both seek?

Finally, did you go to the worst school in your district?  Would you put your own child in that school?

posted by: 06511 on June 17, 2018  10:10pm

@jeff

“The irony of your comments is that AF staff are far more satisfied with their work environment than are government schools staff.”

Sorry, I know you said that was your last comment, but I just couldn’t let this one go because we haven’t even gotten to teacher retention yet! How is that working out for AF? Teachers are sticking around for a long time, then? Got numbers?

“You reinforce the widespread fallacy that AF gets its results by “pushing kids out” and then you admit that AF does no such thing.”

Did I admit this? Where, exactly? At AF we always pushed students to support their claims with evidence from the text.

“(You also didn’t comment on the fact that NH government schools actually DO steer kids to Adult Ed and specialized schools in high numbers.  Waiting for your response on that fact).”

Not sure what you’re getting at here, but feel free to clarify with exactly how high these numbers are.

“My personal opinion (Not AF’s) is that any school that tries to be everything to every kid doesn’t do either.”

Therefore AF should be honest about the students that it can’t or won’t adequately serve, and less wrapped up in rankings and passing itself off as THE ANSWER to the problem of educational inequity in America.

Also, thank you for being transparent about how you really feel about truly public education, and about what would happen to AF schools if they actually were open to all members of our fine community, as called for by the policies and practices of New Haven Public Schools:

“What do you hope or believe will happen if you turn high performing schools into failure factories by calling for similar policies and practices?”

You’re right. Best to keep the rabble out of our high-performing schools, lest they turn into failure factories. What a pure expression of the potential of all children to succeed regardless of socioeconomic status.