Mass Walkout At Amistad High

Paul Bass PhotoAdministrators overseeing the Achievement First Amistad charter high school promised to “do better” Tuesday after hundreds of black and Latino students walked out in protest to air longstanding complaints about racial insensitivity.

The students massed on the football field of the Dixwell Avenue charter school after arriving on buses, then marched on the street chanting “What do we want? Diversity! When do we want it? Now! Now!”

Some 98 percent of the school’s 498 students are black or Latino, according to its website. Most of the teachers are white.

The school emphasizes that it grooms students to be leaders — and the students took them up on that mission at Tuesday’s orderly protest.

They charged that a racially insensitive climate had led most of the black teachers to leave and to indiscriminate discipline.

The protests brought into the open complaints students and parents have had about the racial climate in the school.

“The school has young teachers that can’t handle the classroom,” said Kordell Green, one of the organizers.

“We had this organized two weeks ago.The idea was for everybody to wear white. All the leaders would wear black. To show there’s a lack of minority teachers in the school,” said sophomore Isis Anderson. “We want more diversity. We want more representation of our student body.”

“We’re trying to balance respect for student leadership and student voice against running a focused school where students learn a lot and have a productive day, especially with exams coming up,” said AF Regional Superintendent Jeff Sudmyer, as he monitored the protest from inside the school Tuesday morning. He said that AF, like all schools in Connecticut, wrestles with a low percentage of non-white teachers, and is working hard to diversify.

“That’s not to make an excuse. We work really hard to have a diverse staff,” he said.

Some 27 percent of Amistad High School “staff members identify as black, Latino or multi-racial,” reported AF spokeswoman Amanda Pinto. “This is an increase from 21 percent in 2013-14.”

Sudmyer said the school pursues a “justice, equality, access” mission.

“In the ideal, they see us as collaborators with them and giving them a voice,” he said. “We want them to be leaders.”

Students complained that a popular African-American front-office worker whom they trust is being pushed out of her job. Sudmyer said he can’t comment on that because “it’s a personnel issue. They perceive it a certain way,” but “it would be inappropriate and probably illegal if I were to comment on that.”.

Around 10 a.m. students assembled on Ford Street, at the side of the school, where student Messiah Gordon led them in a call-and-response first-person testimony.

“The student body should be reflected in the staff,” he said. “Diversity in the staff increases our sense of comfort and our ability to interact with confidence in our problems,” Gordon said.

“Growing up without a father figure, I always looked to find one inside the classroom. Unfortunately, not to sound rude, a Caucasian male would never be able to teach me how to live in a society that still looks down at the skin of my color.”

At 10:20, students who live in Bridgeport went inside after they were told they would not be allowed to board buses home if they didn’t.

The other students gathered around protest leaders, Anderson and sophomore Miquell Shaw, both of whom are running for student president.

They reported that administrators had offered to meet with the protestors in the media room if they would agree to come inside.

“If they really wanted to listen to us, they would have been out here,” Anderson said.

So the crowd of students marched instead to the front of the building to protest, where pictures of African-American heroes like Barack Obama, Shirley Chisholm, and Thurgood Marshall, looked down from the top of the facade.

A call went to Achievement First offices in Hartford, and top system administrators were headed down to New Haven to meet with students.

Five student leaders were ushered in to speak with school officials while students held placards and waved to honking drivers passing by on Dixwell Avenue.

Parents came to the scene, arranging for buses to take New Haven students home later in the day and bringing water and food to keep the protesters going.

“Guys, you’ve got to face the street and put your signs up! It looks like you’re going on a field trip. You haven’t won the battle!” advised Melissa Jones, “auntie” of an Amistad student.

“This is not a game. This is your civil rights. This is what your ancestors died for!” Sharmont “Influence” Little, parent of a sophomore, exhorted the protesting students.

“I’m happy they’re standing up for what they believe in,” he said afterwards.


Aliyya Swaby PhotoWhile awaiting word from leaders meeting with administrators inside the building, students discussed some of their experiences at the school.

Amistad sophomore William Alvarado said he got four days of in-school suspension several weeks ago for asking a teacher whether she was on her period. He asked the dean whether a girl would be suspended for saying the same thing, and was told it would be a different consequence, he said.

Students are also disciplined through a “merit system,” in which demerits start at a minimal Level 1 for small infractions and go to Level 3 for more serious ones. A second level demerit automatically gets a student detention. Three first level demerits send a student to detention.

Alvarado said teachers give students demerits whenever they want, often without good reason. He said students don’t feel listened to by teachers.

Students can now be suspended for playing cards during lunch, he said.

Amistad junior Denaja Green said the system worksthrough favoritism, with a select group of students never being disciplined for the same actions that get others suspension or detention.

When Lourdez Moody, I’onna Roselle, T’onna Roselle and a few other girls got into a verbal altercation with another student, they felt they were blamed for the incident —  and the other student was not. Both parties have to go through mediation. And staff members are directed to observe them in the halls to make sure they do not continue to fight.

Alvarado showed a “hallway support heat map” he found on the floor that listed all the students involved in that altercation, along with their lockers and schedules.

First Meeting With Students

Student leaders Shaw and Gordon reappeared at around 12:40 from their meeting with administrators. They told students gathered that they would get transportation home. Administrators had also agreed to allow students into the building to use the bathroom and eat lunch. Afterward, they could go to class or head home.

That evening at 5 p.m., students would meet with administrators and teachers, they reported. Achievement First CEO Dacia Toll would join them for a meeting in the next week, they were told.

Shaw said the meeting went well. He argued that Amistad needed to build a culture that made teachers of color feel welcome enough to keep working there, in order to attract more to start. And administrators agreed with students that “some students may get suspended for things that are of a secondary nature.”

He said teachers understood the cause and were willing to compromise.

Not all student leaders were as optimistic about the outcome.

Gordon said later that administrators were “listening, but I don’t think they were actually hearing what we were saying.” He said he didn’t trust Sudmyer, when he expressed displeasure about the rally, but also said he was proud of them for protesting.

Students had had many prior meetings about their concerns with school leaders over this past year. But nothing happened as a result. They rallied “when we didn’t feel our voices were being heard,” he said.

Though the rally was over, student leader Nia Anderson said the fight was still ongoing. “Today was a success,” she said. It will be a “long process of getting stuff done.”

2nd Meeting, With Alders & Parents

Aliyya Swaby PhotoNewhallville Alders Brenda Foskey-Cyrus and Delphine Clyburn arrived at the rally at 12:45 p.m. just as it began to die down, and headed straight to the main office. They requested a meeting with the principal, but was told she was in a meeting.

Instead, they were ushered into a room with Sudmyer. (A reporter was allowed to be present.)

They reminded him that including diverse staff was part of the agreement community members and alders had with Achievement First when deciding whether they could build Amistad on Dixwell Avenue. The full Board of Alders unanimously agreed to sell the abandoned Martin Luther King School to Achievement First for $1.5 million, so it could raise and build a new home for Amistad.

The community benefits agreement included points such as recruiting minority teachers, partnering with New Haven Works job pipeline agency to get New Haveners into jobs at the school, and allowing community access to the school’s athletic field and gym for free.

Alicia Jones, parent of I’onna and T’onna Roselle, joined the alders in the meeting. She said the school was failing the students by not hiring more teachers of color. The only staff of color in the school are behavioral managers, not teachers, she said.

“I don’t completely disagree with you,” Sudmyer responded. “We need to do a better job.”

He said students needed consequences for walking out because he was also “running a school” and students need to be in class.

Jones asked why a white teacher was allowed to stay at Amistad after calling a black secretary a “nigger.” Many students and parents had brought up that story throughout the day to describe the atmosphere in the school for people of color.

Sudmyer said that story wasn’t true. “I’m sorry you don’t trust us,” he said. “Each of these incidents was investigated very thoroughly.”

“You have to hold your staff accountable,” Jones said. “They’re very rude and nasty to our students.”

“I don’t want staff to be rude and nasty to the kids,” Sudmyer responded. “Come around and take a look at the classes.”

“They’re not going to do it when you’re there,” Jones snapped back.

AF Co-CEO and President Dacia Toll issued this statement at 1:17 p.m.: “We are a school that focuses on developing student leaders, and today’s rally is an example of their leadership – we are proud of our students for their activism, advocacy and voice. Network leaders are meeting with students and families later today, and we’re looking forward to discussing their concerns. Staff diversity is a priority at AF Amistad High and across Achievement First, and we are proud of the progress we’ve made. We are also proud of our students and of our school.”

Amistad High is changing its principal at the end of the school, from Claire Polcrack to Morgan Barth.

Text Of Letter To Protesters

The administration distributed the following note to the protesters Tuesday morning:

Rally Participants:

We want to start by recognizing your leadership and want to recognize that your message has been heard. We look forward to meeting this afternoon with Ms. Polcrack, the principal, Mr. Sudmyer, the superintendent, Ms. Toll, the co-CEO of Achievement First, and other network representatives to further hear your concerns and comments.

We all come here each day to learn. You are here to learn, and IAs are approaching. Many of you need to get your GPA’s as high as possible. Classes are still going on today and important work is being missed.

Scholars who come to classes by 9:30 am will have minimal consequences.

If you choose to stay out after 9:30am the consequences will be more significant and can include up to:
• a tardy or absence to school (absence after 10:30am)
• unexcused missed work that may not be made up
• non-participating with any school activities

If you choose to stay out after 10:30am it is an absence of school. Therefore you will not be eligible for privileges of attending school to include:
• access to the building
• lunch
• bussing
• no participating with after-school activities (including athletics)

Thank you for making your voices heard and to make sure you are ready to learn today.

Please check back later for updates and a fuller story with student interviews and video.

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posted by: AverageTaxpayer on May 31, 2016  10:13am

What they should also be protesting is the de facto segregation that still exists in Connecticut’s public schools.

We’re supposed to be moving fully into the 21st century, and a time when the color of your skin matters less and less. Hard to do that given racially segregated schools…

posted by: jim1 on May 31, 2016  10:31am

I was going to post a note but Wendy1 would be mad.  Kick the kids out and get some teachers that they like.

posted by: A.T. on May 31, 2016  10:52am

While I think it’s great to see young people protesting and caring passionately about diversity, it would be terrific to have some concrete examples that demonstrate the school has a racially insensitive climate. Maybe an article is coming later with details?

posted by: tristanrobin on May 31, 2016  10:58am

Although I fully sympathize with the students, I’m not quite sure what they hope to achieve with this walkout. It appears, from the statements made by AF Regional Superintendent Jeff Sudmyer that there is state-wide shortage of teachers of color. What do these students want to be done? These teachers can’t be materialized from thin air.

Hopefully, a few of them will continue their education and go on to BECOME educators. Most of best of our students prefer high paying private careers to public school teaching careers. But, we either stop voting for a government that wants to cut education expenses (i.e. teachers’ salaries), or find bright people who are willing to sacrifice material abundance for intellectual and spiritual enrichment and reward as teachers.

But, walking out of class isn’t going to get these teachers to show up because the students want them to do so.

posted by: 06511 on May 31, 2016  11:04am

What a welcome development!

AF loves to talk about leadership and social justice while couching their mission as ‘the new civil rights movement.’

As such, I look forward to reading about the concrete and specific concessions they will offer to these students of color who are addressing real and long-standing grievances.

AF teachers of conscience, now is your time to step up and support these kids.

posted by: BoydJones on May 31, 2016  11:14am

You get highly-qualified minority applicants based upon the environment you desire and create. It does not appear that AF has wanted or attempted to develop an inclusive place. Putting pictures of famous black people on the wall and failing to champion the cause is just hypocritical.

This did not happen out of thin air today. It has been an ongoing issue that students have tried again and again to address. Air out the laundry and they will have to listen.

Good work, students.

posted by: ElmCityVoice on May 31, 2016  11:15am

I’m so proud of the students! Empowerment is about taking risks to accomplish what’s right. In New Haven, with suburban participation, there are very few schools that are all black and Hispanic. One can help but think that Amistad is doing a social experiment and would rather the schools remain segregated.

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 31, 2016  12:12pm

Poor role modelling is just one of the big problems with AF.  When you have a staff of white privilege micromanaging uniformed students of color in a ‘prison environment’, what do you expect is going to happen?

The students are hearing ‘the system’s message’, and I laud them for standing up against the hypocritical corporate education system.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on May 31, 2016  12:19pm


Here are the words of a white teacher who commented on a similar issue facing NHPS:
I am a white high school teacher. I push all of my students to succeed. This article is an embarrassment to my profession and shows a sad side of society. Instead of praising teachers who go above and beyond what we are paid the writer chooses to drive a stake deeper into the establishments racial divide. You give the students reason to DOUBT their teachers because of the color of their skin. You give students a built in excuse, “oh, I didn’t succeed in school because my white teacher didn’t understand my racial background.” The media is making the racial divide deeper and deeper. Applaud teachers who are willing to work in districts with difficult conditions. Teaching in a suburban setting is not very difficult. Cheer for the teachers who are willing to work with students who don’t have some of the same benefits that suburb kids have. This article has made me very upset. I guess I should quit my job at my city school because I’m white. I stay after school with my students, I cheer for the successes of all of my students. I encourage my struggling students. I teach that anyone of them can be successful if we work together and keep persevering and not give up. But, I’m white so I guess my students don’t understand where I’m coming from.

MY OPINION: the race of a student’s teacher does not make that teacher the best teacher they can have. It’s a majority-minority school - minority teachers are only going to further the segregation that is being had across the page for urban schools!

White teachers who choose to work in an urban setting are often taking a pay cut to work harder jobs with less support from admin. Let’s stop SH*TTING on our them so easily as there are already too many vacancies in our schools as it stands!

posted by: BoydJones on May 31, 2016  12:32pm


Very adult of you to ignore the students’ frustration and reflexively jump to the side of the white teachers.

posted by: newhavenSTRONGER on May 31, 2016  12:40pm

A slap in the face to the white teachers? White privilege strikes again. Instead of validating these students needs and desire to be educated within a diverse setting that mirrors their communities, there are those who would rather cry about the feelings of the white teachers who as one commenter correctly put is “a staff of white privilege micromanaging uniformed students of color in a ‘prison environment’,” I applaud these students for taking a stand. Maybe there is a lack of diversity because the screening process for applicants includes a survey that does not align with some of the value systems of potential applicants. There are qualified African American and Latino candidates but they are often looked over or asked to fill positions that monitor or manage “climate,” it’s time to recognize that teachers of color can do more than just discipline but are also instructional leaders.

I would also question what is a ” proper education?” and to whose standards??

posted by: markcbm on May 31, 2016  12:53pm

Mutiny at the Amistad?!

posted by: webster on May 31, 2016  1:25pm

These students have no idea what all was involved to get this school Planned, financed, De-politized, up and functioning in Newhalville.

If the students don’t like the white teachers and want more diversity, they can transfer to Troup, Wilbur cross or Hillhouse and recheck themselves at that door.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 31, 2016  1:34pm

While I admit I know little about the workings of this school, what I can see is that the students have grievances and are trying to bring attention to some issues that require direct communications between the students, the teachers and the administration.

How disappointing to see a mechanistic, rule rattling response instead.

Unless the school is merely training these young people to “fit in”, why not surprise everyone and get together to talk and listen. It’s amazing what the act of listening to someone can do for them.

It makes them feel visible.
It makes them feel valued in their opinions.
It makes them feel powerful to effect change.

With such an historically significant name as “Amistad” attached to this school, let’s unleash the creativity and passion in everyone involved in the school to put the issues out there and find a path to work on them.

This is an organized, peaceful protest and it is to be honored.

Well done, students.

posted by: Brutus2011 on May 31, 2016  1:43pm

Wow, I almost fainted when I saw this!

So much to say, however the kids are correct.

It is not that I want to accuse white teachers of being prejudiced but many are culturally insensitive in my experience.

However, I want our kids, regardless of their complexion (light skinned to dark skinned), to get tough and go to school ready to learn and to not interfere with their pees learning.

Kids, go and learn and then get in a position to make change. Don’t worry so much about what other’s attitudes may or may not be.

My life experience is that the pernicious victim mentality robs one of the power to shape one’s own destiny—regardless of the injustice involved.

posted by: BoydJones on May 31, 2016  1:48pm

Webster, did you actually say “depoliticized?”

Little more than a year ago these students were forced to stand in the rain on the Green while white administrators held a bogus reform event in front of city hall.

Little more than three months ago, the white administrators at this school used their influence to get community leaders, mostly white, to sign a document in support of siphoning off state dollars from the New Haven Public School system (with the crazy consent of the NH superintendent).

Here’s an idea: Quit lying.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on May 31, 2016  1:52pm

This “PRISON” environment is the reason the parents of these students placed them in the school! Prison = structure!  I’m sure their neighborhood school is MUCH better!


TODAY - I had a patient of mine confess that they buy CRACK from a Hillhouse Freshman!

The student would get a text from the addict and leave class, sell the CRACK, and then return to class.. Yet we complain about race?! HOW ABOUT WE FILL THE EMPTY POSITIONS!!!!

If I were a parent, I would be less worried about the fact that my child’s history teacher was white and much MORE worried that there aren’t enough eyes to even notice a student slipping out of a class!!!

LOOK at the other article about the scramble to get students into HOOKER:
(Majority White teachers, diverse student body, cutthroat applicant pool, YALE parents)

If I were white and a teacher at AF, I would be offended, DEFLATED! I’d also be applying to other districts that PAY MORE / have LESS SH*T to deal with!

Positions of jobs should go to the most qualified person, color or zip code EXCLUDED!

We cannot expect to raise our children in a segregated bubble if they are to be successful and well rounded beyond their safe zones!

This SENSATIONALISM isn’t helping their test scores, I’ll tell you that. STRUCTURE at HOME is the key for these students!

Parents, aunties: Having the audacity to applaud a student saying a Caucasian male can’t be a good role model because of his skin is SO WRONG!

That student has built a wall against his teacher because HIS culture reinforced that, not the WHITE teacher from Derby!

That’s as offensive as saying a woman cannot do as good a job as a man because she’s a woman, or that a queer man cannot be a marriage and family therapist because he isn’t personally heteronormative! LAME!

It’s so AWFUL to think that these CAREER teachers who want to help are being shunned because of their skin tone! I’m advocating for THEM because they’re the only one’s advocating for OUR CHILDREN! We NEED them!!!

posted by: DJH on May 31, 2016  1:57pm

One thing we have to keep in mind is this is a very complex and systemic problem which will require an exhaustive solution. It is premature and irresponsible to place blame squarely on the educators within this school. Many of them are fine, upstanding contributors to society who give their all. While there may be some inside the system that do not reflect or empathize with the socio-economic struggles some students face, it is misrepresentative to paint ALL the educators that way. Many of these people live in the same city and sometimes the same neighborhoods as the students they teach.

The disciplinary system that emphasizes the divide must be addressed, that is clear. How it is addressed while still maintaining a high level of performance and high expectations from the students will not be determined overnight. It is important that anyone standing on a soap box in the comments section here that there are plenty of constructive ways to get your input into the system. Write letters, participate in policy discussion, anything to further the public good. Vitriol on a newspaper comments section does nothing to solve the problem.

Please, I implore anyone and everyone reading this article and these comments to keep talking about this in the context that we are all on the same team. We all want what’s best for the students, for the teachers, for the school and for the community.

To quote a wise man, “It’s not about us. It’s about all of us”.

posted by: Chris Willems on May 31, 2016  2:06pm

I want to echo the comments in support of Amistad students!  I admire your bravery and willingness to press for answers to difficult questions.  You are pushing against some of the most powerful, wealthy “philanthropists” in our country.

I am interested to learn from this article that Amistad New Haven High draws students from Bridgeport.  How many students make this long trip every day?  Achievement First has testified that there is demand for more charter school seats in New Haven and they have long wait lists.  If this is the case, why are New Haven students not in these seats?  (No disrespect intended to Bridgeport students.  Nor am I suggesting in excluding them.  Rather, this article seems to be shining light in numerous areas that require investigation.)

posted by: christopher desir on May 31, 2016  2:08pm

This is amazing. The students’ message is well thought out, clear and actionable and their level of organization is impressive. Achievement First’s response is laughable. It’s a great example of the doublespeak they frequently engage in. It basically amounts to this:

“Dear students,

We support you, we’re proud of your leadership, and we’ll use this as an opportunity to brag about how good of a job we’re doing running the school. However, you will be punished for your participation.”

With this type of institutional “support” its no wonder that the students are walking out.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on May 31, 2016  2:13pm

Charter schools are private schools which operate with state funding. They are big businesses run by private, for-profit charter school corporations which promote the privatization of the public school system. They enroll some of the best and brightest public school students by convincing parents that their children will receive a superior education in their charter schools. The charter schools spend millions of dollars to promote their schools and denigrate and slander the public school system through slick advertising, propagandizing, lobbying and even bribery of politicians and other members of the community.
The charters tell the public they are public schools which provide the community a choice. They tell the public that the students will receive an education superior to the public schools, that students obtain higher test scores and SAT scores and get into the top colleges and universities as if public schools are failing in this regard.
Some of their claims appear accurate. All things are not as they appear. All that glitters is not gold.
Charters do not tell the public that they are run by people who are not from this community, that they reject kids who are disciplinary problems, do not provide the same services to kids with special needs and learning disabilities as the public schools, that the kids they kick out are sent to the public schools, that their schools are racially segregated with no plan or goal for achieving racial-ethnic diversity, that they employ a small percentage of minority teachers and other staff, that their disciplinary policies are controversial and considered extreme by many parents, that their teachers are not required to have the same state teacher certification that the public schools require.
All of this and more appear to be rising to public attention with the walk out and protest demonstration of the students of Amistad High School who clearly have legitimate grievances with the leadership and administration of this school.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 31, 2016  2:37pm

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on May 31, 2016 1:19pm

WHAT A SLAP ACROSS THE FACE OF THE HARD WORKING WHITE TEACHERS THAT SHOW UP EVERY DAY TO PROVIDE THESE STUDENTS WITH A PROPER EDUCATION! MY OPINION: the race of a student’s teacher does not make that teacher the best teacher they can have. It’s a majority-minority school - minority teachers are only going to further the segregation that is being had across the page for urban schools!

Bright black students taught by black teachers are more likely to get into gifted-and-talented classrooms.

Then they finally found a possible answer: the race of the teacher.

When high-achieving black children were taught by a black teacher, they were just as likely to get assigned to a gifted program as similar high-achieving white children. There was no longer a black-white “giftedness gap.”

White students were unaffected by the race of their teacher. They were equally likely to get assigned to a gifted program regardless of the race of their teacher.

10 Ways Well-Meaning White Teachers Bring Racism Into Our Schools

Though I know there are actively racist teachers out there, most White teachers mean well and have no intention of being racist. Yet as people who are inscribed with Whiteness, it is possible for us to act in racist ways no matter our intentions. Uprooting racism from our daily actions takes a lifetime of work

White Teachers Expect Less Than Black Teachers From Black Students

A new study suggests that low expectations from some teachers might engender low performance from students.

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 31, 2016  2:37pm

So, will the protesting students be ‘punished’ by taking their desk away and making them sit on the floor?

Or will there be some other form of punitive humiliation in the classroom?

The bully here is the system, one thought up by lawyers to squeeze public cash into corporate coffers.

Brought to you by Walmart…...

posted by: Walt on May 31, 2016  2:44pm

Don’t get it.  Some kids griping about the color   of their teachers’ skin, racist activity if done by a white kid

Others choosing to come all the way from Bridgeport to be educated bythose same teachers.

Where the hell are future teachers supposed to come from if all these kids skip their classes to protest?

Bridgeport, I’d guess.

posted by: webster on May 31, 2016  3:01pm


“Webster, did you actually say “depoliticized?”

A: yes I did! there was a time during the plan and build phase where local area ministers and their alliance were trying to derail the building of the school of Dixwell Ave, claiming they were not consulted about the plans, they threaten political action against the two ward alders Clyburn and Foskey.

Students were never “forced to stand in the rain on the Green while white administrators held a bogus reform event.

In front of city hall.” Show the proof of that lie.

“Little more than three months ago, the white administrators at this school used their influence to get community leaders, mostly white, to sign a document in support of siphoning off state dollars from the New Haven Public School system (with the crazy consent of the NH superintendent).”  Another lie….

These kids at Amistad High School are getting a first rate education, graduating with a scholarship in hand to college, and unlike public school, can actually READ…

Here’s an idea…. Get yourself a new message line.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on May 31, 2016  3:06pm

Kudos to these students for clearly articulating their concerns and taking action to emphasize their grievances.

Amistad District/Achievement First has one of the highest out of school suspension rates of any school entity in the state with nearly 63% of those sanctions being levied against Black and Latino students. Those stats alone should be cause for inquiry into school climate, disciplinary procedures, and student access.

The student walkout certainly wasn’t a “slap in the face” to teachers. It was a wake up call for staff and administrators that students ARE concerned about school climate. Teachers should applaud that and support students in developing their leadership skills.

posted by: 06511 on May 31, 2016  3:24pm

to fellow AF teachers, past and present:

This protest is not an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for teaching these students such important lessons about civic activism. This protest was not school-sanctioned, and students were threatened with negative repercussions. We need to be wary of the administration’s attempts to co-opt this action. The students are telling us, quite clearly, that we haven’t been doing right by them and that their concerns have gone unacknowledged for far too long. This is not a time to be ‘proud of our progress.’

Indeed, our students are making the nuanced argument that the very structure of AF schools - in particular the disciplinary system and the lack of sustainability that leads to a preponderance of inexperienced teachers - is a deterrent to a more diverse faculty. I agree with them wholeheartedly and hope that the administration’s response to this protest addresses this in a meaningful way.

to the NHI:

Please follow up on the repercussions these students face as a result of their protest. I was at the protest and one of my former students told me they were being threatened with 2-5 days of absence if they didn’t return to school. This would be especially dismaying considering that 1) AF schools have, in the past, pulled students out of school to attend rallies on the green, and 2) qualification for the New Haven Promise takes into account school attendance records.

posted by: New Haven Nuisance on May 31, 2016  4:20pm

When a school has a CEO then profit motivations at least in part guide decisions.

Perhaps the decisions of school administrators shouldn’t be guided by profit.

Public schools that provide equality of opportunity?! What a radical idea!

posted by: NewHaven.Teacher on May 31, 2016  4:55pm

Having been in the same situation as the students, I really feel bad for them and understand where they’re coming from. That being said, I have three different teaching degrees and I have to say - there is a shortage of minorities even entering education programs, let alone actually applying in “less desirable” areas. I remember only two blacks in any of my classes, no asians, maybe three hispanics. The rest was the cast of Gossip Girl.

And to “AverageTaxpayer” - Amen. New Haven itself has incredible diversity, yet so many of the schools default to being a majority of one race or another - at first glance, many of them appear color-coded.

posted by: tmctague on May 31, 2016  5:20pm

“You are here to learn, and IAs are approaching. Many of you need to get your GPA’s as high as possible. Classes are still going on today and important work is being missed.”

For those who don’t speak Achievement First, IAs are standardized tests that indicate students’ readiness to take standardized tests.  We have AF leadership prioritizing high stakes tests and GPAs over schoolwide racism and students’ happiness. 

The corporation’s “Co-CEO” offered predictable comments that embody the Whiteness of AF.  She ignores the racist climate of the school and instead claims/appropriates ownership of the students’ leadership qualities.  She will take credit for the leadership, but I doubt she will claim responsibility for cultivating an oppressive learning environment. 

Education = Freedom

No Excuses (not even racism)

Sweating the small stuff (ignoring the deep-seated problems)

Public Enemy said it best, “don’t believe the hype.”

posted by: BoydJones on May 31, 2016  5:40pm

Wow. Truth just eludes you, Webster.

Here is a story with a picture about the rally on the Green. It was such a despicable event, the Mayor of New Haven and the New Haven Superintendent refused to join it.

And here is the “heavy hitters” story, which was an embarrassing behind-closed-doors effort to take taxpayer dollars for Achievement First’s experiments.

Here’s a new message line: “Every Child Deserves Equality & Respect, Without It Nothing Is Great.”

Bank on that.

posted by: Brutus2011 on May 31, 2016  6:41pm

Some of you may recognize me as a vociferous opponent of the way our schools are managed—both public and charter with one notable exception—Common Ground High School is the best high school in New Haven, hands down-period.

Here is why: I graduated SCSU magna with a history certification ... in fact, my only other minority classmate was just named National Teacher of the Year ... go Jahana!

I could not get a job teaching social studies so I had to go back and get a cross certification in mathematics to even get my foot in the door ... and all this amid the talk about shortages of minority males in teaching.

Its all cow-pucky. Its all about connections and the money.

The last thing administrators want is a strong minority male voice causing waves in the schools where our youth are being conditioned year in and year out. The only minorities they want are sell-outs or the garden variety house negro who is easily controlled and manipulated.

And, if some readers don’t care for my tone, I make no apologies to call things as I see them.

Instead of going away and not causing consternation to the administrative power structure, I went to law school and will soon graduate.

As my 11th grader would say, “well, all right then!”

posted by: webster on May 31, 2016  7:18pm


The links you pointed us towards did not in any way support the proposition you were advances, in fact this one in particular shows that the mayor and other dignitaries were present on the green, contrary to your perverse indications “the Mayor of New Haven and the New Haven Superintendent refused to join it” The linked story did not focus on Armistad students “being forced to attend a rally.”

On another school topic, here is a link story why we need Amistad in New Haven,, open the ct. mirror link, bottom of page type in New Haven in the search box…read the new haven schools test scores and weep.

This conversation is over…OUT>>>>>>>>>>>>>

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on May 31, 2016  7:32pm

I wish they protested having Ben Carson on the building, too.

posted by: Chris Willems on May 31, 2016  9:07pm

Amistad students are speaking out about the climate and culture of their school.  The harsh “No Excuses” teacher philosophy is promoted by “Teach for America” and charter schools like Achievement First that need fresh teacher recruits to replace those “churned” out.

I fear this deficit mindset of schooling may soon spread to a corps of new temporary teachers when “Relay” opens this summer on Dixwell Avenue.  “Relay” is a corporate “graduate school of education” that awards teaching credentials if neophyte teachers in the program successfully increase the standardized test scores of the students they are teaching.

Read about “Relay” and make your own local connections.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 31, 2016  9:36pm

posted by: webster on May 31, 2016 8:18pm

On another school topic, here is a link story why we need Amistad in New Haven,, open the ct. mirror link, bottom of page type in New Haven in the search box…read the new haven schools test scores and weep.

This conversation is over…OUT>>>>>>>>>>>>>

But look at the systematically counseling out students in Charter Schools.

Message From a Charter School: Thrive or Transfer.

After only 12 days in your school,” she wrote the principal, “you have assessed and concluded that our son is defective and will not meet your school criteria.Five days later, Ms. Sprowal got an e-mail from Ms. Moskowitz that she took as a veiled message to leave. .

At a Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Pupils Who Have ‘Got to Go’

Success Academy, the high-performing charter school network in New York City, has long been dogged by accusations that its remarkable accomplishments are due, in part, to a practice of weeding out weak or difficult students. The network has always denied it. But documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with 10 current and former Success employees at five schools suggest that some administrators in the network have singled out children they would like to see leave.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on May 31, 2016  10:57pm

The hypocrisy and manifest gullibility in the commentariat on this story are astonishing.  The AF Charter is more than a private institution illicitly using private funds, but it is also an institution based on the racially biased paradigm.  The paradigm is meant to “modify” the behavior of African-American students into an image acceptable to the White people who own this company and whose sense of entitlement apparently knows no bounds.

AF is a “school” whose most prominent pedagogical tool is treating Black children as if they are inherently flawed and must be “fixed” by the most draconian methods allowed all under the tutelage of the most unqualified instructors assigned and assembled. 

In short, Achievement First is an inherently racist institution.  And the people commenting here so far are either ignorant of that fact or are unwilling to let themselves acknowledge it. 

Where is the soft racism expressed here that advocates for “structure”  ever applied to educating White students?  The structure mentioned here is a type of control that is applauded when applied to African-Americans and matched with the media-driven images of us as savages who must be controlled in the first place.  AF-style Charter Schools are lauded for re-shaping these kids before they become what they never were for the comfort (and profit) of people who created the stereotypical images in the first place.  AF-style Charters are the socially acceptable private prisons for many White liberals and gullible African-Americans. 

African-American parents and politicians who are so desperate for “school choice” that these types of schools are acceptable to them are playing with the fragile egos and spirits of our children by placing them into the hands of a White hegemony that barely believes that our children are human in the first place.  But the warnings and the research is available to them on this.  They have only themselves to blame for ignoring it.

The Rev. Samuel T Ross-Lee

posted by: robn on June 1, 2016  6:48am

When I was in school this sort of thing would have simply been managed with a large stack of detentions or suspensions.
There’s nothing in the NHI reporting about adult involvement. Was there no “organizing” provided by adults? If there was, who did it and why?

posted by: gram14 on June 1, 2016  7:13am

Are there two New Haven schools named “Amistad”?

[Editor: Yes. Amistad Academy is on Edgewood Avenue.]

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on June 1, 2016  7:19am

N.B. Redacted Version

The hypocrisy and manifest gullibility in the commentariat on this story are astonishing.  The AF Charter is more than a private institution illicitly using public funds, but it is also an institution based on a racially biased paradigm.  The paradigm is meant to “modify” the behavior of African-American students into an image acceptable to the White people who own this company and whose sense of entitlement apparently knows no bounds.

AF is a “school” whose most prominent pedagogical tool is treating Black children as if they are inherently flawed and must be “fixed” by the most draconian methods allowed all under the tutelage of the most unqualified instructors assembled and assigned.

In short, Achievement First is an inherently racist institution.  And the people commenting here so far are either ignorant of that fact or are unwilling acknowledge it. 

Where is the soft racism expressed here that advocates for “structure”  ever applied to educating White students?  The structure mentioned here is a type of control that is applauded when applied to African-Americans and matched with the media-driven images of us as savages who must be controlled in the first place.  AF-style Charter Schools are lauded for re-shaping these kids before they become what they never were for the comfort (and profit) of people who created the stereotypical images in the first place.  AF-style Charters are for many White liberals and gullible African-Americans socially acceptable private prisons

African-American parents and politicians who are so desperate for “school choice” that these types of schools are acceptable to them are playing with the fragile egos and spirits of our children by placing them into the hands of a White hegemony that barely believes that our children are human in the first place.  But the warnings and the research is available to them on this.  They have only themselves to blame for ignoring it.

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: acorn on June 1, 2016  8:05am

Then the 17 year old woke up to understand that his entire youth was part of a social engineering experiment based on the hypothesis that with behavior modification and test prep, anybody can become a useful citizen.

Maybe, just maybe there is more to a beautiful life.

How disturbing to see how similar the discipline “escalation-scale” mimics every new policy in our building.

Thank you Ross-Lee for your comments. Why are NHPS administrators still being trained by AF?

posted by: robn on June 1, 2016  8:22am

Although minority students will be the majority by 2022, only 20% of teachers nationwide are minorities. If you want to know why there aren’t more minority teachers, take look in the mirror; its a career choice thats been avoided. Can’t blame them though; a gradeschool student walkout would have been undheard of in my day. BTW where exactly were the parents? How did this situation escalate into a walkout without major parent meetings with staff? Did this question even occur to anyone?

posted by: christopher desir on June 1, 2016  9:11am

robn, when exactly was your day? There is a long history of high school students protesting in this exact way:

1968, East L.A. Walkouts:

1994, Students walkout to protest California Prop 187:

2006, Students walkout to protest immigration policy:

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on June 1, 2016  9:13am

We seem to be missing the point here…

This school is a better CHOICE, by far, than the failing neighborhood schools that these students are coming from.

They were provided a position that many other students were DENIED.

Many students at Hillhouse, Cross, Whatever school in BPT were SO bad that they commute up to New Haven, etc . . . would LOVE to go here.

They don’t HAVE to go here. They can leave and attend the neighborhood school that they were SUPPOSED to go to before AF offered them a position.

As for kicking out failing students/Bad behaved students: If I were a parent of an AF student, I would be HAPPY knowing that the admin were removing the distractions from my child’s classroom.

Let that student go somewhere else and let the REST of the classroom learn! WHY bring down an entire class because you’re unhappy/troubled? It’s selfish and hurts the whole of the community.


If we don’t let those who WANT the “structure” to have it,...we fail to set them up for truly aggressive academics and lifestyles later!

I would send my child to a school like this WITHOUT QUESTION over almost any neighborhood school in New Haven. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Those who don’t like it at AF: Transfer out and make room for those who would LOVE to be there.

Oh, and STOP being RACIST towards some of the only advocates you have: your teachers!

posted by: JohnTulin on June 1, 2016  9:14am

12 openings at HSC in past 4 years.  All positions offered to minority candidates.  All offers declined.  HSC student’s walking out next would make as much sense.

posted by: ontogenyx on June 1, 2016  9:43am

This is an important step in bringing attention to the dehumanizing conditions at the white paternalistic “no excuses” charter schools.  For background on these schools and to read about the racist and classist realities in these schools, see “Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys through “No Excuses” Teaching:

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 1, 2016  9:48am


I am glad you posted this opinion.

It speaks to what I see as the root cause of all this.

Whites look at us as inferior and the best of us as “almost good as.”

I cannot be as good or better (intellectually or even spiritually) as a white man.

It does not matter how “smart” I may be or how many degrees I have or honors or original thesis written or whatever.

I’ll never be seen as good.

Your post gives a little evidence of this attitude.


You say that we need to look in the mirror. Fair enough.

So do you.

There are not many minorities going into teaching because it is primarily our women who actually get the teaching jobs.

Men not so much.

I am living proof of this.

But enough, this whole thing saddens me as I sometimes feel so impotent to change things for our future generations.

However, I won’t give up and I hope at least the kids in my family will look at me and say, “If he can do it, so can I.”

Just like I did and do when I think of my Granddad.

posted by: TheMadcap on June 1, 2016  9:51am

“That student has built a wall against his teacher because HIS culture reinforced that, not the WHITE teacher from Derby!”

This is straight up saying that its black peoples fault that white people are so racist, but then again you also said on top of it for the students to stop being racist against their teachers*rolls eyes*

posted by: robn on June 1, 2016  10:24am


I guess I don’t consider it a priority to protest for the reason that, “I dont like my teachers because they don’t look like me and they’re too strict.”


Sorry if you feel inadequate or underappreciated but I wasn’t accusing you of such. I was conveying the statistic that college educated minorities are gravitating away from teaching.

posted by: westville man on June 1, 2016  11:06am

Thank you, Rev. Ross-Lee and Brutus 2011 for your informative posts.  It pains me to read the usual knee-jerk reaction of most whites who comment here on race.  They fail to be educated on the topic. They feel their opinion is as valuable as your knowledge.

So Robn, (and others), who would know more about this topic- you, a white man, or educated, experienced Black men like Reverend Ross-Lee and Brutus2011?  I know who can teach me about race/racism and who can’t.  Knowledge trumps opinion every time.  But the disease of denial is strong…..

posted by: Speakingfromexperience on June 1, 2016  11:18am

#Brutus2011for president:  Your comments provide a context many need to hear.

Others: Does the BOE look at data regarding race of candidates vs. race of who’s hired? Is there an actual shortage of teacher candidates who are considered minority/diverse? Or are they not being hired?

posted by: robn on June 1, 2016  12:31pm


You’re correct that knowledge trumps opinion. Thats why I conveyed the teacher statitstic.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 1, 2016  12:39pm

Thomas Alfred Paine and Samuel T. Ross Lee, (not you Robn, your privilege is showing again)

Keep hitting with hard truths.  The bottom line is that Achievement First is a racist institution designed to prepare students to be low-level retail managers or compliant prisoners. 

A friend of mine substituted at Amistad Academy for a week a few years back, and was shocked there was even ad placement in the standardized tests, asking kids to do math regarding McDonald’s Cheeseburgers.

Q: Where are all the apologists when you would most expect them? 
A: Invoking that age old adage “Don’t touch the tar baby”.

posted by: robn on June 1, 2016  1:25pm

I’m no big fan of school privatization. But when parents make the “choice” of signing their kids up for school and their kid has an issue, the parent should be in the school discussing that probem with teachers ASAP…well before it boils over into a rebellion.

As far as the finger pointing and race baiting I’ll write it once again. Take a look in the mirror.

posted by: WakeUpandGetInFormation on June 1, 2016  6:18pm

The Hillhouse students need to protest!! Hillhouse is primarily white Caucasian teachers Who are catered to by our white superintendent and cronies! they removed four minority leaders and several minority teachers!!!  Exodus of minorities! We will never fix New Havens problem by following the charter school model and Catering to the suburban white teacher who comes to “rescue” our black children!! Where is our community leaders on this issue??

posted by: JDoe on June 2, 2016  5:20am

Where are the community leaders on this issue? They’re in the same bed as the money men:

posted by: MsCouve on June 3, 2016  8:08am

I don’t understand why some are being so judgmental of these student’s actions.  They have a right and they exercised it.  The AF does have a majority of White teachers (most are great in my personal experience for elementary and middle), but I do however want more diversity. I have to admit I have seen more diversity in the past few years and I am happy for that, for my children to see people like them working in their community.  My son went to Yale for a field trip with Amistad (in kinder or fist grade) and when we arrived home, he asked if brown people were allowed to go there because that is were he wanted to attend college.  Our children need to see people of color working in our community.  There are many social service employees who are helping and who are White, because they are not hiring qualified minorities, because they already have one or reached their quota. 

In response to the White teacher doing such a great job in an urban community, when suburbia is an easier option….I am sure your getting forgiveness on your student loans for your horrific experience.

I do believe the demerits are favorable in that only some students are penalized and a change needs to happen.  It would be nice to believe all teachers are angels and treat everyone fairly, but lets be honest, they are human.  Not everyone meshes well, but the teacher is the professional and needs to treat everyone fairly and the student should not disrespect the teachers.

The uniforms, I am not so mad about.  It takes the edge of these kids judging one another, which they already do.  I think there should be a stricter code with the sneakers because kids are still getting teased.  I feel uniforms take the stress out of attempting to be cool and in current fashion and for myself, it saves me money in the long run.  Furthermore, most schools in New Haven have uniform policies.

Continue to fight. If tests are failed it falls on administration, Your here because we let you, GET DIVERSIFIED!!!

posted by: MsCouve on June 3, 2016  8:28am

To the NEWnewhaven,
Yes, AF seems thus far, a great schools.  I also hope for other schools to adapt some methods form AF. I am proud that my children attend.  You seem like your White, I could be wrong.  Your comments read to me as to say, you chose this school, deal with it.  I wonder if you would do the same after taking a job where you are sexually harassed on a daily basis or chose a husband who constantly cheated on you.  The students thoughts and feelings are real and they experiencing everyday.  Everything can be made better, furthermore, the school was supposed to meet demands upon purchasing the property and they have not.  Your saying, “We came here and we are helping you, deal with what your getting, because it is better than what others in your situation are getting, just deal!”  Your remind of a mild version of Tomi Lahren

posted by: MsCouve on June 3, 2016  8:34am

TheNEWnewhaven, I was also told by a white staff member (at a local high school) that the biggest drug dealer, making the most money was a White student.  So this White student who attends a minority populated school, is the biggest drug dealer in the school.  This young boy appeared to be a normal white kid from suburbia.  Would not at all been on my radar.  I would call you a racist, but I do not believe it is allowed on this site and would not want to offend you (if it’s even offensive to you).  I hope your not the new new haven, because from the sounds of it, we don’t want you here.

posted by: Math guy on June 3, 2016  12:15pm

I’m very proud that the Math Dept. of New Haven Public Schools is very diverse.  This does not include the Achievement First Schools.  There are 167 middle school teachers, high school teachers and math coaches in NHPS.  Over 40% are teachers of color.  This has not occurred by chance, but by design.  In addition, there are many administrators of color such as Keisha Hannans, Shanta Smith, Garfield Pillinar, David Diah, Mia Duff, Monique Brunson, Monica Joyner, and Julie Browning who have risen up through the math department.  Had these outstanding educators not been promoted, the diversity in the math department would be even higher.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on June 3, 2016  1:46pm

(part 1)

Having not mentioned my racial background, I’m intrigued as to why you assume I’m white.  My voice is for what’s right, race excluded. I’m for New Haven. The 2-5 residing queer woman of color is equal to that of the Westville white man living in a slate-roofed center hall colonial with 2.5 kids and a hypoallergenic Golden-doodle. They represent different pockets of our beautiful town and they both deserve a voice in the city’s wellbeing. We are ONE New Haven here and I am an advocate for those hardworking teachers of Amistad and the greater NHV who may be feeling extremely LOW after continued comments about how they can’t be successful at their job,.. strictly because of their ethnicity! WHAT!? I don’t disagree that a school of underserved students would benefit from a DIVERSE community. That being said…taking on MORE black people does not diversify a black-majority school culture. Maybe choose a different word? I also understand this is a sensitive topic but the coddling of our youth is getting out of hand, especially on college campuses. These students are only a few years away from being adults in our society. Are we really going to let them grow into adulthood having belittled their teachers because of the “skin of THEIR color”?
Segregation when convenient isn’t going to work long-term, especially if it’s RACIST for a white group to try to do the same. Undermining authority/teachers/mentors because of their ethnicity is only undermining YOUR point! Yes, it would be ideal to have a larger number of minority teachers readily applying but the harsh reality is that this position often goes to those QUALIFIED and WILLING to teach. By SH*TTING on our current teachers and showing our children that it’s okay to belittle someone’s HARD WORK we are FAILING our children’s full potential as students. RESPECT your elders, your teachers, your mentors, your boss.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on June 3, 2016  1:54pm

(Part 2)

As for the drug dealer’s ethnicity? It doesn’t MATTER! I never mentioned the race/ethnicity of the student at Hillhouse and yet you assume I think the student is a minority!

All I care about is that the student is a CRACK dealer who is making SALES on our school grounds and perpetuating the drug issue facing OUR community! The fact that the student is able to do so without a teacher noticing is HEARTBREAKING for that student’s future! 

What about my comments are racist? If everything non-enabling is considered racist then so be it. I want my city’s students to get the BEST education possible with the BEST teachers available. Race and zip code of the teacher should not matter! East Rock, Guilford, Woodbridge, the Tribe - IT WON’T matter to me as long as the teacher scores well on reviews and can produce a healthy, well-rounded student!

I AM the new New Haven, get used to it. I’m living in a bubble of Yalie surrounded by a jaded townie diaspora. I am a new urbanist and believe bike lanes and walkability are KEY for a healthy city.  Having a life in both academia and community outreach has shown me that we NEED to work TOGETHER, not segregate when it’s convenient.

I’ll call out whomever I feel is being rude, ignorant, or racist. These white teachers coming “in” to teach black and Latino students? NOT racist. These black and Latino student defaulting their teachers as a failure is only a FAILURE to themselves. Imagine if they connected with their teacher beyond the obvious differences… Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing!!

posted by: Marion on June 3, 2016  4:45pm

Looks like the preoccupation with skin color is spilling over from the college campuses to the high school campuses.  Interesting to read one boy’s seeming belief that because he has no father, it is the school’s duty to have a black male teacher on staff that he can relate to the way a father and son would.  Sorry, but that is not the role schools to do that.  Meanwhile, the kids in the suburban schools are focused on learning, and consequently get much better test scores, while the city kids divert their time and mental energy to trendy political nonsense.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on June 4, 2016  4:46pm

Wow.  I was unware that racism is “trendy”.

posted by: MsCouve on June 5, 2016  4:20am

the newnewhaven,

I really can not go back and forth…so this will be my last response.  Please do educate me on how else to make the school diverse.  I’m not knocking down White teachers from AF, I said most are wonderful and awesome teachers, as a matter of fact I do not think I met one that was not.  The fact of the matter is there were demands in place for purchasing the property, and one was for minorities to obtain jobs, among others.  But your saying there are NO minorities qualified and willing to teach??? OK.  Yes, please do be that voice for the White teachers and allowing the students to be a voice for themselves.  They protested respectfully and nonviolently, but still there’s a problem.  They have acknowledged racial tension, but I guess that should be ignored and they are being too sensitive.  Teachers do not have it easy (no matter the race), and the AF teachers are all that I know and are great.  Your argument is that the students are being disrespectful, undermining authority, blah blah blah….which I feel the opposite and we disagree, which is fine.  We are all entitled to our opinions.  I have also noticed that minority employees are leaving sooner…or pushed out? I don’t know…but believe that the racial tension is high and real in this world.  I would apologized if minorities advocating for themselves offends you, but I don’t care about that.  Good day.

posted by: robn on June 5, 2016  10:23am

So let me get this straight… this is the same state where radical leftists argue that a 16-17 year old murderer’s brain is underdeveloped and therefore shouldn’t be punished as an adult, but 11-13 years old have the cognitive capacity to judge when it’s appropriate to walk out of their school in protest? …Only in New Haven. I’d like to see the results of the school’s capitulation next time the parents want their kids to follow rules at home.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on June 5, 2016  2:32pm


The false equivalence inherent in your statement is astounding.

posted by: robn on June 5, 2016  7:27pm


I’m also astounded; astounded by the the amount of racism and separatism eminating from POC in this comment thread.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 6, 2016  9:57am

Does anyone want to talk about John Tulin’s comment that over the last four years, 12 teacher openings at HSC have been offered to minority candidates and all have been declined? What, if anything, can a school do to change that?

posted by: westville man on June 6, 2016  10:37am

Robn,  your false equivalence stems from your total lack of understanding around the issue of race…time and time again.  While I know it’s fruitless, let me offer you this explanation (of the “radical left”);

Young adults whose brain isn’t fully developed may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions.  Ergo, the criminal punishment issue (or part of it).

However,  even you would probably agree that children know when they are bullied; or when they are molested; or in this case, mistreated at times in an environment which is less than supportive. They know…my daughter always knew even as a young girl.

I know, I know.  none of these explanations matter to preconceived assumptions but I tried!

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 6, 2016  12:36pm

to Jonathan Hopkins; I assume you mean this post:

posted by: JohnTulin on June 1, 2016 10:14am

12 openings at HSC in past 4 years.  All positions offered to minority candidates.  All offers declined.  HSC student’s walking out next would make as much sense.

In reading this language, I see where it may not mean what you think it does, i.e., there have been 12 specific job offers to 12 minority applicants and all 12 minority applicants declined the job offers.

I see it as ambiguous language that can also mean that there (1) 12 HSC openings in the last 4 years and (2) any and all positions are offered to minority candidates whether they apply or not and (3) all 12 offers were declined but by every applicant and not just minority candidates.

Frankly, this post seems to made to give cover to NHPS talent and recruitment office whose communication is as disingenuous as it gets.

posted by: robn on June 6, 2016  1:43pm


So let me get thie straight because you know best…

a) Theres just no chance that people of different races can empathize with one another because they don’t belong another other race?

b) POC would especially like white people to stop pretending they can empathize with POC, but then, hey, try to empathize?

c) Children can sense bullying but don’t understand murder?

d) If your 11-13 year old child has a problem at school, you would be OK with their staging a mass walkout, as opposed to telling you they have a problem and allowing you to speak to teachers/administration?

posted by: Dwightstreeter on June 6, 2016  2:12pm

Perhaps we can change the tone of this discussion from an attack on any individual to a different perspective.
Remember when Gary Holder- Winfield spoke about his experience as an American of color and people argued with him?
Te Nehisi Coates book written to his son explains this much better than I can. He’s a poet.
Of course we all can empathize with someone. But we cannot and should not argue what they experienced when they tell us about it.
This response to challenge someone else’s telling about his/her experience is not limited to issues of race, but is especially demoralizing when it does occur in those situations.
The fact is, unless you wake up as a person of color in the US every day for all your life, you may empathize, but you cannot second guess another person’s perception of their experience when they experience it as related to their color. (Note: I think describing groups based on color is stupid and useless. Ethnicity tells me a bit more, but not everything).
I hope you receive this in the spirit of acknowledging that we need to listen better to people like Gary and Te Nehisi and Rev. Ross Lee so we end up maybe learning from each other.
I appreciate all the comments so far and appreciate the struggle on all sides.

posted by: tristanrobin on June 6, 2016  3:02pm

I commented when this article was first published and have followed the thread in the following days.
I am saddened by the obvious lack of open mindedness on both sides of the issue in the debate. The deep-seated mistrust and dislike is palpable through the monitor.
If we are unable, as adults, to discuss this issue without rancor with each other, how can we ever hope to teach our children to get along and respect each other as equals and contemporaries and colleagues?
I don’t fault the students for walking out - especially as it would seem that all the adults in their lives are unwilling to discuss rationally their concerns. One would hope that the two places that students could go for guidance and insight would be their parents and their schools.

posted by: westville man on June 6, 2016  5:36pm

Robn.  Your 1st sentence was accurate.  The others not so much.  ;)

posted by: westville man on June 6, 2016  5:47pm

Dwightstreeter and Tristanrobin.  When it comes to race and racism, I’m more concerned with right and wrong, knowledge v opinion and experience v guesswork than I am with making someone comfortable and “respecting” others opinions.  That’s why we are still stuck in these types of dialogues. This topic is too important to simply defer to those who don’t have knowledge and haven’t walked the walk.  Our children, our community’s lives are at stake.