At Stake: Recess, Special Ed, Black History

More money to educate students with limited English or learning disabilities. A curriculum that teaches kids about the U.S.‘s long history of racial discrimination. More time for children to play and for teens to sleep in.

New Haven has its eye on state bills that seek to create those outcomes.

Over the last few weeks, New Haven education advocates —  including many students —  have been traveling up to the statehouse in Hartford to make their positions on those bills known, arguing in some cases for amendments that lawmakers may have overlooked.

The bills reflect the broader work that schools are being asked to do, beyond teaching what’s in the textbook, said Lauren Anderson, an associate professor of education at Connecticut College.

“They show a concern for a more holistic view of human development. Schools should be places where young people are able to get the kind of opportunities that are not equitable across the state and, more broadly the country,” Anderson said. “It’s access to resources in one’s native language, access to ample time outdoors and physical activity, even access —  with the broader question of funding —  to guidance counselors and librarians and class sizes that enable a sort of personalized educational experience that’s the foundation of a healthy learning environment.”

HB 6400, HB 7109, SB 637 & HB 5241: Pay The Real Cost

Thomas Breen PhotoEven if the state flat-funds its overall education budget, New Haven could pull in millions more to teach with several bills.

As members of the local activist group NHPS Advocates learned during a workshop last week, the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula —  the $2 billion mechanism for distributing education dollars to every district based on the town’s ability to pay —  likely underestimates how much it costs to educate students with severe needs, like entrenched poverty, language barriers and learning disabilities.

But three bills could help New Haven get closer to the real cost of education.

Most prominently, SB 367, introduced by New Haven State Sen. Martin Looney and 13 others, would reimburse school districts for the actual cost of special education.

Currently, in New Haven, the school system spends about $43 million in general funds on special education. That’s about one-fifth of its total budget, which aligns with the average for other districts. That includes roughly $19 million in tuition for outside providers, $17 million for personnel (including the salaries for a little more than 200 teachers), $5 million on transportation and $2 million for other costs.

HB 6400, introduced by New Haven State Rep. Juan Candelaria, could allocate an additional $7 million for bilingual education statewide.

And HB 7109, which has been urged on by students from John C. Daniels School, could allocate approximately $14 million more for inter-district magnet schools statewide in the first increase since 2011.

However, one group said that magnet schools shouldn’t be singled out for an increase in funds.

Madeline Negron, president of the Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, wrote in opposition to the bill, pointing out that neighborhood schools, which serve the vast majority of the state’s English language learners, aren’t seeing the same increase in their budgets.

“This bill further magnifies the existing disproportionality in educational funding between magnet schools and neighborhood schools,” Negron wrote. “Instead of attempting to support a selective number of students in our state, as appears to be the intention of this proposed bill, why not instead finally address the inequities in our existing education cost sharing formula and, as a result, support all our Connecticut students for once?”

Finally, two bills could save school districts cash by telling private school students to find their own way to class. HB 5241, introduced by New Haven State Rep. Roland Lemar, and HB 6611, introduced by New Haven/Hamden State Reps. Robyn Porter, Josh Elliott and Michael D’Agostino, would eliminate a requirement that towns must provide transportation to students attending private schools.

New Haven currently buses about 400 students to private schools every day, including 104 to Hopkins School, 78 to St. Francis & St. Rose of Lima School and 72 to Catholic Academy of New Haven. The invoices, which are paid by the city, come out to roughly $650,000 annually, district officials said. That comes out to a daily cost of about $8.85 per student, they said.

Altogether, Anderson said that the need for more funds in New Haven is “unquestionable,” give the magnitude of needs the city’s schools are facing.

“There is a pretty strong strand of public discourse that we’re throwing money at our schools and they’re not getting better. That’s an untruth,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that they’re perfect, but they’re actually doing more with less than they’ve ever been asked to do in the history of our country. They’re serving in all of these really critical ways, despite the fact that they’re being simultaneously gutted while wealth proliferates in other places. I think families who send their kids to public schools have a right to be enraged about that.”

HB 7082: Revise The Curriculum

Contributed PhotoIs it enough to read over Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech? Or can its vision of a more equal future be understood only in context of the racism that informed its writing?

Hillary Bridges, the founder of Students for Educational Justice, is making that point as she asks state lawmakers to consider just how they plan to revise the state’s curriculum to include more about racial minorities in two long-overdue bills.

HB 7802, which is co-sponsored by New Haven State Reps. Roland Lemar and Pat Dillon, would finally mandate African-American studies in Connecticut’s social studies lessons. And its companion, HB 7803, which is also sponsored by Rep. Dillon, would also incorporate Puerto Rican and Latino studies.

(A similar bill, HB 5009, is being co-sponsored by Rep.  Elliott.)

But Bridges is asking for lawmakers to consider tweaking the bill’s language to take a broader look, not just at the accomplishments of two overlooked racial groups, but at the broader history of race and racism in America.

“In its current state, as the bill is right now, it doesn’t do enough. It has good intentions, but it doesn’t guarantee … it would get at the root causes of things for everybody to understand how things look today, how we have Bridgeport and Fairfield, Hartford and West Hartford,” Bridges said. “Right now, we have generations of students who become teachers and parents who just genuinely don’t know about the history of race in this country. We just have to talk about it.”

Bridges said that the state’s curriculum currently seems to largely skip over race.

When she searched through the state’s social-studies framework for the word itself, Bridges said that it came up only a handful of times: one of them as part of the word “embraced,” one in a disclaimer, and two in substantive reference to the “civil rights movement” and “other reform movements” after 1950.

“It just does not paint the full picture; it doesn’t allow people to understand,” she said. For instance, “people know that black people are poor, but without any context on why that may be, people might think they’re dumber or lazier, that maybe they didn’t work as hard as my family did. You can’t learn about the heroes and saviors of a certain group if you don’t learn about the degree to which they’re oppressed in the first place. We don’t learn that at all.”

Bridges said that studying race more broadly also allows white students to understand how that racial identity was created over generations, after there was initially so much resentment against Jews or Italians or Poles.

Bridges said that she understands the state usually likes to leave lesson plans up to local school boards, but she said this was a case where it needs to be mandated.

“It seems like Connecticut prides itself on allowing each local area being able to teach what they want,” Bridges said. “But the concern is that they might not want to teach what feels uncomfortable and not choose to teach the history of race and racism.”

She said she hoped a final version of the bill would include racial bias training for teachers and administrators, who “themselves haven’t learned it and possibly haven’t explored their own racial and ethnic identity,” along with a board of students, educators and critical race theorists to oversee implementation of the curriculum.

“A bill is one thing,” Bridges said, “but implementation has to happen in every classroom.”

Three other bills would also update the curriculum. Beginning in elementary school, HB 5011 would require lessons on climate-change in science, while HB 5013 would require instruction on civics, citizenship and government in social studies. And in high school, HB 7111 would require lessons on the dangers of vaping and the concept of sexual consent in health class.

HB 7250: Make Time For Play

Christopher Peak PhotoUnder current state law, kids in elementary school are guaranteed only 20 minutes of recess each school day. But a group of local parents is seeking to more than double that allotment, guaranteeing at least 50 minutes of “physical exercise or undirected play” across two periods.

This bill, which is co-sponsored by State Reps. Porter and Elliott, would add that extra time for play from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Developmental experts increasingly recognize that having a chance to play is crucial to the development of a child’s social skills, physical growth and emotional health. That’s what Wendy Waithe Simmons, the director of education and equity at the Connecticut Voices for Children, the New Haven-based child advocacy organization, wrote in supportive testimony for the bill.

“As a psychologist, I understand that play is children’s work,” Simmons said. “Through play, children begin to understand their world, test ideas, build friendships and resolve conflicts.”

Simmons added that “adult-directed activities,” like a physical education class, do contribute to overall health, but they aren’t a substitute for “children’s holistic learning” that happens during free play.

Sarah Miller, a mother at two Columbus Family Academy students and a member of the watchdog group NHPS Advocates, said that she’d noticed private schools allowed their kids much more unstructured time than public schools do.

“The first thing we noticed at every private school [we toured] was the frequency of recess for elementary students: at most schools, two or three times each day. At public school, we observed the opposite: very limited free time for elementary children. I didn’t realize how problematic this was until our oldest son entered kindergarten and started coming home extremely antsy and frustrated,” Miller said. “It shouldn’t be only kids with privilege who have their developmental needs met.”

Another bill aiming to set a “developmentally appropriate” schedule, HB 6206, would also restructure the school day by prohibiting middle and high schools from starting their regular classes before 8:30 a.m.

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posted by: barking up the wrong tree on March 13, 2019  2:14pm

How about a history lesson that examines the 620,000 soldiers that died in the Civil War ? The only major country that nearly destroyed itself in order to end slavery ? 
Republican President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves from the racist grip of the Democrat party. Or will this be whitewashed by the current Democrat Party.

posted by: 06511 on March 13, 2019  3:29pm

LOLZ, wow, you truly are barking up the wrong tree.

If you think the Republican Party of Abe Lincoln is the same Republican Party that currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, I think you might be the one who needs a history lesson. A simple look at US primers will tell you how the parties shifted over time, and why.

And BTW, yes: students do indeed study the Civil War in history classes all across Connecticut.

posted by: cunningham on March 13, 2019  3:35pm

I’m… pretty sure they teach the Civil War.

posted by: barking up the wrong tree on March 13, 2019  3:48pm

Too bad you turn a blind eye to the vastly improved economy under this administration. The financial disaster of the Obama years is finally over. Time to face reality. Maybe you should donate all the recently added value of your 401k or 403 account to charity.
Oh right—I forgot—all talk no action.

posted by: Rep. Pat Dillon on March 13, 2019  10:32pm

Yes, we should know about the soldiers who fought in the Civil War, and those who died, and also those who honored them. That’s consistent with African American studies, too.
For example,  12,912 died at Camp Sumter, or Andersonville prison. We know some of their names only because Dorrance Atwater, of Terryville, Connecticut,  prisoner and clerk there, secretly copied the death list and smuggled it out to the military and to Clara Barton.  Barton searched for the families who did not know where their loved ones had died.

After the war, that site became important in the fight to control the story of the meaning of the war.  The locals in Georgia wanted to deny what had happened there,  It was African American freedmen who commemorated those soldiers, holding memorial services at Andersonville every May.  As crowds grew, they became a threat to the powers that be, and in 1890 the governor of Georgia pressured the railroad to end the excursion rates.

Your point was well taken,  but knowing the history does not have to drive us apart.  Dorrance Atwater recorded the names, and men and women newly freed from slavery went there to honor their sacrifice.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 14, 2019  8:41am

posted by: barking up the wrong tree on March 13, 2019 2:14pm

How about a history lesson that examines the 620,000 soldiers that died in the Civil War ?

And How many of those soldiers that died in the Civil War were Black?You want to talk about war.Let us take a look at the Black History on Black soldiers which begain with the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, the Civil War, and the Spanish–American War.In fact Black slaves and free blacks served on both sides during the war.There were about 9000 black Patriot soldiers.Black soldiers served in Northern militias from the outset, but this was forbidden in the South, where slave-owners feared arming slaves.But let me up date.You know about the Tuskegee Airmen?Did you also know about the The 369th Infantry Regiment call the Harlem Hellfighters.Did you Know about The Triple Nickles,Which was an all-black airborne unit of the United States Army during World War II.Did you know that During World War I 380,000 African Americans served in the wartime Army. Approximately 200,000 of these were sent to Europe. More than half of those sent abroad were assigned to labor and stevedore battalions, but they performed essential duties nonetheless, building roads, bridges, and trenches in support of the front-line battles. Roughly 42,000 saw combat due to the fact that The U.S. Army at this time drafted both black and white men, but they served in segregated units.

Remembering the Harlem Hellfighters

https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/remembering-harlem-hellfighters


Official Site Of 555th Parachute Infantry Triple Nickle

http://triplenickle.com/history.htm

Did you know that the youngest American killed in Vietnam was a Blackman name Pfc. Dan Bullock?A forged birth certificate helped him enlist early at age 14

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2017/06/07/marine-youngest-american-killed-in-vietnam-honored-by-hometown/

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 14, 2019  8:57am

Part Two.
Black Soldiers in the U.S. Military During the Civil War

“Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”
Frederick Douglass.

Did you know thatThe issues of emancipation and military service were intertwined from the onset of the Civil War. News from Fort Sumter set off a rush by free black men to enlist in U.S. military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. army (although they had served in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812).

Check out your boy Lincoln

The Lincoln administration wrestled with the idea of authorizing the recruitment of black troops, concerned that such a move would prompt the border states to secede.

https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/blacks-civil-war

You say President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves from the racist grip of the Democrat party.

Emancipation was a military policy. Also The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually free all of the slaves.Since Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation as a military measure, it didn’t apply to border slave states like Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, all of which were loyal to the Union.

https://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation

So this is why you Need History to be learn,In fact it helps All.

My bad.@ Urn Pendragon

Would you call what I just wrote Trolling?

posted by: Barking up the right tree on March 14, 2019  12:25pm

3/5ths—Excellent points that not enough people know. The contribution that Black Americans have made to the rich history of our country is undeniable and perhaps incalculable. The progress to get to where we are now has taken far too long and has been messy and convoluted at best. It took good people from all across the political spectrum for this to happen.
The Civil Rights bills in the 1960’s were passed with the help of Republicans because the racist southern Democrat leaders like Governors George Wallace and Lester Maddox had tremendous political power and opposed integration. KKK leader and Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was also opposed to giving Black Americans the rights they deserved and fought bravely to achieve.
No country has a flawless history; meaningful change takes time to implement. Acknowledging that reality and teaching facts NOT distorted opinions should be the goal of any curriculum.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 14, 2019  8:59pm

posted by: Barking up the right tree on March 14, 2019 12:25pm

The Civil Rights bills in the 1960’s were passed with the help of Republicans because the racist southern Democrat leaders like Governors George Wallace and Lester Maddox had tremendous political power and opposed integration. KKK leader and Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was also opposed to giving Black Americans the rights they deserved and fought bravely to achieve.

Not all true.Again this is why we need History.

Republicans would like you to believe that Republicans supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Democrats opposed it, which is only partially true. To understand the change in both parties’ ideology, all one has to do is count the votes.

There were 94 Southern Democrats in the House of Representatives. 7 voted for the bill.
There were 10 Southern Republicans in the House of Representatives. Zero voted for the bill.
Northern house Democrats voted in favor of the bill 145-9
Northern House Republicans favored the bill 138-24
Of the 21 Southern Senators (Democrat or Republican), only 1 voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act (A Texas Democrat).
As you can see, it wasn’t the Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights Act and the Republicans who favored it. Everyone supported the Civil Rights Act except the South. It was Southern politicians from both parties who voted against the legislation. The reason Republicans say they supported the bill is that there weren’t very many Southern Republicans in Congress in 1964.Look at Republican leaders like Steve King (R-Iowa) now spout white supremacist theories asking what nonwhites have done for civilization. They appeal to Islamophobia and its anti-immigrant base by repeating rhetoric that has no basis in fact. They rally right-wing support under the guise of “patriotism” and “American values.”

How the Republican Party Became The Party of Racism

https://www.theroot.com/how-the-republican-party-became-the-party-of-racism-1827779221

posted by: Barking up the right tree on March 15, 2019  1:02am

3/5ths—No one said that all Dems were against and all Reps were for the bill. I said Reps helped pass the legislation; thank you for proving my point. Northern politicians from both parties worked together to push it through. Something I also wrote earlier—“people across the political spectrum”.
Unfortunately those policies failed to do much to improve the poverty rate over the last 50 years with trillions of dollars spent in vain. They only helped accelerate the rate of out of wedlock babies and fatherless children.
Too bad today’s Democrats do everything they can to keep their constituents down and dependent on government programs instead of improving the economy to give all people more employment opportunities.
Not to mention how the Dems put abortion clinics in urban areas to systematically slaughter more than 30 million black babies over the past decades.
No ,that legacy of death is on the Dems. No Rep or conservative that I know of advocate the wholesale slaughter of black,brown or white babies.
This administration has done far more for the working man than any recent administration. The numbers are in on that one—indisputable recovery. Some of the strongest economic indicators in the last 50 or 60 years.
As much as union leaders are in the tank for Dems many of the rank and file voted for a change from the tired and ineffective Dem platform in 2016.
Stop trying to twist history to suit your bias. You only strengthen my statement of facts.
I condemn all racism from people like Steve King or from Louis Farrakhan for that matter.
I know plenty of Reps and not one of them are racist. Typical Dem stunt—accuse people of the thing you are guilty of.
BLM, SJW and their ilk including the new congressional socialists are blatantly far more divisive and racist than any conservative I’ve ever met.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 15, 2019  10:03am

posted by: Barking up the right tree on March 15, 2019 1:02am

3/5ths—No one said that all Dems were against and all Reps were for the bill. I said Reps helped pass the legislation; thank you for proving my point. Northern politicians from both parties worked together to push it through. Something I also wrote earlier—“people across the political spectrum”

This is what you said.The Civil Rights bills in the 1960’s were passed with the help of Republicans.So when I did a fact check. That is why I wrote As you can see, it wasn’t the Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights Act and the Republicans who favored it. Everyone supported the Civil Rights Act except the South. It was Southern politicians from both parties who voted against the legislation. The reason Republicans say they supported the bill is that there weren’t very many Southern Republicans in Congress in 1964.You also said this.Democrat leaders like Governors George Wallace and Lester Maddox had tremendous political power and opposed integration. KKK leader and Democrat Senator Robert Byrd was also opposed to giving Black Americans the rights they deserved and fought bravely to achieve.All of them were Dixiecrat, also called States Rights Democrat, They were members of a right-wing Democratic splinter group in the 1948 U.S. presidential election organized by Southerners who objected to the civil rights program of the Democratic Party. It met at Birmingham, Ala., and on July 17, 1948, nominated Gov. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for president and Gov. Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi for vice president. And you still have Dixiecrats in the Democratic Party today.

policies failed to do much to improve the poverty rate over the last 50 years

The reason for the poverty rate is Over the past 30 years, large shares of U.S. workers have had jobs that have paid wages so low that, even with full-time, year-round employment, their earnings would still fall below federal poverty guideline

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 15, 2019  10:43am

Part two.

You say. Too bad today’s Democrats do everything they can to keep their constituents down and dependent on government programs instead of improving the economy to give all people more employment opportunities.

How about how the federal government spends $100 billion annually on corporate welfare programs.How about the Tax Breaks for the King Amazon who paid no federal income tax for 2018, despite soaring profits.

You said Not to mention how the Dems put abortion clinics in urban areas to systematically slaughter more than 30 million black babies over the past decades.

I have found no proof that the Dems put abortion clinics in urban areas to systematically slaughter more than 30 million black babies over the past decades..But I have proof that Rick Snyder a   Republican was down with the Flint water crisis which line the pockets of a lot of his friends.He also said this.Michigan will stop providing free bottled water to the city of Flint, Gov. Rick Snyder said on Friday..

Stop trying to twist history to suit your bias. You only strengthen my statement of facts.

You can not twist the truth.In fact statement of facts are weak.

I know plenty of Reps and not one of them are racist. Typical Dem stunt—accuse people of the thing you are guilty of.
BLM, SJW and their ilk including the new congressional socialists are blatantly far more divisive and racist than any conservative I’ve ever met.

.Look at you man Trump who said Mexicans are Drug dealers, criminals, rapists.What a statement.Trump also said a federal judge hearing a case about Trump University was biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.He aslo said.immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.And we can not for get this one.

‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/us/politics/donald-trump-housing-race.html