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Posted inCT Viewpoints

A new task force will examine trading custody for care

Parents of children with complex brain disorders routinely labor for special education services and insurance benefit coverage, but too often they’re directed to DCF’s Voluntary Services program to access what other child-serving systems deny. That’s when trading custody presents as an “option” and voluntary admission to DCF can become a punitive and costly process for parents, and a traumatizing, dangerous experience for troubled kids. One cohort hit especially hard by this are adoptive families.

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Jewish leaders condemn Trump family separation policy

The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford strongly condemns the U.S. presidential administration’s policy of separating children from their migrant families at our nation’s southern border. This inhumane policy – enacted via an April 6, 2018, memorandum for federal prosecutors along the southwest border signed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions – calls for zero tolerance for all immigration offenses referred for prosecution. It allows no exceptions for migrant families traveling with children. As a result of this policy change, by the federal government’s own estimates, 1,995 children were separated from 1,940 adults between April 19 and May 31 of this year.

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Children of color are drowning — in pools … and in schools

Our children are drowning. The rate of drowning, in a literal sense, for children of color is three times that of white children in this country per Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America. The rate of academic drowning is much the same.  Now New Haven has lost three more of its schools due to racial isolation standards. However, I can’t help but ask if districts that are predominantly white would also be forced to close due to their lack of minority student enrollment.

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On access and success in advanced placement courses

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas’ excellent article about access to AP (Advanced Placement) courses being elusive for low-income students should lead us all to ask why.  It should also lead us to ask how we change this reality. Having worked in school districts across eight states, I have found there are several reasons why the enrollment of low-income students in AP and other advanced courses is low.

Posted inCT Viewpoints

All students should have access to AP courses, and I am living proof

I took my first advanced placement class – world history—when I was a sophomore in high school. This year, I’m a junior currently taking three AP courses. Next year, I’ll take four more. As a student of color who lives in Hartford, this makes me unique. It doesn’t have to. Studies have shown that students of color and students from low-income communities do not have fair access to Advanced Placement classes. That’s true in nearby New York, right here in Connecticut, and across the country. I am proof of what happens when that access is granted.

Posted inCT Viewpoints

Dysfunctional schools are crippling our children — and it’s our fault

I’ve taught English at Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford for six years. We currently have five math teachers for grades 6-12, and during my tenure, I’ve seen eight other math teachers come and go. Some left for other opportunities. Some left because they were unprepared for the demands of this job; at least one left teaching all together. Three left mid-year, forcing us to use a long-term sub while we looked for a suitable replacement.

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Diversity — Middletown’s greatest weapon to close the opportunity gap

I was born and raised in Connecticut by my mother, a woman who was a strong advocate for my education. Looking back, I have no idea how she was able to be such a fierce and tireless champion of my education, while working incredibly hard as a single parent to provide for her only child. Meeting with my teachers on a daily basis and demanding more rigorous coursework to ensure I was prepared for college. Forcing school administrators to see past their own lowered expectations because of my race. Molding me into an avid (now, lifelong) reader. As a kid, my mother’s advocacy was something I took for granted until many years later in my academic and professional career.

Posted inCT Viewpoints

Let’s teach our children about global warming

According to a new national study, Americans overwhelmingly support teaching our children about global warming – in all 50 states, including Connecticut – and including Republican and Democratic strongholds. Despite this strong public support for climate education, however, there have been recent debates in several state legislatures about whether to include climate change in K-12 science education.

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Study of religions in high school would build understanding and diversity

Upon discovering that three Biblical excerpts were included in my university’s required “Literature Humanities” seminar, I was shocked. After dropping out of my Confraternity of Christian Doctrine education at a young age, my exposure to the Bible had been nonexistent. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is the liberal social norm that dominates in Connecticut when it comes to religious beliefs. Consistent with that norm, my public high school education avoided Biblical references. Whenever students mentioned the Bible, my teachers uncomfortably shuffled their feet, awkwardly looked to the side, and quickly changed the subject. Consequently, participating in classroom Bible analysis was an enlightening culture shock.

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A big mistake: Defunded services to Connecticut’s most at-risk youth

Last week we learned that state funds for critical programs that serve high-risk youth and families was “swept” as “an inadvertent casualty” of the transfer of juvenile justice services and its funds from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to the Court Support Services Division (CSSD), a branch of the Department of Justice.  The transfer resulted in a $7 million shortfall for DCF-funded behavioral health services. Letters have been sent to providers informing them funding for these programs will be eliminated as of June 30, 2018.  And the high-risk children are those with substance use, mental health, and behavioral problems severe enough to land them in juvenile court and in jeopardy of out-of-home placement. One hundred kids and their families, in one Waterbury program alone, are to be terminated from services.

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Danbury, Norwalk need these two new proposed charter schools

Nationwide we are celebrating National Charter Schools Week, and noting how far the charter movement has come since the passage of the first charter law in 1991. But locally we are on the cusp of celebrating something equally as important, with the potential to change lives right here in our proverbial backyard. For the first time in four years, two new, high-quality charter options are being proposed to serve kids in our state: Danbury Prospect Charter School and Norwalk Charter School for Excellence. These would be the first new charter schools to open in Connecticut since 2014.

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The value of a young mind — a Hartford case in point

What really makes a difference? At the High Road School of Hartford, we would say teamwork. We saw the power of collaboration in action recently when a new, innovative mobile dental program was piloted at our high school. The program addresses a critical need in the local area by serving underprivileged students who might not otherwise have access to such care. For some, it was the first time they received basic dental exams and cleanings.