It's back to school week and for some of our charter schools, it’s also the start of the year in a new school building. Booker T. Washington Academy (BTWA) in New Haven is one of the newest charter schools in Connecticut. It opened in 2014 amid a host of challenges many new charters face, including finding a permanent home. The school has a new place to call home now in the former New Haven Academy building on State Street.Read more
I recently witnessed a miracle.
I was in a performing arts hall in the center of downtown Hartford, Connecticut earlier this summer and I watched an entire graduating class of seniors – made up entirely of students of color – walk across a stage, tell the story of their high school experience, and hold up a t-shirt of the college or university they’ll be attending this fall.
That’s right – the entire graduating class of Achievement First Hartford High is going to college.Read more
When the 2016-17 school year starts, New Beginnings Family Academy (NBFA) will be Connecticut’s first progressive school, employing emotionally responsive practice. We have been working for a year to prepare for this, and along the way we’ve had a lot of questions on what it means to be a progressive school.Read more
Students at the Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication in New London, CT are getting a unique opportunity this summer thanks to a partnership with Writers Block Ink. David Howes from ISAAC and Adriane Jefferson from Writers Block join The Grade to discuss how kids are getting engaged in social issues through the arts.
There are tons of great charter schools in New York and Connecticut going above and beyond for their students. This means staving off the summer slide, either with an extended year or a robust program to keep their students engaged in these summer months. New Beginnings Family Academy is using its Summer Boost Academy to help students make big gains between school years.
New Beginnings Family Academy (NBFA) educators realize that their students benefit from an extended school year, and that’s why they offer their Summer Boost Academy for two weeks in August. It’s not required, but it is highly recommended and it’s free for students to attend. Forty percent of students in grades 1-8 do, and Academic Dean Valore Turner says the results and benefits are immense.Read more
There are tons of great charter schools in New York and Connecticut going above and beyond for their students. This means staving off the summer slide, either with an extended year or a robust program to keep their students engaged in these summer months. See how Brass City Charter School in Waterbury, CT is bridging the summer gap for its students.
For four weeks in the summer, Brass City Charter School students in Waterbury, Connecticut go back to school. The free summer program is open to all students and while the emphasis is on learning, there is fun outside of the classroom, too.
Executive Director Barbara Ruggiero said, “We did it to address the summer slide issue. We keep our kids in their same classes with teachers who are our regular school year teachers. There is great continuity in that. The summer program is a chance to solidify skills for kids who need some extra time in class.”Read more
There are tons of great charter schools in New York and Connecticut going above and beyond for their students. This means staving off the summer slide, either with an extended year or a robust program to keep their students engaged in these summer months. The Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication (ISAAC) has partnered with Writer's Block Ink to give students the opportunity to ignite social change through the arts this summer.
For the 40 students participating in Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication’s (ISAAC) eight week summer program in collaboration with Writer’s Block Ink, there is the unique opportunity to discuss the extremely tough issues and events the nation is grappling with this summer – all through the lens of different art forms.Read more
We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Connecticut charter schools! On the latest episode of The Grade, we are joined by NECSN CT State Director Jeremiah Grace for a conversation with Alex Johnston of Impact for Education, Liz Cox of Common Ground High School, and Bruce Ravage of Park City Prep Charter School. Relax and enjoy a conversation on the state of Connecticut's charter movement and education reform after two decades.
Raven Joseph defines success as “when you know you have personally made a difference in someone else’s life, or many other people’s lives. I don’t think it’s about money, it’s about what you can do to help other people.”
The eighth grader at Highville Charter School in New Haven takes that ideal to heart, and puts in the time and effort to set herself up for success.
“When you want to get to greater heights, you have to work hard,” said Raven. “Thinking about what I want to do, who I want to be, and what I want to become makes me work harder.”Read more
On June 4, 1996, after six months of debate, excitement, and testimony, Governor John Rowland signed Public Act 96-214, which established public charter schools in the State of Connecticut.
The law first received overwhelming support in the Connecticut General Assembly, passing the Senate on May 2, 1996, 28 votes to 7, and passing the House on May 8, 1996, 130 votes to 16. Those votes, and the discussions that preceded them, offer a glimpse into the vision lawmakers had for public charter schools and school choice as they passed our state’s charter law.
Mostly, legislative leaders spoke passionately about the opportunity that public charter schools would provide families. Charters in Connecticut offer educators a space to innovate, and offer families the option to choose a school that would work best for their child.
Those themes shine through in the following quotes from Connecticut lawmakers, taken from the House and Senate debates before each chamber passed the state’s charter bill:
Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services, former Lieutenant Governor, and former Senate President Pro-Tempore Kevin Sullivan on the Potential of Public Charter Schools
“Is this the answer to what we need to do for public education in Connecticut? Of course it is not. It is one part of the answer. And it is a very important part of the answer. In those states where charter schools have been part of the fabric of education now for some years, all expectations about creaming out the best students, discriminating against others, have not been fulfilled.
“We have found small schools, highly intensive, highly focused, highly successful, and highly diverse. Indeed, the charter schools across this country have turned out to be more diverse and more successful than our regular public schools, and certainly even than the private schools.” Former Senate President Pro-Tempore Kevin Sullivan, May 2, 1996.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Martin Looney on the Strong Support for Charters and School Options
“Madam President, as an advocate for greater flexibility and the empowerment of families in securing options for the education of their children, I would like very much to commend Senator Freedman and Senator Sullivan and all of those others who worked to build consensus on this bill this year.
“I think it is extremely valuable in moving us forward and being responsive to the real needs of families who are desperate, that in many ways they don't find the options available to them in their communities for their education of their children, especially affordable options that they are hoping for.” Senate President Pro-Tempore Martin Looney, May 2, 1996
Former House Minority Leader Larry Cafero on Charter Schools and Opportunity
“If people say that charter schools are the ruination of public education as we know it, I think you are absolutely wrong. Those who claim that public education has failed and we need these alternatives, I would also submit to you are absolutely wrong.
“Thank God we have a very strong viable public education system in Connecticut, but that does not mean that we can't use some alternative, creative ways of providing educational opportunities - public school opportunities - and that's what charter school legislation is all about.” Former House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, May 8, 1996
Former Senator Cathy Cook on Parent Engagement
“I believe public schools of choice will enhance that important contract that needs to be strengthened between parent and child in the engagement of the educational future of the child. Simply by virtue of the presence of charter schools in our state, we are going to solidify that contract, that choice, that parents are making with their children to improve the quality of their education.” Former Sen. Cathy Cook, May 2, 1996.
Former Representative Paul J. Knierim on Innovation and Opportunity
“I do think that charter schools are one of the bright spots on the horizon of education reform. By no means a panacea but they are a bright spot for two principle reasons in my estimation.
“First, charter schools do offer a great opportunity for innovation and flexibility. By allowing a wide variety of organizations to apply for a charter. By allowing them to specialize in various ways whether it's for purposes of curriculum or pedagogy or classroom size or various other ways.
“And by allowing those charter schools to operate free of some of the mandates that might otherwise apply we provide an opportunity for educators and others to operate schools that try new approaches, or try different approaches that might work for various student populations whose needs might not be served that well in other school systems.
“The second way that I think that charter schools are a bright spot in the education reform front is that charter schools enhance the opportunities that families have to choose the school that best meets the needs of their children. Connecticut already has a variety of school choice mechanisms. And charter schools could add to that.
“They are by definition schools of choice because it is families, parents and their children who decide whether or not to attend a school.” Former Rep. Paul J. Knierim, May 8, 1996.