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.

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.

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.

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.

Can you throw ‘em out if they’re not in school?

 “Take your f…… hands off of me” a young man said to me after I tried lead him out of the hallway from a fight. Think about it.  How many times have you heard people complain about the “bad” kids, the young men and women who are the gold medallion award winners for repeated trips to the office? Have you ever thought about how and why this happens?

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.

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.

Want safer schools? Listen to the kids

For the 18th time in 2018 a school shooting has rocked a community. For the 18th time this year, the 273rd time since Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012, and Columbine on April 20, 1999, a community is in mourning over killings that seem senseless. Over 150,000 students in 170 schools (according to the Washington Post) have been exposed to these shootings. And yet the signs were there, if we listen.

An opportunity to do right by Hartford students

As a Hartford teacher of 28 years, I’ve seen how inequitable state funding deprives our students of true educational opportunity. Shrinking budgets year after year mean students have few, if any, advanced courses to choose from, and elective courses like art and music, designed to catalyze students’ creativity and ingenuity, are often entirely eliminated.

Closing Simpson-Waverly School will do more harm than good

The superintendent of Hartford has proposed to close two schools and consolidate others mostly in the poorest and most segregated areas of the city in order to cut cost and avoid costly building renovations. The vote will take place in the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16. As professors who worked in the past several years in partnership with Simpson-Waverly Pre-K-8 school, we would like to suggest that such closure will do more harm than good and will be much more costly in the long run for the city of Hartford.

Connecticut policy discourages potential bilingual teachers

Dozens of bilingual teaching positions go unfilled every year in Connecticut, and the number of bilingual adults choosing the teaching profession has decreased dramatically despite the rise in the number of students who are English Learners. Therefore, even if our new Connecticut outlook is shifting towards embracing globalization and multilingualism, bilingual education will not exist until we understand why we have a bilingual teacher shortage.