Puerto Rico: Helping part of the USA, and part of Connecticut’s family

Connecticut is home to the largest proportion of Puerto Ricans in the continental United States, so it is expected that we will see one of the largest influxes of U.S. citizens coming from Puerto Rico to the mainland. Although it’s difficult to estimate the exact number of new arrivals, the state has received over 700 calls from people displaced from the Island and who need help.

Child Welfare in Connecticut: The DCF revenge machine

The abuse, starvation and near-death of a year-old baby while under the state’s protection put the Connecticut Department of Children and Families under intense scrutiny by the state’s child advocate  and others a year ago — scrutiny that continues today.  The following text is the introduction to a longer and more detailed analysis of the so-called “Baby Dylan” case by Richard Wexler, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform in Alexandria, Va.

University Of Hartford President: ‘Racism in America is right here on our campus’

The following is a letter to the alumni of the University of Hartford written by President Gregory S. Woodward.

Dear University of Hartford Alumni,

A student at the University of Hartford was recently the victim of some reprehensible acts by another student. This has been deeply upsetting to me and to the entire University of Hartford community. While the University is limited in our ability to legally answer many of the questions raised, we are working diligently to provide details and action steps surrounding this situation. …

College students should be protesting new federal tax bill

Undergraduate and graduate students across Connecticut and the country should be marching in protest against the proposed new tax bill that will repeal numerous education deductions and credits and will tax graduate students. We need our next generation to be educated — not kept out of all educational opportunities as this proposal surely will cause. This proposed bill makes taxable the value of the tuition and other benefits universities give to their graduate teaching and research assistants. Ditto for education benefits offered by employers to their workers.

How dogs and cats can get their day in court

In 2016, the FBI started to track animal cruelty, including neglect, torture and sexual abuse, because of disturbing connections.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” said John Thompson, the deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”
In response to longstanding failures to aggressively prosecute and sentence perpetrators of animal cruelty, I developed a way for lawyers and law students to advocate for animal victims. I believe this approach can solve the problem of under-enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and achieve justice for animals.

Urban school districts still don’t have equal access to digital tools and education

I teach at Bulkeley High School in Hartford and so often I find students who lack even the most basic digital literacy skills. Asking students to log into an online platform will take 15 minutes. Organizing documents in Google Drive will take even longer. These are the basic skills which a governmental commission has frequently reiterated from the year 2005 to the present. If this objective has stood for 12 years –the standard measure of time for a student to be enrolled in K to 12 education –– why is it that my students are still coming to me without even the most basic skills in digital literacy?

Acknowledging childhood trauma — a growing movement in Connecticut

Imagine sitting in a room with 360 other people. Now imagine that 95 percent of these people are women. Indeed, the room is filled with chatter, laughter, and anticipation. The room is in a downtown Waterbury hotel and occupied by pre-school and kindergarten teachers, home daycare providers, and administrators. The women, and the handful of men, have come to kick off an important movement in Waterbury: to make early childhood care more aware of and informed about the prevalence and impact of trauma. Specifically, how traumatic experiences influences the lives of the young children they work with.

Connecticut’s policies cause egregious racial disparities among children

“We all do better when we all do better.” For nearly two decades, the phrase coined in 1999 by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) has reminded us that our nation is strengthened by shared prosperity. Amid escalating conversations around race, immigration, and disparities in outcomes for children by race and immigration status, the idea that our collective future depends on the success of every child is more important than ever.

New London’s Columbus statue and cultural Marxists

Why is Christopher Columbus, a man born in 1491, whose life is memorialized throughout the country, a focus of collective discontent? Why are politicians, political activists and academia in New London and other progressive cities across the United States blaming him for the actions of people who lived years after his death? Why is Columbus accused of spreading diseases, committing genocide and inventing slavery?

Legislators must pass a budget fair to all public schools, including charters

Connecticut is known for many “firsts” and “onlys.” We can be proud of many of them. The first telephone book, the first hamburger and the only steam-powered Cider Mill in the U.S. just to name a few. But right now, we’re leading the nation in something else, and it’s not good. Worse, it’s to the detriment of our children. After a stalemate of more than 100 days, we are the only state in the nation without a budget. And for the children of Brass City Charter School in Waterbury, specifically the children we work for every day, this isn’t just unfair — it’s unacceptable.

In undertaking tax reform, lawmakers must prioritize college affordability

As student debt mounts nationally, with the $1.4 trillion in U.S. student loans now surpassing credit card debt, it’s critical to ensure Connecticut parents and students have smart college financing options. A little-known mechanism — tax-exempt Qualified Student Loan Bonds — provides Connecticut families an important pathway to finance their college dreams.

But as Congressional leaders tackle tax reform this fall, that tool could be on the chopping block.

Ganim, city government choose politics over Bridgeport children

Today, my first-grade son said goodbye to his kindergarten “class Grandma.” After cuts to the program, today was her last day. This was a federal program, but as we cut kindergarten paraprofessionals in 2016, these women were our last line of defense.  According to the Connecticut School Finance Project, under Gov. Dannel Malloy’s executive order, Bridgeport will receive $5.6 million less in state funds than last year. Under the Republican budget, passed by the legislature but vetoed by the governor, that number would’ve been $7 million.