Minority teachers: Connecticut’s missing link to closing the achievement gap

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

School reform is like baking a cake. You need all the ingredients to make it work, many experts say. So if state and city officials wonder why closing the achievement gap is moving slowly, perhaps they should revisit numerous reports that gave them a solid blueprint for progress.

In Connecticut, where Gov. Dannel Malloy has taken a leadership role in transforming urban education, diversity is the missing ingredient that has likely resulted in the tepid result unveiled at Hartford Public School’s 2013 State of the Schools symposium at the Bushnell Theater earlier this month. This news comes after the excitement of an educational reform bill passed in the General Assembly last year. However, teacher diversity has been marginalized in discussions about ed reform and submerged in contentious debates over testing, privatization, or charter vs public schools.

At the school district’s symposium, we were reminded of what works. The very first panel with Janice Brown of the much touted success story, the Kalamazoo Promise, made it clear: children do what they see. And if they don’t see images of themselves in the classroom, it is difficult to imagine beyond that.

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