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Race and Education in Connecticut: Historical Overview & Policy Questions Jack Dougherty Education Reform, Past & Present Trinity College

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Presentation on theme: "Race and Education in Connecticut: Historical Overview & Policy Questions Jack Dougherty Education Reform, Past & Present Trinity College"— Presentation transcript:

1 Race and Education in Connecticut: Historical Overview & Policy Questions Jack Dougherty Education Reform, Past & Present Trinity College updated March 2012

2 1830s A Northern State’s White Opposition to Black Education 1831 New Haven, CT citizens vote against proposal to open first college for Black men 1833 White teacher Prudence Crandall opens private boarding school for African-American girls in Canterbury CT, but local whites respond violently and shut it down 1834 Additional controversies prompt CT legislature to pass “Black laws,” banning the teaching of out-of-state Black students (only state above Mason-Dixon line to do so at that time)

3 Evening Post (Hartford) Hartford school superintendent Thomas Weaver proposed segregated evening schools for older students to retain Blacks who were “slighted and ignored” by Whites; Black pastors form Ministerial Alliance to oppose segregation; Weaver drops plan 1917Whites officials propose segregating Black students in Hartford

4 Report targets “racial imbalance and poverty” 1965 Hartford and civil rights activists focus on reorganizing school system Hartford total non-Whites (1960) Hartford School Population, 1964 Grade % Non-White K-950% %

5 Recommended solutions: Locate new HPS schools to promote city-wide desegregation Suburban schools enroll some low-income city students (1-2 per suburban classroom) 1965 Hartford and civil rights activists focus on reorganizing school system Hartford total non-Whites (1960)

6 1966 Project Concern voluntary city-to- suburb desegregation sparks controversy Hartford Times 1968, Hartford Public Library Some suburban districts voted to accept city students, with state funding; others refused

7 1966 Project Concern voluntary city-to- suburb desegregation sparks controversy Hartford Times 1968, Hartford Public Library Some suburban districts voted to accept city students, with state funding; others refused

8 1966 Project Concern voluntary city-to- suburb desegregation sparks controversy Hartford Times 1968, Hartford Public Library Some suburban districts voted to accept city students, with state funding; others refused Project Choice enrollment

9 1989 Activists file Sheff v O’Neill deseg lawsuit Ten-year-old Milo Sheff and sixteen other plaintiffs filed suit against then-Governor O’Neill, charging that Hartford’s segregated school system deprived them of equal opportunity under Connecticut constitution Milo Sheff and mother, Elizabeth Horton Sheff, Hartford Courant Since 1974 Milliken v Bradley federal ruling in Detroit blocked mandatory city-suburban desegregation remedies, Sheff plaintiffs turned to Connecticut state courts instead Hartford 91% minority students ( )

10 11 week trial 1,000 pieces of evidence; 50 witnesses State defended its position by arguing that government action did not create segregated schools; individual decisions in housing market were to blame 1992 Sheff lawsuit finally goes to trial Hartford Courant

11 1996

12 What the court did (and did NOT) rule: racial segregation in schools violates state constitution, but no specific remedy for legislature to follow, and no deadline school boundary lines have caused unconstitutional segregation, but no mandate to change boundaries in Hartford or metro region Republican Gov. Rowland and Democratic legislative leaders agree not to force suburban districts to integrate; voluntary only

13 2003 The Settlement emphasized: voluntary city-suburban enrollment through magnet schools voluntary city-suburban transfers through Project Choice (formerly Project Concern) raise Hartford minority student enrollment in voluntary deseg from 10 to 30 percent by 2007 Sheff attorney Horton, Atty Gen Blumenthal & Comm of Ed Sergi with Sheff plaintiffs, H Courant

14 Our report found that existing voluntary desegregation efforts served only 17% of Hartford minority children, not 30% goal

15

16 Sheff II agreement sets new voluntary desegregation 5-year goals & strategy: Expanded options to raise Hartford minority student enrollment in desegregated settings to 41% (by ), or meet 80% of demand

17 Five policy questions to discuss:

18 Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%? voluntary city-suburb enrollment in 22 magnet schools

19 Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%? voluntary city-suburb enrollment in 22 magnet schools voluntary city-suburb transfers through Project Choice

20 Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%? Sheff legal settlements did NOT redraw city-suburban district boundaries, nor did they require suburban districts to participate in Project Choice or magnet school programs. Are mandatory measures the answer?

21 Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%? Sheff legal settlements did NOT redraw city-suburban district boundaries, nor did they require suburban districts to participate in Project Choice or magnet school programs. Are mandatory measures the answer? Should the State erase the boundary lines that separate school districts? And/or should they require some degree of suburban program participation?

22 Q2: Does system promote free choice -- or forced choice -- for Hartford parents? Distant suburbs more likely to participate in Project Choice: Magnet application waiting lists: Breakthrough (Spr 2007) 1,681 applications 43 enrolled (2.5%) 235 admitted to others

23 Q2: Does system promote free choice -- or forced choice -- for Hartford parents? Project Concern alumni oral history interview: "If you are stuck, as a parent... and you can’t put yourself in the neighborhood that you want your kids to go to school in, then you have no choice but to be in the city-to-suburb desegregation program.” (Banks & Dougherty, 2004) Distant suburbs more likely to participate in Project Choice Magnet application waiting lists: Breakthrough (Spr 2007) 1,681 applications 43 enrolled (2.5%) 235 admitted to others

24 Q3: How do selected high-achieving, high- minority schools fit into Sheff? Jumoke Academy, public K-8 charter school located in Hartford’s North End On CT “failing school” list , but recently on top list of high-achieving elem schools for Af-Am and low-income students

25 Q3: How do selected high-achieving, high- minority schools fit into Sheff? Jumoke Academy, public K-8 charter school located in Hartford’s North End On CT “failing school” list , but recently on top list of high-achieving elem schools for Af-Am and low-income students

26 Q4: Will housing desegregation gradually solve school segregation by itself? Or not?

27

28 Q5: Should we expand Sheff beyond race to include social class integration? 1989 original Sheff lawsuit targeted segregation along “racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines” 1996 Sheff court ruling for plaintiffs on grounds that “extreme racial and ethnic isolation” in public schools violated state constitution Current Sheff remedy formula focuses entirely on race

29 2007 Seattle & Louisville cases at US Supreme Court Context: both districts voluntarily created integration plans to promote racial balance goals Question: Does the US constitution prohibit school boards from using race- conscious criteria in a limited way to achieve racial diversity and integration in K-12 schools? US Supreme Court divided in a decision Breyer, Stevens KennedyRoberts, Scalia Ginsburg, SouterThomas, Alito School districts may consider race< >Seattle and Louisville plans violate constitution because they act in “non-individualized, mechanical way” on race Q5: Should we expand Sheff beyond race to include social class integration?

30 Five policy questions to discuss: Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? Q2: Does the system promote free choice -- or forced choice -- for Hartford parents? Q3: How do selected high-achieving, high-minority schools fit into Sheff? Q4: Will housing desegregation gradually solve school segregation by itself? Or not? Q5: Should we expand Sheff beyond race to focus on social class integration? If so, what would that look like?


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