Jack Dougherty: Schools and Housing in Hartford

Last week, Professor Jack Dougherty presented his research concerning the imbrication of housing and schools in Hartford, CT. Read his blog post about the lecture here and be sure to poke around the website to see more of Jack’s research and the work that his students and research assistants have done in Hartford (including this neat tool for helping Hartford families make sense of school choice) To thank Jack for his visit, we will, later in the semester, participate in a sort of online dialogue about Connecticut education reform with Jack’s Educational Studies students at Trinity College.

Jack left us with the questions: What would it mean to decouple schools and housing? What does “school choice” actually accomplish?

At our class discussion on Thursday, we began with introductions. Among our three student leaders and 15 students, we have biology, neuroscience, psychology, economics, American Studies, and sociology majors. We are from public schools and private schools, large schools and tiny schools. Just in our introductions, we brought up such topics as racial tracking, deaf education and special needs, school choice, single-gender schools, “diversity,” bilingual education, half-day/dual enrollment programs, and the relationship of public transportation to public schools.

We discussed the structure of our class: students will be expected to complete assigned weekly reading (to be posted on this site), attend weekly lectures as part of a semester-long speaker series, write short reflection papers after each lecture, and engage in discussion each Thursday following the lecture. Each week, two discussion leaders will have the responsibility of reading each reflection, choosing two particularly insightful contributions to be posted on this site, collaboratively writing a summary of the week’s activities for this site, and leading discussion in Thursday’s class.

Also in class on Thursday, we went over the first two chapters of Diane Ravitch’s Death and Life of the Great American School System, discussing the evolution from 1983’s A Nation at Risk (a report – not legislation – that suggested to Americans that education was in a state of crisis and suggested imposing new standards, mandating years of each subject, professionalizing teaching, etc.) to 2001’s No Child Left Behind (implementing Adequate Yearly Progress standards and consequences for “failure,” basing funding on schools’ performance on tests and AYP). We discussed definitions for “standards,” “accountability,” and “school choice.”

This week: Patrick Riccards, CEO of ConnCAN, on Connecticut education reform.



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