Concerned parents gathered for a rally in Hartford on Thursday afternoon. At issue is the large number of Hartford students currently waiting for a seat in a high-performing school.
In 2007, Hartford public schools began an ambitious plan to give students more access to quality schools, by placing them in either an interdistrict magnet school, or through the Open Choice program, sending them to a good school in a nearby town. Spots are limited, and there is a waiting list.
That waiting list has ballooned to over 4,700 students, according to the Sheff Movement's John Humphries. Thursday's rally on the steps of the state Board of Education was a chance for parents and students to vent their frustration over the lack of available seats in high-performing schools.
Debra St. Germaine, a Hartford Public School teacher, said the process is so convoluted that she's not sure where her grandchild will be going to kindergarten next year. "We didn't know that if you don't get into a magnet school lottery, now you have to register for a neighborhood school lottery," she told the crowd. "You also don't get into your neighborhood school. So we just had to do that process yesterday. We've been told there are no schools in our neighborhood that will be accepting her, either. We have no idea where she will be going to school."
"I'm a Hartford parent. I have a daughter who's on the wait list," said Hartford resident Nyesha McCauley. "What do I do when I don't have any more options or opportunities? Every school should be a high-performing school. Hartford kids deserve no less than that."
Immediately following the rally, organizers delivered a packet of letters from concerned parent to state education commissioner Stefan Pryor, calling for "positive and affirmative action to expand the choices for Hartford kids."