Supporters of the long-running Sheff versus O’Neill school desegregation lawsuit are applauding recent news about the number of Hartford students learning in integrated classrooms. But they say for Sheff programs to continue successfully, several challenges must be addressed. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.
Connecticut education leaders announced last week that the state has met its second year goals set under the most recent Sheff agreement - designed to reduce the racial and economic isolation of Hartford’s schoolchildren. Most kids in Sheff programs are enrolled in interdistrict magnet schools. Sheff supporters would like to see an expansion of public school choice which offers Hartford students seats in traditional suburban public schools.
Philip Tegeler is staff coordinator for the Sheff Coalition, a group of parents, teachers and supporters of the agreement.
"We need to do two things next year. We have to significantly increase the payments that the suburban towns are receiving for Hartford children coming in and also we have to give the state Commisioner of Education some authority to set requirements for towns. For example, 3, 4, 5% of enrollment should be children from the city of Hartford."
More than 27% of Hartford’s minority students are now learning in integrated settings. Starting next year, the state moves from an annual percentage goal to benchmarks based on student demand.
For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.