Windsor School Board Hears from Residents Who Support Equity Study

Nicole Perez, The Hartford Courant, June 18, 2013

Dozens of residents came to a school board meeting Tuesday night to support the controversial “equity and excellence review” that began in October.

Before the meeting, the Greater Hartford branch of the NAACP held a press conference to support of the review, which is being led by Marlon James from Loyola University Chicago.

{snip} James was commissioned to collect data to determine the underlying reasons for the achievement gap between white and minority students. James’ theory is that white teachers, who represent about 90 percent of educators, have an implicit bias that leads them to expect less from minority students. Teachers have hotly disputed that perception.

Opposition to the $300,000 study has become an issue in the town’s budget preparation. Two proposed budgets have been defeated at referendums, with some saying that anger at the equity study was a reason.

Loyala University Chicago announced last week that it was pulling out of the study, which was supposed to continue for two more years.

“As a university committed to social justice, we will not be affiliated with any political process resulting in diminished educational or employment opportunities for students and educators,” James wrote in a letter to the school board.

{snip}

It appeared Tuesday that most of the people attending the meeting supported the study, but some were critical. Many people stressed the need for a solution to the achievement gap, but suggested using local, free programs instead of a state-funded, $300,000 outside consultant.

“I hope that they go beyond the study and get into the total package of initiatives they have on the table,” said resident George Slate. “There has been no discussion of any other initiative besides the EER, and it’s a disservice to the town.”

State Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, said Windsor has the nation’s worst academic gap between white and minority students.

“At least this town is willing to have discussion and put the facts on the table,” McCrory said. “I don’t think anyone should be upset about a study, because it’s a study, it’s not a mandate, it’s just a self-reflection of what’s going on in your education system.”

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