If you could bring a really top-notch public charter school to Hartford, a demanding and challenging school with a proven track record at closing the achievement gap between minority and white students, and do it for relatively little money, why wouldn't you?
That's the situation in Hartford this very week. A decision from the state on whether to fund the Achievement First-Hartford Academy is expected imminently. Everything argues in favor of funding the school.
Achievement First is the nonprofit that runs the Amistad Academy in New Haven, cited this year by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the best gap-closing schools in the country. Achievement First has been able to export the model to six other schools in challenging urban neighborhoods. Last year, the city and state boards of education approved one for Hartford.
With state money seemingly in hand, preparations moved ahead to open in August, with 252 kids enrolled in kindergarten, first grade and fifth grade. But the Capitol's last-minute decision in May to make no changes to the state budget left the school unfunded.
The school was going to cost $2.4 million. But Achievement First has gone to the city and to private philanthropic sources and raised half the money. In tough economic times, that speaks volumes.
The Achievement First schools are known for high expectations, great teaching and a rigorous curriculum. Students put in a longer school day and longer school year.
The state can start this school in Hartford next month for $1.2 million. Quality education is the one thing that's going to bring Hartford back.
For the sake of those 252 kids and their families, let's pull this together.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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