Creating a group of business and civic leaders to support Hartford school Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski's reforms — such as longer academic days, smaller schools and shutting down poor-performing schools — is a good idea that's gathering steam.
More than $1 million has been raised to start the advocacy and oversight group — tentatively called the Local Education Fund. Courant Publisher Stephen Carver is on the fund's eight-member board.
An executive director chosen from a national pool of 140 applicants will soon be hired. In addition to helping Mr. Adamowski push systemic changes that may be unpopular with some teachers and administrators but are necessary, the group would monitor the school district's test scores and graduation rates.
The goals, in general, are to close the yawning achievement gap between students in Hartford schools and their suburban counterparts and to help the capital city's schools produce more job-ready graduates and thus stimulate economic growth.
There are any number of models of business world/school system collaboration. One of the most successful over time has been the 26-year-old Boston Compact, under which hundreds of companies, universities and other institutions make specific commitments to the Hub's public schools — internships, summer jobs, jobs upon graduation, tutoring and mentoring, teacher recruiting and training, and more. In return, the schools promise higher test scores, lower dropout rates, better graduation rates and the like.
Not everything undertaken by the compact has worked, but overall it has been deemed a success.
Hartford's Local Education Fund hasn't yet decided what it wants to be in every exact detail, but it's headed in the right direction. And it can't help but benefit if it looks at what has worked best in Boston and other cities in considering what might work in Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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