No one said that overhauling the Hartford school system was going to be painless.
Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski's ambitious plan to convert the district into an all-choice system, one offering a wide range of educational options, always anticipated that students, parents and teachers would have to adjust to new approaches to learning.
Now that change is about to be implemented at Hartford Public High School, some teachers are understandably concerned that they will have to reapply for their jobs. Some parents maintain that they've been excluded from the planning. Others complain that change is happening too rapidly.
But "change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better," British theologian Richard Hooker said. Hartford's schools must change because the status quo — high dropout rates, low achievement scores — is harming children and the city.
Mr. Adamowski's office is redesigning Hartford Public into several academies specializing in nursing, engineering, law and government. The city's other high schools will undergo a comparable restructuring.
Principals at the academies will have to compete for students on the strength of their curriculums and teaching staffs. To build good schools, it is essential that they pick their own teachers.
The district could include more parents in the planning. That would increase their investment in the success of the ambitious undertaking. And it would help them appreciate the urgency of the mission of turning around Hartford's school.
In contrast to authors of previous reform movements, Mr. Adamowski has a track record of success at other districts that has earned him national recognition. He deserves an opportunity to apply his educational concepts here.
A handful of elementary schools that were restructured after scraping bottom on standardized tests began the 2007-08 school year with spectacular gains. City high school students should expect no less under the new system.
But learning improvements won't come without sacrifice.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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