Thursday, November 21, 2013
In 1996, the Connecticut Supreme Court issued its momentous decision in Sheff v. O'Neill, becoming the first and only state high court to hold that racial isolation in the Hartford schools violated the state constitutional right to an equal education. Finding a remedy that everyone could agree on and comply with has been the challenge of the following decade and a half. The state would agree to a set of goals one year, only to be hauled back into court a year or two later with charges of non-compliance. Progress has not be a straight line, but has occurred. This year the state appears to have met it integration goals. While full integration is far from complete there, this year's numbers are a testament to what is possible and rejoinder to those who accept segregation as a given.
The Sheff Coalition Movement released this statement this morning:
The state has released 2013-14 enrollment figures for schools and programs covered by the Sheff v. O'Neill settlement agreements. Over 19,000 students are now participating in the Hartford region's innovative two way voluntary school integration programs. This figure includes all city and suburban students attending regional magnet schools, Hartford students participating in Open Choice, and Hartford students attending regional technical and agricultural high schools.
The state has also exceeded its 2013 goal of 41% of Hartford minority children in "reduced isolation settings" (see calculation below*) - and this number includes over 38% of Hartford children now attending racially and economically integrated schools (schools that meet or are approaching the regional integration standard).
In spite of this important progress, the state is still unable to meet the growing demand for integrated school options. The Sheff Movement coalition has called for a doubling of the integration goal in the next five years.
"These enrollment figures are good news as we move into the next phase of Sheff implementation," said Elizabeth Horton Sheff, co-chair of the coalition, "It shows we have a healthy growing system and that is working. But 41% is not enough - we need to keep growing this system so all children have the ability to attend diverse schools."
*This is the Sheff Movement coalition's analysis of the state's reported Sheff enrollment numbers for 2013-14:
19,215 total children are participating in the Hartford region's voluntary two-way integration system (not including about 222 Hartford students attending CT Technical and Agricultural High Schools)
1,850 "Hartford minority children" are participating in Open Choice in 22 suburban school districts (8.70% of all 21,271 Hartford resident minority children)
5,833 Hartford minority children are attending qualifying magnet schools (27.42% of all Hartford resident minority children). This total includes:
35 magnet schools meeting (or very close to meeting) the regional integration standard
5 newer magnet schools that are on their way to reaching the integration standard
469 Hartford minority children attend Naylor/CCSU Leadership Academy (a "reverse open choice" school located in Hartford) (2.20% of all Hartford resident minority children)
222 Hartford minority children attend CT technical high schools and regional agricultural schools (1.04% of all Hartford resident minority children)
3% of Hartford students are automatically counted as participating in Hartford region part time integration programs (summer programs, sustained school-to-school activities, etc)
Using these official figures, the state has reached the current year's settlement goal of 41% of Hartford minority students in reduced isolation settings (total percentage of Hartford-Resident Minority Students in Reduced Isolation Settings, PK-12 is 42.37%)