by Michael Shulansky
Last week, parents, community leaders, students, and educators gathered at Achievement First Hartford Academy in Hartford to hear about the school’s progress and how charter schools are faring across Connecticut.
Attendees heard from middle school principal Ben Cruz, grandparent Carl Hardrick, State Representatives Doug McCrory and Matt Ritter, and more. State Representative Brandon McGee and Hartford Board of Education member Robert Cotto Jr. also visited to hear about Achievement First Hartford Academy.
Community leader Brother Carl speaks to parents and students at the Hartford legislative breakfast.
Throughout the morning, students, parents, and school leaders spoke of academic rigor Hartford Academy provides.
High school student Shyheim Russell lauded the school for challenging its students. “When I came to AF Hartford Academy, I struggled at first. Academics here are hard, they push you but the teachers are able to help you get through it.”
Middle school principal Ben Cruz agreed. “One thing I love about Achievement First is the we set expectations high,” said Cruz. “And we believe that when you set expectations high, people rise to meet them.
“What I take the most pride in,” continued Cruz, “is seeing students like Shyheim, who just told me he wants to go to MIT.”
Achievement First Harford Academy student Shyheim Russell.
Local leader Carl “Brother Carl” Hardrick, a Hartford Academy grandparent, spoke passionately about the effect of Achievement First on the community.
“The question is how do we get people out of poverty. And the answer is, we do it though education.” Brother Carl continued, “People have always said inner city kids can't learn. Achievement First has proven they can.”
State Representative Doug McCrory also spoke about how important education is to improving the community, but noted that its important for the community to take initative.
“We don't have time to keep asking people to do this for us. The achievement gap isn't going to close unless we close it. And by we I mean parents, educators students.”
McCrory continued, “Our families need options that are successful. Our job as legislators is to create options. We must make MLK and Weaver just as successful as this school.”
State Representative Matt Ritter agreed, noting, “We can't answer that one size fits all. Change has been to create charters, magnets, open choice, and I think that's worked well.”
“We need to make sure schools that are doing well continue to thrive. We need to provide them with resources.”
State Representative Doug McCrory speaks to parents and students at the Hartford legislative breakfast.
NECSN Connecticut State Director Jeremiah Grace reiterated how important it is to take the community’s needs into account when making future decisions. “Charters are the communities opportunity to take back their education,” said Grace. “There is a need, and we need to supply that need with high-quality charter schools.”
Take a look at a slideshow of images from the breakfast below.
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