It's disappointing to see representatives of the American Federation of Teachers put politics ahead of children this weekend by opposing the expansion of Achievement First Hartford Academy [Sept. 29, op-ed, "Hartford Board Hasty On Charter School"]. Rather than acknowledge the nationally recognized partnership between Achievement First and the Hartford Board of Education, the AFT is trying to scare the city council into doing its bidding.
Achievement First has the city's highest-performing neighborhood school, and its partnership already has brought more than $5 million in grants to Hartford. It would've been irresponsible for any city leader to oppose Achievement First's expansion over politics, just as it's irresponsible for the AFT to insinuate Achievement First abuses its lottery system when, in fact, it's the Hartford school system that manages the lottery.
Also, Achievement First takes disciplinary policies very seriously. It saw a problem with suspension rates and is working diligently to address the issue. However, the AFT seems unwilling or unable to address abysmal performances at many Hartford schools -- possibly one reason why Achievement First is, by far, the top choice for many Hartford parents.
Families deserve good schools. The political slant in the AFT's response suggests it has lost sight of this goal.
Jeremiah Grace, Hartford
The writer is Connecticut state director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
[This article originally appeared in The Hartford Courant]