Comes this month the unwelcome news that the so-called achievement gap between poor and more affluent schools in Connecticut — already the nation’s widest — has gotten even worse.
According to the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the average achievement discrepancy between low- and higher-income students on fourth- and eighth-grade reading tests increased from 2.97 in 2009 to 3.1 grade levels this year. On math tests the disparity widened slightly to 3.2 grade levels. That means low-income students are three years on average behind their more affluent peers (see story, page 7).
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proclaimed that “much of the 2012 legislative session should be devoted to the issue of education.” (That’s funny; we thought it was supposed to be “jobs.”) Which leaves us wondering: When in the history of Connecticut public policy have so many words been squandered on such paltry results as education “reform.”
Here’s your “reform” right here: The achievement gap will never be closed until underperforming urban school districts are no longer in thrall to change-resisting public-education unions. Then may come a day when city public schools are operated not as jobs programs for the politically favored, but actually run to educate children.
Even amid a long-term nationwide decline in violent crime, New Haven last month found itself in company it would prefer not to keep.
New crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked the City of Elms No. 4 on the list of “America’s Most Dangerous Cities” (behind Flint, Mich., Detroit and St. Louis) on a per-capita basis.
“New Haven has historically had the highest rate of violent crime on the East Coast,” observed the Atlantic Monthly. “The impoverished, crime-ridden parts of the city stand in stark contrast to affluent Fairfield County to the west and elite Yale University, which is located within the city itself.” The number of homicides in the city doubled last year. New Haven has the eighth-highest rate of robbery and the fourth-highest rate of assault in the U.S.
Gun violence is out of control here. From January 1 through mid-May, 55 people had been shot in New Haven, nine of whom died. City leaders have spent the last five years trumpeting New Haven’s exceptionalism among Connecticut cities, especially as evidenced by the vitality of the center city. But that is a thin reed upon which to pin hopes for the future. The entire community has a vital stake in pressuring City Hall to take swift and vigorous action to make the city’s streets — all its streets — safer.