Experience of School Choice- Hartford North-end resident – Raheem Logan

As a North-end resident, I have been told that I have an abundance of school options for my child; However, I feel that their fate has already been decided before they begin the application. All parents want what is best for their children academically as they grow and have to navigate their way through society. I have only little to no information regarding the implications of this Sheff decision that has been at a term constantly thrown into discussions with this topic of choice. As we make our choices for schooling, I would like to have the best quality to choose from for education, including those institutions that are close in proximity to where our family resides. It is extremely difficult to put my child on a bus daily to have access to a quality education. I am very thankful for that opportunity for my child to enhance their skills in the classroom, but it creates separation between my child and me. The separation is the result of my inability to travel to my child’s school because of my lack of transportation. I have to take public transportation every day and work 50 hours per week; so adding on an extra couple of hours to frequently attend and play an integral role at my child’s school is not realistic for me.

Another problem that I have is when my choices are limited, why do I have to feel like I am settling in regards to my child’s education by sending them to a neighborhood school? There are magnet schools in the district that my child could not get into, but there are still empty spaces in these classrooms! Why will this spot not be open for my child? Why are there enrollment caps on some schools, but not others? Some of these failing schools that my child’s peers attend must take in students at any point during the school year, while schools that are prevailing have a cut off date very late in the school year. These schools that open to all have to constantly catch students up with the current material, therefore limiting how much the other students can cover in a school year. This becomes a crucial part of how much some students know as they enter the college application process. Why should any student have a limit on their academic ceiling? In the Hartford Public Schools Future Guide, Beth Schiaviano, stated, “every child thrives. Every school is high performing. No exceptions”. If that were the truth, then the debates about school choice in the Hartford regions would cease to exist. My child and other students from the North-end are going to become adults that make a difference. They must be allowed an equal playing field to allow this to happen.

A worry that I have as I undergo this application process is what resources are going to be given to my child if they were to attend one of these magnet schools or one that is predominately white? My child has not had the opportunity to interact with people outside of minorities because of my social circles and our location. Being surrounded by people that do not look like you is very overwhelming socially and something that my child cannot have preparation for until they experience it. By taking this possible leap for a better education out of their neighborhood, they are becoming disconnected with their peers and neighborhood, which could take a huge toll on my child. Home means everything to my child. A problem could arise if they do not feel welcomed at school or in their neighborhood because of where they attend school. My fear is that this adjustment would affect their academic performance. I will not stand for this if there is little to no support for students of color that are travelling to different environments.

Another critique I have is that there is no indication of the realistic chances of my child being admitted to any of the schools on their list. Each representative that I have spoken to from potential schools has given me any sort of probability for my son or daughter to be admitted. I know with a lottery there is not any certainty, but I would like some sort of certainty with such a crucial decision.

I am not the first parent to voice my opinion, nor will I be the last. So I suggest that some changes start to happen for the sake of not only my child, but also all children that desperately want a good education.

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