Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra recently announced his support to have a new leader at the helm of Hartford’s Board of Education on Feb. 18: Richard Wareing.
This is good news.
Wareing, an attorney and a mayoral appointee to the board since 2012, is seemingly passionate about putting the welfare of students first. Most importantly, he is able to rise above the malaise that sometimes grips Hartford when it comes to making substantive changes for the greater good.
Yeah. We know. Wareing is a lawyer and a Republican who champions “school choice.” And he’s been active in city politics for decades, having served on the Metropolitan District Commission since he was 19. But he has also demonstrated this much: he cares. He constantly champions parental input. And he stresses that parents should be well-informed about proposals in the district.
When parents were upset about a proposed closing of Clark Elementary School and then a move to convert it into a magnet school, Wareing passionately and eloquently detailed the rational for turning Clark into a magnet school, unveiling previously withheld facts that later helped parents arrive at an informed decision about the proposed changes.
It was clear to some onlookers that he buried his ego and used common sense to assess what would truly be best for students. In this particular case, what was best for Clark was the money the state would funnel into the school. What Clark school needed was more resources to continue its progress. And under the Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation lawsuit agreement, converting it into a magnet/charter school would help direct resources to it. Clark is now among the Commissioner’s Network of Schools, which will allow it to get the necessary resources needed to make drastic improvements.
Another good news is that Rev. Dr. Shelley Best will join the Hartford Board of Education to ensure that students continue to rise above mediocrity and offend those who have low expectations of them. Best, a gifted orator and community leader, is the president and CEO of the Conference of Churches and is seemingly committed to servant leadership. Best would replace Cherita McIntye, another mayoral appointee who resigned in December.
The recent appointment, in addition to the recently elected board members with a history of civic engagement, has Hartford schools poised for great progress well into 2014. However, it’s odd that no West Indians have been appointed in the long history of the board of education, given the large number of them in the city and its schools. We hope city administrators will rectify this egregious error soon.
In any case, there are good reasons to celebrate Hartford’s progress, which is to come for our long-neglected public schools.