Archive | Youth

‘World’s Largest Bounce House’ to Invade Hartford Area


The Big Bounce America’s 2019 tour is bringing the most action-packed
experience of the year to the Hartford area on July 19.


The event will run until July 21 and will feature the world’s largest bounce house, which is 10,000 square-foot, a 900-foot long inflatable obstacle course.


The Big Bounce America tour is the largest touring inflatable event in the
entire world and will be taking place at the Granby’s Salmon Brook Park, 215 Salmon Brook St.


The Big Bounce America tour features three massive inflatable attractions:
the world’s largest bounce house, an incredible 900+ foot long obstacle
course, and a unique, space-themed wonderland, bringing family-friendly
entertainment to all new heights.

Posted in A & E, YouthComments (0)

Mothers United to Hold Forum on Families and Trauma


HARTFORD — Mothers United Against Violence will hold a forum on May 23 about families living with trauma.

The free event will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Parker Memorial Community Center at 2621 Main St.

Families will get the opportunity to share their experiences coping with trauma and how they have been able to remain hopeful for a better future for their families and their community, organizers said.

The event will feature performances by Lance James and Youth Impact. Catering will be provided by Refined Twist.

Mothers United is a community organization in Greater Hartford that seeks to provide spiritual support, closure and social justice for victims and families impacted by violence.

The group is a part the Community Safety Coalition, which comprises of several local nonprofit agencies responding to the rising incidents of crime in Hartford. These organizations are working together to address the increased violence in the city.

Organizers said the goal is to create healthy communities through the reduction of urban violence and trauma in Hartford.

Posted in Hartford, YouthComments (1)

East Hartford Summer Camp Invites Applications


EAST HARTFORD — East Hartford Parks and Recreation is now accepting applications for six different summer camps.

The summer camps are open to children and teens from three-years-old to 15-years-old. The camp will be held at different sites throughout the town  and will begin the week of June 24 and run for seven weeks, except for Camp Munchkin, which is for three and four year olds.

All summer campers will participate in a variety of activities including theme weeks, arts and crafts, sports, nature activities and more. Some campers will visit pools, where they will receive free swimming instructions. There will also be off-site field trips at places such as Jump Off, CT Science Center, Dinosaur State Park, bowling, batting cages and movies.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for all campers through the Summer Meals program.

Camp brochures are available at the Parks and Recreation office at 50 Chapman Place or online.

Registration is available on a weekly basis for all camps. Pre-registration is required for all camps at the Parks and Recreation office.

For more information, call Parks and Recreation at 860-291-7160 or visit www.easthartfordct.gov.

Posted in East Hartford, Hartford, YouthComments (0)

Hartford Agency Receives $2 Million for Reentry Programs


HARTFORD — The Community Partners in Action recently received a $2 million grant to help reintegrated ex-felons into the Greater Hartford community.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the five-year grant to the agency to offer reentry services for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorders or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

Congressman John Larson applauded the award, saying that too many formerly incarcerated citizens are struggling to find the resources necessary to put them on a path to success.

“These programs are critical to helping citizens recently released from prison access basic needs, along with employment and treatment services that will help them live independently and contribute to our society,” Larson said.

This is the first SAMHSA grant for Community Partners in Action, said Beth Hines, the organization’s executive director.  The agency is a statewide organization that promotes recovery and restoration for those who have been incarcerated.

She said the award will expand the agency’s Resettlement program, which lost 80 percent of its funding in 2016 when the state eliminated its non-residential programs.

The Resettlement program, Hines said, will now be able to serve an additional 275 people returning home from prison. The program will provide pre- and post-release case management services.

Posted in Hartford, Neighborhood, YouthComments (0)

We Need a New Approach to Educating Connecticut Children


By Matthew Borrelli
M

To Beth Bye, Connecticut Commissioner of Early Childhood:

My goal is to present data that supports the conclusion that there is a cadre of families and children that for decades has not been able to benefit from a regular education. The evidence will support the position that the present Pre-K-12 structure of our schools has exhausted its ability to meet the needs of these children. That their needs are as well defined, and unique as those which were the bases for the enactment CGS 10-76, the special education law. That a response equal in intensity, is required to remedy their plight.

I put together these talking points to hopefully show you that the present Pre-K-12 system is working well for those children that we commonly describe as middle-class (School Synchronized). Conversely the same system has for 40 years failed a cohort of children throughout the state in both suburbs and cities that have been labeled lower-socio-economic (School Separated).

I wish to present a review of the many interventions that the state and local towns have implemented to change this outcome, which sadly have all been to no avail for this cohort

I then wish then to speak about the role of special education, which came about in the late 60s and at the same time, the beginning of Choice programs and what effect they have had on outcomes.

I wish to recalibrate the definitions that we use, and to correct the notion of dealing with Correlation as Causation

Although much of this is apropos to general education; I hope to drill down through the facts to the basis of how children learn in their earliest years and show the correlation between home and school as the link and the linchpin for successful learning.

(School Synchronization vs School Separation)

I would also like to review the actualities in two towns, one in West Hartford and one in Bloomfield which I think will prove some of my contentions. Last, I wish to talk about a concept I have deemed PAINES and how school learning relates to children being ready, and willing so we can make them able.

Historical outcomes of school achievement:

  • All national and state testing shows achievement is laddered along economic lines.
  • All towns in Connecticut have shown achievement that fluctuates in a narrow channel, not one town has ever shown consistent growth over a period of many years that would take it out of its District Reference Group.
  • When skills are tested at the high school through either the SAT or the CAPT in alliance districts; only 30 percent of the students achieve at grade level expectation yet 90 percent of the students graduate.
  • Two thirds of the students entering community college require remedial courses prior to taking community college level courses.
  • The ratio of on goal to non-goal students has been approximately 70/30 passing on goal in the suburbs and 30/70 in the urban near urban centers. This has not changed in 40 years.

Interventions

Over the years the state has intervened trying to create a rationale for this bifurcation of scores looking at the possible reasons why this disparity exists:

  • Horton versus Meskill more equal spending would create more equal results
  • Brown versus Topeka, Sheff in Connecticut, racial balance could be the answer
  • Hundreds of changes in curriculum
  • Changes in instructional methodology and the addition of technology
  • Variations of class size
  • More minority representation
  • The creation and additional funding in a group of towns called Alliance Districts
  • Nutrition programs
  • Extended day, school year
  • Rigorous teacher evaluations
  • The introduction of resource rooms

All of the above related to some correlation, but none have created any change in the outcomes because none of them apparently have been causal.

Town exemplars

I would like to show two towns as examples:

The first is Bloomfield; this is a town whose population is majority white but whose school population is almost totally minority. Its board of education is totally minority. Its superintendent who is an excellent superintendent is minority as are many if not most of the administrators. Minorities represent a large number of the teaching staff as well as minorities representing most of the ancillary staff, so we apparently have a situation where race is not a factor and racial bias should not seem to be applicable.

When we look at Bloomfield’s scores we have the same scoring as  towns like Manchester or Vernon with approximately 40 percent of the children on goal and 60 percent not.  The ratios of on goal to other is the same as in  Manchester and Vernon with these towns being a much more racially mixed as a town, school system and faculty. I believe we can argue successfully that the striations in test scores in a town like Bloomfield, which parallels the other alliance districts and is not based on race, it is not based on the lack of minority representation, although they do face racial problems in the sense that some of the highest scoring children are demeaned with terms like “what are you doing are, you trying to be white?”

The next town is West Hartford and truly a tale of two cities. Crossing Farmington Avenue is a little bit like the Mason-Dixon Line. The north end has always been a highly professional, highly educated, highly scoring element of town. In the 70s and 80s this area was a strong blue-collar middle-class community and then in the 80s as the real estate market changed a lower socioeconomic group emerged and the disparity between North and South scores exacerbated.

West Hartford is a town where all things, all resources, all processes were completely evenly divided. West Hartford did not hire a South end Principal or North end Principal or teacher or aide or custodian. There was a single West Hartford standard. There was a single evaluation process of teachers. Everything was the same systemically North and South, and yet the scores always showed a difference. There is a cohort of children that we could not educate, and all of the interventions listed above did nothing to change the ratios because they were not causal.

Change that had effect

The only significant systemic change came in the late 60s through the federal government and we should be proud to be one of the first states that passed a Special Education law CGS 10-76. It was the first time that we recognized that the school system at its best had limits and that there were children based on genetic organic and neurological reasons that were outside of the norm.

The term of art used at that time was these children were “significantly different from the norm.” We saw the causes through medical eyes and recognized that these children were well beyond the scope of our ability to deal with. A whole new system was developed and it has produced a very different kind of result over the last 40 years than in the prior time.

Questionable change

At the same time, the idea of “choice” raised its specter. It was an action taken by successful students’ families to put them in a different context than their neighborhood school would provide. As neighborhoods changed and more needy learners moved in, the children who were more able wanted to exit. It was the beginning of the class flight.

This movement has grown by leaps and bounds, choice has been expanded, charter schools have been developed, magnet schools and been offered and the results are very interesting. Applicants’ families have better scores than their non-applicant families left at the public schools.

This success has been attributed to the fact that privately run businesses, beautifully architected schools, and themes make a difference. The success though has not been in any way proven to be a product of curriculum or architecture or themes since all of those interventions have been tried for the last 40 years in the public schools and they have not worked.

Why do they appear to be working in this situation? The population quality? We have taken middle class families (school synchronized) out of poor neighborhoods and created a middle class school for them.

Cause

This brings us to what is causing learning and failure; and to the conclusion that the pre-K-12 system can only educate well those children who come to us ready and willing to learn (school synchronized).

If we look at who is learning, and, who would be learners in any school district, we would readily identify those typified as middle-class(S-Sync) like the children in your home and my home. This cadre of ready and willing children with middle-class values and upbringing would score on goal in any school system under any teacher in the state of Connecticut without a question. It doesn’t matter what the curriculum is, it doesn’t matter the age and beauty of the school. These kids are coming to a place called school, which is an extension of their lifestyle.

If you would look at your expectations about being a good daughter or son what you need to do to be good, to learn, we’d find clearly that there is a close relationship and commonality between their home and school. The closer the synchronization between the two, the closer to we come to having a 24/7 educational environment.  So much of what we do at home parallels what happens in school.

Now let’s take a look at the Latino child on Park Street. Most of the homes are probably parented by adults who are near literate to illiterate, many whom may be Spanish-speaking with some English. The neighborhood is Spanish-speaking. The ability to live in the community is easy. Now we bring that child to school and that child gets five hours a day, 180 days of English-speaking — a different lifestyle, a different class of education.

Many of the traits that are acceptable in the community are not acceptable at school. We even modify the immersion by speaking Spanish during the day. If you look at the separation between the home and community mores and the schools’, it is that difference that causes the educational domain to stop and start. It is not continuous as in a typical synchronized home. So in effect, the child is educated three hours a day in this school environment with almost no echoing after that and so when we look at why there is not a product that goes beyond language. It goes into lifestyle.

School separation

As I promised, let’s talk about young children.

I want to present the concept I call PAINES. Yes I claim that children are PAINES when we look at the learning process. We have to look at a total child: P physical, A for academics, I for intellect, N for neurological, E for emotional (how you see yourself) and S social (plays well with others). The paradigm is simple, if everything is normal, if you come to school meeting all of your developmental needs on target A = I.

Therefore if you are a typical child in the third grade you will be scoring on a third grade level. If you’re brighter than normal, you will score on a higher level.  If A doesn’t equal I we must ask why. What would cause an educational deficiency? And that’s where we get into (P) physical reasons (N) neurological reasons (learning disability) or it could be E) emotional poor self-concept or (S) social, the inability to get along with others –and this is how we think in special education.

So what we’re dealing with at the youngest age are two factors: home and school. Home provides the readiness through its lifestyle and its culture and language, its mobility and safety, medical and physical care, and in a safe environment what we presently call a middle-class environment(school synchronized), it creates a readiness to learn.

The family helps the child as its first educator. In many cases the mother is the primary teacher  and converts readiness to willingness, and in the best situation, eagerness to learn when that child enters school and school parallels and extends the home. We are extremely capable of making that child able, and in West Hartford and other suburban towns 70 percent of the kids come from those kinds of homes and they are successful; in Bloomfield only 40 percent, in  Manchester only 40 percent,  in Hartford 30-40 percent.

Yet all our efforts have been focused on the able (school) part. We now offer preschool universally, but the kids who are ready and willing would probably be no different in a half-day program than in a full-day program, but for the children from the other homes the need is vital. We developed resource rooms, but they are rooms for families who come to school. They are drop-in centers. They are not evangelical. They do not seek the missing families, (school separated).

I suggest to you your first step is to develop a program to seek out and evaluate these impoverished homes using the Special Ed model.

We need to service the causal element, which is the separated home life style.

I would ask you to look at programs like Gen-2 and prepare the way for a massive intervention which would probably need legal changes to intervene in these homes at the earliest age possible, given that the mother is the primary teacher. Illiterate mothers, who are under tremendous stress, families living in poverty, living in abusive settings cannot provide readiness, cannot make a child willing, and we have proven we cannot make that child able.

Even in a Greenwich there is that group of kids that the highest scoring system in Connecticut fails.

If you do not get into these homes there is no reason to believe anything will be different, because children who are coming to us unready become unwilling and stay unable. There is so much proof that curriculum instructional changes, architecture, STEM, all of those make learning for the willing learners more interesting, but children from school separated homes are unable to gain any benefit from these interventions.

The vision you must have is that we need to get into the homes more than we ever have in the past. We must educate, counsel and support the parents. We must also enact laws that protect these children.

We must train these primary teachers, (mothers) emotionally and educationally to be more able to play their parenting role; that plus a change in how we educate these children Pre-K =12 is what is required to fulfill our State’s obligation to offer every child an appropriate, free, public education.

Matthew Borrelli of Manchester is a longtime Connecticut educator who has served as an interim superintendent of schools in Bloomfield, Waterbury and Hartford school systems and has served in administrative capacities in a number of districts including South Windsor, West Hartford, New Haven and Hartford.

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Hartford Public Library Offers Security Officer Training Program


HARTFORD — Do you want another way to make money?

If so, the Hartford Public Library will be offering training for those who want to make money as a security guard.

The library will offer its popular eight-hour security officer training program on a monthly basis. The next training is on April 17 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 500 Main Street.

This is a required training to become a Certified Security Officer. The successful completion of this program will qualify candidates to apply for a Security Officer Identification Card.

The average pay for a Security Officer is $36,174 per year.

Posted in Business, Hartford, Neighborhood, YouthComments (0)

Education Committee Approves Lamont’s Watered-down Regionalization Bill


By Kathleen Megan, CTMirror

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont’s two key education bills — including one intended to push school districts toward regionalization — were approved by a legislative committee Friday, but with a few notable changes.

Members of the Education Committee eliminated the governor’s proposal to have municipalities chip in on teacher pensions and scrapped a plan to require homeschoolers to register in their school districts.

The votes, which went largely along party lines, were on House Bill 7150 — an act implementing the governor’s budget — and Senate Bill 874, the controversial bill that includes what some view as punitive steps to push school districts toward regionalization. The latter bill also would have established a commission charged with creating a plan for redistricting.

Last week, the Lamont administration changed language in Bill No. 874 making it more palatable to many by removing every reference to “redistricting” and “consolidation” and by empowering the commission to make only recommendations.

Senate Bill 874 was one of three bills that prompted hundreds of opponents to turn out for a hearing last month out of fear their school district would be forced to merge with others and that local control would be lost.

Earlier this month, two of the bills died, and last week Lamont recast his proposal to emphasize that his effort to get school districts to share services and save resources would be voluntary.

The original bill called for the establishment of a Commission on Shared School Services, charged with developing “a plan for redistricting or consolidation of school services and school districts.”

The revised bill not only eliminates the words “redistricting,” and “consolidation,” but also replaces “plan” with “recommendations” as a way to emphasize the advisory nature of the commission’s report. It says that the commission “shall develop recommendations for the sharing of school services and additional collaborations within and among school districts.”

“He [the governor] heard the people loud and clear and he heard committee members loud and clear,” said Rep. Bobby Sanchez, D-New Britain, and co-chairman of the education committee.

The bill approved by the committee maintains the governor’s language, but also eliminates a provision that was considered punitive by many. That controversial section of Lamont’s bill required small districts– defined as districts with fewer than 10,000 residents, fewer than 2,000 students, or with fewer than three schools — to share a superintendent with another district or name a chief executive officer to oversee the schools.

Education Committee Ranking Member Kathleen McCarty voiced concerns about the governor's education bills and voted against them. Ranking Member Sen. Eric Berthel is to her right.

KATHLEEN MEGAN :: CT MIRROR

Education Committee Ranking Member Kathleen McCarty voiced concerns about the governor’s education bills and voted against them. Ranking Member Sen. Eric Berthel is to her right.

The bill said that if such a district chose instead to maintain its own superintendent without sharing, the commissioner of education could withhold funding in an amount equal to the superintendent’s salary.

However, Republicans said the steps taken by the administration to water down the bill did not alleviate their concerns.

Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, said that despite the language changes, “which do show there was listening and acknowledgement,” she is concerned about the “original discourse and the original intent” of the bill with its references to re-districting and regionalization.

“Most disturbing,” Lavielle said, was that the original language was “all based on the premise that effective local school districts must be prodded somehow to act in their own best interests. So many school districts in Connecticut are effective and efficient already and I don’t believe the state has any business to spend time and energy interfering with them.”

In addition, Lavielle said there is nearly $1 million in the governor’s budget to create and run the commission.

“I don’t see a reason to spend that money, especially in our severe budget straits, because I don’t see a reason for the bill,” she said.

Rep. Kathleen McCarty, R-Waterford, a ranking member on the committee, said she opposed the bill because it leaves the structure for a commission to move forward.

“At some point this could turn to more forced regionalization,” she said.

She said the possibility of “forced regionalization” resulted in a “a lot of angst in the school communities through-out the state.”

Sanchez noted that the bill also is stripped of the provision that would require home-schoolers to register with their district.

“So you don’t have to send me thousands and thousands of emails,” Sanchez said to the knowing chuckles of a dozen or so home-school advocates in the attendance.

Twenty two Democrats voted in favor of Senate Bill 874, while 13 Republicans voted against it. Two legislators were absent.

After it was approved, about a dozen opponents, who were at the meeting were disappointed.

Wilton resident Jennie Wong said, “We made our voices clear. The intent is still there to regionalize. I just think they should have heard us.”

Republicans and Democrats alike spoke in favor of the committee’s decision to eliminate Lamont’s plan to have municipalities pay for 25 percent of teacher pension costs, and a greater share if teachers were paid above the statewide median.

Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST), sent out an email after the vote saying, “This proposal would have overwhelmed property taxpayers in small towns and cities throughout Connecticut.”

She said the plan would have shifted $73 million “onto the backs of already burdened property taxpayers…COST is very pleased that lawmakers recognized that shifting a greater property tax burden on homeowners and businesses is bad public policy. This is a big win for municipalities and property taxpayers,” Gara added.

However, those voting against the bill said they were concerned about a provision that accelerated a plan to reduce education cost sharing funds to wealthier districts.

Under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, an agreement had been reached to phase in a shift in education funding over a 10-year period from wealthier districts to struggling, poorer districts. Lamont’s proposal would phase out the funds to wealthier districts over a shorter period of time.

“I am against this proposal,” said Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, shortly before a vote was taken. “This really represents the undoing of a bipartisan budget that worked hard to re-establish a true [Education Cost Sharing] formula that took the appropriate educational needs into consideration as part of that formula.”

McCarty said the measure would “impact adversely over 74 towns, so for that reason I will be voting ‘no’ on the bill.”

Twenty Democrats voted in favor of House Bill 7150, while 15 Republicans and two House Democrats — Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire,  and Jill Barry, D-Glastonbury — voted against it. Two legislators were absent.

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CRT Seeks Volunteers for After-School Program


HARTFORD — The Community Renewal Team’s after-school program is seeking volunteers.

The program, Generations, is administered on Tuesdays and Thursday at CRT in Hartford.

CRT Generations is a program in which grandparents with legal custody of their grandchildren raise them in a safe and nurturing environment with other families in the same situation, organizers said.

For more information, or to become a volunteer, email info@crtct.org.

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Obama Foundation to Recruit 100 Hartford Youth for Leadership Program


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Obama Foundation is seeking 100 youth in Hartford for its community engagement training designed to “inspire, empower, and connect” young leaders who want to tackle problems in their communities.

Applications are available online and the deadline to apply is March 24. The six-month program will kick off in June. Mandatory in-person training will be held from June 7 to 9, Aug. 16 to 18 and Nov. 8 to 10.

Applicants should be between 18 and 25 years old and live in the city. Selected individuals will become a part of the Foundation’s Community Leadership Corps and gain valuable skills in community organizing, design thinking, and project management.

Hartford is one of two cities this summer to participate in the Foundations program—selected primarily because about 40 percent of Hartford residents are under 25.

Mayor Luke Bronin said Hartford is fortunate to have so many engaged youth.

““We are thrilled that the Obama Foundation chose Hartford as one of only two cities in the country for the second year of its Community Leadership Corps, which will work hand in hand with young people to help them make an even bigger impact in our community,” Bronin said.  “The Obama Foundation’s focus on investing in and supporting diverse young leaders is a perfect fit for a city like Hartford, and we are looking forward to working with them in the months ahead.”

The other city participating this summer is Chicago, home of the foundation’s headquarters. In its first year, the program was in Chicago, Phoenix, Ariz and Columbia, S.C.

The program will include three in-person trainings in each city, online trainings in between and ongoing coaching support.

“We know our young people are eager to make a difference in their communities, so the Community Leadership Corps aims to give them skills to take their passion and put it into action,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation. “Building on the successes of last year’s program, we’re excited to introduce the Community Leadership Corps to Hartford—as well as bring together a new crop of leaders in Chicago. In doing so, we’ll help young leaders acquire the skills they need to tackle the issues in their communities.”

For more information about the 2019 program, visit www.obama.org/clc.

Photo courtesy of Obama Foundation.

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Hartford School Goes into ‘Soft Lockdown’ After Threat


HARTFORD — After the threat of gun violence, a Hartford school went into a “soft lockdown” on Tuesday, according to a police report.

Classical Magnet School at 85 Woodland St. went into a Code Yellow at about 12:30 p.m., after reports of a phone call in which someone threatened gun violence.

Police arrived at the school after they were contacted by authorities.

School offficials said that there won’t be an early dismissal.

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