Archive | September, 2010

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Albany Avenue Groundbreaking Ceremony Today


Updated Sept. 21, 2010, 4:37 p.m.

HARTFORD — Mayor Pedro E. Segarra today will attend a ground-breaking ceremony for the new $5.8 million Albany Avenue Library, a welcome event to many residents who have endured the ongoing saga of that branch.

Segarra is expected to talk about the job creation that is associated with this project, especially for Hartford residents.

The planned 8,000 sq ft facility  is a symbol of the long journey to revitalize the Upper Albany neighborhood. It’s also welcomed news to residents who for years have been clamoring for more space in the cramped building across from the Bennett building.

“Albany Avenue has been an area of growth and development for several years and today is no different,” Segarra said.  “This groundbreaking symbolizes moving forward with our progress and what better way to do that than with providing an extraordinary learning facility and creating jobs in order for it to be built.”

In July 2008, the former chief librarian Louis Blalock and the library board closed the Albany and Blue Hills branches to fill an $870,000 budget gap, according to then board chair Geraldine Sullivan.

City residents affected by the closings were outraged because, among other things, the board closed the libraries in the summer when students were out of school and the city was experiencing a high number of homicides by Hartford youths.

In a letter sent to the board, former Hartford mayor Eddie Perez and the city council opposed the closings and suggested alternatives to a “drastic step of closing library branches.”

Other options, city officials pointed out, were to tap into the library’s $14 million unrestricted endowment  and reduced library hours.

The library board, however, ignored those suggestions and closed the libraries.

That decision prompted more outrage from the community; residents galvanized and lobbied their state representatives.

As a result, state Rep. Kenneth Green and Sen. Eric Coleman lobbied the General Assembly for $200,000 to help keep the libraries open.

Now, this  $5.8 million investment  “connects the dots of progress” from the University of Hartford and the Artists Collective all the way to the new Public Safety Complex and Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Segarra said.  This latest connection is an 8,000 square foot brick veneer one story building with glass and metal panels will be built at 1250 Albany Ave.

Sevigny Architects and the Hartford based contractor Capital Restoration will take this economic development effort from design to reality.  Segarra said 15 percent of the contractor’s work will be subcontracted to Hartford certified Minority and Women Business Enterprise Firms.  The contractor has committed to performing the labor with a minimum of 30 percent Hartford residents, Segarra said.

The new library branch is expected to be complete in the summer of 2011.  The old library will be demolished once the new library is occupied.

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When Banks Say No, Micro-Lenders Help Small Businesses Get Green


SAN JOSE, Calif.—At Dizo Cleaners, a family-owned drycleaner in San Jose, neatly pressed shirts and dresses hang on rods from the roof, waiting for their owners to pick them up. Like most such establishments, the place smells of petroleum-based solvents—chemicals that are highly effective at dissolving stains but also highly toxic, causing headaches, dizziness, drowsiness and allergic reactions to the skin and eyes.

James Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant who has run the business for five years, wanted to adopt a greener method of cleaning that uses water instead of hydrocarbons, making it not just healthier, but more cost-effective and energy-efficient. “Wet cleaning is where the future lies,” he says.

The problem, as Nguyen and many other small business owners who want to go green—or make any kind of investment these days, even on a small scale— have discovered, is getting a loan. Banks have traditionally been reluctant to lend to dry cleaners, which in the Bay Area are owned mainly by Asian immigrants, because of the toxic nature of the industry. The recession has made the mainstream banking system even more cautious.

So Nguyen approached San Jose¬–based Opportunity Fund, whose representatives he met at a trade show. The nonprofit specializes in microfinance—the provision of small loans and credit to small businesses and entrepreneurs who lack access to traditional banking and related services.

Opportunity Fund recently lent him $52,000 to buy new equipment, including a specialized washer, dryer, and finishing machines. Much of the money comes from the Obama administration, which has given the nonprofit $37 million in economic stimulus funds to distribute, of which $7 million is earmarked for small business and community real estate.

“With this loan, we will be the first in the Bay Area to have both hydrocarbon and wet-cleaning options for our customers,” Nguyen says.

Going Green to Survive

As the recession drags on, a growing number of small entrepreneurs—many of them immigrants and ethnic minorities—are realizing that going green may be the key to their economic survival. To afford this investment, increasingly they are turning to nonprofits like Opportunity Fund and Accion USA, a microfinance organization headquartered in New York that has lent $119 million in the U.S. since 1991.

Micro-lending has met with great success in the developing world, where a tiny amounts of money may be enough to pay for livestock or tools to help families and communities achieve long-term stability. But the need for such services in the U.S. is enormous, too. Since the 1970s, microfinancers have lent some $300 million to tens of thousands of U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs—everything from day care centers, restaurants, home cleaning services and landscapers to hair salons, chiropractors, and truck and taxi drivers.

The U.S. has more than 22 million self-employed micro-entrepreneurs—owners of small businesses with five or fewer employees that require $35,000 or less in capital. More than half of them lack access to financial services, according to Accion USA’s website.

In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, some 50,000 entrepreneurs are in need of microfinance services, Opportunity Fund estimates. Overall, 30 percent of Americans have no banking relationship whatsoever, says the nonprofit, which has lent more than $12 million to Bay Area small businesses since 1995.

Big Banks Don’t Like Small Loans

In the developing world, micro-loans generally total no more than a few hundred dollars; in the U.S., the upper limit is usually $35,000, though some loans (like the one to Nguyen) are larger and many are far smaller. Opportunity Fund for example, has made green loans to 48 entrepreneurs, totaling $644,150, for an average of around $13,000. Accion USA, whose five-month-old green-loan pilot program is available in New York and Massachusetts only, averages about $7,000 per borrower.

Paradoxically, the modest amounts can work against entrepreneurs. “For a big bank to be profitable, a small business loan should be at least $50,000,” says Caitlin McShane, an Opportunity Fund spokesperson. “The market structure and cost makes it difficult for the small business to get loans from the big banks.”

That’s especially true for small businesses owned by refugees or recent immigrants. Many run on cash basis and are not well integrated with mainstream financial institutions, and many owners do not have enough credit history to satisfy risk-averse banks, McShane adds.

This was the problem for Corey Grissin, co-partner in Basic Green Cleaning, an eco-friendly janitorial company in San Francisco founded by his father in 2007 as a hands-on, practical way to join the green movement he had admired since the 1970s. The fledgling company (three employees) needed a small infusion of funds to improve cash flow and recruit customers, but its short corporate history worked against it.

Eventually, Grissin was able to borrow $2,150 from Opportunity Fund. “When I went to regular banks,” he says, “they didn’t understand my situation and the idea of getting more money to help grow my business.”

For all the talk about eco-conscious trends, small businesses that want to go green often find, like Grissin, that mainstream banks don’t understand their needs or goals. Nguyen, for example, found the big institutions he approached had very little knowledge about wet cleaning. “There are very few financial companies offering loans for this kind of thing.”

Immigrant entrepreneurs may find it especially difficult to communicate their vision for their business or advocate for their financial needs—both with banks and with potential customers.

A recent survey of 60 Bay Area businesses by SF Works, a nonprofit that aligns business, civic and community motives to create new workforce policies and practices, highlights the biggest challenges facing small entrepreneurs in the green sector. Some 64 percent of businesses with 6 to 20 employees cited access to working capital as their biggest obstacle to growth.

Though only 25 percent of smaller businesses (one to five employees) cited access to capital as their main problem, they were more likely than other businesses to cite a need for marketing or education. “Even though they are optimistic about green opportunities, their first priority and concern is creating consumer demand for their green products,” says the group’s executive director, Carrie Portis.

Lower Interest Rates

Though green lending has long been part of the microfinance mission, it seems to have really taken off in the past year, McShane says.

The typical interest rate for a microfinance client is 8 percent, she says. That’s about what a bigger business would be charged by a traditional financial institution, but small businesses might be charged much more. “Other alternatives for these businesses are credit cards or personal loans—both of which would likely have an interest rate higher than 8 percent,” she says.

While many small entrepreneurs are trying to expand into eco-friendly products or services, others are seeking loans to improve their energy efficiency by investing in new appliances like an Energy Star–rated refrigerator or laptop computer.

Many experts note that an increasing number of small companies and self-employed people have to deal with regulatory changes aimed at curbing carbon emissions. For instance in San Francisco, Mayor Newsom’s Clean Taxi Program requires vehicles to meet certain green-house-gas standards by end of 2010. The taxi companies enforce this by requiring their drivers to replace their older cabs—usually former police cars, which cost around $7,000—with hybrids and CNG vehicles. A used hybrid typically costs around $15,000.

“Taxi drivers have been traditionally under-banked,” says McShane. “Since they are often unaware of this alternative source of funding that can help them stay in business, they often make choices to close down or to get really expensive financing.”

She says it important for government agencies to help small businesses find solutions to make these changes by connecting them with resources like Opportunity Fund.

“Small businesses will see much more demand if the cost of their services can be lessened as the consumer cannot bear the whole cost,” Portis adds. “But for that they will need subsidy, rebates and support from public policy.”

Yet, despite Obama Administration’s focus on green energy, and all the microfinance options available, small business owners aren’t clear about how to leverage green possibilities to help their businesses grow.

Those that do take the leap know it’s a risk. “I am not sure how our customers will respond to this change,” Nguyen. “I think we will have to make them understand that this is a cleaner system that gives smoother results.” Even if sales do go down at first, he adds, “I am still optimistic about this new technology…. I have seen that once the customer accepts this change, profits will increase.”

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Hartford-area Jazz Singers Compete in DC


HARTFORD — City native Dana Lauren is among a dozen jazz musicians  selected  from applicants from around the world to be semifinalists in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in Washington, D.C.

Dana Lauren

The competition, slated for  Oct. 3-4 at the Smithsonian and Kennedy Center, will feature  semifinalists from France, Germany, Japan, and the United States. These budding jazz musicians will compete for over $100,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Records.

Lauren, 22, began her classical training at age 15. She currently studies at the Berklee College of Music, where she plans to complete her degree in vocal performance this fall. In 2008, her band, the Dana Lauren Sextet, was chosen as one of four groups to study with Christian McBride and other jazz greats at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy.

Lauren will join Simsbury native  Richard Saunders, who started singing at age two. He attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, where he began studying jazz. Saunders was the first vocalist to sing with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the 2009 Monterey Jazz Festival and North Sea Jazz Festival.  Saunders studies at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Both semifinalists will have the pleasure of meeting President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama, who are the Honorary Co-Chairs of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition Finals & Tribute to the Great American Songbook Gala Concert.

They will also get to be in the company of Aretha Franklin, the  judge  of the event — along with legendary jazz vocalists Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, and Dianne Reeves. The Queen of Soul will also receive the 2010 Maria Fisher Founder’s Award.

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City Continues Health Campaign With Film


HARTFORD — The city’s Health and Human Services Department has been actively pursuing ways to involve Hartford residents in its Healthy Hartford Wellness Campaign.

The goal of this campaign is to increase the availability of health related information designed to influence the choices Hartford families make in their daily lives. The themes of particular priority in this campaign have included physical activity, disease prevention and management resources.

This time the department will team up with the Office of Cultural Affairs Film Series to present an opportunity for Hartford residents to put on their thinking hats, exercise their brain power and participate in a discussion about the connections between your health and your bank account. The film will be shown on Sep. 24,  at 7:00 p.m. at the Pump House Gallery, 60 Elm Street, Bushnell Park and is part of the Unnatural Causes series, an acclaimed documentary series broadcast by PBS and now used by thousands of organizations across the country to tackle the root causes of our alarming socio-economic and racial inequities in health.

The “In Sickness and in Wealth” episode will explore the theme of how the distribution of power, wealth and resources shape opportunities for health. After the film participants will have an opportunity to express their opinions using an electronic response device that will poll their opinions in an anonymous fashion.

“We welcome the input from Hartford residents. We need to hear what residents have to say to best address their needs and to provide services that benefit them,” says  Human Services Director Carlos Rivera.

For further information call (860) 757-4743.

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Immigrant Advocates Pin Hopes on Dream Act


New America Media, News Report, Marcelo Ballvé,

After a summer focused on fighting off Arizona’s hard-line law SB 1070, immigrant advocates are seeking to regain momentum with an all-out push on the Dream Act.

The Dream Act—or Development, Education, and Relief for Alien Minors Act—would provide a chance at legal residency for young undocumented immigrants who graduate from high school.

Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, made a surprise announcement earlier this week that he would seek to bring the act to a vote as an amendment to the annual defense bill.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat, seemed to raise the stakes even further with an announcement the next day that he would introduce a major immigration reform bill before the midterm elections.

However, the current Congress seems too deeply divided for major legislation to get through after two years of rancorous battles over stimulus, health care, and financial regulation.

So it was Reid’s plan for the more narrowly focused Dream Act that triggered the most excitement.

Pro- and anti-immigration groups are asking supporters to call and e-mail their representatives in anticipation of a legislative showdown.

With the Dream Act winning traction and buzz over immigration being heard on Capitol Hill, immigrants and their advocates again feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, said Shuya Ohno of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

“The anti-immigrant groups are on the defensive and are lashing out,” Ohno said.

The Dream Act’s detractors characterize it as an attempt to pander to Hispanic voters with a watered-down immigration amnesty.

The act “has the potential to immediately legalize millions and also result in the admission of millions more immigrants for years to come via chain migration,” said Jon Feere, an analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank that opposes more immigration.

Freere’s figures are exaggerated, Dream Act supporters contend.

The National Immigration Law Center estimates the number of high school students graduating each year who might qualify for the act at 65,000.

Even if the act were to include high school graduates over an extended interval—a recent version of the bill includes immigrants presently aged 12 to 35—the pool of potential Dream Act beneficiaries would number just under 1.5 million.

And since many immigrants would not apply—either because they lack interest in pursuing college, or are disqualified due to criminal records or deportation orders—the number of beneficiaries would likely be far lower.

“We’re extremely hopeful,” said Natalia Aristizabal, Dream Act organizer at Make the Road New York (MRNY), a grassroots immigrant rights group based in the borough of Queens.

A strong involvement by immigrant students and youth, particularly in the last year, helped keep the Dream Act present in legislators’ minds, she said.

“A bigger proportion of the population affected is fighting for it,” she said.

To benefit from the Dream Act, undocumented immigrant high school graduates must attend college or serve in the military.

They also need to have entered the United States at age 15 or younger and prove they’ve resided in the country for five years or more.

One young person who stands to benefit is Francisco Curiel.

The 18-year-old New York City resident came from Mexico three years ago, and is now a high school senior who also plays on a soccer team and holds down weekend food delivery jobs to help his family pay the bills.

In addition, Curiel himself has helped educate young people about the Dream Act as a youth organizer at MRNY.

The Dream Act would make it possible for him to access student loans and scholarships to attend college, loans he’s now barred from as an undocumented immigrant, Curiel said.

“I want to work, and contribute what I can to this country,” he said.

If the Dream Act does come up for a vote in the Senate—it needs to attract at least one Republican vote to do so—it would become the first major stand-alone piece of immigration policy to advance that far during the Obama administration.

However, the Dream Act has a history of failing to muster enough support at the last moment.

In 2007, the Dream Act was derailed by a narrow eight-vote margin in the U.S. Senate, despite the backing of prominent Democrats and Republicans, many of whom are still in Congress.

Again and again, the bill has attracted bipartisan support only to be stopped by a small core of Republican opponents.

This week, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said Reid’s advocacy of the Dream Act was purely motivated by his desire to attract Hispanic voters in Nevada. Sen. Reid faces a strong challenge in November from a Tea Party-backed Republican opponent, Sharron Angle.

Several Republican senators joined McConnell in criticizing Reid for attaching the Dream Act to the defense bill when it has little to do with war or security issues.

Given that at least one Republican must join Democrats to gain the 60 votes needed to advance the Dream Act, it’s very possible that it will again be defeated.

“Anything is possible,” said Ohno, of the National Immigration Forum.

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Police Seize Counterfeits From Troy Taylor Store


HARTFORD — City police seized tons of counterfiet merchandises from Troy Taylor Store on Blue Hills Avenue.

According to police, community service officers Carlo Faienza and Theodore Sposito and others from the Northwest Conditions unit executed a search and seizure warrant at Troy Taylor Store located at 643 Blue Hills Ave. 

The search warrant was the result of information developed by Officer Faienza and Officer Hiram Otera that several computers stolen from the Dwight Annex School located at 417 Franklin Ave. had been allegedly sold from Troy’s, police said. Both officers then determined that counterfeit CD’s and DVD’s were also being sold at this location, police said.

Police seize merchandise from Troy Taylor Store

The search warrant resulted in the arrest of  the following six individuals:

Troy Anthony Hicks, 53, of 91 Oakridge Dr., Windsor Locks was charged with counterfeit marks and labels, CD’s and DVD’s without marks and labels, possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell narcotics and operating a drug factory.

Troy Anthony Hicks, Jr. 23 of 126 Columbus Circle Apt B-1, East Hartford, was charged with counterfeit marks and labels, CD’s and DVD’s without marks and labels, possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell narcotics and operating a drug factory.

Aubrey Diquana Hicks, 20, of 56 Trumbull Ave., Plainville, was charged with counterfeit marks and labels, CD’s and DVD’s without marks and labels, possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell narcotics and operating a drug factory.

Tylon, 34 of 91 Oakridge Dr., Windsor Locks, was charged with counterfeit marks and labels, CD’s and DVD’s without marks and labels, possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell narcotics and operating a drug factory.

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Rebirth Through Finding a New Job


Commentary, Alex Gutierrez
While sitting in the café lobby of a brand new tech building in North San Jose, I signed my name on the last piece of paper of an employee packet for my new job as a dishwasher at a national catering company. It felt good to be able to shake the bosses hand after I filled out the forms, or even have a boss to shake hands once again. I feel reborn.

Since March of 2009 I have been lead on a wild goose chase for the perfect full-time job. I have traveled across the state, even went outside of the state pursuing odd jobs of varying tasks — I’ve worked in event set-up, was a security guard, and even a traveling soap salesman. After a year, I was still lost and confused, and ultimately frustrated with the economy, employers and myself.

It wasn’t easy getting this job. I had been staying on the streets, had to get cleaned up at a public restroom downtown, and had to travel three hours using my last five dollars, just hoping to land it. But I got it.

After leaving the building of my future livelihood, on the light-rail back to San Jose from Milpitas, I couldn’t help but to look back and take a glance in disbelief. I finally got another opportunity to have full-time employment, and even have medical and dental benefits, something very few people my age (at 23-years-old) have through their work. Having a job means I can really live again. When I say live, I mean actually live a decent life of renting my own pad again, buy some new clothes, pay for a decent meal, and finally being able to enjoy things without having to be dependent or having to wait on someone to help me with a handout.

What the high unemployment statistics don’t show, is the direct hit mentally, even nervous breakdowns, that not having a job can have on a person. Unemployment can steal all of the faith you had, right from inside of you.

After a few days into the new job I also made a new friend at work. We got along, and he was nice enough too even let me stay at his house with his family. While staying there, I noticed a jump in lifestyles. What I have thought of privileges for the past few years, is pretty much normal day to day life for others. I was so used to sleeping on the street, that even in the apartment I slept with all my clothes and shoes on. It took a while to know that I can actually fully sleep, and not have to worry if anyone was trying to harm me or take any of my belongings, that I could really just rest. Unemployment becomes psychological because it forces you to create a completely different lifestyle of what you once had, and you can get used to that lifestyle.

I noticed what I had gotten used to as someone without income when I got my first check. We went shopping and I felt I had splurged a little bit on myself – buying some new clothes. It had been so long, I didn’t know any of my sizes, and was scared to put them on, because I didn’t want to get them dirty. I was terrified of putting it on because I wasn’t sure of how long it would be until I would receive some new clothes. It was a habit from the streets, so it took a while for it to sink in that I was working full-time, making decent money and I could buy some more clothes and afford to wash them.

I’ve been working at my new job for a few months now and am getting used to the stable living. The work may be tedious manual labor, but every two weeks I look at my paycheck and smile. After a hard day’s work I get to go home to take a shower, watch tv, or just chill.

With this new job, I feel as though this is the start of a new foundation for my life with a grand opening. It’s like watching a building being built. My foundation has been built on an empty lot with bad piping and bad soil, with sewer water running everywhere. But with every new layer of foundation laid-down comes a purification from the new piping and new soil.

My first level of my construction has already started with my housing situation becoming stabilized and starting a bank account. Even though I have only 25 bones in my checking account, it sure feels good to have 25 bucks than nothing at all.

I still have friends that are still lost in the mix of unemployment, doubting their own capabilities of getting back into the workforce, school, or society for that matter. The feeling of rejection can haunt anyone, and scare them away from an opportunity that could be theirs if they reach out for it. Those feelings really just interfere with the greatness that we all know deep down inside that we can accomplish.

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Report: More Houses On The Greater Hartford Market


WEST HARTFORD — More single family houses are now available for sale, according to a report released today.

The Greater Hartford Association of  Realtors recent report shows that single family housing  inventory has  increased 13.5 percent from last August,  or from 5,749 to 6,525. 

Closed sales decreased 23 percent,  or from 839 to 646, while pending sales also decreased 26  percent  or from 948 to 700.

 The median sales price increased 2.1 percent from $235,000 to $240,000 and new listings increased 3.4 percent from 1,396 to 1,443.

During this same time frame, the average days a home spent on the market increased 1o.6 percent  or from 66 to 73 days.

 Year-to-date data shows an increase in closed home sales by 2 percent  or from 5,382 to 5,493, while pending sales decreased 6.7 percent,  or from 7,029 to 6,559. The median sale price and the days on market remained unchanged, while new listings increased 9.2 percent or from 11,532 to 12,596. 

Closed condominium sales in greater Hartford decreased by 37  percent  or from 254 to 160 when compared to August of last year. The median sale price increased 10.1 percent  or from $160,001 to $176,250.

Inventory increased slightly by 0.54 percent  or from 1,860 to 1,870, while the average number of days a condo spent on the market also increased by 2.3 percent or from 88 to 90 days, when compared to this time last year.

“Considering the state of our economy, home values in the greater Hartford market have been relatively stable,” Greater Hartford Association of Realtors President and CEO Jeff Arakelian said in a statement. “The increased inventory, affordability conditions and low mortgage rates really make this a great time to buy.” 

Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, added that  in the short term, this high supply in housing favors buyers. However, he said, “given that home values are back in line relative to income, and from very low new-home construction, there is not likely to be any measurable change in home prices going forward.”

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West Nile Virus Evident In Hartford


HARTFORD — The State Mosquito Management Program today announced that mosquitoes trapped in Hartford have tested positive for West Nile virus

These are the first positive mosquitoes identified in Hartford by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station this year.

“Virus activity in mosquitoes has slowed due to the cooler weather, but we continue to find infected mosquitoes throughout central and southern regions of the state,” said Dr. Theodore G. Andreadis, Ph.D., Chief Medical Entomologist, CAES. “The threat for human infection will remain for several more weeks.”

So far this season, WNV-positive mosquitoes have been identified in 21 towns – Bethel, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, Milford, Newtown, Norwalk, New Britain, New Haven, Orange, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, West Haven, Westport and Wethersfield.

Six people, living in Bridgeport, Clinton, Greenwich, New Haven, Stamford and Trumbull, have been reported with infections this year. Two additional Connecticut residents were infected while travelling out of the state.

For information on West Nile virus and what you can do to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Web site at www.ct.gov/mosquito.

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Tom Foley Vows To Be Education Governor


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Republican Tom Foley today says he wants to be the the next education governor.

Foley made his bid today at the  Achievement First Academy in Hartford, a district with the distinction of fighting the stigma of  low academic achievement  scores on national tests.

Tom Foley chats with audience members after a Hartford press conference

Every two years the U.S. Department of Education conducts the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests student achievement across the nation for 4th and 8th grade students in reading and mathematics.

The most recent NAEP results from 2009 show neighboring states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont, are outperforming Connecticut in student achievement.

The 2009 NAEP also confirms that Connecticut has the unfortunate distinction of having the largest achievement gap of all 50 states. The large achievement gap is confirmed by the results of the state’s annual assessments given to students in grades three through eight and in grade 10.

The Republican nominee unveiled his education plan to tackle underperformance. Plans include modifying how money is allocated in school districts, give parents more public school option for charter or magnet schools and appoint “reform minded” people to the Board of Education, he says in a statement to the press.

Democratic Candidate for Governor Dannel Malloy criticized Foley’s plan, saying it has “real deficiencies.”

” There’s nothing on early childhood education, very little on parental involvement, and not a word about higher education,” Malloy says in a press release. “To put forward an education ‘plan’ and not address the needs of young children, as well as high school graduates and adults seeking access to higher education, demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding that education is a lifelong process.”

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