Friday, November 26, 2010

Dec 16: Building Blocks of Educational Excellence Reception

December 16, 2010:
Building Blocks of Educational Excellence Reception & Award Ceremony
Where: Hilton, One Stamford Place, Stamford CT

6:00pm - 9:00pm

VIP Public Policy Strategy Building Session 5:00pm - 6:30pm (invitation required)

For more info: contact Gwen @ 203.953.5154 or or http://www.gwen/

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PRESS Presents P.O.W.E.R Hour w/ Professor Marlon James

SBCTA is proud partner of PRESS and P.O.W.E.R Hour w/ Professor Marlon James

Parent Resource for Excellence in Scholastic Success (PRESS) would like to thank all the parents, the Superintendent of Windsor Public schools, and teachers who attended our first education event for parents, the P.O.W.E.R Hour by Dr. Marlon James. On June 8th at the Windsor Public Library, over 20 parents and educators were the first to hear Dr. Marlon James’ P.O.W.E.R Hour strategies for student success that parents can practice at home with their children. Dr. James crystallized for parents what life portends for children who do not attain a college education relative to those who do, and offered concrete tools on how parents can help schools successfully educate our children, noting, “Schools cannot do it alone”.

Parent feedback was positive. Parents found Dr. James suggestions for motivating teen-age students practical – simply demonstrate for students through a thoughtful exercise how their quality of life as adults will be dictated by their academic performance and level of educational attainment. Dr. James also provided suggestions for elementary school children. Parents were particularly interested in the P.O.W.E.R Packs; a tool kit filled with age appropriate learning aids, games, books, etc. that serve to extend children’s learning opportunities while reinforcing lessons learned in the classroom. The P.O.W.E.R Packs are intended to be fun, interesting and educational, customized to your child’s interests and needs. PRESS plans to offer workshops to help parents develop P.O.W.E.R Packs and additional P.O.W.E.R Hour sessions for parents in school level clusters - elementary, middle and high school.

PRESS is a forum through which we engage, educate and empower parents to ensure our children’s academic success, attainment of their educational goals, strengthen our community while promoting a multicultural environment and equitable educational opportunities for each child within Windsor Public Schools. To work with PRESS or suggest topics for future programming please send an email to

Sunday, May 30, 2010


May 26, 2010 - Governor Rell signs into law Senate Bill 438, a comprehensive education reform bill to support efforts to raise academic achievement thus reducing the knowledge and skill gap within Connecticut.

Amongst this bill is a so-called “reform/parent trigger” that gives parents legal power to help transform failing schools.

Senate Bill 438 requires school boards with low-achieving schools in its district to create school governance councils at those schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress according to federal guidelines in No Child Left Behind. Furthermore, for those schools that are identified as the lowest 5% of Connecticut schools by July 1, 2010, their councils must be established by January 15, 2011. The councils must be made up of 14 voting members: 7 of which must be parents of children attending those schools, 5 of which must be teachers, and 2 of which can be community leaders. The principal is included as a non-voting member.

Closely mirroring Hartford's school governance councils, the state's provision tasks councils with analyzing school achievement data, recommending programmatic changes to the school, advising the principal on the school budget, assisting in the hiring process for a new principal, and creating school compacts. Because most districts throughout the state do not have as aggressive a reconstitution policy as Hartford does, the state law also gives councils the power to vote to reconstitute their school after three years of failed performance. These councils, in effect, become the catalysts for school change in those districts that have chronically failing schools but no policy in place to reconstitute them. In the event that reconstitution is favored, the council must indicate which reorganization model it prefers from a list of choices recognized by federal and/or state law. The board in that district then has 20 days to vote on reconstituting the school using the council's favored model, using a different model, or reject the idea of reconstitution altogether. (

Monday, May 24, 2010

Parents expressing outrage over the closing of two schools in the West Haven (CT) school district, parents and education advocates are holding a press conference today at 6 pm.

***** MEDIA ALERT *****

Monday, May 24, 2010
Contact: Gwen Samuel
Tel: (203) 953-5154

West Haven Parents and Students Hold Press Conference
Molloy Elementary School Community Pleading with Education Leadership Not to Close Town’s Highest-Performing Elementary School

Press Conference Monday, 05/24 at 6:00 p.m. Anna V. Molloy School
255 Meloy Road West Haven, CT

Anna V. Molloy Elementary School in West Haven, named one of Connecticut’s Top 10 Schools, has closed the achievement gap. Last week, the West Haven Board of Education voted 5-3 in favor of closing the school.

Parents and education advocates are outraged about the West Haven Board of Education decision to close Molloy School which has maintained a high level of success for all students, including high rates of success for economically disadvantaged students, Black and Latino students, English Language Learners (ELL), and students with disabilities. The Molloy School has consistently met adequate yearly progress for at least the past three years.

The State of Black Connecticut Alliance has convened statewide education advocates and community support on behalf, and in support of the parents, students and families of Molloy who will be holding a press conference on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 6:00pm to make a public plea to West Haven education leadership, city council members, and elected officials to keep Molloy open.

ConnCAN, a leading education research and advocacy group, named Molloy Elementary School one of Connecticut’s Top 10 Elementary Schools in 2009 for its tremendous progress in closing the achievement gap. In 2009, the majority of Molloy’s fifth grade students met or exceeded goal on the math, reading and writing components of the Connecticut Mastery Test with scores of 78.6%, 71.4% and 83.3% at goal respectively; the district average was in the 55% range on all three subjects. In a state with the highest achievement gap, it is important to note that at Molloy 70% of students are children of color, 30% from homes where English is not the primary language and 50% are eligible for free and reduced lunch, nearly 10% are students with disabilities and the typical class size is approximately 23 students. Molloy has not allowed any of the traditional excuses to get in the way of educating every student to a high level of achievement. Their approach and leadership should be lauded and their model used as an example of success across the state.

Still Molloy's parents and students are faced with school closure. To ensure due consideration is given to this issue the parents of Molloy have filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.

In closing, here are some economic implications for each Connecticut tax payer and active registered voter to consider:

A 1% increase in the education level of CT’s future work force would yield the following economic benefits to our state:
$5 billion more economic activity each year
Fairfield County: $ 1.8 billion
Greater Hartford: $1.6 billion
Greater New Haven: $800 million
Southeastern CT: $300 million

Higher levels of education would equal higher employment, lower taxes, stronger businesses and stronger communities.

Now is the time to stand with West Haven parents and students and demand that every Connecticut child have access to high-performing schools like Molloy Elementary School.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


For Immediate Release
Friday, April 30, 2010
Contact: Gwen Samuel
Tel: (203) 953-5154

Roll Call of CT House of Representatives results in 145 Yea 0 Nay
Historical H.B. 5491 An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The Achievement Gap In Connecticut Thus Giving Parents Equal Power To Transform Failing Schools

It was Part 4 of a historical civic engagement moment in time within Connecticut where as parents, education advocates and members of the Connecticut General Assembly’s (CGA) Black and Puerto Rican Caucus gathered at the State Capitol to discuss the direction of Connecticut’s Educational Institutions and the future of its children.

The result: April 30, 2010, 7:20 pm roll call of Connecticut House of Representatives voting to pass Amended H.B 5491 An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The Achievement Gap which include implementation of majority parent, equal voting power, school governance councils within low-performing and/or systemic failing schools. 145 Yea 0 Nay.

The School Governance Councils, consisting of majority parents, promotes equity in the decision making power between parents and youth (the consumers), and administrators and educators as it relates to transforming low-performing and/or failing schools.

A big “Thank You” is given to the CT House of Representatives for having the moral courage to vote in a manner that will ensure the necessary educational reforms are in place statutorily to promote access to high quality public schools for ALL children and not SOME children. CT parents and first time voters will remember your commitment on Election Day November 2nd, 2010.

The so-called Parent Trigger was the most controversial education reform concept introduced to CT lawmakers in the beginning of the legislative process. The concept: If 51% of parents/guardians in a systemic failing school, as identified by federal requirements, signed a petition, a “triggering” of a reform mechanism would be initiated.

During the vetting process, CT lawmakers and some education advocates felt the “trigger” would be more effective if it was more inclusive, therefore school governance councils was substituted into bill language. The stakeholders at the School Governance Council table are majority parents, youth, community leaders, the principal and teachers.

Some CT parents are now calling the amended H. B. 5491 the “reform trigger” because of the expansion of stakeholders in the education/school reform process.

The law intentions are to encourage school districts to address low-performance sooner rather than later — replace administrators, reconstitute a school or make other major reforms to ensure academic success for ALL children.

Fact: CT has over 185 low-performing schools. Ninety-five (95) of those schools are five years or more “failing” and some schools are in their 9th year of “failing” under federal requirements.

Fact: On March 22, 2010 the state Supreme Court ruled that Connecticut school children are guaranteed an adequate standard of quality in their public school…the state constitution requires "that the public schools provide their students with an education suitable to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens able to participate fully in democratic institutions, such as jury service and voting, and to prepare them to progress to institutions of higher education, or to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state's economy." (Source URL:

Time line of Historical Civic Engagement

Part 1-March 15: the historical civic engagement movement was a CT Education Rally & Public Hearing held March 15, 2010 alongside California grass-roots group Parent Revolution from the Los Angeles Unified School District led by Executive Director Ben Austin. More than 700 parents, community members, students and members of the Connecticut General Assembly Black and Puerto Rican Caucus showed support for education reforms that will close the achievement gap. A parade of parents and students walked through the Education Public Hearing to acknowledge their presence and commitment toward raising achievement and reducing the gap.

Parents and education advocates testified to the fact that every parent should be able to demand that their child have access to a high quality public education and FAILING should not be an option of choice.

Part 2 –March 24: the historical civic engagement movement in time where as the CT Education Committee lawmakers, after long and passionate debates, passed H.B. 5491 An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The Achievement Gap In Connecticut. This bill, introduced by the CGA Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, includes the so-called “Parent Trigger”, the most controversial education reform concept being introduced to CT lawmakers that will balance the power between parents, administrators & educators within the education and school reform process.

Part 3 April 1: the historical civic engagement movement in time where as the CT Appropriations Committee lawmakers, after lengthy discussion, passed
H.B. 5491 An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The Achievement Gap In Connecticut.

This “education equality” vote of 46 Yea, 9 Nay and 3 absent/no vote sends a message that every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, or their family’s income, should have access to a high-quality public education.

Here are the economic results of a 1% increase in the education levels of CT’s future work force as outlined by the State Department of Education.

Connecticut: $5 billion more economic activity each year
Fairfield County: $ 1.8 billion
Greater Hartford: $1.6 billion
Greater New Haven: $800 million
Southeastern CT: $300 million

Higher levels of education equal better community, higher employment, lower taxes, stronger businesses and less crime.

For more information on bill visit


Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome To State of Black CT Alliance Blog Site

The State of Black CT Alliance (SBCTA), which convenes a statewide network of stakeholders is committed to creating a high quality of life for Connecticut’s Black community through personal accountability, policy research, community services, education and advocacy.

SBCTA has identified critical parts of an effective strategy for reducing the achievement gap. Each requires changes in how ARRA funds are being structured, accounted for, and used:

1. The parental engagement gap needs to be drastically reduced for parents of color. ARRA funds don’t have enough requirements to enforce this effort. SBCTA did a “Real Talk-Know your Child” parent event to help parents understand their child’s need as it relates to educational and life successes. ARRA funds, including but not limited to the Innovation and Race to the Top grant funds should provide money for, and require more intensive strategies for engaging parents of color.

2. School District plans and procedures should be written for the communities they serve, rather than for the districts themselves. Example: look at how many kids are kicked out of school for behavioral issues. Could these number be remedied from a more systematic, culturally responsive use of PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports). School districts should do what is best for students not DISTRICTS! ARRA funds should provide explicit requirements that school districts engage parents in the formulation of proposals for ARRA funds AND also engage parents during the implementation of ARRA-funded programs. Specific programs perhaps modeled on what the State of Black CT Alliance has demonstrated, intentional support so parents can understand data (school performance, placement data, etc.) that is relevant to the needs of their children.

3. Transparency is critical, and it’s important that transparency be provided at all steps along the way, including the writing of proposals, but also the implementation of programs. ARRA funds should have even more explicit requirements of what needs to be shared with the public, and when. Plans and programs, even in draft form, should be available on CD or on web sites; information on how programs are being implemented should also be more easily available.

4.Early intervention is critical. Children need access to high quality pre-school. The quality part of that is important. ARRA funds related to pre-school should provide for building accountability measures into any pre-school programs that get government dollars, whether it’s Head Start, public pre-school or other pre-school settings. Parents need to be trained in how to use accountability data.

5. Response to Intervention (RTI) is an extremely useful tool for pre-school and funds should be provided for bringing RTI to pre-school. Under business as usual we have two problems. First, children of color are overrepresented in special ed referrals in K-12. Second, that kids who need intervention have to suffer through several years of school failure until they get it. The Department of Education should clarify that IDEA funds can be used to bring RTI to Pre-school. The Innovation grant program should emphasize funding for this purpose This will get minority kids early help they need, and prevent them from being sent out of classrooms (even in kindergarten) through the misuse of special ed referrals.

6. A Parent Trigger Law: a concept introduced by the grass-roots group Parent Revolution in the Los Angeles Unified School District in California. The Parent Trigger is a concept that will engage the necessary conversations needed among parents, community advocates, and school boards across the state to transform schools from failing to educate some students to educating all students equitably. A “parent trigger” law allows a majority of parents (51%) in a 3 or more year failing school to petition for a school reform. The law would require district to do something sooner rather than later — replace administrators, reconstitute a school or make other major reforms to ensure academic success for ALL children.

7. A Reform Trigger: May 6, 2010 - PARENTS FINALLY HAVE SOME POWER TO TRANSFORM FAILING SCHOOLS. CT lawmakers passed a landmark bill S.B. 438, which contain certain education reform language from H.B. 5491, introduced by the Connecticut General Assembly Black and Puerto Rican lawmakers. This combined bill includes the development of School Governance Councils, majority parents, in ALL failing schools. These School Governance Councils have the power to recommend replacement of administrators, reconstitute a school, or make other major reforms to ensure academic success for ALL children.

The law intentions are to encourage school districts to address low-performance sooner rather than later.