Moving in the right direction
Twenty years ago, Hartford was outed as one of our nation's most underperforming and racially segregated school systems. The landmark case, Sheff vs. O'Neill, sought to remedy the failures of the district by providing students with choice. In the end, students from Hartford could choose, to some extent, from Hartford schools and surrounding districts. Those districts could reciprocate by sending their students to Hartford schools. The progress has been slow, but the recent inclusion of four Hartford schools on the US News and World Report list of high achieving schools.
Hartford's recent successes, though minor in number, have evolved from innovative programming and inspirational leadership. What the state of Connecticut needs, considering its ownership of the largest achievement gap in the country, is an influx of magnet schools. We also need leadership from our State Legislature to open Connecticut's education system to the type of creativity and dedication brought by these quasi-charter schools. Well, actually, Connecticut needs more charter schools, especially in those areas of the state with the largest achievement gaps: Connecticut Map by performance (where you see blue, yellow, and light blue pocketed together, that is where we need new thinking.)
But in the end, Connecticut needs to move beyond its notorious New England WASPishness and its own focus on personal wealth (look at how we fund education--by individual towns). For such a liberal little state, we sure are rather set in our conservative ways of doing education.