Board of Education Candidates Sound Off on Racial Imbalance Issue

Connecticut’s racial imbalance statute has become the hottest topic for debate among candidates for West Hartford’s Board of Education.

Charter Oak and Smith schools have been out of compliance with the law for years, and Democratic candidates believe there is no issue now. Republicans believe the law should be challenged through a hired legal council, and it should be addressed immediately.

For more information, be sure to follow the link below to our prior coverage on the racial imbalance issue. There you will also find the full, unedited interviews with West Hartford and Department of Education officials.

Links:
LocalOnlineNews.TV’s prior coverage of this issue
West Hartford Democratic Board of Education Candidates
West Hartford Republicans

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  • WH Resident

    It's unfortunate that this important issue has been politicized so deeply. The Democratic candidate is wrong to say this problem is a 'phantom menace' – the earlier story on this website clearly shows the state is concerned about this issue and considers it a problem that needs to be rectified. Republicans should be very careful here too — their 'forum' the other night with self proclaimed 'experts' did nothing to advance the cause of an equal education in this town. Racism comes in many forms and CQE is dangerously close to that.

    Everyone needs to cool down and approach this issue rationally. Next month's report will give all of us in the community a better idea as to how the Board's voluntarily measures have succeeded (or failed) in trying to solve some of these problems.

  • dannalewisdyer

    In my opinion the “dire” warnings about Connecticut's intra-district racial imbalance laws, and emphasis on the “sanctityā€¯ of neighborhood schools in West Hartford, reflect thinly veiled racism.

    Connecticut racial balance edicts and the court decision in the Sheff vs O'Neil case were not rendered by whim, but rather on the well-researched and well-documented premise that ALL students benefit from integrated education. A desegregated school environment prepares students for the diversity of the real world, particularly in work situations.

    Our state's racial balancing law requires districts to maintain individual school minority enrollments within 25 percentage points of the district average. It should be noted that not only are Smith and Charter Oak Schools currently out of compliance, but also those other town elementary schools whose minority population is BELOW the district average.

    If all of our schools are equally outstanding (as I believe they are), there need not be such panic about redistricting. If ALL of our schools are racially balanced and provide quality education, then the property values of ALL neighborhoods in West Hartford will be maintained and improved. (See longitudinal study data about West Hartford schools in the Trinity College study, SCHOOL CHOICE IN SUBURBIA:…Jack Dougherty, et al, American Journal of Education, Aug. 2009)

    Fear-mongering can not be acceptable in West Hartford. Our children deserve better.

  • Kathy

    This story was completely lacking in background information on the issue. To someone who is not informed about the issue, they would learn practically nothing about it from this coverage. For example, why do the Democratic candidates believe there is no need to take any action? Why are those two schools singled out? What exactly does the state require? Why are the Republican candidates bringing this up? The first Republican candidate interviewed sounded like he was using coded language for pure racism, i.e., “let's keep West Hartford public schools white.”

  • LocalOnlineNews

    We covered this issue in depth when the issue arose last June. Check out our coverage here:

    http://localonlinenews.tv/video/news/2009/06/01

    In addition to the story, we also posted the full, unedited interviews with school officials and a representative from the Connecticut Department of Education.

    Thank you for your feedback and we will continue to follow this story.

  • moderatewhindependent

    Kathy,
    Just as a heads up the first Republican candidate, Andrew Bannon-Guasp, is Puerto Rican. I doubt he's a racist trying to keep the schools white. It wasn't publicized much during the campaign but he is. I think that this is an important thing to point out there.

  • moderatewhindependent

    Kathy,
    Just as a heads up the first Republican candidate, Andrew Bannon-Guasp, is Puerto Rican. I doubt he's a racist trying to keep the schools white. It wasn't publicized much during the campaign but he is Puerto Rican. I think that this is an important thing to point out there.
    Furthermore, any notion that he is using code for “let's keep our schools white” is way off base. If he wants kids to be able to go to their neighborhood schools, that great and I agree. I also believe that at the debates he was in favor of many of the programs in place already, especially the magnet program which gives parents in the Charter Oak and Smith neighborhood schools the option to go a different school. I know that the election is over but if anybody reads these comments I can't, in good conscience, let anyone think that Bannon-Guasp is racist.
    How can anybody not see that this young man isn't racist? I mean, really!
    If you don't believe me, e-mail him at randrew06110@yahoo.com. It's on his campaign literature and will elaborate more on his beliefs as I can't pretend to speak for him.
    P.S.- I just noticed that there is a 'reply' function. I just posted at the end, but this way you might get an e-mail notification or something so that you'd have a chance to read it.

  • modearate_whindependent

    Dear dannalewisdyer,
    I agree with you that students learn better from a well integrated environment. However, I disagree with you on the “thinly veiled racism” point. The Republicans are not racist and for you to suggest that they are is a fear tactic in itself. There can be more than one view on race, as there are. If two people have different views on race it is possible that neither of them is racist. I mean, did anyone notice that it was ONLY Bannon-Guasp, a Republican, who talked about the achievement gap in his profile on the online version of West Hartford Life?
    The Republicans disagree with the law on race. It doesn't mean they're racist. Deal with it.
    And people ask me why I left the Democrats…it's because of comments like yours.

  • moderatewhindependent

    Dear dannalewisdyer,
    I agree with you that students learn better from a well integrated environment. However, I disagree with you on the “thinly veiled racism” point. The Republicans are not racist and for you to suggest that they are is a fear tactic in itself. There can be more than one view on race, as there are. If two people have different views on race it is possible that neither of them is racist. I mean, did anyone notice that it was ONLY Bannon-Guasp, a Republican, who talked about the achievement gap in his profile on the online version of West Hartford Life?
    The Republicans disagree with the law on race. It doesn't mean they're racist. Deal with it.
    And people ask me why I left the Democrats…it's because of comments like yours.

  • dannalewisdyer

    I appreciate your remarks on my comment about the school board candidates' debate on racial balance.This is a worthwhile discussion. First, let me make it clear that I was not singling out Republicans. Both parties ran on the platform of maintaining neighborhood schools. The debate on both sides was heated, lacking in civility, and disturbing to me. In this case, my use of the word “racism” was not to imply intentional bigotry or malice. I do believe that over-emphasis of “neighborhood schools” is what some sociologist call “silent racism” which perpetuates negative stereotypes and assumptions about African Americans and other racial-ethnic minorities who may be viewed as 'the others'. Privately, and certainly publicly, we need to measure our words, considering their impact.( Me, too!)