With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

School's Out?

Tim Lincecum makes his Sad City debut

Here at Sad City we get a good deal of interesting emails that run a gamut of topics.  Tips, people who want to be contributors, ideas for posts, people wanting us to review/read stuff, invites to check out craft fairs, people with other blogs, people with Hartford stories, etc, etc, etc.  In time they all get read, and while we probably forget to reply sometimes, we do try. Once in a while we will get a really juicy tip that requires a follow up.

Last week we got an email of just that sort regarding the Hartford Schools grading system.  The Hartford School system (like many other urban schools) is no stranger to controversy.  The most recent blowup occurred in late February when Mayor Segarra waited until the 11th hour to question the selection of a new school superintendent.  Just another day in Hartford politics.

Anyway the email we received has to do with the grading system in Hartford schools and involves mandatory average bumps and how students have learned to game the system in a way no doubt many shortsighted teenagers would.  Why wouldn't they? The whole education system they have been brought up in is one concerned with "juking the stats" and meeting rate goals.  The main thing many have learned from the system is the most important thing is how to work the system to meet the minimum standards.

Email to the Mayor's Office was referred to contacts at the Hartford School system.  Multiple emails to the Hartford Schools contacts were not replied to. The verbatim email follows;

"The Hartford schools have a new computer program called Power School. The program tracks everything; attendance, grades, GPA, etc.  Teachers set up their grade book by entering assignments and giving each assignment a weight toward the final grade.  (For example homework could be 20%, classwork 20%, quizzes 20% and exams 40%.)  The program keeps a running average for each student.  However, just before the marking period ended in January teachers were instructed to go into the program and manually override the average of every student receiving a failing grade to a minimum of 55.

Students who never show up to class receive a 55.  Students have figured out that in a four marking period course they must earn a 75 one marking period to pass the course.  Then they do not have to return to class.  In a two making period course they must ear a 65 during one marking period to pass the course.

This improves the graduation rate doesn't it?  Makes Adamowski look good doesn't it?" 


  1. This is the saddest thing Sad City has ever produced. Kids aren't given the REAL skills that produce discipline thinkers, learners, people who can use their own minds to innovate. Instead they produce scammers; what do I have to do or say to get the next wrung of the ladder.

  2. Hartford Kids are more perceptive than one gives it credit for. I spent K-8 in the Hartford public school system going from MD Fox to South Middle School. I was smart; I found a way out of the System before High-School and entered into a program in another School System.

    We knew, at a very early age the sometimes overtly cynical notion that 'we are kids in the city.' We don't exactly matter, won't have school books that aren't older than we are (I had a math book produced in the seventies once).

    So, yes, the kids figure out, right quick, the logical (and cynical conclusion). Figuring out, that the System is junking the stats to make /themselves/ feel better is only one more nail in the coffin that we don't mean much except for what is printed in the paper.

    So, what does this mean for the saying 'Education is the way to make Sad City less sad?'

    I don't know, and I don't have the answer to it. But, maybe we should start saying 'Education means something, when it doesn't mean that statistics means 'performance' or puff up someone's ego at a press-conference on the front page.'

    I guess that won't happen. But, empowerment begins at home. Because, disenfranchisement begins early.

  3. Di-you said a mouthful!!
    "I guess that won't happen. But, empowerment begins at home. Because, disenfranchisement begins early."

    I taught in a school here in Hartford, and every child with a parent who cared to be involved ultimately succeeded academically.

  4. "I taught in a school here in Hartford, and every child with a parent who cared to be involved ultimately succeeded academically."

    I couldn't say it any better... I think parental status can explain 70% of success when it comes to education. Hence why Hartford has an up hill battle, parental quality!

  5. TimCote7 - I dunno, I had to ruminate. Anyway, agreed. My mom and dad are anecdotal proof. So is the disenfranchisement systemic?