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Stamford Board of Ed. Hears NAACP On Middle School Reform, Tracking

Residents concerned with eliminating homogenous grouping and tracking in Stamford Public Schools made their presence felt at Tuesday's Board of Ed. meeting.

The Stamford NAACP addressed the city's Board of Education on Tuesday evening at the , taking steps towards the full elimination of educational tracking on the local and state level.

Interim superintendent Winifred Hamilton mentioned the recent while opening the meeting, which started at 7 p.m., to illustrate how important it is for individuals involved with the school system, in any capacity, to report problems as they arise.

"Prevention goes a long way, and we need to encourage conversation about what students see in school, and who they report things to," Hamilton said.

During the meeting's official public hearing, Stamford NAACP president Jack Bryant took steps towards re-focusing the local organization's attention against tracking in SPS.

"We would like to thank you for the recent discussion involving middle school transformation, we would also like to thank Dr. Judy Singer for providing the information that we shared," Bryant said.

SPS Director of Research Dr. Judith Singer presented a survey to the Board of Ed. on Feb. 8 which detailed achievement levels since the beginning of Joshua Starr's middle school reform in 2009. Since Starr began middle school reform in Stamford, the Board of Ed., teachers, and parents have been divided on its effectiveness and fairness.

Starr's supporters, such as longtime Stamford principal Rodney Bass, assert that homogeneous grouping and student tracking systems of the achievement gap.

"If there are still questions and concerns regarding the direction of public schools in middle school transformation, I'm sure that there are capable individuals, such as Judy Singer and Mona Hanna that can provide answers," Bryant said, expressing that board continue with middle school reform.

Bryant then introduced a resolution from the state NAACP, announcing its intent to eliminate educational tracking in the state of Connecticut.

His three-minute address to the Board of Education elicited a brief round of applause from others attending the meeting.

"We started it here in Stamford because we want to make sure that the issue of tracking never comes back here," Bryant said.

The NAACP's state conference details its plan to eliminate tracking in public schools in a statement signed by NAACP state conference president Scot Esdaile and dated Dec. 10, 2011. In it, the NAACP says this about the practice of tracking:

Therefore, be it finally resolved, we emerge from the civil rights era, our nation's schools continue to select and sort students, distinguishing the "haves" from the "have nots" and perpetuating the social hierarchy.

While the practice of tracking students based on their gender, background, or educational abilities is slowly vanishing from SPS, Bryant plans to assist the state NAACP in adopting and passing the resolution in July, at the NAACP's National Convention in Houston, Texas.

Early in the evening, the Board of Ed. celebrated teens Allison Schechter of , Jayant Rao of Stamford High, and Diane Yang of as new candidates in the prestigious United States Presidential Scholars Program. 

Diane Yang, as the only candidate present, humbly accepted her award and Jayant Rao's, on his behalf.

K Wilhelmi March 01, 2012 at 04:01 AM
How can homogeneous grouping and tracking systems staryed in the middle school reforms two years ago be the root cause of the achievement gap? Was there no achievement gap before the reforms? Is there statitical significance after two years that proves homogeneous grouping has worsened the gap?? Dubious at best!!
Jamal Powell March 01, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I think the intent of middle school reform was to assist in closing the gap which may have been created by homogeneous grouping and tracking prior to 2009.

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