There was some heavy lifting at Gold's Gym today, but it wasn't with the usual gym weights. Bloomberg News commandeered a soon-to-open Gold's as it's 2012 Democratic Convention headquarters in Downtown Charlotte. Today's lunch panel included American Federation of Teacher President Randi Weingarten, former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, think tank president Neera Tandem, New Jersey State Senator Teresa Ruiz and your's truly. The heavy lifting? Public school reform and the roles teacher unions play in getting the job done.
The first thing everyone agreed on is the critical role that teachers play and continue to play in getting our kids ready for competition in today's economy. Several of the panelists pointed out that a key initiative to sustaining America as a great nation is an educated and well prepared workforce. Although to read most of the protestors signs in Downtown Charlotte you would think that sexual preference was the most important issue facing America today, but I digress.
The AFT, both the local and the national union, were pretty instrumental in getting New Haven's landmark reform contract shaped and passed three years ago. And the New Haven contract was key to shaping the state reforms passed in the last Connecticut General Assembly session. The reductions in the drop out rate, the closing of the achievement gap and 125 Promise scholarships are all tangible results of New Haven's collaboration with the AFT.
Interestingly, moderator Matt Dowd raised an issue we are currently wrestling with-- parental engagement. How can schools most effectively be open, welcome learning communities? How can we help parents do their job? In thinking about this, I was struck by the results of New Haven's first ever kindergarten canvas. Nearly 2,000 families were contacted by school staff and volunteers. Showing up at people's doors, saying their school was ready to help their child succeed in kindergarten was extraordinarily powerful. Still, engaging parents remains a persistent challenge for us.
I mentioned a second challenge today, trusting school learning communities. Recognizing that we have clear goals and accountability strategies in place, we need to work to give school building leaders, staff and parents alike, more say in the operation of their schools.
All that said, it is clear that working together with the AFT has set a pattern of collaboration with our partners in BOOST and Promise and a host of other areas. So, in a couple of days Charlotte will calm down. As the crowd leaves, the real work will continue in school buildings across our city. The work of the high stakes game of preparing our kids for a future very different than our own continues, work that is harder than any we do in any gym.
Commission on Equal Opportunities Accepting Applications for Construction Workforce Initiative
The City of New Haven Commission Equal Opportunities will accept applications for its Construction Workforce Initiative 2 Program, beginning October 1st through October 5th & October 10th through October 12, 2012.
This program is geared toward helping residents begin a successful career within the construction industry. For more information, contact Maurice Ramos at 203-946-7047 or 203-946-8160.
The Commission on Equal Opportunities enforces fair employment laws and contract compliance regulations, as well as organizing resident training employment opportunity programs. Last fiscal year, the Commission accepted over 500 applications for the Construction Workforce Initiative program for construction jobs. With help from the program, New Haven residents earned more than $6 million in wages on school construction projects over the last several years. Over 350 residents were placed in new construction jobs in 2011 alone.
Public Meeting on Long Term Plans for Restoration of the New Haven Green
The City of New Haven and the Proprietors of the Green will hold a final public meeting this Thursday, September 6 to solicit input as they develop long range plans for the development, restoration and management of the New Haven Green. The meeting will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Meeting Room 1 at City Hall, 165 Church Street. To help facilitate the process, Proprietors have commissioned the Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces and build stronger communities. Their "placemaking" approach works to engage citizens in developing community visions for vital public spaces. The intent is to draft a plan with a component that can be "shovel ready" by New Haven's 375th birthday in April 2013. Please RSVP to Christy Hass, Deputy Director of Parks and Squares at email@example.com or 203-946-8004.
New Haven Youth Receive Assistance Qualifying for Deferred Action
To date, New Haven Legal Assistance has conducted 25 initial screenings and has 75 additional appointments scheduled with undocumented youth seeking to qualify for temporary "deferred action" status. The program, announced by President Barack Obama in June, allows those undocumented youth who qualify to apply for work permits without fear of deportation for a period of two years.
In anticipation of large numbers of youth seeking to apply for Deferred Action under the program, the City of New Haven, Somos CT, New Haven Legal Assistance, Junta for Progressive Action, Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, Apostle Immigrant Services, and Connecticut Students for a Dream partnered to create a streamlined process to answer eligibility questions and assist youth seeking to qualify for the program.
In addition to individual screening sessions for youth at New Haven Legal Assistance, Junta for Progressive Action and Apostle Immigrant Services have held several successful clinics for youth in New Haven seeking to qualify for the program. For youth with cases that require one-on-one legal assistance, IRIS, Apostle Immigrant Services, Yale University, and Quinnipiac University law school clinics have agreed to assist, as well as several reputable immigration attorneys.
New Haven Legal Assistance has agreed to be the coordinating agency and central entry point for youth seeking to determine eligibility for deferred action status. Students may call Legal Assistance at 203-946-4811 for an appointment.
This program is a small but important step towards recognizing the simple fact that undocumented youth are among the most productive, contributing members of our communities. The only thing that distinguishes them from other children in our community is that at some point in their young lives, their parents chose to move here without documents to pursue opportunities for their families that were not available elsewhere. We should do everything in our power to make sure these students have the ability to pursue their dreams, and that includes helping them qualify for deferred action. Such course will grow our economy, strengthen America, and pay tribute to the values of our parents and grandparents.
Contact Name: Elizabeth Benton
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Phone: 203-946-8200