NAACP: Closing Hartford schools would violate student rights

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HARTFORD — The local branch of the NAACP is telling Hartford leaders that proposals to close schools in the city’s North End would violate the rights of black and Latino students.

Greater Hartford NAACP branch President Imam Abdul-Shahid Muhammad Ansari says recommendations to close schools named for figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. would show disregard for black and Latino culture and reflect a pattern of neglect of neighborhood schools.

The Hartford Courant reports that the city’s Board of Education responded that the proposed closings are merely suggestions from a consultant and officials are far from adopting any plan for school consolidation.

Schools with low enrollment and dilapidated buildings are among those mentioned as possible targets for closure as the school district develops a long-term plan for its facilities.

State Rep. Brandon McGee, who represents the North End, said in a statement:

Historically, local schools have been the glue of a community. The decimation of schools, much like the dismantling of public housing complexes, has an unintended consequence: They tear away at a neighborhood’s cohesion, separating neighbors and creating counterproductive division. Research has indicated that Black students in particular have been harmed by larger schools, and students living in lower socioeconomic conditions perform especially poorly in larger schools, in part due to the lost sense of community.

Earlier this year, a landmark lawsuit resulted with a judge ruling that Connecticut’s educational funding system is unconstitutional because it relies on local property taxes for funding, meaning wealthier districts have better funding for schools. That decision is currently being appealed by the state.