The Effects of “Redlining” on the Hartford Metropolitan Region

This essay was developed in the Cities Suburbs & Schools seminar in Fall 2013 and published in March 2014 by ConnecticutHistory.org. See other Trinity student essays.

HOLC Residential Security Map of Hartford Area 1937
HOLC Residential Security Map of Hartford Area 1937. Records of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland - On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs

Contemporary patterns of racial isolation in the Hartford metropolitan region, as elsewhere across the country, stem from a mixture of historic and present-day policies. A number of past policies, promoted by both private and federal interests, encouraged racial segregation. Although these explicitly racist policies are no longer legal, research shows that their legacy often persists well beyond their termination. For example, historical data reveals long-term patterns of inequality that can be traced back to racist zoning codes of the past. Of the housing barriers that ethnic minorities within the US have faced in the 20th century, “redlining” is perhaps the most talked about—and for good reason. Redlining is the nickname given to the practice of rating certain neighborhoods as undesirable investment choices due to their racial and socioeconomic demographics. Banks then used these ratings when determining whether or not to authorize loan transactions for home purchases and improvements in those communities. By effectively directing capital investment away from “redlined” neighborhoods, this practice shaped the demographic patterns as well as the built environments of cities and suburbs across the US.

Formation of the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation: Rating Neighborhood Investment Risks
The Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) was established through President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Legislation in 1933 as a way to combat home foreclosures during the years of the Great Depression. The HOLC created residential security maps to assess the “trend of desirability” in residential areas of Hartford and over 200 other cities during the late 1930s. In other words, the HOLC set out to evaluate the insurance risks associated with investment in order to direct the Federal Home Loan Bank’s (FHLB) underwriting criteria and to provide a detailed guide for mortgage loan investment decisions being made by the newly regulated financial institutions engaged in home mortgage lending. The major issue is that the HOLC utilized the racial and socioeconomic composition of residents—rather than relying on physical property conditions alone–as deciding criteria for determining whether they deemed a neighborhood to be a safe and stable investment for loans. For example, a 1937 HOLC appraisal report for a tract of land near downtown Hartford describes the neighborhood as a “slum area now mainly occupied by Negros.” The appraisal also identifies the residents of this area as predominately “laborers or domestics” and estimates the average annual family income to be around $1,000. This report exemplifies the role of race and class in the HOLC rating system: the neighborhood was given the lowest possible rating (Grade D).

Relationships Between Race and Redlining in the Hartford Region
The HOLC created color-coded maps that delineated four grades of housing: green being the highest rating, followed by blue and yellow, respectively, with red reserved for neighborhoods receiving the lowest ratings, hence the term “redlining.” This mapping system became an institutionalized barrier preventing equal access to property and loans as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and private lenders adopted similar policies and maps in their own underwriting manuals. Thus, the use of race-based criteria to make lending decisions became a wider spread practice. For instance, in the 1936 FHA Underwriting Manual, there are references to “inharmonious racial groups” or “incompatible racial elements” being factors in the decreased ratings assigned to certain neighborhoods. Essentially, the FHA helped perpetuate the notion that the presence of ethnic minorities in a mostly white neighborhood would adversely influence property values.

- University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)
University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)

When the 1937 HOLC map is compared to the 1940 map of Racial Change in the Hartford Region (below), two points become clear. First, the region was overwhelmingly white. Second, the two census tracts in Hartford with substantial black populations (tract eight and nine) were both neighborhoods redlined by the HOLC. These redlined neighborhoods were also located in slum areas. So, it is important to ask if the poor quality of the housing, rather than race, determined investment decisions. In other words, were HOLC neighborhood appraisals shaped primarily by the physical housing or by its current inhabitants? The answer is: both factors played a role; however, a comparison between two areas with similar built environments but different demographics provides evidence that a neighborhood’s HOLC rating could be negatively affected by the presence of an “inharmonious racial group.”

Through an examination of HOLC appraisal reports, it is apparent that area B-5 (North End of Hartford) and area C-9 (South End of Hartford) possessed a similar physical character in 1937. Both neighborhoods consisted primarily of two-family houses that were 15 to 20 years old, in fair-good condition, and in a comparable price range. Even the socioeconomic breakdown of the two neighborhoods was close; B-5 had an estimated annual family income of $1,800 and up, while C-9 was estimated at $1,500 and up. However, area B-5 was rated “blue,” while area C-9 received a lower “yellow” rating. This difference in rating can most likely be attributed to the racial composition of the neighborhoods. Both had a small population of Italians, but area B-5 had no black population, while area C-9 contained a black demographic, although slight (approximately 1%). One remark from the appraisal of C-9 confirms the impact of even a small African American presence: “The Negro families are confined to Roosevelt Street. Lenders suggest caution in the selection of loans.” This example demonstrates that the HOLC rating system focused as much on racial composition as it did on the physical quality of neighborhoods.

- University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)
University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)

The Legacy of Racialized Housing Barriers
The Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, made redlining on a racial basis an illegal practice. Yet, there is evidence that redlining continued in the Hartford region as late as 1977, manifesting itself as a systematic disinvestment of urban properties by banks and insurance companies. Redlining had serious ramifications for minorities in cities like Hartford. The racialization of space through real estate practices, along with a shift in emphasis from use-value of property (its suitability to filling social needs) to market-value (its potential to be a money-making commodity), linked property value to the racial composition of a neighborhood. New data has reinforced the fall-out caused by redlining. It shows that the neighborhoods redlined in the 1930s are now the areas of lowest opportunity in Hartford. These high poverty areas may be a result of past disinvestment caused by their having been rated in the past as “undesirable” based, in part, on racial factors. In the end, it is clear that simply outlawing racist policies of the past does not necessarily fix the damage already done.

- People, Place and Opportunity: Mapping Communities of Opportunity in CT
People, Place and Opportunity: Mapping Communities of Opportunity in CT

Shaun McGann, a senior at Trinity College during the 2013-2014 academic year, is an urban studies and political science major and a resident of West Hartford.

Learn more
Websites:
“Federal HOLC ‘Redlining’ Map, Hartford Area, 1937.” University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC), 2012. Link.

“Racial Change in the Hartford Region, 1900-2010.” University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC), 2012. Link.

Documents:
“Fair Housing at Its Worst: Redlining in Hartford Connecticut, Report 9.” Education/Instruccion, February 7, 1977. Trinity College Digital Repository, Hartford. Link.

“First Annual Report of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board Covering Operations of the Federal Home Loan Banks, The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, Federal Savings and Loan Promotion Activities from the Date of Their Creation through December 31, 1933.” United States Government Printing Office, 1934. FRASER: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Link.

Reece, Jason, Samir Gambhir, Jillian Olinger, Matthew Martin, and Mark Harris. “Place, and Opportunity: Mapping Communities of Opportunity in Connecticut: A Report Commissioned by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.” Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Ohio State University, 2009. Connecticut Fair Housing Center. Link.

“Residential Security Map and Area Descriptions, Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut.” Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, 1937. Trinity College Digital Repository, Hartford. Link.

Books:
Dougherty, Jack, and colleagues. On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, 2011. Link.

Articles:
Greer, James. “The Home Owner’s Loan Corporation and the Development of the Residential Security Maps.” Journal of Urban History 39, no. 2 (March 2013): 275–296.

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Five Minutes that Changed Connecticut: Simon Bernstein and the 1965 Connecticut Education Amendment

This essay was developed in the Cities Suburbs & Schools seminar in Fall 2013 and published in Jan 2014 by ConnecticutHistory.org. See other Trinity student essays.

Hartford classroom, 1957
Hartford classroom, 1957 – Hartford Times Collection, Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library and Connecticut History Online

Hartford lawyer and Democratic delegate Simon Bernstein stuck out from his political peers at the 1965 Connecticut Constitutional Convention. While the Democratic and Republican chairmen of the time were entrenched in a debate over the state’s unequal political representation system, Bernstein dared to dream a little bigger. As a member of the Bloomfield Board of Education, Bernstein recognized that Connecticut was the only state that did not guarantee its citizens a constitutional right to an education. Bernstein thus decided to draft a new amendment to address this problem. After days of being ignored by his Democratic Party superiors and, finally, threatening to confront the media about his concerns, Bernstein’s request was met. Delegates at the 1965 Connecticut Constitutional Convention passed Bernstein’s amendment which guarantees free public education to every child. This set the stage for a series of prominent educational lawsuits, including Horton v. Meskill (1970), Sheff v. O’Neill (1989), and Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell (2005).

The Man Behind the Amendment
Bernstein was born on January 17, 1913, in Hartford, Connecticut. After graduating from Trinity College and Harvard Law School, he began his political career in Hartford as a lawyer and Democratic alderman. During his time in Hartford, Bernstein served on the city’s Finance Committee and also actively participated in the 1940′s Zionist movement, a political effort that sought to encourage local lawmakers to support Israel’s fight for its own state. In 1950, Bernstein moved to Bloomfield and was elected to the Bloomfield Board of Education.

Simon Bernstein’s 2011 interview with the Cities Suburbs and Schools Project

In all of his political efforts, Bernstein proved he was not afraid to confront difficult issues that others were hesitant to address. For example, in 1947, Bernstein took on a legal case involving a racially restrictive covenant, a term used to describe real estate agreements that prohibit people of a specific race from occupying a property. This covenant, in particular, limited a property sale in the West Hartford area to “non-Semitic persons of the Caucasian race.” The Hartford Courantpublished an article about Bernstein on March 28, 1947, which wrote that Bernstein felt the covenant’s racially specific language was “against public policy.” Bernstein eventually managed to get this phrasing erased from the original property agreement, making him the first person in Connecticut to successfully address a legal case of this kind.

The Creation and Impact of the Education Amendment
One reason why Bernstein’s peers at the 1965 Connecticut Constitutional Convention attempted to stifle his enthusiasm for including an education amendment was that they were focused on only one task: revising the state’s system of political representation. Connecticut’s representation system needed to be fixed as a consequence of the 1964 United States Supreme Court ruling in Reynolds v. Sims. The Court found that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause required state legislatures to apportion representatives based on each district’s population to ensure that all citizens are equally represented. This “one man, one vote” law thus made Connecticut’s system—two representatives for every district regardless of population—unconstitutional.

Because the sole purpose of the Convention was to align Connecticut’s representation system with Reynolds v. Sims, John Bailey, the influential Democratic chairman, had little interest in seeing any proposals regarding schools. However, this did not stop Bernstein from voicing his concerns about Connecticut’s lack of a constitutional guarantee to education: “I was enough of a history student of law, a lawyer, to know that once a convention is called for the state or national, nothing is irrelevant,” Bernstein stated in an interview. Rather than accept the legislature’s preplanned agenda, Bernstein chose to challenge his political superiors.

In order to gain the legislature’s attention, Bernstein repeatedly asked Bailey to consider his proposal and also threatened to discuss his frustration with the media. In the end, it was this threat that worked. Bailey granted Bernstein a meager 5 minutes to draft a proposal in an effort to quickly return to the discussion on political representation. Bernstein’s amendment, which he scribbled onto a scrap of paper in order to make his 5-minute deadline, is general because Bernstein believed the language of the Constitution should reflect overall principles and ideas. It states that, “There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The general assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.”

1965 Education Amendment draft

Bernstein was given only minutes to draft his proposal for what is known today as the 1965 Education Amendment. The above image is a facsimile of the document. The actual draft of the Article is held at the Connecticut State Library.

Although the world “equal” is not explicitly written in the amendment, its inference has been used as a foundation for nationally recognized educational inequality lawsuits such as Horton v. Meskill (1970), Sheff v. O’Neill (1989), and Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell (2005). At the time of Horton v. Meskill, Connecticut supplied school districts with $250 per child, forcing towns to rely heavily on local property taxes for additional funding. The Horton plaintiffs used Bernstein’s amendment to argue that this system was unconstitutional because it meant educational quality varied considerably from poorer to wealthier towns. Sheff v. O’Neill used Bernstein’s amendment to prove that the extreme racial, ethnic, and economic isolation of the Hartford school district left its schoolchildren, and suburban schoolchildren, with an insufficient education that the state was required to remedy. The CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit used the 1965 Educational Amendment to argue that Connecticut’s system for funding public schools was not only inadequate but also disproportionately harmed minority schoolchildren by diminishing their ability to participate in the democratic process, thrive in college, and reap the monetary rewards of intellectual success.

After his years as a lawyer, Bernstein served as a Connecticut Superior Court Judge for 27 years. He passed away on May 27, 2013, at his home in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of 100. His contribution to Connecticut lives on through the 1965 education amendment that continues to serve as a foundation for educational inequality lawsuits throughout the state.

Elaina Rollins, a sophomore at Trinity College in Hartford during the 2013-2014 academic year, is an Educational Studies major and a resident of Columbus, Ohio.

learn more
Websites
“CCJEF V. Rell Overview.” Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, 2013.Link.

Video
Oral History Collection A-Z: Simon Bernstein. Interview by Jack Zaiman. Video, December 22, 1971. Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford. Link.

Bernstein, Simon. Oral History Interview on Connecticut Civil Rights (with video) – Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project. Interview by Katie Campbell. Pdf file, video, jpeg, August 1, 2011. Trinity College Digital Repository, Hartford. Link.

Documents
“PDF: CCJEF (Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding) V. Rell.” The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, n.d. Link.

Books
Collier, Christopher. Connecticut’s Public Schools: A History, 1650-2000. Orange, CT: Clearwater Press, 2009.

Dougherty, Jack, and colleagues. On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, 2011. Link.

Eaton, Susan E. The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007.

Articles
“Bernstein Seeks End of Restrictive Clauses.” The Hartford Courant. March 28, 1947, sec. ProQuest – Hartford Courant Historical Newspaper database – Available through iCONN.org. Link.

“Simon Bernstein.” The New Haven Register. May 30, 2013.

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The Debate Over Who Could Occupy World War II Public Housing in West Hartford

This essay was developed in the Cities Suburbs & Schools seminar in Fall 2013 and published in Jan 2014 by ConnecticutHistory.org. See other Trinity student essays.

Oakwood Acres temporary housing
Oakwood Acres temporary housing, West Hartford, 1954. This photo was taken a decade after the debate – Hartford Times Collection, Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library and Connecticut History Online

In 1943, a dispute erupted between West Hartford residents and federal housing officials over whether or not African Americans should be allowed to live in the World War II public housing tract called Oakwood Acres. During this period, public housing tracts were created to shelter the many war workers and their families drawn to the Hartford area by the availability of defense-related jobs. The United States government funded these developments; therefore, local housing officials needed to abide by federal laws regarding occupancy. Federal Housing authorities eventually did require West Hartford to admit African Americans; however, town residents and leaders prevailed by specifying residency criteria in such a way as to maintain the demographic makeup of their virtually all-white community. Racist actions such as these, even when they occurred decades ago, have been factors in shaping the present-day demographics of West Hartford and other towns in the state.

Headline from the December 16, 1943 Metropolitan News
Headline from the December 16, 1943 Metropolitan News (West Hartford)

War Industry Jobs Create Demand for Housing
The advent of World War II brought significant changes to a country that had been in the grip of a deep financial depression. Across the nation, as people moved into cities looking for jobs in wartime defense industries, demand for housing soared. Often, that demand far exceeded the availability of properties to purchase or even rent. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the United States Congress established the United States Housing Authority (USHA) and authorized it to build public housing units with the goal of providing adequate living quarters for war workers.

An influx of war laborers, both white and African American, and their families came to the greater Hartford area in the 1940s. They worked in defense factories, such as the Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool plant and the newer Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company. As a result, housing options were limited in the Hartford area. By August of 1943, 8,000 new housing units had been developed in Hartford and New Britain to accommodate the growing population. These apartment-style homes were built under the Hartford Housing Association (HHA) and paid for with federal funding from the USHA.

According to a 1943 Hartford Courant report, “Connecticut has about half of all the government war housing constructed in New England. Half of the government housing in this state has been put up in the Hartford-New Britain area….” With these statistics, one might think that workers’ need for housing in Greater Hartford had been met. However, families and single African American war workers found it more difficult to procure homes. The Courant noted that “400 housing units for white in-migrant families” were being constructed and, in “the case of Negroes,” it was thought that “temporary dormitories” might be built if additional government grants could be obtained. Berkley Cox, chairman of the HHA called this situation “satisfactory.”

The Fight to Keep African Americans Out of Oakwood Acres
One unit developed under the HHA was the Oakwood Acres Housing Tract. Located on Oakwood Avenue in West Hartford, it spanned the area between St. Charles Street and Seymour Avenue. Contemporary descriptions present the Oakwood Acres’ living spaces as new, simplistic, and affordable. In 1943, only 14 out of the 300 apartments in the building were occupied at a time when many African Americans either had no place to live or could only find substandard accommodations. The federal government planned to use the complex to provide housing for these workers and their families.

Comparison of the location of Oakwood Acres Housing Tract in 1951 vs 2013
Comparison of the location of Oakwood Acres Housing Tract in 1951 vs 2013 – Neighborhood Change in Connecticut, 1934 to Present – University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC)

Because the government funded Oakwood Acres, the unit needed to abide by federal law, which stated that officials could not legally reject African Americans applying for housing. West Hartford homeowners, living near Oakwood Acres, were quoted in a September 1943 issue of the Metropolitan News as being “alarmed” and “horrified” at the idea of “Negroes” living in their neighborhood. One woman said she and her family would move out the day after any African Americans moved in. The paper itself described the situation in harsh, racist language, calling it an “infiltration,” and reported the prevailing sentiment among community homeowners as being: “We don’t want them here.” The consensus among West Hartford realtors and homeowners, the newspaper reported, was that real estate values would show “an immediate and sharp” drop if “Negroes in any considerable number moved into town.”

Furiously, homeowners wrote to the HHA and West Hartford Housing Authority (WHHA) asking if African Americans would indeed be admitted to Oakwood Acres. When the Hartford Courant posed the question to WHHA chairman Richard F. Jones, he equivocated, saying, “I won’t say we are and I won’t say we’re not going to admit Negroes…. At the present time that is a topic we’d rather not publicize too much.” This prompted West Hartford residents to send petitions to their senators, Francis Maloney and John A Danaher, and congressman, William Miller. Miller responded that he would look into the issue.

The United States Housing Authority responded with an ultimatum. They stated that it was unlawful to exclude occupants from Oakwood Acres based on race. Local housing officials were advised that unless the race restrictions were lifted, the federal government would step in. Under this decision, African Americans would be admitted if they applied for a unit. This angered many West Hartford homeowners, prompting the town’s housing officials to find a loophole. They decided to accept applications only from “Negroes with essential West Hartford industry jobs.” Officials made this ruling knowing that, at the time, only six African American families fit this criterion—and they had not expressed interest in living in Oakwood Acres. Ultimately, with this restrictive technicality in place, no African American war workers moved into the housing tract. The white West Hartford housing officials and their supporters had trumped the federal government. They found a way to circumvent federal guidelines and discourage African Americans from living in publicly-funded housing with the town’s borders.

Aftermath
In 1956, Oakwood Acres was demolished. It had become dilapidated and the people of West Hartford feared it made their neighborhood look like a “slum.” By destroying the unit, West Hartford also erased the physical remnants of this racist chapter in the town’s housing history. Today, West Hartford remains a predominately white community. One can argue that its demographics have been shaped, in part, by discriminatory housing practices of which the standoff over Oakwood Acres is but one example.

Emily Meehan, a sophomore at Trinity College during the 2013-2014 academic year, is an Educational Studies major and a resident of Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Learn more

Books:
Dougherty, Jack, and colleagues. On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and Its Suburbs. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, 2011. Link.

Szylvian, Kristin M. “The Federal Housing Program During World War II.” In From Tenements to the Taylor Homes: In Search of an Urban Housing Policy in Twentieth-Century America. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000.

Articles:
“1877 Worker Visits New Tool Plant.” Hartford Courant. August 14, 1943, sec. ProQuest – Hartford Courant Historical Newspaper database – Available through iCONN.org. Link.

“Housing Official Noncommittal on Racial Question.” Hartford Courant. October 21, 1943, sec. ProQuest – Hartford Courant Historical Newspaper database – Available through iCONN.org. Link.

“Housing Reaches 8000 Mark in City and New Britain.” Hartford Courant. August 14, 1943, sec. ProQuest – Hartford Courant Historical Newspaper database – Available through iCONN.org. Link.

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Draft Junior Research Plan

Ed Studies Junior Research Plan

Name: Ambar Paulino

Major(s)/Concentration: English/Educational Studies/ African American Studies Minor

Last updated: December 9th, 2013

1)  What is your proposed research question, and how is it significant to educational studies, broadly defined?

How has the relocation of the Trinity College campus, from Downtown Hartford to Frog Follow affected families and their children’s education in the Hartford community and surrounding areas? What role has Trinity College played in the development and closing of the achievement gap for Hartford Public Schools?

2)   What courses, experiences, and/or readings inspired you to choose this question?

As an Educational Studies major, I was able to take an array of classes which help piece together my concentration which is: “Race, Class, the Achievement Gap and Educational Success.” I am currently taking a class called Race and Urban Space, with Professor Davarian Baldwin which explores the racial implications that decision in city planning lead to. Through my studies in that course I’ve learned that the environment I am living in is not just existent. Months of planning, zoning, and construction go into making cities, and when it comes to urban planning, there are always decisions made.

One of my major assignments for the semester engaged me in my own community. Through the research of my own built environment, I found that my neighborhood underwent a process of transformation with the aide of local prestigious institution- Columbia University. As I delved deeper in my research, I was exposed to all of the changes that were driven by the presence and expansion of Columbia University. As a Trinity College student, I began to think about the relationship that Trinity College posses with the city of Hartford, and what role Trinity has played in the community. Along with your course- Cities, Suburbs, and Schools, I’d like to explore the relationship between the transformation of Hartford due to Trinity’s presence, and also how that has affected (or if it has affected) the public school system and other colleges/universities in the area. For the most part, there are many factors such as real estate, employment, policing, and policy making that may be influenced and or affected by Trinity; I’d like to explore the relationship that our institution has had in the development of Educational policies, creation of magnets schools/open choice schools in the area.

One article that inspired my thinking for this proposal was an article written by Professor Baldwin called, “Phoenix Rising? Arizona State University As An Urban Growth Machine.” This article highlights the effect of the expansion of Arizona State University into the downtown area of Phoenix, a large buzzing city with no real “culture”(Baldwin, 1). Upon reading the article, I thought about the numerous articles I’ve read which label Hartford as one of the most dangerous and or poorest cities in the country. Since my matriculation at Trinity, I have seen very little change in Hartford. However, since the 1970s, there has been a significant amount of change.

In, “Universities and Cities Need to Rethink Their Relationships” author Richard M. Freeland writes:

“ It is useful to distinguish between defensive actions taken to protect our institutions from harm and civic-minded actions that strengthen the community.     An initiative to ameliorate urban blight around a campus because such conditions   adversely affect admissions is different in spirit than a program to enhance K-12       education by housing a city high school in university facilities and enriching the     school’s curriculum” (Freeland, 3).

Parallel to our campus you can find the Learning Corridor which encompasses a variety of smaller sized schools, including the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy, a school that is sponsored by Trinity College. To date, I have not heard of other relationships/interactions that Trinity College has besides the one with HMTCA. Through my research, I hope to discover if there were ever other attempts to formulate relationships like the one with HMTCA and if so, how Trinity has supported the schools.

3)  What prior methods training do you have, and what primary sources and methods will you use to answer this question?

In order to answer my proposed research question, I intend on using a combination of qualitative and historical research. Next semester I will be taking a course with professor Rachael Barlow named Research Interviewing, which will teach me how to converse with strangers for research purposes. This learning experience will prepare me to interact and properly execute interviews with  Hartford Public School Officers, different school administration, faculty and staff from both Trinity College and surrounding primary and secondary schools. Through my historical research, I plan on analyzing the effects of the moving of Trinity’s campus from downtown Hartford to Frog Hollow and the relationship between Trinity and other Hartford Public Schools in the area over a 40 year span.

4)  Does your plan include research with human subjects?

My plan does involve research with human subjects through interviews. If there are cases identified where Trinity has been labeled as a beneficial or harmful asset to the community, I plan to identify and meet with the people who have expertise in the subject.

5) Does your research plan require access to a school or organization?

No.

Works Cited

Baldwin, Davarian L. “Phoenix Rising? Arizona State University as an Urban Growth Machine.” Trinity College- Center For Urban and Global Studies: The Urban Planet 6.Fall (2013): 1-2. Oct. 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

Freeland, Richard M. “Point of View: Universities and Cities Need to Rethink Their Relationships.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 51.36 (2005): B36. Community-wealth.org. 13 May 2005. Web. 6 Dec. 2013. <http://community-wealth.org/_pdfs/news/recent-articles/07-05/article-freeland.pdf>.

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Op-Ed Revision

Each day, we are bombarded by numbers in the media through the many facts and figures given to us by the news and other articles. Although statistical studies have become a prominent feature throughout our daily lives, most citizens, and even many reporters, do not have the right knowledge required to read them critically in order to portray the most accurate findings. This poses a problem to our society, as people tend to form opinions and make decisions based on the information they are given through the media, even though much of this information has been misinterpreted or analyzed in a biased way. After the 1996 Connecticut Supreme Court case, Sheff vs. O’Neill, ruled racial and ethnic isolation in Hartford schools unconstitutional, state legislators began looking for a plan to make schools more diverse after being forced to do so by Sheff activists, in hopes of achieving educational equality. Choice programs in Hartford, including magnet, charter, and Open Choice schools have been created with the purpose of increasing academic achievement for all students through a more integrated school system. The goal of the Open Choice Program is to “improve academic achievement, reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation and provide all children with a choice of high quality educational programs” (“Open Choice: Your Choice…Our Future”). With such lofty goals it is no wonder why Hartford choice school supporters have jumped at opportunities to support their claim that choice schools lead to higher student achievement. Although it seems as if this claim is accurate by comparing achievement scores from the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) between students enrolled in choice programs and students who attend district schools, it is necessary to look at the applicant pool to determine whether or not there are other factors that come into play about what types of students actually apply to choice programs and which do not. This is significant because it could would disprove the idea that those students who are randomly chosen to attend choice schools is not, in fact, as random as it may appear.

According to 2013 data, it is in fact true that, in general, students in choice schools perform better on the CMT as compared to regular district schools (“CMT/CAPT Results for Hartford Resident Students”). For example, data shows that while 53% of third graders in CREC magnet schools met the state math goal, only 25% of third graders in Hartford Public Schools (HPS) met the state math goal. So for all the supporters of choice schools this data has lead them to claim that the creation of such schools has been the cause of higher student achievement, and therefore can be labeled as a better option for students. This statement cannot be taken as completely accurate because academic performance for schools in Hartford is measured by a snapshot, or at one moment in time. In order to prove whether or not magnet schools lead to higher achievement there would need to be data about students’ achievement over time on the CMT. For example take two different students who apply to a choice program, both average academic performers. One student was chosen to enroll and the other one was not. The CMT scores of both students, after one has been enrolled in the choice school and the other in a district school, need to be compared in order to understand if choice schools are leading students to achieve higher. If the student who was enrolled in the choice program showed an improvement in his/her CMT scores and the student who continued to go to a district school did not show any improvement this would be evidence that choice programs are leading students to achieve higher. If we do not compare the applicants who were chosen versus those who were not then the claim that choice schools are “better” than district schools can never be proven.

Another reason why comparing student achievement in choice schools and district schools is misinterpreted is because the applicant pool to choice programs is most likely not a random sample of the total student population in the greater Hartford area. Although all students are technically given the opportunity to apply to choice schools, it is ultimately the parent’s or guardian’s decision. For a variety of different reasons, Hartford parents either decide to apply their child to choice schools or they decide to just send him/her to a district school. This could mean that some parents have a greater desire for their child to succeed in school than others, which would lead these more invested parents to apply their child for choice schools. Other reasons could be that some parents do not have the time, means, or knowledge to apply while others do. Although it would be difficult to measure what general type of parent chooses to apply their child, information about this would be helpful to understanding if family background, rather than the type of school a student is enrolled in, has a greater effect on the achievement of students. Another aspect that could be related to this, shown in the diagram below, is that it is possible that students who are already high-achieving are more likely to apply for choice schools than average or low-achieving students. If this is true, it is probable that there would be a significant decrease in the amount of high achievers in district schools, which would lead to lower CMT scores in district schools and higher CMT scores in choice schools.

There have been some other claims made that disagree with the idea that these racially integrated choice schools have led to higher student achievement, but the answer as to why students perform lower in district schools as compared to choice schools remains unsolved. One person who commented on the article “State report: Students in desegregated schools test higher” brings up the idea of correlation and causation, saying that although two things may appear to be connected, it does not mean that one thing is necessarily causing the other. At this point it is not clear what is causing choice schools to have higher achieving students, whether it is solely choice schools’ design, curriculum, and racial composition that lead students to achieve higher or the possibility that higher achieving students or students who have greater levels of family support are more likely to apply to choice programs.

This graphic  is hypothetical because it has not yet been definitively proven that the applicant pool differs from the general population of the greater Hartford area. SOURCE: Emily Heneghan

This graphic is hypothetical because it has not yet been definitively proven that the applicant pool differs from the general population of the greater Hartford area. SOURCE: Emily Heneghan

There have been some other claims made that disagree with the idea that these racially integrated choice schools have led to higher student achievement, but the answer as to why students perform lower in district schools as compared to choice schools remains unsolved. One person who commented on the article “State report: Students in desegregated schools test higher” brings up the idea of correlation and causation, saying that although two things may appear to be connected, it does not mean that one thing is necessarily causing the other. At this point it is not clear what is causing choice schools to have higher achieving students, whether it is solely choice schools’ design, curriculum, and racial composition that lead students to achieve higher or the possibility that higher achieving students or students who have greater levels of family support are more likely to apply to choice programs. This person brings up a good point, stating, “Until we know the cause(s) for the different outcomes, we shouldn’t just throw money, time, and effort at solutions which ultimately need to include all students in all school systems” (“State Report: Students in Desegregated Schools Test Higher”). Although it appears like choice programs have been leading to higher student achievement, it cannot yet be proven what exactly is causing the different academic outcomes of students and, therefore, nothing can be accurately claimed until more research is done.

Sources:

  1. Connecticut State Department of Education, “CMT/CAPT Results for Hartford Resident Students,” September 3, 2013, embedded in Thomas, “State Report,” CT Mirror, September 12, 2013, http://www.ctmirror.org/node/143623#report.
  2. Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, “State Report: Students in Desegregated Schools Test Higher,” CT Mirror, September 12, 2013.
  3. Capital Region Education Council. “Open Choice: Your Choice…Our Future,” 2013, http://www.crec.org/choice/.

 

How and why I revised my essay:

In my essay, in addition to fixing some grammatical errors and making structural changes, I also revised some points and evidence that I used to support my argument. One of the more significant changes I made was that I completely revised my last dew sentences in the first paragraph to be clearer and also to set up exactly what claims I would be making in the body of my essay. In the second paragraph I added particular grade-level data within the text to make my argument stronger and easier for the reader to understand. At the end of the second paragraph I explained the significance of comparing applicants who were chosen versus those who were not because that is a crucial part of my argument and needed to be made more clear. In the third paragraph I changed my topic sentence as well as my second sentences to start off the paragraph with the basic idea that the applicant pool to choice programs is most likely not a random sample of the total student population and then I also changed some of my sentences that followed. My graphic was improved by making 4 changes: I stated that it was a hypothetical situation because there is no definitive evidence that the applicant pools differ, I changed “non-high achieving student” to “regular student,” I changed one of the parallel labels from “APPLICANT POOL” to “INTERDISTRICT SCHOOL APPLICANT POOL” to be more distinct, and l added some information that said that if the lottery phase s random, then we would expect to see the same proportion of high-achieving students in the winners box as the losers box. Lastly, in the final paragraph I got rid of the claim that students are achieving higher in choice programs due to the idea that district schools probably have less resources than choice schools because this claim is not related to the main point of my essay, it was just kind of a random add on that was unnecessary. I also removed the sentences that said “Further, choice programs are not fair in that they leave a lot of students behind since they cannot accept a majority of students,” because that sentences was randomly thrown into there and did not really belong. At the end of the paragraph I better supported my argument by adding the sentence “At this point it is not clear what is causing choice schools to have higher achieving students, whether it is solely choice schools’ design, curriculum, and racial composition that lead students to achieve higher or the possibility that higher achieving students or students who have greater levels of family support are more likely to apply to choice programs,” and then continuing with the importance of why more research needs to be done to find out what the true causes of higher student achievement in choice schools.

 

 

 

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