R.A.C.C.E. Press Release
Over the summer, R. A. C. C. E. co-founder Dr. Arlene Arias was appointed to the Connecticut State Legislative Taskforce on Minority Teacher Recruitment. Dr. Arias’ work as an educational advocate was the primary reason for her appointment.
In August R. A. C. C. E. contacted Dr. Ouellette, Dr. Shuana Tucker, Jahana Hayes, and the Waterbury Board of Education (BOE), and asked for data; reports; and presentations that were important to creating a legislative agenda that would address WPS’ poor record of hiring and retaining minority teachers.
All of our requests have been ignored, denied, or referred to Waterbury’s Corporation Counsel. It has been five months and nearly all of the requested information hasn’t been provided. We did receive information from Waterbury Corporation Counsel on 12/29/15, two weeks after our scheduled presentation.
On 12/14/15, R. A. C. C. E. was scheduled to present to the task-force. The WPS ignored our requests to help us present a unified Waterbury voice (View video here). In our final attempt to gain access to data, reports, and presentations we asked Kennedy H. S. teacher Jahana Hayes to provide us with the reports she was responsible for organizing, creating and reporting to the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE). According to the CSDE MTRR Planning Grant requirements the data and the final text of the MTRR Planning Grant was to be submitted to the CSDE on June 30, 2015. Teacher Jahana Hayes also made a presentation of these plans to the CSDE on July 27, 2015. Teacher Jahana Hayes responded to our request for these important documents by stating:
“We will present the final product to the Board of Education at a public hearing when it is ready. The work we have done so far has been shared with the Board and the public, and the work we continue to do is not finalized. I am not clear what concerns RACCE has in regards to the text of the grant, but this information has not been shared because it is not completed.” (11/24/15)
“What you are requesting has not been shared because again, it is not complete. When I say the “final report” I am referring to the planning work.” (11/30/15)
Teacher Jahana Hayes misrepresented the facts. According to Commissioner of Education Dianna Roberge-Wentzell’s chief of staff Kelly Donnelly, the data; reports; and presentations were completed, and should be made available to the public. This shows us that Waterbury Public Schools can manipulate even the best-intentioned individuals. Ultimately, hiding the material reality of the school district from a concerned community is morally and ethically wrong.
R. A. C. C. E.’s work on the state task-force was hampered by the willful neglect and these misrepresentations. This type of behavior concerns us and leaves us doubting about the willingness of the school district to work cooperatively with the community.
R. A. C. C. E. will continue its work to inform the Waterbury community about the
Waterbury Public Schools’ (WPS) hiring practices. The WPS’ hiring practices have only yielded 89 Black and Hispanic teacher hires out of 1,059 (8%) over the last seven years. In Dr. Ouellette’s first four years on the job only 53 Black and Hispanic teachers have been hired out of 570 total hires (9%). This is a poor record, and deserves more public and/or private scrutiny.
Categories: Current Issues