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HARTFORD — They are the same story at every school he works or at every day.
Kids get into trouble. They don’t finish their assignments. They get hurt or drop out. And, often, they stay in trouble long after a year has passed.
But when William Thompson started to work in the state’s public school system in 2006, he couldn’t imagine his life ever becoming like that. There was no crime in Connecticut. Teenagers didn’t hit people. No gun or knife crime, just vandalism, car thefts and even arson.
What’s happening at schools, Thompson thought, was an entirely different problem.
“For someone who was going to take the test to get on this kind of program to see how it’s been done, they wouldn’t see the program as being effective,” Thompson said. “They were just hearing a lot of different stories.”
A decade in, he’s still not sure the program has worked, and at the local charter schools it’s had some lasting effects. It’s not just about ending bad behavior — a recent pilot in Hartford made a big difference. It’s also about how the school can help kids stay out of trouble if they want to continue to do well at school, and how it can offer positive reinforcement and encourage kids to be productive citizens.
The problem, said Thompson, is that the school systems have failed to take that seriously.
“We’re the poorest state and we’re getting the worst results,” he said. “The biggest issue is that nobody is really concerned about the kids.”
While the charter program has been around for a couple months, some educators and state officials still don’t know exactly what to do with it, or why it’s in place now instead of before the state’s latest budget was passed last year.
“One of the challenges we have here is that we haven’t actually had a good handle on who’s going to be participating and what they’re going to be doing,” said Robert Dorman, the assistant superintendent in charge of education planning for New York City Public Schools.
It’s the same with
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