HPS Superintendent Talks Education Equity with Hartford Foundation
The issue of Chronic Absenteeism (CA) starts early, said HPS Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez in a recent podcast produced by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (HFPG), called Disinvested. In fact, 1 in 10 kindergarteners miss 18 days of school or more, which defines CA. If Chronic Absenteeism is not addressed and corrected early, the problem continues and impacts students’ ability to read at grade level by third grade, she noted.
These linked challenges of absenteeism and reading proficiency fuel the Superintendent’s personal mission, which is to provide a high-quality and equitable education to all Hartford Public School students.
In the podcast, the fourth in a series which focused on education, Dr. Torres-Rodriguez spoke about her own experience of coming to Hartford as a child from Puerto Rico speaking no English. Despite that, the education she received at HPS schools changed her life trajectory, and that of her family, and is the key for HPS students as well.
Research shows that third-grade reading proficiency is the key indicator of students’ ability to stay on track to graduation, she said. In addition to families making sure that students are in school every day, many other factors influence a student’s success. Community partnerships are needed, health services, and other supports for those schools with the highest rates of CA.
“We owe students equity and excellence,” she said, “taking the whole student’s needs into account.”
The podcast episode also included experts such as HFPG President Jay Williams, the Commissioner of Education Beth Bye, and G. Duncan Harris of Capital Community College, among others. It is available on the HFPG website: https://content.blubrry.com/disinvested/Disinvested-episode-4.mp3.
The other episodes of the Disinvested podcast series are listed here.