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Urban Ed

Photo: Alicia Camuy ’22, Director of Urban Educational Initiatives Robert Cotto Jr., Professor Bruce Bakers, Sonja Dessalines ’22, Director of Community Learning Megan Hartline, and Professor Stefanie Wong.


Robert Cotto Jr. and Professor Bruce Baker

Last week, we were lucky to be joined by Professor Bruce Baker, a Professor at Rutgers University and one of the leading researchers on school finance and educational inequality. Trinity College students, faculty, staff, community partners, and community members gathered at 70 Vernon Street to hear Prof. Baker discuss inequity in school finance and the particular impacts that has in Connecticut and in Latinx communities.

We were lucky to be joined by some key leaders in the Hartford area– Trinity’s Center for Urban and Global Studies Director Garth Myers, State Representative for Hartford and Windsor Brandon McGee, the former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Education Diana Wetzell, Laurel Killough of the Connecticut Education Association, and many more.

Take a look at a video recording of the lecture and a copy of Professor Baker’s slides below, as well as a reposted version of CT Education Association’s blog post about the event– thank you Laurel Killough for writing!

Download Professor Bruce Baker’s slides here.

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School Finance Expert Says There Are No Substitutions for Equitably Funding Schools
Professor Bruce Baker speaking at the Center for Hartford Engagement & Research. Photo by Laurel Killough, CT Education Association.

by Laurel Killough on July 10, 2019

There are those, including current U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who argue that spending more on public
education doesn’t lead to better outcomes. School finance expert and Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker begs to differ, and he has research to back his position up.

“We have more data available now—20 year data sets—and can tease out change over time,” he told students and community members gathered at Trinity College’s Center for Hartford Engagement and Research today. “That’s why there are a number of studies that have come out now that show longitudinally that increased funding leads to better outcomes.”

Studies show that increased school funding particularly makes a difference for low-income students, leading not just to better test scores, but also to increased adult earnings.

“There are no magical substitutions” to equitably funding schools, Baker says. “Running a good school takes having good people—and enough of them. And to get good people into schools you need to pay well enough.”

All districts need highly-qualified educators, but some schools have more significant needs, Baker says. “Districts that serve a high-needs population need more resources to achieve common outcome goals. It takes more money, not just the same money, in a school in a high-poverty area with more students who are English learners.”

While Connecticut students’ average scores on international assessments rival many top-scoring nations, those averages can hide significant disparities between districts, Baker says.

In a 2014 report he authored for the Center for American Progress, Baker examined the nation’s most financially disadvantaged school districts, defining the districts as “those with higher-than-average student needs for their labor-market location and lower-than-average resources when state and local revenues are combined.” He found that 13.6 percent of Connecticut students attend school in these districts, making Connecticut the state with the 5th highest student enrollment in disadvantaged districts.

Baker recently analyzed current school funding data to generate an updated list of financially disadvantaged districts, and found that the most financially disadvantaged school district in the country is New Britain, Connecticut, with Bridgeport at number 4—Waterbury and Danbury are not far down the list.

Though he doesn’t have an explanation for it, in his 2014 report Baker mentions a noteworthy finding. “A seemingly peculiar finding regards the disparate racial distribution of fiscal disadvantage. Predominantly Hispanic school districts outside of major cities, including midsized and smaller cities and large towns, appear more frequently on the fiscally disadvantaged list.”

To improve outcomes for students in these disadvantaged districts Baker says increased funding is essential. “We would need to provide more staff, and more specialized staff in any school with greater student need. Kids should be provided equal opportunity to achieve outcome goals.”


Thank you to original author Laurel Killough of the Connecticut Education Association. Read more https://blogcea.org

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Community Service

Alicia Camuy ’22 and Peyton Orloff ’22 have had quite the busy summer. They’ve both finished their first year as Neuroscience majors at Trinity and this summer has been full of a lot of hard work too– they’re in the Summer Research Program on campus and have been attending workshops, events, and service opportunities both on campus and in the community.

This week, we visited Peyton and Alicia at the Place of Grace Food Pantry at Grace Episcopal Church on New Park Avenue where they volunteer their time every Thursday. Place of Grace provides grocery items every week to parts of Parkville, the West End, and Frog Hollow and they’ve held a partnership with Trinity College’s Office of Community Service & Civic Engagement for about 8 years. Students spend time during the semester volunteering at the food pantry and taking on larger projects like cleaning, sanding, and painting during the JELLO Week of Service in January or Do-It Day at the start of the Fall semester.

Peyton said she did a lot of volunteering in high school and wanted to continue that while at Trinity. She met Maddie Farrar’ 19 and the JELLO Community Service Organization at the Fall Involvement Fair, and has been involved at Place of Grace ever since. In addition to the Summer Research Program and volunteering at Place of Grace, she also spends 10 hours a week volunteering at Hartford Hospital. So, we think the “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good” t-shirt she’s wearing might not be entirely accurate…

During the semester on Wednesdays the students come and join other volunteers (for a good workout) where they move all the food upstairs to prepare it for distribution. They said Thursdays is the day where they get to talk with people and meet people from all different walks of life. Alicia said it’s fun to interact with different personalities, regulars, and newcomers. It makes her grateful for what she has and also reminds her that it’s the little things in life, seeing different perspectives, and getting out and meeting new people that really bring happiness.

“For me it’s deeper than volunteering. I’ve always been a person who’s involved in the community and I never want to be a person who feels above everyone else. I really enjoy getting off campus in my free time for volunteering but even just to get out. I love going to Park Street and going to Aqui Me Quedo which is so delicious. I’m not afraid to take the buses and I’m trying to get my friends and other students to get off campus because it’s so easy to be trapped in that bubble. But we have so many resources to give the community and the community has so many resources and experiences to give us and I think that Peyton and I realize that which is a reason why we come volunteer. Also, they needed a translator and I speak Spanish.” – Alicia Camuy ’22

Place of Grace Director Kathie Rovetti, Peyton Orloff ’22, and Alicia Camuy ’22

Place of Grace was founded in the mid-90s and Director Kathie Rovetti (pictured above) has been involved for 13 years. She says they provide food to about 130-160 families a week as well as things like school supplies in August, gifts around the holidays, and toys for kids’ birthdays. Josie, who has volunteered at Place of Grace for 10 years, says they have really built a sense of community that lends itself to fellowship and building deeper community partnerships that focus on taking care of people.

Thank you to our community partners at Place of Grace– they’ve been providing this service since the mid 1990s and we look forward to continuing this partnership.

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News

When we launched the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) a year ago, one of our highest priorities was hiring a communications and data specialist to help us strengthen relationships between the campus and community partners. Erica Crowley joined the CHER team in August 2018 and brought valuable skills as a community organizer who directed a successful grassroots and social media campaign with reproductive rights organizations, and who had built strong relationships working with several other groups across the city. Right away, she led us in developing and carrying out a communications plan that effectively “tells our stories” and engages diverse audiences. Looking back over CHER’s first year, Erica guided our team to produce over 90 blog posts, 30 YouTube videos, 9 newsletters with Spanish summaries, and around 1,000 social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram.

On June 21st, Erica presented a one-hour interactive workshop on “Designing a Communications Plan for Community Engagement” for a gathering of the Community Engagement Professional Network (CEPN), sponsored by Campus Compact for Southern New England, and hosted at Quinnipiac University. She walked us through the steps behind clarifying your mission, designing a content calendar, and matching various digital and print platforms with different types of audiences. To learn more, check out her presentation slides.

If you are interested in learning more about how to effectively communicate the work you are doing on your campus or in your department, contact erica.crowley@trincoll.edu.

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