Tag: Connecticut

Former National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes Running for U.S. Congress

PHOTO: Jahana Hayes, left, a high school history teacher from Waterbury, CT, celebrates winning the 2016 National Teacher of the Year with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, May 3, 2016.
Jahana Hayes, left, a high school history teacher from Waterbury, CT, celebrates winning the 2016 National Teacher of the Year with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, May 3, 2016. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

by Meghan Keneally via abcnews.com

In some cases, courage is contagious. That was the case for Jahana Hayes, a longtime teacher who decided to make her first foray into professional politics.

Hayes told ABC News that the wave of new candidates running for office across the country without formal political experience “gave me the courage to say, ‘You know what, maybe I will say yes this time.’”

Hayes, who gained country-wide attention in 2016 when she was named National Teacher of the Year and awarded the associated crystal apple statuette by then-President Obama, said that the flood of people running for office this year, in spite of a lack of political experience, helped motivate her to run.

She said that she had been approached “by folks in my community” to run for other positions in the past, including state senator and various executive offices in the state. But this time, when Rep. Elizabeth Etsy announced that she wouldn’t be seeking re-election, “it was just different.”

She said she saw so many candidates across the country “bucking the trend that you have to check off all these boxes before you’re even considered to be viable” and it helped give her “the courage for me to stand up this time.”

One of the people who gave her encouragement to throw her hat in the ring was Sen. Chris Murphy, who Hayes called “a tremendous advocate.” Murphy hasn’t issued a formal endorsement in the 5th District’s race – and because of the state’s Democratic Party rules based on delegate counts from the party’s nominating convention, Hayes’ opponent Mary Glassman got the party’s endorsement – but his office confirmed to ABC News that he did encourage Hayes to run for Congress.

Hayes and Glassman are running for an open seat, but Glassman has decades of experience in Connecticut politics, having served as a selectman and nominee for the lieutenant governor twice. “There’s an appetite for change,” Hayes said.

Hayes, 45, is one of a growing number of teachers now running for office, including some in states where drops in teacher funding prompted frustrated teachers into political action.

The mother-of-four, who is married to a detective, said that she is “concerned” by the current administration, pointing to the country’s immigration policy (which she said “is really one that tears me apart”), healthcare, and foreign relations as areas of change that have been particularly troubling. “I think that everything is about timing and I think that I probably would not have seriously considered this four years ago,” she said.

Like so many others who have decided to turn to politics, her personal narrative is a big part of how she feels a connection with voters. Hayes’ campaign website notes that she grew up in a Connecticut housing project, her family struggled with poverty and addiction, and after she got pregnant as a teen, “all hopes for any upward mobility seemed beyond her grasp.”

Hayes’ work as a high school social studies teacher first brought her to the White House for the National Teaching Award presentation in 2016, but then brought her across the country. She said she visited 30 different states in the year after the award, as is custom for all recipients, and that helped expose her to the universal problems facing communities across the country.

“The things that I’m struggling with and the things that my students are struggling with and the things that we’re struggling with in Waterbury [Connecticut] are not that different from the things that they’re struggling with in Wisconsin or California,” she said.

After finishing her year-long stint as a national teachers ambassador of sorts, Hayes returned to her school district, working on teacher recruitment instead of in the classroom, and it’s a position she still holds.

“It’s difficult” working full time and running a campaign, she said, “and I could have probably taken a leave of absence… but the whole point of me doing this is to stress that everyone should get involved” in the political process.

She now has until the state’s Democratic primary is held on Aug. 14 to get enough support to beat out Glassman for a spot in the general election.

“I really have to get out there… to have face-to-face voter contact,” she said.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/national-teacher-year-now-running-congress/story?id=56624692

Connecticut Lawmakers Vote Unanimously for Bill Geared to Recruit and Retain More Teachers of Color

(photo via United Federations of Teachers)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the CT Post, this Monday Connecticut State Representative Patricia Billie Miller (D-Stamford) helped push through an unanimous bill to direct the state Department of Education to take more steps to recruit and retain minority teachers. The Senate previously approved the measure, so it will pass to Governor Dannel Malloy‘s desk for a signature.

Miller, who grew up in Stamford, didn’t have a black teacher until she was in the eighth grade. That teacher helped Miller become a successful student, she said. So years later, Miller was dismayed when her daughter, now 28, also only had one black teacher in Stamford schools. “It helps when you have someone in front of you that looks like you,” the Democrat said Monday.

State Representative Patricia Billie Miller (D-Conn) [Photo: Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media]
Although non-white students are approximately one third of Connecticut’s school population, teachers of color are only 7 percent of the state’s public school faculty, according to the state Commission on Equity and Opportunity.

The bill Miller voted in favor of directs the Department to modernize its educator certification processes, develop private partnerships to increase recruitment and intervene where necessary in local board of education’s efforts to prioritize hiring minority teachers.

Lawmakers of both parties noted the diversity of thought and culture that teachers of color can bring to a classroom, benefiting children of all races. “We are providing a deficient education to our children if we are not providing a school system and faculty that reflects this state and this country,” said Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, House chair of the Education Committee.

Shariah Harris, 19, Becomes 1st  Black Woman to Play in U.S. Polo’s Highest League

Shariah Harris just became the first black woman to play high-goal polo, the top tier of U.S. polo. (Photo credit: KERRY MCCANN)

by Taryn Finley via huffingtonpost.com

A 19-year-old is making history and disrupting the wealthy white male-dominated sport of polo at the same time. On June 30, Shariah Harris of Philadelphia became the first black woman to play high-goal polo, the top tier of polo in the U.S. This summer, the Cornell University sophomore hit the field at the Tony Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut to play for the Postage Stamp Farm team in the Silver Cup tournament. Harris told HuffPost that she’s excited about this barrier-breaking opportunity. “It’s great. Everything’s going by really fast, actually so it’s been great. This is something I’ve always wished I could do but never thought would happen. It’s pretty amazing.”

Harris became interested in the sport at age 8 or 9 after her mom took a wrong turn while driving. The wrong turn led them to grounds where other black children were riding horses. Harris and her mom were intrigued and found that the stables were run by a non-profit called Work to Ride. The program allows underprivileged inner-city kids to work in the stables and care for the horses. In return, the kids learn about horsemanship and equine sports. “As a mother of three children on a single income, I saw it as an opportunity to make their lives better,” her mom, Sharmell Harris, told the Hartford Courant. “Instead of a soccer mom, I became a barn mom.”

Shariah Harris (far right) and her team. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SHARIAH HARRIS)

Harris would report to the stables early in the morning to feed the horses, clean the barns, do maintenance work and other tasks. Though she admits that she wasn’t that good at riding in the beginning, she found a sense of comfort being on the horses. At 12, she joined the organization’s team and found a passion in polo. She would watch videos of the best players in the world and aspire to play at that level. So she incorporated some of their moves into her sport and challenged herself by playing with the boys of the program.

She carried her practice into college and became a force on Cornell’s polo team. In 2016 Harris was named the Polo Training Foundation’s 2016 National Interscholastic Player of the Year. The animal science major helped lead Cornell’s arena polo team into the finals this year. She credits much of her success to Work to Ride. Through Work to Ride, Harris was able to travel to play in different cities in the country as well as Nigeria and Argentina. While in Argentina in December, the teen met the owner of the Postage Stamp Farm team, Annabelle Garrett.

Continue reading “Shariah Harris, 19, Becomes 1st  Black Woman to Play in U.S. Polo’s Highest League”

15 Year-Old Chet Ellis wins Contest on White Privilege in Connecticut Town

Chet Ellis with parents Trey Ellis and Amanda Freeman (photo via nydailynews.com)

article by Christopher Brennan via nydailynews.com

The 15-year-old winner of an essay contest about white privilege says older residents of the well-to-do Connecticut town who caused a national debate about the competition could learn a thing or two from the youth.

Chet Ellis, a sophomore at Staples High School, won the competition’s $1,000 first prize for writing about the “unavoidable” racial incidents growing up in Westport, which is 93% white. “I can come at the issue from a young black teen perspective rather than all the old white men of Westport,” he told the Daily News Tuesday, a day after receiving his award.

Read Ellis’ essay here.

The contest put on by the town’s diversity council TEAM Westport gained widespread attention after some residents reacted strongly against it, saying it was an indictment of an affluent community that considers itself welcoming.“There are no barricades here. Nobody says if you’re black or whatever, you can’t move here,” Bari Reiner, 72, said in January.

Other parents said the board overstepped its bounds by bringing up white privilege, the unseen advantages given automatically to white people in a society where positions of power are dominated by people who look like them.

Chet, who moved to Westport from Morningside Heights, Manhattan, six years ago, said in his essay that he had not thought about white privilege until he moved to the wealthy suburb.

He recounted incidents where a white student said the N-word when talking about diversity in an almost all-white classroom, and another classmate saying he would have an easier time getting into college because he is black.

“I was stunned,” Chet wrote, “and mumbled something instead of firing back, ‘Your parents are third-generation Princeton and your father runs a hedge fund and yet you think my ride is free?”’

The teen, who wants to go into law or social work to help others, told the News that the episodes in his essay were just two examples of all the racially tinged interactions he has had in Westport, such as when a middle school teacher called him Jamal despite no student at the school having that name.

He urged more inclusive discussions and sensitivity about privilege, words echoed by his mother Amanda Freeman, a white college sociology professor at University of Hartford.

To read more, click here: Black 15-year-old wins contest on white privilege in Conn. town – NY Daily News

Yale University to Drop White Supremacist John Calhoun’s Name From Building

People blocked an intersection during a demonstration on Friday in favor of changing the name of Yale’s Calhoun College. (PETER HVIZDAK / NEW HAVEN REGISTER, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS)

article by Noah Remnick via nytimes.com

After a swelling tide of protests, the president of Yale announced today that the university would change the name of a residential college commemorating John C. Calhoun, the 19th-century white supremacist statesman from South Carolina. The college will be renamed for Grace Murray Hopper, a trailblazing computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who received a master’s degree and a doctorate from Yale.

The decision was a stark reversal of the university’s decision last spring to maintain the name despite broad opposition. Though the president, Peter Salovey, said that he was still “concerned about erasing history,” he said that “these are exceptional circumstances.”

“I made this decision because I think it is the right thing to do on principle,” Mr. Salovey said on a conference call with reporters. “John C. Calhoun’s principles, his legacy as an ardent supporter of slavery as a positive good, are at odds with this university.”

Mr. Salovey and the other members of the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing body, made their decision after an advisory committee unanimously recommended the renaming. The school is still determining when exactly the change will be carried out, but Mr. Salovey said it would be by fall at the latest. Continue reading “Yale University to Drop White Supremacist John Calhoun’s Name From Building”

“Black Women in Medicine” Documentary to Screen at Yale on Tuesday 4/26

Black Women in Medicine (photo via changingthefaceofmedicine.org)
Black Women in Medicine (photo via changingthefaceofmedicine.org)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

New Haven, Conn.—A screening of the documentary film “Black Women in Medicine” by producer/director Crystal Emery will take place on Tuesday, April 26 at 4 p.m. at the Yale School of Medicine’s Anlyan Center (TAC), Rm. N107, 300 Cedar St.

“Black Women in Medicine” chronicles the unsung journeys of black women doctors who have risen above inequality to excellence while becoming leaders in their fields.

The event will feature a reception and book signing for “Against all Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine.” Yale School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and Yale School of Medicine Professor and Interim Chair of Internal Medicine Gary Desir, will deliver opening remarks. Registration is encouraged.

Click through below to see the trailer on Vimeo:

The event is an initiative of URU The Right to Be Inc., in collaboration with The Minority Organization for Retention & Expansion (MORE), the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM), the Office of Women in Medicine, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Guests can attend one of two breakout workshops, titled “Changing the Face of Medicine: From Conversation to Action” and “Retention and Recruitment.” Continue reading ““Black Women in Medicine” Documentary to Screen at Yale on Tuesday 4/26″

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Launches Capital Prep Charter School with Dr. Steve Perry in Harlem

Sean "Diddy" Combs (photo via getty images)
Sean “Diddy” Combs (photo via getty images)

article by Cristie Leondis via blackenterprise.com

NEW YORK (AP) — He’s been a rapper, actor, singer, entrepreneur, record producer and clothing designer. Now Sean “Diddy” Combs has taken on a new job as the founder of a charter school in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood.

Combs announced Monday that the new school will be named Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School and it will open in the fall, according to the Associated Press. The venture has been in the works for five years.  The school will be overseen by Capital Prep leader and founder Dr. Steve Perry, who started Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2005.

Dr. Steve Perry (photo via chocolatevoice.com)
Dr. Steve Perry (photo via chocolatevoice.com)

Combs and the board have hired Orlando, Florida-based educator Danita Jones as the principal of Capital Prep Harlem.  Combs says creating the school is “a dream come true.”  In addition, Combs and Perry have been meeting in secret with community leaders and experts in education to build the program.

The school’s board also includes author and spiritual life coach Dr. Iyanla Vanzant, who has worked with Oprah Winfrey in the past.

According to Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School’s official website, the school is a free, public school for children grades 6-12. The extensive program will provide a “year-round, college preparatory education.” College courses will also be available to the students once they reach high school.

For the opening year, 160 students are to be enrolled in 6th and 7th grades. The deadline to apply for the upcoming school year is April 1st.

To read more, go to: http://www.blackenterprise.com/news/sean-diddy-combs-launches-charter-school-in-harlem/

Yale University Removes Portraits of former U.S. Vice President John Calhoun, a Proponent of Slavery

yale-university_416x416John C. Calhoun graduated from Yale University in 1804. He went on to become vice president of the United States, serving under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. A native of South Carolina, Calhoun was a major defender of the institution of slavery.

A residential college at Yale was named in Calhoun’s honor in 1932. Since that time a portrait of Calhoun has hung over the fireplace in the dining room of the residential college. Two other portraits of Calhoun were placed in the living quarters of the master of the college.

Now all three portraits have been taken down and the university is considering whether the name of Calhoun College should be maintained. The decision to remove the portraits was made by Julia Adams, master of Calhoun College and a professor of sociology at Yale. Adams also stated that a ceremonial mace that was once owned by Calhoun will no longer be used during ceremonial occasions at the college.

article via jbhe.com

Yale University Earmarks $50 Million for Faculty Diversity Efforts

Yale students stand in solidarity with University of Missouri protests (photo by Ken
Yale students stand in solidarity with University of Missouri protests (photo by Ken Yanagisawa)

Yale University has announced a five-year, $50 million program aimed at increasing the diversity of its faculty. The university will earmark $25 million over a five-year period for faculty recruitment, faculty appointments, and emerging faculty development. Participating schools will match these funds, earmarking a total of $50 million for the effort. In addition, the university will undertake faculty development programs and will expand programs aimed at increasing the number of minority scholars in the pipeline for faculty posts.

yale-university_416x416In a letter to the campus community, Yale President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak, stated that “Yale’s education and research missions are propelled forward by a faculty that stands at the forefront of scholarship, research, practice, mentoring, and teaching. An excellent faculty in all of these dimensions is a diverse faculty, and that diversity must reach across the whole of Yale — to every school and to every department.”

The two university leaders added that they “are committed to investing the significant funding and human capital that will be necessary to make this initiative a success.” But they noted that “increasing the excellence and diversity of our faculty will take more than resources; it will require the dedication and efforts of colleagues from across the university. You, the faculty of today, are our crucial partners in shaping the faculty of tomorrow. We look forward to working with you toward this important goal.”

article via jbhe.com

Dave Chappelle Surprises at Hartford’s 2014 Oddball Comedy Festival, Wins over Formerly Hostile Crowd

Dave Chappelle at 2014 Oddball and Curiosity Comedy Festival
Dave Chappelle at 2014 Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival

HARTFORD — One year after he bombed in one of the most notoriously disastrous stand-up sets in memory, Dave Chappelle made a surprise return here — and no one seemed more surprised than he.

“I didn’t think I’d ever come back to Hartford,” he said on Saturday, closing out a star-studded Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival show that was the biggest blockbuster in stand-up this summer.

After being roundly booed and heckled in 2013, Mr. Chappelle had promised that he would never return to Hartford, “not even for gas.” He also joked that if North Korea were to drop a nuclear bomb on the United States, he hoped it would fall on Hartford. He did not retract his criticism (“It was your fault,” he reminded the crowd), but on the day before his 41st birthday, he struck conciliatory notes. “I was really immature,” he conceded, before apologizing for making T-shirts that cursed the city.

The crowd embraced him without restraint, roaring when he appeared onstage, laughing throughout his set and remaining carefully quiet in between jokes. Mr. Chappelle, dressed in a long black dress shirt and smoking a cigarette, said that doing so poorly was hard on him. Then he confessed that he had not prepared anything for this show. “I figured showing up is funny enough.”

The warm show was in a stark contrast to last year’s Oddball performance, which began boisterous, turned contentious and ended with him running out his allotted time by, among other things, reading a book aloud onstage. Media accounts situated the show as part of a pattern of mercurial behavior, including his quitting his hit show on Comedy Central. Some described the evening as a meltdown, others as a crowd run amok.

As Mr. Chappelle has deftly done before, he turned bad press to his advantage, using it for comedy, starting with his next show in Chicago, where he described the Hartford crowd as “evil.” The jokes must have stung, since they earned a response from the mayor of Hartford, Pedro Segarra, who tweeted, “Dave Chappelle needs to quit whining, do his job and try some yoga.”

Mr. Chappelle’s return capped a dynamite night of stand-up comedy featuring a murderers’ row of comics, including Sarah Silverman, Hannibal Buress, Dave Attell, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari and Louis C.K. In a nice bit of suspense-generating stagecraft, Louis C.K., the final act on the bill, finished his set, started walking offstage, only to stop, return to the microphone and dramatically tell everyone to stay, before introducing Mr. Chappelle.

Last year’s Hartford show was so infamous that at several points, jokes by comics evoked the controversy. When after Mr. Ansari made his entrance and thanked the crowd, he made a joke demanding to know whether the audience would finally be quiet and let him speak.

Louis C.K. made an even more pointed jab by opening his set by saying of Hartford, “Nice area,” then making a wry face. The large screens picked up his smile and raised eyebrows when he held onto the moment, extending the pause, and repeating sarcastically, “Really nice.” With a new set dense with jokes, Louis C.K. was in peak form, returning to bread-and-butter subjects like raising two kids and also mining humor through some of the most unpredictable punch lines in comedy. After a setup about trying to answer the question of why babies always cry on planes, he concluded, “They are upset about gay marriage.”

Mr. Chappelle made a callback to this joke in a bit he does about Chaz Bono. While Mr. Chappelle comes off as the absent-minded enigma, he has a showman’s sense of event honed over a lifetime of performing. (He did his first stand-up set in Washington at the age of 14.) But on this night, he also seemed genuinely moved by the response.

“Are you sure this is Hartford?” Mr. Chappelle asked toward the end. Then, not much later, looking pleased and a little mischievous, he pointed to the front rows and said, “There’s someone giving me the middle finger.”

article by Jason Zinoman via nytimes.com