In an open letter to the State Board of Education 23 community leaders urge steps to turn around one of Connecticut’s lowest-performing schools.
In 1992, Luis Muñoz Marin School opened its doors to hundreds of children on the East Side of Bridgeport. Named after the first democratically elected governor of the island of Puerto Rico, the school opened with great promise and excitement. Sadly, today it is one of the lowest performing schools in Bridgeport and Connecticut.
Last fall, the Bridgeport Board of Education approved the Connecticut State Board of Education’s (CSBE) invitation asking Marin School to join the Commissioner’s Network of turnaround schools. Since then, the turnaround committee has been working to draft a turnaround plan for Marin.
As a community representing thousands of parents and students we would like to express to the CSBE the importance of including the following elements in Marin’s turnaround plan:
1. Dual Language Program:
Decades of research prove the superior efficacy of dual language immersion programs. Marin has a large percentage of students who are English Language Learners. Unfortunately, Marin currently only has a dual language program at the Kindergarten level. If the needs of the students are going to be met, then, the turnaround plan must expand the dual language program to all grade levels. Anything less is unacceptable and will not work.
2. Create Incentives for Hiring Bilingual Teachers:
It is widely acknowledged that finding and hiring bilingual teachers is challenging. That is why we believe that part of Marin’s turnaround plan must include some sort of incentives to assist in the recruitment and hiring of bilingual staff. This can be in the form of a signing bonus or stipend. Simply put, we must be creative in finding new ways to attract high quality bilingual staff.
3. Hire New Social Workers:
We have known for years that a significant percentage of the children at Marin deal with trauma and instability in their home lives. Any effective turnaround plan must include the hiring of at least two new social workers to support and help our children.
4. Extend the School Day:
Research proves that one of the best ways to improve academic results for children is to increase the amount of time they spend on academics. Since Marin School is a chronically underperforming school, it makes perfect sense to extend the school day at Marin by at least 1 hour per day. Doing so, will give our kids the extra instructional time they will need to improve academically.
5. Extracurricular Programs:
The turnaround plan should also include the creation of school clubs that can meet before or after school. This will help build a sense of community, develop students’ character and incentivize struggling students. This is especially important for the kids in the upper grades (6-8 grade).
This is a rare opportunity for the Marin school community to access millions of dollars in new resources that will help them improve the academic outcomes for over 900 students!
We all have a stake in the success or failure of the turnaround effort at Marin School. We have worked in and served this community for decades. We want to see Marin succeed but we cannot do it without your support.
Let’s get it right!
We encourage you to incorporate the previous five elements into the Marin turnaround plan. We do so with confidence and a sense of urgency.
State Senator Andres Ayala, Jr. 23rd District
Aidee Nieves, President of the East Side Community Council
Councilwoman Eneida L. Martinez-Walker, 139th Dist.
Councilwoman Milta I. Feliciano, 137th Dist.
State Representative Christina “Tita” Ayala, 128th Assembly Dist.
Councilman Alfredo Castillo, 136th Dist.
Rev. William McCullough, Russell Temple CME Church
Pastor Millie Garcia, Iglesia Renacer, Inc.
Alma Maya, Town Clerk, City of Bridgeport
Councilwoman Denese Taylor-Moye, 131st Dist., Co-Chair of the Education and Social Services Committee
State Representative Ezequiel Santiago, 130st Assembly Dist.
Councilwoman Lydia Martinez, 137th Dist.
Councilman Ricky Dejesus, 136th Dist.
Councilman James Holloway, 139th Dist.
Pastor Kenneth Moales, Jr. Board of Education
Maria I. Hernandez, Executive Director, The Federation of Christian Chaplains International—Connecticut Chapter
Carmen Colon, Executive Director, Alpha Community Services YMCA
Gil Hernandez, District Leader, East Side Democratic Town Committee
Joel Rosario, East Side Democratic Town Committee
Guillermo Marin, East Side Democratic Town Committee
Christopher Rosario, Director of Anti-Blight, Neighborhood Revitalization/Anti-Blight, City of Bridgeport
Lud Spinelli, CEO of Optimus Health Care
Dr. Rev. Moises Mercedes, Prince of Peace Church