Monthly Archives: November 2007

Rock for Rights!

Rock for Rights! 2007

Rock out, get educated, and change the world!

“Rock for Rights!” is a new organization targeting high school students in the West Hartford community.  The event on December 15th will be a fair to get students educated about some of the issues that plague our global society, as well as how they can get involved and get active about what concerns them.  The “Rock” part refers to a concert that will be occurring at the same time and location as the fair.  High school bands from town, as well as larger, regional bands will be playing throughout the afternoon.  There will also be speakers and clips from movies to further educate kids.  Our motivation is the idea that high school students have incredible passion and potential for activism… they simply need to be educated about the issues and inspired to do something about it. 

Another layer of “R4R” is that the students are working very hard to pull the West Hartford community together.  Students from Hall, Conard, Kingswood-Oxford, Northwest Catholic and Watkinson are working together to speak to local businesses, activists, organizations, and politicians.  Most of the foci of the tables will be on human rights, peace, environmental issues and sustainability projects, amnesty (letter writing to incarcerated peoples around the world), soldiers’ rights, students’ rights, hunger (both home and abroad), and women’s health issues (again, home and abroad), as well as organizations that use various media to reach youth.

In addition to tables and bands, we are working to secure many donations for raffles from local businesses and restaurants in West Hartford Center, Blue Back Square, and Bishops Corner.  We will also be selling unique “Rock for Rights!  2007” t-shirts at the event.  The front will have our hand-heart-music note logo, and the back will publicly thank all of those businesses, organizations, and community members who have helped us make this event a reality, as well as names of all the bands who perform.  (Sweatshop free shirts, of course!)  Any money that is raised through tickets and t-shirts for this event will be used to put the show on (paying for bands, sound, shirts, etc.) and any profit that is made will be fed directly into the schools that helped produce it.  Each school has a human rights / global improvement club; they can do what they want with their portion of the proceeds.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

When:  December 15, 2007   12pm-7pm

Where:  West Hartford Town Hall

Bands:  ZOX, Barefoot Truth, Among Criminals + local student bands

Tickets:  $20; includes “Rock for Rights! 2007” t-shirt (adult sizes)

T-shirts:  $10 on day of event

 For more information email rock4rights@gmail.com or Facebook us at Rock West Hartford

If you are interested in giving donations or hosting a table, please email us!

 

Supervising Faculty:  Steph Sperber (Social Studies, Hall HS)

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Filed under Entertainment, human rights, Music, rock, students

What’s up with West Hartford’s closets?

I’m sort of afraid to peer too deeply into that funny old closet beside my dryer that I can’t open because the machine’s in the way.

After all, police found a kidnapped girl living in a closet under the stairs in a house in Elmwood not long ago. And now we find out that a doctor who lived on Griswold Drive left a cache of child porn slides and films featuring his young patients, paperboys and anyone else he could photograph.

Imagine buying your dream house — a typical old place in town that requires way too much renovation and upkeep — and when you start ripping down some ugly old thing in the basement, a flood of perversion falls all over your floor. Fun times, eh?

Anyway, I’m officially proclaiming a moratorium on opening old closets in West Hartford. They’re like Pandora’s Box. You just don’t know what you’ll find.

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Filed under closets, News, Public safety, West Hartford

One big happy school district?

In yesterday’s Courant, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez called for “a radical departure” to address the racial isolation that has helped keep his city’s students from greater academic success. He said that Hartford County, which exists only as a line on the map, should be one giant school district.

Forget the districts in West Hartford, Farmington, Simsbury, Avon, Newington and so on, just lump ’em all together in one massive bureaucracy that would have the oversight clout to ensure a more fair educational system.

Now this proposal is, of course, going to have just about zero support in West Hartford. After all, what do we gain from it?

But there is something in Mayor Perez’s plea that we really ought to take to heart: that Hartford’s woes are not its own, that we also have a duty to students there, that we are we not truly in a world apart. It’s not that I’m in a hurry to see my children buses off to Hartford, naturally, but we do have to find a way to help.

Here’s what Perez wrote in the Courant: 

It is time to make a radical departure in how we as a state address the historic and continuing segregation of our schools in Hartford County.

Over the years, Connecticut has made numerous decisions on housing, land use, education funding and taxation that have isolated students of color and poor students in certain schools and school districts. Eleven years after the state was ordered to desegregate the Hartford schools, they remain as segregated as when the Sheff v. O’Neil case was decided.

The state has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a voluntary magnet school program, and yet the progress toward desegregation is barely noticeable. If we are truly committed to our court-ordered obligation to break down the barriers of segregation in the Hartford region and are committed to making all of our schools high-performing, we need to take bold action.

We should create a Hartford County School District that includes all 29 towns in the county.

This district should have as its core missions the management and creation of high-performing schools in every community and the elimination of the de facto segregation we now experience. In this new district, any school that doesn’t meet clear accountability measures for academic performance and integration would be closed or reconstituted, and the students in those schools would be given priority to attend any other school in the district, including magnet and charter schools.

For this new school system to succeed, the municipal cost of school operations and capital expenditures must be funded fully by the state. Hartford County towns annually spend more than $1.5 billion operating public schools — a cost of about $11,000 per student. Towns participating in this new school district would be relieved from funding schools through the local property tax.

For many towns this would mean cutting the average homeowner’s property tax bill by as much 50 percent.

Additionally, tens of millions of dollars would be saved by the streamlining of dozens of redundant school district bureaucracies, the elimination of duplicate buildings and the efficient use of excess capacity. The best public schools and facilities would constitute the backbone of the integrated school system. Those that need help would have adequate resources devoted to their improvement and those that fail to meet standards in a defined period of time would be closed.

In a Hartford County School District, inclusive and capable governance would be a critical component of garnering public support. The regional school board would have an appropriate mix of elected and appointed members representing the diversity of our communities, all committed to high-achieving public schools.

Additionally, every school would have a local governance committee. Parents would be urged to participate and become fully invested in the success of their child’s school. District schools that are already successful would have the autonomy to continue their success.

Connecticut cannot rely on a court order to fashion a comprehensive solution to economic and racial isolation and its effect on achievement and the future economic prospects of our region.

In Hartford, we are pushing forward with our plan to close the achievement gap and restructuring to create a system where parents and students can choose among a portfolio of high-performing schools. Without a comprehensive regional solution, the integration order by the court in Sheff will not become a reality and Hartford’s momentum for positive educational reform could be stalled.

Fundamental change is necessary if we are to fully integrate our schools and provide the high-quality public education the students of our city and our state deserve. This change is long overdue.

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Filed under education, Hartford, Schools

Davidoff the new minority leader

Leon Davidoff, who will become minority leader of the town council, is a complete unknown to me, and probably many others.

The Hartford Courant repors that he is “a veteran of the rough-and-tumble politics of neighboring Newington,” which is an odd qualification to help run West Hartford, but since we’re a welcoming sort of place, I don’t mind.

It is pleasing to see that the 45-year-old Davidoff, a store owner, wants to avoid the partisan craziness that can wreck a town. Good luck keeping Visconti in check, fella.

Steve Adler could have been minority leader — since he got the most votes among the Republicans who earned a seat — but let Davidoff have the job because of his Newington experience. That’s a class decision.

According to the Courant, “Davidoff sat on the town’s plan and zoning commission from 1999 to 2004, serving as chairman from 2001 to 2003” so he’s got a solid background to draw on.

I wish him luck. It looks like Davidoff and Adler will be able to work with the Democrats to make this town better. I hope Visconti can do more than throw verbal bombs.

 

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Filed under Adler, Davidoff, Politics, town council, Visconti, West Hartford

Kevin O’Connor moves up again

My Lord, how can somebody so fundamentally decent keep crawling up toward the top of that cesspool that is our nation’s capital? He could wind up as an attorney general, a Supreme Court judge or even something great. I’m proud of him.

He’ll make a fine associate attorney general. I hope he’ll bring some common sense to his little portion of the Bush administration, which could use it.

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Filed under Bush, justice, O'Connor

So what will Visconti do now?

He didn’t even need my vote to capture one of the seats reserved for the losers. He snagged it anyway, no doubt to the dismay of the Democrats who will now have to deal with him all the time instead of just warring with him here.

One thing it will surely do is improve the TV ratings for town council meetings.

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Filed under Politics, town council, Visconti

Get to know the new St. Joseph prez

Here’s an interesting link that provides a real glimpse into Pamela Reid’s life.

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Filed under Pamela Reid, St. Joseph College