Jamilah Prince-Stewart, is the Advocacy Associate at the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN). She received her B.A. in American Studies with a concentration in American Communities and Politics from Yale University. For Jamilah, closing the Achievement Gap is personal. As a native of New Haven, CT, she says, “I’ve sat at the crossroads of some of the nation’s best and worst educational institutions. I was lucky enough to experience the best in the city and I want to make that a reality for every child regardless of their race, socio-economic status, or zip code.”
Below is her WHY SCIENCE guest post. Enjoy!
Thomas Jefferson once stated, “Talent and virtue, needed in a free society, should be educated regardless of wealth or birth.” Educational opportunity is the cornerstone of American democracy; every child in this country deserves access to a great public school regardless of his or her background or circumstance. The unfortunate reality in Connecticut, though, is that a family’s zip code, income, and race still often determine the quality of the school their child attends.
The achievement gap threatens the very principles our country was founded upon, and out of all 50 states, Connecticut has the worst. Our low-income and minority students read and compute three grade levels behind their upper-income and white peers in grades 4, 8 and 12. Even our top students are falling behind their peers in neighboring states such as New Jersey and Massachusetts. During such rough economic times, and as post-secondary education becomes increasingly important and our state competes for jobs in a global economy, we literally cannot afford the status quo.
We can do better for our students. So what’s the solution? Many people go above and beyond to help our kids excel. When faced with budget constraints, teachers use their own money to buy classroom supplies. When staff is low, parents volunteer in the classroom. When students need extra help, other students offer to tutor them. These acts are incredibly important, but in and of themselves they are not enough. To close the achievement gap and improve outcomes for all students in Connecticut, we need to change the system that surrounds classrooms and school buildings – we need to change public policy if we’re going to change public schools.
That’s why, here at ConnCAN (the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now), we focus on state-level policy changes that result in real change for Connecticut students. We seek policy changes that create greater choices for families, greater accountability across the board, and greater flexibility for educators to meet the needs of their students. We’re building a coalition of concerned citizens who will lend their voice and perspective when important education decisions are made at the Capitol. To find out more about how you can get involved please visit
Questions? Send email to Jamilah Prince-Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.