Government Letters to the Editor Reader Contributed Schools

Letter: Concern About Cutting Smith STEM Curriculum Position

Luisa Dorey (right, a third grader) and Ezra Dorey (first grader) at Smith STEM. Courtesy of Lindsay Cook

We-Ha.com welcomes Letters to the Editor from the public, including endorsements. Letters submitted by political candidates will be considered for publication up to 14 days prior to an election and most will be published within 48 hours of receipt. Letters that contain personal attacks or include profanity of any type will not be published. Rebuttals to letters should be submitted as a separate document, and commenting on letters will no longer be permitted. Please provide your full name and town, as well as your phone number at the end of the letter. Phone numbers will not be published but are required in case verification is needed. Please submit letters to [email protected].

Dear We-Ha Editor,

You may be aware that there are two schoolwide Title I schools in West Hartford (Charter Oak and Smith STEM). These are schools that have over 40% of the student population that fall below the poverty line and qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. Charter Oak served 12.7% percent of their student population who are English Language Learners and Smith STEM has 25%, compared the to districtwide average of 7.6%. Both Magnets have higher rates of chronic absences, as well as higher representation of Hispanic, Black and Asian students than the district-wide average.

These magnet schoolhave special programming (an International Baccalaureate program at Charter Oak and STEM program at Smith). The design behind these programs is to attract families from across the district who select the magnet program, creating greater racial and socioeconomic diversity. Magnet programs like these provide educational opportunities to students who historically faced barriers due to race, economics, and language/cultural differences.

The recent budget proposal by the Board of Education eliminates the role of STEM Curriculum Specialist, targeting the magnet program at Smith. This is the only budget cut at the elementary level for the 2023-2024 school year and takes resources away from a school that serves one of the most diverse communities in West Hartford.

Why is a STEM specialist essential? The STEM specialist designs the STEM curriculum, organizes STEM experiences and after-school enrichment, and works alongside classroom teachers to provide an authentic STEM magnet experience. Asking a science teacher, whose time is primary spent in the classroom, to take on the responsibilities of a full-time curriculum specialist is unreasonable. Asking the parent body from a school which regularly has one of the smallest PTO budgets in the district to pick up the slack is not a solution.

Cutting this position undercuts the purpose of the magnet program, which is to attract students from a diversity of backgrounds, thus improving the educational opportunity for West Hartford students with the greatest need. Not a good look from a BOE that claims to value diversity and equity.

A concerned West Hartford resident,

Lindsay Cook

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Translate »