In Connecticut, the opportunities available to students growing up in low-income communities compared with those available to their wealthier peers is vast. While nearly 60 percent of white and affluent students in the tenth grade have the math skills and knowledge expected at their grade level, the same is true of just 20 percent of students from low-income backgrounds, 20 percent of Latino students, and 15 percent of African American students.
The consequences of educational inequity here are severe. We rank last among all states in terms of job growth. We have the second highest juvenile incarceration rate for Hispanic males and the third highest rate for African American males. We spend three times more on correctional facilities than we do on higher education.
While the movement towards educational equity in Connecticut can be daunting, our region is small enough—with 190,000 students growing up in low-income communities—that we can see significant change in very little time. Teach For America is part of a growing force of change makers gaining momentum every day. We've helped overhaul teacher evaluation systems and the alternative teacher certification program. Recent legislative changes as a result of Race to the Top and emerging programs in Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven have already shown promising progress for Connecticut's students.
We know that all kids can achieve at the highest levels and that Teach For America can play a major role in ensuring their success. We are determined to build on the foundation of our first several years in Connecticut to fuel a movement for change that becomes truly unstoppable.