… civil rights leaders point out that incentives historically have not broken the gridlock to integrate schools in many Connecticut towns. For example, suburban districts for decades have been offered state aid if they open their doors to children from Bridgeport, Hartford, or New Haven — and suburbs do not have to pick up any of the added costs if the child has a physical or learning disability — but participation in the Open Choice program has still grown at a snail’s pace. About $2 million in state funding set aside for the Open Choice program goes unused each year.
“The suburban districts are not opening up their seats commensurate with their declining enrollment, despite the incentives,” said Martha Stone, executive director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, who successfully sued the state years ago to desegregate Hartford schools.
“What are the suburban districts going to do this year? Because George Floyd happened in May, and the districts had already declared [how many city residents they would enroll for this school year]. So now, in the face of more consciousness about racism and that it’s everyone’s responsibility to address the inequalities, will the suburban districts step up and meet the challenge?”