Lisa Chedekel was a treasure who found me. We launched the Conn. Health I-Team in 2010 after working together for over 30 years, first at the New Haven Register and later at the Hartford Courant. Today she leaves a rich and powerful legacy that touched so many of us in Connecticut. That legacy includes all the aspects of what a journalist is.
While the NCAA reports that African-American men’s basketball players are graduating in greater numbers, others say more needs to be done to support the players. The NCAA reported in 2016 that more than three quarters of Division I African-American men’s basketball players – 77 percent – earned their degrees, up five points from last year, 31 points over the past 15 years and the highest rate ever. African-American male college athletes earned a graduation rate 11 percentage points higher than African-American men in the student body (52 percent to 41 percent), the NCAA report said. African-American male student-athletes have increased their graduation success rate by 19 percentage points to 70 percent during this time, the report said. Dan Guest, a 2012 graduate of the University of Connecticut from West Hartford, was a guard on the Huskies team. He has since played basketball in Mexico and is hoping to play in Europe in August.
Students from low-income families in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury students do not perform as well as their classmates on the SAT. In 2015-16, only 9.3 percent of Hartford children who qualify for free or reduced lunch met or exceeded a passing score on the math portion of the SAT, according to date from the state Department of Education. In the same district, 27.2 percent of low-income students earned a passing score on the English section. By comparison, 32.7 percent of students from Hartford who are not eligible for free or reduced lunch received passing scores in math, and 50.9 percent of the same group of students passed their English SATs. In New Haven, 7.7 percent of low-income students passed math, compared to 20.7 percent of students from higher income families.
The University of Connecticut football team’s Academic Progress Rate ranks 4th out of 12 teams in the American Athletic Conference for the 2015-2016 season, according to the NCAA. The NCAA created the Academic Progress Rate (APR) in 2003 to measure the eligibility, retention and graduation rates of college sports programs. For a college to be considered well balanced in academics and sports, it must maintain a 930 or higher APR each year. If a college fails to maintain that level, there are penalties. Where does the UConn football program fall on this scale? For the 2015-2016 season, it scored a 975 rating, according to the NCAA.
For many students in Connecticut, graduating from high school is an expectation. But for many low-income students, it can be a struggle. According to the state Department of Education, the average 4-year graduation rate for the state for 2016 was 87.4 percent. However, school districts experiencing a higher rate of poverty have a lower graduation rate. Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury have the highest rates of poverty, in the latest ranking of districts published in 2006 by the state.
Every day, people from war-torn countries try to leave their homes to get to safer lands. Some are granted access to a safer life while others are denied the opportunity. In 2016, New England accepted nearly 650 Syrian refugees. Of those refugees, over 330 have resettled in Connecticut, the Associated Press reported. Connecticut accepted the highest number of Syrian refugees that year.
Yale University has had a higher number of reported burglaries than Harvard University over the past three years even though campus police have enacted new tactics to try to prevent property crimes. Reported burglaries have fluctuated in past years between 2013 and 2015 at Yale University. In 2013, there were 52 reported burglaries, compared to 33 in 2014 and 69 in 2016, according to the Yale Police Department. Harvard’s Cambridge, Massachusetts campus had 30 burglaries in 2013, 40 in 2014 and 43 in 2015, the Harvard Police Department reports. In New Haven, Connecticut, a recent report by the website Neighborhood Scout shows an annual rate of 5,435 reported property crimes compared to 3,549 in Cambridge.
The eight Ivy League universities are some of the most prestigious and competitive institutions in the world, with only a fraction of applicants admitted each year. Every year, more than 300,000 students compete for a slot at the universities. The latest admission rates are Harvard University, 5.2 percent; Columbia University, 5.8 percent; Princeton University, 6.1 percent; Yale University, 6.9 percent; Brown University, 8.3 percent, the University of Pennsylvania, 9.2 percent; Dartmouth College, 10.4 percent, and Cornell University, 12.5 percent, according to Business Insider. Each university offers an array of different opportunities based on an individual’s interest, so an Ivy League education can open doors for ambitious students. As soon as the Common Application website opens online on August 1, students from all over the world will log on to their accounts and begin the admissions process.
Since its establishment in 2002, over 1,100 veterans have sought the services of Homes for the Brave, a not-for-profit organization that provides care to American veterans in need. The shelter, located in Bridgeport, has been recognized for its programs. It offers both temporary and permanent housing, as well as vocational training and life skills coaching. Its mission to enable veterans to have a “productive and meaningful life” post-service. The work done by Homes for the Brave contributes to a nationwide and state effort to address the issue of veteran displacement. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines chronic homelessness as “an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.” A large population of veterans meet these qualifications.
Where schools lack structured theater and arts departments, there are programs available to children to study drama and visual arts in depth. The Shubert Theatre in New Haven has a summer program for kids interested in taking drama arts and design classes. Kelly Wuzzardo, the director for education and outreach for the Shubert Theatre, helps run the summer camp. She says even though kids perform better academically when they are involved in arts programs, the arts are under-appreciated. A U.S. Department of Education report from 2009 notes that elementary school theater programs decreased between 2000, when about 20 percent of schools offered the subject, and 2010, when only 4 percent of the schools said they offered instruction in drama.