Many schools in Connecticut delayed opening their doors last week thanks to Tropical Storm Irene. But students at Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford have been in school since last July. And the school’s principal says he’ll be working harder to improve academic outcomes.
Capital Prep opened four years ago and has managed to keep kids in school in Hartford, a city that struggles with high dropout rates. Founder Steve Perry is the principal, a contributor to CNN and a book author. He’s attracted national attention for his high expectations and tough love approach to education – and says 100% of graduates go on to four-year colleges. But only 15.6 percent of 10th graders at Capital Prep scored at or above goal in reading on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test last school year.
Speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, Perry says the problem centered on a less-experienced English teacher who required better administrative guidance. "This shows how important teachers are. There was a teacher that we had who taught 10th grade English. She went to another school...When she left we brought in a new teacher and I didn’t do a good enough job as her principal in preparing her in the same way the other teacher was prepared."
Capital Prep has nearly doubled its faculty, with many brand new teachers. "When we had a small crew that helped us start the school, they didn’t need as much attention. Now when you have six and seven teachers who are 21 years old, fresh out of college, you have to do your job better."
Perry’s message and ideas are not without controversy. In addition to strict discipline, uniforms, longer school day and school year, Perry is an outspoken supporter of choice in education, including school vouchers.