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National Conversation on School Attendance, Yale and Trinity Students Speak Up for Legacy Ban

National Conversation on School Attendance

On Friday, The New York Times had a piece about school absences, the impact that the pandemic has had on student attendance across the country, and efforts to get students back to school. The article notes that, although the pandemic has resulted in learning loss, drops in enrollment, and student behavioral issues, "perhaps no issue has been as stubborn and pervasive as a sharp increase in student absenteeism, a problem that cuts across demographics and has continued long after schools reopened." 

The story also highlights Connecticut's Learner Engagement and Attendance Program (LEAP), which uses relationship-building with families and home visits to combat chronic absenteeism. Last November, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) reported in a press release that rates of chronic absenteeism have been going down since the 2021 launch of LEAP. In early January, Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker was also featured for her leadership on this effort in a White House event regarding the Biden administration's education agenda.

As Connecticut helps to shape this national dialogue, we’ll be watching to see if absenteeism rates keep dropping, and what best practices will right this national trend. 

Yale and Trinity Students Speak Up for Legacy Ban

Connecticut students at private universities are beginning to make headlines as they speak up about the need to ban legacy preference in college admissions. They are reacting to a bill, S.B. 203, which would ban the practice of giving an admissions advantage to the children of alumni. In a CT Mirror op-ed yesterday, Birikti Kahsai and Sam Haddad, representatives of Yale University's undergraduate and graduate programs, explained why legacy preference is immoral. “We urge Connecticut legislators to act now,” they wrote. “A college degree, particularly at selective universities, leads to incomparable opportunities throughout a student’s life. To ensure these advantages are well allocated, we must reinforce our highest and best principles of education — meritocracy, diversity, and access.”

Earlier in March, Talia Cutler, a Trinity student, likewise voiced outrage over legacy admissions when she wrote for the Trinity Tripod, "Trinity preaches DEI to an insatiable degree. And yet, here is a system that the school openly practices which gives preference to rich white applicants and matriculates a specific kind of student (that is more likely to donate)."

Students at both universities seem to have a growing sense that legacy preferences are designed to hoard privilege, are highly indefensible, and are a thing of the past, even if their colleges have yet to agree. Indeed, just last week, national media outlet Inside Higher Ed referred to the effort as "Legacy's 'Last Stand' in Connecticut." As Higher Education Chair Senator Derek Slap says in the piece, “If it weren’t a meaningful action, then why are so many institutions fighting so vociferously against it?” All eyes are on Connecticut to be the first state in the country to right this wrong. 

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