Achievement First has always understood that it is not enough to simply run great schools, but that we must work intentionally to influence the ecosystems in which we operate. Achievement First’s advocacy has had a direct impact on transforming the environment for education reform in the states and districts in which we operate.
Connecticut has the largest achievement gap in the nation. Achievement First is not only the largest charter operator in Connecticut but also the most influential politically—our work has been instrumental in:
Achievement First is explicitly trying to change the political climate in Connecticut for charters through its own lobbying efforts and in its partnership with ConnCAN, recognized as one of the most effective state advocacy organizations in the country. ConnCAN was founded by Achievement First board members and supporters.
Operating in Connecticut’s three largest cities, with success in changing the political dynamic in New Haven, and ongoing active and vocal support of the leadership in Bridgeport and Hartford, Achievement First is making significant headway toward making Connecticut a leader rather than a laggard in the education reform movement.
“The track record of Achievement First is so incredible for underprivileged children.”
“Achievement First Hartford Academy is a critical element in our plans to reorganize Hartford Public Schools.”
“I consider Amistad and Elm City College Prep an important part of our overall effort in New Haven to ensure that every child receives a high-quality education. I support their work because of their strong record of student achievement gains.”
Achievement First has influenced the climate in New York City through our consistently strong student achievement results and other efforts:
“I knew about the work Achievement First was doing up in New Haven, and it was really path-breaking work. So, I wanted that model to be available as part of our school reform effort in New York City.”
Our single biggest political issue is closing the funding gap between charters and traditional public schools in Connecticut. Although we have made headway against this goal, the combination of the poor economy with sustained political opposition means we have not yet achieved our goal—and it is not guaranteed that we will in the next few years. Unless this issue can be solved, Connecticut will not be a sustainable place in which Achievement First can operate.
In New York City, mayoral control was recently renewed and Bloomberg seems poised to win a third term, but we recognize that the current favorable climate (and especially the provision of free facilities) could change with new leadership.