Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, but in communities like Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Windham the achievement gap is vast.
The progress we've made in the last five years with the help of district and state leaders proves that we can dramatically change our students’ prospects in years, not decades.
In Connecticut, the opportunities available to students growing up in low-income communities compared to those available to their wealthier peers is vast. While nearly 60% of our white and affluent students in the tenth grade have the math skills and knowledge expected at their grade level, the same is true of just 20% of our students from low-income backgrounds, 20% of our Latino students, and 15% of our African American students.
The consequences of educational inequity in Connecticut are severe. We rank last among all states in terms of job growth. We have the second highest juvenile incarceration rate for Hispanic males and the third highest rate for African American males. We spend three times more on correctional facilities than we do on higher education.
While the movement towards educational equity in Connecticut can be daunting, our region is small enough—with 190,000 students growing up in low-income communities—that we can see significant change in very little time. Teach For America is part of a growing force of change-makers gaining momentum every day. We've helped overhaul teacher evaluation systems and our alternative teacher certification program. Recent legislative changes as a result of Race to the Top and emerging programs in Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven have already shown promising progress for Connecticut's students.
We know that all kids can achieve at the highest levels and that Teach For America can play a major role in ensuring their success. We are determined to build on the foundation of our first six years to push our impact to the next level and to fuel a movement for change that becomes truly unstoppable.
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While teaching, Nate also organized and raised funds for a three-day trip for his students to visit Washington D.C. The trip has since become an annual corps member-led event for Bridgeport students.
Since 2009, Nate has been a member of the Connecticut regional team. Most recently, he was the managing director of development and worked with the regional advisory board to raise record funds for Teach For America - Connecticut. Nate also helped launch Excel Bridgeport, an educational advocacy organization whose vision is to dramatically improve education for students in Bridgeport's public schools. Excel Bridgeport is influencing change through direct engagement with students, parents, teachers, the local board of education, the district leadership, and the mayor's office. Nate currently serves as the president of Excel Bridgeport's board of directors.
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Nate lives in Bridgeport with his wife and son.