Key Coverage

Hartford, Conn., Experiment Shows Challenges, Rewards of Diversity in Schools

Twenty years ago, public education in Baltimore and this New England capital had much in common.

Tens of thousands of minority students, living in pockets of poverty, attended schools that weren’t preparing them to graduate.

But after a lawsuit, Hartford took a different path. The city and state committed to take apart the system of de facto segregation in its public schools and institute voluntary integration.

Today half of Hartford’s public school children are in integrated schools. Of those, the vast majority — about 8,000 — attend gleaming new magnet schools with themes and resources so intriguing that white and Asian students from the suburbs are willing to cross school district lines to get to them. Achievement and graduation rates are up.