HISTORY OF SHEFF MOVEMENT COALITION
Community activism has been at the heart of the Sheff v. O’Neill case from the start. Concern and outrage over segregated and unequal conditions in the Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven schools led to the formation of a statewide organization in the late 1980s, called the Connecticut Coalition for Educational Equity. The coalition brought together parents, educators, faith leaders, and community activists and also included several of the plaintiffs in the Sheff case. After the Sheff case was filed, the coalition became increasingly focused on the Hartford region. Community organizing and activism continued throughout the different stages of the case, as exemplified by the defiant community march following the initial defeat in the superior court, and the celebration at the Horace Bushnell Congregational Church (now called Liberty Christian) following the 1996 Supreme Court victory.
In the early 2000s, as the Sheff remedy started to grow, the current Sheff Movement coalition emerged, based on two important insights: first, that parents and children in the growing two way interdistrict system had become untethered from the traditional school district structures and needed a voice and a coalition focused on their interests, and second, that by bringing all of the stakeholders in the system together on a regular basis, we could keep an open flow of information, reach consensus and alignment on goals, and spot and address implementation issues at an early stage. We also understand how important it is to build community support outside the context of lawyers and courts and litigation.
Under the leadership of co-chairs Jim Boucher and Elizabeth Horton Sheff, the Sheff Movement coalition has been meeting regularly now for about 20 years, usually on a monthly basis.