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Fairfield elementary school is a model for inclusive education, Connecticut education chief said

Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russel-Tucker listens to a student during her visit to McKinley Elementary School in Fairfield, Connecticut on Tuesday April 25, 2023. McKinley has the town's most racially diverse student population.
Ebong Udoma
State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-Fairfield), McKinley Principal Teresa Gingrave, and state Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker listen to a student during the commissioner's visit to McKinley Elementary School in Fairfield, Connecticut on Tuesday April 25, 2023. The school has the most racially diverse student population in Fairfield.

Connecticut’s education chief visited a Fairfield elementary school on Tuesday to highlight an example of how suburban school districts can better cater to a diverse student population.

Fairfield’s McKinley Elementary School, which has the town’s most diverse student population, provides an inclusive environment for students, said Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker.

“It feels like a family," Russell-Tucker said. "Everyone is working together, students are working together, probably because of the model that’s presented to them. And that’s what we need in education throughout the entire state of Connecticut."

Fairfield and other suburban towns are under a state mandate to address the racial imbalance in the Connecticut public schools.

There is a state grant program available to encourage school systems to work across district lines to reduce the racial, ethnic and economic isolation of students.

“Test scores and data do not reflect the wonderful tapestry of learning and pride and self-confidence and the adaption to diversity that McKinley school offers," said State Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield), who invited Russell-Tucker to visit the school.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.