What I learned from watching three hours of the Senate confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education:
1. Betsy DeVos demonstrated a lack of any understanding about student assessment.
2. Betsy DeVos said that permitting guns in schools is a decision that should be left up to individual schools.
3. Betsy DeVos did not commit to preschool for all children.
In his historic and sweeping decision on Connecticut’s broken school funding system, Judge Thomas Moukawsher announced something we have been shouting from the rooftops for years – many of Connecticut’s kids are not getting the education they deserve and was promised to them under law. They’re languishing. Their rights are being violated. It’s unconstitutional, it’s unfair and finally it seems people have woken up and are taking notice.
Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s recent ruling on education is creating an opportunity to improve our approach to K-12 education in Connecticut. As we set goals for our students, and how to best reach those goals, we must also take time to consider our teachers. Teachers matter more to student achievement than any other factor in a student’s schooling. It is my hope that lawmakers think about how we can increase the number of local teachers who are passionate about learning as well as excited and prepared to support the needs of our students.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m asking you to think about what that actually means. Specifically, I want you to think about the thousands of young Latinos who are in our schools right now, learning a new language, a new educational system, and a new culture. Kids in the classroom who are learning English as a second language aren’t just struggling to learn a new way to communicate. These kids are trying to figure out what it really means to be an American.
Since implementation of the new teacher evaluation system by Gov. Dannel Malloy and the legislature, I have believed opting out of standardized testing was a student right. I now see it as a civic responsibility.
Deep in Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s decision in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Educational Funding v. Rell is troubling language regarding funding for students with severe disabilities. Judge Moukawsher is correct that identifying students with disabilities remains imprecise and subjective. And yes, school funding issues are negatively and disparately impacting students with disabilities. However, the language Judge Moukawsher uses in his ruling regarding determining educational benefits for students with the most severe disabilities is disturbing at best.
he gap dividing Connecticut’s schools is much more than wealth. I would argue that it is also a gap of expectations. A major problem driving what Judge Thomas Moukawsher so aptly called the Connecticut’s “ irrational” education and financing systems is the lack of expectations for all of its students. A student can still get a high school diploma and not be able to read and write. This is because all that a Connecticut student has to do is to pass the requisite number of courses prescribed by the district and the state. However, as has been made clear over time, passing a course does not require meeting any specific literacy standard.
A recent survey of educators across the nation reveals that, when elected, Hillary Clinton may follow in the footsteps of President Obama concerning her choice of Secretary of Education in the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Obama’s choices of Arne Duncan followed by John King were the most anti-public education appointments in the history of the Democratic party. Now it appears, based on the recent survey, that Clinton may continue the anti-public education tradition during her administration with yet another education secretary who will espouse the downward spiral of public education that has occurred for the past eight years.
In the wake of the recent CCJEF v. Rell trial court decision on school finance, we should take a moment to consider the continuing benefits of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 1996 Sheff v. O’Neill decision for low income children in our state, and the importance of keeping this crucial legal mandate in place. The City of Buffalo’s experience with court-ordered integration 30 years ago is a reminder of how these independent constitutional rulings can maintain political will for reforms on behalf of low-income children that would otherwise get lost in the political process.
There‘s a lot of talk in Connecticut about closing the achievement gap between affluent students who are predominately white and poor students who are predominately black or brown, but there have been no effective actions taken and none are on the horizon.
Instead, Connecticut gave up its own well-founded state standards and adopted the narrow and inadequate Common Core Standards, called them rigorous which they are not, and gave students standardized tests to measure their achievement of those quite limited standards. Then Connecticut waited for the test scores to see if the impoverished would catch up to the affluent. They haven’t and they won’t.
The recent release of the latest Connecticut SBAC scores indicates that nearly half of the state’s elementary and middle school students tested last year were not at grade level in reading or math. In this series of questions, we asked Madison School Superintendent Thomas Scarice, an outspoken critic of the SBAC test, for his reaction to the news.
In his decision on Wednesday in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher made a lengthy, wide-ranging ruling on education and equity in our state. At the heart of Judge Moukawsher’s historic ruling is the affirmation of what educators, parents, students, and community leaders have been saying for nearly four decades—Connecticut’s school finance system is irrational, inequitable, and illogical. We can now add unconstitutional to that list.
The Connecticut State Board of Education will meet on tomorrow morning, Sept. 7, to kick off the new school year. One of the issues held over from the previous board meeting is contract approvals of two charter (school) management organizations [CMOs]. Given two months to review the evidence presented by state Department of Education officials tasked with recommending approval, the CSBE must determine whether there is sufficient evidence to ensure honesty and transparency in this use of public resources. However, with mounting evidence of questionable practices, corruption, and theft involving many charter schools and their charter management organizations across the country, it is the responsibility of state education officials charged with protecting students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers to ensure that similar questionable (and often illegal) practices are not taking place in our state.