Okjakian shares his revised Students First consolidation plan

This week the Board of Regents will convene to discuss, among other things, our proposed revisions to the Students First consolidation plan. In keeping with the promise to keep you informed, I am sharing our recommendation to the Board in advance of the meeting. I encourage all of you to review the Staff Report that will be discussed in detail during the Board meeting on Thursday.

Free college that is actually FREE!

Many complain about the high cost of college. I often read about free college. Bernie Sanders comes to mind. I like some of the principles that Bernie advocates, but exactly how many trillions of dollars will Bernie’s free college actually cost? And who will pay?
PROPOSITION: Allow adjuncts at community colleges to teach as volunteers.

Resolved: That the CSCU system needs a better plan

In its April 24, 2018 decision letter, the New England Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (hereinafter Commission), noted that it was not persuaded that the planning for the new Community College of Connecticut, as advanced by the Students First plan, was realistic. We acknowledge President Mark Ojakian for continually asserting the need to institute system-wide changes for the betterment of the student body. Yet, faculty has been intentionally excluded from meaningful participation and genuine involvement and engagement. Moreover, we agree with the Commission and believe the accelerated process for planning/implementation was insufficient and will cause disruption to our students.

What the Regents know that just ain’t so

“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”   —   Mark Twain

Recent coverage of the Board of Regents’ latest scheme to reorganize higher education in Connecticut by removing leadership, many programs and services, and potentially accreditation from the local campuses can all be summed up in the famous quote cited above from a neighbor of the Regents’ Hartford offices.

UConn Health must correct ‘blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars’

Over the past few months, multiple situations have come to light unveiling a pattern of failures at UConn Health that have severely damaged the public’s trust in your institution. We have seen blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars, failure to implement basic oversight, and apparent disregard for your core responsibilities to the state and people of Connecticut. I am writing today to ask UConn Health to commit to rebuilding public trust.

The calculus of dumbing down community college math

I challenge the validity of the transfer of credits for the course Calculus III from Connecticut community colleges to the University of Connecticut. Generally speaking, the standards associated with the teaching of the Calculus III (multivariable) course at Connecticut community colleges are very low. The community college classes do not teach the “essential” Fundamental Theorems of Multivariable Calculus – Gradient, Green’s, Stokes and Divergence. They are called fundamental for a reason! These four theorems set the foundation for Maxwell’s Equations.

Children of color are drowning — in pools … and in schools

Our children are drowning. The rate of drowning, in a literal sense, for children of color is three times that of white children in this country per Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America. The rate of academic drowning is much the same.  Now New Haven has lost three more of its schools due to racial isolation standards. However, I can’t help but ask if districts that are predominantly white would also be forced to close due to their lack of minority student enrollment.

On access and success in advanced placement courses

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas’ excellent article about access to AP (Advanced Placement) courses being elusive for low-income students should lead us all to ask why.  It should also lead us to ask how we change this reality. Having worked in school districts across eight states, I have found there are several reasons why the enrollment of low-income students in AP and other advanced courses is low.

All students should have access to AP courses, and I am living proof

I took my first advanced placement class – world history—when I was a sophomore in high school. This year, I’m a junior currently taking three AP courses. Next year, I’ll take four more. As a student of color who lives in Hartford, this makes me unique. It doesn’t have to. Studies have shown that students of color and students from low-income communities do not have fair access to Advanced Placement classes. That’s true in nearby New York, right here in Connecticut, and across the country. I am proof of what happens when that access is granted.

Dysfunctional schools are crippling our children — and it’s our fault

I’ve taught English at Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford for six years. We currently have five math teachers for grades 6-12, and during my tenure, I’ve seen eight other math teachers come and go. Some left for other opportunities. Some left because they were unprepared for the demands of this job; at least one left teaching all together. Three left mid-year, forcing us to use a long-term sub while we looked for a suitable replacement.

Diversity — Middletown’s greatest weapon to close the opportunity gap

I was born and raised in Connecticut by my mother, a woman who was a strong advocate for my education. Looking back, I have no idea how she was able to be such a fierce and tireless champion of my education, while working incredibly hard as a single parent to provide for her only child. Meeting with my teachers on a daily basis and demanding more rigorous coursework to ensure I was prepared for college. Forcing school administrators to see past their own lowered expectations because of my race. Molding me into an avid (now, lifelong) reader. As a kid, my mother’s advocacy was something I took for granted until many years later in my academic and professional career.

Can you throw ‘em out if they’re not in school?

 “Take your f…… hands off of me” a young man said to me after I tried lead him out of the hallway from a fight. Think about it.  How many times have you heard people complain about the “bad” kids, the young men and women who are the gold medallion award winners for repeated trips to the office? Have you ever thought about how and why this happens?