Community colleges move the people and can move the state

I am not forgetting about or unsympathetic to the state’s demanding financial situation and the complex challenges of addressing the projected shortfalls in the next biennial budget. At Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC), we know about increasing pressures to meet the needs of our constituencies while available funds keep decreasing. I say proudly that NVCC has remained in the black during each of the past nine years.

After-school programs bring big benefits to families

It’s 3 p.m., do you know where your children are? We often refer to youth as our future, yet when budget cuts roll around, the money used to invest in students gets put on the chopping block. Even with a state line item for after- school programming, 44 percent of students in Connecticut who are not enrolled in a program would be likely to participate if one was available.

Protect your family from Meningitis B

As a public health advocate, I work each day to educate families and health care providers about the importance and availability of vaccines. As a parent, my top priority is the health and safety of my children. So, it was surprising to me when I recently encountered a potential issue in getting my son immunized against a deadly, yet vaccine-preventable disease — Meningitis B.

New charter seats will strip Bridgeport Public Schools of resources

On July 19, the unelected, governor-appointed Connecticut State Board of Education approved 504 additional seats in state charter schools for next year, with 154 of those seats going to Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport. Go figure: Connecticut is in a budget crisis with every expense being monitored, yet new charter school seats, which cost the state $11,000 each, are being initiated. The cost will be more than $5.5 million.

Seeking a debt-free college education

Attending a college is something most of us dream about as teenagers. We look forward to becoming doctors, police officers, artists, nurses, etc. When the time comes to enroll in a college, the last thing on our minds is the price and how much it’ll all cost in the end. All we are excited for is this new journey and becoming young adults.
When I first started college in the fall of 2012 at Central Connecticut State University, financial aid covered my yearly tuition in its entirety. Today, however, five years later, I maxed out of the money I can borrow from financial aid, and now all my stress comes from figuring out how to pay for college.

Balancing the state budget is not a game

Have you ever played Jenga, the game where you try to preserve a structure built out of wooden blocks while at the same time you remove pieces one at a time?
If so, you know that there is a limit to how many building blocks you can remove before the whole tower comes tumbling down. Jenga offers an analogy for today’s ongoing efforts to remove pieces from the state budget without crippling state government or the people it serves.  The big difference is that the state budget is no game, and what topples are not wooden blocks, but people’s lives.

Office of Early Childhood merger takes us back, not forward

It is troubling that several of the budget proposals floating around the State Capitol call for the merger of the Office of Early Childhood into the State Department of Education. It was just three years ago that we finally brought together services touching families with young children from five different agencies into one stand-alone Office of Early Childhood, under the direction of a commissioner. 

Dismantling access to Connecticut’s higher education

I woke up recently to the headline that the governor of Nevada had signed into law the Nevada Promise Scholarship which would provide tuition-free community college to eligible students. Thus Nevada joins Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee in providing increased access to higher education for low income students through a robust community college system. Connecticut has taken the opposite route. Instead of looking at ways to increase access, the solution that is being proposed is dismantling the community college system by centralizing and creating a hierarchy with one president overseeing 12 colleges.

A new approach to Connecticut juvenile justice — with better results

At any given time many children are in the care of Connecticut’s juvenile justice system. Everyone agrees their personal stories are troublesome, but it is also important to understand each story can be turned in a more positive direction if we as adults commit to helping each child based on their individual needs. This is the premise behind a series of recommendations the Children’s League of Connecticut (CLOC) has presented to the state Department of Children and Families(DCF), legislators and other policy-makers.

Talk about Connecticut’s educational inequity, but no action

“Equity is great to talk about until someone has to give up something.” Quesnel’s quote, in particular, struck me because it perfectly encapsulates the situation here in Connecticut. For all the talk of consensus after Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s scathing 90-page ruling, neither state Republicans or Democrats included meaningful reform of the Education Cost Sharing Grant, the main grant the state uses to distribute school funding, in their proposed budget plans this year.

Early childhood: An effective long-term investment in Connecticut’s children

Usually, but especially when resources are limited, good investments are those that are based on research about what really works and have promise for making a positive and long-term impact. One of the state’s recent examples of a good investment is the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC). Unfortunately, budget proposals recommend decreasing, and in some cases ending. this positive long-term investment in order to create short-term savings.