The new governor should make evidence-based decisions on improving our schools

A recent NY Times article calls attention to a $773 million failed experiment within New York City Public Schools — an effort intended to address the city’s 94 lowest-performing schools. New York City’s “Renewal” effort proved to be another flash-in-the-pan attempt at addressing the district’s most struggling schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city’s adoption of the Renewal program in late 2014; this initiative came on the heels of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sweeping school closures and charter replacements.

Babies don’t vote—we need to vote for them 

Election Day is coming up, and adults across Connecticut will be casting their ballots based on the issues that matter most to them. Babies, however, don’t get a say in what comes next. So it’s up to us grownups to vote on their behalf. What we know about the importance of early learning has changed drastically over the years. We used to think that a child’s education started when they entered kindergarten. Then, we began to recognize the value of preschool. Now, thanks to illuminating science on brain development, we know that education starts much earlier.

On the soft bigotry of low expectations in schools

If you were moving into a new area and talking to your child’s new principal who said, “I’m proud to tell you that only 65 percent of our children fail to meet district standards in reading and writing,” how excited would you be about sending your child to that school? Yet, according to Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Clarice Silber, in their excellent review of where we stand in Connecticut with magnet schools, “Statewide, 35 percent of students were at grade level in reading and writing.”

Parents, your kids are failing math, reading, and writing!

Parents, you need to wake up and get in the game. Your child’s future is at stake. Or, your child will become one of the negative statistics. In some cases it is appropriate to blame the education leadership — especially the commissioner, superintendents, principals, and collective bargaining units — for the ineffective system. However, the love of learning must start at home with parents. It is the parent’s responsibility to make education their priority over all other activities. It is the parent’s responsibility to set high expectations for their child’s behavior and learning and it is the parent’s responsibility to be a positive role model for the child in helping to shape the child’s opinions and attitudes about learning.

Will our new governor and General Assembly turn a deaf ear to our at-risk students?

Election Day on November 6 is more than a battle of political parties for gubernatorial and legislative control. It’s an opportunity for new leaders to finally put Connecticut on the path to education justice. In January of this year, a deeply divided Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in CT Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF] v. Rell that the State was meeting its constitutional responsibility to provide a “minimally adequate” and equitable educational opportunity to our public school students. In the face of such callous judicial indifference to the plight of struggling poor, minority, non-English speaking and other high-need students, CCJEF looks to a new governor and the 2019 General Assembly for justice.

Raise the age limit to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is right to be concerned about the increased number of high school students vaping. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our nation, and e-cigarettes offer youths an opportunity to begin a harmful and lifelong addiction to tobacco, newly fueled by attractive devices and kid-targeted flavors. While we are glad to see that the FDA is being more transparent about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, it’s clear that we must act quickly and decisively on the state and local levels to protect our children from these products.

Eliminate the Board of Regents? Nonsense before every election

As sure as “death and taxes,” the question of whether the Board of Regents for Higher Education should exist reemerges every time there is a statewide election. The arguments to dissolve the BOR usually fall along one of two lines: “Dan Malloy created it, therefore it’s bad” or “the System Office does nothing, it is a waste of money, we are just fine on our own.” The State of Connecticut is better off having merged its public higher education system. Period. We are an example of what works in Connecticut.

Parents: Vaccinate your sons and daughters against cancer!

Most of the vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and required to enter public school in Connecticut are administered in early childhood and completed by age 4, and then begin again at age 11 (excepting the yearly influenza vaccine). But there is an additional and essential vaccine that was explicitly developed to prevent cancer: the vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV).

The one thing all candidates can agree on

There is not much consensus among our gubernatorial candidates this election cycle, but one topic that appears to have generated genuine agreement is that Connecticut needs to do more to ensure our state has the talent it needs for the economy to thrive.  It seems every day we read about manufacturers that have thousands of unfilled jobs due to the lack of skilled workers.   We have a burgeoning start-up community that is straining to keep growing companies here because they cannot find enough software engineers at their fingertips.  State leaders warn all sectors are at risk without a more skilled and robust cyber security workforce in place.  The Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth finds the largest disparity in workforce supply and demand is among healthcare practitioners.

Candidates for governor: Support elimination of the Board of Regents

It is now apparent to anyone paying attention that the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) is a bloated failure that has not addressed, let alone solved, the very real challenges facing Connecticut’s community colleges and state universities. After seven years and $250 million taxpayer dollars it has achieved nothing unless you count a succession of failed and worse presidents, forfeited opportunities and blatantly political staff selections, right up to the current life boating of OPM appointee Ben Barnes.

To the new governor: Dismantle, rebuild the Board of Regents

To the 2018 CT Gubernatorial Candidates

Throughout the gubernatorial primaries and campaigns, while facing Connecticut’s enormous financial challenges, you have all made clear your interest in helping the state’s businesses and industries. We are a group of community college advocates who would like to encourage innovative thinking and the potential for changes in public higher education that would benefit the state’s businesses and industries, as well as its students.

Creating systems in which all children can be happy, healthy, and successful

Last week, both CT Voices for Children and the Connecticut Health and Development Institute (CHDI) issued publications focusing on the young child. CT Voices addressed access to high-quality early care and education; CHDI promoted a system through which early childhood professionals become more skilled in detecting mental health problems early. Both publications hit the nail on the head; early childhood professionals are in the ideal position to detect developmental delays and early childhood mental health concerns. The importance of revealing developmental delays at an early stage has been addressed since the 1960s; more recently the early identification of mental health concerns gained traction too. Addressing mental health concerns at a young age can increase the likelihood that children will grow up happy, healthy, and successful.