Why we can’t wait — Race and the Care 4 Kids Program

According to the United Way of Connecticut, the agency that administers the Care 4 Kids (C4K) program, 4,424 fewer children were being served in December 2016 than in August 2016 when the program closed to most new applicants. Families from cities like Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury and New Haven were hardest hit, with a combined 1,429 fewer children being served. These cities represent one third of the total subsidies lost between August and December. … I urge our elected officials to reopen the C4K program now and provide the required funding needed today and into the future to ensure that CT’s most vulnerable children begin on the right path from the very beginning. It is time to put our money where our mouth is.

Cutting Help Me Grow program will inflict collateral damage

In his proposed budget, Gov. Dannel Malloy has targeted Help Me Grow, a program of Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood, for elimination. The mandated reconciliation of the state budget deficit creates, by necessity, a painful dilemma akin to Hobson’s choice. However, certain decisions provoke unintended collateral damage. Such is the case with Help Me Grow.

Betsy DeVos — A clear and present danger

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.

Two critical education issues for the Connecticut legislature

From my perspective we have two critical points in the current Connecticut education crisis that must be dealt with first during the General Assembly’s 2017 session: One, the Common Core State Standards — developmentally inappropriate for many of our children, especially those in the elementary years. And Two: Measuring our children using the new state mastery test, which lacks psychometric test validation and reliability.

Connecticut needs more ELL teachers for growing Hispanic population

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.

‘Connecticut needs a school finance system that makes sense’

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.

Education funding equity must start at the early grades

As Connecticut awaits the decision by Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher on the educational equity funding lawsuit, let’s not forget that many of the children in Connecticut’s low-income school districts are starting school (that is, kindergarten) way behind in terms of the knowledge, skills and behaviors needed for elementary school and later academic success. Many are also behind in third grade reading and eighth grade math. And too many do not graduate. We have known that for years. If the goal is high school graduation and readiness for work and citizenship, trying to remediate students or the schools in our low-income districts at the end of this trajectory is way too late.

Connecticut’s early care budget cuts penny wise and pound foolish

If one wants to understand Connecticut’s budget woes, one need to look no further than its universal preschool strategy.  And in reviewing the governor’s and legislators’ budget deficit mitigation plans, it was disappointing to see that they opted to further erode the state’s early care system and industry, rather than make smarter choices that preserve both.

Achievement gap starts early, so CT’s pre-K must, too.

Connecticut has some of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between white students and students of color. To close them, Connecticut’s schools must do a much better job of serving low-income, black, and Hispanic students. But, because one-third to one-half of the achievement gap exists before children start school, efforts to close those gaps must also start earlier, in the preschool and early childhood years.

In Connecticut, there is no ‘achievement gap’

Before students of all colors can succeed equally in Connecticut’s public schools, we must be bluntly honest about why disparities exist. An achievement gap would exist if we gave every student equal opportunities and some children still failed to achieve. In a myriad ways, we do not give all our children the same opportunities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in school discipline policies that exclude children from the classroom.

Gov. Malloy’s ‘Smart Start’ picks winners … but we all lose

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and the Gov. Dannel Malloy recently announced the first round of winners in the Smart Start initiative. And while they acknowledged that many school districts opted not to apply, they fail to acknowledge the glaring truth about the reason, i.e. this is a bad initiative and a bad prescription for universal preschool in Connecticut. And if Smart Start proponents continue to advance this initiative, the towns not selected will not be the only losers in this equation. Children

Smart Start proponents are advancing the idea that access to preschool education in the public schools with a certified bachelor degree teacher is the fix to the largest achievement gap in the US, while ignoring that every teacher in Connecticut’s K-12 system, where the gap exists, is certified with advanced degrees themselves.