“We all do better when we all do better.” For nearly two decades, the phrase coined in 1999 by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) has reminded us that our nation is strengthened by shared prosperity. Amid escalating conversations around race, immigration, and disparities in outcomes for children by race and immigration status, the idea that our collective future depends on the success of every child is more important than ever.
Why is Christopher Columbus, a man born in 1491, whose life is memorialized throughout the country, a focus of collective discontent? Why are politicians, political activists and academia in New London and other progressive cities across the United States blaming him for the actions of people who lived years after his death? Why is Columbus accused of spreading diseases, committing genocide and inventing slavery?
At this time of fiscal hardship in the state, districts are looking for ways to save money, such as by closing schools, sharing services and, sometimes, consolidating districts. As they are looking for more efficiency with at least continued effectiveness in carrying out their mission, they should keep an eye on their district’s enrollment projections.
There is a serious public health issue that is harming many high school students across our state. It may be causing them to be ill, have higher rates of depression and substance abuse, obesity, car accidents and sports injuries. It is reducing their academic performance in the classroom and on standardized tests. What is causing this crisis? Schools that start too early in the morning.
Teachers wear many hats. Instructor. Mentor. Advocate. Mystery shopper typically isn’t one of them. But for this teacher and Stratford City Councilwoman, my past life as a mystery shopper has been instructive and complementary endeavor. It taught me a lot about what I believe in today and reinforced vital lessons, like the value of hard work and persistence, and the importance of strong writing and critical thinking skills.
Government funding for underprivileged students to attend college is not an effective way to close the education gap because it does not address the core problem, which is that many low-income students never make it to graduation in the first place. The government should be providing students with the resources they need in order to graduate from high school and be successful when they go to college, instead of providing a donation toward a college fund for students who made it to graduation.
It is truly sad that the legislature has voted and sent to the governor a bill to loosen graduation standards. Frankly, I am aghast that the children who will most likely suffer are low income and minority children. If we look statewide at test results either on state measures of proficiency or national measures, the children who have the lowest scores are often the same children.
I look forward to a day when quality and equitable educational opportunities for all students is not just a vision, but a reality. Until that day comes, I know I have an obligation to use my voice as a classroom teacher to inform legislator’s decisions and help drive progress in the right direction.
An editorial in The Hartford Courant (April, 23,2017) entitled “ Back to Squishy Teacher Evals” argued for using the scores of students’ standardized tests to evaluate teachers. It seems so neat and tidy. Teachers produce a product (a test score). We take a look at the product. We then judge if the teacher is competent or not, based on that product. If only it were that simple.
Teachers make a huge difference in the learning of students. We know this intuitively as well as empirically. When teachers have helped more students make greater academic progress, they have performed their duties better than teachers who did not help their students make progress. That’s why it’s so disturbing that Connecticut is poised to take a step backwards in its measurement of teacher impact.
School funding is currently unpredictable and has left towns that need help severely underfunded for more than a decade. Legislators must do their jobs and come up with a fair formula now. Otherwise the Connecticut Supreme Court will mandate a new formula sometime later this year.
Our state’s challenges are real but surmountable. As we confront them, we, as a state, need to consider putting “we before me.” The collective mentality among towns and cities cannot be that spending cuts are necessary as long as they affect only other towns. To truly harbor a desire to see the state experience economic growth and success, everyone must be willing to invest in creating the dynamic cities our 21st-century economy demands, even if those investments come at a near-term cost.