ConnCAN was pleased to see The Mirror’s recent in-depth comparison of education outcomes between Connecticut and Massachusetts. As Jacqueline Rabe Thomas’ series pointed out, Massachusetts and Connecticut share more than just state boundaries. Our states are similar in many ways, including that our public schools serve similar students with similar learning needs. But our neighbors are doing a better job of educating all students, especially those in poverty and students of color. Massachusetts students also outperformed all other states in math and reading for grades four and eight on the Nation’s Report Card (NAEP).
Massachusetts, like Connecticut, has long boasted top-performing public schools (“Massachusetts Is Like Connecticut, But Does a Better Job Educating the Poor,” Dec. 11, 2017). Students in both states scored at or near the top on national tests before the start of high-stakes testing. But then, as now, there have been huge differences in academic outcomes linked to race, income, language and disability. These gaps mirror the two states’ large (and growing) gaps in wealth and opportunity, as well as glaring inequities in school funding between rich and poor districts. … Rather than follow Massachusetts’ lead and impose more tests, Connecticut should implement an assessment system using projects and portfolios that promote and measure deeper, broader learning.
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas’s three-part series about spending, education reform and student achievement in Massachusetts and Connecticut provides an outstanding review of the progress of education in both states over the past 25 years. I see the series from the perspective of having been Associate Commissioner for Finance and Accountability in Massachusetts from 1993 to 1998, Superintendent of the Fall River (MA) Public Schools from 2005 to 2009, and Superintendent of the New London Public Schools in Connecticut from 2009 to 2014.
Public school funding has shrunk over the past decade. School discipline rates reached historic highs. Large achievement gaps persist. And the overall performance of our nation’s students falls well below our international peers. These bleak numbers beg the question: Don’t students have a constitutional right to something better? Many Americans assume that federal law protects the right to education. Why wouldn’t it? All 50 state constitutions provide for education. The same is true in 170 other countries. Yet, the word “education” does not appear in the United States Constitution, and federal courts have rejected the idea that education is important enough that it should be protected anyway.
I teach at Bulkeley High School in Hartford and so often I find students who lack even the most basic digital literacy skills. Asking students to log into an online platform will take 15 minutes. Organizing documents in Google Drive will take even longer. These are the basic skills which a governmental commission has frequently reiterated from the year 2005 to the present. If this objective has stood for 12 years –the standard measure of time for a student to be enrolled in K to 12 education –– why is it that my students are still coming to me without even the most basic skills in digital literacy?
“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.