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.
Our state’s funding formula, which was intended to equalize education funding in each district, is irrational and disservices students in our neediest communities. We’ve used an arbitrary baseline for funding and have employed insufficient calculations for poverty and special education. A true school funding fix must include measures that hold all districts accountable so that educators can purposefully and efficiently use state money to advance student achievement and growth.
A group of parents with children in Bridgeport schools has created a new organization, Parents In Action, that seeks to remedy communication problems between school officials and parents whose first language is not English.
Just as we expect the standards for doctors to remain high and the requirements for becoming a lawyer to remain rigorous, we should expect that the systems preparing those who teach our students remain focused on quality and readiness, writes Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.
As Connecticut students get ready to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests, the time is now for parents to let their children’s teachers and principals know that they are sick and tired of test-centric programming. Smarter Balanced test results do not reflect their children’s learning and cannot be trusted as a meaningful measure of student growth, progress, or proficiency.
Since 2013 the C3 Common Core has changed the way social studies is taught in our public schools. This has done irreparable harm to students understanding history’s “Big Story.” Fortunately, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and authors of the C3 have done a complete reversal of their earlier position regarding national standards. This month in Education World the NCSS surprisingly endorses National Standards in U.S. history, civics and government, geography, and economics.
One in four children in our country grows up functionally illiterate, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Did you know we spend $2 billion nationally every year on students repeating a grade because they face challenges reading? The state of Connecticut currently sees the second largest wealth inequality in the United States. While the state ranks as the fourth richest in the United States, children are still in need. On Feb. 25, Pi Beta Phi will donate 20,000 brand new books to Hartford groups serving low-income families at a book distribution through Pi Beta Phi’s partnership with First Book®.
A recent story in the CT Mirror described a presentation to reporters a few weeks ago by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the largest teachers’ union, in which union leaders attempted to expose the spending practices of charter schools. The problem is that the report the CEA was referencing was deliberately misleading –seeking to villainize charter schools during a tight budget year in which education funding will be a key issue.