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.
In a few days the Mastery Examination Task Force will be submitting its Final Report and Recommendations to the Connecticut Legislature’s Education Committee which had asked for a study of student assessment practices in our public schools. Having monitored the progress of this task force during its one-and-a-half years of meetings, I contend that their findings were predetermined at or even before the task force began its deliberations.
Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher wrote in his September school funding decision of the “alarming” condition of education in the state’s neediest districts, citing that “[A]mong the poorest, most of the students are being let down by patronizing and illusory degrees.” He has a point – one that extends far beyond Connecticut and our poorest students. The latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, found that nearly two-thirds of 12th-graders in the U.S. perform below proficiency in reading, and three-quarters perform below proficiency in both math and science.
A recent story described concerns raised over the State Board of Education’s rapid approval of a new teacher training program. According to that story, members of the Minority Teacher Recruitment Task Force are frustrated with the level of information that they had received about the program prior to its approval. These concerns, I am sure, can be worked out among our branches of government. What is more important is ensuring that Connecticut continues with its efforts to solve the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment.
In his historic and sweeping decision on Connecticut’s broken school funding system, Judge Thomas Moukawsher announced something we have been shouting from the rooftops for years – many of Connecticut’s kids are not getting the education they deserve and was promised to them under law. They’re languishing. Their rights are being violated. It’s unconstitutional, it’s unfair and finally it seems people have woken up and are taking notice.
Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s recent ruling on education is creating an opportunity to improve our approach to K-12 education in Connecticut. As we set goals for our students, and how to best reach those goals, we must also take time to consider our teachers. Teachers matter more to student achievement than any other factor in a student’s schooling. It is my hope that lawmakers think about how we can increase the number of local teachers who are passionate about learning as well as excited and prepared to support the needs of our students.
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.
Since implementation of the new teacher evaluation system by Gov. Dannel Malloy and the legislature, I have believed opting out of standardized testing was a student right. I now see it as a civic responsibility.
Deep in Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s decision in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Educational Funding v. Rell is troubling language regarding funding for students with severe disabilities. Judge Moukawsher is correct that identifying students with disabilities remains imprecise and subjective. And yes, school funding issues are negatively and disparately impacting students with disabilities. However, the language Judge Moukawsher uses in his ruling regarding determining educational benefits for students with the most severe disabilities is disturbing at best.
he gap dividing Connecticut’s schools is much more than wealth. I would argue that it is also a gap of expectations. A major problem driving what Judge Thomas Moukawsher so aptly called the Connecticut’s “ irrational” education and financing systems is the lack of expectations for all of its students. A student can still get a high school diploma and not be able to read and write. This is because all that a Connecticut student has to do is to pass the requisite number of courses prescribed by the district and the state. However, as has been made clear over time, passing a course does not require meeting any specific literacy standard.
A recent survey of educators across the nation reveals that, when elected, Hillary Clinton may follow in the footsteps of President Obama concerning her choice of Secretary of Education in the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Obama’s choices of Arne Duncan followed by John King were the most anti-public education appointments in the history of the Democratic party. Now it appears, based on the recent survey, that Clinton may continue the anti-public education tradition during her administration with yet another education secretary who will espouse the downward spiral of public education that has occurred for the past eight years.
In the wake of the recent CCJEF v. Rell trial court decision on school finance, we should take a moment to consider the continuing benefits of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 1996 Sheff v. O’Neill decision for low income children in our state, and the importance of keeping this crucial legal mandate in place. The City of Buffalo’s experience with court-ordered integration 30 years ago is a reminder of how these independent constitutional rulings can maintain political will for reforms on behalf of low-income children that would otherwise get lost in the political process.