State board of ed must scrutinize charters more independently

The Connecticut State Board of Education will meet on tomorrow morning, Sept. 7, to kick off the new school year. One of the issues held over from the previous board meeting is contract approvals of two charter (school) management organizations [CMOs]. Given two months to review the evidence presented by state Department of Education officials tasked with recommending approval, the CSBE must determine whether there is sufficient evidence to ensure honesty and transparency in this use of public resources. However, with mounting evidence of questionable practices, corruption, and theft involving many charter schools and their charter management organizations across the country, it is the responsibility of state education officials charged with protecting students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers to ensure that similar questionable (and often illegal) practices are not taking place in our state.

A school funding inequity solution: Better housing policy

A state Superior Court judge heard final arguments last month on the limits of the state’s responsibility in financing the education of all students, including those with low incomes living largely in urban school districts. He is expected to rule this week. How can our state, our taxpayers, spend more to take care of all “our kids” when court decisions are already forcing the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars desegregating Hartford schools and caring for abused and neglected children? As a mother, and a housing professional, I think I know one clear answer.

Connecticut needs a new way to identify low-income students

Connecticut’s low-income students need and deserve an equitable school finance system that recognizes, and takes into account, the variety of challenges they may face that can impact their educational success. However, in order to distribute education resources fairly, Connecticut must transition to a new method of accurately identifying low-income students.

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.

CREC at 50: Larger, more effective, but mission unchanged

CREC is celebrating its 50th birthday, and it has been my honor to spend the past 19 years as part of this wonderful organization. … When I first began at CREC in 1997, we had a staff of about 400, and the agency consisted of a handful of programs, mostly located in Hartford. Today, CREC manages 18 magnet schools, transports children throughout Hartford County, and has educational partners all over the world.

Frivolous spending or best training for Hartford educators?

Despite news reports and editorials criticizing Hartford’s spending of $61,000 on a teacher training conference in Miami, The Magnet Schools of America organization and its offerings have played a great role in the success stories of magnet schools serving Greater Hartford since the 1997 Sheff vs. O’Neill court ruling.

Cost of SBAC testing in Connecticut is unconscionable, unnecessary

Education activists have been speaking out and pushing back against the misguided Common Core State Standards and the flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) statewide test protocol for several years now, as they have become more aware of the billionaire-driven, media-complicit, and politically-entrenched “corporate education reform” agenda.

An education revolution beckons. In Connecticut, who will lead?

Recently I had the opportunity to testify before the Education Committee of the Connecticut Legislature. I commented that education policy in our state sadly resembles the phenomenon of the “Macarena.” Play along for a moment. Let your mind drift back 20 years or so to any random wedding. …

This legislative session, let Connecticut children win for a change

As the Connecticut General Assembly races toward the end of the legislative session, I urge leaders to prioritize the needs of public school children this year — not adults with the biggest megaphones and the greatest influence. Lawmakers can reject Senate Bill 380, which seeks to de-couple teacher evaluations from student performance on standardized tests.