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.
There‘s a lot of talk in Connecticut about closing the achievement gap between affluent students who are predominately white and poor students who are predominately black or brown, but there have been no effective actions taken and none are on the horizon.
Instead, Connecticut gave up its own well-founded state standards and adopted the narrow and inadequate Common Core Standards, called them rigorous which they are not, and gave students standardized tests to measure their achievement of those quite limited standards. Then Connecticut waited for the test scores to see if the impoverished would catch up to the affluent. They haven’t and they won’t.
The recent release of the latest Connecticut SBAC scores indicates that nearly half of the state’s elementary and middle school students tested last year were not at grade level in reading or math. In this series of questions, we asked Madison School Superintendent Thomas Scarice, an outspoken critic of the SBAC test, for his reaction to the news.
In his decision on Wednesday in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher made a lengthy, wide-ranging ruling on education and equity in our state. At the heart of Judge Moukawsher’s historic ruling is the affirmation of what educators, parents, students, and community leaders have been saying for nearly four decades—Connecticut’s school finance system is irrational, inequitable, and illogical. We can now add unconstitutional to that list.
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 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’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.
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 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.
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.
After a season of campaigning, we, the Grow Hartford Youth, are proud to announce that three of our 10 slices in our “10 Slices of Justice” campaign to improve Hartford Public High School lunches will be a reality in the fall of 2016.