For nine years, Connecticut was one of the very few states in the country that did not reduce state funding for public education. In 2016, that very praiseworthy policy ended. The impact of reduced state funding for education will be felt in one way or the other by every child who attends a public school in the state.
Connecticut’s education funding system is broken – with charter school students receiving on average $4,000 less in funding than their peers in district schools. And this disparity in funding hurts low-income children of color most because those are the majority of the students charters in Connecticut serve.
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.
In a recent commentary piece, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, praises the Connecticut State Board of Education’s support for using student SBAC results in teacher evaluations. He contends, “Connecticut continues to have one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation, the SBE appears committed to continuing to take this issue on.” Contrary to Mr. Villar’s assertion, there is little, if any, evidence to support the idea that including standardized test scores in teacher evaluations will close the so-called achievement gap.
If students are not learning, then the teacher has the opportunity to reflect on practices and improve them. For both student and teacher, learning is all about growth and development. The Smarter Balanced Assessment should be part of a teacher’s evaluation because it can provide that information.
I have been a certified teacher. I now lead an education advocacy organization. I am a mother of small children. I am a white woman.
To me, the results of a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, titled “Who believes in me? The effect of student–teacher demographic match on teacher expectations,” feels like a punch in the gut. The study presents stark differences in how African-American teachers versus non-African-American teachers view the potential of students of color.
I read with dismay Jeffrey Villar’s April 12 column titled, “State Board of Education Demands Action on Teacher Evaluation.” The arguments regarding teacher evaluation made by Villar and the corporate-backed organization he represents, the Connecticut Coalition for Education Reform (CCER), are misleading and insulting to teachers.
On April 6, I attended a public meeting by the Connecticut State Board of Education (SBE), in which members of the SBE vigorously debated the merit of further delays to implementation of real teacher evaluations in Connecticut. They were discussing the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council’s (PEAC) recommendation to permit school districts to go yet another year without incorporating the results of the state mastery test as one of multiple measures in a teacher’s evaluation. I applaud the SBE for pushing back on PEAC’s recommendation and drawing a real line in the sand.
2016 is a year for change and no greater truth exists than the saying, “It’s time for our students’ learning environment to stop being attacked.” If this is so, the budget cuts in the Hartford school system must not persist. If there is enough money to hire new police officers, then there must be money to keep our teachers in schools and feed our students the food they deserve. Both are necessary to teach our students the things they need to succeed.
It is critical and past due that Gov. Dannel Malloy and especially Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell look at the inequity in funding of the students who attend the Bridgeport Public Schools as compared to the more affluent suburban school districts in Connecticut.
After-school programs are needed to provide Connecticut students a safe and supervised space, to keep them involved in academic enrichment activities that create lifelong learners, and to support working the families who drive this state. If fortunate programs like ours are forced to make difficult decisions, how are other programs going to continue providing this valuable resource? Investment in quality after-school programs is needed now more than ever to support a stable and equitable future for all in Connecticut.
The Connecticut legislature’s Mastery Examination Task Force has a unique opportunity to design and determine a Connecticut Assessment System that can meet the needs of our students, satisfy their parents, and inform student learning for teachers while – at the same time – fulfilling the state’s obligations under the Every Student Succeeds Act.