There has been no substantive conversation about K-12 education in the Democratic debates, town hall meetings, or candidate rallies. Perhaps that’s because Democrats want to walk away from the contentious education policies and practices of the Obama administration and focus, instead, on the many other noteworthy accomplishments of Barack Obama’s presidency. Whatever the back story, we voters deserve to know what the candidates will do as President about the education of our children. What follows are key topics about K-12 education and what the candidates have said about them so far.
There has been no substantive conversation about K-12 education in the Republican debates, town hall meetings, or candidate rallies. Attention has been on other issues, but education is crucial both for the individual future of each of our children and for the future of our nation. We voters deserve to know what the candidates would do as President about K-12 education. What follows are key topics about K-12 education and what the candidates have said about them so far.
There is great potential for the appropriate use of student data to bring positive outcomes for our children and students. However, the use of student data also brings with it immense responsibility and great risk to the safety and civil liberties of children and their families.
As part of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell’s “leadership strategies,” designed to urge superintendents to “encourage” parents to have their children take the SBAC test rather than to opt out, the commissioner called in superintendents from public school districts across the state to the department’s Hartford headquarters for a “training session” on how effectively to communicate with parents.
It is difficult to believe as a life-long educator that the media has yet to ask any of the presidential candidates about their views on K-12 public education. It is a well known fact the public education in Connecticut and across the nation has suffered immensely as an outgrowth of the policies of the George W. Bush administration with its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program. Likewise, public education continued its downward spiral as a result of President Barack Obama’s appointment of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who ushered in the disastrous Race to the Top along with the Common Core State Standards.
The release of Connecticut’s teacher evaluation results in a school-funding trial has revealed that only 1 percent of teachers were evaluated as either “below standard” or “developing.” Recently, a CT Mirror story covered a discussion among members of the Connecticut Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) about whether and how to amend the teacher evaluation process. In that story, Connecticut unions represented that the inclusion of a state assessment in the evaluation process is unfair to teachers. But, as a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, and a father of six Connecticut children—it strikes me as somewhat obvious that, quite to the contrary, these results indicate a strong, existing bias in favor of protecting teachers from data.
Having attended nine hours of testimony at the State Legislature’s Education Committee public hearings in Hartford on Wednesday, Feb. 24, the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in Connecticut has become even more apparent.
There is no rational explanation to support SB 175, a newly-proposed bill with the innocuous title “An Act Concerning Recommendations of the Department of Education”. There is no excuse for elected officials to take away a citizen’s right to peacefully protest and dissent. Vote NO on SB 175!
Three weeks ago, in his sixth State of the State Address, Gov. Dannel Malloy laid out his five “budget principles” and called for a “more predictable, more sustainable, and more transparent” Connecticut budget that “prioritizes funding for core services.” Rightfully, one of the core services Malloy listed was public education. However, for Connecticut to prioritize education and achieve the governor’s budgetary goals, the state must fundamentally change the way it funds its public schools.
Connecticut’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) met last week to discuss a response to data that show teacher evaluation systems have identified very few people to dismiss, and assign high ratings to most teachers — a pattern which has been reported in many states across the country over the last five years. This shouldn’t be a surprise, because many states are using similar tools for teacher evaluation: a state-specific version of Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (here dubbed the Common Core of Teaching, CCT), or other generic teaching rubric applied to teachers regardless of grade or subject area. When we use the same, blunt tools, we can expect the same, nonspecific results.
Let’s set the record straight. Public charter school students do not receive a funding increase in Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed budget. They will still receive the same state per-pupil grant that they have received for several years. Put simply: all public schools are flat-funded across the board. A recent story by the CT Mirror suggested otherwise, and we want to ensure the facts are front and center.
Last year, hundreds of 11th-grade students across Connecticut refused to take the mandated SBAC test. Knowing that they had no control over independent-minded 11th-graders, the governor and State Department of Education sought a waiver from Washington, D.C., for permission to offer what they hoped would be a more palatable test: the SAT. It is a test many high school students would have been taking eventually in order to meet some college admission expectations. Now, nearly a year later, another group of high school juniors are faced with making the decision to either take the test or opt-out.