What really makes a difference? At the High Road School of Hartford, we would say teamwork. We saw the power of collaboration in action recently when a new, innovative mobile dental program was piloted at our high school. The program addresses a critical need in the local area by serving underprivileged students who might not otherwise have access to such care. For some, it was the first time they received basic dental exams and cleanings.
The tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has forced a national reckoning. The images of that fateful day continue to haunt me, and sweeping regulations on gun purchases and use are long overdue. But the shooting and its aftermath are about something more than guns. The past few weeks have reinforced one of my deepest beliefs, which inspired me to commit my life to public service in the first place: young people are the vanguard of progress.
I hope that state legislators will see that public charter school leaders want only to be a part of the solution for communities that we care deeply about. We have proven through our results that we are able to help students overcome the bigotry of low expectations. But in order for our schools to truly thrive, we need our leaders fund our students fairly, and allow more success stories like ours to lift up Connecticut’s children.
The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education continues its push to consolidate the 12 state community colleges into one, having most recently just submitted a necessary change proposal to the regional accreditor, NEASC, for their approval. Promoters of the plan have, among other things, circulated a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article that features the experiment in Maine to carry out their own version of consolidation.
Connecticut’s shame is to continue to tolerate some of the most economically and racially segregated school districts in the nation.
Connecticut’s shame is to continue to tolerate one of the largest student achievement gaps in the nation.
An Education Adequacy Cost Study would ensure that the resource needs of all school districts – successful, struggling, and those in between – as well as the resources needed by regular and at-risk students are identified and quantified. It would then be up to policymakers and stakeholders to put these resource needs in fiscal context, determine a state and local share, and rationally develop an education funding formula and system that is based on actual student needs.
Under pressure to end a long running stalemate over the Connecticut state budget last year, lawmakers made a number of decisions that continued the destructive trend of unraveling the human services safety net. The continuation of recent years’ cuts to state subsidy funding for School Based Health Centers (SBHC) is among the most destructive of these reductions. With the new legislative session underway, we are hopeful lawmakers will find a way to halt this trend and reject the governor’s current proposal to reduce the budget further, by 5.84 percent, on top of the 2.14 percent cut to the SBHCs in last October’s approved budget.
The proposal for substantive change presented by the Connecticut Board of Regents to the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and College, (NEASC) called “Students First” offers many promises but little evidence and even less that is new except more budget cuts that diminish local campuses and the services they provide to their students and communities.
President Trump has proposed that the answer to gun violence in schools is to arm teachers and bring guns into the classroom — an idea the vast majority of educators stand firmly against. The President’s plan is meant as a diversion from the real issue: the need for nationwide gun violence prevention laws, additional resources for school safety, and sustained funding for mental health services.
Ever proud of my heritage as a community college student, I have never reflected more deeply on the value of these institutions than over the recent years during which I have served on the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. The Board, comprised of volunteers from many backgrounds, serves at a time when Connecticut’s 12 community colleges struggle to maintain services and affordability amid sharply reduced state funding and flat or declining population and enrollment. Previously, as chair of the Regents’ Finance Committee, I witnessed the recurring mantra of very good college administrators trying to make budgets work within a broader organizational structure that itself was becoming unsustainable.
For the 18th time in 2018 a school shooting has rocked a community. For the 18th time this year, the 273rd time since Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012, and Columbine on April 20, 1999, a community is in mourning over killings that seem senseless. Over 150,000 students in 170 schools (according to the Washington Post) have been exposed to these shootings. And yet the signs were there, if we listen.
America has become an angry society. Family destruction and income inequality have left many young males in the dust. Judicial rulings have made it impossible to institutionalize the mentally ill. Thus, we have disturbed angry young men who view their lives as empty wishing to make a statement. And they do so by gaining access to powerful guns and killing innocent victims. The latest massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida by a lone gunman, Nikolas Cruz, has pushed the country over the edge. This must stop. But how?
As Connecticut struggles to embrace policies and programs that promote innovation and entrepreneurial exploration, neighboring states appear far more focused on long-term strategies for establishing a viable pipeline of workers able to meet marketplace demands. Connecticut should take note: Our state is failing its residents by not adequately focusing on early education needs, by not ensuring a well-lighted path to higher-education opportunities and by not doing everything in its power to make sure a college education is accessible and affordable.