At this time of fiscal hardship in the state, districts are looking for ways to save money, such as by closing schools, sharing services and, sometimes, consolidating districts. As they are looking for more efficiency with at least continued effectiveness in carrying out their mission, they should keep an eye on their district’s enrollment projections.
During my nearly 40-year association with higher education, I have made the same equity case about the value of community colleges. Their history is rooted in the public good. Their mission embraces the community. Their vision points to a stronger future. Their core values demand respect. They are the embodiment of the Civil Rights Movement. They are splendid institutions.
On Thursday, Sept. 28, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments in a landmark education case, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, (“CCJEF”). It is no hyperbole to say that CCJEF has the potential to be the Connecticut equivalent of Brown v. Board of Education. As in Brown, the CCJEF trial court found the disparities in Connecticut’s public education system to be too vast to ignore. In Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and other urban centers across the state, fewer than one in three children is on track to be college and career ready, “nearly 1 in 3 students … can’t read even at basic levels,” and many high-school graduates are “functionally illiterate.”
Yet there is no question Connecticut’s public schools can do better
The Republican budget passed by the legislature had some terrible things in it: the elimination of the Citizens Election Program and the absorption of commissions that speak for the less fortunate into larger departments. One of the worst parts of the budget is the micromanaging of the University of Connecticut.
The Republican budget plan vetoed by Gov. Dannel Malloy nevertheless stirred up a hornet’s nest at the state’s flagship university. The usual suspects at the University of Connecticut rose up in arms at the proposed cuts.
In times of need every university turns to its alumni for help and support. But what is a university like the University of Connecticut to do when among its alumni are state senators and representatives who would vote for a budget that cuts over $300 million from their own Alma Mater, a cut that, quite simply, amounts to the dismantling of a major public university?
As our students return to school, they know they’re beginning a year of new challenges, new ideas, and new people. Behind the scenes, however, things look a little different. Because state legislators still haven’t fixed Connecticut’s broken public school funding system, the staff at Park City Prep is going into the new school year prepared to scrape by with insufficient resources.
There is a serious public health issue that is harming many high school students across our state. It may be causing them to be ill, have higher rates of depression and substance abuse, obesity, car accidents and sports injuries. It is reducing their academic performance in the classroom and on standardized tests. What is causing this crisis? Schools that start too early in the morning.
TYhe House Democrats’ proposed school funding plan is not a legitimate attempt at a logical or responsible school funding formula. It falls far short of creating the “rational, substantial and verifiable” school finance system that Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher called for in his September 2016 ruling in CCJEF v. Rell.
Whether viewed through the lenses of wealth, District Reference Groups, or student achievement, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s recently announced distribution of Education Cost Sharing grant money has obvious flaws and inconsistencies that defy logic and lead one to the conclusion that this is just an extension of the arbitrary and capricious administration of the program that has plagued it in the past.
The new bus service extension to the University of Connecticut is long overdue for UConn students who seek to bridge the gap in transportation options to their campus in Storrs. Right now, it is simply too difficult for people in rural areas of the state to get around without owning a car.
Last week’s CT Mirror reporting concerning the State Department of Education’s plans to once again change the teacher certification regulations to allow more “non-traditional” pathways is both deeply frustrating and sadly misguided. The public indictment of higher education institutions in this article speaks volumes about the “blame game” that the State Department of Education, and particularly the Chairman of the Board of Education, continues to promote towards the very institutions working to provide the high quality, well-trained teachers Connecticut needs.