Community college consolidation is a risky experiment

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.

Education justice is in the hands of the General Assembly

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.

Protect funding for school-based health centers

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 ‘Students First’ plan is not transparent, clear, truthful or fair

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.

Protecting students: More guns not the answer

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.

The crucial role of Connecticut’s community colleges and why we must sustain them

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.

Want safer schools? Listen to the kids

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.

We need to get serious about gun violence

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?

Funding innovation should not be such an innovative idea

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.

On reducing the self-hatred and alienation of our young men

The young man is alone.  He has no friends.  He has been expelled from school.  He has no relation with his family: they are dead or at least dead to him.  He has been told all his life that he is a bad person.  He now believes it.  He hates himself.  And, because he hates himself, he hates everything around him.  The world is a giant conspiracy aimed at keeping him down, preventing him from being who he is.  Most of all he feels powerless.  Nothing he does has any effect on his hated environment.

Except for one thing: his guns.

Put students first: Close the CSCU system, disband the Board of Regents

The “Students First” plan proposed by the CSCU Board of Regents, intended to save $28 million by consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges, has engendered frustration among system faculty due to the lack of visible research or analysis proving that the plan will realize the projected savings. Faculty, therefore, were taken by surprise when a recent CT Mirror article reported that the accrediting agency, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, had given feedback on a draft plan for the Students First initiative submitted to it by the Board of Regents.