I look forward to a day when quality and equitable educational opportunities for all students is not just a vision, but a reality. Until that day comes, I know I have an obligation to use my voice as a classroom teacher to inform legislator’s decisions and help drive progress in the right direction.
If you really love teachers, you’ll support teacher pension reform. If you talk to teachers -– retired or current -– you will know that they are worried that the retirement fund they’ve been paying into won’t be there for them in the future. And they have good reason to worry.
The degree to which college students are capable of successfully moving from matriculation to graduation, described as “retention” or “persistence,” should be a concern for all of us. Employers regularly complain that the skills needed for the workplace are lacking. Policy wonks lament the declining ratio of productive workers to retirees, now about three to one, down drastically from decades ago – an ominous threat to the solvency of the Social Security system, as well as the viability of the economy and the health care system.
This is no time to mince words about Connecticut’s fiscal crisis. It is deep, serious, and affects everyone and everything: taxpayers, businesses, jobs, social services, infrastructure, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, towns and cities, hospitals, federal funding opportunities, and Connecticut’s reputation. Let’s be clear – it’s not new. The state’s finances have been precarious for several years. But now even those who have long denied the gravity of the situation are acknowledging it.
President Ojakian: on issues like this, like crafting a budget, a process you know very well, negotiation must take place. You have excluded the faculty and most administrators who could have provided knowledge, expertise, and support. That was not very smart. Yes, Connecticut needs to balance its budget, but not at the expense of the already underfunded, and therefore undervalued CSCU system. Mr. Ojakian, the Board of Regents needs to reign you in and slow you down.
The students in Willimantic have none of the privileges I had. The Willimantic Center of Quinebaug Valley Community College is one of their best options for escaping poverty. If the 365 students who currently attend that center do not have access in Willimantic, they will not attend college or benefit from the technical training that is offered there. They will be consigned to a life of minimum wage jobs and no way out. As a taxpayer, professor emerita from CCSU and an engaged citizen, I encourage you to rethink the entire funding system of CSCU.
Despite all the fiscal and other challenges paralyzing Connecticut, there is an opportunity in the 2017 legislative session to take the first real step toward comprehensive, rational and constitutional education funding reform. That first step is authorizing an education adequacy cost study be conducted in our state as called for in Substitute House Bill 7270.
Today’s pop culture is littered with references and jokes about single parent households from famous rapper Childish Gambino’s lyrics …
“This one kid said somethin’ that was really bad
He said I wasn’t really black because I had a dad”
…to How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson bragging about how he loves “bimbos” with “unresolved daddy issues.” The question of the burnout dad and how this father affects the children he leaves behind has been a question of this generation.
Connecticut’s legislature has proposed to create a task force to study the effectiveness, impact and cohesiveness of workforce development programs and initiatives in the state. The commitment to promote better coordination and collaboration and a more effective and efficient system for workforce development should be applauded. One of the first agenda items for the task force should be to identify and examine existing strategies that demonstrate cross-cutting, collaborative approaches to job training and employment and promise opportunity for residents who face the greatest challenges to obtaining a living wage.
As our governor and state legislators continue wrestling with budget shortfalls, declining revenue, corporate exodus and ongoing economic erosion, it is important to pause and catch our breaths. As a state, we must carefully and honestly examine our strengths and weaknesses, and ensure perspective before making serious cuts to financial programs and institutions that actually hold the answer for addressing many of Connecticut’s financial woes.
An editorial in The Hartford Courant (April, 23,2017) entitled “ Back to Squishy Teacher Evals” argued for using the scores of students’ standardized tests to evaluate teachers. It seems so neat and tidy. Teachers produce a product (a test score). We take a look at the product. We then judge if the teacher is competent or not, based on that product. If only it were that simple.
To the chairmen of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee:
I am furious that your committee would even consider the education funding package that thankfully melted down last Tuesday. I am furious that the proposal perpetuates rather than corrects the gross inequities in ECS funding that have existed for at least the past four years. …