The new governor should make evidence-based decisions on improving our schools

A recent NY Times article calls attention to a $773 million failed experiment within New York City Public Schools — an effort intended to address the city’s 94 lowest-performing schools. New York City’s “Renewal” effort proved to be another flash-in-the-pan attempt at addressing the district’s most struggling schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city’s adoption of the Renewal program in late 2014; this initiative came on the heels of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sweeping school closures and charter replacements.

Pension debt proposals that exacerbate the problem

Two candidates compete against each other for office in one of Connecticut’s electoral districts.  Each candidate seeks to distinguish himself by offering a purportedly creative solution to the problem of Connecticut’s massive and growing debt for public employee pensions. Each deserves credit for an attempt to move beyond a naked demand that taxpayers pay more and receive less, but taxpayers should be informed about the potential pitfalls of each proposal, and should be aware that neither candidate is willing to address the fundamental problems creating and increasing the debt arising from Connecticut’s public employee pensions. 

Advice to a would-be governor: Make healthcare affordable

During this election season The Connecticut Mirror is convening groups of people from around the state to ask their opinions on key campaign issues and their perceptions of the appropriate role of government. The participants in each group share a common circumstance or stage of life. 

In this   installment, we asked a group of people from the Waterbury area, all of whom qualify as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) the following questions: If one of the gubernatorial candidates walked into the room right now, what you would say to him about health care? And What is the most important thing government can do to make a difference in your life, to enhance your community, or to improve the state?

How long, oh Lord, how long?

The following is the text of the speech given at community candlelight Vigil for the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Sunday at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford.

How long, oh Lord, how long?
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, oh Lord, how long?

No words – until now

It is April 11, 1914. Fannie Saphirstein, 28, signs the Department of Labor’s Naturalization Form #2203 in which she describes herself as white of fair complexion, height 5 feet and weight 118 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. She was born in Bialistock, Russia, on the 25th day of March in 1886. She immigrated to America from Antwerp on the vessel Zeeland. She attests that her last foreign residence was Bialistock, Russia. Her occupation? A cigar maker.

Health care insurance issues loom large in this election

During this election season The Connecticut Mirror is convening groups of people from around the state to ask their opinions on key campaign issues and their perceptions of the appropriate role of government. The participants in each group share a common circumstance or stage of life.  In this   installment, we asked a group of Bridgeport people, all of whom have children, the following questions: What are your primary economic concerns? And if a gubernatorial candidate walked into the room, what would you tell him?

Voters need to test candidates on how their policies will support seniors

In the coming weeks, our state’s elected leaders – from governor to senators and representatives – must face the voters and win their support in the November elections. There are many important issues confronting our state, including negative economic growth, huge debt in our state employees’ and teachers’ pension funds, aging infrastructure, high taxes at both state and local levels, and diminishing state financial support of our towns. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that to make Connecticut’s recovery a reality, we also need to keep our seniors from moving away.

It is not more guards we need. It is more understanding.

It is shocking that our nation has just experienced the worst anti-semitic attack in our history. One would hope that by this point in time our nation would be so much better than this. Clearly, that is not the case. The Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding calls upon every leader and every person to face up to the meaning of the events in Pittsburgh. The murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh make it clear that our country is awash in hatred and primed for violence. This is not the country we want or expect.

Babies don’t vote—we need to vote for them 

Election Day is coming up, and adults across Connecticut will be casting their ballots based on the issues that matter most to them. Babies, however, don’t get a say in what comes next. So it’s up to us grownups to vote on their behalf. What we know about the importance of early learning has changed drastically over the years. We used to think that a child’s education started when they entered kindergarten. Then, we began to recognize the value of preschool. Now, thanks to illuminating science on brain development, we know that education starts much earlier.

We have income tax fever because the real issues are boring

I have to admit that I am confused by this year’s election season income tax fever in Connecticut. I have heard over and over how 2018 is the moment where jobs and economic growth will be the major concern. So my question is: why are we constantly talking about the income tax? What does the income tax have to do with creating jobs? I conducted my own very unscientific research to find companies that would expand or create new jobs and facilities in Connecticut only if the state cut the income tax. I could not find one.