Thursday, March 1, 2012

Educational Issues in Connecticut - what a mess!

So, Connecticut is having some major issues regarding education and “education reform.” Notice I put quotes around education reform. This is because the politicians so-called reform plans have absolutely nothing to do with improving education for our students. In fact, most of their ideas and plans will only benefit them and private corporations.

One of the first issues, is in Bridgeport, the state’s largest populated city, and it’s Board of Education. The fully story can be read here: and here
but the short version is that the old, elected board was having issues, voted to disband, and the State came in and took over, appointing a new board. There were legal issues with this and the Supreme Court just ruled that the takeover is not valid.

It turns out the state violated the law, as the courts pointed out. It violated state law. They need to follow the law, not work around it. Isn’t that what we are trying to teach our students?
A great quote from a student sums it all up:
"I think the takeover was good. If something is not working, you need to fix it and get a handle on it before it totally gets out of control. But if anything is going to be done, it needs to be done the right way," said Kendra, 18, a student school board representative. "There are laws in place. If there is a procedure, you have to go by that."
Read more:

Politics, not the students, were the focus of all of this. The politicians would talk about helping our students, but it was all political. The mayor was quoted as saying “Need to remove politics from education” but he brought more politics to education with this move.

Some members of the appointed board seemed like good people with good intentions, but there were some concerns mentioned in the papers and by some citizens. The new superintendent, Paul Vallas, seems to be doing a good job though.

There other issue in Connecticut is Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” (Senate Bill 24) which is NOT good for education. It lowers standards for educators, gives too much power to the State, changes teacher certification and pay, completely changes/eliminates tenure, changes teacher evaluations to subjective and lowers pay, expands role of private corporations in education, changes funding, uses unproven and unfinished ideas, and does nothing to help our students. Districts would have to pay money to charter schools, depleting their already measly budgets, yet charter schools can still exclude students and are not held to same standards. Educators would not be required to get advanced degrees and professional development requirements would be lowered. Educators due process rights will be severely weakened, and the state and superintendents would have increased power, with less oversight and balance of power. Superintendents wouldn’t even have to be certified educators! Education funding would also be competitive, hurting many districts in need. 

The educational initiatives are unproven and unfinished and do nothing to help students learn.
Tenure and due process would be changed and eliminated for new teachers. Poor evaluations by an administrator and a teacher would get a lower salary and could even lose their certification!! Imagine if an teacher and an administrator don’t get along or have a conflict. The principal holds teachers entire careers, in their hands, with little or no recourse for teachers.

There is absolutely nothing in the bill, which is contradictory and against other statutes, that will HELP OUR STUDENTS!!! The new bill would force many excellent teachers out of teaching. And, with the new evaluation and pay system, and lack of due process, good teachers will not want to work in the struggling districts and those students will face even more issues and troubles. Who wants to work somewhere when you can lose your job, and certification, so easily?

Politicians are getting too involved in education. They are proposing ideas that will hurt education and not listening to the professionals who actually know how to help our students. Teachers care about their students. They work hard for their students and are met with resistance and attacks from everywhere. We need to support teachers, not attack them.

Rreal school improvement comes from strong collaboration with school leaders, teachers, parents and others. Reform should be a collaborative discussion and decision-making process.

Remember, the priority is OUR STUDENTS! Don’t attack or weaken teachers and education, work with teachers (the professionals) and help us, help our students!

Here is a fact sheet on the Governor’s bill:

Here are some articles about these types of issues:

Analysis of Governor's Ed Reform Bill

Can’t Blame Tenure for Failing Schools

How to Demoralize Teachers

What Teacher Tenure Is — And What It’s Not

Students Learn Better with Engaged Parents

Targeting Teachers Isn't Going To Improve Schools

Reasonable doubt on teacher evaluation

What do you think?


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