Governor Malloy’s Big Education Reform Day

Governor Malloy lays out his Education Reform Agenda:

Governor Malloy’s plan would have taxpayers paying an additional $2,600 for each of Connecticut’s 6,000 charter schools students and $150 for each of the 222,000 students in Connecticut poorest and lowest performing schools

Malloy’s primary education reform agenda is as follows:

(1) “First, we can enhance families’ access to early childhood education by creating new seats for 500 children who can’t afford preschool and by investing in a new rating system to improve quality. “

RESPONSE: A very good step, but let’s be honest. In 2001 Connecticut spent $250 million on early childhood education. With this additional $4 million the state will spend about $228 million – 10% less than we spent a decade ago on what is universally recognized as the single most important step we can take in achieving better educational outcomes down the road.

(2) “Second, we need to address our badly broken system for delivering state resources to the schools.  This year, we will add 50 million to the Education Cost Sharing formula, with the vast majority of that money targeted to the districts serving students with the greatest need.”

RESPONSE: The Educational Cost Sharing Formula is $800 million short of what it was supposed to be in order to assure sufficient funding for primary and secondary education. Connecticut’s stated goal was to cover 50% of local educational costs with state funds and 50% with local funds. In 1990 the state reached its high point of funding 45% of the cost of local education – the number now is between 38-40% depending on how you calculate it – but the formula has been “corrupted” to the point that wealthy towns do much better now than they did in 1990 and poorer towns do much worse.

Of the $50 million in new ECS funding, the Governor’s proposal will send $39.5 million to the poorer communities. However, those are the same communities that under Malloy’s plan will have to transfer $1,000 from their local budget to the charter school in their community for every charter school student. This means that $6 million of the new funds will be transferred to the local charter schools.

Once the transfer to the charter school is made, the 30 poorest districts will then be sharing $33.5 million in new education funds. Since those 30 districts educate 222,000 students, the net increase in per student funding will be $150.

(3) Third, we will transform schools with the worst legacies of low achievement.  The state will serve as a temporary trustee of schools that lack the capacity to improve themselves.  These schools will become part of a Commissioner’s Network and they will receive our most intensive interventions and supports.

RESPONSE: The Governor proposes to spend $25 million dollars over two years to help 25 school districts once the state has “taken over the school system”. This would mean $1 million more for each district over a two year period. The complexity of taking over the school and then only have $1 million to “fix it” is a daunting task. More details will be needed to understand the benefit of this proposal.

(4) Fourth, we can strengthen and expand high-quality school models – whether they are traditional schools, magnet schools, charter schools, or other successful models – and hold them accountable for their results and inclusiveness.

RESPONSE: The Governor is proposing $20 million more to dramatically increase funding for Connecticut’s existing charter schools while authorizing the creation of five new charter schools. As a result of the Governor’s plan, the additional money going to the existing charter schools (directly from the state and from the required local district transfer) will mean that each of the 6,000 charter school students will receive a net increase of $2,600 in funding.

(5) Fifth, let’s remove red tape and barriers to success.  The state can streamline its systems – in teacher certification, data collection, and elsewhere – and free districts to innovate and perform.

RESPONSE: Getting rid of red tape is always a good move. Apparently the changes in the teacher certification process are intended to make it easier for schools to hire out of state teachers.

(6) Sixth and final principle requires us to ensure that our schools are home to the very best teachers and principals.  In order to make that happen, we need to do a better job of helping and supporting our teachers.

UPDATED RESPONSE WITH CORRECT INFORMATION:  The GPA requirement is for the first two years of college not high school – so Governor Malloy wants to require that a student must have a grade point average of 3.3 in order to get into the teacher training program at a Connecticut university of college. To date there has been no evidence provided that students with a higher  GPA (in high school or college)  become better teachers or that those with a GPA of 3.0 or 2.7 should be prohibited from getting a teaching certificate.

Oh, and lastly, Governor Malloy wants to get rid of the existing teacher tenure system. We can cover that issue another day.

  • CT Dad

    JP,

    You are right and nobody listens.

    And that truly sucks.

    • jonpelto

      Thanks CT Dad. I’m getting used to it 🙂 At first I thought they weren’t returning my calls or emails because my Verizon and Gmail wasn’t working. Then I thought that MAYBE they thought I had a communicative disease like Leprosy or TB or the stomach flu and they were worried that they might catch it from opening my emails or taking my calls. At times I wondered whether if it was because I was Jewish or short or from Eastern Connecticut… But now I’ve finally to grips with the fact that everything I say must be so wrong, in fact, so off-base and wrong that it isn’t worth it to them to take the time to listen.

  • These proposals make me sad…

    This is really the best we have to offer? None will make a positive impact on me as a teacher, and nearly all will have a negative impact on the kids.

    Really…a B+!! Folks with the highest grades do not make the best teachers, Teachers who liked school and did well in school tend to produce the same system in the class that they excelled at…sit silently in rows for seven hours a day writing and memorizing, take a quiz or test, repeat.

    I just simply don’t get it…

    The tenure issue? Geez…people need to read behind the lines. The problem is not crabby old teachers. So why else would he want to make it easier for teachers to not be able to fight back for what is right? Without tenure schools will turn into instant test prep factories supported by young cheap teachers who come out of these new test prep college teaching training programs. It will be educational genocide…but at least everyone in charge will have a B+ or better average.

    Maybe we should have the same policy for legislators…B+ or better to run.

  • Allison

    The preschool makes me nervous. Yes, lower income children benefit greatly from it. But Head Start was intended for this need and in most places it is a babysitting program. I don’t see the need for M-F 8:30-5:3 preschool as they have in Stamford…or at least the need for taxpayers to fund that.

  • Allison

    Meant to add…great points everywhere else!

  • Long Time Educator

    I cannot thank you enough for all you write and all you research. People are reading what you write and I am emailing it and posting it everywhere I can. Do not be discouraged and do not stop writing about the bogus budget, the clear link between the state administrators and charter schools, and the complete governmental disregard for transparency in money decisions and appointments. It is a shame that Malloy has resorted to disaster capitalism as his mode for educational reform and has been bought by charter school corporations. No where in all that he says are teachers mentioned for their competence or asked to share their experience. I have much more to say …

    • jonpelto

      Thank you for speaking up. I know what great teachers did for me and I’ve seen what they have done for my children. I also know that teachers face unprecedented challenges in today’s classrooms – I’d like to see one of these policymakers last a day in classroom… and what I really want is to see them take the CMTs – I’m absolutely sure we’d see them drop their ignorant rhetoric and sit down at the table long enough to hear what teachers are saying is needed.

  • JoAnne Bauer

    I, too, am so appreciative of your analysis here & elsewhere.