As Governor Malloy’s PR operation continues pumping out the education reform rhetoric, we can be confident that should he seek re-election, he’ll be running on the most anti-public education record of any governor in living memory. His “Education Reform” package was certainly the most anti-teacher, anti-union bill introduced by any Democratic governor in the nation.
Earlier this year we heard Malloy claim, “I don’t mind teaching to the test as long as test scores go up,” while proudly uttering the falsehood that teachers need only show up for four years to get tenure.
Since then he has pushed an agenda that makes greater use of inappropriate standardized testing and has continued to champion a teacher evaluation system that relies on the outcome of those tests, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence the greater standardized testing leads to better outcomes.
Of course, that assumes that Malloy’s goal is better educational outcomes and not better salaries and better publicly funded contracts for the education reformers and the education reform industry that is rapidly sucking up more and more taxpayer funds in an attempt to fill their bank accounts and increase stock values.
By one estimate, the state is already spending $25 million a year on standardized testing, and that is before all the new testing kicks in.
Under Malloy’s approach and policies, cities and towns like Bridgeport, Hartford, Windham and New London are reducing teaching and support staff and dramatically increasing the number of standardized tests the children are forced to take.
Over the past weekend, a number of must read commentary pieces were published by Connecticut media outlets. Here are just three. Anyone concerned about ensuring our state provides every child with a high quality education should definitely read these pieces.
Wendy Lecker: It’s time to really put kids first
A favorite line of so-called education reformers is that we need to put students first and stop focusing on adults. However, these reformers then advocate policies that ignore the realities children experience. Achieving child-centric education policy requires first examining the lives of children, especially our most vulnerable.
As reported in Education Week, researchers at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard and elsewhere have studied how children’s lives affect learning and development. They found that a phenomenon called “toxic stress” has a profound influence on children’s ability to learn and their success later in life. Toxic stress includes physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence and the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship. Experiencing one or more of these events for a prolonged period puts the stress reaction system in a child’s body on permanent high alert. The result is that neural connections in the areas of the brain dedicated to learning and reasoning are fewer in number than they should be, and weaker, when they should be multiplying.
Sarah Darer Littman: Attract Great Teachers Without Cherry-Picking Evidence
After the less than flattering rhetoric and misinformation from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy regarding teachers during the education reform debate, it was refreshing to read that state Education Commissioner Stephen Pryor has suddenly decided that we should start trying to attract great teachers.
During a keynote address to the annual meeting of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Pryor apparently blamed a perception gap for the lack of great teachers. Pryor cited statistics from Finland, where he said 100 percent of school teachers came from the top third of their graduating class, according to the New Haven Independent. In the U.S., only 23 percent of our teachers came from the top third. In low-income U.S. communities, the percentage is only 14 percent.
But like most proponents of the corporate education reform model, Pryor is cherry-picking data to support his argument
Dianne Kaplan DeVries: Turkey Last Week, Another In The Oven?
The ECS Task Force has been slow-roasting its work at a low temperature over the past 15 months. Slow-roasting a turkey is a great way to prepare a Thanksgiving bird. It requires no expert cooking skills and no special tools, yet it produces a fully cooked, moist and tender bird. Not so with revamping state education aid! And just when it looked as if dishing-up time had arrived, the fowl was deemed too rare and returned to the oven.
Having earlier this month redirected my attention to the promise and progress of this illustrious body, I want to register disappointment with both the cooking process and the glimpsed product of their labors. Time to turn up the heat over the next few weeks in hopes of inspiring the group to serve up a more seasoned and tasty main course that some half a million public school kids and their school districts across the state, as well as the mill rates of 169 municipalities, may all be forced to eat should the legislature go along with the final recommendations.
First, let’s talk failed process. With so much at stake for virtually every community in the state and all current and future public school children, expectations were high that the task force would be conducted with great public transparency, reach out for advice from state and national experts in school finance, and intensively listen to input from all major stakeholder groups and knowledgeable citizens who stepped forth to weigh in on how best to modernize, rationalize, and suitably fund our public schools. Driving the issue was the constitutional challenge brought by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF), charging that the state’s current school finance system is inadequate and inequitable.