Three more MUST read commentary pieces on Connecticut’s “Education Reformers”

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.

Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-It-s-time-to-really-put-kids-first-4081549.php#ixzz2Dzy3sPwl

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

Read more http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_attract_great_teachers_without_cherry_picking_evidence/

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.

Read more http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_turkey_last_week_another_in_the_oven/

  • msavage

    As a person who currently makes a living (sort of) currently via words, it’s perhaps ironic that I’d be the one to keep saying this. But less talk, more action! Maybe, just maybe, the endless articles, letters, emails, and justifiable complaining will have an effect, eventually. But do we really have the time to keep going down this interminable road while the governor and his cronies are moving full-speed ahead? At this point how long would it take to undo the damage that has already been done? A decade? Longer? I’ve said it before I’ll say it again–what we need is thousands on the steps of the state building, not more letters to the editor. Letters and articles are wonderful, and I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t appreciate them and continue to produce them. Where would we be without Diane Ravitch, Jon Pelto and others? We’d be a heck of a lot less informed, that’s for certain. Is the pen really mightier than the sword? I don’t know. The pen is mighty, no doubt. But I haven’t even bothered to read the above articles (yet). I’m pretty sure I know what they say, and I’ll just become incensed all over again. But for what? What’s the point if we aren’t going to actually get off of our butts and take some action?

    • Suesylvester

      I think you are right…the pen is not really mightier than the sword and neither is the spoken word (young adults are all over youtube) “They” are gonna do what they are gonna do and I even wonder if gathering will only cause arrests?

      • msavage

        Not sure what you mean re the youtube reference. Are you saying that young adults are using youtube as a means to fight the “ed reform” misinformation? Re arrests–arrests for what? For peaceful protest? I suppose that is a possibility, but unlikely if protests remain peaceful. How far have we gotten with all of this talk so far? How much of the damage have we managed to slow or reverse? At what point does the damage done outweigh the fears (of arrest, of job pressures, etc?). If we really believe “They are gonna do what they are gonna do,” what is the point in even writing letters/articles and speaking out at all?

        • Suesylvester

          Yes our young adults make their own youtube videos and download them for discussion, protest..to speak their mind. It ‘SEEMS like the powers that be do what they are gonna do regardless of what we (the masses) do but not speaking and not writing letters is not an option. I agree with the poster above who says “lawsuits” need to be put into effect to create any change. I agree with you about the damage should outweigh the fears of arrest of job pressure etc unfortunately for most of us it does not……the youngsters fully believe it takes arrest to make a statement (as a parent I don’t like that)

        • msavage

          .”the youngsters fully believe it takes arrest to make a statement (as a parent I don’t like that)”

          Fortunately I believe (and hope) that the younger generation possesses more courage and drive than the one that raised them.

        • Suesylvester

          From a person who was arrested with others in a “peaceful” protest (four times) it is not something I wish for our kids. It does nothing but jam you up …if the press wants to make it front page news they do if they don’t they don’t. Our youth engaged heavily in the political process this year, working on political campaigns, creating blogs, free press, you tubes and I am very proud of them.

        • msavage

          Good for them. I don’t blame you for being proud of them. Sounds like they are very active. That’s fantastic.

          Unfortunately, in terms of what we’ve done in the past, I don’t think we have any template to go by. I think where we stand, politically, economically, socially, environmentally, is unlike anything we, as human beings and certainly as Americans, have ever experienced before. It might well take arrests and a willingness to put themselves on the line for our young people to even be able to wrest a future for themselves from the hands of the sociopaths who have gained control.

        • Suesylvester

          I absolutely agree with you in terms of not having a template to go by but to them it’s only life as they know it. It’s weird we can talk to them about history but this is their only frame of reference. I stood and watched a young man take a swing at a provocative wealthy sociopath (hartford west hartford area aristocrat) The youth was great they covered for him and got the young man out of there…he probably would have been arrested BUT he was so upset he left and ended up in an accident. What was his beef…he was a College grad with student loans being paid 10 hourly to be a graphic artist for one of the richest businessmen in the hartfords with equipment that was outdated….all the while the rich businessman openly treated him (and everyone in his employ) like garbage…some things are not worth going to jail over.

        • msavage

          I think that’s exactly the kind of thing that maybe IS worth going to jail over.

        • Suesylvester

          It is difficult to “see” our businesses that do not re invest in themselves, don’t pay their employees well but have no problem with a hostile climate or DRIVING AWAY IN THEIR 90K CAR WITH A SMIRK ON THEIR FACE. …then cry poor! I understood why the young man went off!

        • msavage

          I understand why the young man went off as well. And so do a lot of other people, I’m sure. How long do “they” think that the violent impulses will remain under control? How long before a spark ignites the tinderbox that this nation has become? If peaceful folks who would like to see things resolved without violence do not force change, how long before less-peaceful folks take matters into their own hands? If a college-educated, employed young man has a hard time controlling his violent impulses in the face of such disregard for morality and humanity, imagine how hard it might be for someone with impulse-control issues? If businessmen such as the one you describe are not driven by empathy or shame to change their ways, you’d think they’d at least be driven by a sense of self-preservation. In this climate, I’d say that people like him are probably putting themselves in danger through their continued sociopathic actions.

      • Bill Morrison

        Then let’s get arrested! Then we can publish our own “Letter FRom Birmingham Jail”.

    • Bill Morrison

      I keep saying that talk is cheap, that we must tie our words with actions. But, it is far easier said than done. To date, Truth in Education has distributed our Adamowski Rap Sheet; only four of us participated at Windham and only two in New London. We all get too burdened with our daily lives for this to be an easy task. BUT IT MUST BE DONE!!!

      None of history’s great people affected change without committed action. We need protest; we need demonstrations; we need lawsuits. Without them, our talk is “Dust in the Wind”.

      • msavage

        I agree 100%.

  • msavage
    • Linda174

      Did you see the video?

      • msavage

        Oh, yep–sorry, meant to link to the video, not the comments section. 🙂

        • Linda174

          We need to crash more of these….have to find out where and when and nationally….we can spread the word via Ravitch.

        • msavage

          GREAT idea! Become a major PITA to these shameless creeps.

        • Linda174

          I think we already are…we just have to be “in your face” about it….local BOE meetings, state BOE, rallies, teach-ins, community awareness…people to people, teacher to parent, etc. We are getting there.

        • msavage

          My thought is that we are no more than a minor PITA at the moment. I would liken it to a horse and a fly. A minor annoyance, requiring an occasional flick of the tail, but the horse just goes on eating and his day really isn’t disrupted. In the meantime, the “reformers” are moving at warp speed. The damage they are doing will cause years, perhaps decades, to undo. Think of the children who are being used as guinea pigs and cash cows at this very moment. We need to be more than just an annoying fly on the ass of the horse.

        • Bill Morrison

          We need people to show up en masse, particularly at state BoE meetings. We need to be a LOUD voice, not just a whisper. We found out that reporters will not print what we have to say unless we make them through actions. We need to create a newsworthy event such as a demonstration at Pryor’s office. In other words, we need to act, then talk. Nothing will happen until then.

    • Bill Morrison

      GOD BLESS HER!!!! Now, we must do the same.