As if the term “Special Master” wasn’t bad enough, the fact that Steven Adamowski’s insulting, arrogant and undemocratic style is moving Windham Schools in the wrong direction makes the whole situation truly offensive.
In a very enlightening article in the Reminder News, reporter Melanie Savage provides a window in to the devastation that Adamowski is visiting upon the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Windham.
With a growing Latino student population, Adamowski’s utter disregard for Windham’s bilingual and English Language Learner programs are a prime example of Adamowski’s approach to “education reform.”
Services for the district’s growing population of bilingual and English language learners have been virtually eliminated.
Despite the fact that intensive instruction is needed to provide students with the English language skills they need, Adamowski has systematically reduced intensive support programs and replaced them with what is being called “bilingual support.”
Morale among Windham teachers is extremely low and many of the communities’ best teachers are leaving to take jobs in communities where they are given the administrative support needed to properly service their students.
As one courageous teacher explained, “We’ve seen things happening that we know don’t represent the best interests of our students,” said Kathy Koljian, an English and language arts teacher at Windham High School. Koljian is the Teacher of the Year at Windham High School.
And Windham Middle School Teacher of the Year, Patty Roy added that Windham’s students are simply “not getting what they need…”
Even the most basic analysis of the situation reveals the absurdity of some of Adamowski’s actions.
The article reports that, “programs that were designed to support students struggling with behavioral issues have been dismantled. The Connections program at WHS and the Green Team at WMS were functioning very well for these students, say the teachers. But the programs have been eliminated, and the students returned to regular classrooms. This has affected students across the spectrum; needier students are not getting the support that they need, and average and above-average students are having their classrooms disrupted, according to the teachers.”
The reporter goes on to explain that, “Another hurried decision made unilaterally by the special master, said teachers, was the division of Windham High School into two separate academies – the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy and the Academy of Humanities and Arts. As teachers prepare for the second year since the change, ‘We still don’t have curriculum for either one,’ said Koljian. And this year’s CAPT scores show significantly lower performance by students in the Humanities and Arts academy than those in the STEM academy across most areas, suggesting that the academy model is serving to segregate students rather than unite them.”
Although state and local resources are extremely scarce, Special Master Adamowski has also dramatically expanded the number of administrators and diverted money toward hiring TFA recruits rather than teachers who went through Connecticut based teacher education programs such as those at UConn and Connecticut State University.
Certainly one of the most troubling developments has been Adamowski’s unilateral, and arguably illegal, maneuvers that will led to further racial and ethnic segregation in Windham’s Schools.
In two highly suspicious deals, Adamowski created new programs to allow a limited number of students to attend Norwich Free Academy and Parish Hill. Calling it a “school choice” program, Adamowski’s initiatives drain resources away from Windham’s underfunded schools and because student transportation isn’t provided and neither NFA nor Parish Hill are equipped to provide meaningful English Language Learning programs, Adamowski’s plan is a de facto mechanism to discriminate against poorer students, those who aren’t fluent in English and those that come from families in which English is not the primary language.
While Connecticut’s Constitution and laws clearly forbid discrimination, Adamowski’s actions are taking Windham in exactly the wrong direction.
Taken together, the recent developments in Windham leave Adamowski with nothing short of a failing grade.
The question now is whether the Connecticut legislature will step in to reverse the damage being done by Governor Malloy’s Special Master.
You can find the full Reminder News article on Windham at: http://www.remindernews.com/article/2013/08/26/teachers-speak-out-about-changes-in-windham