A CT superintendent speaks: Madison’s Thomas Scarice and the Power of truth

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What happens when a superintendent of schools stands up and speaks out!

For more than two years many Connecticut teachers, public school advocates, parents of public school students and others have been warning about the dangers that will result from Governor Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative.

When public school teachers recently gathered in large groups at events sponsored by their teacher unions, legislators started to take notice.

When West Hartford Teach Elizabeth Natale wrote her Hartford Courant commentary piece entitled, “Why I Want To Give Up Teaching,”  the fundamental message went “viral” and even Governor Malloy, the one who introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-charter school, anti-public education reform bill of any Democratic Governor in the country was forced to lower his arrogance a bit and come down from on  high to pretend to address teacher’s concerns.

In a letter that is equally as powerful, the Superintendent of Schools in Madison, Connecticut, Thomas Scarice met with local officials and state legislators in his area and read them a letter he had written about the environment surrounding public education in Connecticut.

Not only is Thomas Scarice’s letter the most profound and powerful statement we have heard yet from a Connecticut Superintendent of Schools but it is one of the most forceful documents that any school administrator in the nation has written.

The nation’s leading public school champion, Diane Ravitch, has already named Superintendent Thomas Scarice one of the country’s pro-public education champions.

The follow letter reiterates why he earned that title and why Connecticut’s Governor, Education Commissioner, State Board of Education, State Legislators and State Representatives would do well to read the letter, read it again, and then act to save Connecticut’s public schools before it is too late.

The Letter from Superintendent Thomas Scarice to his Connecticut State Legislators:

As a superintendent of schools it is incumbent upon me to ground my work with my local board of education. My work must be grounded in two areas: in accurately framing problems to solve, and most importantly, in proposing solutions grounded in evidence, research, and legitimate literature to support a particular direction. Any other approach would be irresponsible and I’m certain my board would reject such shortcuts and hold me accountable.

In our profession, we have the fortune of volumes of literature and research on our practices. We have evidence to guide our decision making to make responsible decisions in solving our problems of practice. This is not unlike the field of medicine or engineering. To ignore this evidence, in my estimation, is irresponsible.

Legislators across the state have heard from, and will continue to hear loudly from, educators about what is referred to as education reforms. Webster defines “reform” as “a method to change into an improved condition.” I believe that legislators will continue to hear from the thousands of educators across the state because the reforms, in that sense, are not resulting in an improved condition. In fact, a case can be made that the conditions have worsened.

To be fair, the reforms did, in fact, shine a light on the role of evaluation in raising the performance of our workforce. There were cases of a dereliction of duty in the evaluation of professional staff. This is unacceptable and was not the norm for all school districts.

However, I would like to make the case that these reforms will not result in improved conditions since they are not grounded in research, the evidence that supports professional decision-making, like a doctor or engineer. It is simply a matter of substance. The evidence is clear in schools across the state. It is not working.

We have spent the better part of the last 12 years with a test-based accountability movement that has not led to better results or better conditions for children. What it has led to is a general malaise among our profession, one that has accepted a narrowing of the curriculum, a teaching to the test mentality, and a poorly constructed redefinition of what a good education is. Today, a good education is narrowly defined as good test scores. What it has led to is a culture of compliance in our schools.

We have doubled-down on the failed practices of No Child Left Behind. Not only do we subscribe to a test and punish mentality for school districts, we have now drilled that mentality down to the individual teacher level.

We have an opportunity to listen to the teachers, administrators, parents, and even the students, to make the necessary course corrections. We know what is coming. We’ve seen it happen in other states. We can easily look at the literature and predict how this story ends. New York, Kentucky and so forth, these states are about one year ahead of Connecticut. Why would we think it will end any differently for our state? We can take action to prevent the inevitable.

We have an opportunity. You as legislators have an opportunity. Our students and communities are counting on us.

I am pleased to see that the Governor has asserted his authority to address this deeply rooted problem. But we cannot stop there.

I ask the following:

1. Do not be lulled into solutions that promote “delay.” Although the problem is being framed as an issue of implementation timelines and volume, I contend that this is much more about substance than delays. Revisit the substance of these reforms, particularly the rigidity of the teacher evaluation guidelines.

2. As you revisit the substance, demand the evidence and research that grounds the reforms, just as a board of education would demand of a superintendent. You will find, as I have, that the current reforms are simply not grounded in research. As legislators, demand the evidence, particularly the literature that illustrates the damaging effects of high stakes test scores in teacher evaluations. Demand the evidence that demonstrates that this approach is valid and will withstand legal scrutiny. Demanding evidence is how every local board of education holds their administrators accountable.

3. Build on the Governor’s first steps and create even greater flexibility for local districts to innovate and create. This is 2014…standardizing our work across all schools is not the answer. That’s the factory / assembly line mentality that got public schools into this mess. We need a diversity of thought, similar to a “crowd sourcing” approach, if we are to solve the problems of the 21st century. Above all, commit to the principle that “one size fits all” does not work. We would never accept that from individual teachers in their work with students, why should we accept “one size fits all” for very different school districts across the state? There are indeed alternative approaches that fit the context and needs of individual districts. I would be happy to provide with you with our example. You, as legislators, can create the space for innovation to thrive. Promote innovation, not mere compliance.

4. Revisit the No Child Left Behind waiver that was filed with the U. S. Department of Education. This is consistently presented as the trump card in any discussion involving modifications to the reform package passed a couple of years ago. We’ve been told that we cannot make changes because of promises made to the federal government. Was there a lower threshold for compliance with the No Child Left Behind waiver? Can we take a more aggressive approach for our state and not be dictated to by the federal government to this degree? This resonates at the local level and ought to at least be considered.

5. Finally, do not be a cynic, but be a skeptic about the common core. How can this be done?

  • Demand the evidence to support whether or not the standards are age-appropriate for our youngest learners. Demand the input of early childhood experts like the 500+ nationally recognized early childhood professionals who signed a joint statement expressing “grave concerns” about the K-3 standards. Or perhaps seek input right here in Connecticut from the early childhood experts at the Geselle Institute in New Haven. 
  • Demand the evidence that supports that every child should master the same benchmarks every year when we know that all children develop at different rates. 
  • Demand an accurate accounting of the current and, more importantly, future costs of implementing the common core and the new Smarter Balanced (SBAC) testing system. 
  • Demand the evidence that supports coupling the common core to unproven tests. In just weeks, many students will sit for these new tests. They will serve as subjects to “test out the test.” It is quite possible that you will hear even more from parents after the tests are administered. Be proactive and seek these answers in advance of the inevitable questions you will be asked.

I want to close by stating that I personally have between eighteen to twenty more years to serve in this state and I look at these problems in a very long-term sense. What can we do now, not for this year or next, but in the long-term to be the shining example for the rest of the country that Connecticut’s public education system once was considered? I’m committed to this work and I will continue that commitment for nearly two more decades.

I ask you to seize this opportunity.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Thomas R. Scarice
Superintendent of Schools, Madison Connecticut
10 Campus Drive
PO Box 71
Madison, CT. 06443
www.madison.k12.ct.us

 

Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public school advocates  needs more public school superintendents to follow Thomas Scarice’s action and step up and speak out.  The very future of public education in Connecticut and the nation depends on their courage.

  • educationmatters

    Thomas Scarice is a brilliant educator and leader who himself was once an advocate for testing. If Thomas is speaking, then Guilford, Clinton, Region 17 and other areas are in agreement and most probably supporting him. Given the resources, financial and otherwise in those small shore towns, don’t be surprised when things start shifting away now.

    • ReTired

      I applaud Scarice’s assertions; however, what makes his letter most compelling is the fact that he’s got a plan, asks rhetorical questions, and obviously in a good way wants to be a part of the solution! As previously posted, valid, peer-reviewed literature and research were never a part of the Malloy solution. Madison’s teachers should do more than bake him a cake! That town always had exceptional superintendents! We need more like him in CT.

  • Kathy CT

    Where are the rest of the superintendents who should be willing to speak out? I guess too many of them still want to play nice with Pryor. Standardized tests were never designed to assess teacher effectiveness. Any testing expert will tell you that. The purpose of assessment is to inform instruction.

    • cindy

      Charlotte Danielson even said her rubric was never meant for teacher evaluations as well. It was meant as a feedback tool to improve teaching practices, not to rate teachers.

      Those two pieces combined equal 85% of a teacher’s evaluation – flawed, erroneous measures being pushed through!

  • realsaramerica

    I am up in Vermont at a writing retreat with published children’s book authors and illustrators, many of whom are current and former teachers. Over lunch, discussed CCSS and testing with an educator from VA, who said imposition of SOLs destroyed a great curriculum in her county. What are we doing to our kids? What are we doing to our country? We’re committing readicide, screwing up the way kids learn to write, and we’re driving talented teachers out of the profession.

  • mookalaboona

    This is extremely well written. Thank you.

  • Tom Burns

    You are another one of my heroes Tom–thanks for your brave stance-it is much appreciated

    • KHSDD

      You play both sides of the fence very well, Tom. Always have.

  • ctteacher

    I am a New Haven teacher – THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Passionate Teacher

    Thank you Superintendent Scarice for speaking out in support of teachers, children, and public education. I am a veteran kindergarten teacher in CT who is concerned about our children and how they are being effected by the CCSS. As we know, all children develop and learn at different rates, especially the youngest of our learners. It seems to me that the creators of the common core set standards with no regard to weather or not they were developmentally appropriate. It is unrealistic and unfair to put pressure on 4 and 5 year olds that are not devopmentally prepared to reach these lofty goals. So much emphasis is being placed on these academic standards that we have forgotten the more important aspect of early childhood education; the social/emotional piece. Young children need to learn to self regulate, to work cooperatively with others, learn to become risk takers, and gain confidence to develop independence. These are the skills that will help our children grow into successful adults and contributors to our society. I was saddened and angry this week when my colleagues and I had to defend, to our administrators, the continuation of play centers in our kindergarten classrooms. It is apparent that they have developed tunnel vision and cannot see the value in anything that isn’t directly related to the CCSS. We have now been told to write weekly plans for every play center such as blocks and dramatic play, supporting each one with a CCSS. What is the purpose for this rediculous task, besides taking more instructional time away from my students? It is for the administrators to refer to when they don’t know what they are looking at. It is to judge and evaluate me as a teacher, as they whisk through my classroom on their 5-10 min. walk-through. Unfortunately, the CCSS has made them lose sight of what is important in a Kindergarten classroom and how 4 and 5 year olds learn. Young children learn through exploring the world around them. As teachers it is our job to nuture their enquisitiveness and help them to discover, problem solve, learn how to ask questions, and how to seek out the answers. We should be teaching them HOW to learn so they will develop a love of learning and become life long learners. I only hope that more administrators, like yourself, wake up and have the courage to speak up for the sake of our children, our profession, and public education.

    • cindy

      This is so important to share. Would you consider writing a letter to the paper? Most parents, especially those just entering the public school with young children, don’t know what they don’t know! This is going to literally ruin/traumatize a generation of children, and we may not know the impact for years!!

  • Missy Anthrope

    DUMP PRYOR … HIRE Scarice

    This message is not paid for. It is sincere.

    SCARICE for COMMISH!

  • Pingback: A Connecticut Superintendent Sums It Up Well. Lets Fix It Now! : Education Watch USA

  • teachah

    Recently, I met with a middle school student’s mother to share his report card with her. Their family immigrated to the US last year from a war-torn central African country after spending some years in a refugee camp. In simple but thoughtful English, she shared that she was seriously concerned about the narrowness of our curriculum, which of course focuses largely on reading, writing, and math. Her son loves and is quite knowledgeable about geography, history, civics, and politics. How shameful that America is not offering social studies instruction that can even match the level of what is available at a UN refugee camp! The piecemeal social studies via literacy we offer our students is sad. We are in no way preparing our students to be engaged citizens of our communities.

    • Passionate Teacher

      Nor are we preparing them to become citizens of the world.

      • jonpelto

        The fact that there is no history, geography or civics that are core to the Common Core says it all!

  • PeterP

    Superintendent Scarice asks that we question whether the common core standards are age appropriate for our youngest learners. It is important to remember that Connecticut is one of a handful of states that allow children to enter kindergarten at 4 years, 9 months. Twenty percent of parents in Madison, Guilford and several Fairfield County districts know that is too young and hold them out for a year. The teachers in our urban areas know that is too young and they end up retaining six percent of their kindergarten students.

    • joek

      i was an advocate of the 5.6 rule( 5 years, 6 months ) when i taught(36yrs.) which i am still in favor of. every young parent who listened to my advice has forever thanked me. some call it redshirting, call it what you like, it works…

    • susanrubinsky

      I absolutely agree that we need to change our kindergarten policy, mainly because it adds an extra problem where in the age in a classroom can range from 4-6 which is a huge issue for educators and for curriculum selection. However, in conjunction there must be some kind of Pre-K solution that enables people, especially in inner cities, to send their kids to programs where they are introduced to more words at earlier ages.

  • susanrubinsky

    As an everyday citizen, I have to say that this argument is lacking a good organizational structure and, more importantly, actual citation of evidence. The author makes off handed references to evidence but doesn’t actually cite it to prove his arguments. If I was his writing teacher, he’d get no higher than a C and he’d get a lot of editing notes in red pencil. I am appalled that someone whose writing is this disorganized is an actual superintendent of schools.

    As a parent whose son attended a charter school in New Haven, CT, I can tell you first hand that many of the opinions this man makes are incorrect. The school my son attended tested rigorously and regularly and all curriculum was standardized. Testing occurred every six weeks. Until students learn discipline and rigor in core disciplines of reading, writing, mathematics and science, Connecticut will continue to loose rank in the United States for it’s overall public education system. As it stands, we have the worst achievement gap in the nation.

    The charter school my son attended ranked highly in standardized test scores against the most competitive towns in this state and ranked nationally as the the third top performing middle school in the United States for minority and socio-economically disadvantaged students.

    If our state public education sector fails to integrate such best practices that have been developed in some our state’s academically successful charter schools, then we will continue to lag behind, both nationally and internationally, with negative consequences not just for academic achievement, but for state population, and correspondingly, economic health.

    • tea cha

      Congratulations on citing ONE counter example… and an example, by the way, that you have complete control over in that it is your own son. If you think that regularly testing students is the answer, I suggest you read this book: http://zhaolearning.com/2012/05/25/my-new-book-world-class-learners-educating-creative-and-entrepreneurial-students/

      • susanrubinsky

        It wasn’t just my son. It was every practically every child in the school he attended. There is a reason my son’s 8th grade class ranked in the top 10 Connecticut school districts in the CT mastery Tests for Math. It was not just my son’s test scores. These schools — run by Achievement First — have shown repeated success in bringing academic excellence to public schooling through standardized curriculum and utilizing aggressive testing. It works and they publish the numbers to prove it.

        You can find out more about Achievement First here – http://www.achievementfirst.org/

        • CJ

          I attended private schools almost my entire school career. I now have worked in public schools for 14 years. Here are my questions for you:
          1) What is the admission policy like? Does Achievement First accept everyone? Is there a random lottery? Do they accept based on prior academic achievement?
          2) What happens when a student doesn’t do well? Can they be asked to leave?
          3) What are the attitudes and values of the families that attend Achievement First? Do they value education, support achievement at home and generally strive for success?
          I respectfully ask those questions because I can compare two schools that do the exact same things and get very different results. My experience has led me to believe that the only difference between public and private education is that private schools have a community of learners that care about education. That variable alone is enough to tip the scales.

          • susanrubinsky

            I generally
            agree with you about the basic difference between public and private; but there
            is also an inherent underlying issue of socio-economic advantage and
            disadvantage.

            Achievement First schools accept students through a lottery open
            to all public school students in the city or district they are in (AF runs
            schools in New York City and in Connecticut so the charters are different in
            NYC). There are no prerequisites except living in that city or district. The
            year my son went, there were 700 applicants for every open slot.

            Students who do not do well are given extra support and help.
            The same applies for students who show accelerated aptitude in a specific area.
            (For example, my son was gifted in math so the school created an extra program
            where my son was given one-on-one tutoring in advanced mathematics four days a
            week for an hour each day with applicable homework, etc.)

            All families are required to sign an agreement with the school,
            agreeing to specific educational goals and agreeing to support those goals.
            Parents/Guardians are expected to uphold specific goals and requirements such
            as attending report card meetings with teachers.

            In addition, there is a zero tolerance policy for class
            disruption. Kids who disrupt classes are immediately removed from class and
            sent to the Dean of Discipline for “stealing the education of
            others.” The child is required to complete all missing learning and
            classwork that resulted in his/her not being in class. The standardized
            curriculum makes this easy as all teachers are trained in the curriculum so any
            teacher can then help that child to make up the work. All rules and resultant disciplinary
            systems are consistent from classroom to classroom and from school to school.
            Every child knows what the rules are what the punishment will be, no matter
            where they are. (This was a big selling point for me when we were looking at
            middle schools since it had been my experience that there were wildly
            fluctuating expectations of behavior from classroom to classroom. This is
            another case where I think public education would benefit from
            standardization.)

            There are rarely students who are asked to leave the schools (I
            can recall only one case from the four years my son was there) but some
            kids/families do decide to leave due to the rigorous academic expectations.

            Overall, these schools have shown an extremely high success
            rate. In most cases these schools are serving mostly minorities and mostly
            socio-economically disadvantaged families. Kids who enter these schools in 5th
            grade a typically 2-3 grade levels behind and leave the schools at or above
            level.

            In view of the larger discussion here, I experienced first-hand
            a school that aggressively used testing in ways that showed results and
            benefited children. This is why I am appalled that so many people seem to be up
            in arms about standardized testing. I know there are examples where
            standardized testing works and examples of where it doesn’t work. The argument is
            being framed incorrectly as For/Against and instead should be about
            incorporating standardization frameworks that have been proven to work and
            discarding standardized frameworks which have been proven to not work.

          • KHSDD

            AF will accept any kid. However, if a kid becomes a problem the kid is gone in a matter of days.

        • realsaramerica

          That’s interesting Susan. Because I have interviewed many Achievement parents, both here AND in New York state, who have had a very different experience than you have with Achievement First. And that’s before we get into the abuse of special education students, the highest number of suspensions in the state, the appalling attrition numbers from 9-12 grade which underly the “100% of our seniors go to a four year college.” And let me ask you another question: If the Achievement First formula is really so wonderful, why has Dacia Toll announced that they are hiring a consultant to completely redesign it from the ground up?

          • susanrubinsky

            The testing/scoring data speaks for itself, subjective opinions aside. AF has a history of refining standards and frameworks as new data becomes available. I have yet to review the new plan so will withhold comment until doing so.

          • realsaramerica

            “The testing/scoring data speaks for itself” As does the special ed lawsuit in Hartford and attrition rate.

          • jonpelto

            Achievement First fails to take its fair share of children in poverty, children who face language barriers, children who need special education services and children who have behavioral or discipline issues. It “appears” to do better than some of its other urban neighborhood schools because it refuses to provide educational services to the full range of students who make up the community. AF and ConnCAN have more than a tendency to misstate the facts.

            There are dozens and dozens of public schools across Connecticut that do much better than AF Schools. Comparing AF to the top 10 schools is absurd because of the differences in demographics and financing for those “top ten” schools. But you said AF was among the top 10 for 8th graders. Here is where the AF schools stand compared to the top ten;

            Town CMT Score 2011
            Avon 294.4
            Brookfield 292.4
            East Granby 290.9
            East Lyme 291.9
            Easton 291.4
            Farmington 292.2
            Granby 294.3
            Guilford 294.5
            Kent 293.1
            Redding 296.9
            Regional District #5 295.4
            Westport 294.9

            Achievement First Elm City 271.5
            Achievement First Bridgeport 266.2
            Achievement First Amistad 279.2

        • jonpelto

          Before I respond – do you want to clarify – you said “8th grade class ranked in the top 10 Connecticut school districts in the CT mastery Tests for Math.”

          You don’t mean in Connecticut right?

          And what year was that?

          • susanrubinsky

            Yes, it was Connecticut. It was the year my son was in 7th or 8thgrade. So it must have been around 2009. It was the same year that the school ranked nationally and there
            was an article at that time citing the data in the New York Times. I
            would have to do some sleuthing around, but I have the data in archive.

    • Mary

      Before criticizing someone else’s writing you probably should have proofread your own. LOOSE rank? I don’t think so. Red ink to you, too.

    • KHSDD

      What do you know about “best practices”, Susan? You lack basic spelling and grammar skills. “It’s” is for it is. Its is accurate when referring to CT’s education system. Also, how does an entity “loose” rank?

      • willie

        I have absolutely no skin in this game whatsoever. I am not a teacher, but have a few relatives who are.

        And my kids are grown, went to public schools, with mixed results, though my son is now a successful attorney.

        That being said, I have to say, my conclusion after reading these comments, some of which were petty and snarky, is that there are teachers out there who are more concerned about their jobs, than they are about the state of education in CT.

        If you REALLY cared about the students, you would be in favor of ANY alternative system, as in charter schools, which would benefit children.

        I don’t claim to have an answer to the problems with the public schools, other than I recognize the unions to be a problem, and the lack of self policing of bad teachers to be a problem. When I had a problem with an insane grammar school teacher, I complained to the principal, who took copious notes of the conversation, and then did nothing about it. Instead, the teacher was transferred to a different school to do the same thing there….problem solved.

        I also realize teachers have one hand tied behind their backs, when it comes to discipline, disruption in class, and parents who think their kids can do no wrong. And certainly teaching in Madison or Greenwich has to be a breeze compared to New Haven or Bridgeport.

        There are good teachers and bad teachers, good doctors and bad doctors, etc. The difference is we can choose to change doctors or lawyers in the private sector if we are not satisfied. It is not that easy when your son’s 4th grade teacher sucks, and you just get stonewalled by administration.

        I am so happy I do not have to deal with this situation anymore.. If and when my children have children, you can be sure I will suggest private schools.

        • KHSDD

          willie — Why must teachers believe in “any” alternative system? What evidence and expertise do you have to make such an assertion and, worse, label as uncaring teachers who refuse to blindly support alternative systems, including charters?
          Further, your statement regarding one’s ability to change lawyers and doctors but not teachers is false. Students are moved to different teachers, per parental request, more frequently than you apparently know. Perhaps you came off as an ignorant snob and angered school officials with whom you spoke?
          As for the petty/snarky comments to which you alluded in response to my post, here is my position: If you’re going to pontificate in a public forum, especially regarding education, you should have a strong command of the English language and its conventions.

          • willie

            KHSDD…and there in lies the problem with teachers, maybe not all teachers, but certainly you…. the fact you would ask the question…”Why must teachers believe in “any” alternative system?”

            I did not say you have to “believe” in anything. The point you are missing is that there should be alternatives. It should be whatever is best for the children, not what is best for union teachers.

            The only ignorant snob is you. You have no idea what I know and what I don’t know. And I never once asked for a new teacher for either one of my children. I was only pointing out issues with a lunatic teacher, who was embarrassing her students by ripping up student’s papers in front of the class for not putting a name on it. Gee, was that you, by chance??

            And, as usual, a typical condescending, know it all response from someone whose only concern is the next paycheck.

            This is an informal forum, where syntax and punctuation should not matter.

            I can see you have a command of the English language, it’s just too bad your message is self serving, and just plain wrong.

          • KHSDD

            Did you not write that if teachers “really” cared they would be in favor of “any” alternative system?

            Did you not write that one can change doctors and lawyers if he or she desires but will get “stonewalled” by administration for raising concerns about a teacher?

            You are desperate for an argument, bottom line, bitter over the alleged actions of your grammar school teacher. Boo hoo. What were you doing when she was giving directions? Writing one’s name is the automatic first thing to do on schoolwork. That is taught in kindergarten. Perhaps you didn’t write your name because you couldn’t spell it?

            You are right: poor teachers exist.

            That said the majority of educators I know (from my school experience to my daughter’s to my career) are kind, demanding, relentless, generous and inspiring. Looking back, my best teachers were those who pushed me, refusing to accept crap and calling me out when warranted. They weren’t lunatics; they prepared me for a tough world.

            You had a bad experience; well grow some skin and get over it. Your teacher bashing is a lame attempt to deflect focus from where education begins — the home.

            BTW, I don’t think all attorneys are money-thirsty, win-at-all-costs scumbags.

          • JC

            Superintendent Thomas Scarice is in charge of the Madison public school system. Students in this public school system have excellent benchmark test scores. Student CMT, CAPT, ACT and SAT scores are very good. Many students from this district have excellent success in colleges and universities. Many students can critically read and critically write. Superintendent Scarice is not a member of any teacher union. It seems to me that perhaps the many claims he makes should not be dismissed. It seems to me that when a superintendent of a high performing school district writes or speaks about important educational issues, people should carefully evaluate those ideas and not discard them.

            If you get a chance go to: http://solutions1.emetric.net/captpublic/Index.aspx
            or google “CAPT Scores”. A website called “Data Interaction for Connecticut Academic Performance Test” will come up on your computer screen. You can find CAPT scores for Connecticut public, magnate and charter schools. I might be wrong, but I cannot seem to find any magnet or charter school that comes even close to the CAPT scores of Hand High School in Madison. I also checked the CMT scores and found Madison had very high CMT scores too. Based on this data, it seems to me that Superintendent Scarice is writing from a point of strength and not based on any fear of Madison students having to take benchmark tests.

          • willie

            Good grief…. that chip on your shoulder too big to lift??

            You jump to way too many false conclusions for me to waste my time refuting…

            You obviously are against alternatives for children..and that was my point.

            I used my son’s experience with a God awful teacher as an example of the bureaucracy in dealing with a bad teacher… A parent complains and the teacher just gets transferred for another principal to deal with.

            As I said earlier, my sister is a teacher, and I know most teachers are competent and caring.. But you all look the other way when there is a bad one among you.

            I never said a word about education not beginning at home, so how do you reach the conclusion I am deflecting from that point??

            The truth is you are one strange bird.

            Your comments are completely random and it is you who is deflecting from the fact that you see charter schools as competition because you know the concerned parents will move their motivated children to motivated teachers, away from people like you who just care about the paycheck…

            I will not be coming back to read any response because you are a moron. And having a battle of wits with a witless person is no fun.

  • GK Madison

    As an educator and parent, I am proud to live in Madison and excited for my daughter to go through high school next year. BUT, sadly, I feel that I can’t teach like I use to in the past and know I will give up teaching far earlier then I would have liked.
    Cheers to Scarice and what he stands for!

  • Jim

    The time has come for us to stand up as educators and demonstrate to the state and nation that we are intelligent professionals who are tired of being used as pawns to achieve the myopic, ill-informed and fallacious agendas of politicians and special interest groups seeking to promote charter and
    private schools at the expense of public schools. The educational reform efforts of the last few years have been regressive,
    repressive and oppressive, as well as dismissive of educators, who as highly educated professionals, are trained to know best how to develop young minds.

    The tragic irony of these reform efforts is based on a 19th century mindset that is intended to prepare students for
    success in the 21st century! To paraphrase Einstein “…you can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created the problem in the first place”.

    We are currently poised on a jagged precipice that if taken one-step further may irreversibly lead to the downfall of
    education in this country. The current reform efforts are designed to systematize, standardize and align the learning process using a “factory” model of “one size fits all”. Moreover, this totally misguided approach to fostering meaningful learning is undermining the development of imagination, creativity (applied imagination) and innovation (applied creativity) that made this nation a leading world power.

    What is needed, now more than ever, is a paradigm shift in what
    this country’s leaders recognize as the skill-set of thinking processes requisite for success in the 21st century. Please write to you local congressional officials and urge them to heed Mr. Scarice’s eloquent and profound assessment of the current mandate they are advocating to educate Connecticut’s children. Furthermore, emphasize that authentic educational reform can only emerge from within the ranks of trained educational professionals. Authentic educational reform can only arise from professional educators whose honed skill-base, expertise, dedication
    and passion provides them with the ability to fully understand and respond to the needs and challenges of effectively educating children for success in the 21st century.

    Jim

  • gwen peterson

    I can’t begin to describe to the degree I am disgusted with our educational system. The educational system puts a limit on class size for the base line classes but overloads the classes that the teachers will get bonus pay on. I don’t need to really spell that one out, do I?? The high school teachers mantra is that the they don’t have to teach because the kids need to be able to do college level work. Well last time I checked the college students carries 15 credits to be full time and if I weight my daughters classes she would be carrying 35 credits. May I also point out that college professors do teach their classes and quite effectively. Maybe we should run the high schools like colleges or do I dare say get rid of high school and let the kids begin college instead. Oh hush, you say because all those folks will be out of work and then I have to wonder again what is the real intention of the school system. That is what happens when government is in control and the individual is not. One final note for all of you………why are so many kids developing stress related diseases and having to go to therapy to counteract what we are doing to them in the name of…………uh what was it again……job security. My daughters recent epilepsy has opened my eyes to what the school system is doing behind the scenes to our kids.