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Posts tagged ‘connecticut education’

Yes, Money Matters

As every teacher knows, the last thing students need is less education funding. Yet, as hard as it is to believe, the perception that education funding makes little or no difference in student success persists.

These are beliefs, says Bruce D. Baker, professor of education at Rutgers University in New Jersey, that are based on outdated and faulty research. Baker is the author of a report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) that confirms what educators know to be true — students benefit from more school funding.

“While money alone is not the answer to all educational ills,” Baker writes in the report, “more equitable and adequate allocation of financial inputs to schooling provides a necessary underlying condition for improving the equity and adequacy of outcomes.”

Read more.

CEA Summer Conference, Day Two: The Deep Dive

John Mastroianni and Tiffany Reynolds

Trumbull Education Association President John Mastroianni and Tolland teacher Tiffany Reynolds exchange ideas at CEA’s Summer Conference.

Energy levels remain high on day two of CEA’s Summer Conference, where hundreds of teachers have reconvened in Cromwell for intensive training, networking, and the sharing of ideas, concerns, and best practices.

“This is my second time attending,” says Tolland teacher Tiffany Reynolds. “The first time was last year, as an emerging leader. Since then, I’ve worked on two grievances, and I’m here to learn how to do that more effectively so that I can be the best advocate for my colleagues.” Read more

New CEA Treasurer Elected

Waterbury teacher Kevin Egan was elected CEA treasurer at yesterday’s Board of Directors meeting.

The CEA Board of Directors last night elected Waterbury teacher Kevin Egan to the office of CEA treasurer. Egan, the president of the Waterbury Teachers Association, says he is committed to exercising the fiduciary responsibilities of the position with the highest standards of care and restraint.

As CEA enters a new era in the history of labor organizing, Egan says he will do his utmost to ensure that the Association continues to “maintain diligent management of the funds that our member teachers from all over Connecticut faithfully contribute to CEA every year.” Read more

Raise Property Taxes? Coalition, Voters Say ‘No’

CEA President Sheila Cohen called the cost-shift plan “devastating” at a press conference today.

Speaking out at a town hall press conference in West Hartford—which faces historic property tax hikes to cover a major shortfall in state funding—a statewide coalition of eight diverse associations, including CEA, called on legislators to avoid shifting the state’s financial obligations onto cities and towns.

Policymakers are currently considering plans to shift $408 million in state costs for teacher retirement plans onto cities and towns, whose property tax rates are already among the highest in the country.

CEA President Sheila Cohen called the cost-shift plan “devastating,” saying it would “wreak havoc on cities and towns, jeopardize much-needed resources and services, and cut critical funding so desperately needed by our students.” Read more

High School Assessment Working Group Votes Unanimously to Eliminate SBAC for 11th Graders

Members of the High School Assessment Working Group heard from SAT and ACT representatives at a meeting in December.

Members of the High School Assessment Working Group heard from SAT and ACT representatives at a meeting in December.

Connecticut’s High School Assessment Working Group late yesterday afternoon voted unanimously to eliminate the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, and restore precious teaching and learning time for students.

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, who represents the Association on the working group said, “This is a positive step forward. It will restore much needed instructional time to engage, energize, and excite our students and reveal new possibilities and opportunities. The unanimous vote by stakeholders reduces the number of high-stakes standardized tests students are required to take while still meeting the standards established for our students in 11th grade.”

In addition to SBAC, many high school juniors take a considerable number of tests in a short amount of time, including the SATs and AP exams, and wonder what the value is in having to take the SBAC, too.

The working group will make its recommendation to the governor and legislature to eliminate SBAC and replace it with a nationally recognized college readiness assessment that students are already taking, such as the SAT or the ACT. The recommendation will also outline the need for the new assessment to be adequately funded, in compliance with federal law, and provide accommodations for students with special needs.

“This option allows us to examine the best assessment for all students in the state,” said Waxenberg.

The group plans to work through the summer to decide upon the best assessment to replace SBAC.

Education: A focal point in first gubernatorial debate

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Tom Foley spent more than 15 minutes talking about education in their first gubernatorial debate last night at the Norwich Free Academy.

When asked about his tenure comment, Malloy apologized to teachers: “I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.”

Watch the debate on CT-N at

The education discussion begins almost 24 minutes into the video.debate pic

Malloy’s apology is nearly 31 minutes into the video.

Here’s a sampling of the media coverage of the debate:

CT Mirror

The Day

CT News Junkie

The Hartford Courant,0,7507329.story

The New Haven Register

The Bulletin

The Connecticut Post

First Three Alliance District Plans to Be Approved This Week

The first three plans from Alliance Districts will be approved this week, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor told the State Board of Education this morning. All 30 Alliance Districts, the lowest performing school districts in the state, have submitted plans to the State Department of Education (SDE). Windsor Locks, Naugatuck, and Ansonia will be the first to be approved by the SDE this week, according to Pryor.

The education reform bill that became Public Act 12-116 allotted $39.5 million in Education Cost Sharing funding to the Alliance Districts. To receive any increase in state funding over the amount the district received for the prior fiscal year, these districts are required to apply to the SDE with a plan meeting criteria and conditions set forth by the Public Act and the SDE. Districts are required to provide funds to match the state money received for their plans. Once the state approves the plans they must be submitted to the local board of education for approval.

Two of the three Alliance Districts receiving approval this week , Windsor Locks and Naugatuck, are CEA local affiliates.

Windsor Locks will receive $252,000 exclusively for the purpose of extending learning time for students by 200 hours per year. The district will use a staggered staffing model to allow for this extra time, and has negotiated the new schedule with the Windsor Locks Teachers’ Association.

Naugatuck will receive $635,149 to expand an extended day and a summer program for at-risk students, strengthen the common core curriculum, focus on a talent strategy to include an administrator internship program, and develop a counselor program that will free principals from some administrative responsibilities, allowing more time for instructional leadership.

Ansonia will receive $539,715 to focus on a small number of priority initiatives including a talent development program, an extended year for Ansonia High School, a new freshman academy initiative, and a K-3 literacy initiative.

Alliance Districts were required to submit plans by August 15 and all complied, Pryor said. The SDE has been reviewing the plans and has been, and will continue to be, in dialog with the districts as their plans are revised and eventually approved. Pryor said that the SDE has asked districts to consult with all education stakeholders, including teachers and parents, as they develop and revise their plans.

The commissioner expressed confidence that the majority of plans would be approved by the end of September, and the remainder would be approved in October.

A Valid Alternative to Senate Bill 24

CEA continues to encourage people to read the teachers’ reform plan, A View from the Classroom: Proven Ideas for Student Achievement, developed by a cross-section of teachers with expertise in the classroom. It’s a commonsense, research-based alternative to the governor’s proposed bill, with proven ideas that work.

CEA and its members know that Connecticut needs to reform its statutory dismissal process,  including the mistaken notion that tenure means a “job for life.” It is as misunderstood as it is outdated.

It is time to end teacher tenure as we know it, while ensuring jobs are not threatened for petty personal or political reasons that have nothing to do with classroom effectiveness. It is time for Connecticut to reform the dismissal process so that it is speedy, more cost-effective, and fair.

The plan calls for

  • Shortening, by a third, the time it takes to carry out the dismissal process by reducing the statutory timeline from 120 days to 85 days and make other changes that could reduce the timeline even further.
  • Reducing the hearing cost by requiring one arbitrator versus the current system that allows up to three arbitrators, each billing for multiple daily charges.
  • Protecting against unfair firings by providing a speedy hearing in front of a single neutral third party.

Teachers ideas are in sharp contrast to positions being advanced by some other groups. Watch a clip from a news conference yesterday below.

You can find a list of members of the legislature’s education committee here. If your legislator is a member of the education committee, call or send an email and let him/her know what will really work to improve the quality of our public schools.

Still Time to Sign Up for a Reforum

Veteran Guilford teacher Pete Cuticelli (left) proved himself to be a strong mentor in teacher advocacy when he encouraged his colleague third-year teacher Burt Vitale to join him at a reforum.

CEA members are packing hotel conference rooms across the state as they participate in reforums that give them opportunities to learn, talk, and plan for their legislative advocacy roles in the “Year of Education.” There are four more reforums scheduled for this week and next, so if you haven’t attended one yet, sign up now.

Veteran Guilford teacher Pete Cuticelli, a building representative, encouraged his colleague, Burt Vitale, a third-year teacher, to join him at the Middletown Reforum yesterday.  Vitale said, “It’s important that young people get involved with the issues if they want to stay in the teaching profession.”

East Haddam teacher Susan DeBisschop (right) and Old Saybrook teacher Margaret Samela review the reforms outlined in the CEA plan, "A View from the Classroom: Proven Ideas for Student Achievement", as they shared ideas at the reforum held in Middletown.

Cuticelli said he’s impressed that CEA’s been “proactive” with its reform agenda.  Susan DeBisschop, an East Haddam teacher, said her intent is to carry a “positive message forward.”

In total, CEA is hosting eleven reforums for teachers to hear an overview from CEA staff on statewide issues, participate in discussions, and carve out strategies for keeping their views percolating on the legislative front burner.

“Sure, I will continue to to email, call, and reach out to my legislators,” said Margaret Samela, an Old Saybrook teacher.  “I don’t think teachers get the respect they deserve.  CEA’s book, A View from the Classroom: Proven Ideas for Student Achievement, is a positive step.  It’s a way for us to come together as a collaborative voice and share our concerns about where our profession should be headed.”

Two Bridgeport teachers saw the reforum as such a vital opportunity that they are considering attending two of the gatherings.  Daniel Kwet and Jason Poppa say they have many concerns.  Just one was succinctly expressed by Kwet this way, “It’s just drill and kill at Harding High School where I teach.  The curriculum has been so narrowed.”

CEA Statement on Governor Malloy’s Principles for Education Reform

Governor Malloy sent a letter today to leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly outlining his principles for education reform. According to his press release, the “principles will serve as a ‘roadmap’ for the upcoming 2012 session of the General Assembly, a session in which the Governor has repeatedly said he will focus on education.”

CEA’s executive director issued the following statement.

Statement from CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine

We commend the governor for his leadership on advancing high-quality public schools.  In their collaborative outreach to CEA in recent months, both Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor have indicated they recognize that high-quality teachers are the greatest asset in public education.

Teachers want to use their experience in the classroom to help the governor enact changes that will improve education for the students of our state, so we look forward to working with the governor and the commissioner on these issues.

We could not agree more with the governor that our state’s economic future is dependent on our students’ educational outcomes.  As CEA has repeatedly indicated: We live in a knowledge-based global economy, and generations of citizens—young and old—depend on our students being able to compete in a global economy.