A virtual panel hosted by Special Education Equity for Kids (SEEK) of Connecticut discussed the need for safeguards and protocols to be in place before in-person schooling resumes.
Connecticut’s elected officials, health experts, education stakeholders, and others agree that when school resumes this fall, it is unlikely to look like school pre-COVID. Safeguards will need to be in place to protect students and staff against exposure to a virus that has no available vaccine and is still not well-understood. Protocol will need to be developed to assess and remediate against learning loss, trauma, and other by-products of the global pandemic.
But what will those safeguards and protocols be, and will they be consistent from district to district? Those were a few of the questions raised during a virtual panel discussion hosted by the nonprofit Special Education Equity for Kids (SEEK) of Connecticut.
As the state works on guidance and plans for reopening schools, SEEK is looking to teachers, administrators, parents, and others for potential strategies and concerns, particularly when it comes to students with special needs. Panel discussants, who answered questions submitted via Zoom, included CEA President Jeff Leake, Old Saybrook Superintendent of Schools Jan Perruccio, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Deputy Director and General Counsel Patrice McCarthy, Connecticut Counselor of Administrators of Special Education (ConnCASE) Executive Director Dave Scata, and Norwalk parent advocate Geraldine Fleming. SEEK board members Andrew Feinstein and Jennifer Laviano moderated. Read more
Governor Lamont and the Commissioner of Education have made it clear that when in-person schooling resumes it is unlikely to look like school pre-COVID. A variety of proposals have been made to protect students and staff, including masks, temperature checks, smaller class sizes, gradual opening, half days, and more.
Register now for a May 19 webinar where CEA President Jeff Leake and other education stakeholders will explore these proposals and discuss their ramifications.
They will particularly emphasize how the measures that have been discussed could impact special education and the parents of children receiving special education services.
This webinar will be co-moderated by Special Education Equity for Kids (SEEK) of Connecticut Board Members Andrew Feinstein, Esq. and Jennifer Laviano, Esq.
- Jeff Leake, President, Connecticut Education Association
- Jan Perruccio, Superintendent of Schools, Old Saybrook
- Dave Scata, Executive Director, Connecticut Counselor of Administrators of Special Education (ConnCASE)
- Geraldine Fleming, Parent Advocate, Norwalk
- Patrice McCarthy, Deputy Director and General Counsel, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE)
Despite the social distancing restrictions now in place due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to communicate with your elected officials, at the local, state, and federal levels. During a tele-town hall yesterday with Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and constituents, Senator Chris Murphy reinforced this message saying, “Everything that Jahana and I do we do on orders from you.” He encouraged Connecticut residents to email, call, or write their senators and representatives, as well as take part in virtual meetings.
Constituents asked questions on a number of issues related to the current health crisis, and several questions involved public education. Read more
The 2019 Connecticut legislative session ended at midnight last night, and, thanks to your advocacy, we were successful at achieving some of our top priorities.
Watch CEA Executive Director Don Williams’ summary of what we accomplished this session.
Safeguarding Teacher Pensions
The General Assembly has passed a fair, responsible state budget that ensures the long-term security of teacher pensions. Read more
Mary Beth Bruder, UConn; Marisa Halm, Center for Children’s Advocacy; Catherine Holahan, EducationCounsel; and Betty Sternbger, CCSU took part in a panel moderated by WNPR’s David DesRoches.
As with other areas of public education, when it comes to special education there are big disparities between districts. How do we make sure all students and families receive equitable special education services?
That was the topic of a panel discussion at a recent Special Education in Connecticut Summit sponsored by the UConn Neag School of Education and the Klebanoff Institute.
“Early identification and early screening are so important,” said Catherine Holahan, senior legal and policy advisor for EducationCounsel.
Fairfield teacher and local president Bob Smoler testified before the legislature Thursday on a special education proposal.
Every year legislators on the Education Committee deliberate over many bills that could have a big impact on children, parents, and educators. This legislative session, special education is receiving particular attention.
Among the many bills the Education Committee heard testimony on today were one proposing a new way of funding special education in Connecticut and one that provides very prescriptive rules for parent observation, including allowing a minimum of 16 hours per parent in a school year.
Fairfield Education Association President and math teacher Bob Smoler took the time away from his busy teaching schedule to come up to Hartford to speak out on that second bill. Read more
The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Task Force yesterday reviewed a set of objectives that it will use to select a final formula or formulas to recommend to the legislature. The task force’s Formula Subcommittee, which has been reviewing possible formulas, said it will have formulas for the entire task force to review at its next meeting, October 30.
Some of the key objectives the task force agreed to include the following.
- Student performance measures should be incorporated in the ECS formula to ensure resources are available to properly support underperforming students.
- The ECS formula must strive to direct state money inversely to a district’s capacity to pay for education.
- The state should strive to fully fund the new or amended ECS formula within four years.
- A part of the grant for underperforming districts should be contingent upon the State Department of Education approving districts’ plans to improve their performance.
- ECS grants should be predictable.
- Property value and income should be balanced in determining town wealth, and a three-year average of data should be used whenever possible.
- A foundation rate should be derived through a strong and transparent rationale — including the elimination of minimum aid funding levels over a phase-down period.
In recommending that a new or amended ECS formula should be fully funded within four years, the Formula Subcommittee Chair Len Miller, co-founder of the Fairfield County Collaborative Alliance, recognized that the state’s education funding will be constrained by its ability to generate revenue. “We’re trying to look at financial reality,” he said. “We don’t want this to just be an exercise. We want it to be as difficult as possible for the formula not to be fully funded – we don’t want waivers and suspensions.”
State Senator Toni Harp, co-chair of the legislature’s appropriations committee, agreed, saying “It only makes sense to look at funding a new formula in light of what we have available to spend.”
Ted Sergi, former state commissioner of education, said, “The more the state contributes to the whole education funding pie, the less unequal opportunities we’ll have. I’m not a fan of adopting a four billion dollar formula if we’ll never reach it.”
The Special Education Subcommittee also submitted a report to the task force that calls for the state to develop a new process for reimbursing school districts for excess special education costs. This recommendation would shift responsibility for high-cost special education students from the districts to the state, and create a sliding scale reimbursement based on a town’s wealth.
The task force plans to compile the subcommittee reports into a final report by the end of November.
In a recent blog post we discussed how social capital, essentially teacher collaboration, has been proven by research to increase student achievement. Education Week has a story this week on one dimension of teacher collaboration — co-teaching.
Co-teaching — an instructional method which involves a general educator and special educator teaching together in one classroom — is part of a new initiative in Maryland.
The state developed a framework for co-teaching, providing a common language and guidelines for all districts to use. The framework spelled out the roles and responsibilities for staff members at the district, school, and classroom levels…. The framework is not a list of requirements but rather suggested best practices, and professional development sessions are presented as an opportunity for district leaders to learn from one another.
Sara Dunaway and Dawn Peake are co-teachers at a Baltimore area school. Referring to the isolation many educators experience, Dunaway says of co-teaching, “You’re not an island, you have a partner.”
Watch Dunaway and Peake talk about their experiences co-teaching in the Education Week video above left.
Have you co-taught? What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the model?