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Education funding inequity in Connecticut ‘among the worst I’ve seen’

I hope that state legislators will see that public charter school leaders want only to be a part of the solution for communities that we care deeply about. We have proven through our results that we are able to help students overcome the bigotry of low expectations. But in order for our schools to truly thrive, we need our leaders fund our students fairly, and allow more success stories like ours to lift up Connecticut’s children.

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Community college consolidation is a risky experiment

The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education continues its push to consolidate the 12 state community colleges into one, having most recently just submitted a necessary change proposal to the regional accreditor, NEASC, for their approval. Promoters of the plan have, among other things, circulated a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article that features the experiment in Maine to carry out their own version of consolidation.

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Education justice is in the hands of the General Assembly

Connecticut’s shame is to continue to tolerate some of the most economically and racially segregated school districts in the nation.

Connecticut’s shame is to continue to tolerate one of the largest student  achievement gaps in the nation.

An Education Adequacy Cost Study would ensure that the resource needs of all school districts – successful, struggling, and those in between – as well as the resources needed by regular and at-risk students are identified and quantified. It would then be up to policymakers and stakeholders to put these resource needs in fiscal context, determine a state and local share, and rationally develop an education funding formula and system that is based on actual student needs.

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Protect funding for school-based health centers

Under pressure to end a long running stalemate over the Connecticut state budget last year, lawmakers made a number of decisions that continued the destructive trend of unraveling the human services safety net. The continuation of recent years’ cuts to state subsidy funding for School Based Health Centers (SBHC) is among the most destructive of these reductions. With the new legislative session underway, we are hopeful lawmakers will find a way to halt this trend and reject the governor’s current proposal to reduce the budget further, by 5.84 percent, on top of the 2.14 percent cut to the SBHCs in last October’s approved budget.

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Protecting students: More guns not the answer

President Trump has proposed that the answer to gun violence in schools is to arm teachers and bring guns into the classroom — an idea the vast majority of educators stand firmly against. The President’s plan is meant as a diversion from the real issue: the need for nationwide gun violence prevention laws, additional resources for school safety, and sustained funding for mental health services.

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The crucial role of Connecticut’s community colleges and why we must sustain them

Ever proud of my heritage as a community college student, I have never reflected more deeply on the value of these institutions than over the recent years during which I have served on the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. The Board, comprised of volunteers from many backgrounds, serves at a time when Connecticut’s 12 community colleges struggle to maintain services and affordability amid sharply reduced state funding and flat or declining population and enrollment. Previously, as chair of the Regents’ Finance Committee, I witnessed the recurring mantra of very good college administrators trying to make budgets work within a broader organizational structure that itself was becoming unsustainable.

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Want safer schools? Listen to the kids

For the 18th time in 2018 a school shooting has rocked a community. For the 18th time this year, the 273rd time since Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012, and Columbine on April 20, 1999, a community is in mourning over killings that seem senseless. Over 150,000 students in 170 schools (according to the Washington Post) have been exposed to these shootings. And yet the signs were there, if we listen.

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We need to get serious about gun violence

America has become an angry society.  Family destruction and income inequality have left many young males in the dust. Judicial rulings have made it impossible to institutionalize the mentally ill. Thus, we have disturbed angry young men who view their lives as empty wishing to make a statement. And they do so by gaining access to powerful guns and killing innocent victims. The latest massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida by a lone gunman, Nikolas Cruz, has pushed the country over the edge. This must stop. But how?

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On reducing the self-hatred and alienation of our young men

The young man is alone.  He has no friends.  He has been expelled from school.  He has no relation with his family: they are dead or at least dead to him.  He has been told all his life that he is a bad person.  He now believes it.  He hates himself.  And, because he hates himself, he hates everything around him.  The world is a giant conspiracy aimed at keeping him down, preventing him from being who he is.  Most of all he feels powerless.  Nothing he does has any effect on his hated environment.

Except for one thing: his guns.

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Put students first: Close the CSCU system, disband the Board of Regents

The “Students First” plan proposed by the CSCU Board of Regents, intended to save $28 million by consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges, has engendered frustration among system faculty due to the lack of visible research or analysis proving that the plan will realize the projected savings. Faculty, therefore, were taken by surprise when a recent CT Mirror article reported that the accrediting agency, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, had given feedback on a draft plan for the Students First initiative submitted to it by the Board of Regents. 

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Saying no to a tax break for the rich in Connecticut

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed budget gives a tax break to the rich.
Here’s what it is:
He advocates extending the 529 college savings plans, called CHET (Connecticut Higher Education Trust), to savings plans that can be used for K-12 education as well as college. As reported in the well-researched and comprehensive article in The CT Mirror by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas on Jan. 16, the state currently allows parents to avoid paying state income taxes each year on up to $10,000 that they put into a college savings account. In addition, they don’t have to pay taxes on the earned income when the money is withdrawn to pay for college.

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Our failure to achieve educational equality is an embarrassment

The provision of an adequate education for all young people living in Connecticut is a requirement, and access to quality education should not be dependent on a child’s family income or zip code.  As reported by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas in her June 2, 2017, piece for the CT Mirror, in the 20 years since the landmark Sheff vs. O’Neill case ordering an end to the racial isolation of Hartford’s public school students, the state has enlisted 42 themed regional magnet schools in an attempt to integrate white suburban youth into minority Hartford student classrooms.

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Three new ‘R’s for Connecticut education

A “minimally adequate system of free public schools” is the new court standard for State education funding. Town and School leaders are stunned by the recent CCJEF v. Rell ruling. Unless reconsidered, the responsibility of moving our state education system forward rests with state elected leadership. We hope they accept this challenge and adopt a higher standard. Our state’s future depends on making this the top priority and working together to provide more than a minimally adequate education system.

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Education Cost Sharing formula ripe for another lawsuit

If anything, the recent Supreme Court decision clears the deck of subjective educational arguments and leaves only the issue of local taxation as a questionable aspect of Education Cost Sharing.  It places full onus on the legislature to arrive at an ECS distribution system IMMEDIATELY that treats all Connecticut towns and taxpayers equitably. It cannot wait ten years and be dependent on $400 million of unlikely new revenue as does the current legislative plan.