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Closing Simpson-Waverly School will do more harm than good

The superintendent of Hartford has proposed to close two schools and consolidate others mostly in the poorest and most segregated areas of the city in order to cut cost and avoid costly building renovations. The vote will take place in the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16. As professors who worked in the past several years in partnership with Simpson-Waverly Pre-K-8 school, we would like to suggest that such closure will do more harm than good and will be much more costly in the long run for the city of Hartford.

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The Medicare Savings Program rescue plan is fiscally irresponsible

The bill [to rescue the Medicare Savings Program] before the General Assembly on Monday is a far cry from fiscal responsibility. Despite a growing deficit, and a projected deficit for fiscal year 2019, based on the plan expected to be put before the legislature, the General Assembly appears content to avoid making tough decisions about how to deal with the $224 million deficit gorilla in the Capitol and instead has decided to just keep feeding it.

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Connecticut policy discourages potential bilingual teachers

Dozens of bilingual teaching positions go unfilled every year in Connecticut, and the number of bilingual adults choosing the teaching profession has decreased dramatically despite the rise in the number of students who are English Learners. Therefore, even if our new Connecticut outlook is shifting towards embracing globalization and multilingualism, bilingual education will not exist until we understand why we have a bilingual teacher shortage.

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What Connecticut can learn from Massachusetts

ConnCAN was pleased to see The Mirror’s recent in-depth comparison of education outcomes between Connecticut and Massachusetts. As Jacqueline Rabe Thomas’ series pointed out, Massachusetts and Connecticut share more than just state boundaries. Our states are similar in many ways, including that our public schools serve similar students with similar learning needs. But our neighbors are doing a better job of educating all students, especially those in poverty and students of color. Massachusetts students also outperformed all other states in math and reading for grades four and eight on the Nation’s Report Card (NAEP).

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If education justice is the goal, don’t follow Massachusetts

Massachusetts, like Connecticut, has long boasted top-performing public schools (“Massachusetts Is Like Connecticut, But Does a Better Job Educating the Poor,” Dec. 11, 2017). Students in both states scored at or near the top on national tests before the start of high-stakes testing. But then, as now, there have been huge differences in academic outcomes linked to race, income, language and disability. These gaps mirror the two states’ large (and growing) gaps in wealth and opportunity, as well as glaring inequities in school funding between rich and poor districts. … Rather than follow Massachusetts’ lead and impose more tests, Connecticut should implement an assessment system using projects and portfolios that promote and measure deeper, broader learning.

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Massachusetts vs. Connecticut educational success — one man’s experience

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas’s three-part series about spending, education reform and student achievement in Massachusetts and Connecticut provides an outstanding review of the progress of education in both states over the past 25 years.   I see the series from the perspective of having been Associate Commissioner for Finance and Accountability in Massachusetts from 1993 to 1998, Superintendent of the Fall River (MA) Public Schools from 2005 to 2009, and Superintendent of the New London Public Schools in Connecticut from 2009 to 2014.

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The constitutional right to education is long overdue

Public school funding has shrunk over the past decade. School discipline rates reached historic highs. Large achievement gaps persist. And the overall performance of our nation’s students falls well below our international peers. These bleak numbers beg the question: Don’t students have a constitutional right to something better? Many Americans assume that federal law protects the right to education. Why wouldn’t it? All 50 state constitutions provide for education. The same is true in 170 other countries. Yet, the word “education” does not appear in the United States Constitution, and federal courts have rejected the idea that education is important enough that it should be protected anyway.

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A new window into Connecticut’s finances

Between shrinking revenues from taxes, the continued growth of fixed costs (including long-term pension and debt obligations), and declining bond ratings, Connecticut faces a multitude of fiscal challenges that could pose problems to the state’s financial and economic health for decades if not addressed. However, to properly address these challenges we must first understand them and know what problems our state must solve. This starts with understanding the data. …[This is] what led us to develop, and officially launch this week, a new, interactive website (www.ctstatefinance.org) devoted to providing an in-depth, yet easy-to-understand, look into many of the fiscal challenges that Connecticut faces.

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Child Welfare in Connecticut: The DCF revenge machine

The abuse, starvation and near-death of a year-old baby while under the state’s protection put the Connecticut Department of Children and Families under intense scrutiny by the state’s child advocate  and others a year ago — scrutiny that continues today.  The following text is the introduction to a longer and more detailed analysis of the so-called “Baby Dylan” case by Richard Wexler, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform in Alexandria, Va.

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Urban school districts still don’t have equal access to digital tools and education

I teach at Bulkeley High School in Hartford and so often I find students who lack even the most basic digital literacy skills. Asking students to log into an online platform will take 15 minutes. Organizing documents in Google Drive will take even longer. These are the basic skills which a governmental commission has frequently reiterated from the year 2005 to the present. If this objective has stood for 12 years –the standard measure of time for a student to be enrolled in K to 12 education –– why is it that my students are still coming to me without even the most basic skills in digital literacy?

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Acknowledging childhood trauma — a growing movement in Connecticut

Imagine sitting in a room with 360 other people. Now imagine that 95 percent of these people are women. Indeed, the room is filled with chatter, laughter, and anticipation. The room is in a downtown Waterbury hotel and occupied by pre-school and kindergarten teachers, home daycare providers, and administrators. The women, and the handful of men, have come to kick off an important movement in Waterbury: to make early childhood care more aware of and informed about the prevalence and impact of trauma. Specifically, how traumatic experiences influences the lives of the young children they work with.

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Connecticut’s policies cause egregious racial disparities among children

“We all do better when we all do better.” For nearly two decades, the phrase coined in 1999 by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) has reminded us that our nation is strengthened by shared prosperity. Amid escalating conversations around race, immigration, and disparities in outcomes for children by race and immigration status, the idea that our collective future depends on the success of every child is more important than ever.

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New London’s Columbus statue and cultural Marxists

Why is Christopher Columbus, a man born in 1491, whose life is memorialized throughout the country, a focus of collective discontent? Why are politicians, political activists and academia in New London and other progressive cities across the United States blaming him for the actions of people who lived years after his death? Why is Columbus accused of spreading diseases, committing genocide and inventing slavery?