As the leaders of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Connecticut’s public higher education system comprised of 17 institutions, we are dedicated to providing students with opportunities to achieve their personal and professional goals. We count among these students those who are undocumented, particularly those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Each year, several publications identify the best public research universities in the United States. The U.S. News & World Report, though not without its limitations, has become the “go to” guide for prospective college students and their parents. In the latest rankings, the University of Connecticut is No. 20 of 133 public research universities in the country. UConn is tied at the spot with Purdue University and University of Maryland, and it is ranked ahead of five Big Ten public research universities.
As a student teacher in the Early Childhood Education program at the University of Connecticut, I am writing to spread awareness on the issue of inadequate teacher compensation for early childhood educators. When I talk about early childhood, I am referring to the care and education of children between birth and 5 years old, before they enter the public-school system in kindergarten.
Teachers make a huge difference in the learning of students. We know this intuitively as well as empirically. When teachers have helped more students make greater academic progress, they have performed their duties better than teachers who did not help their students make progress. That’s why it’s so disturbing that Connecticut is poised to take a step backwards in its measurement of teacher impact.
All of us are closely following CSCU President Mark Ojakian’s proposal for a dramatic reform of the state higher education system. Above and beyond politics, or Ojakian’s (aggressively questioned) experience in higher education, he is absolutely right in one truth: Our system is unsustainable and this is as simple as change or die.
Posted on a wall in my second-grade classroom is a motivational poster that states, “We’re all in this together!” These five powerful words remind my second-grade students the importance of unity, perseverance, and teamwork. This simple catch phrase empowers them to tackle any challenges that they face. It reinforces that they are supported by the adults in their lives and their peers in the classroom. As my students tackle the challenges of the current school year, this mindset affords them the opportunity to be “all in” and invested in their own learning.
While neighboring New York has declared free two-year and four-public education, and Massachusetts/Rhode Island maintain their high standards for accessible public education, Connecticut seems to have lost its collective mind this week with the passing of BOR President Mark Ojakian’s plan to consolidate and possibly eliminate the Connecticut Community College system in our state.
In recommending a plan to consolidate the state’s 12 community colleges in order to sustain the larger CSCU system, President Mark Ojakian maintains that this latest disruption in Connecticut higher education was never the goal of the consolidation that created CSCU in 2011. However, since it was Ojakian who crafted that original reorganization plan for the Malloy administration, his denial seems somewhat disingenuous and promises to result in similarly disappointing outcomes.
As the leaders of Brass City Charter School, the only public charter school in Waterbury, we know firsthand how special our school is to our community. But despite our successes, and even in light of recently being named a School of Distinction by the state, the future of our school and our students is in limbo, and it’s our lawmakers who are the ones keeping us there.
School funding is currently unpredictable and has left towns that need help severely underfunded for more than a decade. Legislators must do their jobs and come up with a fair formula now. Otherwise the Connecticut Supreme Court will mandate a new formula sometime later this year.
Quinebaug Valley Community College has been on Main Street in Willimantic since 1999. While Quinebaug Valley Community College may not be centerfold on Main Street; it is the heart that keeps Main Street thriving. That’s why Quinebaug Valley Community College is an excellent start for someone to begin their college career. Unfortunately, though; there are plans to shut down the Willimantic center after the spring 2017 semester. That should not be allowed to happen.
Our state’s challenges are real but surmountable. As we confront them, we, as a state, need to consider putting “we before me.” The collective mentality among towns and cities cannot be that spending cuts are necessary as long as they affect only other towns. To truly harbor a desire to see the state experience economic growth and success, everyone must be willing to invest in creating the dynamic cities our 21st-century economy demands, even if those investments come at a near-term cost.
A common-sense approach to the state’s challenges is one that includes new revenue in addition to strategic spending cuts that does not ask low- to moderate-income residents to disproportionately shoulder the responsibility of our collective challenges and that supports the state’s long-term economic health.
Our state’s funding formula, which was intended to equalize education funding in each district, is irrational and disservices students in our neediest communities. We’ve used an arbitrary baseline for funding and have employed insufficient calculations for poverty and special education. A true school funding fix must include measures that hold all districts accountable so that educators can purposefully and efficiently use state money to advance student achievement and growth.
A group of parents with children in Bridgeport schools has created a new organization, Parents In Action, that seeks to remedy communication problems between school officials and parents whose first language is not English.