The state’s Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor received a letter from the US Department of Education last week telling him that Connecticut has another year to implement a system of teacher evaluation that is linked to student performance — much to everyone’s relief. The state was supposed to start the new evaluation system next year, but this aspect of the state and federal government’s push for education reform has proven to be an easier thing to talk about than to implement.
Newtown, we have a remarkable new school superintendent! For the eight years he was Southington's superintendent of schools, I was honored to work closely with Joseph Erardi, Jr. In my 43 years as a high school English/Language Arts teacher, I encountered scores of administrators. Sadly, some followed the Peter Principles' rise to be competent with adults but disenfranchised around students.
For the second meeting in a row, Board of Finance Joe Kearney spent time reviewing school enrollment and budget trends. While most of the core data he reviewed was the same as information Mr Kearney initially presented on January 23, he did adjust the coming year’s data to accommodate the 0.75 percent increase that Interim Superintendent John Reed requested from the Board of Education during a meeting on the same evening.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay summarily rejected the state's request January 16 for a lengthy postponement of an education-funding lawsuit over whether the state is meeting its constitutional responsibility of providing a “suitable education” for every child in Connecticut.
A hearing was scheduled for Thursday in Hartford Superior Court as The Bee went to press this week for arguments over whether a lawsuit challenging the equity of funding the state’s public schools filed in 2005 will finally go forward or be delayed for more than a year.
A growing number of officials believe that helping residents better understand the relationship between declining student enrollment and the amount school leaders will ask taxpayers to underwrite next year could help pass the annual budget referendum sooner.
Providing additional evidence to taxpayers that town and district leaders are working collaboratively, and with mutual support for each other’s spending proposals, could also go far toward propelling a first-round budget vote to passage, some officials believe.
With good conscience I need to speak out to the caring public regarding a serious government intrusion into the local public schools. The reason for this is that politics and academic theory often mix poorly with good teaching practices in the classroom.
It is a paradox of human relations that the ones we hold closest to our hearts thrive when we loosen our grip. Given what we know about child development and education, it is easy for parents to see the sense of it. But Tuesday morning, as children headed out to the bus stops, this small “letting go” for the coming school year may have, for many, proved to be a most difficult moment of surrender. Newtown is no longer a town where people can find consolation by telling themselves that things always turn out for the best.
As we approach the next referendum on the education budget, it would seem appropriate we consider why the budget was voted down on two previous occasions.
Many residents in Newtown are wondering about the reason why we were asked last time to answer same two questions about the budget being too high or too low. I thought they got their answer in the first budget vote. Are they going to insult our intelligence and ask the same questions?