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Nicki Perkins

Nicki Perkins is the Director of Communications and Development for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. She began working at CCER as a Graduate Fellow while earning her JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law. During that time, she helped CCER to establish priorities and associated briefs for the 2012 legislative session, and she also conducted research on Connecticut’s then-existing statutory provisions as compared to corresponding statutes from other states. Currently, Nicki manages CCER’s efforts to raise public awareness and garner support for the organization. She also continues to support CCER’s research and policy work.

A Look at Connecticut’s Current Teacher Tenure Policies

Where Does the Idea of Tenure Come From?

The concept of tenure is rooted in higher education, where it was implemented in order to provide protection to professors so that they could pursue politically charged and controversial research without fear of retribution from their administrations.  Then, in 1885, the National Education Association (NEA) began to advocate for tenure in the public school setting – in order to protect a group of state employees who, at that point in history, had few protections: the then-disenfranchised class of college-educated women. Before teacher tenure was established, public schools benefited greatly from the limitations placed on these women – gaining a monopoly on a capable and educated workforce that did not require high wages or high-quality working conditions.Read More »

Malloy: “Let’s speak bluntly: many parts of our system of public education are broken.”

“Let’s be honest with ourselves, and let’s speak bluntly: many parts of our system of public education are broken.”

– Gov. Malloy introduces the topic of education in his State of the State Address 

The 2012 Legislative Session is now underway.  For those of us who insist time and again that the only way to bring lasting changes to Connecticut is to introduce a portfolio of reforms that link issues of policy, funding and action to the needs and experiences of the students (rather than the adults) – our time is now.

In the past few weeks, Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor have unfolded a bold and impressive proposal for education reform that is highly aligned with the recommendations put forth by the Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement, CCER’s precursor organization, in its 2010 Report.  From intensive school turnaround strategies to forward-thinking models of educator preparation, certification, evaluation, compensation, retention, and professional development – we believe the Governor is on the right track.  What follows is a discussion of a few of the areas of alignment between CCER’s recommendations and Governor Malloy’s education proposals:Read More »

Educator Evaluations, Part 1: Recent Progress and Hopes for the Future

We are very encouraged by the guidelines that were approved by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) this week.   PEAC was created to collaborate with the State Board of Education (SBE) in establishing statewide guidelines for the evaluation of educators. They have been meeting for two years and they finally agreed – unanimously – on the following framework: Read More »

Our New Executive Director Shares What Excites Her About Working at CCER in CT

Rae Ann Knopf recently joined the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) as its new Executive Director. After formally introducing her at CCER’s press conference at the State Capital yesterday, we’ve asked Rae Ann to share her thoughts on assuming the leadership role at CCER and what excites her about CCER’s role in supporting education reform efforts in the state.

This is, perhaps, the most exciting time in education that our country has ever known: it’s a time when the citizens of this nation have openly begun to demand a dynamic education system that will ensure a transformative learning experience for every child.

In particular, the circumstances in Connecticut this year make it ripe for educational reform because we have two of the key ingredients necessary to propel the needed changes: Read More »

Governors Taking the Lead in Education Reform

Today, we’re going to take a look at other state governors who have really taken the initiative and led the charge for education reform in their states.  For a change of pace, we’ve decided to highlight states that we haven’t previously discussed on our blog.  Although many governors have recently introduced laws in support of education reform, Indiana and New Jersey are notable because they both have governors who have outlined clear and comprehensive plans for reform, and then actively pursued legislation to realize their respective agendas.Read More »

Lowest-Achieving Schools, Part 2: Lessons from Other States

Not long ago, we discussed the need for a framework for intervention in Connecticut. However, as the expression goes, “the Devil is in the details.” Working through the nitty-gritty issues can make building an intervention system for school turnaround appear to be a daunting task. That’s why it’s helpful to look at some of the exciting frameworks and approaches that other states have successfully embraced and to think about how we can learn from their efforts.Read More »

Lowest Achieving Schools, Part 1: What is a Low-Achieving School?

What is a low-achieving school and what are the lowest-achieving schools in Connecticut?  It’s a common question that we hear at CCER.  Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer to that seemingly simple question.

The CT State Department of Education currently uses two different metrics to categorize schools by academic performance.Read More »

Powers of the SBE, Part 3: Student Achievement in Evaluations

The final State Board of Education superpower that we’ll look at for this week is the ability to require that student growth be given significant weight in teacher and principal evaluations.

Now let’s take a time-out to talk about what we mean when we say “student growth” because we know this phrase alarms some interested parties.

Read More »

Powers of the SBE, Part 2: Framework for Intervention

In our last post, we discussed the State Board of Education’s authority to create a new 5-year plan for the state of Connecticut.

Another power that the Board should be using is the authority to build a system that monitors the performance of all of Connecticut’s districts and schools based on pre-determined academic indicators, identifies which schools and districts are consistently low-achieving, and requires state intervention for those schools and districts.  We call this much-needed system a “framework for intervention.” Read More »

Powers of the SBE, Part 1: The 5-Year Plan

This week, let’s talk about the top three existing authorities that the State Board of Education should be using to reform public education!

The State Board of Education has the statutory authority to prepare a comprehensive five-year education plan, complete with long- and short-term goals, cost analysis, benchmarks, and methods for achieving their goals and objectives. Read More »

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