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New Haven Register Editorial: Regionalization of school districts must be considered as school enrollment declines

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Connecticut also is expected to have the nation’s third-fastest decline in students enrolled in high school over the next 10 years — an estimated 17,400 fewer students with an estimated 5,400 fewer graduating each year.

So, solutions are needed — but is more regionalization the answer?

It appears to be a sound way to go, but as the towns of Norfolk and Colebrook in Litchfield County recently found out, not everyone is onboard with regionalization or consolidation. Voters split on approving a regional pre-K through sixth-grade school: Norfolk, with 102 students, supported the idea but Colebrook, with 91 students, rejected it.

According to the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, while the number of students may decline, the administrative costs associated with running the schools continues to increase — something state Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney thinks must be considered.

Read the full story here.

CCER’s 2016 Policy Progress Report

Each year, we hold ourselves accountable by tracking the number of policies from our original 10-year policy plan to narrow the achievement gap that have been implemented in Connecticut. 

In 2012, Connecticut passed landmark education legislation aimed at closing Connecticut’s achievement gap. However, creating meaningful and lasting change requires transforming these policies into practice. Because the key to success is continuous, measurable improvement over time, we use a rubric to quantitatively chart our long-term progress in both passing and implementing these critical levers for change.

At the end of 2016, we found that over 37% of our priorities had been fully implemented. And we embedded our policy progress report into our website so that we can track change in real time.

  • Click here to access the full report. You’ll find our six priority areas, and–within each–the specific policy recommendations we support. At the bottom of each policy area is a rubric that explains how we’ve allotted points.)
  • Click here for a one-page overview of the rubrics.

 

 

 

 

The High School Principal: Leading for Innovation

This sold out event was designed for high school principals and their leadership teams, sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

The High School Principal: Leading for Innovation

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 – Sheraton Hartford South Hotel

kafelePrincipal Baruti Kafele

Award-winning turnaround principal and best-selling author. Principal Kafele will discuss the nature of leadership for successful schools.

Dr. Douglas Reevesreeves

Distinguished author and international expert on school reform. Dr. Reeves will discuss the latest research on how high impact leadership can improve schools.

Plus: Panels and Sessions

School leaders will present on topics such as transformative high schools, innovative scheduling, STEM education, externships, team building, and more!

Districts are encouraged to bring a team, which may include district leaders, high school administrators, and teachers. You must register to attend:  http://highschoolprincipal.eventbrite.com

Event Resources

Inkling News: Connecticut Calls for Reevaluation of State Education System and Funding

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, points out that revamping Connecticut’s school system stretches far beyond rationalizing the distribution of funding—it also requires a revamping of the attitudes in and towards lower income schools.

“All [students are] innately capable- but we send messages to some children saying, ‘We don’t expect much from you,’ then we say to other children, ‘You could be the next supreme court justice,’” Villar says.

Read the full story here.

New Haven Register (opinion): New Haven superintendent’s departure underscores need to stabilize local control

Connecticut will barrel into a period in which Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven will all be searching for new district leaders — and competing for top candidates. The timing could not be more perfect for the recent superior court decision in CCJEF v. Rell, which called attention to the irrationality of our education system — including Connecticut’s deference to local control. Indeed, as we’re seeing in all three large districts, local control can often create instability that is unfair to kids.

New Haven will undergo a difficult period of transition that leaves administrators and teachers guessing which initiatives most deserve their attention. They will probably have to acclimate to an interim leader before they get a steadier presence in the Superintendent’s office. And even then, how long will this next leader last? Throughout the leadership vacuum, teachers will do what they simply must: close their classroom doors and struggle to meet their students’ needs on their own.

Bridgeport is soon to face a similar vacuum, from the sounds of it, resulting from a total deterioration of the local board.

Isn’t there a better way?

Read the full story here.

CCER’s 2016 Impact Report

 

This quick report tracks our latest progress in narrowing the achievement gap in Connecticut. As you’ll see from this report, we primarily do our work by: (1) supporting the highest need public school districts; (2) advocating for state-level policy solutions; and (3) promoting public awareness about the need for change.

Click here to access this report.

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCJEF Appeal Is No Excuse for Delay

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: (203) 506-5799

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, September 15, 2016, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson announced plans to appeal Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s decision in the decade-long trial, CCJEF v. Rell. Although the trail was about the adequacy of Connecticut’s funding of public school education, Judge Moukawsher’s decision was noteworthy because it criticized the irrationality of Connecticut’s education system as a whole–requiring the state to develop a plan that addresses its funding model, graduation standards, teacher evaluation and compensation, and special education. In response to the Attorney General’s decision to appeal, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“We believe that Judge Moukawsher’s most important observation is that the state has a non-delegable duty to provide its students with access to an adequate education. He said that the state cannot delegate its duty to local authorities and then wipe its hands of its responsibility. If local authorities aren’t getting the job done, it’s the state’s duty to intervene. We hope that takeaway stands up to scrutiny on appeal—and also motivates the legislature to push for change with urgency.

“As the Attorney General himself has observed, even though the case is being appealed, our General Assembly does not need to wait to address the very real problems that plague Connecticut’s education system. Judge Moukawsher has drawn attention to some irrational and critical issues with public education in our state. It’s high time we solve them.

“It is my sincere hope that our legislators won’t use this appeal simply as an excuse for further delay. Connecticut can’t afford to wait another ten years before it builds a system that meets the needs of its students or the promise of its constitution.”

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 About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not- for-profit organization–works to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut. The achievement gap is the disparity in academic achievement between children from low-income families and children of color, and their peers. We advocate for state policies and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations.

For more information on CCER, go to www.ctedreform.org

 

CT Viewpoints (opinion): Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul.

The ink isn’t yet dry on Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling in CCJEFv. Rell — originally brought in 2005 — and Connecticut must already prepare to defend its educational practices in another court –this time federal.

These decades of trials, for all of their legal distinctions, ultimately come down to the same idea: Although Connecticut has a constitutional obligation to educate its students, it’s doing a bad job for many of them.

asked only to address the constitutionality of our spending– Moukawsher has found himself requiring the state to produce a plan that also addresses standards, human resources, special education, and the relationship between state and local government.

surely undertaking that challenge is better than spending precious state funds on defending future lawsuits, or facing the economic and moral implications of producing further generations of graduates who are unprepared to succeed in life.

Read the full story here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Better Outcomes Require More Than Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: (203) 506-5799

 

Hartford, Connecticut – Today, September 7th, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled on an almost-11-year-old case about the constitutionality of Connecticut’s education finance system: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell. Judge Moukawsher ruled that Connecticut’s process for allocating education funding is irrational and unconstitutional. In response to the ruling, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“CCER agrees with Judge Moukawsher’s finding that Connecticut’s approach to funding public education is irrational. We have repeatedly pointed to the unclear and unjust manner of distributing education dollars through the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula. And as unjust as that formula is, Connecticut has not even been using it of late—relying instead on an ad hoc and highly politicized distribution of funds to districts. When gaps in achievement loom as large as they do in Connecticut, it’s patently unfair to underfund these school districts.

“But it is especially noteworthy that Judge Moukawsher did not merely call for additional spending, rather choosing to emphasize the various ways in which our system needs to be re-worked. I am struck by the similarities between Judge Moukawsher’s apparent outlook and CCER’s policy agenda. An offshoot of a gubernatorial commission convened to find solutions to Connecticut’s unenviable achievement gap, CCER has consistently advocated for holistic reform of the public education system, including the need to make our funding structures more transparent and equitable—but not stopping there.Read More »

The Christian Science Monitor–Connecticut students: unequal – and now unconstitutional

Since 2012, the year that Quesnel began as superintendent, East Hartford has received millions of dollars in extra funding for support services and remedial classes under two state programs aimed at turning around struggling schools.

There are encouraging signs of progress, says Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Educational Reform, a nonprofit that has worked with East Hartford to implement one of the state programs. But he warns that the concentration of poverty in urban districts creates its own challenges that are beyond the control of school principals, such as violent neighborhoods and transient households.

‘The capacity of teachers to meet the needs of kids in their class becomes very taxed when you have a large group of students coming with great stresses in their life experience,’ says Mr. Villar, who spent more than two decades as a teacher and administrator in Connecticut

Read the full story here.

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