NORTH HAVEN — Junior Achievement seeks business volunteers to go back to school, spending a morning in classrooms sharing successes and inspiring our students to reach their full potential. JA volunteers: bring real-life experiences to the classroom and provide relevance to what students learn; serve as role models who bring the vital JA business and personal finance curriculum to life; and show students the link between education and future opportunity.
ConnCAN report quantifies nation’s largest achievement gap
NEW HAVEN — On May 25 the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) released its first-ever “Field Guide to Education in Connecticut.” The study by the New Haven non-profit came just six days
prior to an agreement by state education officials ensuring that student performance on standardized tests would account for less than 50 percent of teacher evaluations.
The ConnCAN report contains quite a few superlatives. Unfortunately, none of the superlatives are “bests.”
The Nutmeg State’s status as worst in the nation for its achievement gap between wealthy suburban communities such as Madison and Woodbridge and inner-city school districts such as New Haven are portrayed in sharp relief in the ConnCAN study. Among 16 metrics based on standardized tests, Connecticut ranked No. 50 in seven:
• The gap between low-income and “non-low income” students in fourth-grade math, fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math;
• The gap between African-American and white students in fourth-grade reading;
• The gap between Hispanic/Latino and white students in fourth-grade math, fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math.
Indeed, nowhere among all 16 measures in the ConnCAN study, which measured achievement gaps in fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading, did Connecticut rank higher than 41st nationally.
To place the gap into sharper relief, the ConnCAN report notes that low-income fourth-grade students in Connecticut perform three grade levels behind their more affluent peers.
Are we investing too little in public education? Not according to ConnCAN. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of full-time workers employed in public education in Connecticut skyrocketed by 20 percent. Over the same period, per-pupil spending grew by 15 percent.
And what bang did taxpayers get for those bucks? Over the same period average scores by Connecticut students on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) standardized tests rose just one percent, while enrollment in the state’s public schools actually declined by 1.0 percent.
In other words, we are spending much more for lower performance.
When push came to shove on public-school reform, we found out who really runs Hartford. And it isn’t the lawmakers at the Capitol
It’s the unions.
On March 26 it became apparent that the Democratic co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Education Committee surrendered to teachers’ union pressure when they stripped the teeth from the bold school-reform package that had been pushed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Rolling back lifetime tenure for teachers regardless of their performance? Obviously critical to any meaningful reform is the ability of districts to fire lousy teachers.
No longer in the bill.
State takeover of the lowest performing schools when local boards of education prove unable to make them better? A no-brainer.
That, faced with blowback and threats from unions like the Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, the lawmakers blinked first proves this depressing but irrefutable truth: Connecticut’s public schools are run not for the benefit of Connecticut children.
They are a jobs program for the politically connected.
One can only hope Malloy has the backbone to veto this fatally weakened attempt at critical reform.