Thursday, August 24, 2006

DeStefano Criticizes Rell over CMT Scores

John DeStefano is criticizing Gov. Rell over today's release of the list of elementary and middle schools not making adequate yearly progess under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
John DeStefano – Democratic nominee for governor – responded today to results of the 2006 Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) which show that more than one third of the state’s elementary and middle schools failed to meet the standards of the No Child Left Behind law. All told, 290 schools made the list, nearly double the amount from one year ago. According to Connecticut Voices for Children, Connecticut is one of the 10 states with the worst racial disparities in high school graduation rates.

“Gov. Rell presides over one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation,” said DeStefano. “It is shameful that the gap between black and white high school graduation rates and Hispanic and white high school graduation rates is one of the worst in the U.S. and looking at these test scores it is evident that more of our children are being left behind each and every year. As governor, I would implement the tenets of my Every Child Reads by Third Grade proposal – including universal pre-k for all 3 and 4 year-olds.” ("More")

The list of failing schools is daunting, to be sure. But Jodi Rell is not solely to blame. In fact, while the Rell Administration does indeed deserve some of the blame for this lengthy list, there are other, more immediate and more difficult to solve causes to be dealt with.

Question: What makes a failing school?

Teachers - Teachers almost always get the lion's share of the blame. They're on the front lines every day, they're actually getting paid to directly educate the students and, let's face it, most Americans don't really like them.

There are plenty of bad teachers out there, true enough. How many can you count from your own school days? But even the best teachers can't always overcome all the other forces listed below, and it's getting harder every year.

Parents and Home Life - Parents are a wild card. Some parents care about their child's education. A lot more don't. If parents aren't around, or they're terrible role models, then the chances are good that the child will come into class with learning the very last thing on his or her mind. If students aren't held accountable at home, the school can do little.

Administration - I have met competent administrators. They do exist. They are, however, rare. Bad administration can lead to low teacher morale, and lax student discipline. Neither helps to create a good learning environment.

There's a reason why private schools work: they can get rid of the worst kids. Public schools can't. Good administrators can compensate for this by enforcing discipline, but most administrators fail.

Teacher's Unions - If you ever wonder why incompetent teachers stick around for years and years, despite everything, this is why. The unions have won few other real victories for teachers, however.

Town Government - Public Schools are run by school districts, which are run by municipalities acting either alone or in concert. Town government is tied to the property tax, increases to which are finding more and more resistance from citizens each year. So towns cut the budget. What else can they do? Besides, of course, finding creative new solutions to their problems, really pooling their resources with other towns (every town in most multi-town districts has its own administrative structure and superintendent, for example) or being willing to cede some of their soverignty to the state.

State Government - State lawmakers with little real knowledge of education continue to pile on standardized test after standardized test, with the end result that students know how to take tests. They know precious little else, however. The state is also responsible for the increasingly heavy paperwork load, and increasingly strict (and sometimes arbitrary) requirements that keep a lot of good people out of teaching. The state is also failing towns by forcing them to rely so heavily on the property tax. It's way past time to uncouple education funding from local property taxes.

Federal Government - NCLB is an unfunded mandate, and it's hated by teachers and state/local governments. But it isn't the only one out there. A lot of the budget of a school district is taken up by special education requirements, which come from both the state and federal level.

The federal government has been content to largely ignore the crisis in public education. No Child Left Behind is a poor fix, at best.

There's a reason why private schools work: they can get rid of the worst kids. Public schools can't.

Society (Us) - There is a strong cultural current in America that tells kids to forget about school. It's always been there. But adults have lately stopped telling kids differently. Television, music and all other kinds of media tell kids that there is nothing worthwhile at school beyond socializing. We fail when we don't correct this perception.


DeStefano is pointing the finger at Gov. Rell, and proposing a few fixes to the problems in our schools. At least it's something. But Rell isn't wholly responsible, and the fixes DeStefano is proposing are probably not enough. The problem is simply too big.

Source
"More than one third of Connecticut’s elementary and middle schools get failing grade / DeStefano: It’s time for universal pre-k, not more of the same failed policies from Gov. Rell." Press Release. DeStefano for Connecticut. 24 August, 2006.

28 comments:

TrueBlueCT said...

Genghis--
Aren't you vacationing??

Genghis Conn said...

Yes... Next time I vacation, I'm going to try not to have internet access!

TrueBlueCT said...

CTKeith is vacationing too. Sadly, he found out that internet access was available at every Kinko's in America...

Back to the debate, how strong is Rell on education? I'd like to see an hour long debate between her and DeStefano on this subject alone. It is that important.

But of course Rell is too chicken to engage on the real issues of the day.

Anonymous said...

True Blue-

All of New Haven's elementary and middle schools are on the list. Does Destefano share any blame? Or is that all Rell's fault?

I'd like to see an hour long debate on education too so we can see what your boy says about the state of the New Haven public school system.

By the way, new Survey USA poll has Rell increasing her lead, not surprised you haven't brought it up.

AnonAndOnAndOn said...

"too chicken?" Oh that's BS. Rell is the one who let the Department of Ed and Blumer loose to sue the Bush administration over NCLB. It made more than a few headlines, and caused more than a little embarassment for the Bush Education Secretary when she tried to intervene to get the state to back down.

Leave it to Destef to pick an issue where she's already firmly on record.

Would love to see Rell/Destef on Ed, too.

TrueBlueCT said...

Good, then both sides of the aisle want to see the two debate. Will it happen?

And 6:43Anon--
Putting aside your prejudices, you might do a little digging. New Haven's schools have improved mightily under DeStefano and Reggie Mayo. Our kids are still struggling, but they are doing much, much better.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

TrueBlueCT said... how strong is Rell on education? I'd like to see an hour long debate between her and DeStefano on this subject alone.


Jodi would easily hand him his head, especially on this issue.

GMR said...

“Gov. Rell presides over one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation,” said DeStefano. “It is shameful that the gap between black and white high school graduation rates and Hispanic and white high school graduation rates is one of the worst in the U.S. and looking at these test scores it is evident that more of our children are being left behind each and every year. As governor, I would implement the tenets of my Every Child Reads by Third Grade proposal – including universal pre-k for all 3 and 4 year-olds.” ("More")

Does deStefano worry about the gap more than the actual number? Connecticut had the 14th highest graduation rate of all students in 2005. So while some of the lower states may have had less of a gap, they might have also had fewer blacks graduate. If state A has 47% of its blacks graduate and 50% of its whites, and state B has 70% of its blacks and 90% of its whites, which is better? According to deStefano, state A seems better because the gap is lower.

All this may be moot however, since apparently many states fudge their results.

Also, isn't most of the responsibility for schools shouldered by the local districts? I know the states give grants, but don't the local towns determine how to spend most of the money?

Right now, Hartford schools get something like $7,000 per student in state aid. Does anyone really believe that more money would solve the problem? Money is certainly important up to a point, but at some point, it stops being effective.

Next, if a child can't read by third grade, what exactly happened in first and second grade?

Don Pesci said...

All nonsense. The Amisted School is equivalent to the best schools in New Canaan, and its pool of students is urban, black poor. Find out what they’re doing right and copy it. Close all the bad schools immediately – a mind is a terrible thing to waste – and send all the students to good schools; those would be the ones attended by the children of people who don’t give a twit about vouchers.

Anonymous said...

True Blue- how your comment calling me a racist got through the moderator, i'm not sure. Maybe calling me a racist makes you feel good, of course class warfare is exactly what you liberals engage in everyday.

Your posts are vicious, vindictive and usually out right lies. There no place for people like you in politics and you should be banned from posting here.

With that said, the fact remains that all of New Haven's schools are on the list and John Destefano is incharge.

And my bad, it was the latest Rasmussen poll that showed the Governor's lead increasing.

cgg said...

Last month the Education department released the results of a study showing that the performance of private school students isn't that much better than those enrolled in public schools. Gee I wonder why Bush and Margaret Spelling didn't make an effort to point out how well the nation's public schools are doing? Of course the report won't matter in the long run. People will believe what they want to about our education system.

Anonymous said...

Over the last five years, the State of Connecticut (i.e., you and me) has paid in over three quarters of a BILLION dollars (that's right, Billion, with a B) into the New Haven Public Schools (including ECS, School Construction, etc) and what does JDS have to show for it (other than campaign contributions)? And he has the temerity to blame the State Government? How about taking ownership of the problem for a change!

Frank Krasicki said...

There's lots of interesting dialogue here. My blog: http://region19.blogspot.com may be of interest. I serve on Region 19's BOE and to be honest DeStefano is spot on.

The critical years in education are the early years with the performance at fourth grade being a key indicator for future success in reading and math.

Critics of NCLB, like Rell, criticize the "unfundedness" of the legislation rather than the veracity of the arguments. NCLB is sugar-coated crap.

As for New Haven having failing schools, let's stop being silly. Nationally failing schools are clustered in the bluest of blue voting districts - every urban dense population in the country. The New York Times has been the paper of record on education if nothing else. Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport are predictable and unsurprising.

New Haven is also a dumping ground for many of Connecticut's most problematic populations - Destefano doesn't complain about it - that's a fact.

You cannot close or relocate large numbers urban students without moving the problem to the destination. Not a likely strategy.

Nor do private, religious, or commercial outfits fair better [yes, there are exceptions but the teacher union alibi is exposed as fiction].

Let's also be clear that schools in Connecticut's suburbia outperform the world. Period.

The educational crisis that exists has existed for forty years and more. The poor get short-changed. That's which schools are "failing". You don't need NCLB to know that.

No, more money will not solve the problem because it just gets sucked up by salary increases and never gets applied to curriculum.

A BIG problem across the board is that education is no longer focused on learning but on parroting Book of Virtue homilies thanks to hostile voter behavior conditioned by right-wing politicians like Lieberman, Rell, Simmons, Bill Bennett, Friedman and a host of other educational fiction writers.

Add to this a corporate special interest initiative to blame education for the rampant out-sourcing of American jobs and schools don't stand a chance. Today's students are depicted like yeasterday's whipping boy minorities; lazy, shiftless, and stupid. The kids don't deserve the label but it justifies importing cheaper and cheaper labor that none of us can financially compete with.

To add insult to injury CABE, the State Department of Education, the Federal Department of Education, and hundreds of conservative special interest groups spend way to much time trying to kill public education instead of making it better.

It's time for citizens of good will to fight back. I'm good with DeStefano because the staus quo works to obfuscate the damage being done by our current administrations.

TrueBlueCT said...

Anon8:15--

How can I call you a racist when you remain lurking in the shadows, without even a consistent handle??

But if I accuse you of stereotypical thinking, it might be more about the lame thoughts floating through your head, than what's actually in your heart.

Outside of the "Macaca-haters" hanging out in the Repug party, I haven't described all of you as racists. But gosh knows the GOP is more friendly to the minority-haters than the Democrats are. Can't I talk about latent prejudices without your reacting so vociferously?

Anyway, I feel like I hit a nerve. Please relax. But haven't New Haven's schools improved mightily under DeStefano?

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Frank Krasicki said... "
Nationally failing schools are clustered in the bluest of blue voting districts



A surprisingly candid admission.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

TrueBlueCT said... "
But gosh knows the GOP is more friendly to the minority-haters than the Democrats are.


Don't bet the farm on that nonsense.

When was the last time you stood up and let some idiot have it?

I was in a gas station when a young white punk (white Newport smokers are almost always punks; I know my tobacco demographics - trust me on that (check avatar)) refered to the owner-operator as a "Camel Jockey".

I'm a mid-50's over weight WASP.

It's not the place for the victim of predjudice to do or say anything; both Ghandi & MLK were correct in that regard.

It is however the place for the male WASP to step up so I did. To do nothing is tatamount to agreement.

"The man is a US citizen, he speaks English, works, supports his family and pays his own taxes - I thought that was the deal; what's your problem punk?"

As the words came out of my mouth I realized the kid was 30 years younger and could easily toss me right through a wall.

I was wearing a white shirt & tie however which seemed to confuse the rude lad and he replied; "You're right officer.. then he turned and apologized to the station owner.

While a passive response might well be in order for the victim of predjudice it is not appropriate for right thinking white male witnesses.

Personally - I think John Brown had the right idea and I believe the man was a hero. May 9th (his birthday) should be a national holiday.

Anonymous said...

Frank K said: "A BIG problem across the board is that education is no longer focused on learning but on parroting Book of Virtue homilies thanks to hostile voter behavior conditioned by right-wing politicians like Lieberman, Rell, Simmons, Bill Bennett, Friedman and a host of other educational fiction writers."

Hey Frank, get a clue pal. Not even DeStefano himself (or TrueBlueCT for that matter) criticize Rell for being a "right-wing politician" as you call her.

I didn't know it was possible to be that dumb.

bluecoat said...

the cities have much different issue s than than the 'burbs::Piece of the "PIE"
By Holly M. Pullano

Anonymous said...

Don Pesci said...

" Close all the bad schools immediately – a mind is a terrible thing to waste – and send all the students to good schools;"


what a fantastic plan, i wonder why nobody has thought of that before.

Sue123 said...

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17106666&BRD=1343&PAG=461&dept_id=433660&rfi=6

"Ramos said while he likes to stress the positive, it's hard to avoid the financial realities of running the education system in Bridgeport

"It's the worse I've seen anywhere here," said Ramos, who also has been a school administrator in Norwalk, Watertown, at the state level and in Providence, R.I. "I've never seen a situation this desperate as far as finances."

School board President Auden C. Grogins agrees. "I can't get over what happened," she said of the budget reductions. "They're the biggest cuts we've ever made - they are devastating - but now we must move on and do the best we can."

Grogins said some schools would now have to share art and music teachers due to limited resources, symbolic of how the cutbacks may affect the ability of students to learn.

However, Grogins said, students should benefit from the implementation of new instructional techniques and a new strategic plan. "I'm hoping it will be a successful year," she said."

Oh, boy, another program Bridgeport teachers have to learn! A new one every year!

Anonymous said...

The debate over education between Rell and DeStefano is a debate that needs to happen. I hope Republican Governor Rell will actually step to the plate and choose to debate DeStefano over this.

The Democrats and DeStefano so far have a much better record on education. DeStefano cut the drop out rates in New Haven in half. My understanding is that now, something like 80 percent of their high school grads there go on to 2 or 4 yr colleges. This is quite impressive looking at the socio-economic background of New Haven and comparing it to success rates across the state.

DeStefano for one has a plan on education and a proven record. Republican Rell does not. It's just another glaring example of her lack of leadership and why she deserves the boot.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "The Democrats and DeStefano so far have a much better record on education."

Can you please provide one shred of evidence for this? LMAO.

"DeStefano for one has a plan on education and a proven record. Republican Rell does not. It's just another glaring example of her lack of leadership and why she deserves the boot."

Are you just trying to be like TrueBlueCT (or perhaps you are him)?

Here is a great thought for the other 168 towns and cities across CT: elect John DeStefano and your education system will be just like New Haven's. Other than Bridgeport or Hartford, is there any other town in CT that would benefit? No!

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:29,

If you took the time to read the post, you will see that he did provide evidence. "DeStefano cut the drop out rates in New Haven in half. My understanding is that now, something like 80 percent of their high school grads there go on to 2 or 4 yr colleges." It's actually 82%, which is higher than Connecticut's state average. Dropout rates have gone from the low 30's to the mid teens. Tell me what other evidence you need and I will find it.

Anonymous said...

We need to stop this blame game. There are so many factors that affect the achievement of urban students of CT, neighborhood violence, gangs, poverty, lack of supervision, lack of adequate summer programs, lack of positive role models, etc.

We need to stop badgering kids with practice tests every few weeks but instead concentrate more on providing interesting, motivating activities that excite children. Frequent practice testing does not improve scores as is evident by this years CMT scores.

Additionally, we need to attract and retain new, young teachers to our urban districts. I have seen many a young dynamic teacher come to teach in New Haven, get all of the wonderful staff development offered to NHPS teachers, and then move to a suburban district to teach. This is a problem.

Lastly, stop blaming the teachers who come to their schools daily and do their best to provide education to their students. I work with many wonderful teachers who work very hard even though we seem to come up short on the CMT scores. Has anyone ever looked at the test, the articles, the problems? Could the test be biased towards minority students?

JMHO

Frank Krasicki said...

Could the test be biased towards minority students? - JMHO

The tests are biased in many ways, none of them healthy for anyone. These high-stakes tests provide a veneer of respectability for maintaining a class-based status quo. Children score well on these tests not because of their god-given abilities but because of the wealth of a district to drill them in the nuances of test taking.

Nobody talks about the psychic and psychological damage these practices have on kids - that's all waiting on the horizon.

Our Krusty-the-Klown Congress seems to believe we're all idiots.

Is there any sane person who believes that every major city in the country has nothing but inadequate teachers, intellectually inferior student minds, and so-called failing schools? Or that schools at risk are so difficult to find that we need a NCLB national search for them?

This is bureaucratic bullshit and social brainwashing elevated to a nationally shameful belief system.

Our country insults the fine work of public school teachers to save a few pennies and to designate whipping boys that can't fight back. The media war on the poor and helpless is unforgiving and unforgivable.

So when do we stop playing along?

Anonymous said...

John is correct: Jodi Rell couldn't identify an education issue if it took the form of a dog and bit her on the . . .

Twelve years of Rowland/Rell (and do we really think her policies are any different than his?) have left a mess. There is no cogent administration policy to improve education in this state.

Here is the problem (this is real - comes from a school my sister teaches in - small city Connecticut) - how do you correct a failing school when kindergarten kids show up in school at 5 yearls old and, for example,

1. don't know their colors
2. can't tell time

These kids are screwed. The rest of their educational lives will be spent trying to shovel against this tide!!

Its not fair.

Parents need to do a whole lot more!!!!!! There is no reason why your child should start school and not know their colors or speak in full sentences! (I am not speaking here of the developmentally disabled here).

Teachers need to teach - and that does not mean teach to a standardized test that has nothing to do with the curriculum.

If you want to solve the money issue here are some thoughts:

1. Reform the property tax/education money formula so that the burden for education doesn't fall so heavily on individual property tax payers.

2. In small towns - eliminate referenda!!! Referenda make no sense (we do NOT, nor have we ever, lived in a Democracy - its a Representative Democracy or Republic). We complain that legislators don't read legislation and don't know what a bill or law really does. If that's not bad enough we invite uninformed or misinformed people go an vote on an education budget. Are we serious? Do we actually think that anyone who voted in said referendum actually read the budget or understood anything that was written in it? Here's a thought: they didn't read it, they didn't attempt to read it and they wouldn't read it if you gave it to them! Eliminate budget referenda and a small town could actually enact a budget in the first place (we all live near some small town that has recently held eight or more referenda votes in order to pass its education budget)this would go a long way to making sure education is properly funded.

3. Eliminate NCLB - they aren't funding it because the point was never to fund it!!!! All of the penalty provisions effect a districts Title I money. If you don't take Title I money you don't have any issues and that is the point. The point was never to improve education - the point was to get cities, towns and states to decline Title I money in the first place - that is the entire point from the Bush administrations position!

Anonymous said...

Why are we even talking about this race? Let's concentrate on Lamont and our congressional hopefuls lest we let DeStefano drag them down with him.

Frank Krasicki said...

We're talking about it because DeStefano happens to be talking about issues such as education seriously and with plausible ideas about how to proceed.

One of the greatest myth-criticisms of Democrats is that they lack "ideas". DeStefano, like Lamont, has no such deficiency. It is Rell who lacks the ideas, imagination, and conviction to make education work in this state.

Quite frankly, I don't understand why anyone thinks Rell is so desirable or inevitable.