Monday, February 26, 2007

My Response To Governor Rell's Hartford Courant Editorial OR:

Yup - It Takes A School To Bankrupt A Village.
Governor Rell's editorial in the Courant today, explaining her tax hike, was really an insult to the taxpayers in this state. She talks about this bipartisan commission that she charged with the task of identifying better ways to distribute state funds for local education.

Governor Rell basically told them to go find ways to fix the morass of Education Cost Sharing calculations, which has become a bastardization of what was originally intended with regard to fair Education Cost Sharing. Rell's "commission" came out with their unsurprising recommendations in December: Tax and Spend.

So who exactly served on this commission? Mostly educrats and politicians who have a stake at getting more money into the education pie! People like the education commissioner and elected officials who have had their campaigns funded by teacher unions! Where were representatives of taxpayer groups on this commission? Where were people who represented independent think tanks who have studies to prove that throwing more money into education doesn't "fix" the problem of the so-called "achievement gap"? Where were experts from other states who have done a better job at spending less money and getting better results? No - the folks on this commission were the same old gang that just wants more and more and more out of CT taxpayers' pockets.

The ECS formula was enacted in 1988 to take effect on July 1, 1989. It was to be phased in over four years and be fully implemented in FY 1993-94. Since 1988, the General Assembly has adjusted the ECS formula or ECS grants in EVERY session. Most of the changes served to reduce the state's costs and, given fiscal constraints, to reallocate available state aid to different kinds of towns. Political pressures have caused lawmakers to tinker with the original formula so that one legislator's district could get more money than another's - and it basically favors large cities.

Legislators over the years have added caps, and adjustments and all kinds of calculations such that this formula is so unwieldy that no town ever seems to get it's fair share. The current Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula is horribly broken and needs to be scrapped, not given more money! A better and fairer means of providing money to municipalities, as well as satisfy Horton vs. Meskill, needs to be created and implemented. The proof is in that we not only have ECS, but an array of other grants and programs. It is a patchwork of inconsistent funding. We need to do a better job of identifying which education programs work and which don’t. We should reward schools that are improving, and drop funding for programs that don’t produce results.

Looking at my own town of West Hartford, that has been shorted $46 million dollars of ECS funding in the past 10 years alone! For every dollar that West Hartford sends to the state in taxes we receive twelve cents back, as compared to other municipalities that receive about $3.60 back! West Hartford ranks 144th out of 169 towns in education funding, and we only receive 76% of our total ECS entitlement; And they call this fair? Kids in Hartford schools cost $13,000 per pupil and you are telling us this is not enough? You are telling us that more money is going to fix their abysmal results? Surely you are joking!

I believe that the money we are currently throwing at education is quite sufficient if we would stop wasting it on inefficient programs and other expenditures. How about we get rid of the unions and binding arbitration that is choking our school systems? How about we get the school psychologists, school based health centers, specialists, and other non-teaching staff out of the schools and get back to focusing on teaching reading, writing and arithmetic to our children. How about we stop spending precious tax dollars on artificial turf and air conditioning for public schools, and instead spend them on academic programs designed to make our kids #1 again? How about we forget the 12 pages of unfunded state mandates on our school systems and let them have local control to do the things that they need to do in the best way they can determine to do them?

Why is nowhere to be found a plan to pare down costs, and make programs more efficient and effective?

Apparently Governor Rell and her "Commission" just want to make the pie bigger, and continue the "Robin Hood plan" of wealth redistribution, taking obscene amounts of money from the suburbs and give it to the cities who continue to waste it on ineffective programs.

Predictably, Rell, liberals and progressives believe that the only way to tackle our "education funding problems" is to have government raise taxes to fund massive expansions of early childhood programs and mandatory preschool, and redistributing wealth from rich to poor. They believe that society's ills can be fixed by government.

Have you stopped to ponder why the national Asian graduation rate higher than the rate for whites? Is it because more Asians are enrolled in preschool programs than whites? Do they receive better government programs than blacks? Perhaps the reason that so many winners of academic competitions have eastern Indian, Chinese, and Korean family names, is that staying in school, learning English, getting a job, and delaying pregnancy are high priorities in those cultures. It wasn't because government threw more money at them.

Here's some cold hard facts that this Commission should have considered, and most likely did not (thanks to Yankee Institute's FISCAL FOCUS, August 25, 2005, Government-School Spending in Connecticut -ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS ):
In recent decades, spending on Connecticut’s K-12 government-school system has exceeded both enrollment growth and increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Adjusted to the purchasing power of today’s dollars, the state spent $3.43 billion on elementary and secondary education in 1981. Twenty years later, that figure had more than doubled, to $7.15 billion.

Enrollment growth was less than 10 percent.

Connecticut spends more, per pupil, on is K-12 government-school system than 45 other states. Only New Jersey ($10,235), New York ($10,002), Vermont ($9,915), and Wyoming ($9,439) rank higher than Connecticut ($9,188.)

The Nutmeg State’s effort to “equalize” K-12 education spending is commonly referred to as the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) program. In the current fiscal year, it will spend approximately $1.6 billion.

Connecticut’s large cities receive, on average, $5,980 per pupil in ECS funding. Suburban towns receive $1,381 per pupil. Over half of large cities’ government-school spending is paid by state taxpayers. For suburban towns, the figure is less than 15 percent.

Teachers in Connecticut earn an average salary of $57,337, the highest among the states.

School-construction costs represent a substantial portion of the state’s highest-in-the-nation bonded indebtedness. In 2002, 46 percent of Connecticut’s general-obligation bonding was devoted to school construction.

The high-school dropout rate for Connecticut’s class of 2001 was approximately 30 percent.

Connecticut’s average combined SAT score is only slightly higher than the national average. Between 1988 and 2003, the state’s average combined SAT score was essentially flat, rising by 1.48 percent.

GOVERNMENT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES - Connecticut’s government colleges and universities cost 50 percent more to run, per pupil, than the national average. Among states, only Delaware’s system is more expensive.

Connecticut’s state-funded higher education system will spend over $2.3 billion in the current fiscal year. This does not include debt payments for the system’s building projects.

In 1999-2000, the most recent school year for which data are available, tuition and fees accounted for 18.8 percent of current-fund revenue for the state’s colleges and universities.

According to Connecticut Higher Education Commissioner Valerie F. Lewis, “fewer than half the students who start with us end up with a degree.” Over 60 percent of the Connecticut State University system’s freshmen do not earn their degrees within six years.

Almost 30 percent of the University of Connecticut’s students do not graduate in six years.

Talk about inefficiencies! And all Governor Rell wants to do is throw more money into this pit? If we are losing ground it is not because of a lack of funding!

But now let's take a look at the taxation side -

Connecticut's General Fund, has had a surplus in the past 3 years!
2004 $565 million surplus
2005 $777 million surplus
2006 $940 million surplus

CT residents are being overtaxed as it is ! And this is a result of what higher taxes has brought to our state:(Forbes, 8/16/06, The Best States For Business)

With 50 being the worst:
Connecticut ranks 43rd in the list of the Cost of Doing Business
Connecticut ranks 43rd in the list of Regulatory Environment for Business
Connecticut ranks 28th in Economic Climate (bottom half)
Connecticut ranks 23rd in growth prospects

So Governor Rell... can you please rethink this ? Would you perhaps consider putting together a commission of people who do not have a direct interest in obtaining more money for schools and instead put some people together who can look at this objectively? Can you please hear the voices of your citizens and business people who are suffering under the yoke of taxation? 3.4 billion more is NOT going to fix this problem, it will only line the pockets of administrators and expand their employment rolls. If you truly want to do what is best for the state and our future, then cut taxes and demand that schools streamline their operations and produce results.


Jersey Cynic said...

Judy - EXCELLENT post -- excellent points throughout.

Did you catch page B3 today (2/26)in the courant: CT needs to change age for kindergarten.


Two Federal Reports Show 12th-Graders Are Learning Less Now Than They Did 15 Years Ago

Testing, funding questioned as No Child law faces reauthorization

also you may be interested in unicef's report card:

An overview of child well being in rich countries --

just awful -

the only place worse than the UK to raise your children is the US - check out page 5 of the report out of 21 countries assessed, the us is #20.

Be glad you're homeschooling. I wish I had started.

P Henry said...

Blistering, absolutely blistering.

I think in one years time this will be seen as the turning point in the Rell adminstration.

"trust me, I thought about it" does not policy make.

Dear God, this is what passes for leadership? Reminds me of when O'Neil took over for Grasso. I miss her.

Excellent post. I could not have said it better. But I tried anyways.


Stacey said...

Oh, and let's not forget the rationale that while raising the income tax towns will be doing away with the property tax on vehicles. What will happen is the towns will say they can't rely on the state aid, so while they can not tax vehicles anymore, the mill rate will be adjusted upward to make sure they recoup their money on real estate tax.

This is such a win-win for Dems. They get to tax and spend if they approve her budget, but when the idea fails- and it will- they get to blame a Republican governor.

Anonymous said...

I agreewith some of what you say, but some of it is pure nonsense. 30% dropout rate? Where on earth did you get that statistic? There is no way it is even close to that. Did you mean 3%? I love it when people blindly read statistics without reporting all of the info. By your reasoning North Dakota must be the best state in the nation...they have the highest sat average in the country after all...1815 vs our 1539 (its now out of 2400). Only one minor flaw with that argument...they only had 4% of there students take the sat while we had 84% take it. We had the 3rd highest percentage of students take the sat behind only NY and Mass. I can actually substantiate my info directly from the source...

Now I could try to pick and choose my stats without reporting all the info like you and just say "hey ct has the highest ACT score in the United States of America!" Which is true, but only 12% of our students took that test. Yes ct teachers are paid the most, but did you look at the average age of each ct teacher? That could be important. Did you factor in cost of living in Ct?

I do agree that the ECS formula needs adjustment and that money alone can't fix the problems of education. Hartford schools receive Much More than other cities like new haven, bridgeport. Where is the sense in that? Please give all the facts before making these wild statements. I teach at a high school and it is rare for us to have 1 student drop out per year. Where did you get this 30%? It would be interesting for you to compare our graduation % to other states...i'd guess we'd be at the top!

Anonymous said...

google... sat ranking by state

if you can't get that link to work. Then everyone can see you deceipt!

Anonymous said...

everyone might find this interesting...
notice the states that spent the most on education were ranked at the top!

Judy Aron said...

Dear Anonymous… You obviously don’t have the guts to tell us who you really are.. but in any case.. The 30% dropout rate for UCONN students was reported by Yankee Institute…which was the document that I cited in the post (if you read it properly).. but since you won’t do the research for yourself I will tell you that you can read it here,and in fact all their statistics are cited: ( ) and they get the 30% statistic from this: Grace E. Merrittt, “Students Delaying Degrees,” Hartford Courant, January 23, 2005.

So congratulations CT has a higher percentage of students taking the SAT according to
( ) – you fail to mention that we are a much smaller state than the others and therefore the overall numbers of kids taking the exams is also probably much smaller. 4% of North Dakota or Iowa might represent much higher number of students than in CT. The chart is not clear on this. Percentages in this light can be quite deceptive. But if you want to play that game, CT still got beat out by Massachusetts. Overall in this chart we a miserable 31 out of 50.. I wouldn’t be too proud of that.

Ok, so you want to factor in age of teachers and cost of living in CT.. the fact still remains they are the highest paid in the nation. They also receive tons of benefits that average people in the private sector do not enjoy. They make out rather well, especially if they are tenured and can't be fired for doing a poor job. Try doing that in the private sector.

As far as I am concerned I have given all the facts, although I do appreciate your criticism. I did not make up these statistics.. if you have a problem with them then go complain to Yankee Institute. D. Dowd Muska can be contacted at (860) 729-1262 and

The ECS formula in CT does need an overhaul instead of more money being tossed into it. You may be interested to know that Newsweek magazine also did education rankings and CT schools didn't perform stunningly. Like it or not.. for all the money we spend in CT schools we aren’t getting our money’s worth out of them.

I applaud you for being a teacher, and I bet you are a good one because it sounds like you actually care.. but don’t get your feathers in a huff because the statistics bear out CT has lost whatever edge it used to have. I find that disturbing especially since we are such a small state comparatively.

The ALEC 2006 report card ( ) shows CT ranked 17th by SAT achievement – Massachusetts was number 1 (again)

Newsweek top 1200 high schools done in 2006 ( ) showed CT schools did pretty poorly. Only 14 schools in the whole state show up, and not one even made it to the top 250.

Sorry – but again I say for all the money we spend on education and teacher salaries we aren’t getting our money's worth.

Anonymous said...

you are dense aren't you...Ct is a small state and 84% of our students might represent a smaller number of students...However that is the whole point! You can't compare number of students who took it because Ct is smaller!!! That is why percentages must be looked at. I'm sure states like Cali have more students who took the SAT than we have students in Ct. So by that token how could we surpass them? Again you have to look at the percentage of students who took the test. Let me try to explain percentages to you...Should we compare the number of chinese people with IQ's over 115 to the number of people in new zealand with IQ's over 115? If you are unaware why this comparison makes no sense then I can't help you. If you still don't get it then you must believe that our #1 ranking in ACT scores is valid...after all you can't have it both ways!!! I like your source it is almost laughable..the yankee institute? Read the headline new ideas for better government and lower taxes in connecticut. This is my point...people like you look at one sided research that backs up what you already believe. I could have been the same and said we are number 1 in ACT ranked 2nd in the nation in education (according to my link) can find stats to back up anything you want.

Also you stated "The high-school dropout rate for Connecticut’s class of 2001 was approximately 30 percent."

you also mention the newsweek top 1200 are they ranked..based on what? You judge a school solely on the percentage of students who took ap or IB tests? If you didnt know that is what that ranking is based on. Why not actually look at the percentage who passed? Also as YOU mentioned we are a small state and do not have nearly as many schools as other states. Here is a link on facts from an unbiased source the collegboard (they administer the ap and sat tests) You can see that we are well above average on EVERY AP TEST offered. Newsweek didn't look at the scores. By newsweeks standards we could have every student take the ap test and be number 1 in the country. I gave a link ranking us as number 2 behind only vt you gave another based on bs. Find out if or how many states have higher ap scores than us...that would be useful and informative and UNBIASED. I can tell you we are 8th in the country.

Did you know in ct that we have to put in 35 yrs to receive the same pension benefits as rhode island? The only difference is we'd only have to put in 25 yrs in RI! This makes our teachers work for more yrs than other states and inflates our average salary...more veteran teachers vs rookie teachers. Did you know ct has the most rigorous teaching requirements in the country? My guess is no! Hey noone likes to pay out money. Also think about why ct has to pay out so much more than some states. We give the most money to the FEDS but get back the least! Other states get more money from the federal gov't we get the has to be made up somewhere.

Cost of of our close friends just bought a brand new 3500 square foot home in temple texas for $182000 (thats was in 2006) Could you but a house like that in ct for that price? Too bad the feds don't take that into consideration when they redistibute the wealth!!!

Leading the Nation

States with the greatest percentage of graduating public school seniors having scored 3 or higher on an AP Exam while in high school:

* New York (22.7%)
* Maryland (22.0%)
* Utah (20.8%)
* Virginia (20.7%)
* California (20.1%)
* Massachusetts (19.8%)
* Florida (19.6%)
* Connecticut (19.4%)
* North Carolina (18.0%)
* Colorado (17.9%)

If you think that ct is lacking in education you are mistaken. We have the most stringent standards in the country. we require masters degrees. Are there some incompetent teachers? sure..there are incompetents in the private sector too...or are you telling me you have never met someone incompetent that hasn't been fired in the private sector. I've even had my share of incompetent drs.

Where does that say anything in regards to uconn drop out rates? Why is uconn in the picture...they get no ECS dollars.

Judy Aron said...

Dear “anonymous” - Oh the joys of dealing with people like you. LOL. Civic discourse has no place in your life – you must resort to name calling and demeaning remarks. I’ll bet you humiliate your students on a regular basis, too. You obviously cannot read either because I never said “the high school drop out rate was 30 percent”…that is a statistic Yankee Institute stated based on the citation of a report they used in their paper. I merely reprinted it for my readers. You may think that citing Yankee’s findings is laughable, but they use very credible sources. But “People like you” wish not to see findings they don’t like. Hey pot.. this is kettle… black o.k.?

The fact is that percentages can be deceiving. You know it and I know it. You even said so yourself. Yup.. so you can find whatever stats you want to back up what you want to prove. The study you cited of 2006 SAT rankings (and that’s a study YOU chose) still shows CT in 31st place. Do you accept that finding or not? And thanks but I understand percentages quite well thank you. The studies I found – like ALEC – which happens to be a very credible study - puts CT 17th in the country. Not awful, but certainly not terrific considering the amount of money that we are spending on education.

Why don’t you take the time to read the Newsweek article – then you will discover what they based their rankings on. Sorry – but we have over 200 high schools in CT and to have only a dozen show up in the top 1200 schools in the country – with all the money we spend on education – that to me is disappointing. You can dispute Newsweek's rankings and how they came by them, but that’s not my problem it’s yours. There are studies that make us look good and ones that make us look not so good. So what.

As far as I am concerned the AP and SAT’s don’t tell the whole story. What about the kids that do not take those tests? What about the kids in urban cities who CT’s education system have failed? What about the kids in Hartford who leave high school not knowing how to read or write? How come we are spending $13,000 a pop on kids in Hartford and the public school can’t seem to do a damn thing with them? Blame it on their parents and shoddy homelife.. ok.. more education money isn’t going to fix that. So where does that leave us?

As far as your boo-hoo story comparing CT teachers pension benefits to RI..if they have such a better deal then what the hell are you doing here in CT? As far as I am concerned you still get a much better deal than many people in the private sector. So I hold little sympathy. As for most rigorous in the country? Is that why we produce kids that cannot calculate 10% of a number? Or don’t know how to spell or construct a coherent sentence? You know what? You can defend the teachers in this state, and overall I think they do a somewhat decent job, but the system is failing our youth. I see it everyday. The articles in the paper abound, or do you wish to refute those as well?

Yup – things are better in other places, it’s cheaper to live the benefits are better. So vote with your feet if you don’t like it. As for redistribution of wealth by the feds.. I don’t agree with it because on the whole it is unconstitutional for the feds to be doing anything regarding education.
That’s the 10th amendment .. the only reason they get away with crap like No Child Left Behind is because of the commerce clause. They use the purse strings to suck these state into their demands. I’d abolish the federal Department of Education all together if I could.

As far as your AP exams go – it doesn’t take a genius to score a 3 or better on them. I am not impressed that CT is represented by a paltry 19.4%. Nor am I impressed that CT requires Masters degrees for teachers. Anyone can get a masters degree these days.. it doesn’t mean you can teach well.

Again read the original post and you’ll find the reference to UCONN ..
My whole point was that with all the money we currently spend on education we are not performing as well as we could. If you take offense at that, then there is nothing more I could or will say. But I am certain you will continue your rant and call me whatever kind of stupid you think bolsters your argument.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Disable the blog...fine. I'm sorry that I was belligerent on the blog, but everyone thinks they're an expert on education since they went to school. I agree money can't fix everything. This is my last correspondence to you! As I said before you can't rank states by sat's...and newsweek did rank by % of students who took the ap exam... not on who passed the exam. If we use Newsweeks rationale for ranking then we should be 3rd based on sats...we had the 3rd highest percentage of students take the test. Again I think that is a ludicrous way of ranking, but that is what newsweek did only with % that took AP classes.
That was what they based there ranking on. Read it yourself. I don't know about you but I'd rather rank schools on performance and not on whether they took a test. Again you can't have it both you know what the ACT test is? It's like another SAT that we rank #1 on.

I can tell you no educator likes the leave every child behind law...our nickname for it. Again ranks us as #2. I have no problem with ct...I didn't start the blog. I think Ct is great place to live and work. I have no problems with it. Here is a link that you really should read and post on your blog if you want to be fair

it discusses the issue on sats...

here is a clip
The states with the highest SAT scores and lowest percentage of SAT
takers tend to be testing mostly their best and brightest." Marchant
explains. "There is more diversity in the ability of test takers that
come from the lower-scoring states. In the top-scoring states, twice as
many test takers come from the top 10% of their class. Test takers from
lower-scoring states represent a far greater range of both class rank
and grade-point average." The more a state's education system works to
increase college attendance for students who have traditionally not
pursued higher education, the lower the state's average SAT scores are
likely to be, he points out.
Basically you must compare apples to apples. If you could compare our top 10% to other states top 10% that would be fair..or our middle 50% to other states middle 50% that would be fair. Our top students take both sat and ACT thats why we rank #1 on the ACT. Other states take the ACT as their primary test. Their top students take the SAT as a second you see the dilemma? Again I'm sorry I ruffled your feathers it would be nice to see teachers appreciated...

Judy Aron said...

Judy Aron said...

Dear Anonymous..
Gee, thanks for coming back.. I only disabled the comments on that past post because you were becoming abusive and I won't tolerate that here. Calling me names does not further your argument. Now that you have chosen to be more civil we can debate further. I welcome it.

I am a parent and a taxpayer. I have had kids in the school, as well as not in the school system. I read plenty of articles both pro and con regarding education. I don't know, or care, if anyone labels me an "education expert" or not, and I am certain in your view that I am not. Be that as it may, I don't believe that just because someone is employed by the education establishment that this qualifies them to be "an expert" either. However, you sound like you know what you are talking about. I will respect that. There are many administrators out there who are quite clueless. All I know is what experience has shown me.

I think we agree on more things except that you don't think that I appreciate teachers. On the contrary.. I had already stated that I believe that most here in CT do a fairly decent job. Urban teachers in particular have an enormously difficult job, and it appears that the system does not do much to really help them.

It seems that you have a problem with standardized tests and how the results are reported. I tend to agree with you, which is why I also said that those tests do not tell the whole story about a student's ability. In fact there are lots of kids that just do not test well. The tests do not showcase a student's ability, which is why places like Kaplan can reap in millions showing kids how to test and how to guess and how to game the system. Content becomes irrelevant. There should be some mechanism to show a kids long term performance. Some sort of demonstration of what "stuck" not what was "crammed" into short term memory. I don't believe in high stakes testing.

I think CT is a great place to live and work too - except that the State has been killing it slowly.. taxing too much and spending in stupid ways. They are not attacking the education problems by the roots which in my mind is that they have strayed from teaching the basics to adding all the other psycho social garbage to the curriculum. Ergo kids are not graduating with the basic knowledge to get them through life.. It is evident in our colleges that must offer dozens of remedial courses to get kids up to snuff. I think that you know that as well as I do. Colleges should not be the place for remedial learning! It's supposed to be "higher education"!

In any case.. it seems that your dispute with me is the studies I cited in my post.. You didn't like Yankee, you didn't like Newsweek, you didn't like ALEC. Morganquitno was your choice. That's fair. Pick your own poison. Your points are well taken. I took statistics - I know how they can be skewed and misrepresented, sliced and diced. That point is also well taken. In all the studies CT isn't bottom of the barrel.. we aren't great guns stunning either.

My point was that for all the money we spend - we still are failing many of these kids in giving them the tools and skills they need. The state sorely needs to evaluate current programs before dumping more money into the mix. ECS is miserably broken because politics has gotten in the way of doling out the money fairly. In fact it rewards poor performing schools.

So how exactly should we judge a school's performance? By how many take the SAT or AP classes? I know lots of kids that take AP classes and don't belong there but are there because mom or dad made a phone call. That's not an indicator to me. We could look at what the average GPA scores. That might be an indicator of more long term performance, although that could be skewed as well if kids get A's by taking all easy courses. Maybe we ought to be looking at how many times kids take the SAT's - there are those that take it 2 or 3 times before they get a decent score. It is difficult at best to get a decent measurement, but I'd say if a kid can't figure out square footage and how much carpeting to buy, or read a newspaper, or write a decent essay, or tell you where Iraq is on a map, then the school is not performing well. We need to be more creative in measuring performance. Maybe we have to look at what kinds of jobs these kids are ultimately getting, if any. maybe we have to look at who has to take remedial courses after high school.

How should we judge a teacher's performance? I don't think that just because they possess a Masters degree it makes them able or competent to teach. Parents without a masters degree do pretty damn well homeschooling, I'd say. Quite frankly I don't think many teachers are given the chance to really teach. They are stifled by stupid rules, guidelines and standards as well as a classroom time constraints. Kids are bored with busywork and insulted by a dumbed down curriculum that doesn't really challenge their thinking, but merely tells them what to think.

I would be willing to bet that if you junked all the psycho social garbage from our high school curriculums and focused on the basics, the kids would not only be more engaged but that they would not need remedial courses in college. We need more teachers like Jaime Escalante. If he could teach poor minority kids calculus then so can anyone else. Have you read anything by John Taylor Gatto, 3 time teacher of the year?

I don't have a problem with teachers.. I have a problem with the way this system has evolved. In fact the system has evolved to prevent good teachers from really doing their job, and it even rewards bad teachers with things like tenure. It has become a self serving jobs mill which ultimately does not serve the students' true needs.

If the tax money collected would go to classroom materials instead of highly paid administrative salaries, then perhaps people wouldn't squawk so much when tax time rolled around. It's not the teachers, its not the kids.. it is the ineffective and oppressive system they must operate in. There is little room for real exploration or freedom, and there is not enough focus on the basics. Classical concepts go unlearned and kids are passed along. That is just not fair to these kids.

CT is good but not good enough.. I think we ought to demand more. Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

again I'm sorry for the earlier rude post...I actually think the root of many problems in education are really the result of poor parenting. Year after year you can see it on back to school night. Now I know there are legitimate reasons why parents can't make it to back to school night. However at my school we have ap, honors, A-level, B-level, and C-level. Students are not tracked. Every year there are two parents per student that show up for ap and honors students, 1 parent per student that show up for A-level...maybe 3 or 4 parents (total) for B-level, and I always bring a book for C-level blocks on back to school night since noone shows. That would make an interesting news story wouldn't it? I agree that the state ECS formula is not fair at all. Look at Harford and compare the money they get to other big cities. I know you don't believe it but ct really is at the top in the nation when it comes to the three R's. Now that doesn't mean every student will do well. If you tool stats then you know the bell curve and roughly 16% of the population has IQ's below 85. The average being 100. For college graduates the average is 120. Administrators in my district anyway don't really make too much money and don't account for much of the budget. Much of the money goes to construction and repairs on infrastructure. Costs go up every year with inflation and disasters like Katrina can shoot building materials through the roof. More money will be needed every year as inflation goes up. We could lower teacher salaries, but that would hardly attract top college students to the profession. I teach math and could easily make double to triple my salary as an actuarial mathematician. Believe it or not uconn's school of education has math teachers take more math classes than math majors. I have also listened to your arguments on homeschooling and see your point there. Parents like you who do a good job with it seem to suffer. I willingly admit I don't know all that you must go through in that. However, my wife is a special educator and sees the other side of it. Parents that homeschool for years then place the kids in the school system...knowing nothing. Parents that don't care and don't do the job are ruining it for people like you. Maybe the state should make parents financially accountable for there students...At the highschool level I spend my entire class on content (however I'm not in an Urban placement). Some students don't care and don't know what is at stake. Some get it. It is tough to teach students who don't care about their own education. I'm also uconn certified...dr hurley (retired) agreed that highschool ap calculus students are far more advanced than college calculus students. It is not that easy to get a 3 on the ap calc exam.

Sadly enough I do not see any quick fixes to our education system. Our culture needs to change. Parents need to be held accountable. We have the toughest teacher standards in the country...schools are being held accountable with the leave every child behind law...maybe parents could chip in too.

I also think we should have more technical schools in the state. I know our school and many schools keep lofty record of how many students go to college...notice that they don't follow how many finish :) Not every student should be going to college. Maybe technical schools could atleast prepare them for a high paying carreer. I know my plumber bills at $100/hr. Thats not too shaby. I know if you take my salary and divide by the number of hours that I actually put in I make about $20 an hour. I know it is tough to stomach but education will go up every yr...just like oil, electricity, health care (which all effect school budgets) will go up. It's life and that also why salaries in all professions go up over time

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

can you post these in the original blog? I will not be rude...I'm sorry about that. It's just frustrating as a teacher..all we ever hear is how schools are failing never anything positive and it gets tiresome...I wrongly took out my frustrations on you
April 1, 2007 5:28 PM
Anonymous said...

Also excuse my typos...I see a few there <-> errors. Good thing I'm not certified in teaching English. I'd also have no problem if they lengthened the time it took to obtain tenure. It is a necessity as taxpayers would see firing experienced teachers as a way to save money and as you know experience matters. The state could do away with the pension penalty and that would save tax dollars.

Also I found a website that gives a pretty fair comparison of the states.
They report the scores. Compare the writing math and reading listed at the bottom of the document. The basics as you'd say. I don't see any state that does as well across the board.

Judy Aron said...

Anonymous.. I also agree about parental involvement. That is key.. but the truth be told I think schools and the culture of society in general have trained and encouraged parents that it is acceptable and even preferable to abrogate their rights and allow others to basically raise their kids. Now they even want these kids to go to preschool and be more disconnected from their parents! But on the other hand parents are so harried and stressed to work and pay bills and just be able to survive. I don't know if you have kids or not - I have raised three. It was not easy, especially on one income -(I used to work but quit when my kids were born) but we did it, and honestly I wouldn't trade it for the world. We homeschooled them all - with my oldest starting in 8th grade. He went on to graduate from Boston University and works as a transportation analyst in CT. My middle son is studying Computer networking in Boston at Wentworth and my daughter who has never been in government school is 15 and takes a class at Tunxis while also doing her homeschool high school program. Are there homeschoolers that are not thorough? Sure.. but they are really very very few and far between because quite frankly it is much easier to put the little darlings on a bus in the morning. The homeschool community is very strong, very vibrant and very supportive in CT.

After all is said and done you may only make $20 an hour.. I make far less than that... LOL But honestly the administrators in my neck of the woods make an obscene salary. We have 2 high schools and each have 3 asst. principals! They have more curriculum specialists and school specialists then they could possibly need. They all just got a 4.5% increase. I think they all make more than rather well. But what really frosts me is that instead of spending money on astroturf or air conditioning in our schools they ought to be spending money to help kids that need it. Yet when we want them to cut the budget they start talking about cutting teachers and programs so the PTO's get all in a dither. That is wrong wrong wrong! So the administration uses threats to get what they want. In any case, I totally understand where you are coming from. I appreciate your comments greatly.

Schools teaching the basics is one thing - but now you guys are stuck teaching manners, morals, and a whole bunch of things that you really should not be spending school time on.

One thing kids do have to learn is how important their education is. I don't think parents or teachers impart that enough to kids. Unfortunately that really does hurt the kids in the long run. I honestly believe that compulsory education is wrong. If kids don't want to be in school then they shouldn't be there. It ruins it for the kids that do want to be there. For those kids who don't want to be there, they ought to be mandated to do volunteer work or some other community service, or learn a trade instead. Absolutely more technical schools are needed.

As homeschoolers, my kids are totally in charge of their own education, and they understand that they have a personal stake in what they do. They set their own goals. Government Schooling really needs reform. It isn't just about accountability. Kids have to know that what they are doing means something. They should have a say in what they read or study. I implore you to read "The Underground History of American Education" by John Taylor Gatto. He outlines why schools were designed to be the way they are.

The basics are crucial - and I think our country is in very bad shape as compared to other countries regarding education. I don't think we need longer school days, or a longer school year. We just need more concentrated study time. No interruptions in class, no continued excuses for late work. Kids need to beheld responsible as should their parents. But schools also have to stop adding unnecessary trash to the curriculum. They need math teachers to teach math, English teachers to teach English etc. I was appalled to hear that in many geometry classes they don't even do proofs anymore! Euclidean geometry has been replaced with something else. God knows what.

May I recommend a nice math site for you to visit - you may get some nice ideas..

Sorry the comments here have to stay at this post I cannot add them on to the other post where we started this conversation. But that's not a problem to me.
Thanks for coming back and I too apologize for any comments that I made to you which were not nice.
You are a real decent guy and I am glad that someone like you, who cares, is a teacher. We need more of you.
April 1, 2007 7:43 PM
Judy Aron said...

By the way anonymous.. send me an email offlist ( and if you have a government school success story - I will post it. How's that as a gesture of good will and fairness?
I want to know what good things you are doing in your school, and so does everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Tenured teachers can absolutely be fired. Every district has a policy for teacher dismissal. The problem is that most administrators are not willing to do the documentation for supporting the decision. All that is required for dismissal of a teacher is just cause - read the statute. All we ask for is a reason that can be substantiated. If adminsitrators aren't willing to provide it, then there is a problem - with the administrators, not the teachers - and they are never dismissed, so consider that.