Tag Archives: funding

Challenges and Changes Ahead for Public Education

school-buses-005-2xThe decision on CCJEF (Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding) vs Rell lawsuit was announced and should have significant impact on educational funding in Connecticut.  The decision is far reaching and looks to change not only how schools are funded but also priorities in funding allocation.

Here are the key components of the decision:

  1. A ruling that it is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL for the state to have a public education financing system that is NOT based on the amount of money it takes to provide every child equitable access to an adequate educational program.
  2. A ruling that the present system for funding public education in CT is unconstitutional because it is irrational.  The judge gave the State 180 days to submit to the plaintiffs in the case a system that is rational.
  3. An apparent ruling that the State has to develop a system for requiring students to actually demonstrate that they have mastered specified content and skills before being awarded a high school diploma and a requirement that there be a State graduation exit exam established for this purpose.
  4. An apparent ruling that the current system for teacher evaluation be revamped so that compensation is based on the results of teacher evaluation.
  5. An apparent ruling that would require the State not to program for children whose special needs are so severe that education cannot materially influence the quality of their lives.

Appeals in the case are likely but it would appear at this juncture all school districts will face significant changes in the future.  Under the ruling, gone would be the days of social promotion and high school diplomas presented with little basis in merit.

Teacher compensation currently structured by contractual obligations rather than individual productivity or merit would be changed to a system based on results of teacher evaluation.  In the land of steady habits, it will be difficult to facilitate real change and not window dressing to institute a realistic system of evaluation and compensation.

Special education would no longer be required for children whose needs are so severe that education cannot materially influence their quality of life.  This may not be as clear cut as it sounds and remains open to some interpretation.  Currently special education costs for a single student can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The “irrational” system for funding education must be changed in Connecticut.   The new formula, under this decision, will not be based on a false premise of a constitutional guarantee to provide every child equitable access to an adequate educational program.

One thing for sure lobbyist and special interest groups will be active to pressure our legislature to preserve, protect and promote their positions as new policies are written.

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Filed under CONNECTICUT ISSUES, COVENTRY EDUCATION, CT issues

Mandated Waste Bleeds Police Funding

Yesterday here at the Opining Quill the topic was compliance with the Racial Profiling Prohibition Act passed in 1999.  Coventry was one of the almost rare police departments that have been in compliance with the required reporting.  This entire episode is an example of the burdensome State mandate system that needs to be looked at, so here we go.

Back in 1980’s and 90’s minority drivers complained they were routinely stopped in Avon while traveling to a swimming area.  In some other locations police seemed to profile out-of-state black drivers as drug couriers.  The reaction of the legislature was a rather typical liberal knee jerk reaction by passing a law with mandates attached to address the problem.

Our legislators could all clap their hands and feel good because they had solved a problem and could take credit for politically correct action.  Unfortunately with liberal legislators too often it is the intent and not the performance that is the focus of what they do and that was the case here.

Police departments were mandated to provide reports covering each officer and every traffic stop by recording the race and gender of each driver. (Apparently age discrimination was not a concern)  Now on the surface that sounds like it would provide a record that could be useful to see any pattern of profiling discrimination.  In this case it was just another smoke screen of political puffery to calm a constituency.

You see here in the real world back in 2001 the collection of data and the review of reports was the responsibility of the Chief States Attorney.  A report was generated but was so ambiguous it was of minimum value.  Then in 2003 the responsibility for collection and analysis was given to the African-American Affairs Commission.  They unfortunately did not have the staff or budget to do the job. Was that a problem; apparently not since they never requested additional funds or positions to perform the analysis.  Apparently nothing more was done.

When word got out that nothing was being done with the reports some departments just ignored the requirement while others like Coventry continued to follow the law.  So there you have it a mandate that has sucked up valuable police time generating reports that have been ignored for years.  This is just one example of mandated waste that should be discontinued or action taken to turn it into a valuable tool with proper applications.

Legislation derived from knee jerk political correctness may well provide a feeling of euphoria but the focus should be on results and application.  Mandates and laws must have a productive purpose or be abolished.  The people of Connecticut deserve better from our legislators in the General Assembly

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Filed under CONNECTICUT ISSUES, Coventry CT

Why Budgets Are Killing the Future of Education – Listening to Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Better known as the man behind Microsoft Bill Gates recently spoke about how state budgets are breaking our educational system.  He paints a picture as to why state budgets are heading us into major financial challenges.

The picture is becoming increasingly difficult and yet states are required to balance their budgets so how are we getting into this mess?  He provided examples that apply to all states including Connecticut.

He talked about healthcare and pension costs and the role they play in funding education in the future.  He talked about where we need to go in our educational systems of the future.

In his view educational spending needs better tools, more information to more people, and better accounting.  He speaks about the role of incentives in delivery of the educational message and says without change the future is not affordable.  From his perspective we can not afford to cut and reduce the education we deliver to the next generation.

Bill Gates has put a lot of money into the American educational system and he certainly can not be called an attacker to educational funding.  He delivered a message that should be heard, should be considered and pondered.  It is easy to attack a messenger; it is far harder to honestly defend a system that is doomed to failure if changes are not made.

While Bill talks in terms of State budgets however many of his points apply to federal and indeed to local budgets.  Unfunded and underfunded obligations are in your local and State budget, they have been subjects at local meetings in the past.  Sadly there is little interest or understanding on the subject by the public at large.

The link below will allow you to listen directly to Bill Gates.  This message is for Democrats, Republicans, left-wing, right-wing, liberals and conservatives.  If you will give Bill Gates ten minutes of your time and listen you may find reasons to pay more attention to the direction our leaders are headed.

http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_how_state_budgets_are_breaking_us_schools.html

 

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Filed under NATIONAL ISSUES

EDUCATIONAL SPENDING A MAZE OF MONEY AND MYTH

What is the cost to a taxpayer for a high school diploma?  Does your child receive a first rate quality education for the dollar invested or are taxpayers tossing good money after bad?

This week across the State of Connecticut high school seniors will be graduating from public schools and parents will smile with pride as their sons and daughters receive their diplomas.  Students will move on, some to further education and some to full time employment with the burden of taxation upon their soft shoulders, new taxpayers contributing dollars for the students to follow.

If your child graduates from Coventry High School the cost to the taxpayers for that diploma is $110,380.  Is that a good investment?  Is it enough to provide a good education or is some of that money wasted?  Now, those are not easy questions and the answers are subject to some debate but there are some facts to provide food for thought.

So how do you think Coventry measures up against towns like Simsbury, Tolland, New Fairfield, Wolcott or Glastonbury?  All of those Towns enjoy an excellent reputation with Tolland recently named the 27th best small town in the country to live in
Does Coventry have a problem?  Has Coventry committed to provide our students with the resources necessary to compete with students from those towns? Here are some actual facts on the cost per diploma in each town:

Town                                                Cost Per Diploma

Tolland                                                 $107,552

Wolcott                                                $109,981

New Fairfield                                     $110,309

Coventry                                             $110,380

Glastonbury                                      $112,613

Simsbury                                            $114,933

The spending differential between Coventry and Simsbury based on the cost per diploma is $350 more per year per diploma.  The differential between Coventry and Tolland is $217 less per year per diploma.

Will more money give better results? Take a look at these numbers and judge for yourself:

Vernon                                                 $137,087

Stafford                                                $138,337

Bloomfield                                          $162,749

Hartford           `                                 $199,212

Now of course there is more to the story because money by itself does not produce better results in education.  Student retention and performance are another area to examine so let’s take a look at graduation rates;

Tolland                         99.5

Wolcott                        91.7

New Fairfield             99.1

Coventry                     96.4

Glastonbury               98.8

Simsbury                     98.1

Vernon                         90.6

Stafford                        88.7

Bloomfield                  87.7

Hartford                       79.2

Coventry it seems could do a better job on their graduation rate.  In years gone by the drop out rate for Coventry was decreased substantially by not counting students that dropped out and then chose to attend adult education now being paid for with local tax dollars.  It seems a good goal for Coventry would be to increase the graduation rate and thereby better serve all students and the community.

It may not require more money but it may require a better focus on the productive success of each student.  Paying higher prices for delivery of the same level of education is not the answer that would be same as repeating a mistake and expecting a different result.

Before we ever vote to raise taxes on blind faith and expectations every citizen should know what they can expect for the higher cost.  Staying informed is the responsibility and role of every good citizen.

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Filed under COVENTRY EDUCATION