Long-time readers of Eduflack will notice that I have been writing a great deal about Connecticut lately. In my professional life, I’m fortunate enough to work with a terrific education advocacy group in the Nutmeg State — the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now.
While we all know about the importance a strong public education system plays in preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s success, we speak far too infrequently about the specific ties between our nation’s economic success and the educational policies that help us achieve it.
But why are we so resistant to similar change in education? With such a strong connection between economic growth and education, we’ve seen our economy transform as we try to teach our kids using the same systems, approaches, and expectations as we did nearly a century ago.
Our consumer-driven economy should yield a consumer-driven educational system. A system where families have a choice in the schools their kids attend. A system where moms and dads are assured their kids have great teachers in the classroom and a great principal leading the school. A system where all students are funded equally, rejecting the establishment of two classes of public school students in the same city.
We cannot and should not continue a public education framework just because it is the way we have always done it. Those who continue to defend a model that has failed so many of Connecticut students for decades must ask what they are defending.
Yesterday, the voters of Bridgeport reiterated the need for the continued push for reform in the Bridgeport Public Schools. With Hernan Illingworth, Jacqueline Kelleher, and Kenneth Moales now CONTINUING THEIR SERVICE on the Bridgeport Board of Education and with John Bagley joining the Board, the city can continue to move forward, ensuring that all Bridgeport kids receive a world-class education.
Without question, there has been a great deal of vitriol surrounding the progress made in Bridgeport over the past 10 months. Those seeking to protect a broken system, a system that simply was not serving the families of Bridgeport, have been quick to lob any charges (no matter how baseless) to try and slow or outright derail the improvements recently adopted in Bridgeport.
DURING THE PAST YEAR, we have seen the cost of the Bridgeport Public Schools’ central office greatly reduced, ensuring that the community’s tax dollars are going where they need to – toward the education of kids.
During the past year, we have seen the school district right its financial ship, restoring a trust in the stewardship of Bridgeport schools.
During the past year, we have seen an unprecedented focus on student learning, with educators and advocates, parents and policymakers joining together to improve the quality of local schools.
During the past year, we have seen all corners of Bridgeport join together to help turn around the James J. Curiale School, demonstrating a real community commitment that no child should have to attend a failing school.
During the past year, we have seen the city pledge to ensure that all Bridgeport kids have exemplary teachers lead their classrooms, as the city joins in the state’s groundbreaking student learning-focused teacher evaluation efforts.
And the during the past year, we have seen city residents embrace the possible and the hopeful in Bridgeport Public Schools, trusting in the leadership of Superintendent Paul Vallas and his plans for restoring Bridgeport schools to glory.
Let there be no mistake, change is hard. Change is particularly hard when it means breaking practices and behaviors that have ruled the roost for decades, leading folks to believe that change is impossible. But Mayor Bill Finch has demonstrated that change is possible, is necessary, and is achievable. Superintendent Vallas has PROVIDED THE BLUEPRINT for achieving that change. And now the voters of Bridgeport have reaffirmed the execution of that blueprint.
Every child in Bridgeport, and every child in Connecticut, deserves a world-class public education. Cities like Bridgeport are now working to make that happen, with no excuses.
(The above blog post, authored by Patrick Riccards, was originally posted on the ConnCAN blog — www.conncan.org — on September 5, 2012.)