Saturday, February 10, 2007

Some great news out of Connecticut!

Some great news out of Connecticut! Here's the update from Jon Sackler, one of the backers of ConnCAN:

It's been an exciting two weeks for the public education reform movement in Connecticut.

On January 24th, ConnCAN announced its 5-point plan to close the achievement gap in our state, appropriately entitled "Great Schools for All: A Plan Big Enough to Close America's Largest Achievement Gap". The press conference at the capitol attracted House Speaker Jimmy Amann, House Education Committee Chairman Andy Fleischmann, a number of coalition partners including CT ACORN and CBIA, and a roomful of supporters.

In the two weeks since its launch, the plan has been covered by over 20 news outlets and numerous education blogs. More than 1,000 people have visited the policy report webpage, 200 copies of the 44-page PDF have been downloaded off the website, including visitors from the US Senate, and from government offices in FL, GA, MS, NC, TX and CT. We have already going through our first run of 500 print copies and are on track to go through another 500 by early next week. A story from the New Haven Advocate can be found at

Now for today's news... Governor Rell announced her proposed budget which includes a set of proposals that fall right into the categories defined by ConnCAN's 5-point plan. As the ConnCAN press release makes clear, we believe that the Governor has taken a huge step in the right direction. In the coming months, we hope to be of continued help to the state's policymakers, providing them with clear and accurate information.

In the article in the New Haven Advocate (link to above and pasted below), this community activist captures the situtation poignantly and precisely:

Sharon Patterson-Stallings, chair of Connecticut Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), says her fourth grade grandson in public school reads at a second grade level and her third grader, in private school, reads at a fifth grade level. Patterson-Stallings said ACORN has decided to make education a priority issue this year.

“I see the gap in my own family”, she says. “I’m worried about their education.”

While I applaud ACORN's decision: a) where have they been for the past 20 years? and b) if they're like most other community organizations, "making education a priority" means little more than advocating for more money, not embracing any type of genuine reform.

This raises the larger topic of the near total absense of community organizations (not to mention the civil rights community) in the struggle to reform public schools. As my slides at argue, I think one major reason for the deafening silence is that jobs in public schools have provided a route to the middle class for many minorities -- schools are often the largest employer, public or private, in many cities -- and community groups and civil rights organizations are often staffed by the very same people who benefit from the educational status quo. Those of us in the school reform movement need to be VERY aware of and sensitive to this issue.


Fix Subpar Education in Five Easy Steps
By Betsy Yagla, New Haven Advocate, February 1, 2007

Finally there is a comprehensive plan to chip away at Connecticut’s education achievement gap, one of the worst in the nation.

Parents, educators, members of the business community, other non-profits and legislators were all at the Legislative Office Building last week lauding the plan designed by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now.

The plan, which ConnCAN suggests be implemented over six years, would cost $1.3 billion, money that would come from the state.

ConnCAN, a two year old New Haven-based non profit, is garnering a lot of support and excitement for its new plan. Why? The plan probably doesn’t outline anything you didn’t already suspect about the state’s public schools. But no one else has taken it upon themselves to address the problem as a whole, rather than just one aspect of it.

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