Students First has issued report cards for states’ responses to educational reform. The national organization’s website describes it as “ A grassroots movement to reform America’s public education and keep our best teachers in the classroom.” This was the second year that Students First presented its findings. The report doesn’t rely on test scores. Instead, It focuses on “whether each state’s laws prioritize the interests of students and families.”
Last week, the Great New England Public School Alliance responded to the grade that Connecticut received–D+, which put its rank as 24 out of 50. Why? How is it possible that the fourth richest state in the nation has such a poor score? How is the state education system allocating its resources? It shouldn’t need MORE money; rather, districts should use the funds more wisely.
What has the state done right? While Connecticut has taken steps to improve teacher quality by altering the evaluation system, it has yet to install policies and procedures to retain the best and brightest teachers with merit pay. The organization’s recommendation is that “Connecticut should link performance and compensation.” Rather than simply considering the time served in a district as the criterion for lay-offs, administrators should rely on teacher performance, just as any big corporation does.
The state must also provide avenues for more parent involvement. Educators at all levels must make an effort to communicate effectively with parents and allow them to become partners in the educational process. They must listen to their concerns and suggestions and act upon them for the good of the students.
Finally, school finances should be transparent. ”Connecticut should continue moving forward with efforts to use its resources more wisely by implementing a transparent financial system that links expenditures with student outcomes and holding districts accountable for making every dollar count.”
The emphasis should be on accountability in every aspect of the public school system. Perhaps then the state will experience some real positive change.