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Presentation of an issue is made possible in part by a grant from National Securities Corp.. In April 1983 the National Commission on excellence in education released its report entitled A Nation at Risk in it. The commission said the educational foundations of our society are being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens us as a nation and a people. The commission went on to say that if an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational standards that exist today we might well have viewed it as an act of war. Each generation of Americans has outstripped its parents and educational attainment in literacy and an economic attainment. But for the first time in our nation's history the current generation will not
surpass will not equal will not even approach that of their parents. The debate on how to improve and correct the inefficiencies that exist in our unique public educational system will continue for some time to come. To be sure beginning with this program and throughout the coming year Connecticut Public Television will present a series of programs dealing with public education in hopes of educating both the public and our public policy makers on each other's concerns and ideas in the program you're about to see. We will hear some of Connecticut's leading educational authorities and hear what their ideas are and their concerns and their proposals. Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg president University of Hartford. Gloria Capelli precedent Connecticut Parent-Teacher Association Dr. Charles Fowler superintendent Fairfield public schools. Dr. Thomas my lady president Sacred Heart University Dr. Arthur banks
president Greater Hartford Community College. Mr. Angelo Kenzo Nettie president Connecticut Association of Boards of Education representative Dorothy Goodwin co-chairman of the General Assembly's Education Committee. Mr. her name LaFountain superintendent Hartford Public Schools. Mr. Robert Egan president Conn. Education Association Mr. Gordon Ferlo of the student advisory committee to the State Commissioner of Education Dr John Biagio president University of Connecticut Dr Gerald Tarazi commissioner Department of Education. Now Professor Martin Linski the Institute of Politics of Harvard University will moderate our discussion of what's at issue public education. Good evening. COMMISSIONER. You are the state's chief policymaker in education. If you had identified your single highest priority the first thing you'd like to accomplish what would that be.
I think we have to dramatically improve the basic skills acquisition of students with particular emphasis on that taking place in primary and elementary grades. That sounds right to you Mr. Reagan. I don't think that's exactly right. I think that that one of the basic issues that needs to be addressed immediately is the issue of salaries for teachers. Well let's get back to our city. Let's focus on the commissioner's priorities after he is. He is the state's policy makers. How would you go about. Fulfilling that mandate. The. Issue of ours. No no no the primary education. I think it's important to take a look at what the public schools are offering in this state to the young people in this state as they prepare for their their educational experiences and determine in whatever manner they're going to further those experiences be it to go into the vocational careers or to go into the colleges and universities. I think we have to look at what the schools are offering to be sure that they are offering the basic skills
necessary for students and and for the young people in those schools. Gordon to fair call you look at this from a student perspective. You've gone through the system in Connecticut. What is your sense of what goes on in the primary grades. Well in all the national reports a lot of the blame for the condition of education has been placed on the secondary schools. Q A lot of it may be the fault of poor preparation for what's to come in secondary school during the primary grades especially the middle school system which is a heterogeneous group and therefore I don't think a lot of instruction which should be taking place in those schools is Mr. Kenson that he is is the primary education something that the local school boards can do something about. Yes it is. In fact. There are programs already that already exist in local school districts across the state. I agree with what the commissioners said and what Mr. Furukawa said. But I'd like to go back to something even more
basic in order to us to achieve these reform that we're all looking for an improvement. We're all looking for. I think we have to return education to the number one priority in the state. And I believe the way to do that is through parent and citizen involvement. And until we tap that source of support for the programs that we have pervasion will be proposed. I don't think any program. Well let's play a little bit what can parents and citizens do to improve the quality of basic skill learning in the primary grades. They can do many things with getting back to the basics with the parents. One of the things they can do. Is support funding for public education make it well known to their state and local legislators that this is a commitment on their part. They can also get directly involved in the classroom through volunteers by tutoring by working with the children in the classroom. There is a broad broad spectrum for the parents
especially political action and tutoring in the classroom. Is that going to increase the level of basic parents. Input. We have been talking about that since our conception of 1997. We have been talking about parents being meaningful partners in education and not just be receiving lip service. Yes parents are very valuable. We have fan training our parents to go in and to look at the budgets and to go out to the budget hearing committees and to mobilize. Other people within the community to support the educational funding that goes on in their communities. We have also been training our parents to be on curriculum committees the National PTA has a publication called looking in on your schools that we ask all our parents to be very familiar with as to whether quality education is going on in their school.
Dr. Banks would parents looking in on these schools make a difference in the quality of education or primary grades. It might be that way and I say it might be that way for one reason looking in on something and meddling with the process I think are two different things. Let's see if you can draw that distinction out for us. Yes I have seen school districts where parents take an interest in seeing about their child's grades and get angry at teachers about the grades given they've even gotten into the whole realm of homework and everything else. Parents do have a role. What about curriculum decisions. What textbooks are used. I don't think that should be a parent's concern is that meddling in this family. You don't see it as meddling again in order to get the community to support education. They have to understand what is going on in their schools. The only way that they can do that and to be really part of the educational process is to get involved. We
firmly believe that parents should be our curriculum committees along with the administrators and principals. We do not believe that they should go in and take over the role of running the schools. That is not what we're talking about. We're talking about a partnership. Mr. LaFountain parents on curriculum committees. That is a possibility but I think the most important limits on teacher recruitment and hiring committees. We have parents right now on principal recruiting committees. That's pretty standard procedure for us. I think a more significant role is creating a pressure for accountability and school systems. That is to say whether you're talking about accountability from the members of the Board of Education or the superintendent or principals or teachers. I think eventually the school system and the people in the school system can be held accountable to the public at large and that includes parents and would that include for instance things like a
public review of teacher evaluations. It would not I don't think that is a legitimate role for parent involvement. I think the evaluation of teachers is something that comes under the jurisdiction properly so the administrators that are in the school system Mr. Kansa nothing essentially agree parents and curriculum committees. Yes we do know many school boards do no parents for the hiring of administrator. Yes we do that. No parents are hiring teachers no. Evaluation of anybody in the school district no. That's an infringement of the rights of the individual. And we were very strong on that. Prince. And Mr. Egan you agree with that. Yes. Would increase the salaries of those teachers in the primary Gates improve the quality of teaching. I think that all the reports that are being issued that are talking about the quality of education are not going to come about come about unless we take a serious look at the salaries to focus
hard on the question at hand. If we increased the level of the starting salary for teachers in Connecticut. In the long run now 10 years the long short run would that make a difference in the problem. Commissioner dignifies I think it would make a significant difference and that you would have teachers who would look at their their teaching career as one in which they hope to stay and not in one in which they could perhaps be involved in until they found a better opportunity which presented them with more significant awards. Be that in salary or be that in other kinds of of professional advancement. Steve Trachtenberg would it make a difference in the kinds of people who got your degrees at your university if the teacher's salary for kindergarten first grade second grade teacher were 2000 more dollars a year $3000 more dollars a year. I think it's safe to assume that University Harvard students are economic good people and that they pay attention to what the salaries are. Likely to be when they when they graduate.
What kinds of. People would we get teaching that are teaching now. Well I think what would happen is that the schools would become more competitive for people who would perhaps want to teach in the first place and then could afford to pursue that career rather than be obliged to go to work in other endeavors so that they can support their families and themselves in a reasonable style. But I think compensation while key really has to do with the tactics of improving the schools and it seems to me what the commissioner was talking about was the strategy. And I think it's important we not confuse confuse the two. There is an end that we want to achieve. And then there are the means by which we achieve it. And the commissioner is talking to the to the end which is a new enhanced literacy and and quality of education. Salaries are merely a means towards bringing us the products I'm trying to get at some of those means and trying to see a little bit about how they weigh in the scale of things. Superintendent Fowler
How important in terms of the me in terms of the ends of improving basic education really grades would increasing teacher salaries be. The teacher is crucial to the teaching and learning process and without quality teaching you're not going to have learning occurring that's the end of the student learning. I think it's a long term rather than a short term problem. I think the salaries need to be raised we have to be competitive for a young person and a private liberal arts institution today is going to invest $60000 of his his parents or borrowed money in his education and it's not likely that he's going to take a job that begins to pay a 12 or 13 types of policies to LaFountain watch or pay more. Quon three thousand bucks a year. As a matter of fact we've had in the last teacher's contract we negotiated a salary schedule which provides for more than 30 percent over the years. Is that going to be enough. I think it's a very substantial increase in salaries.
Now the question is you're asking what is going to be muffled or whether we can afford to pay any more. Now if in fact those salaries are competitive then it's enough and let's take that reality away from us. I mean where we're sitting here having this conversation in what way things ought to be how much should a starting teacher get in your school system. Well to get the kind of prophetically hypothetical pathetically I feel free to give them a very reasonably reasonably but I've managed to make the kind of people that you would want to teach your child anywhere between 15 and 18000. That seemed to make sense Commissioner I think that was part of the Trachtenberg report reasonable target reasonable target. Well the average college graduate this last year received something like eighteen thousand five hundred dollars for tops across the spectrum and if that's the case then 18000 or thereabouts would seem to be a reasonable salary. Clearly it's a serious problem but it's part of a broader problem which is simply the perception of education in
our society the status and education status it enjoys. And I think that is related to salary sounds pretty good to you. He sounds like an excellent place to begin. Representative you write us a check for that. I wish I could. I wish I could because I really think that one of the things that's happened is that with the loss of a pool of married women who teach for really have to sacrifice pages which are no longer available to most school systems and anything like the numbers they used to be that we have got to reach the market for these people. I think the only way you will improve the quality of people going into teaching. Is if they can see adequate rewards. This is a long term thing. It won't happen overnight. But I think we have to make a beginning and some people have quarreled with me about well what are you going to pay all those people that aren't any good that are in no way going to pay them more just in order to get
more of new teachers who are good. I'm not sure that's a bad deal. Well let's say we start everybody at fifteen thousand dollars is seventeen thousand dollars you could file that bill tomorrow. Why don't we do it. Because I know what the Appropriations Committee Syndrome is and it's something that says no to everything you have to be very careful what you ask. Well but is there anything more important. Certainly not. And one point I would like to make is that. There's an awful lot of conversation about infrastructure. In the state of Connecticut and across the country and the importance of infrastructure. And I would like to see us recognize that the most important single piece of that infrastructure is education and not roads. In an ideal world would you like to see a state minimum salary of fifteen thousand dollars. We have to do a lot more with the GTV to get there. We have to be we have to tread a very narrow line between what we would
do if we really had our druthers and what some of the very small poor rural town can't possibly afford. And while we can move towards regionalization with some of those schools and get better economies of scale in them we lose something when we do it which is the closeness of school which I think is a very important value. Superintendent Fowler we have. Represent a group passes a law 15 day $18000 minimum. State legislature comes together and funds the GTP sounds good to you. I think that the funding of the GTP is essential. But even the funding of the GTV will not resolve the problem GARNSEY referring to she and I sit on the same committee and those communities even fully funded are taxing themselves at a point that is virtually strangulations they cannot afford it. And I think that VTB needs to be adjusted to provide equal education for what we're talking about is taking a little money for Fairfield and giving it over to Mr. LaFountain. So we need a little bit more of a redistribution of the income LaFountain with that sound better
too. It sounds good but I think you're going to think of a superficial response a solution to a more profound problem in fact. I'm not too sure but I want the state in the business of setting salaries at all because that is the responsibility of local school districts particularly when we have collective bargaining to deal with. Mr. Egan would you rather go with the state law or would you rather go with one by one negotiation. But I think at this point if the state law would give the impetus for tolls to seriously look at that salary question then I would like to see that but I think it is true no euphemisms Mr. Eagan settle. Set a floor state set a floor. Fifteen thousand. Yes. And also to provide some adequate funding to backup that they've got to do that which will be in jail. And that's exactly the problem. I mean you can mandate anything you wish. And indeed as head of a state agency this is exactly what occurs. Someone comes up with a perfectly marvelous idea. That indeed it should be incorporated into our programs. We're compelled to do so. The
funds are provided for that. What in essence happens if you come out of the rest of our budget. And that's exactly what will occur. And local school district levels if they were compelled to do this what would happen is to further maintenance a bit longer. They wouldn't buy the equipment they require. They wouldn't take care of a library acquisition problems they may face. And that's exactly what the syndrome is. We have a finite amount of resources in this state. We can only do so much with those dollars. We have a great many problems facing us. Mr. Continetti why don't we. I'll give you just a sec. Why don't we start this whole process by saying. The least we ought to say is that the GTP money can't be used to lower the property tax that you got to use that money for. Oh absolutely agree. Absolute agreement. This is something that school boards have been saying since the GTP was instituted Of course being realistic. We see no way of getting that through the state legislature. I don't know this is an issue for a very long and complex history.
The original report that led to the JTB the original statute and all statute since do earmark GTV grant for education. But say leave to mercies of local autonomy what the property tax allocation to education shall be mercy. Do you think that we should have maintenance of effort provisions that say that the spending can't be cut. All either on a gross basis or on a per pupil basis or some other some other measure. That's what they are very very difficult to devise without creating anomalies such as the complete stopping of closing of any schools for instance if you have a maintenance of effort clause you'll get in a period of declining enrollments real perversities out of that kind of a program. We do have two things in the statute that are designed to put the money into education. Towns are rewarded if they spend a lot of money out of their own property tax resources in the. And there is a minimum expenditure requirement that says you don't get anything if you don't meet this
level and we're talking we talk every year about increasing that minimum expenditure requirement and sooner or later when it's fully phased in I think we will. So we will put pressure on the system that way. Dr. Milady's is really the answer here just to put more money into public education and it doesn't make any difference really whether it comes from the state level or the local over the property tax the income tax if I may say those words. I do believe the primary problem is money. I should respect that fact but I think it's commitment. I'm dealing I take off the present role for my children high school and college. It's a four letter word I have to convince them about a dedicated fall that we're done nasty one work w o r k. I have to get my daughter through calculus no gimmicks no shortcuts no easy solutions. I wish there were because you took time because I have another daughter and French literature and its work is commitment. I spent some time in the sixties and the National Defence Act. I'm. Afro-Asian language and
look for all kinds of shortcuts. It really wasn't any. I speak coming from the individual and I think in the past couple of decades we've gotten away from that. It's not money my opinion it's commitment and work. Primarily money after that. But there's enough money there to do some of the things better than we're doing now. Homework doesn't cost much. My wife got home last night from Boston rather Washington was in Washington yesterday and she was tutoring my daughter didn't cost much. They was late freshman class. My mother was a mill worker but as far as the sixth grade but she me with my Latin and high school and my algebra. That's commitment. Commissioner if I don't ask you I don't disagree with hard work but I think I would be. Nobody here disagrees with hardworking community incenses we've got a consensus. I would definitely. Not be card carrying out my responsibilities if I didn't state and phatic that there's no question in my mind that we need a major. Infusion of dollars to
improve the quality of education in this country and in this state. Just to take the one example we're talking about this morning of teacher salaries. If we step back and make an assumption an important assumption that the teacher is the central focal point of the learning process and we talk about an average starting salary of a couple thousand five hundred dollars and whatever it takes 15 years to get up to $90000 you are not going to recruit the best and the brightest into the field of teaching. That type of person who can carry out that homework structure that work syndrome if you wish to separate that in and of itself is essential. When I spoke about early childhood education earlier primary education if at any point were interested in programs like an all day kindergarten that is going to cost local districts more money. And if those local districts are primarily counting on the property tax I don't think you're going to be able to raise the type of money. And if we've mentioned the GTV formula if all of that money goes into education fine I support that. Does that mean that local communities then back off on myriad other services that are also important.
If one looks at education as a sport and I have some problems with that you can represent good and got together and mandated earlier beginning for education for instance for kindergarten. Would you worry about what you feel is your responsibility to provide the funds to do that or is it your responsibility to set the standard. I think I think it's a dual responsibility. Our recommendations have talked to a 50 50 concept if the state wants to mandate something the state should be prepared to pay approximately 50 percent of the cost 50 percent enough. Mr. Continetti there are several questions I'd like to answer. Let me let me say. No it isn't and I'm not going to be mandated. Mr.. Definitely not any. Every That dating should be back right. Total fun superintend a lot of fun things are present it is not enough. Would you go 75. I would not go to any the less I share in establishing that maybe if the mandate is imposed upon us externally then the
funding should come with the mandate 100 percent 100 percent surplus on mendaciously distorts the education budget because it forces you to do some things that maybe you wouldn't otherwise do. And yet we don't have the kind of specificity in the mandates for general education that we put in for special education for us. And what happens if you have mandates without additional funding. Is that you skew the program towards the mandated thing and you drain the general education and that's that's why the JTB is a better approach because it provides if we do it right and continue to do it and continue to increase it it provides general funding for education so that the budget process is not secure. Doc thanks. Before we forget it I'd like to say that I agreed with Dr. Levy on work. Second
point is I really think that teachers salaries are too low. They should be down to 20000 entering now. Third thing and I won't open up the Pandora's box. I like to look at all of the issue of localization in the whole school process because I think that we pay sometimes too high a price for local control in one area and one area. Give me an example. Well I think that one it is not true. Well one I think is some of the local boards of the local custody could be combined. And they should look outside of the particular boundaries. And see what people are doing outside rather than saying well we want our laws for our people. Localism has a price and I can elaborate on now but it's not always the best way to run a school system and a small regionalization where it's necessary.
We support the regional concept but that again depends depends on the size of the community and what resources that we want. What are the other problems of localism Dr. Banks. Where else is there too much local control. I think especially the smaller towns. There was just the idea of we want to control what our students do. We don't care what other cities other towns do. Well let's take the question for instance something that's being talked about a lot now is computer literacy. Is that a state Oblak state standard or local standards that's something we want for everybody in Connecticut or just for the towns that can't afford it. All right that's everybody then. But I think I can address the problem something like this every time we talk about education we talk about standardization and centralization. And as far as I'm concerned and this is another educational issue connected with localism far as I'm concerned what is wrong with having a seventh grader and a seventh grader in a junior high school or a
high school in algebra taking the same thing all over the state. What was wrong with that. In other words I think there should be some some type of some type of guarantee that whether the student is an hotfoot or in any small town that they're literally being exposed to the same thing at the same time to track anything around them. Now I think that that makes a lot of sense and I think that an awful lot of the points that have been made particularly with regard to. The increased salary. And whatnot. But people don't go far enough and I think the next step that has to be talked about almost in the same breath is greater productivity. I just chaired a task force at the request of the commissioner to look at the issue certain issues in Connecticut tyrant QinetiQ education system and I found a tremendous receptivity all over the state particularly in the business community to higher compensation for
teachers. But what the business community also wanted was some greater attention to when I I hesitate to use the phrase because I know how volatile it can be. Merit pay questions are out of a 12 month 12 month year. The notion somehow that is that the $80000 salary that President Biagio talked about is an average starting salary for a college graduate was tied somehow into people to work a 50 week year rather than a short a year so that there are these issues it seems to me have to be treated illogically all knitted together. Let's come back to that because I want to give Pennefather father chance to comment on Dr. Banks's suggestions about the need for uniform standards and curriculum is that something that makes sense from your perspective. No I don't think that it does although I think Dr. Banks and I agree on what the outcome should be I think he's expressing in a different way. I think the nation's real risk is mindless educational reform. And I think that we will get there by suggesting
the kind of standardization of Education was going to do a number of things but one of the things is it's not going to guarantee learning outcomes rather than saying that all seventh graders in the state should be in a course called algebra. I think that the state should say these are the kinds of skills and knowledge that kids need at age 12 or 11 in the area of mathematics. Then not the local community looking at each individual youngsters say this is the kind of course this kid should be in because the child will achieve what we're after. Is that going to work for every community in the state. Some people fall below that standard present day Biaggio. Problem. I think I have to agree that there have to be some general standards. I mean there have to be just some basic requirements for you statewide for completion of elementary secondary school or whatever. But the fact the matter is and I must agree also with the superintendent that what we're really interested in is development of certain kinds of analytic skills. Which our students don't possess even our very
best students today and legist like those you can't legislate those nor do I believe that they should be by regulation which is what concerns all of us. We've been overregulated. But I do think that the expectations have to rise somehow. And I think that that's the real issue. I think we focused this discussion up till now far too narrowly. I agree. Teachers aren't paid adequately. I think that that is a factor in the prestige and status that our teachers enjoy in our society which is unfortunate. From my perspective and salary has something to do with that. But it's a far broader issue it's a multi-faceted issue. We didn't come to this problem in education quickly. We're not going to resolve it quickly by the establishment of any set of regulations or rules. We're going to have to address the broad based problem. We're all going have to focus on it as Jerry said from the very beginning elementary and secondary education. And certainly even those of us at higher education have to demand certain levels of performance for students to go on and even graduate from our institutions.
What about the idea of a two track system. Where we begin to look at people who are on a high educational track and people watch system the Jews in other countries commissioners talked about. It's done it's done very effectively in some in some nations. I visited some oriental countries for instance whereby a student can track into a technical education at the junior high level with that with the caveat that if the student demonstrates through that process that they have additional skills they can go from that technical school into an engineering school for instance into a college or university or they can even begin in a technical college and transfer into a university if they demonstrate skills potentials that weren't recognized earlier on in their careers. But quite frankly we do have to provide opportunities. It's a kind of society we have. It does say that educational opportunities available to all of our citizens at whatever level they can achieve. We have to assure that that exists.
We're the only nation in the entire world I believe that really truly does that and it does manifest itself in all the kinds of reports that we receive that students don't perform as well on standardized examinations don't do as well in certain areas as they do in other countries. But in those other countries the students who are at the levels being measured have been carefully selected and it would have been predictable that they would have performed at higher levels with our students. Capelli two tracks. A kid. We do not have vocational schools that are provided for those students who are not. Highly motivated academically. They have to take that exam or that entrance exam is based on their academic skills. So the students who would. Profit. From a vocational training although is not academically proficient does not get the opportunity to get into those schools. That is
one of the issues that we hope the commissioner is going to be addressing with his new proposals. I want to give the commissioner another chance but before I do that I don't want to leave that track of birds of merit pay suggestion on the table without giving Mr. Reagan a chance to endorse it. Doesn't it make perfect sense to increase the financial status to those teachers who are performing better being more productive in the 60s. Merit pay was in place in the kinetic in Connecticut it failed in the 60s. You will fail again because there is no fair and equitable way to administer merit pay to the public school teachers. There is absolutely no fair and equitable way to do that. Commissioner. Well I think some of the comments that I've heard and I do agree with Dr. Trachtenberg when he speaks about accountability and what the public expects of its schools and I do not believe that you're going to see teacher salaries and or dollars come forth unless the public has a sense that we will be more accountable.
But having said that I must step back and ask a very important question what are schools for. I do not believe that the general community really understands the myriad functions we carry out as a public school system including services for handicapped youngsters special education youngsters. Last year in this state we served 47 million meals to children. I have never seen an editorial thanking the state for doing that. We teach the effects of drugs and alcohol on the way to work. Yesterday I heard a state legislator on the year announced that he was recommending that this year we'll teach a course in the public schools on the effects of driving under the influence of liquor. When all of these are important but at some point two questions at what expense What do they take away from the curriculum. What are we accountable for. And this is where I I really part company with the private parochial schools. I applaud their effort but their scope is myopic. Ours is a broad universal and I don't believe people really understand that which we are responsible for. And at some point we must address what is the mission of public schools. And if it
is basic skills etc. then the question you asked earlier I think the state can legislate learning outcomes that should be expected of all children not dictate the curriculum. And also legislate the proper type of testing that can ascertain whether or not we are at those levels would merit pay be a measure of that accountability. I personally feel merit pay is the wrong issue. I think it would take too long to implement. It would generate major negative energy and ultimately even if implemented it would reward 10 or 15 percent or 20 percent of the teaching staff and we still have the largest percentage of teachers left behind. I would prefer for my own personal energy into improving the salaries of all teachers. Holding them all more accountable. Developing an evaluation system that ensures that we are in fact evaluating teachers appropriately and weeding out those people who cannot carry out the mandate. Should that evaluation those evacuations be public. I don't believe they should be. Parents have the
opportunity to get a look at them. I don't believe so. I don't agree with them. Not of course that at all. Evaluation. For their academic performances should be done by those who are there here and who are well qualified to do that. Parents can have an input as to suggestions. For evaluations to the administrator of the building but I don't believe they should be in that evaluation process. We look at evacuation not as a means of getting rid of it as a means of helping the teacher do a better job and only those people who are qualified to give that kind of support should be doing that. Your wife could. Commissioner when the commissioner give a give us an example because I think we've we've really dealt with with that and give us an example of what you would want to. Legislate statewide. What
mandate you would want to establish which would meet the objection of not legislating something that couldn't be accomplished but legislating a learning outcome. I think we have to identify in the state of Connecticut the specific skills and or learning outcomes which youngsters should master in each grade or in a sequence of grades. And then we should have some mechanism in place whereby at regular intervals in time we can assess the degree to which youngsters are in fact mastering those skills and partly tying into what Dr. followers said. I don't think the state has to mandate that type of course or the the number of course that the child must have an algebra but whether or not the child can in fact master the algebraic skills. I think that the essence of that we should start in the primary grades rather than worrying about testing and regular testing all the way along at achievement levels. Yes Gordon that makes sense to you. I agree that you really can't mandate a statewide curriculum because it would limit the
communities that can provide more at the expense of allowing communities that can to provide more. But I would disagree with the efficacy of a regents type examination because it would lead to a tendency to teach for the test curriculum would be structured merely to improve test scores on it and you know you're setting a minimum standard. And what we want to do is strive for further goals for further excellence. Commissioner just to react. I am talking specifically about a Masquerier test not a proficiency test. I'm talking about a criterion referenced test that also can be diagnostic in nature. I'm talking about a level of excellence for all students not the minimal standards I'm looking for the ceiling not the for purposes of good sound good to you. Well we put the. Excuse me proficiency test in place some years ago and I think we have we learned at that time that we were studying that the state of
the art in testing is not. Really as high as some people think it is that tests can be misused very seriously. They can do great damage as well as great good. And that's certainly the criterion referenced test has greater possibilities for positive reinforcement than the norm referenced testing. Just so the audience understands this criterion referenced test single out let's say a piece of knowledge that students in this class should know and they test how each student gets close to that piece of knowledge. So you're testing the student against a standard of learning not against kids in another class in another community. And it is very much more constructive approach than the norm referenced test which is tends to wipe out the kids that don't do well Shreekant testing and for making sure students have mastered basic skills is very critical.
But what the student has pointed out today is also a great caution you forever read in the paper as community students are scoring above the state average and you read in another community that their students have not met the state average. Our question continues to be and I think it is being addressed. And once you give that test what do you do with the results do you provide remediation for those students who don't measure up to those standards or do you just let the results of the test rest and carry on the public education program the way it has been going on commission will have state mandates to test state responsibility to pay for bringing everybody up to the average. I think that's something that could be worked out but I think the objective of assessing whether or not students are reaching a certain level of achievement is a very acceptable objective to me. We do know I think the intent of doing it on a statewide basis is acceptable so to fall are acceptable to you. That's far preferable to mandating curriculum and textbooks. Commissioner I want to get something else out on the table it's been talking about give us another one of your priorities that we haven't addressed
so far this morning. I mentioned early childhood education. I think we have to take a long hard look at. Early earlier entry to school. I think there is a great body of research that would support the need for earlier intervention in terms of children especially in the urban communities and in the poor communities of the state and of the nation. I would see those early years being used extensively for a greater. Assist of individual children in their respective strengths and weaknesses and then ideally the curriculum for those youngsters the educational program should be highly individualized. That's something I'm definitely talking about four years old. I definitely am an advocate a four year old education. Mr. Kelly sound good to you. Well I think what we would have to do would be to look at all the sides of that picture and just say we agree or not not agree at this point. Would not be correct. I think. The study does have to be made as to
whether or not it would be beneficial to start these children that young. Sometimes children that young cannot be. Taught for any length of time. Again we go into camp the community support this kind of education on the merits not just not just on the merits of the merits of what yes the merits of. Bringing children younger children into the school system. We would be able to track them easier and do remedial work quicker if we do have her younger. Dr. Banks on the merits. Four year olds. Corporally off base Yes I would agree. Stalling a mile but I was struck by what Mr. De Rossi says I think he's quite right in saying that we should pay much attention to those students who are all in the poor communities are economically or economically and also deprived. Except I them in my my pet phrase here.
We're looking out of America. Which is basically culturally and educational remediation to a certain extent is new all across the spectrum in every community. That's where we are now. And the educational problems of all of us a lot of country did not necessarily rest in those economically distressed communities. Now we have we do have to we were looking for places to start to begin submitting LaFountain for growth. But this is Laski I know you would ask that question today so I consulted my four year old daughter Lisa and her sort of broader Widgery did not agree because she wasn't going to go to school today but to make a general point. There are there are needs. There is a need for alternatives. I don't have any problem with requiring that the program be available. If it is available then those youngsters who could benefit from the program should participate. Those that may
not be mature enough yet should not be forced to go through the programs that would be a matter of availability mandate availability but not mandate participation. Exact mandate availability but not participation. Yeah. Listening to this conversation and reading a nation at risk which also made that suggestion last week put students in school at your age. And one of the real problems identified what are the real issues identified in the nation at was the fact that this may be the first generation. It is not perhaps brighter than the generation that preceded it. And that is worrisome. I don't know whether that's true or not but that suggested in the report retrospectively and in a very personal note with no data to support that position. Many people from that earlier generation did not begin school for many many children now do begin in school because they come from affluent backgrounds and are placed in saris in all kinds of preparatory education and they do very well. And indeed
I endorse that. But I wonder why that occurred. Why that's necessary now that it wasn't necessary in prior times. And I would submit and again very personally very subjectively that perhaps one of the real problems we face is a problem with the family and it's a societal attitudinal problem whereby the parents have abrogated their responsibility whereby the schools are spending too much of their time and discipline and the individual teachers spend too much of their time with discipline problems rather than a teaching whereby that the the parents are not teaching their children to read or dealing with simple mathematics at home and doing some other things with which they can assist them. I think Tom a lady I don't know that I agree with him that it's quite a simple case addressing all the problems by helping them with their homework. But I do think indeed that many parents are assuming that the schools are all the fault in this matter. And I think in great part it's a family that's at fault and not encouraging students is that the way it feels to you or me.
We have been a group of psychiatrists psychologists and family counselors up here talking about the future of public education. Now I think we're beginning with the wrong baseline. And I think if you look at the nation at risk. Perhaps the person who wrote that had a little trouble with the English language also because the same paragraph that's being quoted was followed in the next paragraph by a statement that education has never been as productive as it has been in the last 20 years. In fact they estimate that between 25 and 50 percent of the growth in the gross national product in this country in the last 20 years is due to the high quality of education and the same reports. And I think that the issue is again a problem of the imprecise linguistics. Someone used the word work someone used the word basic skills we talk about preschool education. Question is what is it as Gerry said earlier what is it the schools are to accomplish. Tell us that don't tell us how to hold school. Tell us what you want schools to do and then send the professionals free to arrange school curriculum and text them materials.
Senator Dodd whose job is it to tell us. What General Assemblies and the states because it's government job is the commissioner's job right. Is it just can't job. Local interpretation after you begin with the state requirements. Ms Capellas job parents job absolutely local and how are we to allocate the vision of responsibility among these people after all Capelli isn't in the legislature and that isn't in the legislature. Mrs. Goodman is not running a local school board. How are we to decide what to decide. I think it's relatively clear from the Constitution it's the state's responsibility to set the state standards for education in Connecticut. It then is the local community working with the parents and the school board and the instructional staff to say how they will provide what the state requires and whatever else they feel is appropriate for their children. That doesn't get us too far because the commissioner says his interpretation has stayed out of say.
For your kindergartens. That sounds a little more specific than the kind of standard setting you were talking about represent or like to get back to this for your kindergarten because I think it's an issue that is vastly misunderstood. We should remember that in special ed we mandate the beginning of education at two years and eight months and we do that because those children can benefit and be much more nearly full scale people with that kind of education than they can without it. I have a brother in Montana who has Amish who is microcephalic. Whose education began at birth. And who receives an evaluation every three months if they are damaged and handicapped children can benefit from this. So can the regular children. But I think there's a great deal of misunderstanding out there. That for €4 will not go to the first grade they will go to a different kind of education. They will go to an education that is different from what we
normally think of a school and we lose sight of that already. I think where. We're mechanistically on the mark was slightly off but I had something to do with the commission report. A great document. This is a great discussion and I'm just back to Indianapolis Annapolis middle of the country. First we have a lot to be proud of. I've seen education for incontinence a lot to be proud of Brygada accessible and accomplished but we have a discussion going on. We're going to make mistake if we all defend our own individual positions saying this was wrong you're wrong. It was right you're wrong over. Make a mistake. The mood is ripe for a change. And speaking of money I didn't want to neither the money money would come after mission is accepted by the people. We can't fool the people who are going to say what's wrong. Should have been written. We're right. So we will not get the support of the people if we continue this kind of approach. We're going to lose the support of the people what a great moment for us. The people will back us up with
money if we're honest and recognizing that we're not perfect. I've made mistakes at my university. We've all made them. Personally. What I'm wondering about this we are a little bit. If we do clarify the mission and agree on the mission the we that is going to get the benefit of this largesse is probably not going to include private institutions. What's going to happen to the private institutions what they represent one. Will be delighted. If in the process of evolutionary change we can for example step back remedial work. If we've got those come to us well-prepared in math and sciences speak good an effective English none of the language we will be delighted and will carry on the essential work of the university. For the past 20 years many of us have been involved in remedial work. There'll be great remedial work would be no complaint from us in private. I I don't see an infusion of dollars into the public education sector as. Putting your schools at risk and putting the private education system at risk so going back to my
original state. I think the money we need the money it will come will come from the people the people have to pay more taxes. It will come but only if we we're honest regarding solutions. Not defending all positions. I'll. Let's try let's try to accommodate particularly those people who have things to get on the floor that haven't really had the opportunity to talk to them. I take it your question to Doc and Lady you are distinguishing between elementary and secondary education and post-secondary college or university education because I think the the issues that have been raised at the federal NDB to some extent the state level do distinguish them. One of my concerns is that as a as a government as a as a people we have inadequately viewed education from prekindergarten through post-doctoral work in an ecological and a comprehensive kind of way. And I am concerned for the health of the independent sector. I'm an advocate and proponent of greater attention to that sector at the.
University level. But I think the the in the form of tuition tax credits now in the form of CRE increasing the tuition that Dr. Biagio school. In a manner of speaking. Mr. Reagan you had your hand out. I just want to point out to you that a few minutes ago when you asked was it the legislators job was it the commissioner's job was a member of the Board of Education. Was it the parents you forgot to ask me if it was the teacher's job. And I'm telling you that for years that is exactly what has been happening in this country. Teachers have been trying to address the problems that are occurring in public schools have talked about the things that are issued in the 32 reports that are now public and yet no one listened to the teachers the practitioners. But yet you want to hold us accountable for the decisions that will be made. Dr. Banks I'd like to. Say something. I think Dockum love you is the ball holding water or position. For example I think doctor Dr. Devi Aguayo says something about we have to do something good
back home. We have found out I can provide the necessary data that far more parents are concerned about this school. What about the children of education that we think and that frankly we have found that it's the teacher in the classroom that can make the difference to be trusted hold or when you have people coming in when we have teachers coming into classrooms looking at our economic growth. And saying because she learned this from some school of education. Well I know I can't do anything with these people what are you going to get. On this show. And our teachers have not. We are really doing a good job to do. And I recently met her. I think I misunderstood. I what I what I contend is that we can't lay the blame or the credit on any single group and that is the entire point. The point is it's a
multifaceted problem which you're going to have to be addressed in a broad in a broad fashion and it's going to involve not only doing something about teachers and teachers salaries doing something about curriculum doing something about evaluation. Certainly that's a critical issue. Doing something about assuring that that the requirements for admission into institutions of higher education are such that they encourage better performance and leadership which is discussed in this document which has been and Jerry was involved in a in a study that when he was superintendent in New Haven which included Yale University and our institution which we work with principals and we show that by principals providing the right kind of leadership performance was improved. It's a whole spectrum. And I don't think that and I agree with Tom to sit here and say that one is at fault and the other perhaps isn't is the right approach. GORDON BROWN How does this look to you. How can you set us on the right course.
I think responsibility has to be taken in the broadest sense. I think that the gentleman on my left has said that funding will come from the people. But I think the change will come from the people too. I think the people of this country need to adopt an attitude more supportive of education. Our country is sort of based focusing more on need than on achievement and achievement and education has to be important. Parents can participate in funding and classroom involvement but unless they give a supportive attitude in the home of Education. Thank you. Presentation of at issue is made possible in part by a grant from
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At Issue: Public Education
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Chicago: “At Issue: Public Education,” Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 9, 2023,
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