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Lamont Gets a New Chief of Staff, Post-Pandemic Realities in Math, CT Office of the Child Advocate Files DOJ Complaint

Lamont Gets a New Chief of Staff

In a surprise move yesterday, the Lamont administration announced a changing of the guard in the Chief of Staff role. Long time aide Jonny Dach is moving on (though still staying on staff as an advisor), and Matthew Brokman will take over this key position. For those who frequent the goings-on at the LOB, Matthew is a familiar face, a state government expert, and a friend to many, having spent years as senior aide to House Majority Leader Jason Rojas and the House Democrats. A great pick. 

Post-Pandemic Realities in Math

According to a story in The Washington Post this week, the testing nonprofit NWEA says that American 8th graders, on average, need about nine more months of schooling to catch up in math—after falling behind during the pandemic. The article homes in on Washington, D.C., where the public school system has tried to make up for these learning losses by investing in math tutoring, summer programs, teacher training, new curriculums, and programs to train parents. (Here in Connecticut, Governor Lamont and the State Department of Education likewise dedicated $10M of COVID recovery funds to high dosage tutoring in math for Grades 6-9 last year.)

But as the WaPo article points out, even if tutoring efforts are beginning to show results, the federal relief funding that supported them is also beginning to dry up. 

Moreover, beyond funding for tutoring, math pedagogy is also at issue. Just as Connecticut's "Right to Read'' legislation was born of the so-called reading wars—there have been competing theories across the country about how best to teach students to think about math: While some favor memorizing formulas and math facts (the way most parents learned their math skills)—others emphasize the need to build a conceptual understanding of why and how the formulas work. Seemingly aligned with the latter approach, on Sunday, Forbes covered an elite "revolutionary math program" in New York City that focuses upon developing logic and problem-solving, rather than on procedures and memorization. “New Math” will be a topic to watch! 

CT Office of the Child Advocate Files DOJ Complaint

Last week, the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) and Disability Rights Connecticut filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice (DOJ). It alleges that four school districts—Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury, and Stratford—have violated special education laws when sending students with special needs to High Road Schools, a private provider of special education services. Writing for the CT Mirror, Jessika Harkay explains that a two-year investigation by the OCA revealed students with disabilities who are placed in these schools often receive, “substandard and unequal education from often unqualified staff, are regularly subject to seclusion and restraint, and often have no pathway to returning to their home schools and districts.” 

The State Department of Education, in the past, has raised concerns about the assertions in this OCA report. Given that the two state agencies are at an impasse, the complaint filed last week urges the DOJ to conduct its own investigation.

Other Must-Reads

Happy 4th!

-The DFER CT Team-


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