State Councils at Work on Policy Reform
This week saw the meeting of two important state councils that will play significant roles in shaping public education this year.
Connecticut Educator Certification Council
On Monday, the Connecticut Educator Certification Council (CECC)—a group voluntarily convened by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)—held its second ever meeting. The purpose of CECC is to collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders on a consensus-based process to modernize Connecticut’s educator certification process.
As described in a CT Insider article by Alex Putterman this past Sunday, school and district leaders across the state have faced difficulties in filling teacher positions in recent years. The state’s complicated system of certification may have been built to set high standards for the profession decades ago—but, ironically, severe shortages have led to some classrooms being staffed with long-term substitute teachers, rather than fully certified professional educators. This is in addition to well-documented shortages in specific areas and a lack of teacher diversity. The CSDE is proactively taking on the modernization of these systems—a heavy lift and timely effort for the state.
Reading Leadership Implementation Council
Another important meeting took place on Tuesday, this time of the Reading Leadership Implementation Council (Council)—an advisory group overseeing implementation of Right to Read. In a jam-packed meeting, Reading Director Melissa Wlodarczyk Hickey introduced two new Council members who bring a wealth of experience to this effort: Dr. Tamu Lucero, Superintendent of Stamford, and Bianca Rivera, a long-time reading educator and facilitator at Hill for Literacy. There were also some staff introductions for Connecticut’s Center on Literacy Research and Reading Success, as well as the new Deputy Commissioner of Academics and Innovation, Charles Hewes, who joins the department from Colchester Public Schools.
Dr. Hickey shared that those districts that have applied for waivers from the state’s early literacy curricular requirements will be hearing back in November. The Council also discussed forthcoming federal funding for districts through the American Rescue Plan Act and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund grants. These funds will be allocated to assist districts in developing literacy teams, literacy plans, and professional learning plans. Watch the full meeting here. Big things to come from this impressive group!
ERN Launches Series on College Advising After Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action
On Monday, James Murphy, head of Higher Education at our national affiliate, Education Reform Now, hosted a webinar about how high school counselors should take action after the Supreme Court’s decision to end race-conscious admissions this summer. The first in a series, the event featured Yulia Korovikov, Associate Dean of Admissions and Director of Recruitment at Swarthmore College, and Alicia Oglesby, Associate Director of College Counseling at Winchester Thurston School in Pennsylvania. The three gave advice about how students, counselors, and college admissions teams can navigate this new era in higher education.
Two prominent themes of the discussion: (1) Students can still describe their personal identities and the experiences that have shaped who they are (if they want to!); and (2) the Supreme Court’s decision did ban one, limited admissions strategy, but not other parts of the high school-to-college pipeline—such as recruitment; therefore, institutions of higher education that are committed to diversity on campus can still do a lot to recruit and attract a racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse student body.
New Analysis of District-Level Spending
On Friday, the School and State Finance Project published a new analysis of 2021-22 district spending data—which show marked increases due to the one-time influx of federal COVID relief. Among their key findings was that, "as the pandemic waned, districts shifted spending away from building upgrades and COVID safety precautions toward categories more closely aligned with addressing student learning loss." (Great news!) However, many districts are also headed towards a fiscal cliff when the federal dollars expire a year from now. Read it here.
Post with the Most
A big congratulations to Connecticut's four 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools:
Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton (operated by LEARN);
Philip R. Smith School in South Windsor;
Skinner Road School in Vernon; and
Stamford Charter School for Excellence in Stamford.