“Parental Rights” Rhetoric Falls Flat
One week after the midterms, it’s clear that the most extreme education rhetoric of the GOP has failed to gain traction here in Connecticut, and indeed nationwide. It was a campaign issue for Bob Stefanowski (lost to Governor Lamont), Leora Levy (lost to Senator Blumenthal), Kimberly Fiorello (lost her House seat to Rachel Khanna), just to name a few local examples. This aligns to a broad trend across the country, covered by the Associated Press this week, in which divisive language regarding the teaching of history, systemic racism, and sexuality has fallen flat. According to the article, “Democrats see the losses as proof that rhetoric around critical race theory and gender issues may play well in Republican primaries, but it has limited appeal for moderate Americans.” We sure do.
"What happened to critical race theory? CT Republicans ditched the messaging after mixed results" (CT Insider - September)
"Blumenthal Wins 3rd Senate Term, Fends off Trump-Backed Levy" (US News)
"Statement from state Rep. Kimberly Fiorello" (Greenwich Sentinel)
"'Too hyperbolic'? School board parental rights push falters" (CT Insider)
State: Killingly Board Intentionally Ignored Student Needs
At their November 2nd meeting, the Connecticut State Board of Education (CSBE) took the unusual step of voting to order an inquiry into allegations that the Killingly Board of Education has failed to provide students with a safe and healthy learning environment. The CSBE heard from members of the community who say that Killingly received ARP funding to build a behavioral health center and address the socio-emotional needs of the district’s students; nevertheless, they say, the school board voted in March to reject the placement of a school-based health center. A report from the State Department of Education, following a six-month investigation into a complaint made by parents and students, finds that “despite Killingly’s awareness of the extent and gravity of their students’ mental-health needs, the Killingly Board has failed and refused to implement any curative measures. In fact, the Board’s inaction has been so systemic and so prolonged that one could reasonably consider it to constitute an intentional refusal to address its students’ mental health needs.” Shocking.
But Killingly Board of Education Chair Norm Ferron objects to the state's characterizations, according to coverage by Connecticut Public Radio. The Killingly Board cites concerns about parental consent over what is taught to their children. "They might be giving them counseling directly opposed to the views of the parents," Ferron said in an interview with the CT Mirror back in April.
This type of harm to students results from a far-right ideology being injected into local school boards.
"Conn. school authorities ordered inquiry into Killingly's school board. What happens now?" Norwich Bulletin)
"Killingly Board of Ed Failed to Meet Mental Health Needs of Students: Report" (NBC CT)
"Killingly Board of Education Section 10-4b Complaint" (Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker report to State Board of Education)
"A Mental Health Clinic in School? No, Thanks, Says the School Board" (New York Times - June)
"Killingly school board chair claims CT official lied; demands apology" (WNPR)
"How politics derailed mental health care at Killingly High School” (CT Mirror - April)
US Dep’t of Ed Invests in Career Pathways
On Monday, the US Department of Education (USEd) unveiled a new initiative, "Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success," designed to increase access to high-quality job training programs. According to Education Week, First Lady Jill Biden gave a speech following the announcement, urging that K-12 schools can help to develop apprenticeship and work-based learning programs. In a "Dear Colleague" letter, US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also described how states and districts can use federal relief funds to expand pathways to student success after high school, by investing in: dual enrollment opportunities that will help students earn college credit in high school; career and college advisement; work-based learning experiences; and opportunities to earn industry-sought credentials.
"U.S. Department of Education Launches New Initiative to Support Career-Connected Learning and Increase Job Pathways for Young Americans" (USEd Press Release)
"Biden Administration Urges Schools to Expand Apprenticeships and Career Learning" (Education Week)
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