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Sep 052013

The Center For Education Reform has created the PARENT POWER INDEX, which gives parents an interactive tool to discover whether their state affords them power – and if not, what they can do to get it.  Click on the  link below to find out what power Connecticut parents have compared to other states in the U.S.   Issues like school choice, charter schools, on-line learning, teacher quality and transparency are addressed.


Summary: A poor charter law has plagued the state since its inception, but lawmakers did adopt a parent trigger law giving parents some power to make choices. A hearty group of parents are trying to pull the trigger on a failing school in one district, but they have not yet succeeded. While the state prides itself on paying teachers well, its quality indices are below average. Connecticut falls in the middle of the pack on digital learning, and parents will not find information easily about options or school quality through government agencies. School board elections are held in odd numbered years during May, diminishing parent power to effect change.

The Center For Education Reform was was founded in 1993 to bridge the gap between policy and practice and restore excellence to education. Today the Center is the pioneer and leading advocate for structural and sustainable changes that can dramatically improve educational opportunities in the U.S. We do that by primarily working to (1) generate and share leading ideas and information, (2) support and enable grassroots activism, and (3) protect and stimulate media coverage and issue accuracy.


Oct 212012

Arbitration hearings were held last weekend, Friday October 12th- Sunday October 14th between the Board of Education and Norwalk Federation of Teachers at City Hall.

Attached  is a  report prepared by Tom Hamilton, Director of Finance regarding  City’s Financial Capability Relative to Collective Bargaining Agreements.

Our school budget is likely to be further constrained going forward.  Additionally, any shift in taxes, resulting from the forthcoming revaluation may well exacerbate the City’s budget.  All this points to the need for a strong Superintendent and  much better supervision of the public school system by the Board of Education.

2012 Ability to Pay – binding arbitration testimony

Sep 162012

With all that is happening in  terms of education reform on a national level, not to mention what has been transpiring in our own backyard, is it time for Norwalk parents and taxpayers to consider a NEW governance structure?  The current one  doesn’t appear to be working and many would argue that is hasn’t  for at least a decade, maybe two.   One need only attend one of the regular Board of Education meetings or look to the constant newspaper headlines to view a  (still) dysfunctional Board of Education (regardless of how many elections are held and which political party is in charge.) This situation, coupled with a revolving door of  frustrated or failed superintendents has some of us asking, “Is there another way?”  Increasingly, many reform minded urban-suburban school districts are turning to their respective state’s department of education or mayoral offices to take control.  Three factors that have generally contributed to this sort of a measure point to:

  • Persistent lack of improvement in student achievement
  • Financial inefficiencies
  • Financial waste without academic results

Below are 3 different reports that highlight the pros and cons of exploring different governance structures that came out of The Thomas B. Fordham Institute Center For American Progress Conference last December, 2011.

Re-Imaging Education Governance: An International Perspective By Sir Michael Barber

The Failures of U.S. Education Governance Today By Chester E. Finn, Jr. & Michael J. Petrilli

Governance Challenges To Innovators Within the System By Michelle Davis