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Feb 282012

About this survey

ConnCan hired  Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc. (DHM Research) to conduct a telephone survey of Connecticut teachers and administrators to determine their opinions on education reform in the state.

Research Methodology: Between January 10 and 12, 2012, DHM Research conducted a telephone survey of 400 teachers and administrators that took an average of 12 minutes to
administer. This is a sufficient sample size to assess opinions generally and to review findings by multiple subgroups, including gender, length of experience, and assignment

The sample used for the random survey started with a list of 51,000 education professionals obtained from the Connecticut State Department of Education. For this study, certain types
of education professionals were excluded from the sample list (e.g., school librarians). The final sample was drawn from a list of approximately 26,000 full-time classroom teachers
and administrators (5% of the sample) with home phone numbers.

The survey contains questions regarding: opinions on school staffing policies, what teachers think should matter most in reviewing or furthering teacher certification, personal experiences, in their schools,  regarding teacher performance, whether they have experienced wage freezes as a result of the economy, what their biggest challenges are as public school teachers in general and a host of other questions.

Click below to access the results of the survey.


Feb 262012

While the leadership of REd APPLES  has long advocated along with many others about the  gross inequities and arbitrary formula for the disbursement of the Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funds from Hartford,  the Governor’s Education Reform Bill (S.B. 24) presented another opportunity for a delegation of  representatives to once again argue our city’s financial plight.

As the 6th largest city in the state and with a free and reduced lunch student population at 44%,  Norwalk get’s a only a fraction of what it should get.  This is especially disconcerting when one factors in the income tax revenues  sent to our state’s capital.   Because Hartford claims to use a  formula based largely on the the Grand List of property tax values,  Norwalk  is treated  and viewed like  a Darien or Westport when it is obvious, we are not.  Other cities that are wealthier than Norwalk, with fewer free and reduced lunch students AND fewer students altogether get more than Norwalk.

There are provisions in the Governor’s Education Reform Bill (S.B. 24) that address education funding.  As such, Norwalk made a very good showing last week in the Education Committee hearings to make the case for Norwalk.  Below are the transcripts from the testimonies of Norwalk Representative and House Minority Leader, Larry Cafero,  Mayor Richard Moccia,  Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte,  Board of Education Finance Chair, Steven Colorassi, REd  Apple’s Co-Founder,  Lisa Thomson,  and NEF and REd Apples Co Founder, Lauren Rosato.

2012SB-00024-R000222-Representative Larry Cafero-TMY

2012SB-00024-R000222-Richard A. Moccia-TMY

2012SB-00024-R000221-Jack Chiaramonte-TMY

2012SB-00024-R000222-Steven Colarossi-TMY

2012SB-00024-R000222-Lisa Thomson-TMY

Lauren Rosato_HB 5014

Feb 102012

On February 8th Governor Malloy gave his State of the State address and kicked off the 2012 legislative session.  He said last year that he would focus on education reform in 2012. From his speech today (which can be viewed on the CTN cable channel) it sounds like it might really happen.

From educator certification and evaluations, to school turnarounds, to more equitable funding for students in Connecticut’s public schools of choice and underfunded districts, to teacher tenure reform, the governor laid out a bold set of education proposals.

The governor said that “no one should doubt my resolve: I am determined to fix our public schools,” it’s up to the legislature to respond by bringing these proposals to life in the kind of student-centered legislation we’ve been waiting on for years.

The Governor outlined 6 major principle initiatives:

1)     Enhance family access to early childhood education

2)     State support and intervention in low performing schools

3)     Expand availability of high quality school models

4)     Remove red tape and other barriers to success

5)     Develop the very best teachers and principals

6)     Deliver more resources to districts that embrace reform


Click below to read Governor Malloy’s message and more information about his proposals, and information regarding the reorganization of the Connecticut State Department of Education. To view the language in the actual Governor’s Bill (Senate Bill 24,) go to the Reports and Documents Page of this website.


If you are interested in doing more than emailing letters, and can provide direct testimony in Hartford, please let us know by emailing us at redapples@redapples norwalk.org.

Public testimony dates are currently scheduled for February 22, 29 and March 7.

The Year for Education Reform in Connecticut and Norwalk begins today!


Feb 092012

The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes In Adulthood

Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff | National Bureau of Economic Research | December 2011


This study examines the question of whether teachers’ impact on students’ test scores (known as the “value added” model) is an accurate measure of teacher quality. Researchers analyze school district data spanning 20 years for more than 2.5 million students. The study shows that teachers have significant impact on student learning in all grades from four through eight, and that students assigned to high-value-added teachers are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education, attend higher-ranked colleges, earn higher salaries, live in higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods, save more for retirement, and are less likely to have children as teenagers. Based on this research, the report concludes that effective teachers create substantial economic value (for example, replacing a teacher whose value-added is in the bottom five percent with an average teacher would increase the present value of a classroom of students lifetime income by more than $250,000) and that test score results are helpful in identifying such teachers.

Click below to read the full report.


Feb 092012

The  statement below was read at a BOE meeting the other night and not the Norwalk BOE.  This is not from a Norwalk parent but this letter could just as easily be applied here.  Read the letter and try to figure out what town you think this parent is from.  Parents get angry because the system is so ridiculously broken–nationwide.  (The name of the town is at the bottom–don’t look, read the  letter first, see if you can guess).  A presentation and  information on what SRBI is  and how it is supposed to be working in our public schools  is attached at the bottom of this post.


My comments are intended to provide a balanced perspective – what many parents experiences feel is a spiral –  cause and effect the general ed reading curriculum for K – 3, SRBI and the resulting increase in our special education budget.

We are told that SRBI is a tiered intervention to identify struggling readers – to get our children help and reduce the need to have intensive services in special education.

I was told that Tier I of SRBI – my children’s general ed classroom has adequate instruction in teach all children to read.

I disagreed.

So I met with our Administration to find out more, to find out why SRBI failed for my children:

I was informed by the Asst. Superintendent the district does not require explicit, systematic phonics instruction in general ed.  I asked why – when phonics is the basic foundation of reading?

The Administration informed me that kids in _______ enter Kindergarten not needing phonics.  This is quite simply a frightening assumption and untrue.

The Administration told me that silent reading is valuable more valuable than teaching reading explicitly.  Research shows – that until children are fluent readers – this is waste of precious time.

There is no way to monitor all students silent reading.  My child learned to memorize the words instead of decoding for two years.  There is abundant research that shows reading aloud to an adult does improve phonics and fluency.

Struggling Readers are referred Tier II for more help. Surely the instruction methods are scientific and phonics is instructed there.  No — actually they get more of the same instruction… only more often in pull out.  Teachers have the title of instructional reading specialists in SRBI but do not have reading Masters degrees or a standard of performance to meet.

I assumed that of our District was accountable to showing the data that SRBI was effective for my children and that they were making progress.

It is of course called “SCIENTIFIC RESPONSE BASED INTERVENTION”.  I requested evidence of my son’s progress.  After two months, I found out it doesn’t exist.

I have been told my family is an unexplained anomaly. I talked to other parents and this appears to be routinely unavailable.

I asked to see samples of what progress monitoring is supposed to look like — tracking that somehow was not done for my kids.   How long are children in Tier II?

I am still waiting and either this information does not exist or is not provided to the public –  I sent my letter to all of you and received no response – I request a response again tonight.

Parents have a right to respectful, civilized treatment, that our Administration does not attack us for expecting an appropriate education.  Your press releases are an offensive, inaccurate and inflammatory profile of parents that file for due process – explain how these “marginal” and “frivolous” complaints?  What parent would spend tens of thousands in due process if there wasn’t clear evidence that our school district had failed our children?

I ask the BOE to show us a review of why families win an outplacement by mediation to remedial reading LD schools that cost the District up to $50K a year?

To get into an LD school, a child has to be at minimum two years behind and of average or above average intelligence.  So it’s not the parents or the kids who are at fault here.

If the District was accountable, parents and the district wouldn’t be engaged in monetary settlements.

It’s an easy target to throw your hands up and say that the costs of special ed and lack of state and federal funds make it inevitable that we go over budget.  And it’s true that Special Ed is a complex and confidential business.  If residents don’t know the system, they are unaware and it seems reasonable to think these costs are out of control.

This board and administration must stop blaming and look inside to the inefficient management of your general ed curriculum.

If we had systematic, explicit curriculum in the early years to teach kids to learn to read, all our kids would be reading to learn after third grade.

The result of my SRBI – my child entered second grade reading at a PreK level.  He has to work for 11 months of the year every day to have any hope of catching up.

Thank you for listening and I look forward to the seeing improvements in the curriculum in general ed, the system does not add up and our budget reflects this.

(The town is Darien)


SRBI srbi_basic_training_introduction_srbi


Feb 082012

The Carver Foundation of Norwalk kicked off the first of its newly planned 2012 Youth Forums on January 26th at Brien McMahon High School. This one was entitled: Mind the GapCivic Engagement Youth Forum on the Achievement Gap.

It was held in school’s auditorium and drew an audience of nearly 500, including students from Carver’s four middle school programs, as well as, educational activists from around the state and community.  Organized by Novelette Peterkin, the Executive Director at Carver, the panel was moderated by television anchor, Ali Reed of WTNH Channel 8.

The Youth Panel included students from Norwalk High, Brien McMahon and AITE and included:  NyAja Boyd, Tomar Joseph, Kortney Lelle, Isaiah Mohammed, Ellen O’Hara, Melissa Rojo, Edwin Rosales, and Tom Skipper.

The Adult Panel  included: Dr. Susan Marks, Superintendent, Laura McCargar, The Perrin Family Foundation, Dorcas Blue, Fairfield County Community Foundation,  Dr. Lynne Moore, Principal, West Rocks Middle School, Mike Barbis, Member of the Board of Education, Bruce Mellion, President, National Federation of Teachers, and Suzanne Brown Koroshetz, Principal, Brien McMahon High School.

Below are some of the major themes and ideas that the students reflected upon, in their own words, over the course of the 90 minute forum.

On Student Motivation:

  • Motivation is internal and you to have the fire in your belly
  • Need parental support at home
  • Economics play a part
  • Teamwork  is needed between  parent- teachers and student- teachers
  • Good teachers
  • Motivated students
  • Starts at home
  • Peer  group influence
  • Sports can be a motivator:  NHS raised GPA from 1.7 to 2.5 for participation
  • It’s your personal responsibility
  • Be the change you want to see
  • Find strength within your family
  • Achievement gap starts in elementary but too young to realize
  • Must respect the process of learning
  • Education is taken for granted
  • Education is a gift if coming from a third world country
  • Education gap starts at home and your principles and values
  • Work ethics – compete for your future
  • Personal drive
  • Find a mentor to change your situation

On What Can Schools Do

  • Get more kids involved in sports
  • Get higher level students to help tutor
  • Be involved- music, clubs, whatever
  • Teachers need to quit having low expectations
  • Show the consequences:  “Yale to Jail”
  • Push students harder
  • Raise the requirements
  • Mentor-Mentee  Older-Younger Students
  • Failure is NOT an option
  • Practical application of the real world
  • Need to bring real world into the classroom
  • Get involved in your community
  • Raise the bar of teachers
  • Fix some of our teachers
  • Fix the adults
  • Teachers need to call parents
  • Teamwork makes the dream work
  • Choose your friends wisely
  • Cool to go to School
  • Raise the attitude of the teachers you hire
  • Take into account what students think (teachers are biased)
  • Younger teachers are easier to relate to (Age versus attitude)
  • Don’t  let kids drop out at 16
  • NO articles in the Hour about kids
  • Take into account the voice of the students when hiring teachers and administrators

On What Should Students Be Learning? 

  • Principles and ethics
  • Life skills
  • Stop teaching to the test
  • Stop prepping for the test
  • Teach how to study
  • How to budget
  • How to write a resume
  • How to prepare for an interview
  • Discuss different culture, make more well rounded
  • Economics course
  • Survivor Skills
  • Apply what we learn for the real wor4lds
  • Civics
  • Apply what we learn to the real world- make relevant to kids
  • Global view
  • Teach kids how to observe concepts (not just about grades)
  • Have more technology
  • Have more surveys with kid input
  • Establish link between students and administration not just students to teachers
  • Only see Housemaster for when in trouble – make more positive