REd APPLES was born out of countless budget meetings that many of us found ourselves attending over the past several years. No longer willing to allow ourselves to have one school’s budget pitted against another, we came into existence, as an advocacy group in February 2010, to look at the national trends in education reform and apply those that were relevant to Norwalk, including:
- Increasing Accountability and Transparency in the District
- Increasing Academic Rigor in the Classroom
- Closing the Achievement Gap in Norwalk
With those goals in mind, we have defined our community and state level strategic advocacy efforts to include:
- Fair and actionable evaluations for teachers, principals and administrators
- Relevant and high quality professional development for staff directed at the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) curriculum
- Collective bargaining rules that place priority on multiple factors beyond the Last In First Out policy
- Advocacy for Norwalk on the state level for fair and equitable ECS funding based on multiple factors, including student demographics
- Improve Norwalk’s use of data to align district resources with measurable S.M.A.R.T. goals
What tactics do we engage in to further the message of education reform for our great city?
- Data Website: We post student and school data, NPS documents, editorials and national trend reports in an easy to find manner on our website with an average a 2000 visits per month, viewing over 6000 pages
- Special Educational Events : We host special educational events on a monthly basis including: book signings, community conversations, panel discussions and guest speakers that are usually held at the various branches of the Norwalk Public Libraries, and Fat Cat Pie, in order to share vital national information with the community.
- Network of Contacts: We have a database and network of 100+ Norwalk individuals who believe in community advocacy, allowing us to quickly get reform messages out to the city via: parents, businesses, senior citizens, politicians, education boards and others.
- Testify: We work with our local state representatives and other statewide advocacy agency like ConnCAN and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform in Hartford on reform issues and provide testimony to the Connecticut State Legislature.
- Support Local Community Organizations: We support other local non-profit, community –based organizations and schools throughout South Norwalk, who are also focused on raising the academic bar and closing the achievement gap for minority students in Norwalk.