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Advocates Say Survey Shows Support For Education Reforms

by Christine Stuart | Feb 13, 2013 12:30pm
(16) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Poll, State Budget

Hugh McQuaid file photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with kids at a Meriden School

Nervous about whether Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would maintain his commitment to education reform prior to his budget address, an education advocacy organization hired Global Strategy Group to survey the public about the popularity of the reforms passed last year.

The poll, commissioned by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, found nearly three-fourths or 73 percent of the 601 voters surveyed support the education reforms enacted last year.

The survey was conducted between Jan. 23-Jan. 27 and found that jobs and the state budget still top voters’ priority lists, but 86 percent say improving the quality of public education is a high priority, including 49 percent who say it is a top priority that needs to be addressed by the governor and the state legislature.

While 41 percent of voters recognize the need to tackle Connecticut’s budget issues, a majority of voters or 52 percent believe that even in these difficult times, the state must protect the progress made with last year’s landmark education reforms.

“Now, as the General Assembly prepares to make tough decisions regarding the state budget, the message is clear: we cannot afford to dial back our efforts aimed at ensuring a high-quality public education for every child. Our students are counting on us,” said Jennifer Alexander, acting CEO for ConnCAN.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposes increasing the Education Cost Sharing grant — which is the largest grant to municipalities — by $50.7 million in the next fiscal year and $101.5 million the year after. A total of 117 cities and towns will see an increase in their allocation. But much of the increased spending will be focused on the state’s 30 underperforming schools identified as Alliance District schools.

All other municipalities will have their education funding remain level, but the money for the boost in education funding will come from the discontinuation of a municipal grant program. The state-owned Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes or PILOT program will be folded into the Education Cost Sharing formula.

The move could pit local town councils against local school boards.

Jim Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said they appreciate the sentiment that Malloy’s goal was to hold cities and towns harmless, but the problem is that he moved some of the traditional funding programs into different buckets.

“The funding is still there and towns are going to be held harmless, but through the ECS grant,” Finley said last week. “One of the reasons they did it was to move that funding into the general fund and by putting it into ECS it’s exempt from the spending cap.”

The change sets up a battle at the local level between local chief executives and school boards. He said it also places pressure on the property tax because while the state programs pay for things like roads and bridges, they don’t pay for town personnel like police and firefighters.

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(16) Comments

posted by: Linda12 | February 13, 2013  7:44pm

Who did the survey? By phone? By mail? Charter school mules?

And coordinated by ConnCon, winner of the “if Bernie Madoff worked in School Finance” award with the help of Ochhiogrosso…really?  Valid, reliable and non biased? What a joke:

For more on their award read here:

This report from a Connecticut-based education advocacy group aims to Fix Our Broken School Funding System with a reverse Robin Hood take-from-the-poor approach nicely wrapped in a pious package of verbiage designed to hide its true effects. In truth, few areas of school policy are as ripe for legitimate critique as the way states allocate funds to schools. A disconcerting level of arbitrariness and inadequacy often marks these funding formulas. Yet this report doesn’t make use of well-established research conventions (adequacy or equity studies), or for that matter any sensible approach for determining if a formula is in fact broken. Instead, it promotes a “money follows the child” funding system that our reviewer points out would have the effect of making the system even more inequitable by shifting funding away from students learning English and those in poverty.

The report’s empty claims are perfectly combined with its evidentiary barrenness. Consider, for instance, the genealogy of the report’s claim that the current formula provides low-income children with only an additional 11.5% of funding. That claim is based on a previous ConnCAN report, which refers readers to information in a footnote, which then refers readers to that report’s appendix. But pity the intrepid reader who makes it that far; the appendix provides no justification or further reference to the phantom 11.5% figure. Our reviewer pointed to similar evidentiary black holes regarding the report’s claims about charter school funding and performance. And yet another instance of fantasy numbers comes from the report’s recommended removal of funding for English language learners based on the contention that these children have already been counted as low-income children. There is no compelling evidence to this effect in the literature – nor is there any in the report.

http://nepc.colorado.edu/bunkum/2011/if-bernie-madoff-worked-school-finance-award

posted by: mbracksieck | February 14, 2013  5:40am

Citing a poll on education reform commissioned by ConnCAN is like the survey citing that chickens like foxes in charge of henhouses… commissioned by the Renard Institue.  Here are the facts: 600 people were asked if they thought Malloy was doing a good job with education.  Try this instead: ask the people who now have to implement the “reforms” how effective they think the reforms are.  Joe Cirasuolo, the head of CAPSS and once a proponent of Malloy’s reform, has learned that the reforms are too costly and unwieldy to work.  More and more districts around CT are finding out that these reforms are leading to more standardized testing… which has never demonstrated to effectively increase learning.  The bottom line is that the people who are benefitting the most from these reforms are the companies peddling snake oil elixers to fix what ails us.

I’m disappointed in CT New Junkie for writing this “story” in the first place.  Save the stenography for the Hartford Currant.  Please engage in real reporting.

posted by: Noteworthy | February 14, 2013  8:40am

This poll is as suspect as all the studies done by CT Voices for Children which calls for endless rounds of more taxes. The results are prostituted by those funding it, manipulating it and drafting the results. It’s nice to see Oh No is making money off of it.

posted by: Christine Stuart | February 14, 2013  10:08am

Christine Stuart

I’m still working on getting more information about what questions were asked. This is a brief bit of information, it’s not an investigative piece into the two sides of education reform or the relationship between the group that conducted the poll and the polling company. All of those issues will be investigated in due time. The fact that it appears neither side on the education debate can even have an honest conversation about funding and reform makes me glad I don’t have kids who have to suffer because the adults can’t get their shit together.

posted by: Linda12 | February 14, 2013  10:29am

To Christine…some posting here are your front line workers who have dedicated their lives to teaching and nurturing children.

This movement, which they like to call “reform”, has been hijacked by privatizers, laywers, politicians, slick lobbyists and opportunists.

I am not sure you meant to insult the many, many dedicated teachers in CT. But, we DO have our acts together.

The eduvultures like to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt and create a crisis everywhere. The goals are: destruction of the union, deprofessionalize teaching and standardize all learning opportunities.

This is NOT putting students first despite their rhetoric or your insult, that’s for sure.

posted by: ASTANVET | February 14, 2013  11:21am

Again, people turning to State or Federal government to fix their communities issues… if you want your schools to perform better, get involved, solve it at the town level, if you want to pay more in taxes and less in snow removal in your town, make those decisions… but don’t look to Hartford or Washington to fix your issues.  This is precisely what is wrong with our society, and our government.

posted by: ConcernedVoter | February 14, 2013  11:36am

Christine-As you say, this is a little bit of information and it is information in the form of a press release from ConnCan and one conducted by Malloy’s former press aide.  If you are concerned about getting comments on a “survey” that tries to pass itself off as evidence, consider not running it next time.  If you do, don’t be surprised if people with true facts, ideas, and information dispute what a few corporate shills cobble together.  I would be glad to have an honest conversation with anyone about education reform as long as those people (ConnCan) aren’t looking at children with dollar signs in their eyes.

posted by: Linda12 | February 14, 2013  1:05pm

And from the Pelto blog:

The survey itself should be made public and a summary of the sampling technique. Surveys can say anything the authors want unless it is vetted for measurement validity by neutral parties.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | February 14, 2013  2:44pm

Loved your bleepin’ comment, Christine.  But don’t forswear kids because of the sad state of education politics.  Ultimately, what goes on at home, and in the culture at-large that kids are exposed to, has much more of an effect than any new educational experiments or the level of funding for schools or how schools are funded.  Those things are certainly worth debating over, but some serious thought about the crappy culture we live in, and how we raise our kids, and the values we inculcate, would be even more worthwhile.

posted by: Christine Stuart | February 14, 2013  6:09pm

Christine Stuart

Here’s how education reform was phrased in the poll question: “The education reform bill passed last year by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor takes essential steps to close Connecticut’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap, raise standards for educators, allows immediate action to improve failing schools, increases access to high-quality public school choices, and improves how education dollars are spent. Having heard this information, do you support or oppose continuing these reforms?”

No one is going to say they don’t like education reform when it’s phrased that way.

posted by: Linda12 | February 14, 2013  6:23pm

Christine,

Thank you for researching the question asked and that is my point. You have teachers who easily put in double their contract hours and who care deeply about their children. They have dedicated their lives to teaching and learning and we are competing against scheming shysters who create shady surveys to further their agenda.

This is NOT reform….as stated by a New Jersey blogger/music teacher:

The focus in teacher quality is a distraction. It is designed to divert attention away from the real causes of our nation’s massive inequality and disgusting childhood poverty rates. The true goal of this argument is to move blame away from the wealthy interests that control this country and place it on teachers.

Please look continue to look past the spin.

posted by: CONconn | February 14, 2013  7:21pm

Man, talk about a loaded question! Typical Conncan nonsense. Before they ask the question they load up on lies.

posted by: R.L. | February 14, 2013  10:05pm

I’m not surprised by the interview question.  That’s how the “reformers” work.  They peddle twisted truths and warped data.  Those who peddle their wares locally (Adamowski, Vallas, Pryor) are helped a great deal by our local “journalists”.  They practically act as the moutpiece for these people.  You want to know the truth?  Sub at Hartford Public, or Bulkeley.  Interview the people who have been affected by these so called reforms. Do that and then do a nice piece on how deserving Adamowski is of being the Special Master of New London and Windham. Its called journalism.  I wonder if it still exists in this country.

posted by: mbracksieck | February 15, 2013  5:42am

Christine said: “No one is going to say they don’t like education reform when it’s phrased that way.”

Bingo.

Thanks for your candid followup, but like Linda said, there are many teachers who do have it together.  Let me know if you want to talk about this issue in greater detail.

posted by: saramerica | February 15, 2013  10:36am

saramerica

It is interesting that Global Strategy Group also does work for 50Can, The Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation, some of the biggest funders of Corporate Ed reform (left out is Walton Foundation, but Walton gives funding to 50Can.) And of course Roy O just left Malloy’s staff to go back to GSG.

posted by: CONconn | February 15, 2013  10:54am

For some reason the Gates Foundation doesn’t get lumped in with the rest of these snake oil salesmen. But they use these same tactics time and time again.