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OP-ED | We Must Keep Our Promise to CT Children – Implement Reform with No Delays

by | Mar 19, 2013 12:47pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Opinion

Last year, the process of passing landmark education reform in Connecticut was uniquely American: messy and confusing, but glorious in its ability to bring diverse peoples together to do the right thing for our children.

Rather than producing incompatible provisions in fits and starts each year, we passed a comprehensive framework of policies to reshape public education in Connecticut—the complex principles shaped around an underlying premise: that providing our children with the best education possible is both a moral imperative and the foundation for our economic revival.

Now, for a host of reasons, attempts are underway to undo some of those critical reforms before they even have a chance to take hold. That means this year is every bit as critical as the last, and the stakes are equally high.

Did you know that in Connecticut’s public schools, 5 out of 6 low-income students, 6 out of 7 black students, and 5 out of 6 Hispanic students in fourth grade do not read at grade level? Many are two or more years behind. Any attempt to delay the implementation of last year’s reforms will lessen the state’s commitment to ensuring that the more than 160,000 students who are currently in grades K-3 in Connecticut are able to read by the time they reach 4th grade.

The teachers and principals who want to offer each Connecticut student an excellent education deserve a revamped evaluation system that provides consistent feedback, meaningful information on student learning, and necessary instructional tools to help every child succeed. Without these resources, teachers and principals will be unable to ensure that every child has the interventions and supports she needs to learn and grow. However, the recently raised S.B. 1097, An Act Concerning Revisions to the Education Reform Act of 2012, will circumvent the collaborative work that has been done so far, and will delay implementation of these critical reforms. In fact, because many districts are already well on their way to implementing meaningful feedback systems for teachers and principals, the only thing S.B. 1097 is likely to accomplish is to stop innovation dead in its tracks. 

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform urges you to stay strong and continue to support the essential advances made in 2012. One of the problems in education in Connecticut over the past twenty years is that we make laws, and then when the work of implementation begins, we decide it is too hard to carry them out, so we retract or delay them. 

The truth is, implementing these major changes in our schools is very difficult work and is highly resource-intensive. It is not nearly as difficult however, as trying to go through life in America unable to read.

For this reason, we urge everyone to once again work together to tackle these problems with the skillful approach of a chisel, rather than the force of a hammer that is likely to leave us with nothing but pieces, and the need to start all over again.

Rae Ann Knopf is the executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

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(14) Archived Comments

posted by: OutOfOutrage | March 19, 2013  1:35pm


This article tells me that you oppose the Act.  It tells me nothing about the comprehensive framework or what the Act actually seeks to change or why you would oppose those specific changes.  I have nothing from which to make a judgment on this Act except your opinion that it’s implementation would result in the use of a “hammer” where a chisel is needed.  Without specific information it looks like demagoguery. 

You may be right about this Act and I may compeltely agree with you but I need more than vague allegations and opinions.

posted by: Nutmeg87 | March 19, 2013  5:32pm

Well Matt W…  It seems thats all we have today in Hartford….  ALL DEMAGOGUES…  NOTHING but yap talk…  thats why all we do is spend into oblivion…

No real intellectual capital, no real flexing of minds…  Even if we do borrow more money…  To what end?

posted by: Linda12 | March 19, 2013  5:47pm

The problem is this isn’t reform. You have hijacked the word.

The end game is to cut the labor costs and funnel the money to the eduvultures. When Rupert Murdoch is interested in American public schools we should all be afraid. He is quoted saying:

“When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching,” said News Corporation Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch. “Wireless Generation is at the forefront of individualized, technology-based learning that is poised to revolutionize public education for a new generation of students.”

posted by: Linda12 | March 19, 2013  5:51pm

Please read excerpt and full link. This is not a reform movement. You are being fooled. It is one step in many to shut down our public schools, turn them over to the free market, abolish the unions, deprofessionalize teaching and funnel tax money to profit making corporations.

Suburbs, they are coming for your kids next:

Education results, however, don’t matter to the moneyed interests behind the “reform” movement. Profits do — and the potential profits are enormous.

Citing a fact sheet from the for-profit education industry itself, the Washington Postrecently reported that “the education sector now represents nearly 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product” while the “for-profit education is valued at $1.3 trillion, and is one of the largest U.S. investment markets.” Likewise, NPR reports that as he’s launched an education technology division, Rupert Murdoch “has described education as a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars.” This is why the tech siteGeekwire predicts another full-scale tech industry bubble, thanks to “K-12 and other education segments now being chased by a mob of investment capitalists.”

Give “reformers” credit; they have successfully hidden a venal investment strategy in the veneer of idealistic political activism. Appropriating the poll-tested argot of change and mass movement, the Wall Streeters and tech moguls who finance the “reform” efforts have somehow convinced the political press to ignore one of the most powerful motivators of human action: the almighty dollar.


posted by: Charlie Puffers | March 19, 2013  6:28pm

Ms. Knopf is neglecting to mention that those reforms are unproven and expensive mandates for cities and towns.  There is nothing new or innovative brought forth by the CT Council for Education Reform - just old ideas that didn’t work and are now being recycled under the guise of ‘reform.’  What needs to be ‘resource intensive’ is not the changes she advocates but rather the help provided to struggling students.  Stop wasting tax payer dollars and start helping children.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | March 19, 2013  6:43pm

Ms. Knopf is apparent upset that lawmakers are listening to districts, teachers, parents, and to the folks who were part of the pilot for this “revamped evaluation” system that Governor Malloy, Stephen Pryor, along with CCER, CONNCAN and the rest of their corporate education reform allies are trying to foist through. Perhaps they are looking at the debacle in New York State, where districts have found that the cost implementing these evaluation schemes far exceed the grants received from the federal government under RTTT, and take excessive administration time, which results in even less time teaching and doing the things that really matter for kids.

posted by: Speak up | March 19, 2013  7:02pm

Teachers keep their promises every day, but you wouldn’t know that. Visit any non charter schools lately?

Teach a child to test and they will learn to memorize, teach a child to think and they will educate themselves.

posted by: Speak up | March 19, 2013  7:13pm

To Matt W,

demagoguery: impassioned appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the populace…..she is merely following the privatizing handbook.

They use the same talking points over and over. They call themselves the Big Six: CAPSS, ConnCon, CCER, CASE, CABE, CBIA. When you add up all their teaching experience you get zippo and somehow they know more than the real educators in CT.  Don’t fret, they are just following orders.

“The two largest sectors of the U.S. economy – health care and education – are poised to expand and become an even larger share of gross domestic product.”

–Michael Milken, venture capitalist billionaire,
convicted felon for racketeering and securities fraud,established controversial K12 cyber charter company

posted by: brutus2011 | March 19, 2013  8:14pm


This article or opinion is about last years General Assembly passing essential education reform legislation and that we citizens need to “stay the course” on reform.

You then say that Ct educators need a revamped evaluation system,  more meaningful student data, and better instructional tools.

What you don’t say is that “reform” is code for the privatization of our public schools.

You also don’t say that much of last years “landmark legislation” was a law to put more public money into private hands.

Evaluation and test scores are not what our kids need, it is what the corporate reformers want to distract the paying public from what this is really about.


posted by: Linda12 | March 19, 2013  8:28pm

One more comment for Rae Ann…from Jersey Jazzman:

There is no evidence that charter expansion, test-based teacher evaluation, vouchers, de-unionization, gutting tenure, merit pay, or ending seniority can be scaled up to provide meaningful improvements in student achievement.

posted by: Linda12 | March 20, 2013  3:04am

To Brutus,

The purpose of the testing and data craze is to test the ability of corporate reformer billionaires to funnel $ into non-profits that manipulate legislators to privatize education. Broad,
Gates and Bloomberg have their manlanthropic tactics all planned out.  CCER is merely their mule.

posted by: CONconn | March 23, 2013  8:28pm

I’m used to ConnCAN propaganda being written by Pat Riccards. What happened to him? Oh, that’s right: he resigned and went back to where he came from. So much for all the “our children, our children” speak. I wonder who next year’s CEO will be.

posted by: ConcernedVoter | March 24, 2013  9:43am

What expertise does Mrs. Knopf add to this debate?  Is she a teacher? No.  Is she a principal? No. Is she a superintendent? No. Her experience is…as a CEO of a private company that has tried to privatize and exploit public education for dollars.  This is your “expert”. 

Also, Mrs. Knopf, please explain to me how an evaluation system for teachers is going to increase reading scores for children?  Teachers are suddenly going to start teaching because of it?

posted by: OutBackJack312 | March 25, 2013  9:54pm


Well another CEO sounding like an idiot…  The reason there is no action is because real educators found flaws in the laws you moron.  If our idiot Governor listened to us in the first place he wouldn’t have wasted everyone’s valuable time.  Now he has to find another way to steal money from CT’s middle class as he tries to win back 65000 lost votes.

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