.

The State Senate Attacks Teachers Through SB 24

Governor Malloy goes after teachers with State Senate Bill 24. Does he REALLY know what's wrong with education in CT?

 

While sitting in my Instruction and Curriculum class this Thursday, one of my classmates asked our professor, who has a law degree, what she thought about State Senate Bill 24.  Our professor said she hadn’t heard about it, but that Governor Malloy seemed to be going the wrong way on education reform.  She also said that the CEA and AFT would look out for the teachers and their interests.  The student replied that she hadn’t heard a lot about it, except that all the teachers at her school (she has gotten a long-term sub job in New London and is the fourth teacher this year teaching her particular classes - she plans on staying there and has been there since the end of January) were complaining about how it would be impossible to keep their jobs.

Now, all this talk about Senate Bill 24 got me looking into it.  This is the bill that will change the state law regarding the certification and evaluation of teachers, as well as state control over the funding of low-performance schools, access to early childhood education and the ability to allow families more of a choice of schools.  For those of you who have not heard about the bill (I was one until I started researching it), here is the text of the bill (text underlined and in blue is wording being added to the current law by the bill, and text in [brackets] and in red is being deleted from the law by the bill.  For those of you, like me, who DON’T like legal speak, there is a very good overview of the bill by State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21st District).

Now, I am a big proponent of educational reform.  For those of you that have read my , I feel the education system in CT, as well as the nation, is broken at the fundamental level.  I have been a teacher in private schools for the past ten years.  I received a DSAP (Durational Shortage Area Permit) to teach Math and Earth Science at the Secondary School (grades 7-12) level this past August.  Normally, in order to teach in a public school, a teacher would need to be certified by the CT State Department of Education.  This would happen after going through a teacher education program, either in a CT college or an approved college in another state.  The state SDE also allows for people to become certified in CT if they have been certified in another state.  However, the SDE has established a number of teacher “shortage areas” (Math, Science, Special Education, English, World Languages, Bilingual Education, etc.) where there exists a shortage of qualified teachers in these areas.  For people who wish to teach in one of these areas, there are some options that can get you into the classroom faster to reduce this “shortage” of “qualified” teachers:

  • They can take part in an Alternate Route to Certification which will get them certification after an accelerated program provided by the state (at significant cost to the applicant, plus the regular certification fees);
  • They can get a DSAP (like I have).  However, most people who get a DSAP need to ALREADY be in an approved teacher certification program so they can mentor you during your classroom teaching experience.

I was fortunate enough to have the “planned program” waived due to my teaching experience in private schools.  However, when I first applied for my DSAP, though, the CT SDE DENIED my application since I was NOT in a certification program.  Only by forwarding them the waiver that had been issued to me would they issue my DSAP.  It is valid for one year, and the it must be renewed by the CT SDE if I have gone through education classes that I would have needed to take if I was part of an educator preparation program.

I am also trying to receive my initial certification in math and earth science.  You’d figure that, given my experience (11 years as a math, science and technology teacher) and education (I have a BS in Applied Math, an MS in Geological Sciences with a concentration in Paleontology and am working on a Masters in Special Education) that the state would love to have me, right?  NOPE!  The bureaucracy involved in the state and the politicization of the educational system has gotten in the way.  Each time I have applied for certification, the SDE has found that I needed to take some class or other, that some class I HAD taken was not good enough.  Every time I apply, the state asks for more money to process my application.  Here I am, a teacher who, in my 11 years of teaching, has had students who have decided they wanted to become math and science teachers.  I have been told by my fellow teachers, parents and students, that kids love my classes and often come out of them with a desire to learn more.  I have students who, when I was leaving my private school, asked to go to the school I was moving to.

 

If we have such a shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math teachers, as the CT SDE claims, as President Obama claimed in the State of the Union Address, why is Gov. Malloy and the State Senate attacking teachers by using a flawed system of state testing to assess teachers?  Why is it so hard for STEM teachers to get certified without shelling so much money out to the state?  Why are teachers in the crosshairs when there are SO MANY OTHER PROBLEMS with our state’s educational system?  I feel that Gov. Malloy has some good ideas about educational reform.  We need to be proactive and fix our schools in the state.  Applying for a is a good start, but we need to look at motivating our students (and teachers) to do well.  We can start by eliminating those standardized tests which only take time away from educating our kids.  Let’s start THERE, Gov. Malloy!  Don't attack teachers during an election year, go after what's REALLY wrong with education in our state!

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Gene Bartholomew March 15, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I think it is a corporate ploy to get contract work, I got an email asking for support of this national agency called StudentsFirst. http://www.studentsfirst.org/pages/about-students-first It seems this organization is behind these bills, I haven't quite figured out their actual agenda yet, so please investigate this too and maybe we can figure it out, it usually involves making money somehow, like with NCLB it was about Bush family members and friends selling books and supplies and testing materials, I suspect this is a variant of that theme. If you push through a law that mandates your materials you stand to make a lot of money for some corporations. Funny how they already have a cure when they don't even know what the problems are.
Gene Bartholomew March 15, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Perhaps the agenda is to fire teachers that try to teach inner city kids and replace them with teachers that will give them the answers to standardized tests and pass them. Which is basically NCLB.....just pass'em.
David Cassenti March 15, 2012 at 01:31 PM
There have been a lot of problems with NCLB (which was labelled ESEA when it got passed through Congress) and the standardized testing that it requires. I have been receiving e-mails from Students First, as well, since I signed up for their mail list. Part of the problem is the "teacher tenure" issue. Malloy is "ending teacher tenure" by allowing districts to get rid of "ineffective teachers" by the new law (SB-24) instead of "incompetent teachers" according to the old law. The issue is with terminology - and how the contracts with the local union chapters DEFINE it. Putting it into a law is NOT going to FIX the system, only make it harder to get a more permanent certification. As I said in the post, they make it hard enough to get good teachers into the classroom in shortage areas - this law will make it near IMPOSSIBLE to do it, and even MORE unlikely that college grads will want to BECOME teachers in the first place!
Gene Bartholomew March 15, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Like I said in another article on this issue, teachers in the cities need help, they need smaller classrooms and I think the illegals should be taken out, there is no way they can compete with the 'burbs when they have larger classes with students who are way behind and unable to comprehend what is being taught. Only an arrogant fool like Malloy would buy into a lame story like burb schools are doing great and city schools are not, both have tenure so the problem must be tenure?????????? Can't be, simple logic proves it, if they both have tenure and they do IT can't be the problem, the issues are the problems in the city schools and the cure is to adress those, not add corporate profits on top with more standardized bull and firing teachers to hire cheaper ones. Its very much like discrimination.
JS188 March 15, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Malloy has effectively jumped from one project to the next to the next without finishing the past 4 he's worked on. If you do any research you will find that teachers are already getting laid off due to extremely tight budgets (not because of poor performace), yet CT is building a bus way between New Britain and Hartford??? Anyone in the educational system will tell you small class sizes, engaging lessons for students, quality teachers and upkept schools will increase the education of youth. Instead the plan is to harass teachers with evaluations, insult them (Malloy: All teachers have to do is show up for 4 years), and throw more money into underperforming districts. The majority of underperforming districts have a high population of students with a poor homelife (another thing teachers cannot fix yet are held accountable for). Keep in mind that the educational system most certainly needs work but teachers are implementing the plans developed by the state and federal government. It is their programs, their criteria and their mandates that cost taxpayers money and make the educational system cumbersome. Instead of punishing effective districts in the state, they should ease mandates (lessen the financial burden on schools) and focus on improving under performing districts. There are certainly areas of improvement, but the focus should be on weeding bad teachers out, and not punishing quality teachers in the process.
Gene Bartholomew March 16, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Well said, and I doubt there are many bad teachers, its the same mentality they use when they want to transfer even more of our tax dollars to a few large corporations, they attack state workers to eliminate services and positions and take that savings and give it to their rich friends. Its all about Corporate Welfare one way or another. That's why they are wined and dined by the elite and their lobbyists, to get more tax dollars. Its killing this once great nation.
Jason May 07, 2012 at 01:58 PM
What you "think" is simply incorrect. I've taught a total of 11 years in New York City, Greenwich, CT, and New Haven, in public schools and in charter schools. This bill is designed to save tax dollars by having the state funding that is set aside for every student follow that student. Under the current system, if a child chooses to attend a charter school, the public school retains that funding and the charter school gets an additional 75% of that funding. In short, the charter school is forced to work with less and the state is double-billed. It is not a surprise that teachers unions are smearing this bill as an attack on teachers, I felt that the UFT did little more that complain about any proposed change instead of effectively bringing about change of their own, exactly what you accuse studentsfirst of. There are no "contracts", and the bill is putting students first, literally, and is in NO WAY similar to NCLB, the single greatest failure in American education history.
Jason May 07, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Wow, now I regret having given another posting of yours the dignity of my reply. If you had any idea what discrimination really what as it applies to a diverse population, you simply wouldn't use the word "illegals". Malloy is going on data, not "lame stories". That data is also public, so do a little homework if you're going to sit at the table with the adults. Urban schools do not perform as well in particular areas, period. Tenure is a completely separate issue and is not limited to the education field. You misspell address and are otherwise a simple hate monger; one of the poorer users of free speech.
Gene Bartholomew May 07, 2012 at 02:21 PM
StudentsFirst is a non profit being used as a corporate front. Their entire being and Micheles is to force states to buy their products, and their standardized testing, it is exactly like NCLB, it may even be the same corporations behind it. Students are funded by the town or city they live in, property taxes pays per student, the state does not fund each student. You need an education and here it comes, read and learn. http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2012/04/17/students-first-i-mean-gnepsa-sends-out-slick-mailer/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-strauss/students-first-and-other-_1_b_821865.html http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/10/studentsfirst-makes-big-education-push/?print
Gene Bartholomew May 07, 2012 at 02:22 PM
StudentsFirst is a non profit being used as a corporate front. Their entire being and Micheles is to force states to buy their products, and their standardized testing, it is exactly like NCLB, it may even be the same corporations behind it. Students are funded by the town or city they live in, property taxes pays per student, the state does not fund each student. You need an education and here it comes, read and learn. http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2012/04/17/students-first-i-mean-gnepsa-sends-out-slick-mailer/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-strauss/students-first-and-other-_1_b_821865.html http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/10/studentsfirst-makes-big-education-push/?print ...
Gene Bartholomew May 07, 2012 at 02:31 PM
It's all about the money, not the students, its a disgrace to call the organization StudentsFirst, it is a catchy ad slogan and gets parents right away because that is what they want to hear that their kids are first, the reality is it should be called StudentsLastCorporationsFirst. Read and learn the truth. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/41086/michelle-rhee-inc http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2012/01/rita-solnet-an-open-letter-to-michelle-rhee-and-students-first/ NOTE***StudentsFirst says its spending on the ads is in the “six figures.” Full-court presses by groups are fairly common in Congress, but the combination of polling and campaign contributions, which benefit lawmakers, combined with paid TV ads is still somewhat rare in Tennessee. so where does StudentsLast get all of this money??? answer: ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national group of businesses and conservative legislators from across the U.S. Critics say the group is really a front that gives large corporations a big hand in writing bills introduced in dozens of states in areas ranging from anti-teacher union measures to voting. http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/mar/10/studentsfirst-makes-big-education-push/?print Class dismissed.
Gene Bartholomew May 07, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Malloy is an ass. I posted the data, burb schools are doing great and cities are not, ergo tenure is not the problem, he pulled the typical politician BS of attacking state workers as being the problem when its management at the top. I shouldn't use the word illegals? Why?, its accurate, undocumented workers are Americans that left their wallets at home with their ID and drivers license in it. Malloy made tenure the center of the issue, he publicly claimed it was the sole problem, it was scripted from StudentsFirst, every jerk politician across the nation is using it, they just want to enable corporate control. You know very well that it is BS to claim they can't fire teachers who have tenure, all they need is a valid reason and many get fired its in the paper every week. What they and people like you want is the ability to discriminate against people you don't like or agree with like me and fire them at will. You and they are part of the problem.
Jim May 07, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Once again we have gene bartholomew and his constant crap
Jason May 08, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Thanks for the support, George. Gene, providing links to articles with the same bias as your will not sway the opinion of an actual teacher. Did you read that; I am a teaching with a decade of experience with all of these issues. Aside from the educational budget being separate from the transportation budget (the ed funding while a "busway" is being built argument made no sense from your crony), you simply have no idea how these issues manifest in the lives of real people. I can tell you have never taught, have no children in school (or at all), and think you are informed because you read opinion pieces. I feel sorry for you and your spiteful nature.
Gene Bartholomew May 08, 2012 at 02:14 PM
feel free to counter with facts of your own Georgy
Gene Bartholomew May 08, 2012 at 02:27 PM
It seems that the only "pro" StudentsFirst articles I could find were by StudentsFirst or some corporate "sponsor". I did teach, at a private technical school and I know first hand the results of NCLB and the New Haven School system, maybe you're part of the problem. I had a student that seemed to have trouble with English, he was from Puerto Rico, on the first test with a written repsonse he answered about air filters " FLTRZ TH ARRZZ WFF BRFFZZ" So I took him aside after class and asked how long he had been in the U.S., since he was 4, he did K-12 in New Haven and graduated. The kids from the burbs didn't spell like that. Time will tell, I see every state that is dealing with StudentsFirst having the same issues they had with NCLB, it was all about money, it was about getting the books and supplies contracts for all the schools along with the standardized testing, it was worth billions. So in a few years when Malloys, er, I mean some corporations plan fails just as NCLB did we'll meet again, unfortunatley this will suck more tax dollars that we do not have in the meantime. The actual fix is much cheaper, which would be working with the teachers in the cities on the specific problems they have, not a national corporate and political agenda to fire teachers who are free thinkers. That is why StudentsFirst spends hundreds of thousands on lobbying and ads in each state they want to take over. It's all about the money. Enjoy your fantasy.

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