Moving Towards Equitable Outcomes
In 2016, more so than ever, there were more revelations about our society and more of those revelations highlighted the importance of easily accessible equitable education experiences for all students. What we have in Connecticut is a system that provides great amounts of opportunity to some and still others with none at all. Closing the gaps will not be easy. Therefore, our work with parents, students, educational professionals, and policy makers will have to be highly organized and deliberate.
First, is the creation of a new funding formula that will address student need as well as ensure taxpayers that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently. We need to act now before the hubris of a colorblind constitutionalism sanitizes this opportunity. In September, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled on the CCJEF case in a provocative manner. His ruling contained a thoughtfulness as well as a carefulness that we must use a guide going forward.
Funding education fairly, especially for urban centers like Waterbury so that educational outcomes improve is the non-delegable duty of the state.
Our goal is to promote a funding formula that makes educational equity a reality. In short, we want equity not equality in school funding.
Locally, we need swift and decisive action. Waterbury’s total grant payments have increased over the last five years by $36 million. However, an analysis done by the CT School Finance Project has determined that Waterbury is underfunded by over $50 million. This is caused by a dysfunctional legislative process that has abandoned an irrational funding formula. We must urge our elected officials to act now.
Second, we need to take a true step towards equity in Waterbury. The Waterbury Public Schools struggle to provide equitable access to high-level educational experiences to all students; especially students of color, English Language Learners, and SPED students. There are discipline disparities and rates of suspension that are not being addressed with an urgency that reflects the magnitude of the well-known impacts of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Additionally, Waterbury Public Schools’ students lack accessibility to a diverse educator workforce. This dilemma impacts school connectedness for students and parents. We need to take risks and create solutions as well as oversight to ensure we diversify the educator workforce. We urge parents, students, and educators to sign our petition to improve minority teacher recruitment.
Moving forward we must be willing to challenge every policy and practice that allows educational inequity to persist. Exclusionary discipline policies have to be eliminated; educators must be evaluated in ways that reflect the importance of dissipating discipline disparities as well as disparities in student performance; and districts, schools, and classroom teachers must be assisted in developing the skills to deal with complexities of the modern urban student through compulsory cultural competency training. We will be engaging parents, challenging educators, and urging legislators to make the necessary changes to improve governance as well as educational practices.
Categories: Current Issues