To the extent readers don't think that CT residents are delusional on this point, I point to our town budget hearing of two weeks ago. The President of the local PTO stood up and said she couldn't believe her luck in moving to town, because the schools just keep getting better and better. Even those opposed to the budget kept their comments focused on the need to cut spending and keep taxes down while maintaining the excellence of the schools. No one ever says out loud in public that the schools are not all they are cracked up to be.
The Westport Patch article is spot-on. My only complaint is that it misses two of the most critical reasons as to why our CT schools lag. The first -- horrible curriculum foisted upon us through the State DOE through vague state standards and state consultants that actually recommended poor curriculum to local districts. Any parent that has ever complained about the use of Everyday Math has heard the same justification that I have: it meets the State Standards. The State actually insists that we use this wretched curriculum, despite its short-comings, despite the parents' opposition to it and despite the rather weak research background of the program. The same goes for the whole language and balanced literacy that has largely replaced phonics and grammar.
The second reason that CT will continue to fail is the poor quality of our schools of education. Add to this, the difficulty teachers have crossing from state borders. A certified teacher from another state (with higher standards) must jump through hoops and incur expenses to teach in CT. Because we have a very small state, we should not be slamming our doors at the border to good teachers wishing to move in. The inability to easily move between states means that CT is overly reliant upon teachers graduating from our own in-state teacher colleges. That would be okay if those colleges were producing top-notch teachers, but that is simply not the case.
Anyway, from the Westport Patch, Nathan Allen says this about the Achievement Gap:
The fact is, poor and minority students are better educated in Florida and Texas than in Connecticut. Connecticut’s poor and Hispanic students are outscored by Moldova, and Connecticut’s black students barely beat Egyptian and Palestinian student scores. Our poor and minority students can’t outscore students from developing nations with 1/20th the per-capita income.And on our best students:
Internationally, Connecticut’s highest scoring 8th graders score behind Slovenia, Estonia, and Poland in math on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). And these are our best students.