Sunday, October 9, 2016

Reality check

I know I don't delve often into education issues, put I feel the need to make an exception.
I don't claim to be an expert by any means.  I have not stood at the front of a classroom and faced what educators do every day. The closest I have been is standing at the end of a stretcher and teaching my patients and families on whatever illness they were facing. 
It's not the same, and I don't claim it to be. 

However, I have come to know teachers and PSRPs in the past year and I can see the dedication they have for their students is so, so similar to the dedication of any nurse or other healthcare worker to our patients.
Perhaps, my perspective as a non-educator is of some interest.

I'd like to speak on two issues.
The first being the resent Connecticut court CCJFF decision.
I agree with the court on the fact that Connecticut's funding of schools is unequal.
Affluent communities are much better able to fund their schools than struggling communities.
We are too dependent on local property taxes and this needs to be addressed.
Connecticut's students deserve high quality, well funded school whether they grow up in Greenich or Hartford.
However, the court's contention that schools are unequal because the evaluation system does not hold teachers accountable is not only an overreach of it's duty in the case, it is both inaccurate and insulting.
The reason schools are unequal is multi factored, including many socio-economic factors and the reliance on local taxes, not poor teachers, as the court implies.
Yes, changes could be made to some evaluation systems, and when educators are involved in the development and implementation of such systems, they embrace them.

The second issue I would like to speak to, is the recent announcement by the State Department of Education, on the possible need to close some of the state Vo-Tech high schools due to spending cuts proposed by the governor's administration.
I spent the early part of my working live bouncing from job to job with many periods of being laid off due to economic downturns and factory closings.
During one such period, the state sent me to CNA training at Windham Tech.
Although the factory layoffs continued, I was always able to find work as a CNA and never again collected unemployment.
Eventually, I returned to school, at Three Rivers Community-Technical College, and began a 16 year career as an emergency room RN.
None of that would have been possible without our state vocational school system, including high schools and colleges.
I know of many others who have stories like mine.
Closing any of these schools would be counter productive.
While it would save a little money in the short term, the long term result would be more unemployment and less tax revenue. 
But the biggest loss, would be the nurses, the skiled tradespeople, the teachers, and the others, who would never find their training, never learn their crafts, and never share their gifts.

In my humble perspective as someone who has not stood at the front of a classroom, I believe in this "new economic reality," we need a reality check.

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