By: Dr. Joseph Cirasuolo, Executive Director of Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents
It has taken some time, but, the Connecticut education community has begun to accept the notion that real and fundamental change to our public education system is not only necessary, but essential if we want to help our children succeed. This is not the time to tinker around the edges, but to take major steps toward restructuring what we do, how we do it and who will take responsibility for improving student achievement in our state. We expect that education reform will be a major theme of the next session of the General Assembly and it is important that all of us engage in the discussion about how we can restore Connecticut’s place as a leader in public education and in student achievement.
Most people will raise an eyebrow of surprise when they find that the state’s superintendents of schools have been working on a package of sweeping reforms designed to “transform” our system in ways far beyond that which has been suggested in recent years. Over the past 24 months, with the support of several foundations and education-related groups, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) has been crafting a set of more than 150 recommendations for reforms in the state’s public education system, including changing the school day and school year; how we govern our schools; changes in finance, taxation and budgeting; ways to assure teacher and administrator accountability; new approaches to testing and assessment; raising academic standards; effective use of technology; improving teacher preparation and certification; reviewing school district structure and capacity; expanding public school choice; and focusing on student learning styles, needs and expectations. The CAPSS Education Transformation Project calls for new ways to look at teaching and learning, new educational structures and a greater focus on personal learning. The proposals include an emphasis on:
- Giving children the opportunity to learn at a pace that is appropriate for them in ways consistent with their learning styles and consistent with their interests;
- Removing the barriers to learning constructed by the traditional school year and school day and by restricting learning to what happens in school buildings;
- High quality programs for all children beginning when they are three years of age;
- Structuring school districts so that they have the capacity to provide students an appropriate range of options and choices; and
- Enhancing accountability for student success for everyone involved in public schooling.
We believe that these recommendations will help to advance the discussion of how we will change our schools, and while we don’t have all the answers, we believe it will help build a consensus and facilitate the reforms our students need.
The Education Transformation Project report was presented at a news conference on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.