A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Connecticut had an idea for education reform. There was a promise for expansive new education funding in exchange for new school district accountability programs. Low achieving school districts would get significant new dollars in exchange for implementing new district reform programs.
Fast forward a year. Financial institutions teetered on the brink of extinction and the national economy went belly up. In the face of Connecticut’s fiscal woes, education reform became the victim. Unable to fulfill its education funding promises, the state slashed assistance for district improvements and human capital at both the local and state levels.
This story might sound all-too-familiar at the start of the 2013 legislative session, but that tragic tale–in which Connecticut reneged on its promises to reform public education–spanned the years of 2007 and 2008. Since then, over two hundred thousand students have graduated from high school, many without the necessary skills to succeed in college or careers.
This year, we don’t have to let history repeat itself. As the next legislative session rolls out and we again face the task of balancing the budget, let’s not sacrifice our students’ futures for a second time.
Yes, Connecticut now faces another financial morass. In such a muddle, education reform programs might seem ripe for raiding. But Connecticut cannot afford to break any more of its education reform promises.
We already know from past experience: education reform needs more than one kickoff year to make a lasting impact.
Let’s make sure we don’t short-change our students by backpedaling on ed reform progress this time.