Commentary Mischaracterized Conn. School Reform Efforts

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To the Editor:

Regarding Ann Evans de Bernard's recent essay ("When Is School Reform Not Enough?," Feb. 5, 2014), I couldn't disagree more. Ms. de Bernard ignores many successes of school improvement efforts being led by educators across Connecticut, and the support by a majority of people in Connecticut for these efforts.

Consider the state's school turnaround program (the Commissioner's Network), which has brought tangible changes for the better to struggling inner-city districts like Bridgeport, where right now only two in 10 3rd graders are reading at grade level.

And consider what's taking place in New Haven, where a groundbreaking teacher- and principal-evaluation program is in use. The city also signed a nationally recognized labor contract that links pay increases to educator effectiveness and student achievement.

New Haven's educator evaluation system is not only good for kids, but it's also supported by people across the city: More than two in three New Haven voters believe that supporting and retaining the very best teachers is critical to ensuring students' success, according to a recent citywide survey.

In addition to ignoring these successes, Ms. de Bernard dismisses high-performing public school options like charter schools. But she fails to acknowledge that public charter school options are helping kids get the knowledge and skills they need for future success.

Not only are public charter schools helping kids in Connecticut get a high-quality education, but a majority of people support them: Nearly two in three voters statewide (62 percent) have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of public charter schools, according to a recent statewide survey.

Although performing better than students in many states, Connecticut's students are still falling behind kids in some states and other countries. We must continue improving public education because nothing less than our kids' futures and the economic viability of our state are at stake.

Jennifer Alexander
Chief Executive Officer
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now
New Haven, Conn.

Vol. 33, Issue 22, Page 22

Published in Print: February 26, 2014, as Commentary Mischaracterized Conn. School Reform Efforts
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