A Focus on Public Education: Rally Wednesday 4/11; Forum on Alternative Solutions to School Reform Saturday 4/14
Pro Education Rally Wednesday: On April 11, 2012 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. the Board of Education will sponsor a pro education rally in the gym of New Britain High School, 110 Mill Street. Scheduled speakers include acting Superintendent Ronald Jakubowski, BOE President Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, State Rep. Bobby Sanchez (D-25), Teachers’ Union (AFT) President Susan Truglio, BOE members Carlos Pina and Erin Stewart. Students are also expected to speak at the rally.
Of concern for the next fiscal year is the absence of federal Recovery Act assistance that was used to plug holes over the last two years to avert dozens of teacher layoffs. In February, Governor Malloy stepped in to increase state aid for New Britain and other cities. The adjustment in the Governor’s biennial budget increases Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) aid by $2.65 million in New Britain. Under the Malloy plan, the city will receive $76.58 million for local education, an additional$245 per pupil. In addition, the Governor’s proposal to add 500 early childhood education slots has been augmented by the Legislature’s appropriations committee to 1,000. But school officials and advocates warn the increase may not be enough to avert cuts.
According to the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, current legislation provides for $50 million more for the state’s Education Cost Sharing grant program (ECS), funding for the so-called Commissioner’s Network of distressed schools to be prioritized, and funding for twice as many school readiness, early education slots in Priority Districts.
Despite the K-12 reform agenda, however, the basic inequity of school funding and the over-reliance on the property tax remains in the immediate future — a situation that will again make budget-making difficult for the board of education and the Mayor and Common Council.
Mayor O’Brien and the Common Council, having moved earlier this year to balance the city budget in the current year, are now preparing a budget for the year beginning July 1st with education and public safety considered top priorities. These efforts are a marked departure from former Mayor Stewart’s reluctance to add dollars to schools that were appropriated by the Common Council during 2010 budget deliberations. New funding for classrooms and more police officers are being sought against the backdrop of an existing and inadequate structure to pay for local public education and other essential services.
For more information on the school budget crisis: the Connecticut Association for Boards of Education (CABE) and other groups have established a website on school needs and funding issues: http://www.whatwillourchildrenlose.com/index.html
Alternative Solutions For School Reform To Be Discussed at NB Forum
A “People’s Forum” on school reform will be held on Saturday, April 14th from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Institute for Technology and Business Development (ITBD), 185 Main Street in downtown New Britain.
The forum is being organized by several groups including CT Parent Power and the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding. It is open to parent, students, teachers, scholars and “anyone who wants a voice to be heard.”
To register for the free event interested persons may use http://peoplesforum.eventbrite.com or contact Sasha Davis at 860-888-8889
African Affairs Commission To Honor Alton Brooks With Lifetime Achievement Award On May 18th
DTC District 3 Member Alton F. Brooks is being recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut African Affairs Commission. The Commission’s annual Classic Awards reception will be held May 18th at the Legislative Office Building at 7 p.m. when Brooks and others will receive the honors. Brooks, a longtime DTC member, led the city’s community action agency — the Human Resources Agency — and has been a mentor and basketball coach to the city’s youth through the years. Additional details on the event honoring Brooks will be announced.
Terry Gerratana: Citizen, Senator, Author! Book Signing April 15th
A book preview and signing with one of New Britain’s most prominent Democrats will be held on Sunday April 15th at the New Britain Museum of American Art .
“Santa Barbara Ceramic Design: Art Pottery from America’s Riviera” published by Schiffer Books is the work of State Senator Terry Gerratana. The 256-page book on the emergence and success of a pottery design studio in Santa Barbara, CA stems from Gerratana’s longstanding interest in California pottery. She is an American Art Pottery Association member and has written articles for the Association’s national publication prior to completing the book that debuted early this year.
DTC Members, Elected Officials To Participate On “Women in Politics” Panel
“Women in Politics” is the subject that will be discussed at the April 23rd meeting of the League of Women Voters, New Britain Area. The program, which is open to the public and is free of charge, will be held in the rotunda at Trinity on Main, 69 Main St., New Britain. The program will begin at 7 p.m. Women who have served or are serving in elected office have been invited to share their experiences in the political arena. The women invited to speak are Nancy Johnson, former 5th District representative to Congress; Terry Gerratana, state Senator from New Britain/Berlin; Ann Streeter, former mayor of West Hartford and former state senator; New Britain Alderwomen Eva Magnuszewski and Shirley Black and Cheryl Blogoslawski, the New Britain Tax Collector.
Cynthia Riccio, a professor of history at Tunxis Community College, will serve as moderator and give an overview of women in politics since the time they gained the right to vote.
“If the goal is to nurture the values, habits and skills related to lifelong learning, critical thinking, democracy and global citizenship, and if we recognize that teachers are integral to this process, then we must act in concert to strengthen the profession. This includes having open-minded, honest and respectful discourse about how to move forward in a constructive and mutually beneficial way. Test results, evaluation practices, accountability measures and standardization are useful, but when they take precedence over the aforementioned ideals of education, we are surrendering to politicized forces.”
from “Teachers, Schools Do Best On A Pedestal” an April 3rd Hartford Courant Op-ED by Berlin High School Teacher David Bosco, the Connecticut Teacher of the Year. Bosco began his teaching career at Holy Cross School in New Britain.
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