Charter School Growth and its Effect on Catholic Schools

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The presence of charter schools in cities throughout the United States continues to increase as families become more dissatisfied with traditional public schooling and look for alternatives. The first charter school opened in Minnesota in 1992 (Cavanagh), and since then they have rapidly expanded across the nation. Charter schools have been highly criticized by education reformers who don’t believe that they are a long-term solution to ensuring all children have access to a public school education.  However, they are not the only alternative to standard public schooling in urban areas.  Catholic schools have provided students with a quality education long before charter schools were established, and pride themselves on having the task of “transmitting to students, by various means, the specific norms, values, and beliefs of the Catholic faith” (Donlevy 106).  However, the emergence of charter schools has significantly changed the education sector and affected the existence of private, specifically Catholic, schools.

By reviewing various studies that address the connection between charter schools and Catholic schools on a national level, there is enough evidence to suggest that the growth of the former has negatively affected enrollment rates of the latter.  This paper will explore the relationship further and address reasons to explain how, and why, the charter school movement has caused Catholic schools to decline over the past two decades.  This association will first be looked at on a national level, and then locally by focusing on Jumoke Academy, a charter school in Hartford, Connecticut that used to be called St. Justin’s School and was run by the Hartford Archdiocese.  However, by examining this specific case in Hartford, it is evident that arriving at a definite conclusion is not as straightforward as the national relationship makes it seem.  This paper addresses the complex nature of the education system by taking into consideration that the national findings do not line up perfectly with this specific, Hartford-based example.

Researchers have conducted several studies in the past year that focus on how the rise of the charter school movement has affected Catholic schools. In their study entitled “Catholic Schools, Charter Schools, and Urban Neighborhoods,” Margaret Brinig and Nicole Garnett find a close relationship between the rise of charter schools and decrease of Catholic schools in urban areas. Though they limit their study to Chicago, they bring up some important overall distinctions between the two different types of schools, which are helpful in understanding how they are connected at a national level. According to their research, the number of Catholic schools nationwide was at an all time high in the middle of the twentieth century. However, by the late 1960s, this number began to decline due to financial reasons.  The study states that “religious vocations plummeted at the same time that Catholics suburbanized en masse, causing parochial schools to experience dramatic increases in labor costs just as collection revenues declined precipitously” (Brinig & Garnett 35).  These academic institutions, which are run and funded by the Archdiocese, began to experience difficulties providing adequate resources and training to their teachers and students. It also discusses the priests’, who were historically responsible for operating the schools, change in perspective. They began to view these Catholic schools, which no longer just served Catholic students, as “unnecessary burden[s]” (35), which is a factor that can be linked to a decline in academic quality. Nationally speaking, financial difficulties caused Catholic schools to decrease in academic caliber and as a result, became less desirable to families compared to what charter schools could offer.

To provide some contextualization of the relevancy of this comparison between Catholic schools and charter schools, Brinig and Garnett also give an overview of charter schools’ history in the United States. They suggest that the increase in popularity is because they have several of the attributes of private schools, yet are “schools of choice” and entirely free. The article also brings up a point of distinction between charter schools and other schools: often times, charters are “more accountable than private schools and, arguably, even more than traditional public schools, because underperforming charter schools are more likely to be closed” (37).  This specific piece of information is particularly relevant to the overall argument of this paper because of the clear relationship it establishes between these two types of schools. When given a choice between a costly private school that is not held accountable for its results, and a free charter school that works hard to ensure that it is meeting national standards and adequately preparing its students, it can be assumed that most parents would be inclined to choose the latter.

It is significant to notice that this connection between the decline of Catholic schools and rise of charter schools has just begun to be studied by researchers.  Brinig and Garnett published their study in January 1, 2012, and since then there have been several other studies that address this relationship. It is likely that the explanation for this is the upsurge of new research surrounding charter schools as they are at the forefront of the school choice movement.  Richard Buddin discusses the impact charter schools have had on private schools as well as traditional public schools in his study, published in August 28, 2012. Before closely looking at Buddin’s findings, it is important to clarify how his research is relevant to the development of this argument. He first divides up the schools he looks at into the categories: traditional public school, charter, private, Catholic, other religious, and nonsectarian, and some of his explanations are limited to how the emergence of charter schools has decreased enrollment rates in all private schools and traditional public schools. However, early on into his study he clarifies his objective by stating, “the enrollment patterns across Catholic, other religious, and nonsectarian schools are similar to those for all private schools; that is, each type of school is more common in urban than non-urban areas and each type is more common at lower-grade levels” (Buddin 16).

For the purposes of this research, the overall argument is not limited to a particular grade-level. Buddin, however, goes into greater detail, and though some of his research surpasses the limits of this paper, his findings are in-line with the complete thesis because of his focus on charter schools’ impact on private schools (which includes Catholic schools) in urban neighborhoods. The basis for his observations stems from a study entitled “Changes in School Type by Urban Enrollment Status,” which examines the annual growth in enrollment percentage from 2000 to 2008 at the different school categories previously mentioned. The chart below highlights some of Buddin’s most important and relevant findings that help explain this relationship:

Source: (Buddin 4)

Though his study breaks the nation’s student population into four models: overall patterns of student enrollment, schools in non-urban areas, schools in some urban areas, and schools that are highly urban, for the purposes of this analysis only the charts that demonstrate “schools with some urban students” and “schools in highly urban areas” are included. Buddin differentiates between these two categories with the condition that to be a highly urban area, at least 50% of the students must live in a large city (19).

Most notable in this study is the difference in growth between charter schools and Catholic schools over the eight-year span.  In highly urban areas, charter school percentage increased by 14.76%, from .96% of the student pool in 2000 to 4.56% in 2008. However, Catholic school enrollment declined by 5.59%, from 8.25% to 6.73% in 2008.  The study also highlights an interesting difference between the growths of traditional public schools and charter schools; despite a growth in charter schools, the percentage of students enrolled in traditional public schools declined by 3.81%.  This statistic strengthens the argument that students in urban and highly urban areas are choosing to enroll in charter schools over Catholic schools; they are not simply dropping out of Catholic schools to attend any public school—they are opting for charter schools over traditional public schools. If the reason students were avoiding Catholic schools was merely because of tuition costs or the faith-based curriculum that exists in these institutions, it would be logical to assume that the enrollment percentage would increase for traditional public schools as well. Instead however, all other numbers have decreased over the eight-year period, while the enrollment in charter schools is the only number to have gone up.

This study brings up other interesting points that help to describe the relationship between charters and Catholic schools nationwide. Buddin points out “in highly urban areas, private schools contribute 32, 23, and 15% of charter elementary, middle, and high school enrollments” (23).  Keeping in mind that when he refers to “private schools” he is including Catholic schools, this point is made exceedingly relevant to the overall argument of this paper. There are several reasons to explain why Catholic schools have decreased nationally and why they appear to be funneling their students into charter schools.  Sean Cavanagh discusses the plummet in Catholic school enrollment in “Catholic Ed., K-12 Charters Squaring Off,” which was published in Education Week in August 2012. It is interesting to note that this analysis was also done in late 2012, again reinforcing the relative newness of interest in charter schools’ affect on the private education sector. The first similarity Cavanagh brings up between Catholic schools and charter schools is likeness in framework and design. Concrete examples he uses are the parallels in school missions, academic models, and the overall demographic of students both schools primarily serve (Cavanagh). The combination of the community-centered approach most charter school networks pride themselves on and absence of tuition makes enrolling in a charter school a popular and logical choice for many families in urban areas.

Cavanaugh’s argument is further strengthened by two compelling statistics he includes in his article. He writes, “Since 2000, 1,942 Catholic schools around the country have shut their doors, and enrollment has dropped by 621,583 students, to just over 2 million today, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. If that decline continues, charter enrollment will surpass that of Catholic Schools for the first time this academic year” (Cavanaugh).  This data is from a study conducted by Sean Kennedy from the Lexington Institute, a think tank that has examined the Catholic and charter systems. Later in his article he states, “Today, some 5,600 charter schools, serving about 2 million students, operate in 41 states and the District of Columbia” (Cavanaugh). This prediction is further strengthened by a statistic Buddin inputs in his discussion of the charter school movement. He writes that “if trends continue, charter share in total enrollment will rise from 3.7% to 6.2% in 2016” (Buddin 23). These facts are significant and tremendously telling of the magnitude of the charter school movement and how its growth over the past two decades has, and will continue, to affect Catholic schools in the United States at a national level.

The three studies stated above provide enough evidence to conclude that there is a clear national trend that exists between the rise of charter schools and decline of Catholic schools. However, when applying this theory to a local example, the common causality appears to be less clear.  According to a Hartford Courant article published in 1992, St. Justin’s School was the “last school in the Archdiocese of Hartford with a predominantly black enrollment attached to a predominantly black parish, [and] closed in 1989” (Renner).  Eight years later, Jumoke Academy opened its doors in the same building St. Justin’s had occupied (Green).  This example raises the questions: what was the site used for during this eight year gap, and is the relationship between this former Catholic school and currently operating charter school consistent with the aforementioned national trend?  Brinig and Garett found that there were multiple situations in their study of Chicago where charter schools physically replaced Catholic schools; they noticed this fact in 14 schools that they researched (33).  However, this is not enough evidence to support this one specific case in Hartford. The eight-year gap between St. Justin’s closing and Jumoke’s opening complicates the relationship and suggests that the closing of St. Justin’s School and opening of Jumoke Academy in the same building in 1997, might just be a coincidence.

Despite the ambiguities this example presents, there are some similarities to suggest that this relationship may be consistent, in some ways, with the national trends previously discussed. The same Hartford Courant article that discusses St. Justin’s closing also states, “In the three-county Hartford Archdiocese, Catholic school enrollment was 22,000 in the past school year, compared with 54,000 in 1964” (Renner). This goes to show that despite the overall generality of Buddin, Cavanaugh, and Brinig and Garnett’s studies, the national trends found in their studies are applicable in various ways to the city of Hartford.  It is clear that the same decline in Catholic schools nationwide is also noticeable in this one specific region of study; Hartford was by no means immune to the effects of the charter school movement, though it is less evident whether the definite cause for St. Justin’s School’s closing was related to the upsurge of charter schools in the area as well.

Though the reasons behind this closing are not explicitly stated, many Catholic schools were forced to close because of financial difficulties or lack of resources. Although there is no concrete evidence to definitively provide an answer for why St. Justin’s School closed, newspaper articles from the Hartford Courant suggest that Jumoke Academy has, and continues to be, well-received by the Hartford community. In an article titled, “Jumoke Becoming an Achiever,” the charter school’s success is highlighted by the following line, “Now in its 11th year, the 325-student school is emerging as one of the better-run charters, taking in mostly poor black and Latino kids who, chosen by lottery, usually arrive well behind academically” (Simpson).  The article goes on to praise the dedicated teaching staff, revamped curriculum, and longer school days as major factors in the school’s success.  This example of Jumoke Academy demonstrates how complex the relationship between charter schools and Catholic schools truly is. Despite having a strong understanding of how this connection manifests itself on a national level, it cannot be seamlessly applied to the case of St. Justin’s School and Jumoke Academy.

On a national level, research indicates that a conclusion can be made in regards to the charter school movement’s affect on Catholic schools over the last twenty years. However, the specific example of St. Justin’s School and Jumoke Academy questions this relationship and suggests that there is not just one explanation for the closing of a Catholic school. The overall picture of this correlation becomes less clear when viewing it through both a national and local lens, but does not necessarily invalidate the understanding that, on a broader, national scale, there is an obvious connection between the rise of charter schools and decline of Catholic schools. Due to the relative newness of this research topic, it will be interesting to see how charter school growth continues to affect the future of Catholic schools in the United States.

Works Cited

Brinig, Margaret F., and Nicole Stelle Garnett. “Catholic Schools, Charter Schools, and Urban Neighborhoods.” The University of Chicago Law Review 79, no. 1 (January 1, 2012): 31–57. doi:10.2307/41552894.

Buddin, Richard. “The Impact of Charter Schools on Public and Private School Enrollments.”  Policy Analysis no. 707. Web. 28 August 2012

Cavanagh, Sean. “Catholic Ed. k-12 Charters Squaring Off.” Education Week 32.2 (2012): 1-13. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web.  20 April 2013.

Donlevy, J. Kent. “Catholic Schools: The Inclusion of Non-Catholic Students.” Canadian Journal of Education / Revue Canadienne De L’éducation 27, no. 1 (January 1, 2002): 101–118. doi:10.2307/1602190.

Green, Rick, and Courant Staff Writer. “HARTFORD COULD BE LEFT WITHOUT, AS CHARTER SCHOOLS OPEN THIS FALL: [STATEWIDE Edition].” Hartford Courant. May 15, 1997, sec. MAIN (A).

Renner, Gerald, and Courant Religion Writer. “Schools Get Respect but Dozens Close Spirited Debate How Connecticut Catholics Are Struggling with Change Third of Five Parts Schools Get Respect but Many Close: [A Edition].” Hartford Courant. August 25, 1992, sec. MAIN (A).

Simpson, Stan, “JUMOKE BECOMING AN ACHIEVER [Corrected 08/03/07]. Hartford Courant. August 1, 2007, sec. CONNECTICUT.

Traveling Back in Time: Using the Internet Archive Resource to Properly Cite Information

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#15 In Taylor Godfrey’s 2012 web essay, she bases her claims on content that appeared on the Teach for America website over six years ago, yet does not mention how she found this source. Describe how she did it, and offer a better citation. (Hint: See an amazing tool provided by the Internet Archive.)

My source detection assignment for this week allowed me to do some interesting digging around the Internet.  I began my search by referring to Taylor Godfrey’s essay, which can be found under our assigned reading for April 7th. That was the easy part. After opening up the web essay, I immediately saw the “content” that the question was asking me to expand on. At the top of the page she prefaces her essay with the quote, “Teach for America Welcomes and seeks out rigorous independent evaluations as a means of measuring our impact and continuously improving our program.” She goes on to explain that this was taken from the Teach For America website six years ago, on October 5th, 2006. Interesting, but where was her citation?  Taylor wrote a compelling and well-researched essay on how Teach For America (TFA) has evolved over the past six years, yet she left out how she found this source. Without a proper citation, how will future readers know where she got her information, and whether it is valid or trustworthy? In order to properly address my detection question, I had to start from the beginning and retrace Taylor’s steps when she referred to the TFA website, only this time I would be sure to properly cite the source used.

To tackle this somewhat daunting task, I decided to turn to the page of search strategies for sources that we reviewed last week in class, with my eyes peeled for one database in particular—the Internet Archive. With one quick click (thanks Jack!) I was directed to the Internet Archive’s page, an amazing Internet resource that is a nonprofit, free, and open for public use.  I focused in on the WayBackMachine, and entered TFA’s url,

This is the page I saw after entering the TFA url into the WayBackMachine from the Internet Archive.

I was brought to a page that featured years going all the way back to 1996, but didn’t stay long out of fear of becoming too overwhelmed. I clicked on the year 2006, and scrolled down to the month of October, and then found what day I was looking for, the 5th. With one more simple click, I was transported back in time to the TFA website looked like seven years ago.

This is how TFA's webpage looked on October 6, 2006.

Now, however, things were getting a little more complicated. Where had Taylor found this specific quote?  I had to do some searching of my own, and was impressed with how much of the TFA website had been archived. I browsed around the site, clicking on various links hoping to find out where Taylor had found her information.  I finally found a resource directed at “researchers” in the bottom part of the homepage, and struck gold. The first paragraph had the exact information I had been looking for.

The paragraph that contained the quote Taylor used in her web essay.

I’d found the quote, but now what? I directed myself back to what my source detection question was asking, and have to admit that I was a little bit confused and felt myself approaching a stopping point. I decided to close my computer for the time being, and made an appointment with Jack for the following day just to check-in and make sure I was on the right track.

The meeting was exactly what I needed. With the help of Jack and Zotero, I was able to provide the final part of the answer my source detection question was asking for. I’d found the webpage, and now just had to provide a better citation for the quote that Taylor based her web essay on.  I’d never used Zotero to cite a webpage before, but found it easy and efficient. Zotero automatically had the item type, title, date, date added, and date modified sections filled out, so all I had to do was input the website title and URL link.

Zotero helped me make sure that Taylor's quote was properly cited.

So, after all of this work and digging through the Internet archives, I have concluded that the better citation Taylor should have used in her web page is:

“Teach For America – Resources for Researchers.” Internet Archive WayBackMachine, October 5, 2006.  


The Relationship Between Charter Schools and Catholic Schools

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Research Question:  How has the growth of charter schools negatively affected catholic schools over the past two decades? What does this growth look like on a national level as well as a local one, specifically in the city of Hartford?

Relevance:  School choice has been a heavily studied topic throughout our semester and is constantly debated by education reformers at a national level. The rise of charter schools throughout the country continues to increase as families have become more dissatisfied with traditional public schooling and look for alternatives. Charter schools have been highly criticized by education reformers who don’t believe that they are a long-term solution to ensuring all children have access to a public school education. One reformer who is particularly against the implementation of charter schools over traditional public schools is Diane Ravitch. The reason I’ve decided to focus my research on the impact charter schools have had specifically on catholic schools is because of a comment she included in her book that was particularly interesting to me. Though she is against most programs within the school choice movement, she is not against catholic schools as an alternative for students who live in low-income communities.  I think it will be particularly interesting to examine how, as charter schools continue to increase across the country, what this does to catholic schools. Often times, catholic schools are forced to shut down or are replaced by chartered schools because they have more government support and access to funding.  I’m going to examine this relationship in urban areas throughout the country, specifically in low-income communities, as well as providing one specific example of a catholic school in Hartford, St. Justin, which was replaced by Jumoke Academy, a charter school.

Research strategy:  In order to fully understand the relationship between charter schools and catholic schools, I plan on doing a substantial amount of research on what the major differences are between these two types of schools, and how they vary in teaching approach, student population, and funding. The library database will be exceedingly helpful in this respect because of the various databases focused specifically on education. Education Full Text and JSTOR have already been really helpful, and I plan on continuing to use them as I get further into my research. will also be useful when I’m discussing the impact of charters on catholic schools at a national level. My strategy for finding information on the transformation from St. Justin’s to Jumoke Academy will be much different.  I’m going to search the Hartford Courant Historical, as well as Lexis Nexis Academic to find news stories specific to Hartford.


Booker, Kevin, Tim R. Sass, Gill, and Ron Zimmer. “The Effects of Charter High Schools on Educational Attainment.” Journal of Labor Economics 29, no. 2 (April 1, 2011): 377–415. doi:10.1086/658089.

Brinig, Margaret F., and Nicole Stelle Garnett. “Catholic Schools, Charter Schools, and Urban Neighborhoods.” The University of Chicago Law Review 79, no. 1 (January 1, 2012): 31–57. doi:10.2307/41552894.

Cavanagh, Sean. “Catholic Ed., K-12 Charters Squaring Off.” Education Week 32, no. 2 (August 29, 2012): 1–13.

Donlevy, J. Kent. “Catholic Schools: The Inclusion of Non-Catholic Students.” Canadian Journal of Education / Revue Canadienne De L’éducation 27, no. 1 (January 1, 2002): 101–118. doi:10.2307/1602190.



An Analysis of The Lottery

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The Lottery is a compelling and thought-provoking documentary directed by Madeleine Sackler.  It came out in 2010 and since then has generated a large amount of controversy and debate.  The film follows four families from the Harlem and Bronx who have entered their child in the charter school lottery. The charter school that is highlighted is the Harlem Success Academy, which has gained recognition in the New York City area due to its impressive results. Charter schools must be tuition-free and accept children based on a lottery system to ensure that everyone has an equal chance of being admitted. Harlem Success Academy has two schools (named one and two, respectively), but because of a limited number of seats many more children miss out on receiving this unique charter-school experience. The Lottery begins by introducing these four children and their families, and then segues into the work of Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the Harlem Success Academy, as she attempts to expand the Academy into more low-income communities and the challenges she faces while doing so. The film also goes into detail about the strained relationship between teacher unions and charter schools, as well as those who are against allowing charter-schools to be a publicly funded alternative to traditional district public schools. There are many interesting interviews with charter-school advocates and employees of district schools.

The overarching theme of The Lottery is the importance of equal education for all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. The film highlights the substantial achievement gap between African American children and white, upper to middle class, children. It is clear that Sackler created this documentary to expose the problems that exist within public schools systems and the strict regulations that they are force to follow. It is fervently against teachers’ unions, and portrays them as one of the major obstacles holding back student achievement on all levels. One particularly compelling moment in the film begins at 20.15, when then union president Randi Weingarten is interviewed on Charlie Rose. When asked if the statistic that out of 55,000 teachers working in the education sector, only 10 were fired, is true, she denied it on all accounts. There was a clear disconnect between the interviewer and Weingarten, which was highlighted by Sackler’s directive touch. After the short segment, the screen shifted to black and was filled by the words, “According to the Department of Education, of 55,000 tenured teachers, 10 were fired in 2008” (The Lottery 20.33), which directly contradicted what Weingarten said moments earlier. This was a powerful part of the film, and cemented it in a clearly anti-union light.

Randi Weingarten, President of the teachers' union, is interviewed (The Lottery 20.15).

Moskowitz is portrayed as the clear protagonist amongst many other people that come in and out of the film advocating for charter schools. The obstacles she faces as the leader of the charter school movement are carefully depicted throughout the film. At 29.44, a segment begins with Moskowitz speaking at a public hearing in order to try and move Harlem Success Academy 2 into the space of PS 194, which had recently shutdown and labeled due to its failing status. She is attacked by several community members who do not want a charter school to move into the neighborhood, as well as local politicians who question whether she is actually a resident of Harlem. Sackler carefully constructs this segment to portray Moskowitz as the victim who is confronted by challenge after challenge, all because she wants to implement a school that educates students no matter what the circumstances are.

There is no doubt that The Lottery is extremely one-sided in its take on the hype surrounding charter schools.  It is opinionated and conveys the message that the underlying solution to the problems facing education is charter school implementation. The film’s final plea to its audience is to support great schools in the community, and to Sackler great schools come in the form of charter schools. One of the most profound quotes within the film that illuminates the importance of charter schools comes at 46.37 when Cory Booker, elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey, states that we should “make time the variable and achievement the constant,” (The Lottery) as charter schools do with their lengthened school day and year. The Lottery is uplifting in the sense that it provides a promising solution to public school education and establishes a clear villain—teachers’ unions. However, this biased approach naturally leaves several holes in the documentary and omits other possible solutions or problems that contribute to the large achievement gap and low graduation rates within inner-city schools.

The film fails to mention the negative results of charter schools, or what the possible effects of planting a charter school in the middle of a traditional neighborhood could be on the surrounding community. The problems that having a lottery system that admits students and essentially determines their academic success is problematic as well, and a theme the film only briefly mentions. The portrayal of the union as the enemy is also complex. Though the limited evidence the film brings up is interesting and undeniably supports charter school implementation, there are other issues that contribute to failing public schools. Insufficient funds, unsatisfactory teachers, and larger policy-related issues are not addressed, as William Tate addresses in his review of the film. He states that, “While no studies are presented in the documentary, there are plenty of descriptive statistics tossed about” (Tate 2). There is a lack of research and studies that support Sackler’s claims, and while testimonies are incredibly moving, it is easy to see how The Lottery generated so much debate when it was first shown. The depiction of the Harlem Success Academy is unbalanced, and we are shown very little of the success or results of these charter schools compared to their district counterparts.

Works Cited:

Tate, William. Rev. of The Lottery, directed by Madeleine Sackler. Web. 2 Feb. 2013

The Lottery. Dir. Madeleine Sackler. Great Curve Films, 2010. Online.

Budget Concerns Addressed by Education Committee, Issues Raised

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On Friday, February 15, the Education Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly held its first public hearing of the new year in the Legislative Office Building, room IE. The room was packed with various members of the media and concerned citizens, and the agenda was full; Representative Andrew Fleischmann and Senator Andrea L. Stillman ruled over the hearing and were responsible for the proceedings. It began a few minutes after 11 am with the promise that it would be an important day for the future of Connecticut’s children. The first bill up for review on the agenda was H.B. No. 6357, entitled, “An Act Implementing the Budget Recommendations of the Governor Concerning Education,” which was presented on behalf of Governor Daniel P. Malloy by Ben Barnes, Secretary of the Office of Policy Management.

Members of the Education Committee listen to the governor's recommendations.

The bill includes 28 different sections, all of which are the Governor’s budget recommendations to be implemented by July 1, 2013.  Myra Jones Taylor, Director of Early Childhood Planning, and Stephen Pryor, the Commissioner of the State Department of Education accompanied Secretary Barnes on the stand. Taylor declared the Governor’s proposal to be one of the boldest and most comprehensive plans attempted by any state. Each speaker was only allowed three minutes to make their case, a task that proved difficult due to the complexity of their proposals.

Barnes spoke first about Bill No. 6357 and provided the committee and audience with a brief summary of the more important components of the governor’s education funding initiative. He began by discussing the governor’s education mission that focuses on looking towards new ways of cutting costs while simultaneously raising the quality of Connecticut schools.

One of the implementations the governor is seeking to execute, which sparked a large amount of controversy amongst the committee, is the radical re-shifting of transportation funds in various school districts across the state. Section 13 of the bill states that, “The Commissioner of Education shall, within available appropriations, establish a regional transportation grant program that awards grants to local and regional boards of education that coordinate and share the provision of public school transportation services.” For complete access to the governor’s budget recommendations, visit this link:

Barnes’s proposition prompted the committee to ask him several questions because of the sensitive nature of transportation amongst Connecticut public schools. Some sort of system is required, by law, to get children to and from school everyday, though it has always consumed a large amount of the education budget. Representative Fleischmann commenced the series of questions directed at Barnes, Taylor, and Pryor.  His biggest concern with the changes to school transportation was based on how this government decision would affect the various towns and school districts.

He raised the question of effectiveness and efficiency, voicing the possibility that this cut in transportation might not be seen as a cost-effective way to approach issues concerning government spending and budgeting within the education sector. Barnes was quick to defend Fleischmann’s point by stating that it is more of a transitional measure meant to ensure that money allocated to classrooms and improvements in curriculum would continue to be accessible to schools.

When it comes to improving education at a state-wide level, there has been an ongoing discussion over where money should be going, and who needs it more.  The governor’s proposal is meant to radically shift the dispersal of money within the education sector in the hopes that the quality of instruction within Connecticut schools improves in a significant and noticeable way.

Other committee members who appeared weary of this radical change soon echoed the concerns posed by Fleischmann.  Senator Stillman directly followed her co-chairman and urged Barnes to expand on his proposition.  She stated that she was most concerned that this would be viewed as a one size fits all approach to this sensitive and controversial topic. She further emphasized her point by highlighting the troubles that have recently existed in Montville, Connecticut, a small town located in New London County.  It is currently losing transportation and has been struggling with how to adjust to budget cuts while still ensuring that all students are able to get to and from school.

This example was used to demonstrate the variability that inevitably exists in a state such as Connecticut, where each region encounters its own challenges within its public school system. As Stillman stated, the issue of transportation costs has always been a very big issue, and clearly needs to be addressed by the committee.

It was clear that the initiatives posed by Barnes were unprecedented due to the copious amount of questions directed specifically to him regarding transportation cuts. Senator Toni Boucher, representing Connecticut’s 26th district, asked him to clarify, once again, what exactly the governor’s budget recommendations were attempting to do. She then followed up this question by inquiring as to whether there were currently any two districts who already had a shared transportation contract in an attempt to cut back their costs.

This was one of the few moments Barnes appeared uneasy; he quickly shuffled through his notes and then responded in a quiet, muffled voice that he was not aware of any such thing. After pausing for a few seconds, he was able to recover and again emphasized the two most important components of these changes: various private school students could still have access to transportation if they needed it, and though costs would be significantly cut, all towns would still have access to aid from the state. This system, as Barnes continuously reinforced throughout the hearing, would just be a “new way of doing transportation.”

The committee’s decision remains unknown as of now, but will no doubt be revealed to the public soon. Despite the ample amount of debate and discussion the governor’s recommendations caused, it is reassuring to know that the fate of Connecticut’s children is taken seriously by state-elected officials.

Avoiding plagiarism

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Example 1: Plagiarize the original text by copying portions of it word-for-word.

There will always be instability in these rankings, some of which will reflect “real” performance changes. But it is difficult to trust any performance rating if the odds of getting the same rating next year are no better than a coin toss.

Example 2: Plagiarize the original text by paraphrasing its structure too closely, without copying it word-for-word.

Instability in these rankings will always exist, some of which reflects real changes in performance. However, it is hard to be convinced by such a rating if the chances of receiving the same rating next year are not greater than a coin toss.

Example 3: Plagiarize the original text by paraphrasing its structure too closely, and include a citation. Even though you cited it, paraphrasing too closely is still plagiarism.

Instability in these rankings will always exist, some of which reflect real changes in performance. However, it is hard to be convinced by such a rating if the chances of receiving the same rating next year are not greater than a coin toss (Ravitch 270-271).

Example 4: Properly paraphrase from the original text by restating the author’s ideas in different words and phrases, and include a citation to the original source.

In her book, Ravitch discusses the instability of teacher performance rankings and how difficult it is to determine their accuracy, given how greatly they can change from year to year. She concludes that such ratings are too unreliable to be taken seriously (270-271).

Example 5: Properly paraphrase from the original text by restating the author’s ideas in different words and phrases, add a direct quote, and include a citation to the original source.

In her book, Ravitch discusses the instability of teacher performance rankings and how difficult it is to determine their accuracy, given how greatly they can change from year to year. She concludes that such ratings are too unreliable to be taken seriously because “the odds of getting the same rating next year are no better than a coin toss” (270-271).

Original source: Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System. New York: Basic Books, 2011, pp. 270-71.

My learning goals

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In Ed 300, I’d like to learn more about the history of education reform and how it has shaped our country’s current education policies.  There is so much controversy and debate over what should be done about school systems, and I believe that it will be beneficial to learn about past reform movements and comparing them to what is going on now.