Dear Senator Crisco and Representative Nardello,
I have decided to become a single issue voter. My issue is education. I am a teacher and a father of two school age students. I am also a resident of Connecticut who is very worried about the State’s future.
Today Governor Dannel Malloy gave his state of the state address and while making education a priority he outlined several proposals. Not a single one proposal will make a difference. They will have a detrimental impact on my ability to prepare students for the future. I know the saying “the children are our future” is a bit worn out…but I still believe it. I wake-up every day trying my best to prepare our kids to solve problems that do not even yet exist, but some days after hearing about some of the education reforms that lawmakers suggest, it is a bit harder to wake up…tomorrow will be one of those days.
Changing teacher tenure will have no impact, and connecting teacher tenure to standardized testing will result in a learning environment in which Connecticut will be forced to look outside of its borders to find employees and entrepreneurs who can take on the challenges of the future. While certain legislators like to aim the “tenure problem” at the older teachers “who need to go,” the older teachers are not the problem, just easy targets. Requiring students to have a B+ average to enter “teacher training” programs will also have no impact. The students with the highest grades, do not make the best teachers, and in many cases make the worst. The Governor should also be aware that one trains dogs, not teachers. I don’t even know where to start on his charter school proposal. My daughter is going to a charter school next year; I do not have anything against them. The Governor hired a person to run the State Department of Education whose only educational experience was a few years starting a charter school; and who has a direct connection to a charter school corporation that will make lots of money if charter schools expand in Connecticut. Is it coincidence that he then proposes legislation that would benefit this corporation?
I cannot understand how we have gotten to the point where these proposals do not produce an outcry from our state’s legislators. They might sound good on paper, but they won’t make a single positive change in my child’s education nor in that of the children I teach. From what I have experienced so far, I do know they will have a negative impact. Last year I graduated my very first set of students who were less prepared for the future than any previous class.
As the weight of proposals such as these and standardized testing crushes my innovation, imagination, and creativity, I can no longer look anyone in the eyes and recommend that they become a teacher. It breaks my heart when my daughter says that she wants to become a reading teacher and the only thing I can think of deep down in my heart is “please don’t let it happen.” I have been passionate about working with college students both as interns and student teachers. It has been one of the greatest benefits of my profession over the last 22 years. But this year I turned down a placement with me, and plan to continue to do so into the future. I can no longer assist people to become a part of a system that is hell bent on creating an educational genocide.