School Superintendents Call For Education Overhaul | Connecticut Public Radio

School Superintendents Call For Education Overhaul

Nov 11, 2011

School superintendents say the public education system in Connecticut needs an overhaul. The superintendents have unveiled a bold plan to transform schooling in the state.

It's not enough anymore to give kids an opportunity to learn, says Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the CT Association of Public School Superintendents. He says schools have to insure that all kids achieve at high levels.

"And we’re simply not designed to do that. All sorts of reforms have been tried, but they have failed to reach the objective of every child learning what they need to learn because they’ve simply been, in essence, tinkering with the present system, without changing the system itself."

Superintendents have proposed a package of sweeping education reforms that they hope will drive discussions during the next legislative session. The changes center on a personalized learning system, "where every child get the time they need to learn. Every child is taught in a way that’s consistent with how they learn and in a way that’s consistent with their interests". 

There are 150 recommendations, including moving kids through school at their own pace, establishing universal preschool, restructuring relationships between school boards and superintendents, more in-classroom time for teachers in training, plenty of freedom for teachers who do their jobs well, along with plenty of intervention if they don’t. Other recommendations include extended superintendent contracts, and changing the teacher tenure systems so teachers are assessed every five years. 

Kathy Frega of the Connecticut Education Association found a lot to like in the superintendents’ recommendations, but she says a state committee is studying teacher evaluations.  

"We think there’s room for school administrators to improve their evaluation skills and we’d like to see greater opportunities for teachers to have high quality professional development."

Superintendents say changing public education to a child centered approach is fundamental, but they say there are many ways to get there.