What happens when you teach students by multiple choice tests?
What happens when you teach students by multiple choice tests?
This infographic is okay. Interesting though in the numbers when you think about Norwalk Public Schools. The infographic comes from Masters In Teaching.
I like plans. I think parents and staff and taxpayers like plans. And, especially when making large financial decisions of a personal nature or as an acting Norwalk Board of Ed (BOE) member, I like plans. The Norwalk BOE reconciled the 2011/12 Operating Budget on June 14th by making $4.1 million of reductions and we did so without a plan. We didn’t use Superintendent Marks reconciled Budget as a guide even though it was an articulated plan containing thoughtful and meticulous suggestions based on 6 months of stakeholder discussion of how best to make $4.6 million dollars of painful cuts. We didn’t use Superintendent Marks reconciled Budget as a guide even though, because of union concessions and internal adjustments made since her original May 2011 reconciliation, $723,000 could be put back at the get-go and even though she had provided prioritized suggestions for position reinstatement.
Instead, BOE Finance Chair Mr. Colarassi orchestrated a presentation whereby we used as a template the budget recommendations of two committees: his 3-member BOE Finance Committee and that of the Budget Committee with its strong Union voice. Neither of these two committees had reconciled their Budgets, nor had made all the necessary painful decisions, so both were short over $1 Million dollars. Both of these two committees violated elements of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by their lack of recorded votes, a Connecticut act that is in large part about transparency of government. Neither of these two committees presented anyone an articulated plan that this Board member is aware of. Additionally, we as a full 9-member Board did not meet prior to June 14th to fully review either the BOE Finance or the Budget Committee plans. We as a 9-member Board did not have our own plan either.
So, on June 14th the Norwalk BOE had to make over $4.1 million in cuts. The dire economy and the core mission of educating our youth demanded that we make fiscally conservative and highly targeted, goal-centered decisions. We didn’t do that. We winged it. We went down the list as suggested by the BOE Finance Chair, keeping some and throwing other positions and functions off the bus, each decision based on our own agendas, opinions, and emotions; data and due diligence be hanged.
This is clearly not the way to protect our children’s educational needs, instill confidence with the city taxpayers or run a $154 million dollar business. The sole purpose of public schools is to educate all our children well. We hired a Superintendent with the expertise and track record to do this and it requires change and new ways of thinking. This is making some people very uncomfortable. It is time for the political and personal agendas of the adults in this City to get out of the way; our children our waiting.
Republican Board of Ed Member
from the Norwalk PTO:
The war being waged by the Republican controlled BET and BOE is getting to the Mayor. On Friday he issued a press release:
In the hopes that we can work out an agreement that will be fair to everyone, the Teachers, Administrators, Taxpayers, but more importantly for the students. I have sent the following mail to the parties involved. I believe that the time for recrimination is over and that we need to join to work out an agreement. There has been enough heat generated, we now need to shed more light.
The email below was sent to parties involved:
Dr. Susan Marks, Superintendent of Schools
I am aware of and admire the level of commitment each of you is making to the effort to ensure this year’s budget is directed in a manner that best ensures a continuation of our shared commitment to quality education for all Norwalk children. That your point of view may occasionally be presented with the passion of your belief is not only understandable but respectable.
Having said as much the time has come for composed conversation regarding how best we, on behalf of all teachers, administrators, students and citizens, can best proceed to set a plan for the coming year that we can afford, that protects jobs, that ensures appropriate class size and support, and that provides for a level of harmony as we work together on our mutual mission.
Therefore, this invites you to join me to diplomatically discuss how best to advance. I am confident that we can emerge from such a meeting with at the very least an agreed upon demeanor for ongoing discussions. It is my hope that we may also discover mutual ground for ultimate agreement. In anticipation that you agree that such a meeting is in our best interests, please let me know when in the coming days you may be available.
Mayor Richard A. Moccia
By BRUCE KIMMEL
During last year’s search for a superintendent, I wrote a column in which I discussed the Board of Education’s ability to hire and fire superintendents, and its inability to constructively work with them.
Unfortunately, the recent decision to table for 36 hours a vote on a contract for a new chief operating officer indicates the board has yet to develop a collaborative working relationship with the school system’s new boss. Briefly, here’s what happened:
By Lisa Brinton Thomson
December 1, 2010
To: Messrs. Chiarmonte, Colarossi, Hempstead and Wilms
Cc: Dr. Marks
I’m writing to you over concerns I still have regarding the 2011-2012 Preliminary Capital Budget request from the NPS Facilities and Maintenance Department. The state of our economy and education at both a national and state level cannot be ignored as we consider our own circumstances here in the City of Norwalk. Please consider the larger educational REFORM picture when casting your vote on how best to incur city capital expenses in education:
Does it decrease the achievement gap in Norwalk?
- Connecticut has the largest achievement gap in the country. Norwalk represents that gap given the diverse racial and socio-economics of our school district.
- The state recently received an application by Reverend Lindsay Curtis for a new Charter School at the elementary level. This is an effort to deal with Norwalk’s achievement gap with its students in South Norwalk, who lack their own local school and who, as a subgroup suffer the lowest performance scores on the CMTs.
- The school that seems to be the most in need of construction and renovation, with one of the largest student populations, and the only Norwalk school visible from an intra-state (Route 7), has been placed at the bottom of the construction list.
On a hot summer day like today, back in my more youthful days, heading to the library was one way to combat the heat. I don’t think the library even had air conditioning, it was just a huge old stone building, built back in the day where architects sited building to take advantage of what the topography and seasons offered. The stacks, deep in the bowels of the library, housed the books that weren’t all that popular with the public, but that’s where ancient tomes on Hitites and giant squids could be found, instead of displays pimping the lastest incarnation of the “Joy of …” something, and it was cool. Just not hip. But libraries, according to recent news reports, are trying to appeal to the hipsters, and not just a cool place to hang out at on a hot summer day.
These days, as one Salon writer opined, “Like trucker hats and last week’s version of the iPhone, libraries have an image problem. Wait, did you say libraries? Those places with the passed out homeless people and the twenty-year-old editions of the “World Book”?”
So totally uncool. But the gist of the article though had more to to do with the next “big thing”in libraries.
A Tuesday Associated Press story on the runaway success of a Dallas library located in a downtown shopping mall shows what can go right when you put libraries in the path of receptive consumers. In just two years, the NorthPark children’s library has blossomed into a bustling local hub that checks out more books than branches eight times its size. And Dallas isn’t the only city innovating the look of the seemingly stodgy institutions. A Wichita library rests inside a grocery store, and the Princeton library offers a bookshop, café and that most irresistible bourgeois hangout — a greenmarket. Elsewhere, libraries “have built cafes, provided downloadable books or installed drive-through windows.”
Coupled with this timely Boston Globe article on the art of studying, something I wasn’t in need of back in my more youthful days, which appretnly jives with the decline and fall of studying.
According to time-use surveys analyzed by professors Philip Babcock, at the University of California Santa Barbara, and Mindy Marks, at the University of California Riverside, the average student at a four-year college in 1961 studied about 24 hours a week. Today’s average student hits the books for just 14 hours.
The decline, Babcock and Marks found, infects students of all demographics. No matter the student’s major, gender, or race, no matter the size of the school or the quality of the SAT scores of the people enrolled there, the results are the same: Students of all ability levels are studying less.
Yegads Captain Obvious, who has time to study anything these days? Why it requires reading stuff. Since I liked to read books wholly unrelated to whatever coursework I was taking, I managed to avoid studying and learn something. I think. But we do have an interesting intersection of technology, habits and productivity to check out.
The easy observation is that somehow all this new fangled technology is killing off studying. But not so fast.
According to the skeptics of the findings, there is one other notable change: Today’s students are working with more efficient tools when they do finally sit down to study. They don’t have to bang out a term paper on a typewriter; nor do they need to wander the stacks at the library for hours, tracking down some dusty tome.
“A student doesn’t need to retype a paper three times before handing it in,” said Heather Rowan-Kenyon, an assistant professor of higher education at Boston College. “And a student today can sit on their bed and go to the library, instead of going to the library and going to the card catalog.”
That’s true, Babcock and Marks agree. But according to their research, the greatest decline in student studying took place before computers swept through colleges: Between 1961 and 1981, study times fell from 24.4 to 16.8 hours per week (and then, ultimately, to 14). Nor do they believe student employment or changing demographics to be the root cause. While they acknowledge that students are working more and campuses attract students who wouldn’t have bothered attending college a generation ago, the researchers point out that study times are dropping for everyone regardless of employment or personal characteristics.
So what is going on? How people learn is a field of study fraught with more snake oil than the victorian era phrenologists. But the reality is that, like the proverbial snowflake, no individual has the same learning style. For all the modern era has to offer, we still seem stuck on trying to solve all the intricacies of learning by a one size fits all solution. In Laredo Texas, population 250k, the last chain book store closed, leaving Laredo with no bookstore, which naturally people there bemoaned. Just another data point about where that thing called a book fits in these days with the larger issue of just how are people learning.
One week ago today, Dan Malloy officially became a candidate for Governor.
Dan Malloy in Old Saybrook earlier this week: