Educational Excellence

Shorter version:

Connecticut should reduce the cost of higher education, raise standards for K-12, and preserve local control of our schools:

1.) Freeze tuition for state universities indefinitely like it has been done successfully in Indiana and Wisconsin

2.) Raise standards for K-12 education across the state and give more choice to poor kids stuck in failing schools

3.) Reduce unfunded mandates that constrict teachers and principals

4.) Stop regionalization and preserve local control no matter what

Longer version:

Our district has very good schools and our state has a very good university system led by UConn, but we can be getting better for all the money our system costs our people. Consider the facts:

      • UConn in-state tuition has increased at a 4.8 percent annualized rate since 2000 vs. a 1.8 percent general inflation rate
      • UConn will increase in-state tuition another 23.3 percent over the next four years, or 5.4 percent annualized
      • Connecticut taxpayers spend the second-most per pupil on K-12 education around $16,500 vs. $11,500 national average
      • Our fourth and eighth graders test above the national average on math but their scores have fallen slightly over the last decade in the Nation’s Report Card
      • There are over 1,200 unfunded funded mandates the state imposes on towns and cities, a large minority of which are on schools

Our system is good, but Connecticut should be a national leader in education from K through college. Our neighbors directly to the north, for instance, have the highest test scores in the nation while charging taxpayers thousands less per pupil. Connecticut can do even better for our kids with several reforms.

1.) Connecticut should freeze state university tuition indefinitely. Rapidly rising college tuition is crushing middle class families and students around the country with debt. But those costs in no way represent improving quality. The state runs their universities for those students’ benefit, so there is no reason it should permit tuition to skyrocket like it has.

Two states have recognized that, Wisconsin and Indiana, and froze tuition years ago with great success. Their state universities have seen large increases in applications since then, showing they also maintained quality. There is no good reason we should not do the same here for UConn and the other state universities, which are otherwise a great asset for our state. Doing so can make us a major leader in higher education.

2.) Connecticut’s K-12 schools are good, especially in our district. Still, we can make them better, considering student test scores have not improving for a decade. To improve them, we should raise standards across the state. Teach liberal arts and mathematics at a high level in hopes of preparing every student for college. Make sure funding encourages achievement, is concentrated on teachers’ wages, and follows the student. And finally, let’s give those students who are trapped in below-average city schools the choice to attend good charter or magnet schools.

3.) There are hundreds of unfunded or partially funded mandates imposed on districts by the state that constrict, cost, and distract teachers and principals from teaching kids well. Many of them are fair and necessary, but in their totality, they are an unfair burden on our district schools. Let’s force the state to give a full accounting of them in hopes of improving or removing counterproductive ones.

4.) Finally, the state must recognize that local control is a foundational promise of Connecticut across many generations. Town school boards and parents have the right to control their local schools. Regionalization being pushed by Democrats in Hartford every year is a total break of that social contract with the people of our state, especially in places like New Canaan. Moreover, it would probably not save much money at all. The state has hurt regular families in our district enough already; it should not be able to force them into regionalized schools as insult to injury.

Our state has a good education system, but it should be better for its immense price tag. Connecticut can and should be a leader in American education. I’ve dedicated many years to the cause of educational excellence for kids in need, and I would like to help lead the effort to raise standards in the state Senate, too.