Sunday, September 18, 2016

Guest post: Education Reform Must Include Students

101246575137414.I2cdapYHNQObj3Vu5esc_height640A guest post by Wayne Winsley

The far-reaching and (depending upon who you ask) controversial decision of Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ordered the state of Connecticut to come up with a new funding formula for public schools, devise clear standards for both the elementary and high school levels, overhaul the state’s system of evaluating teachers, principals and superintendents, and change the way Connecticut funds special education services.

All well and good from the policy side, but let us not forget the other end of the equation. Any real education reform must take the actual students into account.
This court case was launched over 11 years ago. Many of the students who were in school at that time have been pushed through the educational system and we are still paying to feed them either via welfare system or the penal system.
What about the students who are in our schools right now?
What are we doing to help them do better?
As a teacher, (I’m a middle school history teacher), I can say with certainty that whether a school is rich, poor, or in between, there is no “policy” that can make a child study if he or she doesn’t want to.
The dropout rate cannot be substantially reduced without giving students a compelling reason to stick with their education.
Raising student achievement cannot be accomplished without students who are motivated to achieve.
To close the achievement gap, we have to pull from both sides.
Governor. Dannel P. Malloy says, "We know that to improve outcomes for all Connecticut students and to close persistent achievement gaps, we need to challenge the status quo and take bold action.”   I agree 100 percent. It is time to take action to save the students that are currently struggling in too many of our schools.
While the politicians and lawyers bicker about what needs to be done and how to pay for it, we must throw a lifeline to our children that are sinking right now. 

As Judge Moukawsher pointed out, Connecticut’s poorest schools are posting results worse than the poorest schools of 40 other states and is no better than the other nine.

Our children deserve better.

To close the achievement gap we must work from both ends. We must give our students the tools to achieve AND we must increase our students desire to achieve. 

Wayne Winsley is Executive Director of, an educational nonprofit that provides motivational programming and scholarships to in-need schools.  He is also a history teacher at Faith Preparatory Academy in New Milford.  Visit Wayne's web site, here.

1 comment:

  1. There is one factor missing from Wayne's assessment; the parent factor.

    Wayne says, "student achievement cannot be accomplished without students who are motivated to achieve". He is quite correct.

    But with few exceptions, behind every motivated student is a motivating parent. It is parents who first stimulate and encourage a child's desire to learn.

    Uninvolved, disinterested parents lead to uninvolved, disinterested students and a self-perpetuating circle of failure continues its seemingly endless cycle.

    Perhaps Wayne will address parental involvement and influence in a future guest post.


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