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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Milford education issues in the news

City resists state’s curriculum-reform plan
By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— School officials criticized a state Department of Education proposal to revamp high school curriculums as an unaffordable idea that could make the state’s achievement gap worse.
The Board of Education met Tuesday night to discuss state Department of Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan’s proposed high school curriculum reforms. Board members said it would cost taxpayers more than $2 million to implement.
McQuillan’s proposed plan is designed to improve high schools, increase graduation rates and to better prepare graduates for careers.
The proposal would require hiring numerous teachers and force the district to expand its facilities, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Michael Cummings said the proposal may lead to a widening achievement gap between suburban and rural/urban schools, because of the cost to less-affluent districts.
Law Principal Janet Garagliano said the proposal includes requiring all students take and pass a state-developed math exam. Also, in order to graduate, a student must pass two years of world language.
Cummings said there is also talk of reducing certifications for world language teachers, which could lead to “unqualified” people teaching.
State Department of Education spokesman Thomas Murphy said the proposal includes budgeting money to help local communities implement the effects of the plan.
“This is not designed to be an unfunded mandate,” Murphy said.
Cummings said if the state’s proposal is adopted, local school systems would be forced to adopt a state-mandated curriculum. “The legislature cannot go into this blindly. There is a cost involved,” Superintendent of Schools Harvey B. Polansky said.
Murphy said Connecticut must improve its education curriculum or it will fall behind the rest of the country.
“We are hearing loud and clear from the business community that our students are simply not making the grade,” he said.


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