Survey Questions and Candidate Responses

How can Connecticut's education systems create better outcomes for students in low-income communities?

Cynthia Mangini | Participating Election
All children deserve a quality education. Tools such as computers and Ipads should be given to all including low income households so the children have the same learning opportunities as middle to high income families. Also, before and after school tutoring should be offered at no cost to students in low income communities
John Rasimas | Participating Election
As an educator for the past 17 years, I have witnessed the lack of support for educators and the diversion of resources to administrative bureaucracy and non-classroom spending. We need to make sure that more of our education resources need to go directly into our classrooms. We also need to support effective teachers and have a better means to remove ineffective teachers.
Nick Gauthier | Participating Election
By ending our model of funding public schools by local property tax and instead fund our public schools equitably universally at the state level through progressive taxation on the highest earners, most wealthy, and largest corporations paying their fair share of taxes.
Tammy Nuccio | Participating Election
I'm concerned about the outcomes in all of our towns, not just the low income communities. Our test scores have dropped across the state and that is concerning. Whether it's the suburban areas or the low-income communities we have to consider the whole student when we're looking at success. Teaching in a rural environment is not the same as a city, what each child needs to be successful differs and we need teachers who understand and focus on adapting their teaching to meet that child where they are. That may mean different programs in different areas and more personalization. All of these things require staffing (teaching and support) that can handle this volume of work and variation of technique. The problem is, the larger portion of the education costs fall on the town residents and the states funding formula does not consider their constitutional responsibility to educate every child in the state. We need to determine how we want to educate our children and then we have to fund it.
Jonathan Steinberg | Participating Election
First, we need to recognize the devastation caused by the pandemic on our children. Many lost a year or more of education -- and socialization. Resources should be devoted to remediating lost opportunities to put students back on track. It's not just a matter of how much we spend per student. Only individualized learning methodologies will allow every child to reach their potential.
John Carlson | Participating Election
From a school based perspective, provide interventions to at risk students and those that are behind by using tutors and educational programs, hire more paraprofessionals and classroom aides, and provide extra help and tutoring after school. Often children are pulled for extra help from the very classes they are behind in.
Anne Hughes | Participating Election
embed trades and apprentice programs, theater arts, music, advanced manufacturing, IT in high school campuses, site and invest in 'on-ramps 'to good paying careers with benefits within low-income communities; fund debt-free community colleges, make UConn tuition-free for in-state low-income students demonstrating college-ready aptitude
Lisa Thomas | Participating Election
From my perspective as a 37 year teacher, the first step we must take is to recruit and retain talented, compassionate teachers. The next step is to reduce class sizes. My goal at the elementary level, K-5 is ideally no more than 18 students in a class. Then, use problem solving and collaboration at the legislative level to reduce dependence on local property taxes for funding our schools. The current system has led to significant inequity between school districts since communities have varying ability to raise property tax revenue. Lastly, we must expand the number of seats and programs available for students wishing to attend vo-tech or vo-ag schools. Especially in northeastern CT, we have many kids who are passionate about careers in these fields but can’t always get a spot in the school. Expanding access combined with debt free community college opens the door to well paying, satisfying career paths.
Kara Rochelle | Participating Election
First and foremost, we must fully fund the Education Cost Share for underfunded schools immediately. This is overdue and critically important. There must also be more investment in after school enrichment programs, summer enrichment programs, and expansion of early childhood education programs. Data shows that educational outcomes improve the earlier a child is enrolled in an early education program. I also believe we need an overhaul of the special education funding system to better serve students and low-income communities. Beyond the classroom, we also need to install more job training and higher education opportunities for adults in these communities as well.
Edwin Vargas | Participating Election
The number one indicator for student success in public school systems is based on equitable housing patterns. We need to ensure fair housing.
MD Masudur Rahman | Participating Election
By making sure the ECS formula, which is the system that allocates funding for school districts, is using the most up-to-date information, we can make sure we are creating the best possible outcomes for students in low-income communities by fully and properly funding their school systems.
David Michel | Participating Election
How about giving public schools the same funding from charter schools per student? Unfortunately our dependency on property taxes to fund our schools is one of the biggest downfalls for our state youth. We need to reform this system and ensure all students in our state get an excellent and equal high-quality education. That will not happen under the current system in my humble opinion.
Lucy Dathan | Participating Election
I believe that there are improvements that need to be made at every developmental stage, from early, quality day care programs to workforce development programs in high schools. We need additional focus on reading programs for elementary schools students and consider expanding the work of the Center for Literacy Research and implementing the successful programs in communities that suffer from lower literacy rates. We can improve job training opportunities by investing in vocational and technical trade schools to prepare workers for the 21st century jobs employers are looking for when they consider where to headquarter their businesses, while guaranteeing community colleges across the state are debt free for students who are looking to expand their education beyond high school.
Christine Palm | Participating Election
I support more regionalization. A county-based system makes more sense that 169 Balkanized towns. “Back office” expense, like supplied, maintenance, etc., should be combined, while retaining the feel of each school through its teachers.
Don Mastronardi | Participating Election
More school choice, charter schools have shown over and over again to create better academic outcomes, especially in our low income communities. Instead of building a 250 million dollar high school use that money to attract and incentivize more teachers, and in school resources, dealing one on one with our children on a daily basis. School administrators making 300 and 400,000 a year should be held more accountable for the outcomes of the schools they oversee. An administrator shouldn't be making 4-5 times that of a teacher, especially when academic standards are subpar. We have a teacher shortage and we need to attract people back into the profession and let them teach our children the fundamentals needed to compete in the global economy. The LEFT needs to stop pushing CRT and DEI in our schools, kids don't need to be taught they are victims or oppressors, they need to be taught how to think, not what to think.
Julie Kushner | Participating Election
To create good outcomes for all students in Connecticut, we need to make sure that kids in every community are given the resources and high-quality instruction they deserve. This means reducing class size, increasing salaries and providing packages that will attract the best teachers. In some districts it means providing funds to recruit minority teachers, especially bilingual teachers in my district. To do this, we must ensure that we have an equitable state funding formula for school districts across the state that takes into account the varying economic circumstances and available resources of different school districts and communities.
Robert Hotaling | Participating Election
Connecticut’s secondary education is #8 in the nation, yet we’re dead last in the education achievement gap, which means we’re also dead last in the opportunity gap for low-income communities. The three keys to improvement are 1) ensuring that all children are literate by the third grade, 2) students have equal access to healthy learning environments regardless of zip code or income, and 3) that classroom sizes and student-to-teacher ratios never climb above 20/1. We propose restructuring the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) model to base it on educational outcomes rather than complex demographics.
Kimberly Becker | Participating Election
Students across Connecticut are struggling after the pandemic, both academically and emotionally. Improving access to mental health services and academic supports is critical to producing better outcomes. Additionally, Connecticut needs to invest in its teachers, particularly those of color, by reducing the cost of becoming a teacher and pursuing the advanced degrees needed in the field. I will actively advocate for creative ways to recruit and retain teachers throughout the state, particularly if I am on the Education Committee.
Christopher Green | Participating Election
Quality public education is the core of our democracy. Schools are engines for our future. We have to create incentives and paths that attract and retain quality educators. We should utilize technology and evidence-based approaches to strive for safer schools and classrooms that connect students with the skills they will need to succeed. Ensuring those students who are interested have access especially to quality technical, vocational and STEM programs is important to me. I’m glad we’re prioritizing investments in early childhood education and mental health, but we also need to engage with parents to give them tools to support their children. We should continue to prioritize the availability of free quality meals for students. Lastly, the state should increase its support of special education funding which dipped in 2008 and hasn’t recovered, leaving a disproportionate burden on local budgets. The state could use this increase in funding to also take a larger role in negotiating fairer prices, especially for the most expensive services, which single towns may not have the market share to achieve.
Jillian Gilchrest | Participating Election
Connecticut should invest more in our public education system, in particular teacher pay and support staff & services.
Frank Smith | Participating Election
As both the son and the parent of certified public school teachers, I know the passion and commitment that our teachers bring to help our students. CT should seek to enhance opportunities for all students in our high schools and our technical high schools with additional partnerships in various industries for work-related skill building and experience.