By Dr. David Chess
As a resident of Stratford since 1985, and having educated 5 children in Stratford Public Schools, I have been witness to dramatic changes.
We have seen our magnet school disappear, class sizes expand, specialty classes such as the violin, languages, advanced classes disappear. We have seen an expansion of racial disparity, some schools being 85% minority and others 50%..
There is a perception of an increase in violence and class disruptions school wide.
There is a real problem with teacher morale, and great teachers leaving our system.
Over the last 10 years our town’s demographic has been changing:
• at this time over 71% of children in our schools identify as a minority;
• there are 49 unique primary languages spoken by our students;
• 47% meet the low-income requirements to obtain free school lunches;
• almost 20% have some special need identified
With all this, funding for our schools has been challenging, together creating the perfect storm. The natural response to these issues is to find a scapegoat to blame and find a savior to fix it.
I would argue that complex problems require thoughtful, multi-pronged approaches. There is no one thing that fixes this.
The world we live in is not the world I was brought up in, or the world of my thirty year old when he attended our schools.
We need a great school system to provide the support our kids need.
Over the next few weeks we will be running a series of articles on education and our schools, from behavior issues to budget issues. Please stay tuned.
We will also be sponsoring a new Stratford innovation:
The Stratford Volunteer Corps.
Please press the link to learn how you can tutor or mentor kids in our schools. You’ll find it very rewarding, and you’ll be making an important difference in children’s lives.
Thanks, and more to come