March 7, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR NOMINEES TO THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
By: Judith Lohman, Assistant Director
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION (CGS §§ 10-1; 10-3A; 10-4)
● Consists of 13 voting members who serve staggered four-year terms, the commissioner of higher education who serves as a nonvoting ex-officio member, and two nonvoting student members who serve one-year terms. At least two members must (1) have experience in manufacturing or in a trade taught in the vocational-technical (V-T) school system or (2) be alumni of, or have taught at, a V-T school, and at least one must have agriculture experience or be an alumnus of, or have taught at, a regional agricultural science and technology education center.
● Recommends candidate for education commissioner to the governor.
● Has general supervision and control of the educational interests of the state, including preschool, elementary, and secondary education; special education; and vocational education. The educational interests of the state, as defined by law, are that (1) each student have an equal opportunity to receive a suitable program of educational experiences; (2) each school district finance at a reasonable level an educational program designed to achieve this end; (3) in order to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation, each school district provide educational opportunities for its students to interact with students and teachers from other racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds and may provide such opportunities with students from other communities; and (4) mandates are implemented relating to education within the State Board of Education's jurisdiction.
● Sets state educational policy in collaboration with the governor and the General Assembly.
● Oversees the state V-T schools.
● Authorizes charter and interdistrict magnet schools.
● Adjudicates complaints against local boards of education that fail to implement the state's educational interests.
● Serves as the final administrative appeal board for issuing and revoking teaching certificates and other educational credentials needed to work in Connecticut public schools.
QUESTIONS FOR NOMINEES
1. As one of eight new voting members on the 15-member State Board of Education (SBE), what message does your appointment send to Connecticut's education community?
2. One of SBE's responsibilities is to recommend a candidate to the governor for appointment as education commissioner. With the position currently vacant, what qualities will you be seeking in a new commissioner?
3. What reforms does Connecticut need to enhance its educational system? How can the SBE best provide leadership for education reform?
4. The governor has proposed to “spin off” the V-T schools to local or regional control starting in FY 12. What is your opinion of this proposal? What advantages are there to state control of the V-T schools? What would be gained or lost if V-T schools became part of local school districts?
5. Some have said Connecticut's education funding system is “broken.” Do you agree? What changes would you like to see in how Connecticut funds education?
6. Two recent reports have refocused attention on Connecticut's large gap in academic achievement between racial and economic groups. What is the most important step Connecticut can take to address this gap?
7. Do you think standardized test results should be the basis for making decisions about student promotion? Should Connecticut require students to pass a high school graduation test?
8. Each year the state struggles, and sometimes fails, to meet the mandates of the Sheff v. O'Neill settlement to reduce racial and economic isolation for Hartford students. Do you think the state should require Greater Hartford suburban towns to accept more Hartford students as part of the Open Choice program, which is now voluntary?
9. What education policies should the state adopt to address the shortcomings that employers continually cite in the job readiness of the state's high school graduates?
10. The level and frequency of bullying in schools and the response of teachers and school administrators to bullying has been a frequent legislative concern. Do you agree that bullying is a widespread problem in schools? What steps can students, school staff, and the SBE take to respond to these situations? Do you think that the legislature needs to specifically address issues of “cyber-bullying,” i.e., by e-mail, text messaging, and social networking sites?
11. Given the current economic situation, both municipalities and state agencies will be experiencing budget cuts. Are there education programs that you believe should not be reduced or eliminated? If so, what are they?
12. Do you agree with those who advocate teacher tenure reform? What changes would you recommend?
13. Do you think Connecticut should make it a goal to provide pre-school for all children? How would you prioritize early childhood education among other education goals for the state?
14. What is your view of the appropriate age for children to enter kindergarten and that issue's impact on pre-school education programs?
15. What changes would you like to see in how teachers and school administrators are evaluated and paid? How, if at all, should student performance be used to judge teacher performance?
16. What role do you think charter and interdistrict magnet schools should play in Connecticut's overall public school system?
17. Are there areas that you have identified where school districts could benefit from adopting cooperative agreements? If so, what are they and how can the SBE encourage school districts to move in this direction?
18. Connecticut's public school system has seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of students with limited English proficiency. What measures can the SBE take to support school district efforts to address the specialized educational needs of these students?