School Reform
1:50 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

East Lyme Superintendent: Mere Slowdown of Education Reform Is Not Enough

Credit carlosbezz/iStock / Thinkstock

A local superintendent's recent letter to Governor Dannel Malloy laid out concerns about changes to Connecticut's educational system. East Lyme Public Schools Superintendent James Lombardo, a long-time veteran of Connecticut's public schools, wrote a letter to Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor saying education reforms are pointing the state and the country in the wrong direction. 

A flawed assumption is that low test scores indicate a failed school system, according to James Lombardo.

Lombardo wrote that for the first time in his 43-year career, he is convinced that Connecticut, the U.S., and the Democratic Party "have adopted educational policy that is harmful to children." He wrote that changes to reform implementation in Connecticut "do nothing more than reduce the rigor of the original requirements, while doing little either to correct the inherent flaws in a failed initiative or to relieve the cumbersome demands of the process."

State officials say they're reducing the burden on principals to evaluate teachers, Lombardo wrote, but he believes the demands are unreasonable. The net result, he wrote, is that he must reduce expectations just to meet a requirement for annual evaluations, which won't help teachers improve.

On WNPR's Where We Live, Lombardo shared his thoughts on teacher evaluation requirements, and the direction our schools are headed. Listen to the audio below:

Lombardo's letter detailed a number of assumptions he believes underlie the "flawed public policies" related to reform, including the approach to teacher evaluations, and new Common Core state standards.

According to Lombardo, low test scores don't necessarily indicate a failed school system. A flawed assumption for him is that high test scores mean a more competitive America. The truth, he wrote, is that the U.S. economy has performed strongly even during times of poor test performance compared to other developed nations.

Also, he said, too much is at stake pegged to a standardized test. "No single test," Lombardo wrote, "has or should be given the power to determine or predict with any reliability such important outcomes." For him, this concern applies to student promotion and judging teachers' performance. He wrote, "Human beings are motivated to excel at higher level tasks more by the intrinsic rewards of successfully completing the task than by the threat of punishment or the promise of an external reward."