Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another Warning?

This morning, in all that extra time I don’t seem to have these days, I surfed on over to the Connecticut State Department of Education website to keep up on the latest with your friend and mine, Commissioner McQuillan. Much to my surprise, the “Commissioner’s Update” page had disappeared, so I browsed around a bit. Guess what I found? A “Back-to-School Message” that contained some very interesting phrases. First:
…for the past several months we have heard the voices of concern in state government and in our business community that our schools are no longer at the top of the national charts in student achievement and that we are not preparing our young people to succeed on the college campus or in the workplace as we must.
Well, I don’t know about the voices of state government or the business community, but I can tell you that the voices of my friends and colleagues have complained that the twenty-something cashiers at Henny Penny couldn’t make change or ring up a sale when their computerized cash registers crashed.

The State Board has embarked on a critical reform agenda that will focus on three key areas:
- expanding preschool opportunities for all students
- restructuring high school
- closing the achievement gaps while improving performance of all students

The state department of education has reorganized and will be working with school districts more closely to improve achievement and to turn-around schools that are not seeing progress.
I just love it when bureaucrats use the word “agenda.” It fills me with such confidence that they mean something other than what is written. For example, Mr. McQuillan stated that he would expand preschool “opportunities” for all students. My cynical ear heard: mandatory preschool at age three unless you, the parent, can demonstrate some compelling reason not to participate.

Also, what does Commissioner McQuillan mean when he says, ”The state department of education has reorganized and will be working with school districts more closely…” Just what does this new departmental structure look like? Who is now responsible for what functions within the agency? And just how cozy is this new relationship with the individual school districts?

And my favorite:
On high school reform, the State Board has formed a study committee that has been working over the summer months to make recommendations on restructuring Connecticut’s high schools. These recommendations will go to the State Board of Education this fall and then to the Connecticut General Assembly for proposed legislation in the 2008 session.
Ah, ha! Look at that last sentence. Is that yet another warning shot across the bow of my homeschool dinghy? A shot that could portend a profound change in the way homeschooling is conducted in this state? It is possible, although I still have no idea what this “proposed legislation” looks like. I will just have to wait and see what shows up before the Assembly and the Education Committee. Hopefully, Commissioner McQuillan will confine his reforms to the public school classroom.

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