• Musical Chairs Again In The Stamford Public Schools

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    By Dr. Rebecca Hamman

    Stamford educators are having to experience change in the Stamford Public Schools and they are up in arms again. Why?

    Central office leaders had this strategy in place all along. Pass the budget, then restructure during the reallocation process. This musical chair experience seems to happen consistently over 11-years and surprisingly, with little accountability. This time, the process looked like this:

    Pass the 2024-25 Board of Education (BOE) budget. Rather than building a budget around a new vision for teaching and learning, favorite programs were put on the chopping block to get teacher and community support. Using this approach—most 3,238 SPS employees, 16,202 Stamford families and 135,000 taxpayers agreed. It worked. Despite the fiscal cliff and major renovations across the district, the budget passed early May with only a 3 million dollar cut by the Board of Finance and a nod of approval from the Board of Representatives. Circle up and let the music begin.

    Roll out the new restructuring plan. Never mind that building administrators and teachers had little, if any, input. Never mind teachers found out just twenty-four hours after the budget passed that many would have to re-interview for jobs. Now walk slowly and get ready to find a new seat when the music stops.

    These steps can be devastating to a district systemically and morale-wise. Rather than talk about the effectiveness of learning programs and using data to substantiate, central office leaders believe they can just dictate the next steps. Not only will there be building administrative changes, entire departments and all grade levels will be affected. The English Learner (EL) leaders, Multitiered System of Support (MTSS) program, multimedia specialists (which incorporates Technology Integration & Support Specialist skills), Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs), and elementary literature & mathematics coach positions will all be revised.

    ‘Trust the process’, states Dr. Lucero, the Superintendent of Schools, at both special session meetings with EL teachers May 16th. How can the process be trusted when the high school block schedule was revised, yet again, through forced mediation and a stipulated agreement; decoupling of attendance from grades proved very ineffective; the Edgenuity credit recovery program abused; and now restructuring success guaranteed? Going further, is ‘the process’ really working when transparency and policies are overlooked again and again by the BOE? In conjunction, how long will the BOE continue to downplay two years of teacher Votes of No Confidence (VONC) and community petitions when dealing with central office leaders?

    Realistically, restructuring the teaching and learning program is the school superintendent’s prerogative. The process can work, but when communication is severely lacking and listening sessions are held after the fact, trust is deeply broken. Where is the hope—where is the turning point? As one EL teacher stated, they were completely ‘blindsided’ and 1550 teachers know this.

    Approximately three billion dollars has passed through the district’s coffers in 11 years and overall student performance remains stagnant. Skill scores will no doubt improve, but will overall student achievement? Will all seniors be able to read, write and do math upon graduation? As the musical chair game plays on and on, employees see the answer clearly when no one is held accountable.

    Most important, where are the students…do they have a voice in their experience? Let’s play musical chairs…

    Dr. Rebecca Hamman currently serves as the AdHoc Policy Chair for the Stamford Board of Education. Her comments are her own, and do not represent the official views of the Board of Education or its committees.

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    Paul A

    Thank you Dr. Hamman. Your voice is critical in exposing the truth. Keep firing facts for people to see. It’s nice to have a board member with the success of the students in mind. DEI is written all over Stamford’s curriculum. It’s time to put it to rest and get back to education that benefits a future society of Americans that will propel all people forward in life. Thank you again.

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