• Think Better And Bolder, Stamford Board Of Education

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    By Dr. Rebecca Hamman

    Although facing a multi-million-dollar fiscal cliff and major school construction projects, the Stamford Board of Education just passed its preliminary budget. Now it goes in front of the Board of Finance (March 21st) and Board of Representatives (April 3rd) for closer inspection and possible cuts. Multiple financial demands from the city-side will create even greater strains for Stamford taxpayers—new police and fire contracts, huge legal and audit expenses, and the full phase-in of home revaluation payments. Please attend these meetings to support our schools!

    Beyond the Stamford BOE budget vote, an even deeper question lingers. Is the BOE budget really the defining point when making healthy decisions about teaching and learning?


    The school district budget should tell the community a story of hope and the next steps needed to improve. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Stamford Public Schools is actually playing catch-up and it is a shell of what it once was. Now equity, efficiency and lack of expectations seem to define success across a majority of Stamford’s public schools.

    Quoting BOE President Heftman, ‘test scores don’t matter’… she and her squad of five conveniently forget to tell the real teaching and learning story. Over a ten-year period, the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessments Consortium, Gr. 3-8) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test, Gr. 11) scores have remained stagnant:

    • Out of approximately 500 CT elementary schools, only 4 out of 13 Stamford K-5 schools have reached the 50% achievement level (Hart, Rogers, Strawberry Hill & Westover).
    • Out of approximately 250 CT middle schools, only 2 out of 7 Stamford Gr. 6-8 schools have reached the 50% achievement level (Rogers & Scofield).
    • Out of approximately 140 CT high schools, only 1 out of 3 Stamford Gr. 9-12 schools have reached the 50% achievement level (AITE). In 2017, AITE was rated the top 20th high school in the state (U.S. News & World Report).

    If children and families are resilient, success awaits them. If this is not the case, this long-term pattern of ‘mediocrity’ will continue. Looking for bolder results means understanding why we have consistent success in only 7 of 23 schools.


    Assessment should align with curriculum, but when the BOE ignored routine curriculum reviews over an 11-year period (2011-2022), Stamford families are now having to make difficult choices about their child’s learning program—failure is not an option when it comes to the 3R’s and being prepared for college or the workforce. If something as essential as a curriculum is overlooked, can families trust the BOE with supervising its only employee, the Superintendent of Schools?

    When the BOE cut Columbus Day and Veterans Day from school calendars and promised to create curriculums for these holidays, it was surprising what a BOE member and public participants shared (Regular BOE meetings1/23 & 2/27/24). Columbus Day lessons depicted how history has been revised, forgotten, or silenced. In addition, although the public was invited to participate in these curriculum-writing discussions (Teaching & Learning Districtwide Curriculum Committee, 3/4/24), they were not welcomed at the first meeting. Unfortunately, these examples continue to tell a story of ongoing systemic leadership and instructional concerns.

    SPS central office leaders have also not told the entire teaching and learning story in their budget presentations. At the K-2 level, teachers are concerned about over-testing of students and the CKLA reading program is exorbitantly expensive, and not matched well to social studies & science curricula; Gr. 2-5 are still using Teacher-Pay-Teacher (TPT) worksheets; the proposed Gr. 6-8 schedule for three middle schools drops a weekly core class so an additional exploratory course can be added; and Gr. 12 students don’t have to complete a internship and presentation for the Portrait of a Graduate (although required by all seniors across Connecticut). Instead, many seniors in Stamford opt to just participate in internships.

    Again, how does the BOE think better and bolder? If the new & improved curriculums are working, why are curriculum assessment results not made available to the BOE? If the district wants to show improvement, why are scores still lagging? Most important, why is transparency lacking over and over?

    Community Voice

    When thinking better and bolder, family and stakeholder input is necessary (Policy 1100 - Communications with the Public). Parent Faculty Organizations, Stamford Public Education Foundation, Cradle-2-Career and Alliance for Black Achievement input is helpful, but many voices are still not heard or valued. Stamford needs ALL cultural/political, non-profit, family, Veteran, and teacher input… listening to these voices, too, makes a difference.

    Helping every student learn, achieve, and succeed should be the BOE’s top priority. We need to ask the deeper questions. WE are elected to evaluate the superintendent and help create a healthier school district. Our decisions affect the quality of our children's education, our tax rates, as well as the quality of community life. Hiding behind a budget that is lacking in so many instructional and accountability areas is not acceptable. SPS can and should be better and bolder… just ask our students and families as well as community stakeholders… they agree!

    Dr. Rebecca Hamman currently serves as the Ad Hoc 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

    My how the truth is disturbing while the Stamford BOE thinks residents aren’t paying attention. Stamford public schools have fallen by the way side because of the lack of oversight by a complicit BOE for over 10 years, in a city with a democrat strong hold pushing agenda over education. Thank you Becky for being that beacon of light exposing the dark truth of education in Stamford public schools.

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