The United States is known to have had several segregation problems
The United States is known to have had several segregation problems, between Caucasians and African Americans for centuries now. Even though, Congress had implemented different acts along the years to allow African Americans to be as equal as Caucasians. For instance, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, forbids racial segregation in accommodations. But schools all around the country are slowly starting to have a de facto segregation, it is known that students are growing more isolated from each other. Specifically in schools that are apart of the Connecticut school system. Therefore, the Connecticut legislature came up with a plan to regionalize schools. While supporters of regionalization argue that it would promote diversity in schools and enforce the goals of Brown v Education, in fact, the motive behind the proposal is solely cost driven, suggesting that it will not only fail to obtain the goal of diversity but also decrease the quality of education in higher performing schools.
Two-thousand and four marked the 50 year anniversary of Brown v Education, and yet de facto segregation is still prevalent in the state of Connecticut. Consequently, the legislature of Connecticut proposed a plan to regionalize schools to reverse the separation of cultural groups as a result of economic barriers, thus creating more diversity in schools. During the 1950s the Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. The Board of Education was a major turning point for people of color, from all around the country, primarily in the south. Brown v. Board of Education helped abolish racial segregation between blacks and white to ensure an equal level of education for everyone. In the May 17, 1954 decision the Supreme Court ruled “separate but equal” was unconstitutional, which led to the integration of schools. While Brown v. Board of Education was strongly enforcing its new ruling, it, unfortunately, hasn’t been as consistent over the decades, as many had hoped. The Hartford Courant highlighted in the article, “Our Segregated Lives: Connecticut’s Racial, Economic Inequality”, by Michael Kraus, that today’s generation “neighborhoods, schools, and community spaces are stinkingly segregated on racial and socioeconomic lines”(Kraus). This brief excerpt demonstrates that the state of Connecticut’s educational system has been segregated for some time due to the peoples’ income and the socioeconomic lines. For that reason, the legislature of Connecticut has proposed a plan to regionalize schools to be able to promote more diversity. In Proposed Bill No. 457, that was introduced by Sen. Duff and Sen. Osten, “any school district with a student population of fewer than two thousand students to join a new or an existing regional school district”, by having school districts merge together the result would be people banding together and fellow towns, that fall into the regionalize school districts, it will be able to provide each other resources that can benefit from one another. Although it has been over 50 years since the Supreme Court ruling on “separate but equal” being unconstitutional, the state of Connecticut is still facing de facto segregation. Therefore, the legislation of Connecticut proposed to regionalize school to fix the gap of diversity within schools. But the process in doing so is reported not to be easy and to not be as beneficial as many hopes it will be.
While the motive of school regionalization is intended to improve diversity and uphold the goals of Brown v. Board of Education, it actually limits major cities from achieving that diversity. School Superintendent Bryan Luizzi for New Canaan High School, one of the top-ranked schools in the state, was quoted at the Board of Education meeting and the “Luizzi Blast “Forced Regionalization” article, saying the Proposed Bill No. 457 and No. 454 wouldn’t “be beneficial for our students, for our schools, or for our community”(Grace Duffield). He continued to mention that forced regionalization will just simply ignore the “foundational value of our state and [to] create a situation where districts may have to work against their own best interest because they would have to comply” to the regionalization bill (Grace Duffield). Superintendent Bryan Luizzi’s rejection of the two proposed bills supports the fact that regionalization will simply limit school districts. Regionalization will mandate any action that could possibly occur within different school districts by their values and beliefs. Many, may argue saying Superintendent's decision-making process towards regionalization may be swayed, considering the fact that they’ll possibly lose their jobs if school districts combine together since you don’t need to have more than one Superintendent looking over a school district, according to a personal interview with Senator Osten representative. Yet, they’re similar, negative reactions about regionalization, coming from kids as well. Kathleen McWilliams, a journalist for the Hartford Courant, wrote “Hands off our Schools: Opposition to Legislature’s School Regionalization Plan Grows”, in the article it mentioned that hundreds of concerned parents and students come together to the state Capitol to speak out against the proposed bills. Ava Gilbert, a sixth-grader, told the legislative education committee that “the sole reason my parents moved to Lyme was for the school system”(Kathleen McWilliams) as many families do for their kids. Ava made it clear that she is a successful student, that seeks to be challenged. But she strongly believes she can’t continue to grow as a student if schools districts combine together. To conclude, regionalization is reported to limit major towns such as New Canaan and Old Lyme public schools instead of trying to promote diversity and achieve the goals of Brown v. Board of Education.
Despite the constant argument, that regionalization would lead to increased diversity in our school districts, studies have suggested that push for regionalization would, in fact, be a reflection of a desire to reduce cost, which is a major concern considering the fact Connecticut is in major debt. In a personal interview with Senator. Osten and Duff they both agreed that their Proposed Bill No. 457, couldn’t predict the outcomes they have hoped to bring. Even though, they couldn’t predict the outcomes. their goal was still to achieve diversity within Connecticut's school district, but instead of focusing on what happens within the school, they’re more concerned about reducing cost. This is expected to be achieved by leveraging economies of scale and eliminating corresponding services that the town provides, residents. Orlando J. Rodriguez, from Rodriguez Data Solutions LLC, stated in the article “K-12 Regionalization in Connecticut: Pros, Cons, and Surprises”, that regionalization is reported to help create the economy of scale without harming education achievement. Yet, a study from the 292 schools in India revealed that in a three year time period, 2004 to 2006, “that economy of scale for not lead to lower per-pupil cost in perpetuity.”(Rodriguez). This study is one of many examples of schools that tried to band together in hopes to create that economic scale without harming students education achievements. Unfortunately, due to the lack of focal point of helping the students, it had failed, which is a prime example of why it’s important to realize the bill can’t be solely focused to reduce cost or else it will negatively impact the students. Orlando J. Rodriguez goes on to say that economies of scale might have to be achieved by “reducing central office staff, reducing school staff, maintaining fewer buildings, implementing higher volume and lower cost purchasing, and lowering wages/salaries”(Rodriguez). On the other hand, regionalization may lead to diseconomies of scales. By having schools come together and become “one” it’ll lead to “higher transportation expenses because of longer bus routes, overall increases (leveling up) in staff salaries because of seniority and/or contract renegotiation, and increases in the number of mid-level administrators and administrative support staff”(Rodriguez). Therefore, regionalization needs to be more centralized in achieving the goals that it has set to attain instead of solely focusing on reducing cost.
Based on the findings of regionalization, it has been anticipated that there would be major job losses for educators within the school. Not only will many lose their jobs, but many workers will end up leaving due to the new changes. Regionalization is expected to bring schools together, creating a larger school district to reduce costs. In doing so it helps towns to take that money that they’re reducing and put it back into the classroom. When students come together from different school areas into one, it’ll cause the student to teacher ratio to increase. This would ultimately lead to many teachers and aides to lose their jobs within the school. CEA Research and Policy Development Specialist Orlando Rodriguez, the organization's chief economist, reminded legislator that the DEA encourages cost-saving measure. But in this case, bills 457 does the opposite. Orlando Rodriguez and many other specialists are concerned about the outcome of the bill, considering the fact the bills are expected to impact teachers negatively. On March 1, 2019, educators came from all around the state to partake of the hearing about regionalization at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. At the hearing, many spoke out against the several bills that were being proposed. Drew McWeeny, a Special Education Teacher in Waterbury, stated “a lot of educators in some of the larger school districts are concerned of the regionalization of schools pass class size will increase”(David Mckay, Rob Polansky, Susan Raff). That being said, the majority of the teachers are expected to take in more students. Nevertheless, it’ll force teachers to spend more time on administrative tasks when there are an insufficient amount of resources at the school, “resulting in teachers having less time to spend on preparing for their classes”(Rodriguez). Katherine Munson, an English teacher at New Canaan high school stated in a personal interview, that the idea of receiving another ten to twenty students on top of the twenty students she already has, to teach is alarming. Considering the fact that it’s already is hard enough for her to take teach and be there for the students one on one to make such everyone obtains a good education. Although Mrs. Munson teaches at a highly ranked school, she like many others fear that they’ll lose their jobs since they haven’t taught at the school for a long period of time. However, at other schools that can’t provide good funding for the change of regionalization and making sure their still paying teachers, their well-deserved salaries, those schools will have to be forced to freeze many teachers salary causing a good sum of them to leave, seeking another job that can pay them well. These types are just a couple of examples of situations that are leading to an inefficiency in the educational system. Therefore, if school districts get regionalized it’s anticipated that there would be major job losses for educators.
While regionalization promises to bring benefits to school for their students, it causes the value of education to decrease. By combining a high-level school with a less successful school it's beneficial for one, but not the other. Right now, without regionalization students are expected to go to school for about seven hours, participate in any extracurricular activities that the school provides, do about two hours of homework almost every night, and for those who are old enough, they’re expected to have a job. But once regionalization is enacted students could receive more responsibilities and commitments by having a long drive to school which pushes back after school activities and less time to do any school work. It's been quoted by Orlando J. Rodriguez that “the potential for high educational achievement diminishes for at-risk students when they attend large schools that are disconnected from their communities”, which would occur if regionalization is enforced(Rodriguez). This is, unfortunately, is just the beginning, not only will student struggle to continue to prevail in school. But it will also decrease the level of education for higher performing school. An example of this would be regionalizing Wilton school district with Norwalk. Wilton is known to be one of the top-ranked school in the state and so is Norwalk, compared to other schools. But the level of education is drastically different when you compare the two. Austin Tucker, a sophomore at Wilton High School testified at a public hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford saying that he also feels as if “the quality of my education would decrease significantly”(Kathleen McWilliams). The President of Yankee Institute Carol Platt Liebau said the proposed bill is “misguided” and that chaos will occur since regionalization will threaten “the quality of Connecticut’s schools — many of which are excellent.”(Marc E. Fitch). This brief excerpt is just another example that continues to recognize the negative impacts of what could happen to higher performing schools if regionalized with a lower quality school. Thus, it’s crucial to understand combining a high-level school with a less successful school can have a negative impact on higher performing schools.
The majority of families living in high-end neighborhoods with a high level of education are going to have resentment towards regionalization, resulting in them paying high taxes. Residents already have expressed resentment towards regionalizing Wilton school district with Norwalk, as it will decrease the value and quality of education for the students that attend Wilton high school. On top of that regionalization is receiving major backlash from the town because Wilton is a top-ranked school and a good amount of families are sacrificing so much just so their kids are able to receive a high-level education. But if the bill is passed they won’t be able to achieve the level of education they desire. In the article “Rejecting Regionalization” describes the aftermath of regionalization, it states that “bunching schools into regions poses the potential for all sorts of chaos and conflict in the curriculum, diverse needs, and desires of students and their families, turmoil in negotiations of professional contracts and uncertainty in long-range planning”. In this case, the conflict that’s being faced is the taxes families in Wilton are going to have to pay. Wilton is already known to have high paying taxes, higher than Norwalk because of property taxes and the quality if the school. Therefore, families living in Wilton are furious considering the fact they’ll have to pay even higher taxes since the regionalization bill will combine Norwalk and Wilton together. Even though Norwalk is combining with Wilton their town isn’t expected to pay nearly as much towards taxes. The President of Yankee Institute Carol Platt Liebau stated “A town’s reputation and character is intimately tied to the quality of its schools. Anything that jeopardizes that quality is harmful not only to its children but to the towns and ultimately Connecticut itself.”(Marc E. Fitch). Which is occurring here, this situation is either going to drive families to move to another town to achieve the high level of education they strongly desire for or they’re not going to vote for increasing the district's budget and oppose anything going towards the regionalization in all. To conclude, families in high-end neighbors are resenting the bill towards regionalization so they don’t have to pay higher taxes than usually for a lower level of education.
Supporters of regionalization argue that it would promote diversity in schools and enforce the goals of Brown v Education. But the motive behind the proposal is solely cost driven, causing a decrease in the quality of education in higher performing schools. Although regionalization tried to improve the diversity within the school and achieve the goals of Brown v Education it, unfortunately, fell through. A stronger focus on what happens within the classroom instead of solely focusing on reducing costs could have been a more effective solution. Until there's a more concrete plan to reduce the segregation in school and provide that equal level of education all around the state of Connecticut. It’s still important to figure out other ways of doing so. In the meantime, communities all around Connecticut should help other towns, who aren’t as fortunate to have the same educational resources as them.