The good ship Connecticut has no captain.
On Tuesday, August 23, Gov. Ned Lamont stood with educators to boast that Connecticut’s community colleges were the best in the nation. The ranking came from that trendy data aggregator WalletHub, known for such colorful surveys as “The Best and Worst Cities for Celebrating Thanksgiving” — will our governor publicly fist-bump area turkey farmers when we top that poll?
Mr. Lamont hailed the achievement even as the Connecticut State College and University system merges its 12 community college campuses into one in order to arrest a budget crisis caused by spiraling operating expenses, falling enrollment, and waning revenues.
“Our calling card as a state is the best-trained, most productive workforce in the world,” Mr. Lamont said, adding, “We have the top-ranked, K though 12 system in the country—second behind Massachusetts. Watch out, Massachusetts, here we come.”
The very next day, Charlene Russell Tucker, Connecticut’s commissioner of education, announced the grim state of student achievement in our public schools over the past two years.
The commissioner reported that only 4 in 10 of our elementary and middle school students met math proficiency standards in school year 2020-21. Fewer than half met English standards. Connecticut hasn’t seen performance numbers this low in seven years. Of the 195 school districts in the state, 173, or 89 percent, saw their students regress between 2018 and 2021. Tellingly, our governor was nowhere in sight at that August 24 presser.
One week later, a vile video went viral. An elementary school principal smugly admitted that he refused to hire Catholics or older adults, that he systematically weeded out candidates who oppose the orthodoxy that preaches children are mature enough to determine their own gender, and that parents are obstacles to his and his staff’s quest to shape students into reliable Democrat voters.
Assistant Principal Jeremy Boland’s school isn’t in some rural district in the Northeast corner. Cos Cob Elementary is one of fifteen in the toney, progressive Greenwich Public School system. Mr. Lamont, a former Greenwich selectman, likely had his home district in mind when he crowed about the superiority of the state’s K-12 schools.
As with the performance data, Mr. Lamont skirted the August 31 controversy. He at least released a statement. “Discrimination of any kind has no place in Connecticut, especially in our schools. This is not aligned with our Connecticut values.” He then assigned the CT Department of Education the job of “monitoring” the one of the ugliest displays of religious and political intolerance seen in very long time. A yard sign exudes more indignation.
The erosion of our students’ achievement occurred on Mr. Lamont’s watch, precipitated by ruinous COVID policies that merely parroted those of neighboring states and left thousands of our elderly citizens dead and the lives of tens of thousands of Connecticut residents ravaged. Similarly, the atmosphere of intolerance in Greenwich Public Schools has festered in the city Mr. Lamont once led and still calls home.
A true statesman leads in good times and bad. He doesn’t glory in the limelight with his stars one day, only to disappear the next, leaving his subordinates to take the heat for or monitor calamity. A true leader doesn’t pay lip service to admissions of overt discrimination and corruption with 48-word statement. Mr. Lamont should have stood with his education commissioner, just as he should have stood with those prospective teachers and families wronged in Greenwich.
Instead, Captain Sunshine was AWOL.