Why Have School Officials Discouraged Participation in Stamford Education Roundtable?

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To the Editor:

Stamford’s Westhill High School has implemented a “Grading for Equity” pilot program expressly based on the book written by Joe Feldman (founder and CEO of Crescendo Education Group and author of Grading for Equity:  What it is, Why it Matters, and How it Can Transform Classrooms).   Several Westhill teachers have presented the program to the Board of Education and Stamford Public Schools’ Central Office, thus far with limited input from the broader Stamford Public School community.

On Monday October 24 at the STAMFORD EDUCATION ROUNDTABLE, Joe Feldman (the author himself, not a proxy) and other prominent, ideologically diverse panelists, will engage in a respectful civic discourse about grading policies and related education topics. Advance registration is robust and growing rapidly for this FREE and NONPARTISAN community event, which will also feature Project Music student performances, light bites, and community mingling for in-person attendees. 

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In addition to Feldman, the panelists will include Thomas R. Guskey, Ph.D. (Professor Emeritus in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky and author/editor of 25 award-winning books on education), Ian Rowe (founder & CEO at Vertex Partnership Academies and author of Agency: The Four Point Plan for All Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power), Bob King (former Chair of the Stamford BOE, US Army Veteran, retired IBM executive, and Board Co-Chair of Discovering Amistad), and Drew Denbaum (Westhill English teacher and a 2022 SPS teacher of the year finalist).

One would think that Stamford education leaders genuinely interested in fostering open dialogue would embrace the roundtable and enthusiastically encourage Stamford Public School teachers, parents and students to attend so that they can listen to the insightful perspectives of a distinguished panel of education experts, and participate in the post-panel community dialogue at Ferguson Library.  

With very limited exceptions, however, Stamford Public School leadership has been conspicuously quiet and non-responsive to multiple cordial invitations to attend the Roundtable at Ferguson Library. Moreover, some education leaders inexplicably have undermined public efforts to inform the community about this worthy event, and at least one senior leader has even expressly discouraged SEA leadership from sharing the Roundtable flyer with fellow SPS teachers.

Why would Stamford education leaders oppose an open dialogue about important education topics? That seems like a difficult riddle to solve, and it appears diametrically opposed to the laudable viewpoint expressed by current BOE member and candidate Dan Duplaise in a recent Stamford Advocate OpEd:

“…Governing is not easy. Great ideas simply do not come from an ivory tower to be blindly accepted by the meek masses. Good policy comes from the crucible of active, engaged public debate. …”

Indeed, the Stamford education establishment is neither an ivory tower, nor does it control the public square. The Stamford community does not need Stamford Public Schools Central Office’s blessing, Ferguson Library’s support, or Stamford Government Center leadership to compile a truly world-class panel of prominent experts to bridge the pedagogy to the practical.

Despite obvious establishment resistance, the Stamford Education Roundtable will foster respectful, civic community dialogue about important education topics.

Ken Goldberg

Goldberg is a Stamford Public Schools parent and Stamford Education Roundtable Planning Team Member