Republican gubernatorial candidate and former hedge fund manager David Stemerman says the time has come to start rating schools based on certain criteria, and to dictate their funding.
Stemerman made the proposal during a visit to Specialty Wire & Cord, a Hamden manufacturer.
“If a school is doing a really good job and they can attract more students, they should get more funding,” Stemerman said.
Stemerman is one of five GOP candidates looking to win the party’s nomination on August 14th, the day of Connecticut’s statewide primary. He is one of three businessmen, and Stemerman is making his first ever foray into public service.
He says the state is doing many of the right things when it comes to the state’s community colleges and their advanced manufacturing programs. His criticism stems from the graduation rates from those programs, and awareness of them around the state.
“Not enough people know that that’s available to them so we need to do a better job educating people all over the state that if you go to our career and technical school, that’s available to you.”
Ensuring the state has a stronger workforce, Stemerman insists, the state must hold schools accountable and provide performance data on how each school is doing. He says every school in the state, regardless of whether they are in a wealthy or poor district, would be judged the same way.
“We need to have a student funding formula where the schools that are doing better they get more resources and they get the same amount of dollars per kid, whether you’re the local neighborhood school, a career and technical school, a magnet school, a charter. It’s all the same thing.”
Stemerman is laying the groundwork for what amounts to an open school choice program purely based on performance, which is sure to anger teachers’ unions. Connecticut does have open choice in some districts which allows students from outside of one district to attend a school in another district. There are also magnet school programs that pull students from multiple towns.
Stemerman wants to increase the options for parents, allowing them to have the ultimate say over their child’s education, rather than where they live. He compares the method to free market economics.
“This is where we say let’s give every family a voice and a choice,” Stemerman said. “You don’t force somebody to go to buy a car at a particular place, you don’t force them to buy a house. You say, it’s a market, lets’ give them choice. We’re going to give people information about the schools out there and they’re going to pick the best one for their kid.”