NORWALK, Conn. – Many Latino parents do not speak English and do not know when Norwalk Parent Teacher Organization meetings are, making it a challenge for them to help their children, Nathalia Gonzalez said Tuesday.
Gonzalez was posing a question to three Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidates during a mayoral forum at the South Norwalk Community Center.
“I do understand that the Latino students do fall behind on their grades,” she said. “What are you going to do as mayor to change that?… I know its Board of Education’s job but you as a mayor should have some responsibility for what’s going to go happen with the kids and education.”
Common Councilman Matt Miklave began his answer by talking about Republican disdain for the term “forensic audit” in reference to the Board of Education financing. Common Core will only make things more challenging, he said, because testing will be done on computers.
“Because of the digital divide between the wealthy and the poor, test scores are going to be disproportionally affected among the poor,” he said.
Common Core must be funded fully, he said, and the only way to do that is by freeing up resources in the city’s budget with performance based budgeting.
District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra got a smattering of applause with his comment that, “Cutting services to the library should never ever, ever be on the chopping block.”
“The board needs to make sure their priorities are intact with the needs of our students,” he said. “We need bilingual staff that are able to be present and help our struggling kids that are having trouble understanding English.”
Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling said the school district is not sensitive to the needs of the various cultures that are in it.
“At last count there are 42 languages spoken in Norwalk,” he said. “It is true we need to have programs to help the people who are disadvantaged with the learning curve to succeed. … It starts with fully funding the Board of Education, by supporting our superintendent and by letting him do his job.”
You can watch their answers above.
Former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel did not make it to the event.