Norwalk schools get grant for curriculum and instruction leaders

Norwalk Superintendent Manny Rivera
Norwalk Public Schools Superintendent Manny Rivera

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Public Schools have been awarded a $1.1 million grant by the Dalio Foundation to support the district’s efforts to implement the Common Core standards.

“We’re extremely grateful for this generous grant, which I believe will help us drive meaningful change across Norwalk,” said schools Superintendent Manny Rivera in a statement emailed Monday afternoon.

“The new funding adds significant momentum to the work laid out in our strategic plan, and helps support our commitment to making sure all our students graduate college and career ready.”

The grant was first mentioned in Rivera’s March self-evaluation released to the media in mid-June. Listed under Objective 6, discussing his pursuit of grants for the schools, Rivera wrote, “Most recently, Norwalk received formal approval from the Dalio Foundation for a $1.1 million grant to enable the district to establish fulltime curriculum and instruction site directors in five schools, as well as a key position for research, data analysis and accountability.”

The one-year grant partners public and private resources to ensure that key components of the district’s efforts to close the achievement gap by 2020 are met, the press release said. The Dalio Foundation support supplements the district’s commitment to ensure that all elementary schools have dedicated instructional leaders to support teachers and principals as they implement the new Common Core, higher standards. Grant funding also will support instructional coaching in five elementary schools and will provide additional professional development around literacy throughout the district related to Common Core.

The Dalio Foundation is a private foundation based in Connecticut.


11 responses to “Norwalk schools get grant for curriculum and instruction leaders”

  1. Norewalk Lifer

    In reviewing the country wide implementation of Common Core, it appears that most states are just adopted Common Core, either in the 2013 or 2014 school year.

    Michigan adopted Common Core in 2011, and state rankings show Michigan ranking 39th in the national average, with Mass being number one.

    Additionally, it may be a bit early to declare success with regards to this program, as defined by the Brookings Institute:

    Texas, Oklahoma, and other states have refrained from enlisting common core, this may be insignificant, as the standards have yet to prove themselves effective.
    The National Governor’s Association came to the conclusion that standards were required in 2009, so this is a very young idea, moreover, it adopts some international standards like PISA from China, to be sure, reading up on how this is implemented in China seems quite strange, as students from provinces must hold special visas to partake in the PISA programs.
    Of course, that won’t happen here, not thru documentation of course. It would be good to see how Common Core does improve the aptitude of students to be better prepared for college, or employment, but frankly, it’s a young program, I am not sure if we should declare success here, no matter who put together the media to support this program.
    Lastly the Dalio Foundation does indeed do some philanthropic work, Ray Dalio formed this foundation in 2003, there is another Dalio foundation, Teach for America, which promoted the ideal of 22 year old graduates taking on teaching jobs in school systems that were failing or below their own experience in primary education.
    There is an interesting article about this in the Washington post, where a student of Harvard stated that the insertion of inexperienced teachers recently graduated from schools such as Harvard may actually have been detrimental to their own experience and the experience of the student body.
    Lastly, it’s a wonderment to me, if Common Core is recommended to be fully implemented, and this is such a crisis nationwide, why the need for grants? Why not throw caution to the winds and fully implemented so that the results can be seen quicker?
    What this leads me to conclude is clear: a sound education must come not only from the institutionalizing of the philosophy of learning, but the parents, and the family group who surrounds a student; hearing first hand accounts of world events, such as the Vietnam War era, WWII (for those fortunate enough to have an eye witness in their midst) or the civil rights movement in the south in the early ’60’s, helps to enrich a young person’s view of the world, and their own knowledge.
    I am not disparaging Common Core, as I do not know enough about it, but in reading how this program works, especially in language arts, where the media is based on science and social studies, leads me to believe, at some point, the very essence of communication, and communication skills will be further lost.
    There will be literary majors who graduate common core, my fear is how much they are able to appreciate the written word, not just the educational content.
    Reading the Grapes of Wrath gives students an understanding of a low point in America history, no doubt, but will these and other great American writings be part of that experience for students? I do hope so.

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Casey Smith

    Norewalk –
    Just a bit of claification here – You said:
    “Texas, Oklahoma, and other states have refrained from enlisting common core, this may be insignificant, as the standards have yet to prove themselves effective.”
    Are you saying that it doesn’t matter that Texas et. al have rejected the Common Core because the curriculum is still basically unproven?
    Personally, I think that their rejection of an unproven curriculum is significant simply because the curriculum is so, as you put it, “young”. Regardless, I just want make sure I understand what your point was.

  3. MarjorieM

    These positions will only be funded for one year? Do they become the burden of local funding after that? Are these the former assistant principal positions rewritten or are they new positions?

  4. One and Done

    I don’t hold the same view points as Marjorie M. But she poses the question that first popped into my head.
    Who get’s to pay for these salaries year after year? Does Common Core ever entrench itself to the point these positions are redundant and could be eliminated? Would we ever expect any of our 6 figured teachers to figure it out on their own, or do we need more and more bureaucrats to implement this?
    Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but we are talking about tens of millions here over time. IT would be nice to hear the big plan, or are we just making things up as we go along?

  5. Marj, the grant is multi-year but is subject to annual renewal based on meeting the grant objectives. These are new positions that replace the assistant principals. They will not be doing the old jobs; they will be focused on curriculum and instruction (particularly implementation of the K-5 Literacy Program – see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/02/rivera-takes-charge-recommends-curriculum-literacy-program).

  6. MarjorieM

    Thank you, Mike. So who evaluates teachers now that the assistant principal job has been changed so drastically? I thought that was a full time job in and of itself? Or are the assistant principals doing the same job, but calling themselves curriculum and instruction administrators? Someone has to hold teachers accountable!

  7. MarjorieM

    Also, are these the same people as the assistant principals? I would think the qualifications for a common core expert would be significantly different.

  8. MarjorieM

    Can anyone answer my questions?

  9. Mike Lyons

    Marj, I checked with Tony Daddona. The school principals will jointly evaluate teachers with the Curriculum and Instruction Site Directors (all of whom meet certification requirements to be Asst. Principals). Most of their duties will not be “administrative” in the sense the old APs were, but they will do evaluations. House Masters do evaluations in the high schools.

  10. Will

    The Hour listed 9 schools and their Site Directors. Aren’t there 12 elementary schools in Norwalk? I do not see Tracey, Wolfpit and Rowayton on the list. Do they get “dedicated instructional leaders to support teachers and principals as they implement the new Common Core?”

    1. Mark Chapman


      We can’t speak to what you read in other media, but we will have our own story and we will try to be thorough. Lots going on for one reporter and one editor.

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