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Sign our petition to support education funding

Send signed letters to [email protected]

Norwalk is a diverse city on many levels, and faces the challenges any city faces when dealing with fluid financial commitments. We all believe that practical, informed decision-making is paramount when adhering to these commitments. That said, time and again, study after study have proven one thing consistently and emphatically: Robust investment in public education is one of single best sources of ROI a local government can make.

Dana Mitra, Ph.D (Penn State), in a leading study of state public education funding, writes:

“Investment in public education is a worthy investment for state government, with immense social and economic benefits. Research shows that individuals who graduate and have access to quality education throughout primary and secondary school are more likely to find gainful employment, have stable families, and be active and productive citizens. They are also less likely to commit serious crimes, less likely to place high demands on the public health care system, and less likely to be enrolled in welfare assistance programs. A good education provides substantial benefits to individuals and, as individual benefits are aggregated throughout a community, creates broad social and economic benefits. Investing in public education is thus far more cost-effective for the state than paying for the social and economic consequences of under-funded, low quality schools.”

 

Norwalk should be Exhibit A. The challenges are real, without a doubt, but the challenges resulting from shortchanging our financial commitments to education funding will, with zero doubt, lead to far greater financial and social struggles our city will spend another generation trying to make up for.

Property values also rise directly with investment and improvement in local education. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (via Public School Review in a Connecticut study):

“There is a definite correlation between school expenditures and home values in any given neighborhood. A report titled, ‘Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending,’ found that for every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20. These findings indicate that additional school expenditures may benefit everyone in the community, whether or not those residents actually have children in the local public school system.”

 

The moment is now. If you agree, please sign our petition and tell Norwalk city leaders that:

We remain on the precipice of exciting developments in Norwalk and we, recognize the opportunities that Norwalk presents. We also recognize its challenges. This is not political. When focusing on our kids, we are all united on the merits of smart spending. Democrat, Republican, or Independent: We want to live here. We want to work here. A full, robust commitment to its education system keeps us here.

Please amply fund our city’s education commitments to a level that wholly prepares our city and our kids for success now and in the future.

 

Justin Matley and Sarah McIntee

Petition to sign

16 comments

John ONeill February 22, 2020 at 5:00 am

You may want to start with our state legislators. After discussing with them, ask Harry Rilling why Jim Himes has done nothing to help Norwalk. We do have a crisis in our schools. It’s a direct result of our immigration policy. Now that these children are here, we need to help them. BUT, we need help from Hartford and we are not getting it. Your efforts seem to be misdirected. At your next get together, ask those elected politicians why they haven’t done a thing as this situation has evolved over the past 10 years. It truly is a disgrace. The old saying “for every action, there’s a reaction ” comes to mind. Our state’s immigration policy may be well intentioned, but they forgot to plan on how to foot the bill to handle it. Funding for ELL programs should not be a local issue. In conclusion, let Duff and company know they’ve done ZERO to help. Before anyone signs a petition they should call there state reps and ask what the hell they’ve been doing to push for state support. As far as as can see, they have failed miserably.

Norwalk Lost February 22, 2020 at 8:55 am

This petition should not be signed and the platitudes of higher school spending as a form of investment is also getting old. . With the proposed budget increase (less than the BOE request), taxpayers will already face a 5% property tax hike which – more than twice the multiple of inflation in a stagnating to lower city real estate market. The energies of the BOE and parents would be better spent petitioning Hartford for more funds or the City for enforcing zoning rather than strong arming city taxpayers, many of whom are struggling to afford the high costs here. The well is dry and the business as usual approach for higher and higher unsustainable budgets needs to stop. . . When the grand list gets crushed due to unsustainable tax increases, it will be too late.

Norwalk native February 22, 2020 at 9:58 am

The NPS exists in order to teach English to migrants who are here illegally. These migrants settle in Norwalk because our City leaders refuse to enforce zoning laws already on the books. Contrary to the politically correct mantras of the writers of this article, these are not OUR children; they are Guatemalas and Honduras children.

Contrary to premise of this article, continually throwing money at NPS does not increase property values. In fact, it accomplishes the opposite. This is clearly evidenced by Norwalks long stagnant property values. My home is worth less now than it was fifteen years ago when I bought it, despite the fact the I have put an additional $100k into it beyond the purchase price. The reason is simple: unenforced zoning laws and Sanctuary City status have led to a segregation of the school system. Moving out of Norwalk are long time residents and native born young couples with families. Moving in are childless Millenials and large populations of undocumented families and unaccompanied minors. It’s not hard to se why the four and five bedroom homes are not selling in Norwalk; there is no Demographic left to buy them.
The only winners in this situation are the Teachers Unions and the Educational Industrial Complex which effectively runs Norwalk. This ruling Elite in turn props up the Mayors office. NO ONE in City Hall is interested in or looking out for the taxpayers. They will run Norwalk into the ground in the name of supporting OUR children.
Disband the BOE. Cap the NPS budget and enforce zoning laws. End this tyranny of taxation without any benefit to those paying the taxes!

Justin Matley February 22, 2020 at 4:22 pm

John et al,

The ELL concerns are real, but the cap issue is one that resolves in days. The spirit of the petition is one of solidarity with our teachers, students, and parents. It does not ask for a specific number increase, align with a political faction, nor is it meant to dissuade anyone from doing what they feel is right. It is meant to give a voice to people unable to attend the meeting, provide some facts, and encourage some thoughtful consideration before anyone makes their decision; whatever it may be.

Secondly, Sen. Duff was asked about ELL funding from the state in the first Discuss Norwalk meeting, in fact. I personally brought it up in conjunction with a couple others in the room. As part of our policy we only make public things that are either requested to be made public by the speaker, or if something concretely new that emerges. Nothing specific did, but the questions and concerns were made clear by folks of both sides, and Sen. Duff listened intently. Where it goes from here isn’t my purview.

So, in short, I hardly feel this petition is misdirected. It is timed for a specific event in the spirit of solidarity. Specific policy pressure is a valid task as well, and many of us can support robust investment as well as eyeball Hartford on the issues you note. But that isn’t the point for this specific petition.

Sarah McIntee February 23, 2020 at 7:18 am

We appreciate the comments and recognize that this is a controversial issue for some. I think it is important to point out that the ELL issue is on the parents radar as Justin mentions above, I was also at that meeting and can attest that it is something that was both raised and taken seriously. I know that others elsewhere are having similar conversations because we have to given the circumstances facing us as a city. Having said that, of the $14.9 million being requested by the BOE in the operating budget discussion only $1,856,550 is for ELL. The vast majority of what is being requested is to meet the demands for teacher contracts obligations ($5.6 million) and other required services such as transportation, counseling and social and emotional learning. Even if you were to argue that the Projected increase in student enrollment were entirely a result of Norwalk being a sanctuary city – an argument that I think is unproven at this point – that still only accounts for $3.3 million of the requested $14.9. As it stands, the $9.9 million being proposed by the city is insufficient to cover the contractual increases that the BOE will have to pay (e.g. teacher contracts, etc) which amount to 10.8 million alone.
So the smaller the amount of funding is, the greater and more painful the cuts become. And the greater and more painful the cuts become, the bigger the impact those cuts have on our community. The numbers don’t lie and the BOE needs this funding to simply operate the schools. And this isn’t about Norwalk becoming a Sanctuary city, illegal immigrants in apartments or the ELL program Bankrupting us. That is simply a false narrative. So while I certainly agree we should see additional funding for the $2 million dollars we are spending on ELL programs next year and in future years, I don’t think that is a good argument to use to not fund our schools. I’ll also add that new families are moving to Norwalk and buying houses here, mine did and I see others doing it in my neighborhood. So I don’t believe the narrative that Norwalk is not doing well!

Bryan Meek February 23, 2020 at 8:25 am

This is actually counterproductive. 150 signatures after 4 days across the entire district? They will take this apathy as a conclusion that they should cut more.

Perhaps the request shouldn’t come off as naive as to the real problems, who created them, and who profits by them.

Others have laid it out for you. Not hard to connect the dots. Playing nicely is only going to target you as a pushover for more of the BS going on.

Torches and pitchforks need to descend on a meeting and demand our Mayor and council demand equity from Hartford instead of their silence and obvious support for Norwalk’s doormat status. Bob Duff needs to explain his total incompetence after almost 10 20 years where his constituents have transferred over $10 billion in taxes to Hartford, what exactly do we have to show for it? Himes, Blumenthal, and Murphy need to get their Russian tin foil hats off and work with the administration for relief.

The status quo and playing nice is not going to make this better. At the current pace we’ll be talking about cutting sports and music in the next few years.

Sarah McIntee February 23, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Bryan,
You are absolutely correct about turnout and parental involvement. People need to be there. If parents continue to remain uninvolved and uninformed about this process then we will see further cuts and your worst case scenario may occur. I personally asked parents to come out last Thursday to advocate for the BOE. We only had 17 people come out. 4 of them sit on the BOE. That is an abysmal showing. I have also been actively advocating for people to come to the upcoming meeting on Tuesday and I hope to see you there.

Maybe the petition will have an impact, maybe it won’t. But it is an effort for two parents to make their voices heard on this community. Why? Because we care about Norwalk and the education that all of our children receive. And while I know that you and I disagree on politics – we are on the same team on this issue. Because you wouldn’t have dedicated years of your life to serving the BOE if you didn’t care. So instead of being critical of one another when we have common ground – let’s join forces and make them hear us. I’m all ears if you have ideas and ways to make the messaging more effective. And I hope to see you Tuesday night.

John ONeill February 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm

@Sarah – I think it would be useful to spend a day at Kendall School. Maybe you can be a substitute for a day. Guessing you could probably do the same at a variety of other schools. We are reaching a tipping point, and we’re not getting any help from Hartford…..The Math is this: Last year we had an increase of approx. 300-400 ELL students. Using 350 students times $13,000 = $4.5 Million. That is just the Increased ELL enrollment. Going a step further, there’s 2,100 ELLers @ $ 13,000 = $27 MILLION PER YEAR. While I appreciate you taking this seriously, I also think you may be underestimating the costs and disruption to our district. I respectfully disagree with your premise of only $2 Million for ELLers. The numbers are much greater. Our officials seem to be lowballing the cost in their public statements. Regarding whether Bob Duff and other legislators are taking this seriously — Obviously not, as nothing of substance has been done. Why should Norwalk bear the financial burden, while surrounding towns gain the benefit of these welcomed immigrants? That’s unfair and I’ll be more than happy to sign a petition to fight for our fair share. We need legislators who actually take this situation serious enough to accomplish something. I’m sure you’ll agree that seems to be lacking. Again, I applaud your activism. We just disagree on priorities. That being said, it’s a beautiful day. I’m going to go for a 5 mile walk and enjoy Norwalk. Oh, I almost forgot. I’d like to send a shout out to George Washington. Happy Belated Birthday George and thanks for being a standup guy. (picture GW crossing the Delaware, for those non-historians out there)

Justin Matley February 23, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Brian,
I struggle to see the terrible nature of this (even if you mischaracterized its numbers, time online, and intent). I in fact find plenty of merit in posting a letter of solidarity with our teachers and students. It was never intended to be a political trap; I’ll save that for politicians and real activists. It’s a letter that is meant to stand in as a voice for people who are unable to attend meetings, like myself.

As for the ELL issue, it was addressed in both my group meeting in solidarity with some folks from your party, and will be followed up on after Tuesday. I do not believe in a strategy of holding the education budget hostage over it. It’s a different fight, and one that very well merit an approach more parallel to what you voice.

Sarah and I are not politicians. We are seeking to bring up some facts, call attention to the topical events of this week, and attribute some solidarity to them. This approach was chosen purposefully.

No one is naive here; and there are times and places for bringing a fight to those in power. You underestimate us if you think we don’t have that capacity. For now, this letter (or petition, call it what you want) serves a different angle. The many emails and private correspondence I’ve received have supported that this isn’t an entire futile effort. Even if it’s not the perfect approach for efficacy this time, it serves the wider goal of non politicians getting out of the social media cesspool and finding some basic common ground.

John ONeill February 23, 2020 at 4:06 pm

@Justin/Sarah: Please don’t misinterpret my response. I commend you both for getting involved and shining the light on these issues. I think we both want the same result. We just disagree on the road to get there. Keep making it happen.

Bridget P February 23, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Time to tighten the belt NPS! The property tax payer ATM has run dry. Best to go to Hartford and discuss with Ned, Bobby and Lucy. Somewhat confounding that the ones usually screaming for more funding are the same ones supporting the politicians who are not doing their jobs.

Justin Matley February 23, 2020 at 10:06 pm

@John,

Fair response. Thank you. You’ve been a respectful commenter.

I am in fact starting to piece together an initial plan to help lobby for additional ELL support from the state. That’ll be the next project I have with my zero free time and almost no qualifications, but we all agree it’s a topic worth pursuing, so myself and others (some may surprise you) will buck up and give it a go. We’ve built enough bridges of late, I feel, to garner quite a bit of cross party support on it.

That said, my point remains the same: I don’t feel we should, with a day to spare, hold the ed budget hostage for it. If I had more time I’d tap my head and rub my belly at the same time, but we’re out of time this go round.

Bryan Meek February 24, 2020 at 4:49 am

Sorry Justin and Sarah. You think this isn’t politics, but you are stuck in the parable of the frog and the scorpion while most of our neighbors are the frog in a pot of boiling water. Political opportunists feed on this weakness.

Too many people “being nice and cooperative” is why we are here. Norwalk is subsidizing wealthier communities, like West Hartford, thanks in part to our leader “standing up for us” because of nice letters and a kum ba ya approach. Until these leaders are called into question, they will continue to sell us out for their shiny titles as they have been and continue to do.

You can have your deep blue CT, I just wish it was run more ethically and responsibly. All these blue states from Maryland to Maine are enjoying thriving economies right now. CT is the only state in the union in recession and it is directly tied to bad policy. I’m optimistic that our fate is not sealed, but I lose heart when I continue to see the apologists take a soft stance.

Sarah McIntee February 24, 2020 at 6:12 am

I’m having technical (ok, not really, it’s just too early for me and I’m operating on limited sleep after a weekend with sick kids!) difficulties with the comments but wanted to add that regardless of viewpoint I want to encourage everyone to come out on Tuesday night to the Common Council meeting. The single most alarming aspect of all of this is how uninvolved most of our community is in this process. So whether you agree/disagree, please get involved and engage. Because our city will be better for it. Have a great week!

Banks February 24, 2020 at 9:55 pm

@ John O, first Norwalk needs to plow through the rainy day fund.. continuous deficit spending for the schools will get us there. Next Duff has already realized the benefit of State influence, so their is a push to regionalize. Unfortunately, looking at how the State manages its existing programs.. Would their involvement really be much better..

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