November 27, 2023
The Stamford Board of Education just had a heated debate over what “educational equity” means.
On one side of the debate is BOE Policy Committee Chair Becky Hamman who is concerned about lowering standards in Stamford schools through practices like cancelling midterms and finals, eliminating “tracking”, making the lowest grade a 50 instead of a 0 (also known as “grading for equity”), and removing chronic lateness and absenteeism as reasons for failing classes.
Hamman detailed a long list of issues in the district that she says result from a one-sided ideological agenda that has been promoted. It’s led to lawsuits, issues with new curriculum getting implemented, inconsistent follow-through on school improvement plans, and declining achievement scores.
She argued for policy changes to add the term “accountability” and include the goal of "helping all students attain or exceed academic standards” for instance.
BOE member Jackie Pioli challenged Hamman’s assertion that the district was lowering standards, and said that it was just Hamman’s “opinion” because she didn’t agree with the two-year-old policy.
Of course, most reasonable people understand that the concerns outlined by Hamman do, in fact, lower the standards in the district.
Another BOE member, Versha Munshi-South, argued that, “an equity and diversity policy is not about eliminating rigor,” even though eliminating midterms and finals is pretty much the definition of eliminating rigor.
Stamford Superintendent Tamu Lucero thought the equity policy did not need to be revised.
The Committee decided to take no action after Hamman’s challenge.
Other Connecticut districts with equity policies should be paying close attention to what’s going on in Stamford… or else you might end up in a similar situation, with grading for equity and/or other plans to lower the bar.