Alyssa Goduti, MPA and President & CEO, Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies, recently served as a member of OPM’s Licensure and Certification Workshop, convened under Special Act 17-21, to conduct a required review of the certification and licensure processes of certain nonprofit community providers, and study potential efficiencies. Alyssa and her workgroup co-members presented their recommendations to state agency Commissioners and other leadership last December and to the Governor’s Cabinet on Nonprofit Health and Human Services on January 11, 2018. Recommendations are now being implemented with some requiring statutory change.
The Department of Public Policy’s IPP (internship) program is an integral component of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs. Student interns apply the theory and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world work experiences making ‘a distinct and consistent impact’ on the work of Connecticut state government, local governments and nonprofit organizations.
On March 19, 2018, students in Dr. Joshua Hyman’s course “Economics of Education Reform” were treated to a visit and discussion with Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, on plans for the Hartford district and the importance of research to effective field application. Dr. Torres-Rodriguez encouraged an open dialogue with the class and addressed a number of real-world issues facing Hartford schools.
For more, read student Tyler Daddio’s reflections on Dr. Torres-Rodriguez’s visit:
The students in Professor Joshua Hyman’s course, PP 5337 Economics of Education Reform, typically dedicate their weekly meetings to discussing the intricacies of education reform through the lens of academic research. But on March 19, 2018, they were instead greeted by the Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, for an open discussion of the plans for the district and how research is leveraged to effect tangible results in the field.
Herself a product of Hartford Public Schools, Dr. Torres-Rodriguez received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Connecticut before earning her Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University. Her tenure as Superintendent of Schools began almost a year ago, but she has wasted little time. She has focused much of her energy on the revitalization of Hartford’s neighborhood schools and the creation of clear pathways for advancement for students. She hopes to achieve these goals and numerous others with her four-year District Model for Excellence, which served as the starting point for the class’ discussion.
Students asked myriad questions, and Dr. Torres-Rodriguez responded without skipping a beat. There was discussion of school choice, the Board of Education, the Hartford Federation of Teachers, the impact Hurricane Maria has had on the district, and much more. One student asked if the district had any plans for reducing class sizes, a reform which has been causally linked to improved student outcomes. However, this benefit comes at the cost of hiring more teachers, which Torres-Rodriguez says is not feasible given continued budget cuts. She said that although class sizes will be kept constant in the near future, the number of classes per school will be increased. To do so, a number of under-enrolled facilities will be combined in the coming years. She believes this will give students a more traditional and satisfying educational experience while also freeing up precious resources to be reinvested elsewhere.
These questions led to a more general discussion of the utility of academic research. Dr. Torres-Rodriguez said the biggest roadblock is identifying research that is applicable to Hartford’s unique context. Just because smaller class sizes confer benefits in one city or state does not necessarily imply the same benefit will be reaped in another. This is known as a study’s external validity, a concept students have repeatedly encountered throughout the semester. Regardless, Torres-Rodriguez stressed the importance of consulting current research while also sitting down with comparable school districts across the nation to get an idea of what works and what does not.
Professor Hyman’s class would like to thank Dr. Torres-Rodriguez for taking the time out of her busy schedule to provide insight into the inner workings of Hartford Public Schools and how the reforms they have studied throughout the semester are incorporated into the everyday decision-making required to effectively manage a school district. The open and frank discussion of district policies and plans enhanced students’ understanding of education reform and meshed nicely with the free and interactive discussion Professor Hyman has fostered throughout the semester.
Appointed by the Board of Directors of Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), Jenny Hansell, MPA alumna, assumed the role of BNRC’s President at the end of 2017, succeeding long-time President, Tad Ames. Hansell has served as the Executive Director of the North East Community Center in Millerton, NY since 2001.
Founded by George Wislocki in 1967, BNRC stewards nearly 22,000 acres of conservation land, including approximately 50 miles of hiking trails. “Jenny Hansell will be a terrific leader for BNRC, and an invaluable mentor to our high-caliber staff,” said Tad Ames, past president.
Congratulations to Patrick McMahon, MPA alumnus, former Director of Economic Development for the Town of Suffield on his new position as CEO of CT Main Street Center. Founded by past CEO, John Simone, CT Main Street Center’s mission “is to be the catalyst that ignites Connecticut’s Main Streets as the cornerstone of thriving communities.”
“I am looking forward to working with the Board of Directors and staff of the Connecticut Main Street Center, as well as member municipalities, State agencies, private sector supporters and others to enhance downtowns throughout the State,” said Mr. McMahon. “There is great untapped economic and community development potential in our downtowns, town centers and village districts. It will be our role to unleash that potential so that our Main Streets are the thriving hearts of community life and economic opportunity.”