Our sixth internship post comes from Sheridan, MPP accelerated 2014.
A little known fact that most people don’t know is that Connecticut has the largest achievement gap, of any state in the country. I’ve spent my summer working at the Connecticut Council of Education, as they work to close the state’s long standing “achievement gap.” The Connecticut Council of Education Reform (CCER) works to raise public awareness about Connecticut’s achievement gap, advocate for education policies and reforms, and collaborate with the State Department of Education and district and school leaders to support the implementation of policies and reforms at the local level.
CCER is hosting myself and two other Graduate Summer Fellows in New Haven to conduct a financial analysis of Waterbury Public Schools. We are using methodology and resources provided by Education Resource Strategies (ERS). ERS is a non-profit consulting firm that works with leaders of public school systems across the country to rethink the use of district and school-level resources.
In collaboration with ERS, our analysis of Waterbury Public School’s spending is generating insights on how resources are currently allocated amongst Waterbury schools while offering a comparison to similar-sized school districts across the nation and other school districts within Connecticut. The insights of this analysis, and our corresponding recommendations, will be presented to Waterbury’s Board of education and the State Board of Education. The goal of our team’s recommendations is to provide the district’s education leaders with an opportunity to view their resources holistically and consider funding trade-offs, empowering the district to intelligently invest in its most important priorities. Intelligent investment is one of CCER’s six major policy focuses for addressing Connecticut’s achievement gap.
Up to this point I’ve spent most of my time going through and coding the districts financial data to align with ERS’ methodology and analysis tools. Over the past couple weeks we’ve begun transitioning from the coding to the analysis phase of the project. Last week I met the Waterbury Superintendent and her leadership team to get an understanding of their budget process and their perspective on the district’s financial state. This week I’m traveling to Boston to meet with some of ERS’s directors, project managers, and data analysts to share our team’s preliminary findings and conduct a hypothesis generation discussion to brainstorm possible recommendations for Waterbury.
As I enter the final weeks of the fellowship I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with CCER again for my Advanced Policy Project (APP). While proposal approval is pending, CCER and I are looking into conducting an analysis of Connecticut’s formula for funding localities education systems to identify the most transparent, effective, and equitable method of supporting school districts.
At first I was weary of the impact I would have as a fellow or intern, let alone whether I would find something that would actually meet Batten’s “summer internship experience” requirement. But I have had a rewarding and fulfilling experience working at CCER to this point. I have been fortunate to being doing something that is discrete and requires making recommendations to education officials and leaders that are being seriously considered. Not to mention I have a newfound appreciation/expertise in Excel (Excel truly is a beautiful thing!). I’m having a real policy impact, which is the reason I wanted to join the Batten School and why I want to study/work on public policy.