With Humility and Gratitude


Dear Mrs. Santos,

It is with the utmost gratitude for the educators and families of Windsor that I would encourage us to re-watch the full board meeting and reflect with openness on the statements shared, and undertones taken. (Watch board meeting here: http://windsor-ct.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=583, budget discussion begins at 00:40:00)

For the record, the Republican Caucus of the  Windsor Board of Education does not support homogenous grouping.

We have moved beyond the interpersonal conflict that was so pervasive in past terms and have come to the current term with humility and gratitude – with a solution focused perspective that is centered in possibilities.

Furthermore, no one on the Board is here for any other reason than to promote an educational system within our district that  fosters an equitable opportunity for achieving the genius and full potential of every student.

As we requested during the budget process, we ask that whole-class leveled instruction strictly for Grades 3-5 in the subjects of ELA and Math, along with grades 6-8 ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies be considered.

We can have a discussion on research based  models for leveled instruction at a later during a full board meeting, with possible action to refer to curriculum committee for further consider, as I am fully aware that models are in existence, such as the http://www.heinemann.com/fountasandpinnell/research/lliresearchbase.pdf.

Although, the 3 student per level model is clearly not an efficient approach and so that is why we have asked for whole class leveled instruction.  It would be anticipated that differentiation would still occur through this model because of the unique developmental, instructional, and social-emotional needs that every student possess as human beings.

I have attached the language submitted for consideration during the budget process that speaks to what we, as a caucus, requested.  I would note that we could have included our intention to promote ongoing systematic assessment and data driven movement between levels within the document, and for that we opened ourselves to criticism.

We recognize that, as it was agreed upon across multiple board members at the last meeting, consistent movement between levels coupled with strong oversight of multiple demographic indicators will be of critical importance.

As it is described, leveled instruction allows for the scaffolding of knowledge and the movement of students along a continuum that is tailored as the best fit for their instructional needs – true individualized learning.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read through, and consider, the content of this email.

With Respect,

Michaela I. Fissel

Member, Windsor Board of Education


On Feb 19, 2016, at 12:37 AM, Santos, Cristina <csantos@windsorct.org> wrote:

Mrs. Rizzo-Holmes,

I am writing this evening to share my concern about your insinuation, on camera conveniently, that I share any affiliation to the concept Homogeneous Grouping of our elementary children. Additionally, I am writing to caution you and your caucus, that you not attempt to spin any comments, sentiments and/or convictions that I hold. I will not allow you, or your caucus, to put words in my mouth ever again. Furthermore, I have a right to my opinion and should I desire to share it, I will speak for myself. Hence, this public email, given FOIA, is to set the record straight on your statement of 2/17/16 during the Regular Meeting of the Board inferring that I have ‘changed my position’.

For the record, I have never, nor will I ever, support Homogeneous Grouping as has been championed by Minority Leader Paul Panos during his entire time as a member of the Windsor Board of Education. At no time ever as an elected official, since November 2007, have I agreed, publicly or privately, with this archaic and discriminatory practice. Let me remind you the last time you and members of your caucus were in my home, 3/16/14, the ferocious, heated argument at my dining room table where I adamantly, unequivocally, stated I would have nothing to do with, ever, the concept of Homogeneous Grouping. I have not “changed my position”. Last night you attempted to spin I previously supported Homogeneous Grouping. Not a chance!

I have shared and spoken in support before, by example, my children’s time at OE and their reading program called SFA. It was, from a parent perspective, a reading model that my children did well under. Perhaps other parents did not feel the same way. But, that was a small portion of their time during the school day. And let’s be clear, all classrooms were heterogeneously grouped to ensure balance by gender, race, ethnicity while still accounting for Special Education inclusion. That SFA model worked well during the late 90’s, early 2000’s for the student population at the time. Those are not the children we have today, and that model has long since passed its’ prime. Luckily, for today’s children Education is not stagnant. And, our children are lucky to have a comprehensive Multi-Tiered Support System developed by our district leadership that will ensure their needs are met both in academic and social/emotional areas.

Your model, as described and explained throughout this budget process by Mr. Panos, is taking an entire grade level (example given was 6 classes), and leveling children into three groups (audio 2/2/16) putting these children together as a classroom. In my opinion, that is not acceptable.

It has become abundantly clear that you like to “attack me” for any/all comments I make. Last month, you jumped all over me when I made a statement that during the Finance Committee Meeting of January 11, which lasted 1:30:23, no objection was put forth regarding Budget Assumption #12, line #2. The fact is that not a single comment was made by yourself, or any Republican, on Budget Assumption #12, line #2 at the January 11 Finance Committee Meeting, which was specifically added to review the budget assumption document. Your comeback at me was again playing spin for the cameras. Next time, do committee work in committee, that is why we are a committee of nine!

I don’t “flip-flop” on my convictions, but I do wear flip-flops to the beach. The next time you attempt to put words in my mouth, or speak for me, I will immediately call you to task, on camera or otherwise. STOP playing political games!

Instead, use your energy toward helping all of Windsor’s children.

Mrs. Santos

Cristina Santos

President- Windsor Board of Education

One comment

  1. I find the above letter from the Board President very disturbing. I watch the Board meetings on WIN TV most times, and my opinion is that there is terrible animosity between the two parties on the Board and that is hurting our school system. I don’t know what can be done to heal the situation, but if things do not improve, I foresee the same budget referendum problems we had last year. I realize the vast amount of time and energy the board members, who are all volunteers, put into their positions and I appreciate their commitment to their responsibilities. I agree with Michaela Fissel that all board members should view the board meeting and try to see where there are bad attitudes that need to be corrected. Publicly sending letters criticizing one another is NOT the answer.


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