To the partners, friends, advocates, educators, and leaders who help us to make an impact on Connecticut students—here's a look at all that we've accomplished together this year.
More to come in 2023! Wishing you and all Connecticut students health, happiness, and big dreams.
- The DFER CT Team -
KICKING OFF THE
Our affiliate, ERN CT, began 2022 with the release of its legislative priorities. At the start of session, ERN CT was vocal about Governor Lamont's proposed budget, urging the legislature to take on greater responsibility over the needs of Connecticut students.
Beyond the advocacy efforts ERN CT would lead throughout the legislative session, the CT team would also closely monitor every bill that touched upon public education, submitting public testimony on numerous issues in which to play a supportive role.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
In a report on state plans for funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), our national affiliate, Education Reform Now, applauded Connecticut for emphasis on student equity. This outcome follows an ongoing collaboration between our state chapter and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) throughout the pandemic, which informed their amendments to their initial federal submission.
TEACHER PENSIONS AND STUDENT EQUITY
ERN and ERN CT co-hosted an event about how teacher pensions impact resource equity, building upon a report jointly released by ERN CT and the Equable Institute at the end of last year.
It established a new equity metric for the state of Connecticut: the Per Pupil Pension Subsidy. By looking at these state costs on a per pupil basis in each district, the report uncovered profound resource inequities.
2022 panelists included CT House Majority Leader Jason Rojas and Education Week reporter Madeline Will.
HIGHER EDUCATION ACCESS
ERN CT worked with legislative allies to introduce two new pieces of legislation on college access.
One sought to ban legacy preferences in Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, a form of discrimination during the admissions process.
Another targeted the "transcript trap," a process of withholding credentials from students with debts.
ERN CT submitted testimony on each of these bills and organized submissions by other advocates. The CT team also testified in support of legislation that would mandate FAFSA completion as a high school graduation requirement.
PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE
ERN CT and the Connecticut Charter Schools Association collaborated to explain the existing, unbalanced charter authorization process and the need for a policy fix.
The CT team advanced a bill on this topic before the Education Committee, which voted in favor after a public hearing.
When the Appropriations Committee voted for unfortunate substitute language that would have harmed the public charter school sector, ERN CT worked in coalition to kill the bill before it reached the Senate floor.
Accelerated phase-in of need-based weights for charteres
Funding for 175 additional charter seats
The legislature considered several bills aimed to address teacher quality, preparation, and certification. ERN CT submitted testimony urging careful study of the topic so that it could be addressed strategically.
Later in September, ERN CT released an analysis of Connecticut's efforts to diversify its educator workforce, comparing the demographic makeup of student and teacher populations across the state and within individual districts.
"RIGHT TO READ"
Throughout the year, ERN CT worked actively with the CSDE, legislative allies, and thought partners to support implementation of the "Right to Read" legislation passed last year.
In December, ERN CT Executive Director Amy Dowell participated on a panel of national literacy experts, including Emily Hanford from American Public Media.
Public Discourse: When the Republican challenger for the gubernatorial race amped up extremist rhetoric surrounding a "parental bill of rights," Amy argued that Connecticut voters are less interested in divisive identity politics when it comes to their children’s education—and more interested in academic recovery, children’s emotional health and safety, and the use of federal recovery dollars. The piece was published in local papers across the state.
Polling: In October, ERNA CT commissioned a new poll that showed most likely voters trusted Democrats over Republicans on issues related to Connecticut schools and education.
Get Out the Vote: Leading up to the elections, ERNA CT conducted a GOTV campaign that targeted young voters and voters of color in select counties who had previously missed at least one election during which they had been eligible to vote.
Ultimately, Democrats swept in Connecticut, securing reelection for Governor Ned Lamont and US Senator Richard Blumenthal, winning all five US House races, and taking all races for the constitutional offices—Secretary of the State, Treasurer, Comptroller, and Attorney General. In addition, the outcomes of the state legislative races expanded Democratic majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.