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CT's Legacy Bill Makes National Headlines, and Efforts to Address Teacher Diversity

Connecticut’s Legacy Bill Makes Headlines 

On Thursday, some of the members of Connecticut’s Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement sat through more than six hours of public testimony, largely regarding a bill that would end the discriminatory practice of legacy preference in Connecticut college admissions. Legacy preference describes a weighted advantage that some colleges give to applicants with family members who are alumni. It perpetuates racial and socio-economic inequities by giving an extra benefit to students with multigenerational privilege—and research from our affiliate, ERN CT, shows that over a quarter of CT 4-year colleges explicitly engage in this practice.

The bill currently under consideration would make Connecticut the first state in the nation to ban the practice in both public and private colleges. An article by CT Insider on Thursday noted that the proposal has support from lawmakers in both parties, local and national advocates, and many students and professors. "The one constituency not convinced?" the article observes. "The universities themselves." 

At the public hearing, an impressive contingent of students from Yale University argued that legacy admissions present a significant barrier to students from low-income backgrounds and first-generation college students. They said that’s particularly unfair in light of the US Supreme Court's recent decision to end affirmative action admissions.

The hearing made national news, with NBC quoting Senator Derek Slap, co-chair of the Higher Education Committee, as remarking that Yale's nonprofit status, "means that they have to operate with the public good in mind.” In an interview with NBC Connecticut, student Birikti Kahsai, a Yale College Council senator, expanded upon that notion, adding that, “The continued use of legacy admissions is a serious betrayal of colleges' responsibilities." CT News Junkie also quotes Yale Law student Saman Haddad, who spoke on behalf of the Yale Graduate and Professional Student Senate, as saying: “Legacy preference admission values lineage over learning, wealth over income mobility, and sameness over diversity. Yale has had the opportunity to change, but has not, and this is unacceptable.” Indeed. 

We look forward to the Committee’s imminent vote on this bill.

Addressing Educator Diversity: In New Haven and Statewide

The New Haven Independent* reports that, following a presentation by Superintendent Madeline Negrón on Thursday, the local Board of Education approved an "Increasing Educator Diversity Plan." New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) was made up of 89.5% students of color last year, as compared to only 29.9% educators of color, according to data from EdSight. That’s a gap of nearly 60 percentage points. In December 2023, our affiliate, ERN CT, released a report on Connecticut's Diversity Gap, analyzing the demographic differences between teachers and students across the state. Although Connecticut's Diversity Gap is widening over time, it topped at a 41.3 percentage point difference in the 2022-23 school year (11.2% teachers of color statewide to 52.5% students of color). In other words, NHPS has a far more diverse educator workforce, but it also has a wider diversity gap.

The district's goal is to increase its number of educators of color by 15 percent by the end of the 2026-27 school year. Educators for Excellence alumna Sarah Diggs, who is NHPS' Coordinator of Recruitment and Retention, presented numerous strategies to increase educator diversity, including: increasing recruitment within and outside-of Connecticut; developing new career pathways for students and employees; looking at bias in hiring practices; building a teacher residency program; and piloting a mentorship program that pairs educators of color with veteran educators. This is an exciting proposal, so we’ll be watching closely to see whether it’s a scalable model.

Next week, we expect bill language to be released that reflects the deliberations of the Commissioner's Connecticut Educator Certification Council (CECC). The CECC’s goal was to pursue consensus-based policy solutions to align and modernize the process of becoming a teacher in our state—with intended outcomes including diversifying the educator workforce and opening pathways into the profession. (Much like the goals of the new diversity plan being piloted in New Haven.) In advance of the bill being presented on the Education Committee, New Teacher Track—an advocacy coalition working to support these ambitious efforts—has released a summary of its Legislative Goals. Check it out! 

* An emailed version of this newsletter incorrectly attributed this article to the New Haven Register. The coverage was actually by the New Haven Independent. Our apologies for this error.


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