This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. This week, we’re looking at the policies that should have passed this legislative session, proposals to ensure safe 2020 elections, and whether students have a right to learn to read.
2020 Legislative Session Would Have Closed Today
If not for the all-encompassing pandemic, today would have marked the end of the 2020 legislative session. But many significant policy changes that might have been were stalled. We hope for a return to these in 2021. For our part, the top three changes we’d like to have seen were:
Funding for Danbury Prospect, a charter school that was authorized to open by the State Board of Education, but that has yet to be funded by the State. Eventually, opening this school will help to alleviate the overcrowding and offer new opportunities for students in the Danbury Public School District.
Passage of our incentive for inclusive housing and education policy—which linked education and housing needs by providing bonuses in school construction grants to municipalities that undertake serious efforts to create more inclusive housing and zoning policies.
Removal of nonmedical exemptions from school immunization requirements (an idea that has become more relevant as the world races towards a COVID-19 vaccine).
What do you wish had been able to pass this session? What do you anticipate for next session?
CT's Plan for Safe and Secure Voting
In our upcoming Phone Forum this week, we’ll be hearing from Secretary of State Denise Merrill about several initiatives to ensure safe and secure voting in 2020. Among Secretary Merrill’s ideas are: making polling places safer through sanitization and extra staffing; launching a public awareness campaign so that voters know they have safe and secure options; and amending a statutory implementer of our State Constitution—so that future instances of global illness become permissible reasons for voters to have the option of absentee ballots.
Thursday Phone Forum Details (DFER CT) featuring Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Senator Will Haskell - Committee on Elections, and Michael Mandell - Former Ed of CT Dems
Do Students Have a Right to Learn to Read?
We’ve written a lot in 2020 about needed changes to Connecticut's literacy curriculum—highlighting the science of reading and the goal of incorporating rigorous phonics instruction statewide. We also supported a bill introduced by Representative Pat Miller that sought to establish a Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success to systematize a statewide plan on improving reading instruction. This week, proponents of state-level efforts to address reading instruction properly will be interested in Gary B. v. Snyder, a decision from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said students have a right to a basic minimum education, including “a chance at foundational literacy.” Although the decision doesn't directly impact Connecticut, it could eventually lead courts to acknowledge that depriving students of a meaningful opportunity to learn how to read may be unconstitutional.
CT Insider: “Tech ‘will never replace a good teacher,’ but it’s a good tool” (ERN Mention)
Hartford Courant: “Gov. Ned Lamont closes CT schools for rest of academic year due to coronavirus Pandemic” (ERN Mention)
CT Insider: “Education experts say work needed to prevent ‘COVID-19 slide’” (DFER Mention)
(OpEd from Senator Doug McCrory)