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Coalition Launches to Modernize Teacher Pipeline, State Officials Express Pride in Right to Read, Secretary Cardona in CT

Coalition Launches to Modernize Teacher Pipeline!

On Thursday, a group of educators, researchers, advocates, and non-partisan legislative staff launched the New Teacher Track Coalition. In light of damaging teacher shortages, New Teacher Track seeks to modernize educator preparation and certification in Connecticut, in order to increase teacher efficacy and diversity. Our affiliate, Education Reform Now CT, is one of seven coalition members. The coalition pinpoints three high-level barriers in Connecticut’s teacher pipeline:

  1. A costly teacher preparation program that leaves too many new teachers ill-prepared; 

  2. A tiered certification system that is mis-aligned with modern-day workforce needs; and 

  3. A lack of transparent data for accountability and decision-making. 

Many of these problems, the coalition notes, disproportionately keep candidates of color out of the profession. The group is also supportive of the ongoing efforts of the Connecticut Educator Certification Council—which is building consensus for a robust set of recommendations to modernize and align Connecticut's educator certification processes.

This morning, Governor Lamont unveiled his first 2024 legislative proposal, which included eliminating the initial application fee for educator certificates—consistent with the coalition’s agenda.

A New Teacher Track info sheet says that there were over 1,200 teacher vacancies at the start of the 2022-23 school year, and 71% of them were in the state's highest need districts. Moreover, according to a PBS News story over the weekend, 70% of schools nationwide say they have openings for special education teachers. 

“We are excited that this coalition is banding together to raise awareness about these barriers in our state and to seek solutions,” said Education Committee Co-Chair Senator Doug McCrory in a press statement

“Every Connecticut student—especially underserved students—must have access to highly effective and diverse teachers,” said Education Committee Co-Chair Representative Jeff Currey.

State Officials Express Pride in Right to Read

“Educators and leaders facilitated a dialogue to highlight why literacy matters and to discuss future opportunities,” writes WTNH of an impressive literacy forum hosted by the Connecticut State Department of Education at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday. You can watch a full recording of the event—which featured an array of national, state, and local stakeholders supportive of Connecticut’s Right to Read" legislation—here. Speakers included:

  • Governor Ned Lamont

  • Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker

  • Dr. Melissa Hickey of the Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success

  • Senator Doug McCrory and Representative Jeff Currey, Education Committee Co-Chairs

  • Researchers and literacy experts 

  • Gary Highsmith, Superintendent of Hamden Public Schools

  • Natasha Hutchinson, Principal of Plainfield Memorial School

  • Shaena Malone, Educator and Reading Specialist in Coventry Public Schools

  • And more!

“This is a basic civil right, and we're going to make sure that regardless of background, everybody has that skill," Gov. Ned Lamont said at the top of the program. 

A CT Mirror article this morning emphasized a small but vocal minority of district leaders who have repeatedly pushed back about needing to make changes for students. The common link for these districts is their wish to continue utilizing balanced literacy approaches, like Teachers College Units of Study and Fountas and Pinnell. That’s in spite of these programs having been roundly dismissed by literacy experts as unscientific and ineffective. (Click for links demonstrating that the districts mentioned in this article are using these debunked curricula: Westport, Greenwich, Southington.)

The CT Mirror article misses the far greater narrative—one that was on full display at the state’s forum on Thursday: Many, many educators and districts feel enthusiastic about what this bill means for students and families. Over 100 districts are actively engaging in state-sponsored professional development to further the bill’s intent. It is backed by the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, the Chairs of the Education Committee, and the Governor.

WSHU's coverage quotes Commissioner Russell-Tucker as summing up this effort eloquently: "‘It takes all of us,’ Russell-Tucker said. ‘I want our students, when they're looking in at all of us, to see that we are indeed working together. We're truly collaborating, we're truly partnering together so that they can have the best outcomes possible.’"

US Education Secretary Cardona in CT

According to WTNH, US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona was in New Haven on Monday, announcing a $2.5M “full service community schools” grant for two schools in the district. Cardona was joined by US Senator Richard Blumenthal, US Representative Rosa DeLauro, Mayor Justin Elicker, and New Haven Superintendent Madeline Negron to announce the grant. The New Haven Register explains that the goal is to support students’ physical and mental health, stability, and wrap-around services through community resources that extend beyond the school day. For these two New Haven schools, the program will be run by Clifford Beers over the next five years, coordinating 14 community organizations and agencies. Connecticut Public Radio notes that Clifford Beers is one of 30 recipients of these grants nationwide.


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