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2022 Legislative Session Kicks Off; School Masking Decisions Go Local; Legacy Preference in CT

Kicking Off the 2022 Legislative Session

Today marks the start of the 2022 legislative session. Both the House and Senate kick off at 10am with separate sessions, and the Governor is expected to give his State of the State address at noon. We’ll be tuning in to see what’s on his agenda for public education.

Our affiliate, ERN CT, has a full 2022 policy agenda, even though this year’s session will be short! ERN CT is focused on both legislative and administrative efforts in five broad policy buckets: Resource Equity; Teacher Quality and Preparation; Accountability; Higher Ed Quality and Affordability; and Public School Choice. In fact, one of the ERN CT priority bills—which addresses legacy preferences in college admissions processes (more on that story below)—was already raised by the Higher Education Committee just yesterday. Watch this space!

School Masking Decisions Go Local

Members of the legislature had an informational hearing yesterday about Connecticut's school mask mandate. The contentious event follows almost two years of pandemic decision-making via emergency declarations. At the end of January, Governor Lamont asked the legislature to extend a slew of such emergency mandates, including one that allows the Commissioners of Education and Public Health to establish mandatory school masking rules. But on Monday, he said he hoped the masking requirement would be lifted at the end of this month. In other words, even if the legislature extends the emergency power, the commissioners could still lift the statewide mandate—leaving local boards of education to establish their own district-level requirements. The CT Post's coverage explores how leaving this as a local control decision could create tensions for educators and school officials.

Connecticut is one of three East Coast States, according to CNN, to have announced on Monday that it will lift school masking mandates—a move that goes against current guidance from the CDC.

CT Considers Ending Legacy Preferences in College Admissions

As mentioned above, Connecticut's Higher Education Committee has already raised a bill this legislative session that would put an end to the practice of using legacy preferences during the college admissions process. The term “legacy preference” refers to an advantage that is commonly given to college applicants who are related to alumni. By favoring students whose families have historical connections to institutions of higher education, the practice perpetuates systemic discrimination along racial and socio-economic lines. Literally by definition, legacy preferences also disadvantage first-generation students. Last fall, Amherst College announced that it would end the use of legacy preferences, following in the footsteps of schools like Johns Hopkins. And Colorado banned legacy preferences for public colleges in 2021.

Our affiliate, ERN CT, has taken a look at which of the state’s 4-year institutions consider legacy admissions according to public reporting; check out our full run-down of CT and national current practice HERE. The bill being considered by the Connecticut legislature this year would be especially noteworthy on the national stage because it would affect both public and private colleges in the state.

The timing is ripe too. Just this month, US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) introduced federal legislation that would ban institutions from using legacy preferences if they participate in federal student aid programs. We anticipate that this will be an important trend across the nation, one Connecticut could be ahead of.

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