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Tackling vaccine exemptions, the "reading wars," and ongoing ed mentions on the presidential trail


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. On the roster this week: Connecticut tackles non-medical vaccine exemptions, the “reading wars” and the rise of phonics instruction, and ongoing ed mentions on the presidential trail.


Vaccines: Keeping Classrooms Healthy

Today, the Public Health Committee of the General Assembly is holding a public hearing on H.B. 5044, a bill that would remove non-medical exemptions to school immunization requirements. Our affiliate, ERN CT, has been an active advocate of this important step to keep schools safe and healthy for all students, as a precondition of learning—including hosting a forum this past fall with legislators and medical professionals, publishing an Op Ed in the CT Mirror, and conducting a poll of voter opinions on the issue. The medical consensus is clear that we need vaccines to prevent the spread of preventable illnesses. Accordingly, ERN CT today submitted public testimony and issued a press statement in support of the bill before the legislature, expressing gratitude to the elected officials who are working to protect the health of CT’s youngest citizens. Governor Lamont’s press statement today, also in support of the bill, pointed to a possible correlation between social media's ability to spread misinformation and decreases in vaccination levels.


Featured Story: The New York Times on Phonics

This past weekend, The New York Times looked at the science of reading in the face of lagging national test scores. In contrast to the widely accepted "balanced literacy" approach taught to many teachers (which seeks to imbue a love of reading without focusing too much on technicality), the science of reading emphasizes deliberate phonics instruction. The data supports this approach time and again. According to the article, Washington and Mississippi are the only two jurisdictions to have increased their reading scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress, both after requiring more phonics instruction. Is CT’s constant commitment to local control letting too many students fall behind on reading using balanced literacy? What curriculum is your district utilizing?


Ongoing Ed Mentions on the Presidential Trail

This week, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg released his plan for higher education. While other candidates have emphasized affordability, Bloomberg's plan also tackles college quality. Regarding the latter, the national office of Education Reform Now specifically identified Bloomberg's plan for calling to dismantle legacy preferences in college admissions, and for rewarding selective colleges that increase both enrollment and completion rates for low-income students. We will continue to monitor and highlight the education policy of all candidates as campaign season continues.