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: first 30 days of the legislative session; and exploring CT’s preparedness for the census.
One Month Into the 2020 Legislative Session
You’ve heard a lot about our work on removing non-medical exemptions to school vaccination requirements—but one month into the legislative session, what else is the legislature considering? While legislators and interested stakeholders await committee decisions on which pieces of education legislation will move forward, we’re checking in on the important debates taking place at the Capitol.
College Affordability: Yesterday, the General Assembly’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee held a public hearing on a bill that would fund debt-free community college. The Committee also issued a joint favorable report on a bill that would make filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) a high school graduation requirement in Connecticut.
Consolidating Higher Ed: Last week, Amy gave testimony before the Committee in support of Students First, an initiative of the CSCUs to consolidate the administrations of CT's 12 community colleges in order to reduce overhead and fully implement Guided Pathways across all of the campuses. In her testimony, Amy referenced the ERN CT report released this past fall. "Less for More: Low Rates of Completion and High Costs at Connecticut's Four-Year Colleges" identified low rates of completion and high costs in many of Connecticut's four-year colleges. The report's findings suggest a critical need to increase both affordability and quality in the state's system of higher education, especially to better serve traditionally underrepresented populations.
Literacy: On Friday, the Education Committee will hold a public hearing on legislation that expands intensive reading instruction efforts in the early years, and establishes a Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success within the SDE. With disappointing NAEP and PISA reading results, we are watching to see if action will be taken to address literacy in 2020.
We’ll keep you posted as these and other important pieces of legislation progress this session.
Underprepared for the Census?
Beginning next week, most households will receive a mailed invitation to participate in the decennial census, a count of the American people that has been taking place since 1790 in order to allocate seats to the US House of Representatives and disburse hundreds of billions of federal dollars to state and local communities, covering important programs like education, health care, and housing. But those dollars are at risk. Public officials and interested philanthropists are warning that if Connecticut residents are undercounted, the state could lose billions in federal revenue.
Since federal funding and organizing for census field operations have been cut, other states have wisely invested millions in census outreach. But Connecticut has only committed about 14 cents per resident—according to a Hartford Courant OpEd by Jay Williams of the Hartford Foundation of Public Giving and Juanita James of the Fairfield County Community Foundation. In contrast, New York has committed $3 per resident. In addition, counting Connecticut residents will be very challenging. More than one in five live in “hard to count” areas, including 54% of Latinx and 55% of Black residents.
To make matters worse, on Friday, a Public News Service story said many adults incorrectly believe they'll receive an email link to the 2020 census, making them susceptible to “imposter scams.” In fact, the invitation will arrive by regular mail, directing residents to reply by phone or online. Those who haven’t participated by April will then get a paper questionnaire. Especially as one of the states paying the most federal income tax—it’s imperative that Connecticut accurately count all the members of our communities so that we can meet their growing needs. Visit portal.ct.gov/census2020 to find out more.