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Teacher Trust and Diversity, and Sticking to the Budget

Teacher Trust and Diversity

The Pew Research Center released new data on Thursday regarding both what teachers wish families knew, and what the public thinks, about teaching. By and large, the data show how difficult teaching is, and that teachers feel undervalued, especially considering the level of care and attention they give to their students. However, the data also show that Democrats, in particular, have a lot of trust in teachers and understand the hard work they’re putting into their classrooms. 

Here in Connecticut, our systems of teacher preparation and certification should better reflect the confidence we have in teachers as professionals. This year’s educator certification bill, HB 5436, seeks to modernize the teacher pipeline by breaking down several overly prescriptive rules that have de-professionalized teaching (think: eliminating arbitrary tiers of certification, broadening grade bands for subject area specialization, and repealing antiquated regulations). 

However, additional changes are required to target the specific need for greater teacher diversity in Connecticut. The bill ought to remove burdensome testing requirements that disproportionately hinder candidates of color and that aren't tied to effectiveness—and also should eliminate a requirement that certified classroom teachers obtain a master's degree while working full time. These requirements drastically impede educator diversity while having little to no impact on teacher quality.

Mark your calendar for an upcoming legislative forum on educator diversity on April 23rd at 12:30pm. Hosted by ConnCAN, the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity, & Opportunity, Educators for Excellence CT, ERN CT, and New Teacher Track—this event at the Legislative Office Building will feature: 

  • Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker

  • Education Committee Co-Chair Senator Doug McCrory

  • Representative Bobby Gibson

  • NAACP CT's Jason Teal 

  • Relay Graduate School of Education’s Rebecca Good

  • Educators and Administrators

They will engage in a robust conversation about the current obstacles facing educators of color, as well as legislative solutions. You won’t want to miss it!

Sticking to the Budget

On Thursday, the Appropriations Committee declined to recommend its own budget proposal—thereby defaulting to the $51B biennial budget passed last year as a starting point for final budgetary negotiations this legislative session. The CT Mirror's Keith Phaneuf explains that Connecticut's two-year budget cycle means that, on even-numbered years, the legislature has an opportunity to make budget adjustments. The last time it opted not to do so was in 2020, when COVID hit—and before that, in 2008. 

Appropriations Co-Chairs Senator Cathy Osten and Representative Toni Walker say they still want to move resources around in order to support the state's public colleges, social services, and mental health—which should cost $300-$400M. But the CT Mirror story notes that Democratic leaders are arguing the original budget is not formally reopened, "as long as the bottom line remains unchanged." Later this month, we also expect tax revenue projections, another opportunity to negotiate over additional funding allocations. 

For advocates of educational resource equity, this could be a considerable win, since Governor Lamont’s budget proposed in February included cuts to the $150M in K-12 education funding that was passed last year. In fact, the Appropriations Committee also voted in favor of a bill, H.B. 5212, that would protect the $150M investment made last year and expand weighted funding to schools of choice. This would ensure that they, like all other public schools, are funded based upon students' learning needs. (Notable, however, is that two of the new public charter schools that are approved to open, Danbury Charter School and Capital Prep Middletown, remain unfunded in the original, biennial budget.)

As Daniel Pearson, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence CT, noted in a recent Letter to the Editor in the CT Examiner, "districts across the state have already begun drafting budgets with the promise of these funds." To be sure, the Hartford Public School District has announced over the past week that it is cutting 11% of its staff members, 387 positions. Similarly, the News-Times reported over the weekend that—in the face of insufficient funding, Danbury is considering half-day kindergarten, potential school closures, consolidating programs, and redistributing students. Districts across the state were already sounding the alarm on a budgetary crisis, even before considering potential cuts to the state grant.

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