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: expanding Open Choice, Lamont’s first 100 days, and growing support for district regionalization.
Opening Up “Open Choice”
Connecticut’s Open Choice program allows students to attend school in any participating district within the region in which they reside. But only four regions (Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and New London) are permitted to participate. The program addresses two key questions that have been raised as the state explores the idea of regionalization: (1) Why do some towns have the capacity to provide greater educational opportunities than others? (2) When districts face declining enrollment and have extra seats, why shouldn’t those spots be filled by students from neighboring towns? We’re calling for expansion of this program because it provides more opportunity for students, while also addressing declining enrollment in districts.
First 100 Days
Governor Ned Lamont hits a milestone tomorrow, marking his first 100 days in office. Meeting in New Britain with 25 members of his transition committee, the Governor highlighted his accomplishments, including: building a diverse administration, repairing relationships with the business community, and securing a $100 million pledge from the Dalio foundation.
The Changing the Conversation on Regionalization
The Hartford Courant reported last week that the voices in opposition to regionalization (largely from wealthy districts that would not be impacted by the legislature’s proposals) had formed a PAC explicitly to fight the idea. DFER CT (and our sister organization, ERN CT) has been the only advocacy voice in support of legislation to maximize funding efficiency and share opportunity among school districts. Both the CT Post and CT News Junkie listed district regionalization and shared services as among Lamont’s most significant policy proposals (see articles listed above). And in his opinion about the Dalio Foundation’s $100M grant, Hugh Bailey--editorial page editor of the New Haven Register--concluded that maybe some of the Dalio funding should go towards selling regionalization, the “best idea” in the state, to rich towns. We’re proud to have helped the regionalization idea to gain traction, and to have kept the focus on equity and student interests.