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Appropriations Committee budget, Biden’s candidacy, + early departure for Bridgeport Superintendent

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: the Appropriations Committee’s proposed budget, Joe Biden’s candidacy, and early departure for the Bridgeport Superintendent.

Appropriations Proposes Biennial Budget

Yesterday, the Appropriations Committee--led by Co-Chairs Senator Cathy Osten and Representative Toni Walker--released its proposed biennial budget for Fiscal Years 2020-2021. Senator Osten described the budget as increasing local education funding and investments in job training. However, the Appropriations budget would eliminate funding for educational shared services; Governor Lamont had proposed $800,000 towards these efforts. In response, DFER CT State Director Amy Dowell released a press statement, urging the legislature to include funding for regionalizing district administrative services, a policy that would produce more efficient and more fair opportunity for students. Notably, now that the Appropriations Committee has passed its budget, the legislature must take steps to finalize it, a process that might result in a very different final budget for the biennium.

Biden Opens With a Big Lead

This week also saw the official launch of former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign for President. Offering himself as an alternative to President Trump--who responded to a white supremacist protest by opining that there were “very fine people on both sides”--Biden is framing the 2020 elections as a battle for America’s soul. The candidate spent more on Facebook ads than the combined total of the next five high-spending Democratic candidates (Warren, Sanders, Yang, Inslee, and Buttigieg). He also raised $6.3M in the 24 hours following his campaign announcement--the largest first-day total of any 2020 candidate. Biden presents his policy ideas as an extension of the Obama-era. On education, so far, he’s been talking broadly about college affordability; in previous years, he has called for 16 years of free public education, as well as universal pre-K.

Bridgeport Superintendent Departs Earlier Than Planned

At the beginning of this month, the news broke that Bridgeport Superintendent Aresta Johnson would only stay on in her role for another year--amidst suggestions that she was leaving due to the ongoing dysfunction of her board. Well, we learned yesterday that she will now be leaving the position even sooner than planned, effective July 31, 2019. A Bridgeport English teacher, the former runner-up for State Teacher of the Year, commented that, “given the dysfunction of the board,” he doesn’t know how the district will be able to attract good leadership.


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