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Educator Certification, Legacy Preference, Literacy, Education Funding, and Clean Air

We are in the home stretch, but zero education bills have passed both chambers. One week away from sine die, here is the status of the top education bills in Connecticut this 2024 legislative session. 

1. Educator Certification - HB 5436:

Years in the making, this bill—which builds off of the work of the Connecticut Educator Certification Council and New Teacher Track Coalition—has already been through several incarnations. The Substitute House Bill that is likely to be voted upon over the next week would do the following:

  • Eliminate a certification tier in order to simplify the process by which teachers can obtain professional status.

  • Broaden grade bands for various certification endorsements so that it’s easier to staff classrooms. 

  • Prioritize pathways for paraeducators to become teachers. 

  • Eliminate the burdensome performance assessment, edTPA, as a gating requirement for prospective teachers.

  • Establish a new standards board to monitor systems of preparation and certification on an ongoing basis.

However, we would still like to see this bill to further address the Praxis II assessment, which disproportionately keeps out candidates of color and is not strongly indicative of teacher effectiveness. (See advocacy from New Teacher Track Coalition members on this issue: Last week’s Op-Ed from Teach for America CT Executive Director Dolores Garcia-Blocker here. Testimony from CT NAACP Vice President and Education Chairman Jason Teal here.) 

Expect a vote on the updated language soon!


2. Legacy Preferences - SB 203:

Originally conceived of as a bill to ban the discriminatory practice of legacy admissions in both public and private institutions of higher education—this legislation passed out of the Committee on Higher Education with a bi-partisan vote. 

However, late last night, a new substitute Senate Bill eliminated the outright ban, instead requiring all institutions of higher education to either formally attest that they do not practice legacy or donor preference, or produce disaggregated data on admissions. That information would expose the extent to which donor relationships, legacy affiliations, and financial needs impact enrollment. 

Although not as decisive as a legacy ban, this new data reporting requirement could arm our state with the information to make decisions going forward about whether college admissions processes are as fair as they should be. On the Senate floor, Senator Derek Slap commented, “It was the former chancellor of the University of North Carolina who said, ‘You're talking about one of the best tickets to upward mobility in human history. So, there's a lot of debate about who deserves that ticket and who doesn't…’ Are we going to be a meritocracy or an aristocracy? … I believe it’s important to look at the data and see whether we’re truly helping to foster an equal playing field and give everybody a fair shot.”

The substitute language passed out of the Senate last night, and the bill now moves on to the House. Meanwhile, Maryland recently became the first state in the country to ban legacy preferences in private colleges, and the third to end it in public.


3. Implementing Right to Read - SB 14:

The Governor’s bill has an important section supporting implementation of Right to Read. Passed in 2021, Connecticut’s landmark literacy legislation requires the Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success (the Center) to oversee all state and local efforts related to literacy, including setting reading curriculum requirements for districts, providing professional development, and hiring external literacy coaches. 

The Governor’s bill builds upon that momentum by tasking the Center with making available to teacher preparation programs resources and research supporting scientifically-based reading instruction, as well as the Center’s K-3 Literacy Strategy. At the same time, it also requires the Office of Dyslexia to ensure educator preparation program compliance with the Right to Read effort. These changes will help the state to establish oversight over teacher preparation so that it aligns to the science of reading over the long-term.

Status: Passed out of both the Education and Appropriations Committees. On the Senate Calendar. 


4. Education Funding - HB 5212:

This bill protects the $150M investment in K-12 that the legislature committed to through its biennial budget last year, and implements an equitable, student-centered funding system that funds each and every public school student based on their learning needs. With just a week to go in this legislative session, this bill has yet to be called in either chamber. We hope it will find a pathway to passage over the weekend!

Status: Passed out of the Education and Appropriations Committees. On the House Calendar.


5. Clean Air in Schools of Choice - HB 5347:

Existing law allows boards of education to apply for state grants to cover the costs of replacing or upgrading their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Section 17 of this bill would extend eligibility for these state grants to endowed academies and state charter schools. All Connecticut students, after all, have a right to learn in environments with clean air, regardless of the type of school they attend.

Status: Passed out of the Committees on Education and Finance, Revenue, and Bonding. On the House Calendar.


Wishing all our partners in state government and advocacy 

big successes for students this last week!


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