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: Superintendents Endorse Right to Read; Districts Need a Plan on Relief Funds; and the Anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education.
Must Read: Superintendents on Right to Read Bill
Over the weekend, the superintendents of Bridgeport, Middletown, and Stamford endorsed H.B. 6620, the Right to Read bill, in a must read Hearst OpEd. They called for a statewide strategy to address early literacy, and observed that literacy practices to date simply haven’t been working for enough of Connecticut’s students. “There actually is a correct way to do this,” they wrote. “We have each begun to do this work in our districts and have witnessed first-hand how our students and teachers flourish. Some of us have revamped our curriculum and materials, some have engaged outside experts in the science of reading, and we’re all doing the critical work of providing professional development to our educators. But we need consistency from the state, and resources, to do all these things in concert and in earnest. All districts do.” We anticipate that the Right to Read bill will go before the full legislature in the coming weeks.
Your Chance to Weigh In on the Use of Federal ESSER Funds
In a press statement last Friday, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CDSE) has invited public comment on its development of a statewide ARP ESSER plan. The state will host two public forums to solicit input on Thursday and Friday this week. They’re also accepting written testimony.
At the beginning of the month, the CSDE released guidance for districts' ARP ESSER Plans, which are due in August. It encourages districts to "spark innovation" and serve the whole student, and identifies state-level priorities such as learning acceleration, social and emotional health, and the strategic use of technology. The bulk of that document, however, consists of a table listing guidance on "implementable initiatives and resources'' that districts have the option to pursue—falling short of offering a clear plan for districts who must stand up meaningful programs in a short time.
As Amy notes in ERN CT’s public comment on the forthcoming state plan, “Operating on the assumption that all districts are ‘unique and different’ exacerbates a ‘separate but equal’ standard for students and creates duplicative, wasteful spending. More guidance, not less, is in order.” You can read the full public comment HERE, and/or submit your own to SDE.ARPESSER@ct.gov.
The Anniversary of Brown v. Board
Monday marked the 67th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark US Supreme Court case, which set the precedent that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Don’t miss Sunday's Huffington Post opinion by Sharon Washington—an anthropologist who herself was bused from a Black neighborhood to a white one in 1974. She argues that the implementation of the 1970s integration process resulting from Brown failed because it mandated movement from Black schools to white ones. This suggested that "no good thing could come from Black neighborhoods," instead of offering Black families more choices. The piece echoes some of the 2019 thoughts from DFER National President Shavar Jeffries in his opinion for The 74. He said he’s skeptical of mandates forcing integration onto communities unless they can demonstrate that “the adults who staff our schools truly believe unquestionably in the genius of our children.”