Education Reform: Two Steps Forward, but …

03.11.2011
Issues & Policies

Positive proposals in the legislature’s Education Committee are designed to bring reform to Connecticut’s education system, but another measure would set those efforts back.  

The committee this week heard testimony on a sweeping proposal to consolidate the various state agencies and offices responsible for the delivery of early child care and education.

Under SB 1106, a new Department of Early Education and Child Development would work to establish effective state leadership and accountability in the drive to reform our schools.

Debate on the details of this consolidation is likely to be extensive. Competing interests will have to recognize that Connecticut’s schoolchildren must be the principal beneficiaries of this consolidation.

While CBIA envisions a “leaner, more efficient government agency” working with private and nonprofit entities to provide early childhood education and services, others might disagree. Focus will stay on the goal of reform only if the interested parties maintain a relationship of trust and understanding during this process.  

Another measure heard this week (HB 6500) would require stricter standards for both new teacher certification and school financial accounting.

Requiring those seeking an elementary-level teaching certificate to pass an “approved mathematics assessment in order to be eligible for such … endorsement” is a measure that can improve the quality of our state’s teachers.  

What’s more, the development of a uniform system of accounting for school expenditures will serve to correct the murky condition of accounting at the school level, better enabling the public and lawmakers to “follow the dollars” and keep abreast of how education investments are being applied.

This measure is a key first step in reforming school finance. The committee is also considering postponing the already long-overdue school reforms passed into law last year. Further delay, as recommended in HB 6498, would be devastating for our schoolchildren, many tens of thousands of whom already fail to attain basic proficiency in reading and math.

Once again, Connecticut would be outpaced by other states. This proposal puts us at an increasing disadvantage compared to the 20 states that have already adopted similar reforms, harming the future prospects of a large number of children along the way. Last year’s reforms were duly enacted to address a serious problem; we cannot afford to delay implementation any longer.

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