SENATORS: Herlihy, Finch,

REPRESENTATIVES: Kerensky, Heagney,

REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT WARD: Good morning, Chairman Staples, Chairman Gaffey, members of the Education Committee. It's a pleasure to be here this morning to speak on the subject of a High School Exit Examination and it was interesting to listen to your earlier panel and I thank the Committee for treating seriously the issue of how to deal with both school accountability and student accountability.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you, Representative Ward. I have a series of questions, but I just want to ask a couple of you because I don't want to take too much of the Committee's time or your time, right now. You heard some of the testimony earlier, as you mentioned, from the National people about what the potential impacts are. One of them are, that the exit exams typically are a lower bar because it's a graduation exam.

REP. WARD: First let me say that the criticism at the (problem with tape) level that teachers are teaching to what we're testing in the Mastery Test, I don't find as criticism. We said that those tests measure things that you need to know to be a reasonably competent student.

REP. STAPES: Just one more question about some states, apparently, according to the ECS information they supplied us with, provides some funding for remediation. I mean, it's not going to be a great mystery to us since we all see Mastery Tests, as to what student populations, what districts have the greatest difficulties in achieving a high level of passage on an exit exam.

REP. WARD: I certainly think that it's appropriate to look at that issue. I don't think you look at it blindly. I mean, we obviously are already providing assistance in early reading success in hopes that that will help bring those up, so I don't think you'd look at it without looking at what we're doing.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Senator Gaffey.


REP. WARD: Morning, Senator.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you for coming, today. This is a very, very interesting subject to discuss and I must admit, at first I found myself a little betwicts and between on the issue. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that actually, the direction that Connecticut has approached, vis a vie, the funding, the School Readiness Program, the reading programs, how we conduct our Mastery Tests and CAPT testing, that we one, fund at the earliest of ages those types of educational skills, particularly reading, that typically are at the root of every challenge a student may find along the way.

REP. WARD: Senator, I would strike me that if the drop-out rate is that high, then perhaps there's been social promotion before that and the kids are getting to high school unprepared.

SEN. GAFFEY: I agree with you.

REP. WARD: I'm not suggesting that we don't continue to address that. This isn't a bill that says, cancel the fourth, sixth and eighth grade Mastery Test --

SEN. GAFFEY: No, I know it's not.

REP. WARD: -- and go to a High School Exit Exam.

SEN. GAFFEY: I know it's not, Bob, but I think that I would rather put the emphasis and the money on those programs that we have implemented over the last four years that already are showing great success. I mean, the Yale study on the Readiness Program shows an incredible success rate in our poorer school districts. That's my concern.

REP. WARD: Yes, Senator, I would say that I think the cost to society of instead allowing that kid to leave 12th grade without knowing what he or she should know to succeed in this world, what he or she should have to be a high school graduate, is a far greater cost.

SEN. GAFFEY: Well, I -- I --

REP. WARD: And if it costs us some money, it costs us some money.

SEN. GAFFEY: I'm with you on -- we don't want any student leaving high school without the fundamental capabilities to read, write and calculate. Absolutely. All I'm suggesting is that I think the statistics show your investment of those monies that we're going to have to spend, whether it's 11th grade, 12th grade -- you're better spending it in the early years of a child's education.

REP. WARD: I guess a million or two million dollars a year in a 12 billion dollar budget, five years from now -- I'm sure greater than 12 billion dollar budget, to have a meaningful exit exam, I don't think is an unreasonable cost.

SEN. GAFFEY: Is that the -- are those the numbers that OFA suggests, that this would be a million or two, a year?

REP. WARD: I didn't look at numbers this year, but in the past, I felt is was between one and two million to develop the test and then a similar amount annually, thereafter to -- you know, change it and put it in place.

SEN. GAFFEY: And are there numbers that you know of that the State Department has helped you out with, as far as students that are at the 12th grade level, ready to graduate, that are unable to utilize fundamental skills in reading, writing, calculating?

REP. WARD: I haven't asked for such numbers and I'm not sure that they have any way to measure which students are getting out, today, that don't have those skills, because we haven't tested for that.

SEN. GAFFEY: Well, is your bill based upon a presumption that these students are leaving Connecticut high schools unable to read, write and calculate at the 12th grade level?

REP. WARD: Based upon a belief that it's only reasonable that we measure that so that we can determine it and based upon an understanding that many of our institutions of higher education are requiring students to take non-credit English and math classes before they'll let them into the college class. That tells me they think there's something lacking, even at that level, --

SEN. GAFFEY: Well, that's not the way you get numbers, at. We can get numbers on that, as far as the first year in college and how many Connecticut students are being required to take remedial courses because they can't handle the typical freshman year -- you know, math, English, whatever course. I mean, that's something we ought to get.

REP. WARD: I presume that we can get those numbers. I've seen numbers but I don't want to -- it said as high as 30 percent of the students on one or the other, but I don't want to be held to that number because I looked for my source and couldn't find it, this morning --

SEN. GAFFEY: Okay, fair enough.

REP. WARD: -- and I may be incorrect.

SEN. GAFFEY: I thank you for appearing. It's a good discussion and let's continue the discussion.

REP. WARD: Good, thank you.

SEN. GAFFEY: Further? Okay, thanks, Bill Ward.

REP. WARD: Thank you.

SEN. GAFFEY: Representative Ferrari.

REP. FERRARI: Thank you, Senator Gaffey, Representative Staples and members of the Education Committee for the opportunity to testify, today in support of HB 5257, AN ACT CONCERNING HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAMINATIONS.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, sir, for attending the hearing and testifying. Any questions for Representative Ferrari from Committee members? Thank you very much. Representative Caruso.

REP. CARUSO: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. Thank you for allowing me to testify, today in support of raised HB 6889, AN ACT CONCERNING BILINGUAL EDUCATION. I'm in support of that bill and for the record would also like to state that I'm opposed to SB 449, AN ACT CONCERNING DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAMS, SB 292, AN ACT CONCERNING THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BI-LINGUAL EDUCATION IN CERTAIN SCHOOL DISTRICTS, and HB 6751, AN ACT CONCERNING MASTERY TEST EXEMPTIONS FOR LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT STUDENTS.

SEN. GAFFEY: Questions? Thank you, Representative Caruso.

REP. CARUSO: Thank you.

SEN. GAFFEY: Senator Bozek, from the great city of New Britain.

SEN. BOZEK: Good morning, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. GAFFEY: Good morning, Senator.

SEN. BOZEK: Gaffey and Staples and other distinguished members of the Education Committee. I hate to tell you, Tom. I forgot to write down what the bill number was on the Bilingual issue, that I had.

SEN. GAFFEY: I'll help you out with that, Senator, hold on a second.

SEN. BOZEK: So, for the record, my name is Thomas Bozek, I'm a State Senator from New Britain, representing New Britain and Berlin and I'm here to speak on the Bilingual Proposal bill that I have. The -- I forgot to write down the number and I left the bill upstairs --

SEN. GAFFEY: We'll get it for you.

SEN. BOZEK: Alright.

SEN. GAFFEY: SB 292, Senator.

SEN. BOZEK: SB 29 -- SB 292. Because there's so many issues and so much to say about this particular issue, I've -- I have some written notes and some bullet statements from items that -- of my large resource that I've brought with me.

SEN. GAFFEY: Excuse me, Senator.

SEN. BOZEK: Alright.

SEN. GAFFEY: I'm starting to have trouble hearing the Senator talk, so I'd like everybody to come to order. The rules of this Committee, if you have a cell phone, turn it off, because it's rude to the people who are testifying and it's rude to the people who are trying to be attentive. So, if you have it, turn it off. The next time it goes off, the person with that cell phone is going to asked to leave. Senator Bozek.

SEN. BOZEK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was -- because I didn't want to go through it, each of the articles -- I have an article here which reflects on the original reason for the bilingual bill which was the federal basis, article 16, I have here, 1974, the case Lowe versus Nichols and in this particular case, the constitutional basis for the bilingual education program in America ultimately was derived from Lowe versus Nichols which was unanimously decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in '74 where the decision held that placing of non-English speaking children in regular public school classrooms violated the equal protection of the 1964 Civil Rights.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thanks, Senator. There are legislators who have expressed in asking a question. Representative Boughton, you're first followed by Representative Boucher.

REP. BOUGHTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Senator Bozek for coming to testify, today. I just want to outline a scenario to you and maybe get your thoughts on it? About situations that we face every day in our public schools. Last week, last Wednesday, I was working in the office and eight students came in. Eight young people came in who had not be enrolled in school before, just arrived here in America, wanted to go to school.

SEN. BOZEK: Thank you very -- thank you. It is more of a unique proposal -- question or difficulty then the standard process that we have with the younger children that come into our system.

REP. BOUGHTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. GAFFEY: Your welcome, Representative. Representative Boucher.

REP. BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and welcome, Senator Bozek. You and I have a long history on this issue together because I know we had many spirited debates when we were trying to look at this issue a couple of years ago and really investigate what was going on.

SEN. BOZEK: I think the ESL program is a good program and it's a better workable program than the bilingual program, itself. I think that there is -- I'm interested in getting these kids out. I'm not opposed to the mechanics of providing other alternatives that in some cases, need to be tailored to a different type of youngster.

REP. BOUCHER: And you still have a problem with the 30 month time limit that someone would be in a program, such as --

SEN. BOZEK: -- that youngsters, if they're able to -- in this system, if they're able to learn, they'll pick it up right away and I think that 30 months is just a matter of, if you think they're learning the subject matter, I think that -- and they're learning some English, I think we're mistaking -- there are a lot -- I haven't met a teacher who thought it was a good program. And only the other day, I went to -- I went out to Southington, to a function where a federation of other than teachers, but people that work for the system, but there were some teachers. None of them thought that the program was good, but I think that -- oh, I lost my train of thought --

REP. BOUCHER: Well, I think the analysis on the 30 months is --

SEN. BOZEK: Yes, the 30 month, was that the children, if they're going to acquire English, they can do it in the classroom. If they're going to work with a bilingual teacher who many of them can't speak English, I mean, well, they're not conversant as it says in some of these articles, they're not -- then that child is held up.

REP. BOUCHER: You're concerned about having a teacher be qualified, was a concern that we also had on our Committee and on our Panel and that is why we took a look at the current legislation to make sure that we didn't have constant waivers for requirement for certification and this is why the legislation is tougher, today.

SEN. BOZEK: You know, there are some -- Representative, there are some children and it's pointed out in two of these articles, there are some children who are -- who can speak English, okay? And they can even read English, but they remain in the program because their parents want them.

SEN. GAFFEY: Further, Representative Reinoso.

REP. REINOSO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Mr. -- Senator Bozek. Senator, I was listening carefully. Your statements -- I'm an immigrant. I was born in Peru, very proud to be Latino. And I started my career, basically in the Bilingual Program at Harding High School in Bridgeport.

SEN. BOZEK: Well, in the article -- in two months, I don't think that I could learn the language to be --

SEN. GAFFEY: Again, I'm going to warn everybody. This Chair doesn't put up with outbursts. This man has an opinion. It may be at variance with other people's opinions. He's got a right to express it, just like everybody else in this room. So, let's be respectful. Let's not have any outbursts and let's let the dialogue continue between Representative Reinoso who has the floor, and Senator Bozek who is responding to his question.

SEN. BOZEK: In this case here, was a young child, and the article said that child -- that they converse when they came home and with their friends from school. Now, I'm sure it wasn't to the degree that they could read everything.

REP. REINOSO: Senator, my other question is, again, we have a student -- say that we have a student or students that are coming to this great country and they are in grade 11. Okay? Ready to become seniors and become successful young citizens and you know, to help the country.

SEN. BOZEK: Similar to the question before about an older youngster but still in the classroom area. I think that what probably is the best for that child is to be immersed and be with -- he's not going to be just alone.

SEN. GAFFEY: Senator, I want to thank you for coming today. I hate to cut off the dialogue, but as Legislators, we can have these dialogues on an on-going basis. There are some legislators that are waiting to testify. We want to get them in before the allotted time is up. Senator Bozek --

SEN. BOZEK: I appreciate your time and sensitivity to my dialogue. It's difficult to get some of these things on the table, Mr. Chairman but I think they're so important to the children and to their families and opportunities for all of us.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, Senator.

REP. RIENOSO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Bozek.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, Representative Reinoso. Appreciate it. Senator Hartley. You're next on the list.

SEN. HARTLEY: Good morning. Is it still morning? Oh, no. Good afternoon. I will attempt to be very brief. I know that it is a long day that you are all looking at, but I wanted to say the top of the morning to you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. GAFFEY: And the rest of day to you, Madame.

SEN. HARTLEY: Since we didn't have a chance to do that, last week. Mr. Chairman and members --

SEN. GAFFEY: I might add that Gaelic is one of the most difficult languages that anybody could learn, in this world.

SEN. HARTLEY: As we're talking about language.

SEN. GAFFEY: And one of the oldest.

SEN. HARTLEY: Yes, indeed. I am here -- for the record, my name is Joan Hartley. I am the Senator from the 15th District and I am here to testify on behalf of raised HB 1296, specifically, Mr. Chairman and Committee members, Section One of that bill. And I first of all would like to thank the Chairman and the leadership and the members of the Committee for raising this issue because indeed, it is one that I think needs the attention of this Committee.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you very much, Senator Hartley and we'll endeavor to push this language through for you.

SEN. HARTLEY: I thank you.

SEN. GAFFEY: You're welcome. Is Senator Crisco in attendance? I don't see Senator Crisco. Representative Martinez. Good afternoon, Representative Martinez.

REP. MARTINEZ: Good afternoon. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here today and thank you for raising this bill and also having this hearing here, today. And as you might know, I am a very proud Puerto Rican, North-American legislator trying to do the best that I can for the city of Bridgeport and for the people that I represent in Bridgeport.

SEN. GAFFEY: Representative, we feel very fortunate that you're here and I'm glad that you came today. I will mention that the rules of the General Assembly specifically prohibit someone impugning the motives of another member of the General Assembly. The Senator certainly had an opinion. It is in variance with my opinion. It's at variance with your opinion. Probably at variance with a lot of people's opinions, but he's got an opinion and a right to express that --

REP. MARTINEZ: Please forgive me --

SEN. GAFFEY: But let me say that --

REP. MARTINEZ: -- for that.

SEN. GAFFEY: -- you're brand new and I want to welcome you to the Education Committee. I thought you did a great job with your testimony. Particularly you're extemporaneous testimony on your life experience, which is very powerful. And which will maybe illuminate some minds here, that may not be seeing this clearly. This whole issue. And I think that that has been very helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to come down here and testify to what obviously, means a great deal to you. So, thank you very much. I would -- I'm going to have to not have questions at this point so we can get the other members of the General Assembly, like Representative Mantilla who's been sitting here for a long time, now, so that's she's able to testify. Representative Martinez, welcome, great job, and I look forward to working with you.

REP. MARTINEZ: Thank you very much. Please let me know out of this committee if you need any information. I'll be more than gladly to help and work with you.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you very much. Representative Mantilla.

REP. MANTILLA: Thank you. Good afternoon, Senator Gaffey and members of the Committee. It's a pleasure to be here. For the record, I'm Representative Evelyn Montilla of the 4th District in Hartford and I'm here for one main purpose and a couple of other items I would like to get on the record.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you very much, Representative Mantilla. I appreciate your time. That's it for Legislators. Fernando Betancourt.

FERNANDO BETANCOURT: Good afternoon, Senator Gaffey and members of the Committee. Senator Gaffey, I am cognizant of the rules of the General Assembly. And I would like to share, before I go over my testimony that I am drained, emotionally. I understand the emotional nature of this debate, but I am saddened and hurt when testimony is given to the General Assembly, that deviates from the scientific proof of the matter.

SEN. GAFFEY: I'm sorry, I didn't catch that.

FERNANDO BETANCOURT: I am vehement in defending my points, but I think that this Committee, particularly Representative Beals, knows that we have participated in sub-committees. Representative Boucher and many others. I think that we have to go beyond in making an effort to work in good faith, respecting our differences, but providing good, accurate scientific research to this Committee. So, you would be in a better position to make your decisions.

SEN. GAFFEY: Fernando, I mean, we've had a good working relationship. We worked hard on this for two years. Representative Beals, Senator Friedman, Representative Boucher and others have worked hard on this issue with you and other advocates, we'll continue to do so and thank you for your participation and your on-going participation in the future. Thank you very much.


SEN. GAFFEY: Representative -- I'm sorry. Senator Fonfara from the great city of Hartford would like to ask you a question.

SEN. FONFARA: Mr. Chairman, just very briefly, good afternoon, Fernando.

FERNANDO BETANCOURT: Good afternoon --

SEN. FONFARA: It's good to see you again. Would you explain a little bit better for me, on page four of your statement where you speak about the need for language changes or definition that it be rewritten regarding transition bilingual education program and dual language. I'm not understanding what the issue is, there.

FERNANDO BETANCOURT: We propose that in addition to the definition listed on number four, we added this language so it would be very clear that the differentiation between both models, as a matter of fact, as you know, we have supported Dual Language or two-way bilingual education. We were a little bit concerned about when the Legislature approved last year, two pilot programs, that we don't have an assessment to see how those programs are doing and we were concerned and what we are proposing is that including this technical language, we will secure that that's equality of a program that we will achieve.

SEN. FONFARA: And so, in other words, if it isn't supported that an assessment would not render positive results or results that might come about if it were supported?

FERNANDO BETANCOURT: Well, we don't know about the assessment because perhaps it's too early after only one year. But, we will strongly support any evaluation component of those programs so we can show that in effect they are good and they are valuable. Now, what we propose is that this language we added to any proposed legislation, so everybody understands that that is what the Dual Language program, is.

SEN. FONFARA: Thank you.


SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Fernando. Okay. Let's go to the other list. David Holden, please. Let me just say at the outset that the Chair has the prerogative of calling people to testify and will exercise that prerogative, particularly because of the number of children that we have here in the audience today.

DAVID HOLDEN: Senator Gaffey and representatives of the Education Committee. My name is David Holden, I'm Business Manager with the Simsbury, Connecticut Public Schools. I'm pleased today to speak in support of an increased reimbursement rate for one school construction project every 20 years, for public school districts, HB 5501.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, Mr. Holden. Representative Heagney.

REP. HEAGNEY: Thank you, Dave for coming to testify today. Just one quick thing. I know you're going --

REP. HEAGNEY: -- project and I understand there's a discussion in the community that maybe it would not be a new school but might be a revised program for a renovation.

DAVID HOLDEN: That's correct.

REP. HEAGNEY: And so you anticipate knowing that in the next few weeks?

DAVID HOLDEN: Within the next month or so, correct.

REP. HEAGNEY: I'll look forward to your report on that, thank you for coming and testifying on this bill. Thank you.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, Mr. Holden. Anything further? Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Milford Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Jo Kramer. Dr. Kramer? Good afternoon, Dr. Kramer.

DR. KRAMER: Good afternoon. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak with you, today. I'm testifying in regards to HB 5257, AN ACT CONCERNING AN EXIT EXAM. I'm Mary Jo Kramer. I'm the Superintendent of Milford Public Schools. I'm testifying on behalf of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and for the past three years I've chaired their committee on state testing. We work very closely with the State Department of Education on the implementation and reporting of state test results.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, Dr. Kramer, it's nice to see you again.

DR. KRAMER: Nice to see you, too.

SEN. GAFFEY: My visit down in your fair town, back in the Fall, to discuss the ECS formula with your Mayor and Aldermanic Board and Board of Education. I must say, you have one of the most ornate town halls that I've ever been in. Beautiful.

DR. KRAMER: It is beautiful.

SEN. GAFFEY: But, let me ask you -- excuse me.

DR. KRAMER: It's my Mayor. He wants more money.

SEN. GAFFEY: No, it's my aide. He's my boss. You referenced that there's more improvement in states that do not have an exit exam than there are in those that have an exit exam. Can you give me the cite of that reference?

DR. KRAMER: Sure. I'm going to provide this for you with the testimony so you will have it. I'll read directly from the information I have. If you compare the change of each state's NAEP scores, between 1992 and 1996, the existence of a high school exit exam made it no more likely that fourth grade results improved and made it less likely that eighth grade results improved.

SEN. GAFFEY: And what -- sorry. What's the cite of that?

DR. KRAMER: The cite of that is Paul E. Barton and Richard Cooley, Growth in Schools, Princeton, ETS, 1998.

SEN. GAFFEY: Those are published by a bunch of -- or couple of people from Princeton?

DR. KRAMER: Right. At ETS, Education Testing Service.

SEN. GAFFEY: Okay, you can submit that with --

DR. KRAMER: And then there's another reference from the University of Chicago. That's a 2001. That one suggests that there was no difference in the analysis.

SEN. GAFFEY: Okay, thank you very much. If you could just submit that all with the record, I'd appreciate. Representative Staples.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Excuse me for chewing my lunch. I wanted to ask you a little more about the Milford local assessments that you do. You said there are five or six other districts that do it? That's very -- that's an interesting model for us to consider, trying to encourage districts to do more of this because you have a much greater capacity to create a system that works with what you're doing in your district.

DR. KRAMER: I can speak more about what we're doing and it's very similar to (problem with tape) is doing because we work together on it. I know that the Connecticut State Department of Education website has listed all the communities which now have their own graduation requirements, performance based, and you can find it there.

REP. STAPLES: I think that's very interesting and that sounds like the right way of the right type of approach and I guess my question would be, just on the writing and on the math, are those -- are what you're testing tied into the curriculum?

DR. KRAMER: Right. That's what -- well, I mean, our curriculum is, in mathematics, is very problem solving oriented and we want students to be able to use, at least when they graduate, some basic algebra and geometry as well as the other computational skills that are necessary. Decimals, you know, all of that.

REP. STAPLES: I appreciate that, thank you.

SEN. GAFFEY: Senator Heagney.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Good morning, Superintendent.

DR. KRAMER: Good morning, or afternoon, I guess, it is.

SEN. HEAGNEY: And I guess you're right. Do I understand that correctly that you're using the 10th grade CAPT test as sort of a clearing house so that if you pass that, then these other requirements don't apply to you?

DR. KRAMER: But we're using it as an exemption. We have other exemptions. For example, if you score at a certain level on the math section of the SAT you can be exempt, as well.

SEN. HEAGNEY: And the English section?

DR. KRAMER: Not on the Verbal. The Verbal is not -- the Verbal section of the SAT is really a reading test and what our graduation requirement is, is a writing test. But, the math section of the SAT is more consistent since it does focus on geometry and algebra with what we're trying to achieve with our math requirement.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Okay, and then, so that if you don't get an exemption, either one of -- are there any other exemptions that one might have?

DR. KRAMER: Oh, it has do with certainly students are very severely disabled.


DR. KRAMER: Certainly if students just came to our school district and hadn't had the opportunity to participate in the preparation nor to be supported in meeting this requirement. So, there's those kinds of exemptions.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Okay. And then those children that do not earn an exemption, there's a English writing test and then there's a math test that you're going to be implementing, is that correct?

DR. KRAMER: Well, actually, they have to write -- if you think about writing a composition or an essay like you and I used to do when we went to school. They have to do that in the course in one of their courses, in their English courses over the -- over a period of two years, they have five different times in which there will be an opportunity given for them to write this essay in response to a piece of literature and so forth, and then once they -- those papers are collected, they can be used by the classroom teacher as part of their grade.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Okay, then there would be a math section that's coming into effect --

DR. KRAMER: It's a separate test and again, it would be in the context of their math courses that they're already taking, that they would be given an opportunity to solve a complex math problem that would be a test that they would be given that's structured throughout the district.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Are there other sections that you anticipate?

DR. KRAMER: No, not at this point in time. We felt that we needed to focus on the basic skills. The writing and the mathematics. I mean, that could be possible, but we thought we were taking on enough as it was. And there is a cost. I mean, to tell you there's a local cost associated because you have to train the teachers, you have to pay the committee to meet and to grade these papers.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Okay, and what brought about the initiation of this program?

DR. KRAMER: Oh, a couple of different reasons. I -- going back to what I said earlier about accountability, I really do believe that we should aspire in public education, have all of our students graduate and with those basic communication skills that are necessary to succeed in life and when people say, business people sometimes say, well, they come out of high school and they can't write, they can't compute, they can't do this, I really wanted us to -- we don't believe -- we believe that we could produce students who could do those things and in a sense, we put our money where our mouth was.

SEN. HEAGNEY: But the essence of what you've done, is it not, is to put in some requirements that then heighten the student's awareness of what they were trying to achieve by achieving a high school degree.

DR. KRAMER: Right, right. I think --

SEN. HEAGNEY: And isn't that the essence of why 20 some-odd states have said, we want to have something that brings focus of what is trying to be achieved with a high school degree?

DR. KRAMER: But the difference is, is that we saw an increase in our achievement level on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test. And, when we reach -- when the current juniors reach senior year, we will have students who are leaving and there will be a written document that says that they know how to write.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Well, I guess what you told -- what you testified to earlier, was that they've looked at fourth and eighth graders. I would think that we would be looking to test students in high school to see where the exit exam has some impact.

DR. KRAMER: Well, if there is an exit exam, then I assure you that preparation is going to start occurring at a lower grade. Certainly, at eighth grade. And in some of the -- in the NAEP test results at grade eight, in some of these studies, there is actually a decline. So, one would presume that there -- that the exit exam is not just limited to what happens in the last four years of school.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Well, I think the key becomes making sure that our high school diplomas have meaning. Meaning to the student. Meaning to their parents, and meaning to employers and colleges that look at those and if that's where we've got to focus, that there is something meaningful coming out of that high school degree and I think that your approach is a very good one in Milford, and I think that -- you know, this bill doesn't mandate what our approach should look like. It simply says, we should have an approach and I think that we're on the same page in that regard.

DR. KRAMER: Well, I think it's different. I think it's very different to create a local exit exam or a local graduation requirement which is performance based. See, I think that's a major difference. You're talking about creating a paper and pencil kind of test. I'm talking about a performance based kind of system and I consider writing a performance skill.

SEN. HEAGNEY: Well, I think it should mean more than that. I think it means not just grades and not just attendance. It should mean that some minimum level of achievement has been reached by that student and we have a lot of testimony today and I really appreciate your back and forth, but I know I think we'll frustrate everyone if we continue on. Maybe another day, though. Thank you so much.

SEN. GAFFEY: May I ask if the Superintendents would give some thought to a hybrid approach on this entire issue? We already have the CAPT test, so we already have a pencil and paper test that's given in the 10th grade, as you well know.

DR. KRAMER: Right.

SEN. GAFFEY: And what I hear around the state of Connecticut is that kids don't take the CAPT test seriously because it doesn't mean anything. So, in light of Representative Ward's bill, it strikes me, and Cam and I were just discussing it a little bit, maybe we can have a hybrid here of utilizing the CAPT test as setting some level of passing, and then utilize that in the same vein as Representative Ward has suggested, since you already have the test in place and then have remedial programs adjusted to those students who aren't achieving that standard that we -- or the State Department sets in conjunction with the Superintendents and CABE and everybody else involved as to what would be the minimum level of achievement in writing and calculating, so that we have an idea of where our high school students are in the 10th grade.

DR. KRAMER: Well, again, I would not recommend that approach.

SEN. GAFFEY: Why not? You're already using the CAPT test.

DR. KRAMER: Right.

SEN. GAFFEY: What's the CAPT test for?

DR. KRAMER: I would recommend that there be a local option for local school districts to peruse that, but essentially you're still using a single test for a single state test to determine whether or not students will be able to graduate from high school.

SEN. GAFFEY: No, I didn't say that. But, you know, there is merit in the argument that Representative Heagney is making and there is merit in the argument that Representative Ward makes. I think in the sense that you want to get a handle on where these kids are, on an achievement basis. Reading, writing, calculating. So we know where they are. Are they meeting a minimum standard?

DR. KRAMER: Yeah, but the CAPT test just for your information along that same line, the CAPT test is already divided into four bands. Now, mostly what we focus on in the state is the percent above goal. But goal is really, in our view, equivalent to having an A to a B+ kind of grade.

SEN. GAFFEY: And my only point is that we have a vehicle in place that will enable us to focus on the CAPT results and I want to thank you very much for taking the time to come here and the city of Milford appreciates your testimony and --

DR. KRAMER: Thank you. Nice to see you again.

SEN. GAFFEY: Okay. Now, what we're going to do is we're going to call a panel of students from Elias Howe School which is in Bridgeport? Representative Reinoso? Great city, Bridgeport. So, very proud of that. That's right. Representative Reinoso, did you also say that the Principal of Elias Howe is here? The Superintendent is Maureen Alester? Okay, Superintendent Alester, if you would come up with your students. Hold on a second. One at a time. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Marina, hold on a second. Who's the Superintendent? She stepped out? Okay.

TONYA DAVERVIC: Good afternoon, Senator Gaffey, Representative Staples. Good afternoon everyone. My name is Tonya Daveric. I came to the United States three years and six months ago in third grade. I come from Yugoslavia, in Europe. My family came here because there was a war going on in my country. When I came here I didn't know how to speak English. My first teacher here was Miss McMurray. She and Miss Batista taught me to speak English.

SEN. GAFFEY: Tonya? I'm going to have to ask you -- you know your microphone is on? I'm having difficulty hearing you. If you could just -- I'm sorry? Yeah, let's switch -- I'll tell you what. This is a better microphone, so let's switch. Tonya, you take this one, first, okay? And try to speak as loud as you can, alright? Thank you.

TONYA DAVERVIC: Do you want me to start all over? Okay. Good afternoon, State Senator Gaffey, Representative Staples. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Tonya Davieric. I came to the United States three years and six months ago, in third grade. I come from Yugoslavia in Europe.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you, Tonya. Very well done. Good job. Okay, we want you guys to switch again.

MADELINE MOJICA: Good afternoon, State Senator Gaffey and State Representative Staples. Good afternoon, everyone. I'm here to support HB 6889. My name is Madeline Mojica and I'm a product of the bilingual program.

SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you very much. Excellent job and I'm glad you're working Early Childhood because we need you in this state. Thank you very much. Okay, fellows, who's first? You feel like you're at the barber shop? Go ahead.

PABLO VALENTIN: Good afternoon, Senator Gaffey and Representative Staples. Good morning, -- good afternoon, everyone. My name is Pablo Valentin. I am a successful product of bilingual education at Elias Howe school in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

SEN. GAFFEY: Pablo, Pablo, Pablo, Pablo. Thank you for the invitation, by the way. The senator from Hartford, Senator Fonfara would like to ask you a question, Pablo.

SEN. FONFARA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just one question, Pablo, and I think your testimony was very helpful. When you came from Puerto Rico, at the age of nine you were in what grade at that time?

PABLO VALENTIN: I think it was third.

SEN. FONFARA: Third? Did you learn any English at all in Puerto Rico?


SEN. FONFARA: In school? Was that an option in your class -- in your school, that you could have if you wanted to?


SEN. FONFARA: You're not sure? You don't remember? Okay. Thank you.

SEN. GAFFEY: Where are you from in Puerto Rico, Pablo?


SEN. GAFFEY: Thank you very much for your time.

MARCO FLORES: Good afternoon, Senator Gaffey, --

SEN. GAFFEY: (mike off)

MARCO FLORES: Okay. Good afternoon, Senator Gaffey and Representative Staples. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Marco Flores. I'm a fifth grade student at Elias Howe School in Bridgeport. I'm here to support HB 6889. I'm also a part of Elias Howe's Bilingual Talented and Gifted Program, also known as TAG.

SEN. GAFFEY: Marco, did you come here from -- did your family move to Connecticut from Puerto Rico?


SEN. GAFFEY: No. So, you were living in Bridgeport all along? You were born in Bridgeport?

MARCO FLORES: I was born in Fairfield, not in Bridgeport.

SEN. GAFFEY: Born in Fairfield, okay. Well, you're a social climber. Now you're -- well, listen. So, you took bilingual ed in what grades?

MARCO FLORES: I think only in fifth.

SEN. GAFFEY: I'm sorry?

MARCO FLORES: Only in fifth.

SEN. GAFFEY: Only in fifth. You're in fifth, right now?


SEN. GAFFEY: I must say, your English is amazingly good. I mean, it's fantastic. All the students, very, very impressed. We're going to have to take a trip down to see your school. Representative Reinoso, you're going to have to -- (applause). Thank you, Marco.

MARCO FLORES: You're welcome.

SEN. GAFFEY: Did everybody go from Elias Howe that's here? All the students? No, Elias Howe first. The students that signed up for Elias Howe. Is the Superintendent back in the room? Hello, Superintendent. How are you?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: (Spanish spoken). For those of you who do not speak any English, I am -- any Spanish, I am Sonia Diaz Saledo. I am the Superintendent of Schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Very proud to represent Connecticut recently at the Council of Great City Schools, the first time that we have participated. And bilingual education is certainly one of the issues before the Federal Legislature, also, so I'm delighted to be here testifying in favor of HB 6889 and also in favor of Dual Language schools.

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: -- experiences for our students, we have to provide the kind of educational environments that truly nurture students and scaffolds the education for a child, for a student, for a young adolescent to come here to the United States, this great country and sit in a classroom of incomprehensible gibberish, because that is what a language that you do not understand sounds like, is unconscionable.

SEN. GAFFEY: Let me just say as Senate Chair of this Committee, it is an honor to have you here. That's some of the most powerful testimony I've heard in six years of sitting in this chair. Anybody have any questions for the Superintendent? The Senator Fonfara followed by Representative Boucher.

SEN. FONFARA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would echo your comments and welcome.


SEN. FONFARA: You certainly, whether it be your family plus tied to your own inner drive. You are certainly -- Bridgeport it sounds from here anyway that it is very lucky to have you as it's leader.


SEN. FONFARA: I would -- de nada. I would wonder if you make a distinction between a good bilingual program and a not so good bilingual program?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Absolutely. I think it's important also to understand that we cannot impose artificial deadlines on students. We are sensitive -- Howard Gartner has written about multiple intelligences. We talk incessantly about the fact that teachers are now being very sensitive to the different learning styles and also we're sensitive to the teaching styles that work with particular populations or that don't work.

SEN. FONFARA: Thank you. Just briefly, Mr. Chairman, it seems to be that there is always a perceived friction when this Committee begins to look at issues related to bilingual education as it has in the last two or three years, and tried very sincerely, in my opinion, to reform the program. Not abolish the program.

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I appreciate those comments and I would exhort the Committee to exercise tremendous largess in terms of thinking about how you modify bilingual programs. I also would like to reference the comments of the student who was sitting here just before I came to this seat, with respect to the question about where he was born and when he was in bilingual education.

SEN. FONFARA: Your professional opinion and both in terms of both your personal experience, educationally as well as in your profession, today, do you believe that we could do better by having stronger relationships with the island in terms of education? So that students aren't facing this trauma that you speak about where -- there -- because there is such of a back and forth and there are various reasons for that.

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I think the Senator has a superb recommendation and I know that in the past there have been some programs that tried to link up the education between the island of Puerto Rico and the United States and I think that we have to do a better job of that.

SEN. FONFARA: Thank you, Madam Superintendent.

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Thank you very much for your time and attention.

SEN. GAFFEY: Representative Boucher followed by Representative Kerensky followed by Representative Beals.

REP. BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I also would love to congratulate you for an outstanding presentation to us and you're extremely articulate and I have to say that we share a lot in common, having started in the same way and I also being a student that was traumatized and spoke no English for a number of years where there were no bilingual or SEL for that matter.

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: In particular, putting a time putting a time limit of thirty months where it's not consecutive. I feel very strongly that if a child has interrupted service in bilingual education, there's a very strong chance that that child may loose a lot of the skills, may not be able to pick up exactly where he or she was while enrolled in the bilingual program.

REP. BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. GAFFEY: (mike off)

REP. KERENSKY: Thank you. Let me ask you a question. First of all, I want to thank you for your eloquent testimony. You certainly are a wonderful spokesperson for bilingual education. And so, I would like to ask you some questions reflecting back on your role as Superintendent. Can you, just to help me put it in perspective, tell me how many bilingual students you have and what your school population is?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Our school population is currently 22,500 students, approximately. And if you divide -- if you look at the district in terms of demographics, approximately 50 percent of our students speak a language other than English at home. We have students who speak more than 65 languages within the district, but about 10 percent of our students are enrolled in the bilingual programs and early language programs, -- English language programs.

REP. KERENSKY: Okay, so about how many -- ball park, about how many bilingual teachers do you have in your system?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Well, we have approximately 1,480 teachers and if you take the population which is about 10 percent, and you divide that, I would say about 150 bilingual teachers.

REP. KERENSKY: One of the concerns in the past has been that necessitated or that at least prompted the long discussions and the ultimate reform in the law in '99, had to do with English competence of the teachers. The philosophy being that if the teachers are not fluent, then they can't really perform the excellent dual language function to which you've referred as being a highly successful technique. Do you know off the top of your head just some general number about how many of those 115 students have limited --

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: 150 teachers.

REP. KERENSKY: 150 -- I'm sorry -- 115 teachers have limited English proficiency?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Well, I have visited all of the schools in the district and I go around to schools quite often and I have not met anyone who is not proficient in English. There are varying degrees of proficiency and ability to speak in English, but when we hire teachers, we do an intensive interview and there are criteria that they have to meet, so I would say that the majority of our teachers are very proficient in two languages.

REP. KERENSKY: So, are you -- are all of your bilingual classes dual language?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: No, they're not. They're not. We are in the process of implementing a dual language at Howe school for next year. They will go into the first phase of the planning. They will take a year to plan the program because there are so many different elements that have to be in place. It has to be well thought out and the staff has to be trained, etcetera. But, what we have is many bilingual programs and we have many students enrolled in ESL where we don't have a concentration of 20 students in the same language, then we provide intensive English as a second language.

REP. KERENSKY: Okay. Thank you. Now, that actually leads directly into my last question and that has to do with your ESL program. Do you know about how many ESL teachers you have?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I don't, but Yvette Defayo is here and she can tell me. 20. We have 20 ESL teachers.

REP. KERENSKY: Oh, okay. Have those -- what kind of an assessment would you place on the ESL program as presently constituted in the state?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I apologize. I did not hear the last part of your question.

REP. KERENSKY: I'm sorry. The ESL program as presently practiced in Connecticut -- how would you assess that in terms of its success for your system?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I think where you don't have the numbers of students and enough to form a bilingual class, ESL is certainly the second option. It's not the preferable option, but I think that what it does is provide us with the kind of support for students who can't be involved in native language class and we try to do a number of -- implement a number of methodologies, use a number of different pedagogile approaches.

REP. KERENSKY: Okay, thank you very much and I would like to call on Representative Beals.

REP. BEALS: Thank you, Madam Chairman. Do you know about how many of your students would be in a bilingual program for 30 consecutive months?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I'm sorry, I don't have that information. Could you repeat that question?

REP. BEALS: You mentioned that a great many of them go back and forth a lot, so --

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Right. Sometimes those numbers are hard to keep track of. We have a very high mobility rate in Bridgeport as we experience in many of the urban sectors, particularly New York and Boston where you have the larger Puerto Rican populations.

REP. BEALS: But would you say that perhaps a majority of your bilingual students wouldn't be in the program for 30 consecutive months?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I would say that one third to one half of our students would experience this, if not a greater number. I'm being very conservative.

REP. BEALS: So, for those students, it would essentially be no limit to the amount of time they could spend in the program under this legislation.

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: They would certainly have that option of the 30 consecutive months, but I think it's based on the level of accountability of a district and a school to gauge the amount of English that a child has. That's why these entrance exams are so critical. That's why it's so important to assess the child when he or she is in the program or when he or she enters the program. So, that we have a real clear sense of where that child is in terms of language ability.

REP. BEALS: And can you tell me how it would help a child not to count kindergarten in that 30 months?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Well, the kindergarten experience is very critical in many ways, but more than anything, in terms of the social development of a child and to increase that pressure on a child with the language acquisition abilities, I think is really compounding the issue.

REP. BEALS: But isn't language acquisition something that young children do extremely well? As opposed to adolescents, for example.

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Well, they do but studies have shown that a child at any rate will learn a different language in some ways and many of the same ways. One of the other things that I think is critical here, is that we certainly have large numbers of family who are very poor. Families who are single parent members of families who move around a lot, as I indicated before.

REP. BEALS: Now, as you've pointed out, children who come from countries where there aren't 20 or more of the same language group, ESL is all they get, is there any good reason that ESL could not serve as support and transitional services for children who come to the end of 30 months and also those who enter high school with less than 30 months?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I think that it's very critical to assess where a child is at the end of 30 months to make sure that that child has sufficient knowledge in English so that he or she is not going to fail in a mainstream class.

REP. BEALS: Because Section Two of this -- of the HB 6889, does in fact, allow school districts to have a dual language or ESL program in lieu of a bilingual program -- it's my understanding, so I was interested in that. I don't know whether you support every single provision of this bill, but I wondered -- there's one where it removes English language immersion as an option for parents. Are you in favor of that? And if so, why?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: I would say that again, English Immersion is a very traumatic experience for students. It's certainly was for me when I came and for many of the students whom I have interviewed, whom I have surveyed. They have indicted to me that for those students who had to go through an English immersion, it was very traumatic.

REP. BEALS: Finally, just a question to see how well we're doing on getting the word out. Were you aware that there was an alternate route to certification in bilingual education programs offered last summer by the Department? By the State?

SONIA DIAZ SALEDO: Yes, I am aware and I am aware of the alternative routes of certification in other areas and I think it's wonderful. I think it's remarkable that you have given our educational opportunities to individuals with a not traditional background and I think it's great and I think that we need to pursue these kinds of alternative routes to certification.

REP. BEALS: And I trust you're also aware that it's being offered again this summer.


REP. BEALS: Despite the fact that nobody came last summer, so they couldn't do it.

SONIA DIAZ SALENDO: Well, we're --

REP. BEALS: Yeah, okay, thank you.

SONIA DIAZ SALENDO: I think just one comment in terms of also high stakes tests. I just want to make sure that my opinion is recorded in terms of exit tests and I think we've looked at high stakes test in different states and it's really critical for us not to look at a high stakes test here because students have enough to deal with right now. We have tremendous anxiety at the high school level. Our dropout rate is pretty significant especially if you look at the cohorts and I think that a high stakes test would really discourage students from staying in school.

REP. STAPLES: Any more questions? Thank you very much, Superintendent.

SONIA DIAZ SALENDO: Thank you so much for this opportunity.

REP. STAPLES: We'll have one more student panel at this time and then we'll return to the list and take people in order. The student panel -- we have some students, I understand from Bulkeley who have to leave shortly, so there's been a request to have them come up and that panel -- oh, and one from Hartford Public High School.

ALMA SAHMID: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Alma and I'm attending the Bulkeley High. I'm a senior. I come from Bosnia, but I used to live in Germany. I have been here for the past two years. The bilingual program has helped me a lot with my English. The teachers are very helpful and give each student individual attention. My English is very good now and for that I have to thank the bilingual program and their teachers.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. I know everyone likes to clap and I want to encourage you to be supportive, but we don't permit clapping or outbursts in our hearings. We find it makes things move more quickly, so please refrain from doing that. Thank you.

JOSELIN CASTRO: Good evening. I'm Joselin Castro, representing Bulkeley High School and I believe that learning a foreign language is always hard but not impossible. It is tough when trying to learn a new language if the explanation is not in your own.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Next person?

(Gap in testimony changing from tape 2b to 3a)

YESSICA AMPARO: Good afternoon. My name is Yessica Amparo. I come from Dominican Republic. I am a senior from Hartford Public High School and I represent bilingual programs and I'm going to say something like this.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. I don't think we have any questions. Thank you. Next student, please?

MARVIN SOTO: (Spanish is spoken). Good morning to everybody. My name is Marvin Soto. I came to Hartford from Nicaragua two years ago and I spoke no English at all. I was excited and I was scared because I didn't know the language. When I started high school, I was really scared. It was a new experience for me. The first day, I went to the ESL class and I didn't know what to expect. Thank God, everyone was friendly and I heard a familiar language.

REP. STAPES: Thank you very much. Okay, next?

THAO MIN TRAN: (Spanish is spoken) Good evening, everybody. I'm here to represent Bulkeley High School Bilingual Program Education works. My name is Thao Min Tran. I'm here to represent all the English as Second Language students. When I first came here I didn't know any word of English. I went to South Middle school for two weeks then they moved me to Burr School for three weeks. Then they moved me to Bulkeley High School. At Buckeley High School my teacher taught me a lot. Mrs. Starks, Miss Glider and Miss Hazel and Mr. Caro also teach me in the bilingual program. They are my favorite teacher and they help me a lot. Today I know English because of all the teacher in the bilingual program at Buckeley. I am very happy to be in bilingual program. The bilingual program has changed my life in many ways for the better. Because of this program I can read, write and speak English with my friends. I will never forget all the teacher that have taught me for many years. Please keep the bilingual program for new student who want the same opportunity to learn like me. Thank youth. Thao, Buckeley High School.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions for any of the students? Thank you very much for coming. Okay, we'll have Jacqueline Jacoby followed by Leona Ambrosini. And I want to thank some of the professionals who have been here for awhile who are very high on the sign up list because we moved past you with students repeatedly, and I appreciate your --

JACQUELINE JACOBY: Well, if you're going to be displaced, there's no one better to be displaced by then these wonderful young people. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Jackie Jacoby, I'm Superintendent of Schools in Glastonbury and I'm here representing both Glastonbury and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions? I'm sorry. Yes, Representative Blackwell.

REP. BLACKWELL: Just a quick question. Does the PPT have to document when it is inappropriate to test the student?

JACQUELINE JACOBY: Yes, so there is written documentation.

REP. BLACKWELL: (mike off)

JACQUELINE JACOBY: It can be. I believe that what is sent to the state are simply the number of students by name who are exempt, but that information could be provided if it were asked for, but it isn't a process of people just opting to have children opt out. It is a process that is a part of a PPT.

REP. BLACKWELL: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. STAPLES: Representative Herlihy.

REP. HERLIHY: Dr. Jacoby, thanks for testifying. How are you?

JACQUELINE JACOBY: I'm well, thanks.

REP. HERLIHY: Are you wearing your Glastonbury hat or are you representing another group? I missed the beginning of your testimony.

JACQUELINE JACOBY: I'm -- actually, I'm representing CAPS.

REP. HERLIHY: CAPS? Okay. Can I use Glastonbury as an example, because I know you'd be familiar with their -- what percentage of special ed kids are relieved from the CMT's? Do you know, offhand?

JACQUELINE JACOBY: It's a very small percentage of students that are exempt.

REP. HERLIHY: So, this is not an issue or a problem in your particular community --


REP. HERLIHY: -- you're speaking on a broader scale. Now, right, wrong or indifferent, you know that many school districts in terms of performance are measured by the CMT result. Do you find it unequitable to have an extremely small percentage of special ed students exempted in communities like Glastonbury? Whereas, as many as 20 percent of the students can be exempted in other communities because perhaps the standards for exemptions are not standardized from community to community, from school district to school district?

JACQUELINE JACOBY: I guess that I would suggest that we ought to work on that standardization. I'm not really troubled, quite frankly, when a town has a much larger exemption rate than we do. There are generally good reasons for that but I would work at trying to standardize the procedure as opposed to eliminating the exemption.

REP. HERLIHY: Would this be an effort to perhaps do that and hold them to a higher standard in that they must meet a -- and I'm not sure how we would define exceptional circumstances, but if we could somehow get a handle on that, wouldn't this be an effort to do that?

JACQUELINE JACOBY: I'm not sure that it would be. I think that there is an effort and I read the Commissioner's testimony. I was not here earlier in the morning, but I know that the Commissioner's Office is looking at providing a different kind of language for this particular bill and I would expect that they may, in fact, want to speak about some criteria that would be used.

REP. HERLIHY: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any more questions? Thank you for your testimony.

JACQUELINE JACOBY: Thank you very much.

REP. STAPLES: Leona Ambrosini.

LEONA AMBROSINI: Representative Staples, and members of the Educational Committee, I thank you for this opportunity to speak to you this afternoon. My name is Leona Ambrosini. I'm a supervisor special ed and I've been a supervisor for 14 years. I'm also Chairperson of the Urban Affairs Committee for ConnCase.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any questions? No. Thank you very much. Sue Weiselburg followed by Phil Apruzzese with CEA.

SUE WEISELBURG: Thank you very much. Good afternoon. My name is Susan Weiselburg. I am School Construction Program Coordinator for New Haven Public Schools and with me is Tom Ruesher who is School Construction Program Director. We're here to talk to you this afternoon about the facilities that feed the students that helps provide them with a better education.

REP. STAPLES: No green hotdogs, right?

SUSAN WEISELBURG: Certainly, that's our goal.

REP. STAPLES: It sounds like a reasonable proposal. Any -- yes? Representative Beals.

REP. BEALS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Have you talked to anyone in Hamden about this? The reason I ask is that we at one time had a central kitchen and then became very unhappy with it and spent a lot of money putting kitchens into schools and upgrading kitchens so that they could each do their own. So, just so you can avoid some of the pitfalls of another town, --

SUSAN WEISELBURG: We currently have production kitchens where we cook food at a couple of our schools and send it out and all of our kitchens need to be improved regardless. Many of them are in aging buildings and have inadequate equipment and ventilation, no matter what. But I would like to let Tom answer that a little bit further about how, perhaps, this kitchen may be different than what Hamden did have.

TOM RUESHER: Yes, I'm Tom Ruesher. As Sue mentioned, I'm the Program Director for the school construction program. I think what's happened in recent years is the cook chill process has allowed the central kitchen facilities to improve the quality of the food. I think most of the central kitchen facilities that may have been built -- you know, say 10 or 15 years ago, were all attempting to go in the direction that, for instance, New Haven currently -- how New Haven currently operates where food is cooked in the central location. It's then prepackaged and you try to race the food out on a daily basis and so you end up in a problem with not only the logistics of the operation but just the overall quality of the food as it's delivered and the way it's presented is really substandard. So, I think the -- what's changed since probably Hamden tried their experiment was the cook chill process where the food is actually cooked in a large pan to speak, and then it's quickly chilled. You put it in a freezer and then you deliver the food whenever you want. You don't have to run it out to the school on a daily basis and then when the food is stored at the school, again, stored in a chilled fashion and then it's what they call "rethermolized" in the same pan. So, the food is actually served to the children in the same pan that it's cooked and it's a much higher quality process. It may not sound appetizing, but in fact, --

REP. STAPLES: And that term "rethermolized" really got my mouth watering. I don't know about you.

TOM RUESHER: In fact it's much better than the way it's currently done.

REP. STAPLES: I'm sure it is.

TOM RUESHER: Take my word for it.

REP. STAPLES: Any other questions? Yes, Representative Kerensky.

REP. KERENSKY: Good afternoon. I was going to ask you a question about higher quality food, but I want to thank you for adding to our vocabulary now that we know what "rethermolized" is. I do still have a question about higher quality food. How would the food that you serve change as a result of it being rethermolized? What do you mean by better quality food?

TOM RUESHER: Well, I should have used the word "rewarmed". It's only warmed. Rethermolized is the lingo that's used in the food service processes. But, the food is just rewarmed. It's been cooked. It's been prepared and it's been frozen and all you're doing is warming it up consistent with the process that doesn't change the quality or -- you know, or cook the food. Basically, it's been cooked. All you're doing is really defrosting it and warming it up.

REP. KERENSKY: No, I understand that but I just wonder what the difference in the quality compared to what you're offering currently, is.

TOM RUESHER: Oh, the quality of the food you're able to serve is much higher. You can do things that you can't do under the current process. You can't cook the type of meals under the current process and package it and then ship it out.

REP. KERENSKY: I really have some specific questions about the quality of food is what I'm asking about, not really the process because I've had some people talk to me about participation in the lunch programs and one of the issues they mentioned was quality food and the other was the tendency apparently for school lunch programs to supplement the high quality food with available junk food and junk drinks. So, --

TOM REUSHER: Yes, I think that's part of the problem today in that the selection of what can be prepared at for instance, our central facility is so limited, that when it comes out to the school, in fact, you know it's not only the selection but also the way in which it's served.

REP. KERENSKY: Okay, thank you.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Senator Herlihy, you have a question?

SEN. HERLIHY: A couple of quick questions, financial. Aggregate. What's the total cost after all is said and done?

TOM REUSHER: All is said and done, it's probably $15 million total for the central kitchen and all the changes to the various kitchen facilities.

SEN. HERLIHY: And New Haven's reimbursement rate is?

TOM REUSHER: 80 percent.

SEN. HERLIHY: 80 percent of that?


SEN. HERLIHY: And is this an experimental process or are there dozens of school districts in the state that have gone this way and swear by the upgrade?

TOM REUSHER: In the state the only other district who is using a central kitchen facility is Bridgeport and I understand they actually --

SUSAN WEISELBURG: Their's is prepacked.

TOM REUSHER: -- yeah, there is a prepackaged arrangement. This will be the first cook chill central kitchen in Connecticut. There are central kitchen operations that use cook chill throughout the country, so this is not experimental in terms of a nationwide process and in many large multi-facility operations, I mean, cook chill is not a new process. It's been around for 10 years or so and the application in a central kitchen environment is something that's well proven.

SEN. HERLIHY: But there aren't any operating in Connecticut. Bridgeport's is similar, but not quite the same?

TOM RUESHER: That's correct.

SEN. HERLIHY: Okay. Thank you.

REP. STAPLES: More questions? No. Thank you very much.

SUSAN WEISELBURG: Thank you. Come for lunch in about a year.

REP. STAPLES: (mike off)

PHIL APRUZZESE: Good afternoon, Representative Staples and members of the Education Committee. I'm Phil Apruzzese the Vice-President of the Connecticut Education Association. You have my testimony in its entirety, but to be brief I will only comment on four of the items that are in it. CEA supports changes to bilingual education proposed in HB 6889.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any questions? Yes, Representative Beals.

REP. BEALS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In your statement about HB 6889, are you just addressing the last -- I guess, paragraph G of Section Two, where it talks about the emergency certificates or are you addressing everything in that bill?

PHIL APRUZZESE: We are addressing everything in the bill, but particularly that area.

REP. BEALS: Okay, and let me ask you the same question I asked the Superintendent. Were you aware that the Department offered an alternate route to bilingual certification, last summer?

PHIL APRUZZESE: Yes, we were.

REP. BEALS: Somehow, that word did not get out and hardly anybody showed up and it is being offered again this summer, so I trust it will be better publicized.

PHIL APRUZZESE: We will also publicize it, thank you.

REP. BEALS: Thank you.

REP. STAPLES: Representative Heagney.

REP. HEAGNEY: Yes, on your concern regarding the high school exit exam --


REP. HEAGNEY: -- there was some dialogue earlier with one of the superintendents that testified and Chairman Gaffey was discussing it. Did you like the way the Milford program is put together?

PHIL APRUZZESE: The Milford program is not unique, by the way and --

REP. HEAGNEY: No, I understand and --

PHIL APRUZZESE: -- there are other districts that do similar kinds of things. I believe you have the CAPT test in place, if we use it the correct way I believe that could be one component.

REP. HEAGNEY: I think one of the interesting things that came out of that was the emphasis that the students put on the CAPT test when there was a consequence on the other end, albeit not a death knell, but still a consequence. So, CEA would be supportive of that kind of a hybrid system?

PHIL APRUZZESE: Well, we'd have to look at the entirety of that magnitude of that kind of a system, but obviously we would like to see the CAPT test in place with the options of mastery of that.

REP. HEAGNEY: Thank you.

PHIL APRUZZESE: You're welcome.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any more questions? No. Thank you very much.


REP. STAPLES: Mr. Medina? Did you have a couple of students with you or no, they're gone already? Angelique and Hector Rodriguez?

MAX MEDINA, JR.: I think they're ready to follow.


MAX MEDINA, JR.: Good afternoon, Representative Staples and members of the Committee. I thank you for this privilege. I thank you for your patience today. I'll be brief. My name is Max Medina, Jr.. I'm an elected member of the Bridgeport Board of Education, having served on that Board since 1993. I'm also the proud parent of four children, all of whom attend the public school system in Bridgeport and I am proud to be a graduate of the Bridgeport public school system having attended from K to 12, all the way through.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Questions? No. Thank you for your testimony. Did you already testify? The students. Or, did you want to testify? I called you up but you don't have to. It's your choice. You're Hector, right? Just give us your name for the record.

HECTOR RODRIGUEZ: Yes, sir. Good afternoon. My name is Hector Rodriguez and I'm a senior at Harding High School. Also a product of Bridgeport's bilingual program. I'm here today to voice my support of HB 6889 which amends the current public law 99-211, an act improving bilingual education.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Anjelica?

ANJELICA BUILES: Hi. My name is Anjelica Builes and I am a senior at Harding High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I am currently a student in Bridgeport's bilingual program and a member of the National Honor Society. I am here today to give my support to HB 6889, which will make changes to the current public law 99-211, AN ACT IMPROVING BILINGUAL EDUCATION. I am opposed to the mandate that does not allow bilingual high school students with less than 30 months until graduation to not be offered the opportunity to receive bilingual services.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Questions? No. Thank you. There are no questions, right?

?: We just wanted to challenge the rule of the Chair in not being able to applaud, but that's --

REP. STAPLES: Rules. I don't know. I have nothing to do with the rules. Okay, let's see. John Dayton and Bill Bilotti.

JOHN DAYTON: Good afternoon. My name is John Dayton. I'm Chairman of the Board of Finance in the town of Middlebury. I was elected in 1983 and I have served as Chair since 1988. I came before the Special Committee on Intergovernmental Relations in this past summer and from that committee, we sought to have a change in the State Funding Formula to address the inequity of taxation between towns and partnership in regional school districts, statewide when there is a long-term one-sided growth factor which has caused the smaller town within that district to pay a disproportionate share of the cost for additional school buildings because of such growth.

JOHN DAYTON: -- of rising to approximately $400,000 with the new bonding issue of $84 million dollars to be put in place. While this amount is relatively small in comparison to the entire school budget, we believe that as a matter of fairness, that the state should provide an appropriate change to the Regional School Financing Formula to allow for the fair allocation of the building costs to those communities that proportionately cause the need for additional buildings.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Oh, I'm sorry. Rob, you have a question, sir. Representative Heagney.

REP. HEAGNEY: I couldn't let you go because I used to be Chairman of my town's Board of Finance and I know what you go through.

JOHN DAYTON: Well, I had hair when I started the job.

REP. HEAGNEY: Well, I'd like to say it grows back. Just walk us through because I didn't have the foundation and I wasn't in a town that had a regional school district but where do you start with your sharing of a building and is there no mechanism at all or does it have to be by agreement?

JOHN DAYTON: Well, let me start. Regional school districts are different and it's very hard, I think, for anybody outside a regional school district to understand. Regional school districts are a separate municipality under the state of Connecticut.

REP. HEAGNEY: For the operating costs?

JOHN DAYTON: But our people are taxed based on our Grand List in Middlebury. Our Grand List on a proportional basis to our population is smaller. Southbury, when we first merged in 1967, Middlebury 16 square miles. Southbury, 64 square miles. Population is about the same. People didn't understand the dynamics of that huge geographic difference.

REP. HEAGNEY: Okay. Just take me through that in terms of the building, you're saying that basically you have this sort of group dynamic Grand List. In other words, you set a mill rate and it just is applied.

JOHN DAYTON: That's correct.

REP. HEAGNEY: Okay and so -- and how does this bill separate those things out?

JOHN DAYTON: Well, you get your bill from the town of Middlebury --

REP. HEAGNEY: No, no. I'm sorry. Our legislation, not your tax bill.

JOHN DAYTON: Your legislation is the first effort in trying to delineate costs of construction. It does need some work. Representative Hartley -- Senator Hartley will address that, I believe, with you folks separately.


JOHN DAYTON: Both of us -- I'm just back from vacation. I didn't even know I was going to be here today and I wasn't prepared. I do have the package that we used for the Department of Governmental Relations this last summer and I'm prepared to provide those to the Chairman for distribution.

REP. HEAGNEY: Great. Thank you very much.

JOHN DAYTON: Thank you.

REP. STAPLES: (mike off)

BILL BILOTTI: Representative Staples, distinguished panel, my name is Bill Bilotti. I'm a resident of Middlebury and I'm going to approach this not as a town official but as a resident and I want to talk a little bit to the scope of what inequities mean in such a school district.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Thanks for your testimony. Any questions? No. Thank you for your time.

BILL BILOTTI: Thank you.

REP. STAPLES: Ana Gonzales? Ana here? Followed by Herminio Planas. Did I get that right? Close enough?

ANA GONZALES-BATISTA: Good afternoon, Representative Staples and members of the Education Committee. My name is Ana Gonzales-Batista. I live in the town of Chesire and I'm employed by the Bridgeport Board of Education. I've been teaching English to speakers of other languages for the past 17 years.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions? No. Thank you for your testimony. Herminio Planas followed by Sara Batalla.

HERMINIO PLANAS: Good afternoon, Representative Staples and members of the Education Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you. For the record, my name is Herminio Planas. I am an alumnus of Bridgeport public schools bilingual program. Currently, I'm a bilingual educator and a math research coordinator at Elias Howe school, one of Bridgeport's nationally recognized Title One schools.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any questions? Yes, Representative Beals.

REP. BEALS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Were you put in an ESL class when you came?

HERMINIO PLANAS: I -- ESL was a component of the bilingual program. I was pulled out for about an hour when I was in the bilingual program.

REP. BEALS: And the rest of the time you were mainstreamed?

HERMINIO PLANAS: The rest of the time I was in a bilingual class with a bilingual teacher.

REP. BEALS: Oh, I thought you said that you were put into a mainstream school when you --

HERMINIO PLANAS: When I entered school for the first time, when I first came from Puerto Rico, I was in a fully bilingual class, yes. With no ESL whatsoever. I took a -- I'm sorry. A mainstream class with --

REP. BEALS: Yes, that's what I thought you had said.


REP. BEALS: So, my question is, were you given ESL classes at that time?

HERMINIO PLANAS: At that time, no. I was not.

REP. BEALS: And your parents were not informed of the existence of ESL and bilingual programs in the school system?

HERMINIO PLANAS: We came to Bridgeport. We had no relatives here. We didn't know -- I came the first -- I came from Puerto Rico the first day of school when school just started, so my parents wanted me to be in school. They placed me in the school that was closest to my area and --

REP. BEALS: The school did not advise them that there were other options?

HERMINIO PLANAS: They gave me a test and I was -- I passed the test. They gave me a proficiency exam and I passed the proficiency exam with a 75 percent. So, I was practically a mainstream.

REP. BEALS: Thank you.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any more questions? Thank you. No more questions. (mike off)

SARA BATALLA: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Representative Staples for allowing me the opportunity to speak on behalf of bilingual education. I'm here to support raised HB 6889 especially as pertaining to students with special needs.

REP. STAPLES: Questions? Yes, Representative Reinoso.

REP. REINOSO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm going to be very brief. I'd like to start off -- this is a very special moment, Mr. Chairman. It's only going to take only one minute. It's a moment of kind of an emotional moment for me. I've known you since you were a freshman in high school.

SARA BATALLA: Thank you.

REP. REINOSO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. STAPLES: Any more questions? Okay, Carmen Roman. Is Carmen here? Marisol Macaro? (mike off)

SHEILA MCKAY: Good afternoon, members of the Committee, Representative Staples. For the record, my name is Sheila McKay. I'm here representing the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and you have written testimony in front of you.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions? Is this your first time testifying before this Committee?

SHEILA MCKAY: Well, I was here late, late, late on evening a couple of months ago.

REP. STAPLES: I guess you'll get off easy today, but it's nice to see you. Thank you for coming. (mike off)

SUSAN AMENDOLA: Good afternoon. My name is Susan Amendola. I am a high school ESL teacher in Connecticut and I have my Master's degree in the fields of English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education. I am honored to find myself before you, today.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any questions? Yes, Representative Currey.

REP. CURRY: I'd just like to comment that in section B, the last sentence is deleted in this bill. Just so you know that --

SUSAN AMENDOLA: Yes, I know, but we need to pass the bill, make sure it gets deleted. So, I just want to make sure you forget to do that.

REP. CURREY: So, you support the bill as it's written?

SUSAN AMENDOLA: Yes. We support the bill.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Any more questions or comments? No. Thank you. Sara -- I think I said, Oyola Beauman. Did I get that close enough? Followed by Ganimete.

SARA V. OYOLA-BOWMON: Good afternoon. My name is Sara Oyola-Bowmon and I'm the bilingual education supervisor for the Waterbury Public Schools. I am here -- I will be reading a letter on behalf of the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. David Snead. Dr. Snead was planning to attend today's hearings, but he was unable due to a death in the family on his side of the state.

REP. STAPLES: (mike off)

GANIMETE MYHOTIU: My name is Ganimete Myhotiu.

REP. STAPLES: (mike off)

GANIMETE MYHOTIU: Good afternoon, everybody. This is an honor to be part of an institutional mentality, what I called, especially being a refugee from Kosovia where the institutional life was destroyed, deliberately 20 years ago and slowly I witnessed that as of my student years.

GANIMETE MYHOTIU: -- in Waterbury, and so working for International Institute gave me an opportunity to have a bigger picture of how the emigrational issues, work. I just understood that two years ago that America is during the last year, accepting 800,000 immigrants.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions? No. Thank you. Agnes Dubow.

AGNES DUBOW: Good afternoon. My name is Agnes Dubow and I want to thank you, Representative Staples for the hearing and all the other members of the Education Committee. I'm here to support HB 6889. I am from Irish and Italian heritage. A "gringa", but was lucky enough to have parents who supported me going to Spain for a summer and Mexico for a semester so I could learn to speak Spanish.

SEN. STAPLES: Thank you very much. You did a great job today bringing up the troops, too. Willie Matos.

WILLIE MATOS: Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. My name is Willie Matos. I am the Chairman of the Puerto Rican Coalition which is a Civil Rights organization and also, I'm the Chairman of ASPIRA of Connecticut, Incorporated which is a youth development organization. I am speaking to you today in support of HB 6889. I will not go into all the details that other speakers have gone through. I think that they have done a tremendous job, especially our students, in highlighting why we need to have a comprehensive bilingual education law.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions? No. Thank you. Marina Lesnick? Mirta Guadeloupe? Okay. Okay, you're coming. Got it. Are you Mirta?

ANNA MARIA OLEZZA: Good afternoon. My name is Anna Maria Olezza --

REP. STAPLES: Oh, Maria, I'm sorry.

ANNA MARIA OLEZZA: I'm sorry. I didn't hear you when you called. I'm grateful to the opportunity to speak to you, today. I'm the Coordinator of the Bilingual Bicultural Department for Hartford Public Schools and a professor of Education at the University of Connecticut.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Could those of you who are still waiting to testify please raise your hands just so I know how many are still here. One, two, three, four, five. Okay, why don't you just come up in the front row, there and just come one at a time. The list is hard to -- there's a lot of people who have come and gone, so I'd rather just each of you just come up in order and tell us who you are and testify. Go right ahead.

CAROL SHAPIRO BERSEN: Good afternoon, members of the Education Committee. My name is Carol Shapiro Bersen. I'm an assistant coordinator and Title Seven Dual Resource Language Resource Specialist for the Hartford Public Schools Title Seven Dual Language Enrichment Program.

REP. STAPLES: Okay, that's be great. Why don't you give that to our staff. Thank you very much for coming. Please, come on up. Just introduce yourself for the record.

FERNANDO MUNZ: Certainly. Good afternoon, Representative Staples, members of the Education Committee. For the record, my name is Fernando Munz. I'm Deputy Director of ASPIRA of Connecticut, the only state-wide Latino youth education agency in the state and I'm representing the Board, staff and over 1,200 volunteers and students that serve in our programs.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions? No. Thank you. Okay, next? Go right ahead. Anybody can come up. We're not -- we're just following whatever order you choose to follow, now.

EVA DIAZ: My name is Eva Diaz and I am speaking on behalf of two organizations. The first one is PABEA, the Professional Association of Bilingual Education Administrators and the second one is CAPSEA, Connecticut Association of Public Schools ESL Administrators.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Questions? No. Thank you.

LILIANA MINAYA ROWE: Good afternoon. My name is Liliana Minaya Rowe. I am a professor of Education at the University of Connecticut. In the past 21 years, I have trained teachers and administrators of bilingual programs and of schools with large numbers of English language learners in Connecticut.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Any questions? No. Thank you. No questions. Thank you.

CARMEN INGLESIAS: Good afternoon. My name is Carmen Inglesias. I am a dual language resource teacher from Maria Sanchez and M.D. Fox. I strongly support SB 449, AN ACT CONCERNING DUAL LANGUAGE. I have seen the benefits of the dual language program to the piloting of two classrooms at the kindergarten level at each school.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Go ahead.

YVETTE DEFEO: Good afternoon, Representative Staples and members of the Education Committee. First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to express our views regarding bilingual education. For the record, my name is Yvette DeFeo and I'm Director of Bilingual Education Services for the Bridgeport Public School System.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much. Questions?

NORMA JONES: Good evening. Good evening. My name is -- glad to have the opportunity to speak to you today. I'm the PTO president of Maria Sanchez school and also a parent of a child that is in the dual language enrichment program. I'm here to ask for your support. I greatly support the dual language enrichment program but I have concern in the way the new law will be implemented. Please look at how our concern for our children and take them into consideration.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you very much.

VERNICE J. WINSTON DUKE: Good afternoon. I say good afternoon because my testimony says, good morning. It's been a long day. But a fruitful one. I've learned a lot from a lot of the testimony. My name -- good afternoon. My name is Vernice J. Winston Duke and I've been a teacher in the Hartford school system for the past 17 years.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. I believe you are the last witness, today. Are you testifying?

VICTOR RIVERA: Hi, good afternoon. My name is Victor Rivera and I'm a parent at Barnum School in Bridgeport and we currently have there a bilingual program in Bridgeport and I'm here to support the bill, HB 6889. I would like to talk to you about my experience with bilingual and my job and my community. As is many bilingual education for our student because they are future leaders in a community.

REP. STAPLES: Thank you. Since there's nobody else to testify, this hearing is adjourned.