Education Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6977

Title:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

Vote Date:

3/18/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/11/2015

File No.:

481

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Education Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The purpose of the bill is to require the Commissioner of Education to have a background in the field of Education as a prerequisite for holding office. The language stipulates a master's degree or higher in an education-related field, five or more years' experience as a teacher, and three or more years' as an administrator of a school or school district.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None Submitted

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Melodie Peters, President, AFT Connecticut AFL-CIO: Ms. Peters and AFT Connecticut support the proposed bill citing the role of the Commissioner in providing, “direction and guidance to districts, schools and educators.” AFT believes the credibility of the Commissioner of Education depends, in part, on the shared experience of the Commissioner with teachers, administrators, and superintendents.

Dr. Anne Jellison, Chair, Connecticut Association of School Administrators: Dr. Jellison testified in favor noting that it is critical for the Commissioner of Education to have credibility and expertise among all stakeholders in Connecticut's education system. She included that an effective, credible Commissioner needs “first-hand knowledge” of Connecticut schools and understands the impact of not only day-to-day situations but how policies impact the school environment.

Jeff Leake, Vice President, Connecticut Education Association: Mr. Leake testified in support of the bill, commenting that many of the members of the CEA are also in favor of a person with a background in the education field serving as Commissioner. The CEA feels the bill may be too basic in the required qualifications but stressed to the committee that their organization is looking for a commissioner who understands the qualities necessary to be a true educator.

Lori Pelletier, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Connecticut AFL-CIO: Ms. Pelletier testified in support of the bill. The position of the AFL-CIO is that high standards that have been set for teachers, administrators, and superintendents should also be a standard for the Commissioner of Education.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Jennifer Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, ConnCAN: ConnCAN opposes the proposed bill because they believe the requirements laid out in the bill for the Commissioner of Education would severely limit Connecticut's ability to recruit talent and would, “unnecessarily exclude qualified and experienced candidates from being considered for appointment as Education Commissioner.” Ms. Alexander specifically cited the Commissioners of Education of the states of Tennessee and Colorado as examples.

Reported by: Joshua Flores, Assistant Clerk

Date: 4/7/2015