JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
REASONS FOR BILL:
The reasons for this bill are as follows by section. Sections 1 & 2 authorize boards of education to affix the Connecticut State Seal of Biliteracy to diplomas of students who achieve a high level of proficiency in English and one or more foreign languages, and would be required to include the seal designation on such students' transcripts.
Section 3 clarifies certain provisions of interstate agreements with other states for teacher reciprocity and provides for recognition statements for territories or possessions of the U.S. such as Puerto Rico. Under the agreement language, it would no longer require candidates to have taught under a certificate in the other state but to have successfully completed an educator preparation program, and under a recognition statement, the commissioner must state the teacher preparation programs that would be recognized under the statement.
Section 4 specifies that successful candidates for bilingual education certification must demonstrate oral competency in English as well as written competency in English and also specifies that elementary bilingual education certification is valid for K through eighth grade.
Section 5 allows a district full carry over of unexpended Alliance District funds provided the funds are spent for purposes provided in the district's SDE-approved Alliance District plan.
Section 6 establishes the parent university program as an ongoing program and sections 7 through 9 make minor revisions various grant programs.
Section 10 under supplemental transportation grants to RESCS, authorizes the State Department of Education Commissioner to award supplemental transportation grants to CREC for Sheff transportation for FY 16 and 17, within available appropriations, and section 11 makes a minor date change for payment of a magnet school grant.
Sections 1 & 2: specifies a student must who achieve a high level of proficiency in English in addition to one or more foreign languages in order to receive the seal of biliteracy
Deletes sections 3 & 4 that contained the language linking minimum budget requirement exemption to a district having a Category 1 rating, which under SDE policy requires a mastery text examination participation rate of 95% or higher and language defining district categories 1 through 5.
Renumbers the sections accordingly due to the deletion of sections 3 & 4
Section 4 (previously section 6), line 105, deletes the proposed language that the bilingual educator certification would no longer require applicants to demonstrate oral competency in the applicant's native language
Section 5 (previously section 7), lines 146 to 148, remove language that would have limited the carry forward for Alliance District funds to 3% of funds at the end of the year and instead allows all remaining funds to be carried forward provided they are used in accordance with the district's SDE-approved Alliance District plan.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Commissioner Dianna Wentzell, State Department of Education:
Commissioner Wentzell supported the proposal and thanked the Education Committee for Raised Bill 175 and testified that the raised bill incorporates a number of the State Department of Education's legislative priorities for 2016 in sections 1-12.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Bryan Daleas, Director of World Languages, Office of Academics, Hartford Public Schools: Mr. Daleas supported this proposal and testified in support of the section of Raised Bill 175 concerning a Connecticut Seal of Biliteracy. As a graduate of CT public schools and language education professional in a public district, it was Mr. Daleas' opinion that the Seal of Bilteracy will benefit all language learners who choose to pursue it.
Jeffrey Villar,Ph.D., Executive Director, Executive Director, Connecticut Council for Education Reform: Dr. Villar supported this proposal and testified in favor of Raised Bill SB 175, in particular sections 5 and 7. Section 5, amends last year's reciprocity language to remove barriers for qualified out of state teachers who want to work in Connecticut, and section 7, limits the amount of funds Alliance Districts may carry forward into the next fiscal year to three percent.
Jessica Haxhi, Supervisor of World Lanugages, New Haven Public Schools:
Ms. Haxhi supported this proposal and offered testimony in support of the Connecticut Seal of Biliteracy. Currently in New Haven, students in New Haven's schools speak 67 different languages and represent 118 different countries. Twenty-five percent of students speak a language other than English at home.
Lea Graner Kennedy, The Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (CT COLT):
Ms. Graner Kennedy supported this proposal and offered testimony in support of the section of Raised Senate Bill 175 concerning the Seal of Biliteracy. Testifying on behalf of a group of educators who understand the importance of biliteracy to success in college, career, and life, CT COLT was thrilled that the Commissioner and the State Board of Education proposed this legislation and that the Education Committee has included it in Raised Senate Bill 175.
Mark Waxenberg, Executive Director, Connecticut Education Association (CEA):
Mr. Waxenberg on behalf of the Connecticut Education Association support sections 1-2, section 6, section 7, and sections 10 and 12. Despite supporting the sections above, the members of CEA also testified expressing concerns on sections 4, 5 and 8. Concerning Section 4 of Raised Senate Bill 175, CEA testified that while it is important to recruit a high- quality, diverse, and committed teacher workforce, that Connecticut must not weaken certification standards to do so, and that certification must be conditioned on successful completion of a teacher preparation programs that have been approved by the state and accredited by recognized regional agencies. Furthermore with regards to Section 8 of Raised Senate Bill 175, CEA offered testimony and suggested that Section 8 can be clarified to include more clearly defined uses of the funds and the inclusion of programmatic outcomes and that programs designed to promote parental participation and collaboration in a child's education should also promote student success through greater community engagement, for example through strategies consistent with a community schooling model.
Jan Hochadel, President, AFT Connecticut, AFL-CIO:
Ms. Hochadel supported this proposal and testified that as an educator who earned most of her teaching experience at a technical high school in Stamford, that she appreciates the Department of Education's efforts to retain and recruit a diverse teaching force and that it is important for students of color to connect with their teachers and to see teaching as a noble, important career which can only occur if the teaching population mirrors – as much as possible – the student population.
Connecticut Association of School Business Officials (CASB):
CASB strongly supported this proposal with respect to revising the current Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) statute. CASB testified that changing demographics in many towns have resulted in the need for more resources even though overall enrollment is going down and that many school districts have seen an increase in the number of ELL, special education, and free and reduced lunch students even though the overall student population is lower. These students require more resources, which is another reason that enrollment decreases alone cannot be the basis for adjusting MBR. A full review of all the many factors that go into the development of school budgets much be all considered in order to properly educate all the students in a school district.
Rachel Leventhal-Weiner, Ph.D., Education Policy Fellow, Connecticut Voices for Children: Dr. Leventhal- Weiner on behalf of Connecticut Voices for Children, supported this proposal and offered testimony with regards to sections 5 and 10 of Raised Senate Bill 175. “Our research indicates that district-level resources, specifically the availability of small kindergarten classes and experienced teachers, are inequitably distributed, leading to qualitatively different experiences in schools across the state. In particular, districts with greater property wealth boast smaller kindergarten classes and retention of experienced teachers, while districts with less property wealth cannot.”
Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPPS):
The CT Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPPS) supported this proposal and offered testimony on Raised Senate Bill 175, with one exception that limits the amount of Alliance District Grants that Alliance Districts can carry over from one fiscal year to the next, and for those reason CAPPS urges the legislature to strike that portion of the bill.
Testimony was offered by the following in support of the raised bill with regards to minimum budget requirement and the state seal of biliteracy.
Connecticut Administration of Programs for English Language Learners (CAPELL)
Jennifer Herz , Assistant Counsel for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association
Christine Dombrowski, Kensington, CT
Dorie Conlon Perugini, Elementary Spanish Teacher, Glastonbury Public Schools
Elizabeth Lapman, President, CT COLT
Dr. Corey Borzain, World Languages Department Head, French and Spanish Teacher, Haddam-Killingworth High School
Eileen Fiore, Stonington High School - French and Spanish
Elena Juan, Spanish Teacher, Smith Middle School, Glastonbury, CT
James Wildman, CT Colt Vice-President/President-Elect, Foreign Language
Department, Glastonbury High School
Kimberly Moore, Wallingford Public Schools, World Language Curriculum Resource Teacher
Laurie Barry, Global Languages Department Curriculum and Instructional Leader
Advisor, Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica
Matthew Mangino, Spanish Teacher and World Language Department Liaison,
Wethersfield High School
Michael Halloran, Assistant Principal, Southington High School
Nicholas J. Coppola, North Haven, Connecticut
Nori Lembree, Spanish Teacher, Stonington High School
Patti Fusco, Divisional Vice President PreK-12, AFT Connecticut, AFL-CIO
Pedro Mendia-Landa, Supervisor of the Department of English Language Learners
Programs, New Haven Public Schools
Sarah Lindstrom, Spanish Teacher, Glastonbury, CT
Sheila Houlihan World Language Teacher Newington High School
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, Inc. (CABE):
CABE was concerned with section 7 of this proposal and offered testimony with regards to the recommendations from the State Department of Education, which limits the 3%, the Alliance District Funds that can be carried forward to the next fiscal year, may prevent boards from using the resources for valuable programs.
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM):
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities had concerns with regards to Raised Senate Bill 175 that among other things would implement a three percent cap on the carry forward provision of the Alliance District Grant Program and revise the eligibility requirements for exemptions to the Minimum Budget Requirement. Furthermore CCM had concerns that this bill may negatively impact Alliance Districts that are frequently located in distressed municipalities that either host a significant amount of tax exempt property or simply do not have the means to generate higher levels of revenue to adequately fund their local education system. Moreover CCM strongly suggested the Education Committee fully examine the impact a cap on the carry forward provision may have on alliance districts and consider possible exemptions before moving forward on the provision.
Connecticut Parental Rights Coalition (CPRC):
CPRC opposed this proposal with regards to State Department of Education's position on student testing. The CPRC testified on the following: that the SBAC is a scientifically invalid test that collects highly sensitive information to be analyzed by AIR (American Institute of Research), the information is not HIPPA protected, the information leaves the state, and is provided access to the federal government, state agencies and third parties. Finally that the SBAC is subjective and 'rigged' to fail with predetermined failure rates that go on a child's permanent record and are tied to teacher evaluations and district ratings.
Thomas Scarice, Superintendent, Madison Public Schools:
Mr. Scarice opposed this proposal and offered testimony in opposition to Raised Senate Bill 175 section 3, testifying as a Superintendent of a district with declining enrollment, that exemption from the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) may be a financial relief to Madison as they reorganize and possibly close schools in the future. Mr. Scarice testified that the connection to the Minimum Budget Requirement to state test participation rates, only for category 1 and 2 schools under the state accountability model, “raises even more concerns, perhaps violating equal protection under the law.” Continuing on section 3, Mr. Scarice testified that “If you peel back the layers this is a punitive measure to penalize districts which have parents who refuse to have their child participate in the state mastery exam.” Furthermore that the stated intentions of the State Department of Education (SDE) regarding SB175 as presented to its own State Board of Education (SBE) on the record in the proposal summary for SBE on January 6, 2016, is to ensure that districts that may be high performers but have achievement or graduation gaps or low participation in state assessments will not be eligible for Minimum Budget (MBR) relief. Moreover Mr. Scarice expressed his concerns that some of these “draconian measures” will be implemented without the approval of the legislature, particularly the education committee, and submitted that this is a clear overreach of bureaucracy with harsh implications for communities based on a rightful legal decision of a parent.
Testimony was offered by the following in opposition to the raised bill with regards to SBAC testing requirements or the minimum budget requirements.
Anne Manusky, Parent, Easton, Connecticut
Cort Wrotnowski, Parent, Greenwich, CT
E.T. Siebert, PhD
Jason Morris, New London, CT
Kirsten Creighton, Thompson, CT
Mary E. Burnham, Sandy Hook, CT
Merle Sprague, Beacon Falls, CT
Reported by: Brian Levy