May 9, 2012
LEGISLATURE APPROVES SWEEPING EDUCATION REFORM
Package Takes Aim at Low-Performing Schools
The House passed a sweeping education reform package that takes a number of steps to turn around Connecticut’s lowest-performing schools.
Recognizing the value of early childhood education, the bill (SB 458) creates 1,000 new pre-K School Readiness seats, focused in high need, low performing communities. It also creates a pilot program to enhance literacy for students in kindergarten through third grade.
The bill also establishes the Commissioner’s Network, which provides the intensive supports and interventions needed to turn around 25 of the most chronically low-performing schools in Connecticut. It grants the state commissioner of education the needed authority to develop or modify plans with teachers and parents at “turnaround” schools, while respecting collective bargaining rights.
The legislation requires at least 10 Family Resource Centers and at least 20 new or expanded School Based Health Centers to be located in education reform districts. It also increases funding for existing Family Resource Centers.
The bill reforms the teacher tenure system by increasing the frequency of teacher evaluations and linking tenure to evaluations. It also requires the education commissioner to administer an evaluation pilot program in 8 to 10 districts for the 2012-2013 school year.
There are also funding increases for vocational/technical and vocational/agricultural schools, charter and magnet schools, and a new kindergarten through 8th grade science initiative.