McCrory Present for Governor’s Signing of Landmark Education Reform Bill
Making Definite Strides towards Academic Excellence
June 02, 2010
On May 27, 2010 in the scorching sun Connecticut lawmakers made it an order of priority to be present at the Governor’s signing of the education reform bill. Governor M. Jodi Rell signed into law a bill that makes dramatic and fundamental improvements in Connecticut’s public education system, legislation that was the product of a concerted effort by the Governor, legislators, the state Board of Education, teachers, business leaders and parents. The new law increases the number of credits required for high school graduation and requires students to pass exams in core subjects such as math, history, biology and English, while empowering parents, school boards and the state to step in when schools are failing.
“This new law raises academic criteria, boosts requirements for graduation and puts a much-needed emphasis on core areas of study such as math, science and technology,” Governor Rell said during a signing ceremony at Hockanum School in East Hartford. “It gives new authority to stakeholders – including, for the first time, parents – to take decisive action when schools are letting students down. And it includes new – and rigorous – processes for tracking the performance of students, teachers, schools and districts.
“I guess we can call it the little bill that could,” remarked State Representative Douglas McCrory (7th Assembly District). “When the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus started working on this bill we weren’t sure it would even leave Committee but we knew we had to do something.” Although there were some concessions made to the bill in order to increase the odds of federal “Race to the Top” funding, the bill empowers parents to restitute or close chronically failing schools.
“To successfully attack the achievement gap, bold, innovative, reforms must be made,” said McCrory. “The legislature has taken a first step towards tackling this issue by giving the power to the parents. My colleagues and I will continue to keep this issue a top priority and will work with parents, educators, state and local officials to make the necessary changes needed to achieve equal opportunities in education for all children.”
The new law also enhances Connecticut’s chances to secure up to $175 million in federal “Race to the Top” grant funding that rewards states for taking bold steps in education reform. Connecticut will file its application for the next round of Race to the Top grants on June 1.
Other provisions of the new law:
• Allow retired teachers to be rehired for up to one year in a shortage area or priority school district for up to 45 percent of the current maximum salary
• Eliminate enrollment caps for high-performing charter schools
• Require the state Board of Education to review and approve an alternate route for certification for school administrators
• Require all schools to hold parent-teacher conferences at least twice a year
• Require high schools to offer advanced placement courses for students to earn college credit
• Allow students to get credit toward graduation for on-line course work
• Allow out-of-school suspensions for students with a history of disciplinary problems
• Require schools with a dropout rate of 8 percent or higher to establish an on-line credit recovery program to help students earn needed credits
Lawmakers in the caucus developed the legislation after holding a series of town hall hearings throughout the state during the past year. “We went to the people. We heard their concerns – and will continue our advocacy around the state’s achievement gap and will pursue reformative legislation in future sessions,” added McCrory.
Reprinted with permission of the NorthEnd Agent's.
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