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About Education Issues

Key issues

  • Educational opportunity is the right of every child.  Investment in student learning is vital to the state’s economic and social development. The state’s educational system should provide a broad educational program that serves all children’s learning and development needs, including academic skills, critical thinking, the arts and literature, preparation for skilled work, social skills and work ethic, citizenship, and emotional health.  Ensuring that Connecticut’s schools meet the educational needs of the state’s growing Hispanic population is particularly vital, as Connecticut’s under-20 Hispanic population is expected to increase by 45% over the next 20 years. Minorities are assuming a greater role in the state’s workforce increasing from 28 percent of the working-age population (age 20-64), in 2010, to 42 percent, in 2030.
     
  • Reducing racial and economic isolation in Connecticut schools is also vital to our state’s future.  Racial and economic isolation is related to disparity in student learning.  The most recent results of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) show that Connecticut consistently has one of the top 10 largest gaps in the nation between Hispanic students and white students and between Black students and white students in both math and English. In Connecticut, a combination of school assignment based on housing, the high cost of housing for low-income families with children, the diminished ability of low-income parents to pay for and support their children’s development through educational activities, and the intense residential segregation by income in the state likely have a role in explaining why Connecticut has such an intense disparity in standardized test measures. Efforts to reduce racial and economic isolation should be part of a balanced approach to provide the constitutional right to an equal public education.
     
  • Keeping children in school should be a top priority. Too many Connecticut children lose educational opportunities because of truancy, out-of-school suspensions, and dropout.  Although reliable statewide truancy data is not yet available, preliminary data indicate that the truancy problem in many districts is quite severe.  Reducing out-of-school suspensions in Connecticut is also essential to improving academic performance and reducing dropout. Nearly 60% of all out-of-school suspensions in Connecticut are for “school policy” violations, such as attendance violations and disrespect.   Improving graduation rates in Connecticut is also of utmost importance. In March 2010, Connecticut’s State Department of Education released new graduation data that show that far more students fail to graduate from high school on time than previously estimated. The new data show that more than 20% of the class of 2009 failed to graduate in four years. For some groups such as low-income students and Hispanic students, 62.7% and 64.0% respectively graduated in four years.
     
  • Connecticut must invest the resources necessary to meet the educational needs of all its children.  Concerted investments must be made in educating children most at risk of educational failure, including children in high-poverty areas, children who are learning English, and children with special education needs. The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant is the leading mechanism in Connecticut for accounting for these needs and increasing school funding equity. The funding for ECS did not increase between Fiscal Years 2010 and 2012. The flat funding of the ECS disadvantages less affluent districts that are not able to increase tax revenues for public schools.  Planning ahead to ensure that ECS funding keeps pace with students’ needs in coming years is essential.  In addition, the formula must be revisited to ensure that it uses accurate and up-to-date measures and data for key variables such as poverty and income, and that it fully accounts for the educational needs of at-risk students. 

Key publications & legislative testimony

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Related resources

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