A standing-room only crowd of nearly 500 people gathered this morning at Eastern Connecticut State University, eager to help shape the future of their state.
“Look at this crowd. You believe in the state of Connecticut,” Governor-elect Ned Lamont told the people assembled, many of whom are serving on 15 transition policy committees for his administration, which met for the first time today.
Saying the policy committees are made up of democrats, republicans, independents, and representatives from the government, the private sector, and the non-profit sector, Lieutenant Governor-elect Susan Bysiewicz thanked committee members for being willing to share their knowledge and expertise.
“We are asking you to help us develop policy platforms on a whole variety of issues,” Bysiewicz said.
The incoming Lamont administration is seeking input from many viewpoints to put together a policy agenda before the new governor officially takes office on January 9. Each committee is working to draft a two-page policy memo by December 12 and report to the public on that memo between December 17 and 19.
“We have a fresh start that none of us are going to squander, and it starts right here with our policy teams,” Lamont said.
CEA is represented on the transition policy committees by CEA President Jeff Leake, who is serving on the Education Policy Committee, and CEA Research and Policy Development Specialist and Chief Economist Orlando Rodriguez, who is serving on the Shared Services Committee that will examine regionalization and similar cost-cutting measures.
“I am passionate about making sure all Connecticut children can achieve a middle-class or better standard of living,” Leake told his fellow Education Policy Committee members.
“I’m here to make sure that teacher voice is part of the conversation that’s driving education policy in the state of Connecticut,” he continued. “Our teachers in Waterbury and Bridgeport aren’t any less committed or hard-working than teachers in wealthier communities, but the obstacles that are put in their way are incredible.”
Another committee member, Manchester Illing Middle School teacher Mike Pohl, said that social and emotional learning is a priority for him, and he’d like to be able to increase the number of counselors and social workers available to work with students. “As somebody in the classroom, I feel we have a lot of top-down policies right now,” Pohl said, adding that he’d rather have relationships where all adults involved can sit down and talk together as professionals to give students the education they need.
Other members of the Education Policy Committee include AFT President Jan Hochadel, public education researcher and Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College Robert Cotto, and Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Executive Director Fran Rabinowitz, who co-chairs the committee.
“We bring a diversity of ideas,” Rabinowitz told the group. “I don’t think, based on what I’ve heard, that we’re going to agree on every possible thing that comes to the table, and that’s okay, as long as we know that we’re here on this education committee for the kids.”