It’s a busy day at the legislature’s Education Committee, with senate and house members hearing from the public on bills that cover a range of topics from remedial reading instruction to virtual learning to Education Savings Accounts.
CEA President Sheila Cohen’s testimony urged legislators “to reject even exploring the insidious idea of Education Savings Accounts being introduced in our state.”
Cohen explained that ESAs are a voucher-like mechanism for privatizing public education and redirecting taxpayer dollars away from public schools. “These neo-voucher plans, together with similar proposals like ‘scholarship’ vouchers, are envisioned to be used for private and parochial school tuition, home schooling, tutors, online and ‘virtual’ education, and transportation. They are ill-conceived and threaten our nation’s commitment to providing public education for all students.”
CEA staff members testifying include Ray Rossomando, director of policy, research, and government relations; Michele Ridolfi O’Neill, educational issues specialist; Kate Field, teacher development specialist; and Orlando Rodriguez, research and policy development specialist, and chief economist.
Testifying on special education funding, Rossomando told the committee that states are in a better position than local schools districts to provide funding ensuring all children with special needs have access to educational opportunity.
“The United States is unique in its mission and commitment to provide every child an opportunity to receive a public education. This sets our schools apart from many others in the world, as our teachers, classrooms, and schools continually evolve to meet the needs of ALL students,” Rossomando said. “Reducing the threshold that triggers a state share in local special education expenditures moves the state toward a more appropriate share.”
Other bills that CEA staff is testifying on today before the Education Committee include An Act Concerning Remedial Instruction in Reading, An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study Best Practices Regarding Social-Emotional Learning, An Act Concerning a Study of Virtual Classrooms, An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study Best Practices Regarding Response to Intervention, and An Act Concerning the Alignment of the Coordinated State-Wide Reading Plan With the State’s Two-Generational Initiative.
Also testifying today, before the legislature’s Labor Committee, CEA Political Action Coordinator Christopher Donovan urged legislators to raise the minimum wage, and create and implement a comprehensive, statewide system of paid family and medical leave.