From eliminating SBAC for 11th graders, to strengthening charter school oversight and winning the opportunity for teachers to save money on health care premiums, the positive outcomes from this year’s legislative session are thanks to CEA leadership and the collective effort of teachers to make inroads to improve public education, the teaching profession, and working conditions for teachers.
Many education-related issues were debated during the 2015 legislative session, which ended yesterday. Below are just some of the important bills that passed the House and Senate and are awaiting the governor’s signature.
Less Testing and More Learning for Connecticut Students
The commitment and diligence of teachers who rallied against excessive testing, chronicled the problems with SBAC, and shared those experiences with their legislators, paid off. Legislators listened and took action by passing an amended legislation that eliminates SBAC for eleventh graders, increases accountability, and provides a strong commitment to Connecticut’s examination of the impact of SBAC on student learning time. Read more here.
Opportunity for Teachers to Save Money by Joining the State Employee Health Care Plan
Towns now have the ability to enter the State Employee Health Insurance Pool at state rates. This establishes the opportunity for significant savings for teachers on the cost of health insurance. Under the new law, local associations will have the option to negotiate to join the state employee health care pool. This plan typically costs less for the same or better benefits compared to similar plans offered to teachers. Read more here.
Increased Oversight for Charter Schools
New legislation provides the charter school industry with some much-needed oversight. Charter schools and charter school management organizations will now be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and new charter schools will require approval by the General Assembly. Read more here.
Qualifications for the Commissioner of Education Established
The voices of public school teachers were heard loudly and clearly by legislators who voted to ensure that all future state education commissioners have a strong background in the classroom. CEA leaders and members fought for this provision that requires the state’s education chief to have a master’s or a higher degree in an education-related field, and a minimum of five years of classroom experience and three years as a school administrator.
Teachers Protected From Negative Effects of Unsubstantiated Allegations
CEA’s legal team fought hard for a bill that protects teachers falsely accused of abuse or neglect. Legislators passed the bill that would delete any and all references to Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigations against a teacher when DCF cannot substantiate the claim. The law requires all records of unsubstantiated reports be removed from a school employee’s personnel file or other records.
New State-Developed Curricula for Teaching CPR and Labor History
Lawmakers approved adding two new lesson plans to the high school curriculum—one that could help save lives, the other to help students become more civic-minded. Under the new laws, the State Board of Education must develop curricula on the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) based on American Heart Association guidelines, and on the history of the labor movement as well as capitalism in the development of the American and world economies.