In January, we announced the policy goals our local leaders are pursuing across the 50CAN network this year. Today, countless hours of hard work have paid off with big wins for kids across Connecticut, Hawaii and Tennessee.

We rate our progress on a three-part scale: green for a policy win, yellow for significant progress made towards a goal and red for a policy loss. Read on to see what our inspiring local leaders have been working on at the state Capitol and in the community.

ConnCAN

Streamline teacher certification rules and open up flexible pathways to give quality candidates the opportunity to teach or lead in Connecticut schools.

WIN: ConnCAN worked with partners across the state to advocate for the passage of SB 455, a teacher certification bill that focuses on subject mastery and testing relief for out-of-state teachers, allowing the best teachers from around the region to lead Connecticut classrooms into the future without repetitive certification testing. The bill passed out of both chambers of the legislature and will be signed into law by the governor in the coming weeks.

Support the equitable funding of public charter schools.

WIN: ConnCAN defended a $250 per pupil funding increase for students attending charter schools in the state budget, which, when approved last week, resulted in a $2.5 million increase in funds available to families for education.

 

Ensure that the state of Connecticut publishes clear, easily accessible data for how well students are being prepared for college and career.

LOSS: ConnCAN submitted data accessibility language to the state education committee and provided critical testimony with the Black & Puerto Rican caucus, but were ultimately not able to have the bill introduced in the 2018 session. The importance of this data started a statewide conversation that ConnCAN will continue throughout the year, emphasizing its importance in the upcoming state elections this fall.

HawaiiKidsCAN

Pass a bill that enables all high schools to offer computer science professional development to teachers.

WIN: In their first legislative year, HawaiiKidsCAN secured a major win for kids with the passage of HB2607, a $500,000 appropriation that will double the number of high-quality computer science teachers and classes available to Hawaii students and will require every high school to teach computer science by 2021. This bill passed through both bodies of legislature and will be presented to the Governor for signature in the coming weeks.

Work with coalition members to create the outline of a pilot fund that will enable public schools to apply for dual-language immersion program startup support through the Department of Education.

IN PROGRESS: HawaiiKidsCAN is working with diverse stakeholders in and outside the Department of Education to craft a meaningful path forward for a funding opportunity inside the 2019 budget as a way to support some of Hawaii’s most underperforming students. The team will report further on the progress of this goal heading into the 2018-19 school year when the budget is finalized.

Revise the state Board of Education policy to allow computer science courses to count toward mandatory graduation credits for math or science.

IN PROGRESS: Working with the Student Achievement committee in the Board of Education, HawaiiKidsCAN will continue to advocate for this issue throughout the summer, aiming to secure this victory for students by the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Pass a bill to appropriate $10 million to support charter schools for facilities projects and rent assistance.

LOSS: Despite strong momentum from students, parents and diverse organizations such as the Hawaii Public Charter Schools Network, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaii State Teachers Association and Kamehameha Schools, HB2508, which would give public charter schools facilities funding support, did not make it through conference committee by the state deadline. The HawaiiKidsCAN team will work throughout the rest of the year to bring together stakeholders on this issue to find a pathway forward for all students.

TennesseeCAN

Continue the state’s investment in the Charter School Facilities Grant Program to support charter schools’ success, or open additional avenues for funding through policy change.

WIN: TennesseeCAN worked with partners to support Governor Haslam’s budget, which made several critical investments in education in The Volunteer State. The final budget includes $6 million for charter school facilities grants and $10 million in school turnaround grants for priority schools. This funding will be available starting in the fall of 2018.

Increase funding for special education and response to intervention and ensure access to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act high-cost reimbursement for all public schools.

WIN: A cornerstone of their legislative work this year, TennesseeCAN championed the passage of HB 1870 and SB 1901, which opened avenues for public charter schools to receive funds for support services dedicated to special education students and allocated over $13 million across state districts.

Support and provide feedback on the implementation of the state’s new fiscal transparency pilot, resulting in a clear and usable system for displaying individual school funding for the public.

IN PROGRESS: At present, 14 school districts statewide are participating in a pilot fiscal transparency program, but details on the pilot have not been made available to the public. TennesseeCAN will work with local partners throughout the year to advocate for an easy-to-understand system that displays funding by school across the state.

The end of a legislative session and the passage of a bill is not the end of our work, but rather a step in a continuing journey to bring a high-quality education to all kids, regardless of their address. We aim to learn from our successes and setbacks throughout the network as we chart the path forward. Next month we will share our progress from Delaware, Rhode Island and South Carolina. In the meantime, you can always follow along with the work our advocates are doing #FromtheField on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Marc Porter Magee Ph.D is the CEO and founder of 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Comments

Recent Posts