Testimony Before the Education Committee
March 8, 2023
Amy Dowell, Executive Director
Co-Chairs McCrory and Currey, Vice Chairs Winfield and Leeper, Ranking Members Berthel and McCarty and members of the Education Committee–thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on two bills before you today. I am Amy Dowell, Executive Director of Education Reform Now CT (ERN CT).
Support - S.B. 1 - AN ACT CONCERNING TRANSPARENCY IN EDUCATION
ERN CT supports SB 1 because it establishes a common chart of accounts for the state and local districts. Public school districts need to be fairly funded so that they can meet student needs, but they also should be accountable for the taxpayer dollars that they receive.
Currently, district budgets and expenditures are not tracked in a manner that is sufficiently comparable or specific to draw conclusions about resource allocation. A common chart of accounts will facilitate policy and equity comparisons across the state and between districts, and it will allow policymakers to accurately identify how resources can best be allocated to maximize impact.
We are also supportive of the language in SB 1 that would require local and regional boards of education to complete training programs within a year of assuming office. As the leaders of local school districts, it is critical that new members to boards of education receive appropriate training in their roles and responsibilities and in matters of district-level budgeting and finance. As we know, many members of school boards become legislators as they pursue higher offices. This training will have both immediate and long term benefits.
Additionally, we are supportive of efforts to update the program of instruction offered in public schools to include mental health, sex education, climate change, Native American studies, and Asian American and Pacific Island studies.
Oppose - H.B. 6845 - AN ACT ESTABLISHING A STATE-WIDE BOOK GIFTING PROGRAM AND HOME READING GRANT PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN
Regarding HB 6845, we want to flag that any large, state-level investment in book gifting should be aligned to the work of the state’s new Center on Literacy Research and Reading Success. This will ensure alignment both with the Science of Reading and with the state’s coordinated reading plan.
Additionally, while we wholeheartedly support parental engagement, we feel as if the requirements for data collection would be challenging to execute. We have several long-established programs in our state for book distribution that have a proven track record, and we support additional investment in those for sustainability.