Translate hfpg.org
Translate hfpg.org
Menu

Hartford Foundation Submits Two Pieces of Testimony to The Appropriations Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

Yesterday, February 21, 2017, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving submitted two pieces of testimony to the state's Appropriations Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education. 

The first testimony was written in opposition to the Governor’s proposed funding reductions to the Office of Early Childhood (OEC). As was stated in our previous testimony related to proposed changes to the Office of Early Childhood, the Foundation played a significant role in the creation and support of the OEC. The OEC resulted from extensive study of national and statewide research and a stakeholder process that included early childhood experts, legislators, philanthropy, providers and parents throughout the state which concluded that a unified child and family-centered agency with a dedicated focus on early childhood policy, funding and program quality is necessary to ensure optimal safety and learning outcomes for children and pathways to economic security for their families and caregivers. The Administration’s proposal to reduce the OEC’s budget by almost $54 million from 2017 appropriations threatens the long-term progress of the Office and represents a retreat from the state’s commitment to create a high-quality, integrated early childhood system that meets the needs of Connecticut’s children today and in the future. The Foundation urged legislators to maintain Connecticut’s leadership and commitment to building a comprehensive, integrated early childhood system through the Office of Early Childhood.

The second piece of testimony focused on Gov. Malloy’s proposed changes to the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula (ECS). The Foundation expressed appreciation to the Administration and legislators for their efforts  to create a more equitable system of funding for public schools and we urge the public sector to continue an adequate level of commitment for both core instructional and non-academic supports that narrow the opportunity gaps for students, regardless of their zip code or school choice including neighborhood schools, magnet schools and charter schools. The Foundation stated that any education financing approach should reflect the academic and non-academic key factors that impact educational achievement and the changing demographics of our region. The Foundation asked legislators to include the concentration of poverty in our urban centers and rising poverty in suburban areas as key factors in determining a more equitable distribution of education support. The Foundation also asked legislators include a weight for English Language learners in order to reflect the unique needs and potential for this population to support economic development.

You can read our full testimony below. 

 

*****

Testimony Regarding the Governor’s Proposed Budget for the Office of Early Childhood

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Appropriations Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

February 21, 2017

 

Good afternoon Senator Slossberg, Senator Somers, Representative Rosario, Representative Kokoruda and distinguished members of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for the 29-town Greater Hartford region.  We are the largest community foundation in Connecticut, and among the largest 20 community foundations in the country.  With a mission to put philanthropy into action to promote equitable opportunity for all residents in our region, the Foundation has long prioritized high-quality early childhood programs and system building based on research that confirms that investing in early childhood drives children’s success in school and life, and is an effective strategy to promote economic growth.  Since 1987, we have invested more than $40 million in early childhood in the Greater Hartford area, primarily through the Brighter Futures Initiative and the Hartford Area Child Care Collaborative.  In 2016, the Foundation awarded grants totaling $33.3 million, of which approximately $2 million was dedicated to early childhood system building in our region and statewide.

Our efforts include a significant role in the creation and support of the Office of Early Childhood (the OEC).  As you know, the OEC resulted from extensive study of national and statewide research and a stakeholder process that included early childhood experts, legislators, philanthropy, providers and parents throughout the state which concluded that a unified child and family-centered agency with a dedicated focus on early childhood policy, funding and program quality is necessary to ensure optimal safety and learning outcomes for children and pathways to economic security for their families and caregivers.  Research highlighting the benefits of a unified approach to early childhood system building has not changed since the establishment of the OEC. 

The OEC is still in the early phase of its development as an organization and we believe its promise can accelerate now that its staff is co-located and has completed strategic planning and culture-building efforts.   We urge the Committee to maintain Connecticut’s leadership and commitment to building a comprehensive, integrated early childhood system through the Office of Early Childhood. 

  • The Administration’s proposal to reduce the OEC’s budget by almost $54 million (17.7 percent) from 2017 appropriations threatens the long-term progress of the office and represents a retreat from the state’s commitment to create a high-quality, integrated early childhood system that meets the needs of Connecticut’s children today and in the future.
  • The proposed reductions to “Care 4 Kids” child care subsidy and the Birth to Three programs effectively eradicates the ability of the Office of Early Childhood to meets its mandate with little cost savings.

In just a few years, the OEC has demonstrated the promise of a unified agency for young children through strategic planning and culture building to bring together staff from five agencies with a shared vision.  OEC has partnered with the statewide Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, secured funding from private philanthropy and leveraged federal funds including the federal Preschool Development Grant.  The OEC has become a vital link between local community-based providers and state policy makers and built important relationships with home-based early childhood providers, made progress in developing a Quality Improvement System.  The OEC recently released a draft of an extensive unmet needs study to understand how early childhood and education programs should be funded and structured to provide universal access to children through age five. 

We also wish to express our opposition to the proposed elimination of state funding for the Help Me Grow Initiative. Created by the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and funded by the Hartford Foundation, Help Me Grow is a proven approach to identifying at-risk children and connects families with community-based programs and services. Now in use in 25 states, Help Me Grow has become a national initiative and was recently recognized as an exemplary program by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Elysa Gordon at 860-548-1888 or EGordon@hfpg.org

 

*****

Testimony Regarding Governor’s Proposed Budget for the State Department of Education

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Subcommittee

February 21, 2017

 

Good afternoon Senator Slossberg, Senator Somers, Representative Rosario, Representative Kokoruda and distinguished members of the Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for the 29-town Greater Hartford region with a mission to put philanthropy into action to promote equitable opportunity for all residents in our region.  We are the largest community foundation in Connecticut, and among the largest 20 community foundations in the country. 

  • Our knowledge of national research on evidence-based practices and our own experiences confirms that children, and particularly children facing significant opportunity gaps, need access to schools with a strong "instructional core” and access to comprehensive, high-quality academic and developmental supports and opportunities to thrive in school and life.  The Foundation’s extensive work in support of Hartford’s Community Schools, and more recently working with six other high-need school district in Bloomfield, East Hartford, Manchester, Vernon, Windsor Locks and Windsor, evidences how, with a very modest investment, school districts can develop partnerships with families, nonprofits and the community to provide the additional supports and resources that students need to be academically successful.  Our work with the school districts in our region have provided districts with the ability to implement their own strategies for leveraging partnerships with community based providers and families to introduce a variety of vital supports for students including early childhood programs; before and after school programs; health and mental health services, summer learning opportunities, student internships, and other extended learning opportunities that ultimately lead to student success. These supports along with access to quality special education programs and support for English language learners are vital to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to succeed.

Our investments alone are not enough.  We applaud the efforts of the Administration and the Legislature to create a more equitable system of funding for public schools and we urge the public sector to continue an adequate level of commitment for both core instructional and non-academic supports that narrow the opportunity gaps for students, regardless of their zip code or school choice including neighborhood schools, magnet schools and charter schools. 

  • We believe the education financing approach should reflect the academic and non-academic key factors that impact educational achievement and the changing demographics of our region. The metro Hartford region had the largest increase in poverty in the state from 2000 – 2014. While 14,000 more people live in concentrated poverty in Hartford neighborhoods than 10 years ago, suburban poverty has increased even more rapidly with 20,000 more people living in poverty in suburban towns than 10 years ago.[1]
  • It is vital that any education formula take into account the concentration of poverty in urban centers and rising poverty in suburban areas. The Hartford Foundation’s focus on students facing the largest opportunity gaps is reflected in our commitment to schools with high concentrations of poverty. We believe any education funding formula should include concentrated poverty as a factor.  At the same time, suburban towns are facing new challenges, and our work has expanded to reflect this. Of the 113 district schools in our region where more than one-third of students live in poverty, 65% (58 schools) are in suburban towns, including several outside priority (Alliance) districts.[2] 58% of the HUSKY A eligible students in our region reside in suburban towns (25% outside Alliance districts).[3]
  • We believe that an education funding formula should also include a weight for English Language learners in order to reflect the unique needs and potential for this population to support economic development. Students with limited English language proficiency need additional supports to be successful in school.  Researchers believe that, on average, it takes two years to master conversational English, yet 5-7 years to master academic English.[4]  In the metro Hartford region, the Latino population has grown by 200% over the last 25 years and the Asian population by 300% - population growth in the region has been almost entirely foreign-born.[5] While 78% of English-Language learners are concentrated in the state’s 30 Alliance Districts, some of the most rapid growth has been in suburban areas and schools in Wethersfield and West Hartford have over 10% of their student body with limited English proficiency.[6]

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Elysa Gordon at 860-548-1888 or EGordon@hfpg.org



[1] 2015 Metro Hartford Progress Points, based on U.S. Census data 2000 – 2010-14.

[2] Connecticut State Department of Education, Indicators of Educational Need 2013 – 14

[3] Analysis of HUSKY A eligibility data from CT School Finance Project

[4] ‘English Language Learners: The opportunity and challenges of increased cultural and linguistic diversity in our region,’ Latino Endowment Fund, Summer 2015.

[5] ‘English Language Learners: The opportunity and challenges of increased cultural and linguistic diversity in our region,’ Latino Endowment Fund, Summer 2015.

[6] Connecticut State Department of Education, Indicators of Educational Need 2013 – 14 

 


Back to Top
^