Public Policy Update: March 19, 2015

As a part of its ongoing effort to help spur innovation and guide informed decision-making in education policy, on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, the Hartford Foundation offered testimony before the General Assembly’s Education Committee in support of two separate legislative proposals.

The Hartford Foundation testified in support of H.B. 7020, An Act Concerning Early Childhood Educators and Initiatives, based on its contributions to building a high-quality early childhood system in Connecticut. Specifically, the Foundation supported the proposals that:

  • Require the Department of Education assists in the implementation of a statewide developmentally appropriate kindergarten assessment tool.
  • Require local and regional boards of education and preschool programs that receive state or federal funding to participate in the statewide public school information system including reporting on student experiences in preschool.
  • Require preschool programs offered by magnet and charter schools be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Require the Office of Early Childhood to collaborate with and provide funding to local and regional early childhood councils.

The Foundation also offered additional comments and recommendations regarding the proposed bill:

  • Children’s readiness for kindergarten begins in their homes and neighborhoods, long before they step into the kindergarten classroom. As a result, the implementation of a statewide kindergarten assessment tool should reflect both where children live and where they go to school. The testimony cited the Foundation’s investment in piloting the Early Development Instrument (EDI) in Hartford and West Hartford as it demonstrates the value in looking at the school readiness of a whole population of children in a neighborhood.
  • Building a high-quality statewide early childhood system requires sustained funding to and collaboration with local and regional early childhood councils. These entities are a long-standing example of private-public partnership, parent leadership development and the breeding ground for local early childhood governance and innovation that can inform state early childhood system building. In addition, the councils bring new national philanthropic and federal dollars to Connecticut. The Hartford Foundation has worked with local collaboratives in our region as critical vehicles to pilot innovations in early childhood, family support and family engagement.

The Foundation also testified in support of S.B. 1099, An Act Concerning the Establishment of a Commission to Develop a Vision and Strategic Plan for the Connecticut Education System as an important step toward creating a holistic vision for school and life success for every child in Connecticut. The Foundation made the following recommendations:

  • Retain the proposed inclusive membership for the Planning Commission for Education which brings the voice and experience of parents, students, early childhood and K-12 educators and individuals with knowledge and experience in systems building, equity, access and quality of education, the arts and the socio-emotional needs of students.
  • Commission membership should include individuals who have knowledge and experience of community based programs and school-family-community partnership.
  • Include Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood as an ex-officio non-voting member of the Commission.

Read the full testimony here (PDF)


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