As a parent, Ted knows that nothing is more important than the welfare of our children – their safety, their health and their education. Investing in children today requires cooperation between parents, teachers, and government at the state and local levels. Ted has spent years as a champion of the civil rights of children and disabilities and has a proven record of collaboration and advocacy. In Hartford, Ted has continued to be a voice for children and families. He believes that we need to:
1. Aspire to academic excellence
Our schools need to prepare our children for future jobs in a global economy. In order for the United States to remain a competitive world economic power, we must have strong standards for reading and math, to allow parents and educators to clearly evaluate teaching quality, student achievement, and overall school performance.
Ted understands how difficult the transition to the Common Core has been for students, teachers, parents, and school administrators. Many are unhappy that they have had little input on the decision to implement the Common Core and the process of that implementation. Students feel unprepared for testing. Teachers report they have not had enough time to ready students for testing. Parents worry their kids are being set up for failure. School administrators are concerned they have neither the time nor the resources to support testing or teacher training in these new national standards. Ted is concerned by the way that local towns have been expected to support and fund the transition and recognizes the significant hours by teachers and school administrators to phase-in the new standards.
Ted knows that our school systems are not one-size-fits-all, and he is concerned that there is overemphasis on the use of standardized testing as an assessment tool for teachers. He believes that local school districts need even greater power and flexibility to design their own curricula, evaluate teachers, and create their own professional development programs. Ted will continue to work hard to give local school districts a stronger voice at the state level.
Ted worked to pass a new law that eliminates the requirement that 11th – grade students take the Smarter Balance Assistant Consortium (SBAC) test as required instead that they take the SAT at no cost to the student and their families. Many teachers across the district revealed that the SBAC test took significant time away from teaching and did not benefit students. Replacing this test with free SAT helps to remove some of the testing burden while also helping the students pursue a college degree. Ted also supported a bill that sought to decouple the SBAC test scores from teacher evaluations. Ted has learned from educators that using SBAC scores in teachers evaluations reduces educational progress in the classroom.
2. Establish a comprehensive mental health safety net for children and young adults
Tragic events like the Newtown shootings grab our attention in a dramatic way, yet schools and communities struggle with mental illness and behavioral issues every day.
Ted believes we must create a better system of support and treatment for our young people, including enhanced behavioral health services and screenings, and drug and alcohol prevention programs. We also need to provide support and resources for teachers including additional, qualified in-school professionals.
Ted is in favor of pursuing a comprehensive mental health plan as outlined by a recent working group. He will continue to work with advocacy organizations like the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Connecticut Voices for Children, and Youth and Family Services groups in the 12th District to champion the access of quality mental health care for our children and young adults.
3. Secure reliable education funding
Ted knows we face rising education costs from state and federal mandates and reforms and changes in revenue. Our towns’ challenge to meet these costs further burdens already stretched taxpayers.
Since being sworn in to represent the 12th Senate District, Ted has worked to modernize the State’s funding and education cost-sharing formulas (ECS). Current formulas are outdated and new research-driven formulas are needed. In addition, the State must be compelled to meet its financial obligations for special education dollars. Ted will continue to work hard to find ways to finance the high costs faced by our local school districts.
Judge Thomas Moukawsher recently issued a monumental ruling in CCJEF v. Rell, determining that Connecticut’s system of funding education to be “irrational” and “unconstitutional.” The Judge described a long list of systemic failings and inequities, namely, a disparity in financing for the state’s poorest cities, achievement gaps between rich and poor, teacher evaluation methods and graduation standards. He also launched a frightening and discriminatory attack on disabled children, questioning whether severely disabled children deserve to be educated, implying that these students are hopeless, worthless and a waste of public resources. While we may agree that the system of education financing can be reformed, I believe that our focus should be on the best way for our state to unlock the potential for all of our students.
4. Develop innovative approaches for higher education
Connecticut hosts many of our country’s leading academic institutions, and students come from all over the world to be educated here. Unfortunately, the cost of higher education has grown out-of-reach for many Connecticut working families, and often students graduate with crushing student loan debt. Moreover, many schools have cut financial aid programs and services for students.
Ted has fought to make tuition more affordable at state universities and community colleges and to increase funding for college scholarships. He has also pushed for greater student representation on the State’s Board of Regents for Higher Education. He will seek out innovative cost-saving measures including the enhancement of online learning opportunities, loan forgiveness programs for students who stay and work in Connecticut, and the Pay-It-Forward college-financing program currently being evaluated by Connecticut.
Additionally, Ted believes that students should be able to explore multiple paths to a career, whether it involves college or not. He will encourage input from Connecticut businesses to help craft specific training initiatives at the state’s network of vocational and technical schools and workforce training programs. For example, Ted championed a new law to help prepare Connecticut students for well-paying jobs in the advanced manufacturing sector.
5. Increase access to quality early childhood education
Studies show that early education raises achievement at all grade levels and that for every dollar we invest in early childhood education, taxpayers save seven dollars in later educational and social service costs.1 Ted believes we must invest in expanding early childhood education programs so that all children have the same chance to succeed in school.
Ted also supports efforts to improve the quality of early childhood education, including enhancement of School Readiness programs. In addition, he endorses after-school enrichment programs at all educational levels—from early education through high school—so that children can get valuable homework assistance and have athletic and arts opportunities.
Ted believes children must enter school ready to learn and that quality early childhood education must be accessible to all children.
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1. High/Scope ReSource, Fall/Winter 2004, Vol. 23, © 2004 High/Scope Educational Research Foundation