You are on page 1of 3

*** MEDIA ALERT

***
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 6, 2010
Contact: Gwen Samuel
Tel: (203) 953-5154
Email: gwen@stateofblackct.org

PARENTS GAIN LEGAL POWER TO HELP TRANSFORM
SYSTEMICALLY FAILING AND/OR LOW PERFORMING SCHOOLS
Historical H.B.5491 Merged with S.B. 438 To Create A Comprehensive Education
Reform Bill Toward Reducing The Achievement Gap In Connecticut.
It was the final chapter of a long passionate battle in a short legislative session that led
to a victory for Parents, Youth and Community of Connecticut.
It was a moment in time that many parents across CT were waiting for…a time where
parents finally have some meaningful decision making power to help transform systemic
failing and/or low performing schools.
This is Part 5 of a historical civic engagement moment in time within Connecticut where
as parents, education advocates and members of the Connecticut General Assembly’s
(CGA) Black and Puerto Rican Caucus gathered at the State Capitol to make final
statutory decisions concerning the direction of Connecticut’s Educational Institutions
and the future of its children.
The result: May 6, 2010, 9:00 pm roll call of Connecticut Senate voting to pass Amended
S.B. 438, a bill known as the “Race To The Top Bill” which includes bill language of H.B
5491 An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The Achievement
Gap which include implementation of majority parent school governance councils within
low-performing and/or systemic failing schools. The Final VOTE 31 Yea 4 Nays.
The School Governance Councils, consisting of majority parents, promotes equity in the
decision making power between parents and youth (the consumers), administrators and
educators as it relates to transforming low-performing and/or failing schools.
A big “Thank You” is given to lawmakers of both the CT House of Representatives and CT
Senate for having the moral courage to vote in a manner that will ensure the necessary
educational reforms are in place statutorily to promote access to high quality public
schools for ALL children and not SOME children.
In the beginning of the legislative process in February of 2010, the so-called Parent
Trigger was the most controversial education reform concept introduced to CT

lawmakers. The concept: If 51% of parents/guardians in a systemic failing school, as
identified by federal requirements, signed a petition, a “triggering” of a reform
mechanism would be initiated.
During the vetting process, CT lawmakers and some education advocates felt the
“trigger” would be more effective if it was more inclusive, therefore school governance
councils was substituted into bill language. The stakeholders at the School Governance
Council table are majority parents, youth, community leaders, the principal and
teachers.
Some CT parents are now calling the amended H. B. 5491 and the final S.B. 438 the
“reform trigger” because of the expansion of stakeholders in the education/school
reform process.
This historical law’s intention is to encourage school districts to address lowperformance sooner rather than later — replace administrators, reconstitute a school or
make other major reforms to ensure academic success for ALL children.
Fact: CT has over 185 low-performing schools. Ninety-five (95) of those schools are five
years or more “failing” and some schools are in their 9th year of “failing” under federal
requirements.
Fact: On March 22, 2010 the state Supreme Court ruled that Connecticut school children
are guaranteed an adequate standard of quality in their public school…the state
constitution requires "that the public schools provide their students with an education
suitable to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens able to participate fully
in democratic institutions, such as jury service and voting, and to prepare them to
progress to institutions of higher education, or to attain productive employment and
otherwise to contribute to the state's economy." (Source URL:
http://www.ctmirror.org/story/5244/state-supreme-court-rules-school-funding-case)
Time line of Historical Civic Engagement
Part 1-March 15: the historical civic engagement movement was a CT Education Rally &
Public Hearing held March 15, 2010 alongside California grass-roots group Parent
Revolution from the Los Angeles Unified School District led by Executive Director Ben
Austin. More than 700 parents, community members, students and members of the
Connecticut General Assembly Black and Puerto Rican Caucus showed support for
education reforms that will close the achievement gap. A parade of parents and
students walked through the Education Public Hearing to acknowledge their presence
and commitment toward raising achievement and reducing the gap.
Parents and education advocates testified to the fact that every parent should be able
to demand that their child have access to a high quality public education and FAILING
should not be an option of choice.

Part 2 –March 24: the historical civic engagement movement in time where as the CT
Education Committee lawmakers, after long and passionate debates, passed H.B. 5491
An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The Achievement Gap In
Connecticut. This bill, introduced by the CGA Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, includes
the so-called “Parent Trigger”, the most controversial education reform concept being
introduced to CT lawmakers that will balance the power between parents,
administrators & educators within the education and school reform process.
Part 3 April 1: the historical civic engagement movement in time where as the CT
Appropriations Committee lawmakers, after lengthy discussion, passed
H.B. 5491 An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The
Achievement Gap In Connecticut.
This “education equality” vote of 46 Yea, 9 Nay and 3 absent/no vote sends a message
that every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, or their family’s income, should have
access to a high-quality public education.
Part 4 April 30: historical civic engagement moment in time within Connecticut where as
Connecticut House of Representatives voting to pass Amended H.B 5491 An Act
Concerning Certain School District Reforms To Reduce The Achievement Gap which
include implementation of majority parent, equal voting power, school governance
councils within low-performing and/or systemic failing schools. 145 Yea 0 Nays
Parents work have just begun because now parents will have to learn about the various
school transformation models available to better support high quality educational
outcomes for their children! This is a WIN WIN for all of Connecticut
Here are the economic results of a 1% increase in the education levels of CT’s future
work force as outlined by the State Department of Education.
Connecticut: $5 billion more economic activity each year
Fairfield County: $ 1.8 billion
Greater Hartford: $1.6 billion
Greater New Haven: $800 million
Southeastern CT: $300 million
Higher levels of education equal better community, higher employment, lower taxes,
stronger businesses and less crime.
For more information on bill visit www.cga.ct.gov

#########