The Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously approved the Tuesday night, after the state Senate approved the lengthy bill early Tuesday morning. The legislation is viewed as a compromise of sorts and ends months of controversy between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Connecticut Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
Malloy has pledged to sign the bill into law.
"I can say, with confidence, that this bill will allow us to begin fixing what is broken in our public schools," Malloy said during a hastily assembled press conference late Monday evening at the state Capitol to announce the agreement.
The state Senate then huddled in chambers for the better part of the night Monday into Tuesday debating the bill, which is over 180 pages long, before finally voting 28-7 to approve it early Tuesday morning, according to the Connecticut Mirror. The state house then voted unanimously to approve the bill Tuesday evening.
“This is historic legislation that sets a new direction for Connecticut,” State Rep. Geoff Luxenberg, D-Manchester, said in a statement shortly after the bill's passage. “There is a new renewed focus on education and a return to the basics – focusing on research based reading instruction, K-3 and significant investments in early childhood education.”
The bill will:
- Create 1,000 new seats in preschool programs designated for "high need, low performing communities."
- Provide "intensive supports and interventions" for 25 designated "chronically low-performing" schools throughout the state, including plans to establish turnaround committees and pilot programs within those districts to advance the reforms.
- Expand funding and access to charter schools in the lowest performing districts, and additional funding for magnet schools, technical high schools and agricultural science schools.
- Implement changes to the teacher tenure and evaluation programs that ties tenure to "effectiveness" and evaluations and provides for the dismissal of "ineffective" teachers.
- Adds $50 million to the Education Cost Sharing grant to Connecticut public schools, with $39.5 million designated to the 30 lowest performing districts.
- Increases funding to state charter schools from $9,400 to $10,500 per pupil, with an increase of $500 in each of the next two fiscal years.