With Connecticut's legislative session now over, there were a few bills passed that impact education issues in the state, and some that didn’t make it through.
A big winner, theoretically, is future community college students. Starting in the fall of 2020, qualifying students will be able to earn up to 72 credits for free. It would be paid for by a new online lottery, but that still has to be developed. Estimates have placed the cost at about $6 million a year.
State Sen. Doug McCrory is co-chair of the Education Committee.
"The devil's in the details," McCrory said. "I know there are a number of other states that are doing it. I just want to see the details. I'm not opposed to it, but I just want to make sure we can pay for it."
The legislature approved additional money for local school districts, and for magnets and charters.
Lawmakers also passed a bill requiring schools to teach African American and Latino studies in high school. And the state will redouble its effort to hire more teachers of color.
The General Assembly also voted to create a quasi-public nonprofit to manage the $100 million donation by Dalio Philanthropies to help struggling students. The state would be on the hook to invest $100 million over the next few years, but the structure of the quasi-public nonprofit has drawn scrutiny, as it would not be subject to state ethics and open records laws.
McCrory said he likes the plan, but the new entity should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
"There shouldn't be anything that we're hiding when we make a decision about how we want to spend money," McCrory said. "I don't know that they should be banned from FOI requirements. But I do want to make sure we have people on that board who understand the issues around education."
The big thing that never happened was school district regionalization. Early in the session, hundreds of people swarmed the Capitol to protest proposals that would have forced shrinking schools to consolidate. Legislation that would have required teaching climate change in schools also got tabled.