Corporate Education Reform Group’s proposal for new special education system in Connecticut panned;

The Connecticut School Finance Project, an off-shoot of the corporate funded charter school lobby group Connecticut Council on Education Reform (CCER) recently proposed legislation that would undermine Connecticut’s special education funding system.  Under the guise of “reform,” the new centralized and bureaucratic system would effectively remove local control when it comes to determining what programs and services would best address each individual child’s special education needs.

In violation of Connecticut’s state ethics laws, The Connecticut School Finance Project developed the outrageous proposal in conjunction with the Malloy administration and is now trying to get state legislators to put the organization’s plan into law.

In testimony provided to the Education Committee this week, Thomas Scarice, Superintendent of the Madison Schools and Dr. Elizabeth Battaglia, Director of Special Education in Madison, noted, among other points, that;

No other state in the nation has implemented a statewide intermediary to pay for all special education costs for school districts.  In short, this is a grand experiment with only theoretical assurances.  A comprehensive analysis by a task force, one that considers alternatives beyond the proposed cooperative, is necessary to address the complex problems facing districts.  An experiment is not a solution.  In fact, after a simple Google search, one can find the results of a somewhat similar model that was implemented on a regional basis in California through Special Education Local Planning Areas (SELPA).  Over 100 of these models were implemented in California.  An analysis of these models by the Public Policy Institute of California found that they reduced transparency, accountability and local control.  Even more disturbing, they were consistently underfunded and failed to distribute aid in an equitable manner.  Additionally, the only somewhat analogous ode lint he nation (SELPAs) did not solve the primary problem facing districts, that is, rising special education costs.

In the California study, when local control for funding was taken away, it impacted preventative services and early intervention programs…

In a reasoned and well-thought out accounting of the problems, Superintendent Scarice and Dr. Battaglia revealed the very real short-comings in the Connecticut School Finance Project’s proposal.

The question now is whether legislators will back the corporate education reform entity or do what is best for Connecticut students who require special education services and the local school districts that provide them with that vital support.

You can read more testimony about House Bill 7255 at: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CommDocTmy.asp?comm_code=ed&date=03/16/2017 and Senate Bill 542 at: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CommDocTmy.asp?comm_code=ins&date=02/21/2017