Testimony of the Connecticut Education Association Before the Education Committee

Testimony of the Connecticut Education Association Before the Education Committee


H.B. 5078 - An Act Imposing a Moratorium on the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards

H.B. 5331 - An Act Concerning the Implementation of the Revisions to the PEAC Guidelines

March 12, 2014

Good Afternoon Senator Stillman, Representative Fleischmann and other members of the Education Committee. My name is Mark Waxenberg, Executive Director of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA). Also with me is Sheila Cohen, President of the Connecticut Education Association. Thank you for the opportunity to address you today on the two proposed bills listed above.

Rather than commenting at length about the specificity of the language in each bill, we have provided you with exhibits supporting CEA's position on each bill.

Let us articulate in simple terms what our position is: On the bill dealing with Common Core, our exhibits prove that the Common Core issue is like a traffic light.

"There is a light which means stop — CEA does not support this."
"There is a light which means go — CEA does not support this."
"Finally, there is a light which means look both ways and proceed with caution — that is CEA's position."

Specifically, our exhibits support our position, and we are extremely pleased that the Governor, through his Executive Order, has created a working group that supports our position as well.

CC I — Shows the timeline of the CCSS occurring in Connecticut, which may conflict with previous statements made by others about teacher involvement.

CC II — Document from SDE sent in October of 2011 which cites activities. My notes indicate on page 3 the reality as of today.

CC III — Statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen on standards.

CC IV — CEA news release stating CEA's position and concerns about Common Core based on teacher polling data —"Proceed with Caution."

CC V — Specific responses from members polled that support our position.

CC VI — Analysis of two slides presented in 2010 that raised the caution flag.

CC VII — Responses from ALL CEA local Associations on what training, professional development, or curriculum coordination has occurred since 2010 for the implementation of CCSS and the assessment of SBAC.

CC VIII — Unsolicited and original responses from fourth graders as prepared by one of the students (scribe) in a discussion group the student initiated. This was not teacher-led or encouraged. It came from a discussion at dinner with a parent who suggested the student get the opinions of her classmates on the SBAC Test. As you can see, "Proceed with Caution."

Secondly, regarding the bill dealing with PEAC Guidelines.

CEA's position is clear here as well.

Members of this legislative body need to determine whether they choose to confer policymaking authority in the areas cited in the Education Reform Bill of 2012 over to an administrative agency.

This legislation reflects agreements made in PEAC that do not require legislation, but I do not believe that is the point. This legislation raises a broader concern that we previously stated. If the legislature chooses to say that they will keep "hands off" unless and until trouble arises, that's a position to take. On the other hand, if the legislature chooses it wants to codify portions of the guidelines so they cannot be manipulated without legislative input, that's a position to take.

As you decide what road you choose to take, we will continue to make good faith efforts using our "Road to PEAC" process - to modify existing guidelines for the best interest of students, parents, teachers, and public education.

We have attached exhibits to provide background and history that you may need in your discussions. We continue to work with all constituent groups to share ideas in accordance with the Governor's letter dated January 28, 2014.

PEAC #1 — Governor's letter dated January 28, 2014, with highlights on page 2.

PEAC #2 — Clearly states CEA's support for the new flexibility as a first step.

PEAC #3 — CEA news release highlighting a Hamden study and promoting growth over time versus having 22.5% of teachers' evaluations be totally dependent on a single student test score, which is the present case.

PEAC #4 — CEA document sent to all our local Associations explaining flexibility and its impact.

In closing, I hope this testimony and exhibits are clear and unambiguous and effectively communicate the Connecticut Education Association's position on these issues.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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