FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2021 CONTACT: Amy Dowell | Amy@edreformnow.org
Statement on Passage of Right to Read Bill
June 17, 2021 — Today, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a budget implementer bill that funds Right to Read, a new statewide strategy to address early literacy. This program is the product of over a decade of work on the parts of Senator Pat Billie Miller, House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, the Chairs of the Education and Appropriations Committees, members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, literacy experts, educators, and advocates. This year, the effort was also supported by the Right to Read CT Coalition.
The Right to Read legislation founds a Center for Literacy Research and Reading Success to provide oversight over a statewide, systemized response to reading for grades PK-3. It explicitly requires all districts to implement evidence-based curricula, based on the science of reading, which will be pre-approved by the state—thereby formally shifting Connecticut public schools away from the balanced literacy model that has been identified as ineffective for too many students. The Center will be responsible for collecting data on districts’ implementation, providing professional development, overseeing aligned interventions in the Alliance Districts, and coordinating with teacher preparation programs.
As members of the coalition—Amy Dowell, State Director of Education Reform Now CT and Steven Hernández, Executive Director of the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity—made the following statement:
“We are grateful to Senator Miller, House Majority Leader Rojas, and the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus for guiding this legislative effort to this point, and we applaud the members of the legislature who have worked to ensure every student’s right to read. From grades K-3, students learn to read, so that later, they can read to learn. There is a consensus among educational, psychological, and cognitive scientists about the correct way to teach these skills so that all children can be successful. The Right to Read legislation systematizes, for the first time in Connecticut, evidence-based early literacy skills as the foundation of all future learning across the state. “We are proud that the importance of this initiative is reflected in the biennial budget. We look forward to seeing it signed by the Governor and robustly implemented—representing the wishes of the legislature—by the State Department of Education.”
Legislative leaders were outspoken in their support of this legislation. Below are some of their comments:
Senator Patricia Billie Miller: “At last, with this legislation, we have a comprehensive response to Connecticut’s statewide literacy crisis—which has impacted all students, but especially students of color, for years. Thank you to my colleagues for their partnership. Every policy regarding literacy that we pass to support our children gets us closer to true educational equity.”
House Majority Leader Jason Rojas: "A child's ability to read and succeed should not be defined by their zip code, but the current system leaves too many students behind. The ‘Right to Read’ legislation is about building a statewide culture of reading that empowers educators to use the most up-to-date, best practices that will help Connecticut's students succeed. This legislation builds on work that we started 8 years ago, with proven results. By using evidence-based reading techniques, we can better ensure that our state and our students will have access to the resources necessary to become leaders.”
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff: “Right to Read puts students on firm footing for their entire academic careers. Building on this foundation will allow them to join the demanding, skilled workforce that Connecticut needs. Thank you to Senator Miller for her leadership on this important work. It's right for students and right for the economy.”
Co-Chair, Education Committee, Senator Doug McCrory: “Addressing inequities in literacy involves establishing a statewide standard that crosses district lines. I’m so proud that Connecticut has finally passed ‘Right to Read.’”
Co-Chair, Appropriations Committee, Senator Cathy Osten: “The same strategies that will lift up our struggling readers will support all students when they’re building their early literacy skills. We are so proud to have funded this Center and this critical work.”
Representative Brandon McGee: “This legislative session, we’ve encouraged the state to advance an equity and civil rights agenda, and we're so proud that we were able to pass this critical piece of it. The Right to Read is what all students deserve.”
About the Right to Read CT Coalition:
Connecticut students are facing unprecedented academic challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and inequity is on the rise for students most in need. However, all students have a right to read, and there’s a right way to teach them. The Right to Read CT coalition has been established to raise awareness and build support for this critical agenda. To learn more about this work and our partners please visit the website, https://www.righttoreadct.org.