Education Committee
March 3, 2021
Presented By: Kathleen Callahan, MSW

Dear Honorable Chairpersons Sanchez and McCrory, Ranking Members McCarty and Berthel, Vice Chairs Barry and Daugherty Abrams, and all other Members of the Public Health Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly:

My name is Kathleen Callahan, a resident of Stratford, and the Community Programming and Development Lead at the Connecticut Women’s Consortium in Hamden. I am also the chair of the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter’s Education and Legislative Action Network (NASW/CT ELAN). I am testifying on behalf of the chapter which represents over 2,300 members. We call upon the Education Committee to support SB-948: An Act Addressing Education Funding and Racial Equity in Connecticut.

The legislative agenda of NASW/CT emphasizes advancing racial, economic, and social justice by promoting anti-racist policies and culturally responsive practices in all aspects of community life, including education. Additionally, NASW/CT supports legislation that specifically promotes elimination of inequities and disparities related to race. This aligns with recommendations from NASW National in their recently released Recommendations to the Biden-Harris Administration and Congress that calls for addressing “the acute learning and achievement gaps and learning loss that Black, Indigenous and Latinx children, and children from low-income households, overwhelmingly face.”1
This bill advances a student-centered funding system to address the systemic racial disparities in funding and thereby, equitable and appropriate learning opportunities. Public magnet and charter schools are respectively 74% and 93% students of color2 and as these schools are not funded from a needs-based formula as are other public schools, the learning needs of these students are not being met. Adjustments to the formula also address districts with concentrated poverty and high populations of students with limited English proficiency.

According to a September 2020 report from the School and State Finance Project3, Connecticut’s public school districts are highly segregated with inadequate funding gaps that favor districts with predominantly white student populations. Districts serving predominantly students of color spend about $2,300 less per student, a $312 million difference with majority white student districts. Combined with a $327 million spending difference between diverse student population and majority white districts, the state has a $639 million funding gap between majority student of color and diverse population districts and districts with majority white populations.

Education plays a pivotal role in an individual’s economic and social mobility. Equitable funding is essential for access to resources and improved outcomes. This bill would help realize the intent of equalization aid in education, leading to a more just and student-centered system which provides learning opportunities for all Connecticut public school students. In closing, NASW-CT urges the committee to vote in favor of SB-948: An Act Addressing Education Funding and Racial Equity in Connecticut.

1 National Association of Social Workers. (2021). 2021 Blueprint of Federal Social Policy Priorities. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=KPdZqqY60t4%3D&portalid=0.
2 School and State Finance Project. (2020). A Student-Centered Funding System. Retrieved from http://ctschoolfinance.org/resources/uploads/files/Student-Centered-Funding-One-Pager.pdf.
3 School and State Finance Project. (2020). Fact Sheet: Racial Disparities in Connecticut Education Funding. New Haven, CT: Author. Retrieved from http://ctschoolfinance.org/resources/uploads/files/Racial-Disparities-and-Educational-Funding-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

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