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Michael Daley Testifies at State Capitol

Michael Daley Michael Daley, Student
Teacher Preparation Program
Integrated Elementary/Special Education
ENHP, University of Hartford
Testimony on Senate Bill 24
February 21, 2012

Chairwoman Stillman, Chairman Fleischmann, and members of the Committee, Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this incredibly important bill. My name is Mike Daley and I am a junior at the University of Hartford in the teacher preparation program for elementary and special education. I am also the Chapter Leader of the Students for Education Reform (SFER) at my university. Through SFER, we host campus awareness campaigns about the achievement gap, create broad coalitions with cultural and social justice student groups, and advocate for state-level K-12 education policies that prioritize student learning.

I know from firsthand experience the limited level of education that is received in Hartford’s inner-city public schools. From Kindergarten through 5th grade I attended Annie Fisher Elementary School here in Hartford. While I was attending Fisher I was unaware of the poor quality of education that I was receiving. This changed when I was bussed out to a school in Granby for 6th grade. There I found myself so far behind my classmates that I was held back a year. While repeating the 6th grade in Granby I was put into a special education program because I was so far behind, and received extra help during and after school. In Hartford, I had thought I was on track to receiving a complete and competitive education: I did everything that was asked of me, and worked hard to do well in school; however, by the standards set by a wealthy suburb, I was drastically behind in my learning.

It is unfair for these inner-city students to suffer in their education because these schools do not expect excellence from their students. I want to be a teacher because I don’t want other children to go through what I went through – all children deserve an excellent public education, and those in inner-city schools often don’t have access to schools that believe in them. I want to be part of changing that and make a difference in students’ lives. That’s why I think SB 24 is such an important piece of legislation. The bill makes teaching a more attractive profession and puts a greater value on the contributions that teachers make to student learning, rather than to their seniority. It gives incentives for teachers to go into inner-city schools and teach the kids who need the most help. It also will help dedicated teachers get the coaching they need to always improve, which is something we should all want. I don’t want to get certified or get tenure based on how long I’ve been around or how many courses I take – I want to get good at teaching, and I want to get certified and tenured because I deserve it and am doing a good job at helping students learn. That is the point of teaching, and it’s certainly why I’m going into it.

I know the power of great teachers, because without them I would not be sitting in front of you now as a junior in college. I was lucky enough to attend Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford where I was put on the right track towards attending college.

As a lifelong resident of Connecticut and someone who is looking to teach and raise a family, I find myself asking: Why should I stay in Connecticut? Why would I subject my future family to an educational system that neglects to place the very best educators in front of my child, and doesn’t help educators improve where they can? Throughout my studies in the professional education program at University of Hartford, I am always hearing about the low test scores and dropout rates in these public schools, but we need to take a step back and look at those being placed to teach these kids.

Senate Bill 24 will do a lot to help improve the teaching profession in Connecticut and make it more attractive to great candidates. And as someone who wants to one day raise children here, it will also help make Connecticut the great place I know it can be to have a family and know that no matter what public school my kids go to, it will be a great one. Please pass SB 24 – it’s the right thing to do for Connecticut’s teachers, students, and families.