On February 21, 2012 Michael Daley and Taylor Miller testified before the Connecticut Legislature's Joint Committee on Education in regard to Governor Malloy's proposed education bill, Senate Bill (SB) 24, An Act Concerning Educational Competitiveness. They and several classmates had the opportunity to listen to Governor Molloy comment on his proposal. They also took part in a student-parent-teacher Rally for Education Equality. It was quite late in the evening before their testimony was heard by the committee.
Practicing teachers accounted for most of those who testified that day. As Michael and Taylor listened to their testimony they realized that most did so almost exclusively from a teacher’s perspective. In contrast, the two university students talked about their experiences as students in Hartford schools and in Daley’s case, in a suburban school in Granby as well. Michael Daley attended Annie Fisher Elementary and Granby Memorial Middle School. Michael had no reason to question the education he was receiving until he was bussed to the Granby school. There, he found himself significantly behind the other children academically (read complete Daley testimony). Taylor Miller attended Saint Joseph Cathedral Elementary School, Batchelder Elementary School, and Hartford Magnet Middle School. She believes that the evaluative process for teachers should include student test score results (read complete Miller testimony). Both students graduated from Capital Preparatory Magnet High School and are currently enrolled in the Integrated Elementary/Special Education teacher preparation program in ENHP.
Daley, Miller and their classmates form the core of a new chapter of Students for Education Reform (SFER) on campus. The SFER website states, We are students united by a shared mission.We believe student voices matter. For too long, policymakers have not heard the voice of the stakeholders affected by education policy: students themselves. College students, who have both most recently completed the American K-12 education experience and are prospective public school teachers and leaders themselves, are previously untapped stakeholders who can work with parents and community members to advocate for pro-student policies.
It was Staci Bechard, integrated elementary/special education major, who took the initiative to bring SFER to campus and to encourage education students to become involved. She met Kevin Coughlin, SFER representative for Connecticut, in early February and was immediately interested in taking action to address the education gap. She is pictured above in blue next to Taylor Miller. Behind them are Kevin Coughlin and Michael Daley. The students had just grabbed a bite to eat in the legislative cafeteria. Staci and Michael are the current co-chapter leaders. Regular elections for chapter officers will be held soon.
ENHP’s Educational Main Street (EMS) and Mary Christensen are sponsoring the emerging organization. Christensen is a faculty member in the Department of Education as well as the director of Educational Main Street. EMS provided the students participating in the Rally for Education Equality with bright blue t-shirts. Additional support came from the Connecticut College Democrats, the Yale Education Club, the Black Student Alliance at Yale, and the University of New Haven Latin American Student Association