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Media Room

February 24, 2017

Let Us Act Now for a Fair School Funding Formula

As the executive director of the CT. Chapter of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which represents over 200 Hispanic Evangelical Churches in CT., and part of a network of 44,118 Hispanic evangelical churches across our great nation, I submitted a testimony before the Appropriations Committee regarding Governor Malloy’s budget proposal on education. I was encouraged to see people of all walks of life come out to raise their voices on both sides of the issue. To hear children plea with the Committee not to cut funding for their public  schools was heartbreaking and only redoubled my belief that we must act now to ensure that they receive the best education possible.

When I heard that Governor Malloy was seeking to adopt a new school funding formula this legislative session, I was encouraged. As clergy members, we believe that every child has the right to the same quality of education regardless of their zip code or their parent’s income. In some of our local Board of Education meetings, I have listened to fellow clergy members testify that our state’s existing funding formula is broken and the time to address it is now. The current way we fund our schools results only in our students with the greatest needs being left behind. I applaud the Governor for taking bold steps and for showing leadership when our state and country needs it more than ever.

However, the Governor’s proposed education budget falls significantly short of a comprehensive change to the funding formula by failing to include English Language Learners within its calculations. As Northeast regional Vice President and Connecticut Executive Chapter Director of the NHCLC, I see first-hand how not adequately addressing language barriers can hinder those students’ learning abilities.  Any changes to a funding formula must include ELL as a significant component in order to take into account our state’s growing English Language Learners where in some school districts it has doubled or tripled in the past five years. It took me by surprise to learn that by 2020, 70 percent of jobs in our state will require some form of higher education. These English Language Learners, just like any other student, need the necessary skills and tools in order to succeed. I urge the members of the General Assembly to strongly consider a formula that addresses and encapsulates the needs of districts that are seeing growth in non-English speaking students.

This budget also leaves schools of choice out of the equation. No school funding formula should treat public school students differently based on the school families have chosen for their children to attend.  A school funding formula should put all of our kids first. That’s what it’s truly about; schools really are for kids.

We cannot wait any longer to get this right. We need and must develop a fair and sustainable funding formula that treats all students fairly and that is honest about the changing demographics of students and their learning needs. I encourage the General Assembly to adopt a formula that is fair, predictable and sustainable. I urge our state leaders to not settle for what is politically easy or to be myopic or shortsighted about this opportunity to draft transformational legislation that will give each child a level playing field to attain a quality education which in turn positions him or her to be a successful citizen.  Let’s us be girded with courage and fortitude to comprehensively change our system; we may not likely have another opportunity as this for another generation.

Rev. Abraham Hernandez, NE Vice President & CT. Executive Chapter Director of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference



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