Monday, March 10, 2008

Legislation for high school credit for the Polish Language School.

Today, the legislature's Education Committee, of which I am a member, held a hearing on House Bill 5820:
(Note: Only the underlined text is new. Everything else is existing law.)

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (e) of section 10-221a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2008):

(e) Only courses taken in grades nine through twelve, inclusive, shall satisfy this graduation requirement, except that a local or regional board of education may grant a student credit (1) toward meeting a specified course requirement upon the successful completion in grade seven or eight of any course, the primary focus of which corresponds directly to the subject matter of a specified course requirement in grades nine to twelve, inclusive; (2) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon completion of a world language course offered privately through a nonprofit provider, provided such student passes an examination prescribed by the Commissioner of Education and such credits shall not exceed two; or [(2)] (3) toward meeting the high school graduation requirement upon the successful completion of coursework at an institution accredited by the Department of Higher Education or regionally accredited. One three-credit semester course, or its equivalent, at such an institution shall equal one-half credit for purposes of this section.

This legislation was introduced by the Education Committee at my request, working with Sen. Don DeFronzo and Rep. Peter Tercyak. Its inspiration is the Polish Language School in New Britain. The legislation would allow students to get high school credit for their language studies in nonprofit educational programs, like the Polish Language School.
The Polish Language School in New Britain is 47 years old and has 680 students. Its programs are conducted on Saturday mornings at the Pulaski Middle School. It is a wonderful program that teaches students, not just the Polish language, but the history and culture of Poland. It enriches the lives of young people and enhances their educational experience.
Sen. DeFronzo and Rep. Tercyak, spoke in favor of the bill along with students of the school, parent Jolanta Bicki and the Principal of the School, Zygmunt Pietrzak.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Eliminating tuition as a barrier to college.

One of the bills I introduced this year was House Bill 5261 to eliminate tuition for in-state students at Connecticut's public colleges and universities, with a limited repayment system for students who stay in Connecticut.

I introduced this legislation because I think that it is time that Connecticut start talking about the fact that high tuition and fees at our public institutions of higher education is a growing barrier to a college education for many people in our state, even if good financial aid is available for students.

Equally important is the fact that strong action is needed to make it easier and preferable for young people to stay in our state. That is why my proposal would only require students who stay in the state to contribute back to the state an amount based on their income, and only for a fixed length of time.

I am glad that this proposal gotten so much attention. There was an article about it in the Meriden Record Journal, TV coverage of it on WVIT (Channel 30) and WFSB (Channel 3) and coverage on blogs, like Spazeboy. I have also been told by a lot of people, personally, that they like this idea.

This is a big idea, I know, which means that it will be hard to get done this year. But, hopefully, with the support this concept has already gotten, we will be able to build momentum for the approval of it, or something like it.