New Haven, Conn.  Connecticut has taken a major stride toward cultivating a workforce of diverse teachers who represent the evolving face of our student population, with state representatives voting unanimously this afternoon to pass SB 455, which reforms teacher certification in the state.

Fewer than 10 percent of Connecticut’s public school educators are people of color, yet nearly half of our public school students are. SB 455 will narrow this gap by helping school districts recruit and retain diverse teachers and school leaders.

“The passage of SB 455 to Gov. Malloy’s desk represents a powerful point of proof that we can move mountains together when lawmakers and community members rally behind common-sense policies that put kids and educators first,” said Marc Porter Magee, interim executive director of ConnCAN, an education advocacy nonprofit. “During an election year—when it’s traditionally tough to move new legislation—we saw bipartisan unity that connected the Legislature to faith leaders, community-based organizations, parents and educators.”

He added: “We’re proud to stand today with lawmakers and community members who made this win possible. We strongly encourage Gov. Malloy to stand up for students and teachers around the need for diversity in Connecticut public schools.”

The bill removes the red tape, needless delays and artificial barriers for teachers at a time when the state faces a major shortage of highly-qualified educators. By removing obstacles for candidates who demonstrate subject area mastery, speeding up the process for qualified out-of-state teaching candidates and allowing already-certified teachers to earn the flexibility to instruct in subject areas where there is a teaching shortage it takes an important step forward to the goal of a stronger, more diverse teaching force.

“The Connecticut General Assembly is worthy of being commended for their willingness to unanimously pass SB 455 in a bipartisan manner,” said said Rev. Abraham Hernandez, executive director of the Connecticut National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). “In doing so, they have demonstrated their genuine desire in taking a significant step to see that every child in Connecticut succeeds academically.”

Prior to voting, representatives took to the House floor with a swell of practical and deeply personal testimony in support of SB 455. Many shared the experience of attending schools with very few, if any, public school teachers of color—and many said they’ve been fighting for decades to bring this issue to public attention.

“Our church and community celebrates today as SB 455 passes the House,” said Rev. Ronnie Farmer, assistant pastor at Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hamden. “Our schools need more diverse educators!”


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