CONNECTICUT 2015 LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (Posted 2/02/15)
We continue to see a focus on mental and behavioral health, family rights, and Common Core and the data mining associated with it.
BEHAVIORAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
Of several bills filed regarding students’ mental health, HB 5273 is the one we will be watching closely. This bill would require pediatric mental health screening for all children. We oppose this bill as needlessly intrusive and capable of creating false positives.
We anticipate more legislation in line with the report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. Its first draft recommended that homeschooled children identified with special needs be required to submit to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and give periodic progress reports to the local school district. Since the first draft, the Office of Child Advocacy has verified that Adam Lanza was never homeschooled, but received home bound instruction under the supervision of the Newtown school system. Despite that information, however, the Commission appears determined to pursue legislation that would require such monitoring if the parent(s) of a special needs child were to reject an IEP and choose to withdraw the child in order to homeschool.
HB 6238 would establish a Parental Bill of Rights. The bill is proposed in the barest of language at this stage, but TEACH will continue to monitor the bill’s progress.
HB 6607 would amend the general statutes to allow parents to decide how their children are educated without governmental interference, but rather based on their own morals and values. This is a promising bill that TEACH will continue to monitor.
HB 6481 would create a rebuttable presumption that grandparents are entitled to visitation. We oppose this bill as a violation of parental rights.
SB 562 would prohibit school districts form denying participation in High School Sports solely on the basis that the student is homeschooled. TEACH does not support this bill because it opens a door to additional regulation by public schools.
HB 5908 would allow school superintendents to access the birth records of students in their school districts. TEACH opposes this bill as an invasion of privacy.
The P-20 WIN system is still with us, also known as the “Preschool through 20 Workforce Information Network” and designed to provide data to “education and workforce leaders”. Several bills have been introduced to place restrictions on the data collection. Last year we saw the attempted roll out of the system at UConn with HB 5381; however, that bill was not called for a vote.
While we would prefer to see the elimination of the system, there are several bills proposed to provide more privacy for students and information for parents. Some focus on restrictions of data collection such as ensuring that it is not personally identifiable (HB 6012, HB 6432). It is arguable whether this is adequate protection, given that the students are assigned a number which follows them in order to make the data useful. Other bills would require notification or consent when 3rd parties access the data (HB 6415, HB 6418, HB 6420) and that there be no sale to subsequent 3rd parties (HB 6432). For more information on the issue, click here.
The vaguest bill is HB 5998, which calls for a review of the Council and the data it collects. Ironically, this bill offers the best hope for eventually eliminating the council and the intrusive data mining of the P-20 WIN system.
More than 30 bills have been introduced dealing with Common Core. These bills are aimed at prohibiting unfunded mandates such as Common Core, examining the curriculum and its effectiveness, unlinking Mastery Test Performance and Teacher Evaluations, and providing student privacy protection.
Although the bills do not immediately impact homeschoolers, TEACH will continue to monitor their progress.
WAIT AND WATCH
It is early in the session and we will continue to update you concerning bills of interest or concern. Check back to this page for general updates. If you have not done so, please sign up for our emails. This is the method we use to alert you to rapid changes in the legislation and any need for contact with your legislators.
We are happy to report that some of the bills we were watching last year died in committee this past session. Thank you for your faithfulness in contacting your representatives! Thank you for all you did to defeat these bills!