Senator Chris Murphy hosted a roundtable discussion in Danbury Wednesday on a new education law repealing No Child Left Behind. Murphy helped author the Every Students Succeeds Act, which passed last year. He says it will improve educational achievement, reform school disciplinary practices, and support underperforming schools. Murphy met with the Danbury educators to learn firsthand about their needs and concerns, and to hear feedback on what he can do to support teachers.
Murphy says the law gets the federal government out of the business of determining what a good school is, what performance measures should be and what to do to turn around bad schools. He says it leaves the decisions up to the state. He says there still needs to be some accountability to make sure kids are performing. A good school isn't just going to be based on a test anymore. He called it a more comprehensive way of thinking.
Teachers told Murphy that they are concerned with a subset of kids who've been through traumatic experiences, have learning disabilities and are just learning to speak English. They want to make sure that the performance standard wasn't something these kids can't meet, but rather based around growth. He says making progress every year is a good benchmark.
Murphy says the new law recognizes that the rates of growth are going to be different because there are more non-English speakers than ever before. One administrator talked about a teen entering Danbury High School who moved to the country and had never had formal schooling before. 22-percent of kids in Danbury speak a different language as their first language.