State Representative Bobby Sanchez on new education laws



The new state budget provides an additional $12.3 million over the next two years to New Britain schools and state Rep. Bobby Sanchez, D-New Britain, wants to make sure the community knows about it.

Schools superintendent Nancy Sarra will host a public forum Tuesday with Sanchez as the guest speaker.

Sanchez will talk about the new state laws and the impact they will have on education.

In addition to providing more financial aid to New Britain, the General Assembly also passed laws promoting the hiring of minority teachers. It also passed a law creating a one-credit course in Latino and African-American studies.

The public is invited to hear Sarra and Sanchez give the presentation on new education laws on Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at New Britain High School. The session will include time for questions and answers.

“We hear a lot of negative things, so I want to share some of the positive legislation that came out of the education committee this year,” Sanchez, who co-chairs the committee, said.

For more than a decade school leaders have argued that the system is badly underfunded. The city scores near the bottom of the state in paying for local education. Last year, New Britain ranked 168 out of 169 Connecticut communities in spending per student, Sarra said.

The state has been trying to pump more money into the poorest, lowest-performing school systems. This spring, lawmakers approved a two-year spending plan that provides $4.1 million in new aid for New Britain during the 2019-2020 year. In addition, the city would get an additional $4.1 million the following year which would mean an overall increase of $12.3 million.

“New Britain made out pretty well. The Education Cost Sharing is fully funded, and that’s a good thing,” Sanchez said.

He gave Governor Ned Lamont the credit for much of that.

“He has said from the beginning that he wants to be known as the governor for education, and he’s keeping his word,” Sanchez said.

Among the topics Sanchez plans to discuss during the meeting are two bills aimed at helping districts with large minority enrollments, such as New Britain.

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The law requires the state education departments to come up with the curriculum for a one-credit humanities elective by the state of 2021. He said it should help students of Latino or African-American heritage to better understand their ancestors’ role in American history, and cited the Borinqueneers as an example.

“One is an excellent bill where the schools will start teaching much more about what African-Americans and Latinos have done here in America — not just fighting in wars and protecting our freedoms, but with inventions and in business,” he said.

Last year the city, which is home to a large number of military veterans, put up a monument honoring the 65thInfantry Regiment — a highly decorated Army unit also known as the Borinqueneers. The regiment served from 1899 through the Korean War and was the largest and longest-serving segregated Latino unit.

“When I asked a group of our high school students about the Borinqueneers, they were like, ‘Who were they?’ These were men who sacrificed their lives in the Korean War,” Sanchez said. “It’s sad we have children of color who don’t know much about their background, their history, what their grandparents have gone through. It’s not just about slavery and civil rights.”

A second bill that passed is designed to encourage hiring and retaining minority teachers. Sanchez and Sarra will discuss how both laws will affect New Britain education.