FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed two bills that will expand pre-kindergarten throughout the state, recognize dyslexia as a specific learning disability that requires special education and formally establish the Office of Early Childhood.
Malloy signed Public Acts No. 14-39 and 14-41 at Helen Street School in Hamden on Wednesday, May 28.
“Ensuring that students are prepared to compete in a global economy and excel in 21st-century careers means that we must strive to equip them with the knowledge, skills and tools they will need from Day 1,” Malloy said.
“"By codifying the Office of Early Childhood in statute and moving our state toward universal access to pre-K we are taking significant steps to close the achievement gap and ensure that all students succeed – regardless of income or ZIP code.”
Public Act 14-41 officially establishes the Office of Early Childhood, and Public Act 14-39 will move the state toward universal pre-K starting with the addition of 1,020 openings in the 2015 fiscal year for kids to attend top-quality preschool. It also requires the Office of Early Childhood to create a plan to gain universal access to preschool.
Connecticut Smart Start will provide grants in the 2015 fiscal year to renovate public school classrooms to make room for new preschool programs. The Office of Early Childhood will review applications for funding.
Also included in Public Act 14-39 is the requirement by the state Department of Education to add “SLD – Dyslexia” under “Specific Learning Disabilities” in the “Primary Disability” section of the education program to formally recognize dyslexia as a learning disability that requires tailored education and services.
“With the creation of the Office of Early Childhood, Connecticut is serving as a national model and leading the country in early childhood,” said Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood. “By creating a cohesive and comprehensive early childhood system and increasing opportunities for high-quality early education for preschoolers, we are giving young children a better chance at succeeding not only academically, but in life as well.”