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History of Labor and Free Markets May Come to a Classroom Near You

Bain News Service
Creative Commons
Annual May Day parade in 1911 in New York City.
"This bill fundamentally addresses a very critical concern in what we need to be teaching students in our schools."
Sen. Martin Looney

Some Connecticut students may soon be taught the history of labor and free markets. A bill passed through the state senate on Monday that would require the education department to make relevant curriculum materials available to local school districts.

"This bill fundamentally addresses a very critical concern in what we need to be teaching students in our schools, if they are in fact going to have a decent and comprehensive education," said Democratic Senate President Martin Looney, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano opposes the bill on educational grounds. On the Senate floor, Fasano said teaching the history of labor and free market capitalism, "is probably not going to be a curriculum that is going to be a necessary element for our kids to get a job."

"Our kids need skill sets," Fasano added. "We need to be concentrating on science, math, reading - that type of basic education."

Looney disagrees on the importance of teaching this history topic. "This is critically important for people to understand the history of this country and how it was formed. How can you educate people without that?"

Previously, there was a push to include labor history in school curriculum. But there was pushback from Republicans who reached a compromise to include free market capitalism to the bill. On the floor of the Senate, Republican Sen. Toni Boucher was pleased to see that added in order "to have balance, to have parity."

Boucher voted against the bill because it would add an additional burden to the Department of Education. The legislation would require the department to provide curriculum materials, but local districts would not be required to use them. 

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.

Tucker Ives is WNPR's morning news producer.

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