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Week in CT News: Mind the moose, baby bonds, AAPI studies in CT

A moose walks onto the Parks Highway outside Talkeetna, Alaska
R Lolli Morrow
iStockphoto / Getty Images
A moose walks onto the Parks Highway outside Talkeetna, Alaska

2 moose hit by drivers in CT on the same day

Two moose died Wednesday following collisions with drivers in less than 24 hours. The incidents happened in very different parts of the state.

A moose was struck and killed in southern Connecticut by a vehicle traveling on Route 15 in North Haven that morning. Hours later near the Massachusetts border, state police said a driver hit another one on South Road in Hartland. The two collisions with moose in one day are equal to the average number of moose strikes on local roadways in a given year, according to state officials.

Both moose died as a result of the collisions and no human injuries were reported.

Moose sightings are happening more often in Connecticut, but state wildlife officials said the state isn't seeing a rise in moose populations.

“Similar to what's happening with the bear population in the state, going back 15-plus years ago, we thought we were going to see the same kind of thing trend with the moose population. But that hasn't been the case,” Andrew LaBonte, a wildlife biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said.

Still, LaBonte said motorists should be “extra cautious” on Connecticut roads and they should mind speed limits, particularly in May. That’s one of four months where state officials believe moose pose the biggest threat to drivers traveling in Connecticut.

A total of three moose have been hit and killed in the state this month.

Building a ‘bright future’ through Baby Bonds

State treasurer Erick Russell announced Tuesday that CT Baby Bonds will finally be financed.

Signed into law in 2021, the program is designed to break cycles of generational poverty by setting aside money for children living in the state’s underserved communities.

“Your future can be bright regardless of what zip code you are born in,” Russell said. “Regardless of what family you are born into.”

Russell said the state now has $381 million to invest into the program, thanks to a restructuring of the Teachers’ Retirement Fund in 2019. Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration wasn't immediately behind the financing of CT Baby Bonds amid concerns about a prior agreement to support the program via bonding.

“I was asking some tough questions,” Lamont said, adding he didn’t want to saddle taxpayers with interest payments and didn’t want to tap into the state’s General Fund to support the program.

Once approved by lawmakers, children born on or after July 1, 2023 will be eligible to enroll into the program. And by the time they turn 18, qualifying youth born into poverty could begin to access money that would help them, among other expenses, put a down payment on a house or pay for college.

As developers aim to make AAPI Studies in CT more inclusive, help from the state is delayed

The Connecticut State Department of Education hasn’t yet hired a curriculum writer that lawmakers budgeted for when they passed into law an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) studies curriculum a year ago this month.

The proposal signed into law last May to establish an AAPI studies program in Connecticut will be implemented in local K-12 schools by the 2025-26 school year. Stakeholders like Jason Oliver Chang, the director of the University of Connecticut’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, are working to develop a curriculum reflective of contributions members of the AAPI community have made to Connecticut.

But, Chang said they are doing it without the help of a diversity in curriculum coordinator from the Connecticut State Department of Education.

“We’ve heard that the funding could not be located. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but we know that the final appropriations were approved and voted on,” Chang said Wednesday on Connecticut Public’s The Wheelhouse.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Connecticut State Department of Education told Connecticut Public it’s using existing staff to work on AAPI studies.

“So far, we’ve convened the design team and have been actively working with Jason Cheng [sic] and many other stakeholders on the development of this curriculum,” said Eric Scoville, the director of communications for the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Chang said the absence of the state specialist impacts the developers’ ability to integrate the history and culture of other ethnic and racial groups outside the AAPI community into the curriculum.

While advocating for the integration of other cultures into the AAPI Studies curriculum, Chang discussed the experience of indentured Chinese workers being transported to Peru on a ship captained by a Connecticut businessman from New Haven in 1852.

“They mutinied in the Pacific and their case was strikingly similar to what happened with the Amistad just 13 years earlier,” Chang said. “There are connections between slavery and African Americans that we can bring in during the Civil War period that demonstrates how Asian American history has been a part of these core questions about the nation and about our history.”

Frankie & Johnny premieres Fridays at 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on Connecticut Public Radio. Connecticut Public's Eric Aasen, Jennifer Ahrens, Meg Dalton, Eddy Martinez and Patrick Skahill contributed to this report.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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