Facing Teachers at Town Hall, CT’s Malloy Sticks to his Guns

In a town hall forum at Charter Oak International Academy teachers have faced off with Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy over his education reform plan.

“We cannot accept excuses when we are failing 40 to 60 percent of our students in some of our urban areas,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy argued

The reform-focused Governor portrayed critics as standard bearers for an inadequate status quo during the packed forum of over 300 people. The stop was his second on a statewide tour in which he hopes to garner support for his plan which includes predictably controversial changes to tenure and teacher evaluation.

Mirroring debates in states all over the country, Malloy wants to link evaluations and teacher salaries to standardized test scores as a way to reward quality teaching and increase the overall quality of students’ education. These are measures traditionally opposed by teachers and their organized unions — and at West Hartford the teachers felt frustrated that all legislative measures at improving academic success seem to be focused on attacking them.

Glastonbury teacher Scott Minnick compared the educational system to a tripod.

One of the legs, he told the governor Tuesday night, is a “socioeconomic problem that … teachers cannot fix.” Then why, Minnick asked, does the education reform bill in the state legislature focus on teachers?

While lawmakers fight with unions around the country over the legality and potential benefits of tenure changes, linking evaluations to test scores has gained significant traction nationally. This does, however, have its own drawbacks as pointed out again in the forum:

Emily Wright, an English high school teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield, a regional magnet school, told Malloy she was concerned about a proposed district performance index that is based entirely on test scores.

Those scores can be manipulated, Wright said, and pointed to recent cheating scandals in Atlanta and at Hopeville Elementary School in Waterbury.