At least 1,000 teachers union members turned out for a rally held in front of the Connecticut State Capitol building to express their support for a bill that would reject parts of Governor’s Dannel P. Malloy’s educational reform agenda. In particular, the teachers were protesting the provision that would tie their evaluations to tenure, salary and even teaching recertification, employing Malloy’s frequently used “let’s be clear,” to make their point that such measures will not help improve students’ academic outcomes.
The President of the state’s largest teachers union, the Connecticut Education Association, Phil Apruzzese said that to adopt Malloy’s plan means surrendering the state’s competitive advantage for many years into the future.
”What’s at risk if education reform is not done right? The future of educational and economic opportunity in our state will be lost.”
The governor’s senior adviser Roy Occhiogrosso said that the governor resents the implication that he’s aligned his interest in opposition with public school teachers. On the contrary, his actions since he was elected have been aimed at preserving teaching jobs as he did in 2010 when he pushed for education revenue increases that saved as many as 5,000 teaching positions from being eliminated to make up a budgeting shortfall.
Although Malloy did not attend the rally, three Democratic lawmakers, including the co-head of the committee who drafted the proposed revisions to Malloy’s reform package, Senator Andrea Stillman, delivered remarks in support of the teachers’ goals. One of the changes introduced by Stillman’s bill would be to delay the implementation of the valuation-tenure link until it can be studied in more detail by a specially appointed study panel. According to Stillman, the idea for the panel was suggested by teachers who sent emails to the legislators opposing Malloy’s plans.
Malloy hasn’t specifically addressed that particular provision, but he did call the revised proposal “inadequate.” Currently, the heads of both chambers of the legislature which are controlled by the Democrats, and representatives of the Governor’s office are meeting to work out what they hope will be a compromise that will satisfy the demands of both sides.
Among areas being discussed are: the rollout of a school turnaround plan that would create an education commissioner’s network of low-performing schools that would receive concentrated attention; and a proposal to link the new teacher evaluation system to decisions on tenure and dismissal.
The time to do so is growing short, as the legislative session is scheduled to conclude in two weeks which means that the revised bill needs to be drafted, voted on by both chambers and delivered for Malloy’s signature no later than early May. Both sides however are hopeful that they can reach an agreement and get the bill passed before legislators conclude their business and leave for their next recess.