Conn. Parents Union and StudentsFirst Lobby for CT Ed Reform

The Connecticut Parents Union and the StudentsFirst education reform group have teamed up to promote "profound and lasting changes" in Connecticut's education system for the 2012 legislative session.

The two organizations finalized their partnership last week, said Gwendolyn Samuel, founder of CTPU and member of StudentsFirst, writes Aleksandra Gjorgievska at the Yale Daily News.

StudentsFirst CEO and founder Michelle Rhee's major goal is to close the state's achievement gap, which ranked as the largest in the nation in 2011, according to the Department of Education.

Samuel said:

"Connecticut's large achievement gap, which is severely impacting the stability of its economy, as well as its unjust laws that enable unqualified professors to teach our children, require immediate legislative action."

Samuel added that the union's cooperation with StudentsFirst has already resulted in plans for a parents' rally where Rhee and Gov. Dannel Malloy are expected to speak.

Samuel said that the two organizations share a commitment to grassroots development.

Rhee said:

"We're excited about the hunger for change we're seeing at the grassroots level. There is a clear push for reform coming from state leaders, moms and dads, teachers and the business community."

But while the union's remit is to fight for teachers, Samuel acknowledges that the union has a "conflict of interest" in trying to protect both the interests of students and the interests of teachers.

Samuel said that while the grassroots action is powerful, reform must come from the top.

Connecticut State Sen. Martin Looney —said that issues of school reform "will be looked into."

"There will be proposals to address tenure, and student progress will be a factor considered in evaluations regarding tenure," Looney said.

The possibility of adding a periodic review of teachers will be debated, he said.

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