Connecticut Assembly Seeks Ed Reform Consensus

With just 14 days remaining in the General Assembly session, Democrats, Republicans and the Governor in Connecticut are all trying to reach consensus on what to do about Governor Dannel Malloy’s education reform proposal. The issue is how to deal with poorly performing teachers, and Malloy wants a plan in place that will allow bad teachers to be removed.

“What I called for is an evaluation process that has consequences beyond the time in which somebody obtains tenure,” Governor Malloy said. “I want an evaluation system…that’s what I want.”

However, teachers from around the state are coming to the Capitol to personally lobby the lawmakers regarding potential education reform — and there is already said that a common ground of agreement is likely to be some distance from Malloy’s original proposals.

“It said a teacher who had low evaluations would not only potentially lose their job, but lose their license to teach,” said Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, “and I think Republicans, Democrats, and even the administration have acknowledged that that doesn’t necessarily make sense and we’re talking about what does.”

While the teachers unions traditionally oppose any diminishing of tenure or attempts to neuter it, of more pressing concern to them in Malloy’s proposal is the way it ties evaluation to certification. The union heartily reject the notion that just because a teacher failed in one district means that they are likely to fail in another.

“One thing that we’re all not very happy with as Republicans is having the evaluations tied to certification,” said Rep. Gail Lavielle. “We didn’t think that was fair, but there are perhaps ways to tie it to tenure that could be constructive.”

Tying evaluation to tenure would still be a massive win for the Governor, who recently suffered a setback when his proposed changes to Connecticut’s teacher tenure system were delayed for a year by a legislative committee. The measures will eventually reduce the 155 day process for firing teachers to a still lengthy 115 days.

Connecticut Education Association recently garnered some bad press in their attempts to block Daniel Malloy’s reforms when emails they sent to a member were leaked. “We are not happy when you publicly disagree with us,” states the email from CEA President Phil Apruzzese and Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine. This was widely considered to be indicative of the union heavy-handedly clamping down on the views of individual members so as not to weaken the position of the official party line that negotiations should be refused.

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