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Funding Schools Based on Performance Is Part of His Plan

by Christine Stuart | Sep 15, 2010 1:32pm
(11) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Election 2010

Christine Stuart photo

Tom Foley

(Updated 9:45 p.m.) Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley said behind jobs and the economy, Connecticut’s education system will be his next top priority.

“I hope I become known not only as the jobs governor in Connecticut, but as the education governor.” Foley said outside the Achievement First Hartford Academy Wednesday morning.

As part of his plan Foley said he would be taking a market based approach to education. His philosophy is that money should go to the schools that are performing and resources should be diverted from the schools that are underperforming.

“School choice combined with money following the child will result in funding going to schools that are performing well and away from schools that are failing, an essential ‘market’ element of improving schools statewide,“ Foley’s policy paper on the subject states.

“The problem we have right now is that our money gets directed to too many schools that are failing,” Foley said. “I would get money going to schools that are succeeding.”

The first thing he would do to improve Connecticut’s educational landscape is provide leadership and create a sense of urgency for improving K-12 schools across the state.

“I will appoint more reform minded and policy-focused members to the board of education,” Foley said.

In addition, he would promote excellent teachers and principals by requiring regular assessments of teacher and principal effectiveness to determine how much they are paid and if they are promoted. A move which is certain to anger teachers unions. Foley said he hasn’t had a conversation with the state’s two teachers unions, but welcomes one and understand there would probably be some reluctance to support his plan.

However, “I also believe teachers fundamentally go into teaching because they’re concerned about the interest of our children and making sure our children receive a good education,” Foley said. “If we have a policy that makes sense and we have aspects of that policy that clearly will benefit children, I suspect teachers and their representatives to support this policy.”

When asked about his opponent’s plan to offer universal pre-kindergarten statewide, Foley used the opportunity to criticize former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy’s record.

“Stamford’s neighborhood schools only have about 30 percent of their students at grade level.” Foley said. “So Stamford doesn’t have a very good record.”

Malloy’s campaign vehemently disputed Foley’s numbers by sending over a spreadsheet showing 53 to 67 percent of Stamford’s elementary school students performing at grade level in math in 2009 and 56 to 72 percent performing at grade level in 2010. Reading scores for Stamford were similar and ranged between 48 percent and 70 percent over the same two year period.

In the 2007 and 2008 school year 56.8 percent of fourth grade students in Stamford performed at or above grade level and in 2005 and 2006 it was 58.8 percent of fourth grade students.

Stamford Schools Superintendent Josh Starr said in a phone interview Wednesday that nearly 70 percent of the children in the district are performing at or above grade level. Any statement to contrary “is just a lie,” he said.

Foley also alleged that “Stamford actually has the largest achievement gap of any city in Connecticut.”

Starr said that was just a “bizarre claim” to make. He wondered what comparisons or numbers Foley was using to make that statement. Asked for clarification Foley’s campaign spokeswoman Liz Osborn said he was talking about the difference between 10th grade students who receive free or reduced lunches and the ones that don’t. 

Starr said there are thousands of categories within each of the tests and anyone can create a lie about what’s contained within them.

Malloy, who prides himself in being the “chief policy official” in his campaign, said Foley’s entire plan showed a lack of understanding on the issue.

“To put forward an education ‘plan’ and not address the needs of young children, as well as high school graduates and adults seeking access to higher education, demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding that education is a lifelong process,” Malloy said.

Malloy unveiled his educational policy — the centerpiece of which was early childhood education — in June.

During the next seven weeks of the campaign, Foley said he will be unveiling one policy position a week. His campaign talked about education in prior settings, but this is the first policy paper he put out on the issue.

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(11) Comments

posted by: CT Bill | September 15, 2010  2:59pm

The Foley Education Plan runs counter to everything that experienced teachers know about education. 

Otherwise, it’s perfect.

posted by: Dempsey Dem | September 15, 2010  5:20pm

School Choice = abandonment of poorer performing or funded school districts, along with underfunding of the schools in most need.  It is sort of like starving a child until he does better.  And then there’s the issue of develloping an educational plan without talking to the unions or the teachers themselves.  Poor Tom needs some remedial classes in management.

posted by: Jonathan Kantrowitz | September 16, 2010  11:27am

Tom Foley “(M)oney should go to the schools that are performing and resources should be diverted from the schools that are underperforming.”

This is utter nonsense - give more money to the schools that are doing the best - well-financed suburban schools - and deprive schools with the greatest needs - poorly financed inner cities schools funded by inadequate tax bases and facing overwhelmimg socio-economic disadvantages?

To what end? Students cannot easily transfer to schools in different communities, or even in the same community but further from home. Even if geography, transportation issues, and political boundaries where not a problem, it’s not like better performing schools have unlimited capacity - most, if not all, are already full.

This is the most absurd policy position I have ever heard from a mainstream candidate.

posted by: lothar | September 16, 2010  1:25pm

Thought the same thing when I read that, Jonathan, and couldn’t agree with you more. That was the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard in a long time.

posted by: hawkeye | September 16, 2010  8:40pm

Joanathan Kantrowitz:
As a person of Democratic Party ideology,  you have misquoted Tom Foley’s comments, to use as your political ploy for Dan Malloy.

Nice try, but do not distort the message, in your comments.

posted by: CT Jim | September 17, 2010  9:10am

So hawky,
does Jonathan have to write his post to your standards on what is good for James er Tom Foley??
Every single time some one posts something you dont like it is either slanderous or you warn them against saying it.
Who are you anyway???

posted by: Old Timer | September 17, 2010  5:21pm

What is it about wealthy businessmen that make them think that education should be based on free-market ideas… the way to deal with failing businesses is provide bailouts.  The way to deal with troubled schools is to give more resources to those who don’t need it.  Perhaps he should name his program “some children left behind.”

posted by: hawkeye | September 18, 2010  2:54pm


I disagree with your OBAMA Democratic philosophy, which is sinking our country to an all time low!

It means, that we will always, agree to disagree!

Please, don’t answer for Jonathan Kantrowitz, as he writes an intelligent letter, for himself, “without slurs.”

posted by: Dempsey Dem | September 19, 2010  3:42pm

Hawkeye…It is not “OBAMA Democratic philosophy, which is sinking our country to an all time low!”; it is the constant barrage of negativity from the ‘mouthpiece right’. 

Fox News, a major sponsor of the Republican anti-Obama propaganda machine, is destroying any semblance of confidence in the hopefully recovering economy. Fox is arguably doing more to weaken our nation than any of our foreign enemies.

posted by: hawkeye | September 19, 2010  5:20pm


If you do not like Fox News, why are you watching it?  Most people watch Fox, because they are tired of seeing and hearing Obama,and his propaganda machine, paid for by our taxpayors, on the other news channels.

Tom Foley is not POOR, and he definately does not need remedial classes in management.  He is paying for his own election campaign, while, Malloy is a multi-million dollar parasite, of the broke Connecticut taxpayers, thanks to the campaign gift, Democratic lawmakers gave him, HELPING TO RAISE OUR $4 BILLION DOLLAR STATE TREASURY DEFICIT!

Tom Foley knows more about management, than Dan Malloy will ever know!

After all, Foley is a career top-level, management executive, while Malloy, is a lifetime politician, who milked Stamford taxpayers, for his payroll checks.

Please stop being “careless with the truth,” Dempsey Dem.

posted by: Dempsey Dem | September 21, 2010  12:02am

Hawkeye, sounds like we just heard from one of the nattering nabobs of negativism (Cudos to Spiro Agnew/William Safire)that inhabit Fox.

I never, nor would I in the future define Foley as ‘poor’ in money, just in soul.  His history is a history of bankrupted companies, decimated workforces and profit taking.