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Malloy: Education Debate Divides Democratic Constituencies

by Christine Stuart | Apr 3, 2012 5:30am
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Town News, Middletown

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

In order to pass his education reform bill, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told a group of NAACP members in Middletown on Monday that he’s going to need their help.

“There are many great constituencies within the Democratic Party,” Malloy said. “Black men and women are one of those constituencies — another constituency are unions and one of those happens to be the CEA.”

The Connecticut Education Association is the state’s largest teachers union. It has been running television advertisements criticizing the governor’s bill. It is also one of the organizations invited behind closed-doors to negotiate the revised bill that was approved 28-5 last week by the legislature’s Education Committee.

“The CEA has taken a position that what we’re trying to do can’t be done,” Malloy said. “Even though they voted for an evaluation process. Even though their own website says that they would end tenure as we know it. Once they saw what change looked like they moved back.”

This bill pits those two constituencies against each other and forces the state “to decide maybe who we consider more important,” Malloy said, speaking from the pulpit at Middletown’s Shiloh Baptist Church.

“I gotta tell you, I think children are more important than anything,” he added as the crowd applauded.

To illustrate his point he reminded the crowd several times about how 9,333 students competed for 2,677 magnet and charter seats in New Haven.

“Don’t tell me that parents aren’t willing to be involved,” Malloy said, countering arguments he often hears about poverty and families being the main obstacle to achievement.

Jamilah Prince-Stewart, an advocacy associate at the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now and a New Haven resident, said the legislature’s revised bill “guts reform efforts,” when it calls for more studies of the bold proposals the governor put into his bill.

“There are parents who wake up every day knowing they send their child to a failing school,” Prince-Stewart said. “Yet, the new bill tells them they must wait another year before we can even talk about fixing them.”

Prince-Stewart asked what parents and others in the community can do to get the bill headed back in the direction Malloy initially proposed.

Malloy agreed with her that the legislature’s Education Committee gutted the bill.

“We have had at least a generation of study on this issue,” Malloy said. “We refuse to a greater degree than any other state in the nation to replicate that which works.”

A woman asked: “What can we do as Connecticut residents to get the legislature to change it back?”

Malloy’s response drew a smattering of applause: “People who represent urban communities should be shouting from the rooftops that this has to be done. This doesn’t need to be a dividing line. We particularly know we’re failing our children in the urban school setting. Some of the people who voted to gut the bill are from urban school systems, urban communities,” Malloy said, adding that if “they defeat this, they win it for a generation.”

Some, like Hartford Rep. Doug McCrory, agree with Malloy and are working to get the bill to look more like the original.

However, there were at least two members of the NAACP who disagreed that Malloy’s bill is better than the committee bill.

“Maybe those who voted against it, or who voted to gut it, were right?” Michael Jefferson, a criminal defense attorney from New Haven, told Malloy.

Malloy said he doesn’t believe that’s correct because “in private conversations they say the opposite and with other people in the room they negotiate the opposite.”

“Don’t all politicians?” Jefferson asked.

“Not this one,” Malloy replied. 

Jefferson and Gary Highsmith, a principal at Hamden High School, were the only two to argue Monday that longstanding research on education seems to be ignored in Malloy’s proposal.

A national study found 83 percent of charter schools are no better than public schools, Jefferson said.

“That’s not Michael Jefferson. That’s not Gary Highsmith. That’s a fact,” Jefferson told Malloy.

Citing another study, Jefferson said merit pay for teachers does not work.

“You can’t ignore that, governor. The bill continues to ignore longstanding research,” Jefferson said.

He went on to cite other studies that showed families mattered more than schools for disadvantaged children’s achievement. Sixty-percent of what makes a child successful in school does not occur in the schoolhouse or the classroom, it occurs in the home, Jefferson told Malloy.

“I hope we can take the focus off blaming and bashing teachers for all that’s wrong with public education in this state and country and simply follow the research,” Jefferson said, drawing applause.

Malloy, a former prosecutor, waited patiently for Jefferson, the defense attorney, to finish. And then he let it rip.

“If you’re intimating I’m bashing teachers, you’re dead wrong,” Malloy said. “Or you’re not being truthful.”

“For you to stand there and say that not implementing an evaluation system the heads of both unions voted for is somehow bashing teachers — were they bashing teachers when they agreed to that?” Malloy countered.

Jefferson asked Malloy if he was referring to the evaluation process approved by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council. Malloy said he was.

Jefferson said that doesn’t mirror what’s in the bill. Malloy countered that it does and a back-and-forth ensued.

“Then why is the CEA up in arms about your evaluations?” Jefferson asked.

“Because they didn’t inform their members of what they had done,” Malloy responded.

The back and forth ended when Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile stepped in and broke it up by reminding the crowd that they were in a church.

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(13) Comments

posted by: brutus2011 | April 3, 2012  12:06am


Gov. Malloy has no shame.

He has committed to the big money version of how to educate our kids.

Our classrooms need support.

SB 24 does nothing to materially affect our classrooms.

Except bash teachers.

And I am utterly sick of his malarkey.

posted by: Linda12 | April 3, 2012  5:43am

Dannell…if you keep repeating a lie, it doesn’t eventually become the truth.  You have convinced yourself you are the only one telling the truth….you are wrong.  You ARE bashing teachers. We can and we have read the bill for ourselves,

posted by: Jesterr72 | April 3, 2012  5:47am

We don’t need more studies - and we certainly don’t need another year to go by before more studies begin.  We need and want - and demand ACTION.  You cowards that hail from urban centers should quit protecting a failed & brokeneducational system - it’s disgusting.

posted by: Jesterr72 | April 3, 2012  5:49am

We don’t need more studies - and we certainly don’t need another year to go by before more studies begin.  We need and want - and demand ACTION.  You cowards that hail from urban centers should quit protecting a failed & broken educational system - it’s disgusting.  BIG changes are needed - fast.

posted by: Speak up | April 3, 2012  6:44am

Our Dear Leader is not a very good listener.

He memorized the talking point given to him by the “reformers” and he is sticking to it!

The evaluation system, sir, has not been created.

Maybe you and Pryor should quickly create your own evaluation process and propose that system to the legislators.

On the one hand you blame the union, on the other hand you accept their outline and then distort the framework’s intended purpose - the one that isn’t even completed. 

Your office invites them to have disussions about SB24 and then when revisions are made by elected officials, you say the union dominated the negotiations.

You want our representatives to ignore alliances and relationships (a.k.a. those incompetent teachers and their greedy unions), while you gladly accept the alliances with the charter/corporate groups.

A tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

posted by: CONconn | April 3, 2012  7:12am

Isn’t it interesting that Malloy and the ConnCAN pro-charter lobbyist group took their traveling act to the NAACP, when they’ve already posted a national resolution coming out strongly against charter schools:

“NAACP rejects the emphasis on charter schools
as the vanguard approach for the education of children, instead of focusing attention,
funding, and policy advocacy on improving existing, low performing public schools…”

Why didn’t ConnCAN bring more representatives from their “diverse” staff to go speak?

posted by: Noteworthy | April 3, 2012  9:24am

Well done Mssrs. Jefferson and Highsmith. You summed up to a large extent, exactly what’s wrong with Malloy’s version of the bill. It ignores the research, best practices and what’s working. Instead, it defaults to charters, to takeovers, who happen to be the big drivers on Malloy’s version. Why? Because organizations stand to gain tens of millions of dollars. It’s more about the money than it is about the children. The children are just a conduit to get the money and produce largely the same results. But of course, it will take years to determine that, and in the meantime, and maybe longer, Achievement First will get the money which again, is the real goal.

We need real reform lead by real reformers, people who had success in turning around schools with methods that are tried and true.

And by the way, Mr. Malloy, you did bash teachers. You can deny it all you like, kind of like saying the state cop ticket quota is not a quota. Quack. Quack.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS | April 3, 2012  12:49pm

This is Gov. Malloy real plan for school reform.

who owns your child’s school? The rise and rise of edu-business in Britain

Melissa Benn, 3 April 2012’s-school-rise-and-rise-of-edu-business-in-britain

posted by: AMM | April 3, 2012  4:45pm

Michael Jefferson is so correct in that we’d be better off educating parents in our failing schools - heck, even successful schools have parents that can use the information.

posted by: Linda12 | April 3, 2012  5:38pm

The truth about reforms in Massachusetts and New Jersey….not Malloy’s spin:

posted by: brutus2011 | April 3, 2012  6:21pm


S.B. 24 is a trojan horse.

As in Greek mythology, this trojan horse is seemingly beneficent but hides within it a conquering horde.

Top-down ed reform seeks to siphon money from public schools and into charter schools.

This is where the real damage lies—our most needy classrooms and students need that money to reach them in the classroom.

I know people who are desperate for their children to “make it” are willing to gamble on any change being preferable to no change at all.

What struggling classes in failing schools really need are the same discovering, questioning, and arguing type of pedagogy that classes in successful schools engage in—and not the tightly controlled regimen that characterizes the “teach to the test” administration of teaching.

The teachers are not incompetent.

The system is dysfunctional.

Nowhere do you hear the governor or even local ed managers utter the words “dysfunctional system.”

They only repeat, “incompetent teachers,” in a myriad of ways—over and over and over again.

Simply not true.

Those at the top never utter the words “dysfunctional system” because those at the top are the dysfunctional system.

So, the teachers hand so those at the top can continue their six-figure salaries and look forward to their six-figure pensions.

Don’t believe me?

Look inside S.B. 24 and see a provision for Superintendent Adamowski’s pension provision.

Believe me now?

posted by: Truthinaction | April 3, 2012  8:13pm

Here’s the message that Malloy should have been stating at this meeting. I care about your kids, we can’t wait, and because of this we need to close the achievement gap immediately. To do this, we will close the corporate tax loopholes and take that much needed revenue and allocate it to the under performing districts so they can have the support teams in place that the high achieving wealthy districts have. Your struggling students will receive full time aides, one on one math resource, reading and ESL support. The teacher will be allowed to lead and provide creative, collaborative learning environments that address individual learning needs and styles.  I’m not hearing any of this…only that they want to tamper with teacher evaluations and tenure.  Which research shows has little or nothing to do with high student achievement.

posted by: Reasonable | April 4, 2012  9:40pm

Gov. Malloy’s Legislative
Education Committee passed a package of watered-down reforms aimed at appeasing teachers unions, but stalled off teachers reforms for at least another year. Malloy has the Democratic lawmakers in his pocket—working in his personal behalf—not education reform. Dannel continues to be “careless with the truth,” because he feels he is politically correct to do so!