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Malloy To Lawmakers: #WeCantWait

by Christine Stuart and Hugh McQuaid | Mar 29, 2012 4:30am
(14) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education

CTNJ file photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy penned a letter   to lawmakers Wednesday urging them to pass — rather than study — his education reform package.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy penned a letter   to lawmakers Wednesday urging them to pass — rather than study — his education reform package.

The governor’s letter comes two days after the Education Committee passed his reform bill but turned many of his more controversial proposals like the one that tied a new teacher evaluation system to tenure into a study. The committee also reduced the amount of money for charter school students and increased the number of preschool slots from 500 to 1,000.

In his letter, which he signed with the Twitter hashtag #WeCantWaitCT, Malloy told lawmakers there wasn’t time to wait a year to tackle the big issues addressed in the original bill.

“If I seem impatient, it’s because I am,” he wrote. “I see kids almost every day who I know we’re failing because we’re sending them into broken parts of our school system. It’s got to stop.”

The letter seemed to ask lawmakers to put aside alliances with the state’s two teachers unions to pass the bill. On Tuesday night the Malloy administration acknowledged negotiations with the unions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday were cancelled.

“I am aware that change is hard, and I am aware that we all have relationships and alliances that make change even more difficult,” he wrote. “But when it comes to education reform, it’s time to put the needs of our children ahead of those relationships and alliances.”

Asked if he thought alliances would have to be broken for the bill to get passed, House Speaker Chris Donovan said “No.”

“I don’t believe so. I believe in all alliances . . .” he said. “You know we’re here, we have 151 people, we try to come to an agreement or something. There’s 36 up in the Senate. We work with the governor. Let’s work together. That’s my theme. Let’s work together.”

Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, co-chairman of the Education Committee, said what the governor put before the legislature on Feb. 8 “was draft 1.0. What the Education Committee voted out on Monday was draft 2.0 and I’m sure that there will be a version 3.0 and 4.0.”

Both the House and the Senate caucused the bill Wednesday behind closed doors, but Malloy was on the road and did not make an appearance at either meeting. Unlike his first year in office where a sighting of a governor was met with awe, Malloy’s presence in this case may not have had the same impact on lawmakers.

“To help a bill become a law I have to have the votes,” Fleischmann said. “Anything that goes to his desk will have to have enough support to go to his desk, so with that understood I’m sure there will be discussions and I’m sure things will change.”

Fleischmann said the general sentiment of the House Democratic lawmakers was “pretty positive.”

He also didn’t think the fact that the talks between the teacher unions and the administration were cancelled was significant.

“I’m optimistic that discussions between the administration, education stakeholders, and the legislative branch will be ongoing,” Fleischmann said. “That’s how you make sure you have everyone on board by continuing to talk.”

Sen. Andrea Stillman, the other co-chair of the Education Committee, said she had a conversation with the governor Tuesday and he told her they would work it out.

“It’s like any other major piece of legislation. There’s also more work to do once it gets out of committee,” Stillman said.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said he thought the tone of the governor’s letter had changed for the better. Malloy’s had a rough session where a number of his proposals have been altered by the legislature, he said.

“Overall, he’s learned it’s not just ‘What I want, I get,’” Cafero said. “He’s somewhat scaling back the rhetoric. He really needs people to work together.”

Cafero said the governor’s letter seems to indicate he recognized tactical errors he made when he rolled out his education initiative by giving the perception it was all about attacking teachers.

“That’s what threw this whole bill into a tailspin. I think he realizes that now,” Cafero said, adding that he didn’t blame the governor for wanting the reforms passed now, rather than studying them for a year.

Cafero said teacher tenure has to be tied to an evaluation system and putting off the issue for an entire year is also unacceptable to many House Republicans.

Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, said he understood the governor’s desire to see the reforms passed immediately.

“Every year that we wait, that’s at least one year where the kids who are being failed continue to be failed. That’s just a fact,” he said.

But there are certain realities to getting a bill through the legislature — mainly it has to have enough votes, he said. Though he would like to see a comprehensive education package passed this year and will work to make that happen, Holder-Winfield said it probably won’t. Lawmakers will likely settle on studying some elements of the proposal, he said.

“This is why I appreciate the governor for talking about the session of education, but it’s never going to be that. It’s going to be the sessions of education, no matter what you say.”

The Malloy administration respectfully disagreed.

“There are five weeks left in the session and I think it’s premature to say there aren’t the votes to pass it,” Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba said.

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(14) Comments

posted by: Linda12 | March 29, 2012  6:16am

When Malloy speaks about relationships and alliances, I wonder if the connection between Stefan Pryor, Achievement First and ConnCan is another alliance that should be disregarded?

We are always supposed to believe that Malloy tells the truth and the union lies. At this point he appears desperate.

For the connection between them, read Jon Pelto’s research:

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/03/25/these-billionaires-and-millionaires-sure-are-interested-in-education-reform-3/

http://jonathanpelto.com/

posted by: Linda12 | March 29, 2012  6:26am

The alliances that wrote the bill in secret are now upset another group met without them and now they are worried about “relationships”?

posted by: Hoosier@CT | March 29, 2012  8:11am

The govenor is so used to bulldozing his way through, its nice to see the legislators actually read what he is trying to shove down everyone’s throat.

posted by: Really? | March 29, 2012  11:31am

I’d like to think that the legislature is not the Governor’s rubber stamp and has the responsibility of fully examining the bills presented by anyone…but then again maybe I’m dreaming? 

If in fact this is such a far reaching change in how things are done it is then irresponsible of the Governor to suggest it should be passed as is without examination.

posted by: David Streever | March 29, 2012  12:50pm

That is a great message from the Governor to the legislators:
Don’t educate yourself.

I can hear the Gov now:
“I’ve done the hard thinking already, guys! Just ignore the fact that this bill does literally nothing to address the actual day-to-day challenges our lowest performing students faces, hands out massive chunks of money to an old friend of mine, and forget about the citizens, individual teachers, and parents who think this bill is a mistake. Simply pass it as soon as possible!”

Look, the intentions are noble, but the basic premise of this bill (that students would perform at or above grade if they simply had better teachers) is absolutely not borne out by any reviewed study or evaluation of performance and the achievement gap.

It isn’t—every in-depth study points to a VAST complex of problems, none of which are as easy to solve as “just get better teachers”.

This bill is a panacea on a VERY REAL problem, and a problem that we should be fixing last night.

The problem is that we have a system of poverty that traps and envelops families, communities, students, and cities. We need to break this cycle and provide literally around-the-clock support for the kids born into this system if we want to help them break free.

There are many, many, many things we can do now to help students caught in cyclical poverty, and I hope our legislators take this opportunity to learn about systemic poverty, how it affects everyone, and how to actually address the income AND achievement gap.

posted by: stellathecat | March 29, 2012  1:06pm

A governor that wants to reform edcation and unions that want the same old same old. Whats new?

posted by: Linda12 | March 29, 2012  2:35pm

Section 18 and what they really want:

http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/03/29/connecticut-and-education-reform-the-truth-is-its-all-about-section-18/

Thank you Jon for all your research.

posted by: Follow the Money | March 29, 2012  6:40pm

It’s irresponsible to ramrod it through is right, but that’s the methodology of the group pushing for this. It’s a national movement, and not in the interest of students or achievement. This is how it got passed in all the other states before Connecticut. Bully legislators not to read it as if they are idiots, and you wind up with legislation that clearly benefits the special interest groups who wrote the thing in the first place. Thankfully, our legislators had the good sense to put the brakes on, at least temporarily, to slow this runaway train down.

posted by: brutus2011 | March 29, 2012  9:31pm

brutus2011

The governor states that it is time to put the needs of our children ahead of alliances, etc.

The governor is either ignorant of the real issues or he is knowingly engaging in rhetoric that is misleading. (I am trying hard to be civil.)
Teachers are doing their jobs with their hands tied behind their backs. Classroom management is about being organized and creating and maintaining a classroom that facilitates learning.

That does not mean teachers are supposed to be correction officers.

I have had cohorts that we brought in former inmates to present to them and the ex-cons threw up their hands in exasperation.

This kind of behavior in our schools has got to be dealt with by those with the authority in our schools and at the district and state level.
Teachers do not have the authority.
But we are blamed as though we do.
This insanity, and mis-representation of the truth, must end.

I propose this to our legislators:

Craft legislation that mandates that disruptive students will not be allowed to infringe upon the learning of their fellows.
In addition, make it illegal for parents or guardians to engage in frivolous lawsuits against a public school district.
I guarantee that if these kinds of laws are passed, our schools will change in the twinkling of an eye.

posted by: Tom Burns | March 30, 2012  11:41pm

Brutus and Streever—so correct——SB24—where did it come from?? It doesnt help kids in any way and will harm them immensely—the Governor who somehow became a republican concerning education overnight—threw this garbage together—putting 1000 things in and hoping 10 would stick—well 30 have stuck and thats 30 too many——No teacher or educator would even consider this Bill—-and I hope our legislators are listening—because they can take us to a place of no return if they vote wrong—my grandkids and I wont allow it———please for our students sake start over with real dialogue—Why is Dan in such a hurry to pass a bill that has nothing to do with children and everything to do with adult corporate interests—-Tom

posted by: truth Avenger | March 31, 2012  8:45am

No wonder Governor Malloy wants to bum-rush this flawed bill to his desk.  This greatly flawed piece of legislation actually does little to close the achievement gap or improve learning capacity.  It is no more than a Governor Scott Walker style attack - albeit a bit sneakier, on teacher’s unions.  Maybe it’s time to follow Wisconsin’s lead and begin a recall movement against this governor that wants to hurry this bill up without due consideration to its long term consequences and deleterious impact on education and those who are the in the trenches fighting the good fight in improving students-not just test scores.  We don’t have failing students or schools- we have schools and students that need more resources-not less.  Those parts of the bill that provide increased services are most welcome and represent what should be the major thrust of this bill.

posted by: truth Avenger | April 1, 2012  5:52am

Here’s a fascinating article in American Journalism Review that challenges the notion that schools are failing.  Rather, it points a finger at shoddy journalism - quick to jump on the reform bandwagon without having done its due diligence, and too quick to accept the narrative that schools are failing.  Facts say otherwise: http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5280

posted by: Mo Government | April 1, 2012  12:36pm

“Reform” is just a code word for FORCE.

Why not try just the opposite and keep the state and feds out of our schools?  Why not let local districts, parents, superintendents and principals run their schools they way they see fit? 

What about all the parents and communities who are happy with their schools?  All “reform” means to them is taking their money and putting into urban districts which amounts to flushing it down a toilet .  The communities and parents of children of failing schools are the only ones who can help their children, and more state intervention is not going to do this.

There is no achievement gap in CT… sorry experts, there is a CULTURE gap in CT.  There are those who believe that government must solve their problems like failing schools and students, and those who don’t.  Those who don’t usually stand for no excuses and their schools and children succeed. 

Reform is a losing concept, it means sitting by and waiting for the bureaucratic magic potion to solve the problems that only parents themselves can solve. 

If you have a child, YOU are it’s primary caregiver and you are responsible for making sure they grow up educated or not.  Waiting for the state to fix things means you will positively lose, and worse, so will your child.

posted by: Linda12 | April 1, 2012  6:52pm

New hashtag:

#WeCantWaittoberidofOurDEARLeader