Education Bill Still A Work In Progress, New Draft Limits Commissioner’s Power
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told a roomful of municipal officials Wednesday not to count on any funds tied to the education reform package because in its present form he “would veto the legislation.”
The education reform bill Malloy unveiled Feb. 8 was revised in March by the legislature’s Education Committee. A new draft of the legislation was floating around the Capitol on Wednesday, but it was not known if the governor would support it.
“We are currently reviewing the bill,” Andrew Doba, Malloy’s spokesman, said Thursday morning.
Education Committee Co-Chair Rep. Andrew Fleischmann buzzed around the House Wednesday with this eight-page summary of the new bill as he tried to get rank-and-file lawmakers to support it. The new bill, which hasn’t been filed yet, is rumored to be about 208 pages.
Fleischmann declined comment Wednesday on the new legislation.
The summary of the bill includes 1,000 new early preschool slots, 500 for the “education reform districts,” 250 for priority school districts, and 250 for competitive districts. It requires public schools to include 20 minutes of physical activity in each school day for kindergarten to fifth-grade students. It eliminates the education commissioner’s ability to accept private donations for exemplary schools and his ability to reconstitute a low-achieving school by making it a state or local charter school under the control of a private entity.
Any schools considered “turnaround” schools or the low performing schools participating in the “Commissioner’s Network” are prohibited from choosing a private entity to manage or govern the school, unless it is a “private, not-for-profit CT college or university.” It also mandates that any turnaround plan that conflicts with a current existing union contract “will be negotiated with the appropriate union under the Teachers Negotiation Act.”
It also requires the state Board of Education to approve two state charter schools with a primary focus on English language learners before approving any other charter school applicants.
The most controversial portion of the legislation to date has been the new language related to teacher evaluation, tenure, and certification. According to the summary, the new bill requires a teacher who does not receive an evaluation for the year to be designated as “not rated” rather than rated “proficient.” It also allows the education commissioner to waive requirement that local school boards adopt a new evaluation system if he determines its existing program is in compliance with the new state guidelines.
Further, the new bill would require school boards to provide training for all teachers and administrators they employ before implementing an evaluation system. And it says the commissioner must select 10 districts to pilot the new evaluation system by June 1, 2012.
The proposal also requires certificates to be valid for five years and continued every five years. And starting July 1, 2016, it would require an applicant for a professional certificate to have a master’s degree in his or her endorsement area and eliminates all other proposed certification changes.