New Education Committee Bill Aims to Get Reform Done Right, but More Work Is Needed
Governor not backing down on his education reform plan
Everything is written in pencil right now—that’s the way one legislator characterized Substitute Senate Bill 24, now being considered by the state legislature as an alternative to the Governor’s Education Bill #24.
“We understand this bill is a work in progress—just one step, with many more to go on the long road ahead before the end of the legislative session on May 9,” said CEA President Phil Apruzzese. “The new language makes us cautiously optimistic that lawmakers will get reform done right to ensure high-quality education for all students.”
Governor says he will not sign Substitute SB 24
At a news conference on March 27, Governor Malloy told reporters that he will pursue plans he outlined in his original bill, including linking a new teacher evaluation system with tenure and establishing a commissioner’s network for low-performing schools. The governor said, “There will be a major piece of legislation this year, and it’s going to be substantially more like what we proposed than what they [the Education Committee] voted on.”
Malloy says he plans to speak with legislative leadership and wants “more progress rapidly.” He added, “We need an evaluation system that is tied to something, not five years from now. We should have had it yesterday.”
Substitute SB 24 represents significant reforms and improvements in education, but more work needs to be done. Positive elements in the bill include:
- Creating 1,000 new pre-K slots.
- Providing new funding for schools most in need.
- Restoring collective bargaining to enhance teaching and learning conditions.
- Decoupling evaluation, certification and salary schedules.
- Improving the teacher evaluation system by ensuring that evaluation plans will include collaboration, professional development supports to continually improve teaching, and the validation of a new rating system.
- Enhancing teacher standards by recognizing and requiring master’s degrees for the professional certificate and a newly “distinguished educator” designation.
More can be done
“Teachers are grateful for all the hard work that went into the alternative legislation and the fact that members of the Education Committee listened to the concerns of Connecticut teachers, but more can be done,” said CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine.
This “Year of Education” reform may be the most important event in a generation, and Substitute SB 24 can still be improved upon by:
- Encouraging more parental and community involvement in schools.
- Elevating the teaching profession by instituting in teacher dismissal proceedings a “just cause” hearing—one afforded other employees in the public sector.
- Eliminating any reference to “money follows the child” funding, since cash-starved schools cannot afford to lose resources.