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Teacher Tells Governor to Increase Teacher Involvement in Education Reform

New Canaan teacher Kristine Goldhawk told the governor last night in Norwalk that she doesn't see how elements of his education plan will improve student achievement.

New Canaan teacher Kristine Goldhawk can’t find direct causation between the governor’s education plan and improved student achievement. She was one of the people who entered a lottery last night winning the opportunity to ask Governor Dannel P. Malloy a question during the latest stop on his education reform tour in Norwalk.

Goldhawk raised concerns about what she called the “radical nature” of the governor’s reform bill that was replaced last month with an alternative, Substitute SB 24, by the Education Committee.  The vote was 28-to-5.

But the 28 legislators who voted for the substitute bill were not satisfied with it, according to Governor Malloy. He said last night, “Everyone said they were voting to further advance the conversation. I want to get to a bill that moves substantially beyond what the 28 voted on—just as they want to see.”

In the words of the governor, “potentially dire consequences await Connecticut” if the legislature doesn’t adopt his version of school reform.  According to Malloy, with an NCLB waiver pending in Washington, if Connecticut doesn’t enact a strong reform package  almost every district could be judged as not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, leading to school closures, large-scale overhauls, and loss of federal dollars.

As he has done in other meetings, the governor again last night turned the crowd’s attention to what CEA and AFT agreed to on the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC). In a compromise by consensus, the unions were among parties who agreed to a new teacher evaluation framework this winter.

Despite the governor’s claims to the contrary, the framework the unions agreed to has no connection to the teacher certification overhaul that the governor has proposed. In fact, PEAC members had no discussion and no idea that the framework they designed would ever be misused and exploited to link evaluation, certification, salary schedules, and tenure.

Westport teacher Heidi Scheckler reminded the governor about all the good programs underway in Connecticut schools—such as her district's collaborative evaluation plan.

Goldhawk, a social studies teacher, questioned the validity last night of the governor’s plan and pressed him about the need to wait for the new PEAC evaluation guidelines to be studied before being implemented—a provision advanced in Substitute SB 24. Governor Malloy responded that he “doesn’t embrace this idea that we have lots of time. This (study) has come up after the fact because people are looking change in the face.”

Westport teacher Heidi Scheckler urged the governor to “open the floodgates to teacher involvement” in education reform. Scheckler reminded the governor that there are good programs underway in our schools. She pointed to the Westport teacher evaluation plan—a collaborative effort between her union and the school administration—and offered a copy to the governor.

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