Gov. Dannel Malloy’s major education reform bill, proposed in the February 2012 state legislation session, has drawn mixed reviews from parents, teachers, and community members across the state.
The 163-page bill aims to close Connecticut’s achievement gap by targeting and supporting low-performing schools, increasing funding by $50 million in Education Cost Sharing, and tacking on 500 additional early-education spots for low-income students. The package supports school choice touting charter, magnet, and vocational schools. Additionally, it proposes major changes to the teaching profession including tying teacher performance to their pay, changes in the certification process, and eliminating teacher tenure.
Jack Bryant, president of the Stamford National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told Patch NAACP chapters across the state are in support of the legislation.
“[Connecticut] has the sad distinction of having the highest achievement gap in the country,” said Bryant. “Over the years, I’ve been to a lot of meetings. We’ve identified the problem, but there have been no action items. This bill is just a start, but we finally have something on the table to put us in the right direction.”
Bryant, along with members from NAACP chapters across Connecticut and the Connecticut Black & Latino Caucus attended a public forum in Hartford on March 7 to discuss the bill proposal. One of the concerns was voiced from parents, said Bryant, and that they don’t play a large enough role. Bryant agrees that parents play a huge role in educating their child and that is one weakness in the bill he’d like to see addressed.
Providing increased access to preschool is one of the chief components of the bill, which Bryant ardently supports.
“We need to get children ready for kindergarten, first, second and third grade,” said Bryant. “This isn’t just words on paper. The bill doesn’t just talk about wanting more Pre-K spots, but actually provides the funding.”
Malloy has been holding town hall forums across the state in the past few weeks, most recently in on Monday. Despite strong opposition from teachers, reached their highest point this week as a Quinnipiac University Poll, released today, revealed the governor has strong support for even the controversial components of his package, including and implementing a merit pay-for-performance system.
“If we had to vote today we would vote to pass the bill,” said Bryant. “It’s not a silver bullet, and we’re not going to see [the achievement gap] close immediately. There are other things that have to happen, but ultimately we need to move on this bill. It must be passed.”