Letter: Ed reform reflects feedback
Education is a top priority on the legislative agenda for 2012. This is great news for Connecticut's kids, their future employers and all of us with a stake in the state's economic health. The General Assembly, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state's new commissioner of education, Stefan Pryor, are partnering on a series of bold initiatives that will address longstanding challenges in our schools. Now is the time to act.
Over the past several months, the Connecticut General Assembly has engaged in the challenging task of exploring education reform options for our state. The feedback from teachers and town residents has thoughtfully addressed the complexity of the bill, and I want to thank everyone publicly for sharing their concerns. The feedback is making a difference and helping to shape change for the better for everyone. On March 26, the Education Committee adopted a revised version of SB 24 by a bi-partisan 28-5 vote. A summary of the new bill and several other relevant documents are available on my website at http://www.housedems.ct.gov/fawcett or http://www.housedems.ct.gov/EducationReform/index.html
I am pleased to report that many changes were made to the bill to address most of the major concerns expressed by teachers. For example, in the revised bill:
Teacher evaluation and certification were decoupled.
The linking of teacher evaluation and tenure was eliminated, but the commissioner is directed to develop a plan with the teacher unions for how a link may be established.
Most restrictions on collective bargaining were eliminated.
The requirement for school districts to contribute $1,000 for each charter school student was eliminated.
The number of low performing schools in a new "Commissioner's Network" was reduced from 25 to 10 until a more detailed implementation plan is developed.
The number of new state-funded preschool slots was doubled to 1,000.
The qualifications for a professional certificate were increased to require a master's degree, rather than merely 30 credits beyond a bachelor's degree.
Please note that the revised legislation must be approved by the Appropriations Committee and will remain in negotiations with legislative leaders, the governor and commissioner, teacher unions and other stakeholders. Therefore, further changes are inevitable before a final bill is presented to the Senate and House for final action.
I am very pleased that the Education Committee made changes in response to teacher and public input. I am also very excited that we have the opportunity to enact historic reform and to make significant new investments in public education, to address the needs of our lowest performing schools, and to support our teachers more effectively.
State Rep. Kim Fawcett
Fairfield and Westport