Without a compromise in sight and just weeks left in the legistative session, education reformers on all sides are turning up the heat. The governor is promising to veto the weakened reform legislation now before the General Assembly, the Connecticut Education Association, meanwhile isn’t backing down, launching a new ad campaign. Other education reform groups continue to sponsor those radios that suggest the whole issue is as simple as a few legislators cutting a sinister backroom deal.
While The CEA’s Phil Apruzzese says that “the stakes could not be higher,” they are not so high that the CEA wants to make any concessions and support any of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s more aggressive reform proposals. The union continues to fight the governor’s desire to give the education commissioner new powers to remake failing local schools.
CEA Executive Director Mary Lofus Levine says her group has not “hesitated at the state level to take a leadership role in promoting educational improvement:”
And we are showing our leadership again today as we seek to broaden public awareness about the governor’s damaging proposals. Too many are unproven and untested—notions that will ultimately hurt, not help, our children to succeed and close the achievement gap.
Malloy spokesman and chief strategist Roy Occhiogrosso, responding to the CEA’s latest TV ad, said that “the problem’s been that the leadership of CEA hasn’t been trying to represent teachers; they’ve been representing themselves.” Parents and families, Occhiogrosso said,
… support the Governor’s proposal. Interestingly, when teachers hear what is actually in the proposal — more resources for their classrooms, personalized professional development for them, an evaluation system that recognizes the good work teachers do every day — when teachers hear this, they’re supportive too.
The governor ought to compromise and back off on his plan to link teacher evaluations to hiring and firing decisions. But the CEA, instead of making Malloy the education villian, should admit that bold new initiatives must begin at the state’s lowest performing schools.
So as time begins to run short, we get more polarizing advertisements and rhetoric. Where is the American Federation of Teachers – which helped to craft a school reform contract in New Haven – in all this? Why aren’t state legislators stepping up to help find some middle ground here?
It could be a long spring and even longer summer ahead.