It’s not the overnight transformation that some impatient education reformers sought, but the deal apparently agreed to in principal by capitol negotiators over the weekend is strong enough to have the governor’s support.
But the compromise also takes a more careful, slower approach to some of the most controversial measures. Look for a bill that calls for a smaller, beta version of the governor’s plan to tie teacher evaluations to student performance. It’s an acknowledgement that some big ideas need to be tested before they are rolled out to the masses.
The legislation will also include some version of the “commissioner’s network,” giving the Malloy’s education commissioner extraordinary powers to reform failing schools. Again, look for this to be in a smaller let’s-carefully-try-this-idea-out plan tied to a handful of schools. No word yet on how the compromise will deal with union concerns that collective bargaining rights of teachers were being ignored under this plan.
Meanwhile, multiple sources tell me that the new consensus will allow for the use of charter schools as so-called turnaround models. This would allow for successful models, such as Hartford’s Jumoke Academy to be used. The use of charter schools — viewed by some as a means to ultimately privatize public schools — had been a significant stumbling block.
The new bill — which as of mid-day Monday still has yet to be printed — would also include provisions to force more rigorous, research-based reading instruction sought by membes of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.
Despite the fact that Malloy and teacher unions are strong supporters of public education, finding a compromise in an atmosphere of sharp rhetoric has proven difficult. For Malloy, who hung the success of this legislative session on substantive educationr reform, the stakes have been particularly high.
“Every member of the education committeed and everyone who testified and every person in the administration … all are seeking to improve educational results,” said state Sen. Andrew Fleischmann of West Hartford, co-chair of the legislature’s education committee. He did not comment on the specifics of the deal.
“If everyone shares that goal it should be possible for all parties to find common ground.”