If you had followed the sometimes inane debate over what ideas we should start to use to begin improving our trouble public schools, you might have thought a few weeks ago that there was no way, no how that they were going to embrace Dannel Malloy’s package by a combined 177-to-7 tally.
The Connecticut Education Association endlessly warned it was a sneaky plan to privatize. Bloggers suggested Malloy’s education commissioner was just taking care of his charter school buddies. Teachers were told their rights were being stripped. Opponents ran ominous TV and radio ads that suggested the public was being removed from our public schools.
And yet, when a toned-d0wn version of the plan came before the General Assembly — one that will bring, on a trial basis, many of the changes opponents warned against — nearly every legislator lined up behind Malloy. When CEA president Phil Apruzzese summed up his union’s view Tuesday night, he did not thank the governor, the one who pushed the agenda from the start:
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to a long list of legislators, especially Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, House Speaker Chris Donovan, and Education Committee Co-Chair Sen. Andrea Stillman, for their leadership and tireless efforts in legislative negotiations … Over the past few months, there have been ups and downs on the road to education reform. At its lowest point, the debate demonized teachers. Fortunately, with leadership in the Education Committee and in the House and Senate, the state turned a corner and put on the emphasis where it belongs: more pre-K, early literacy, health and social supports for disadvantaged students, respect for teachers bargaining rights, improved and fair teacher evaluation and dismissal, and access to innovative programs with proven track records.
Whatever you think of Malloy and his bully pulpit bluster, none of this would have happened if the governor hadn’t kept pushing.
It isn’t anywhere near what our most troubled schools need. But it’s a change from the past, when very little happened at all.