Despite the efforts of the Malloy administration to make some meaningful and needed reforms to the education system in Connecticut, Democrats and Teachers Union leaders scored a victory for the failing status quo by gutting the governor’s proposal, Senate Bill 24, rendering it a shell of what it was as originally presented to the Education Committee.
Representative DebraLee Hovey, a member of the Education Committee, expressed disappointment that the chance for real and significant reforms appears to have been squandered.
“While I have criticized Governor Malloy on some of his elements of style in his approach to this and other subjects, I certainly applaud him for the risk he has been willing to take in bringing forward a very tough issue that he rightly sees in need of reform,” said Rep. Hovey. “In my opinion the governor’s bill was something I would have supported with some minor tweaking. Unfortunately, it appears that the governor’s rhetoric motivated legislative Democrats to succumb to the powerful arm of teachers’ union leadership.”
The majority members of the committee approved substitute language for the bill which essentially converted the bill’s tenure reform portions to a study to be completed next year, stripped all aspects that tied performance evaluations to tenure and certification and cut portions which would increase charter school support from the state.
“Unfortunately over the weekend some closed-door negotiations were undertaken by the chairs of this committee and teachers’ union leaders,” said Rep. Hovey. “The Republicans were entirely left out as were rank and file Democrats. This is a critical issue that really needs a bipartisan effort. The product the Education Committee is putting out is a watered down version, changes were broad sweeping not just tweaks, and the children of this state are the losers.”
Hovey expressed hope that there would continue to be discussion and negotiation on the bill, and a restoration of the essential provisions might still take place before this session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns at midnight on May 9th. While she voted in favor of the bill to move it along in the process, she indicated she could change her vote on the House floor should necessary changes fail to be made.