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Connecticut Education Overhaul Is Approved

Early childhood, support for low-perfoming schools pushed

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Connecticut legislators have approved major changes to the state's public education system, including a new evaluation system that will link teachers' tenure and their effectiveness ratings and new requirements for low-ranked schools to obtain additional state funding.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, supported the sweeping changes to the state's K-12 system as part of his signature effort this year to address what he called major education priorities for the state.

Additional changes in the approved legislation include 1,000 additional slots in low-income communities for early-childhood-education programs, a quality-rating system for those early-childhood programs, a "commissioner's network" to provide intensive support for 25 low-performing schools in the state, and two new charter schools, for English-language learners. More money will also be directed to magnet and vocational schools.

"Once again, against the backdrop of Washington, D.C.—a place paralyzed by partisan bickering—Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut have come together to take on an issue of tremendous importance," Mr. Malloy said in a statement last week following the proposals' passage in the state House, which voted 149-0.

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In an interview, state Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor said that while some of the governor's initial education overhaul proposals were changed, the "core elements" of his plans remained intact and were improved through stakeholder collaboration.

"We've elevated education to the highest levels of public dialogue," Mr. Pryor said.

He also said the passage of the legislation means that the state has now satisfied concerns the U.S. Department of Education had expressed regarding Connecticut's application for a waiver of provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Gov. Malloy's proposals had strong backing from advocacy groups like StudentsFirst, run by Michelle A. Rhee, a former District of Columbia schools chancellor. But the Connecticut Education Association as well as the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut rallied against Mr. Malloy's proposals involving tenure. The CEA's executive director, Mary Loftus Levine, said the union was pleased the state stripped out provisions that were initially a part of Mr. Malloy's legislative package that the CEA deemed to be attacks on union contracts and other areas of public education.

Vol. 31, Issue 31, Page 4

Published in Print: May 16, 2012, as Connecticut Education Overhaul Is Approved
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