“Okay, no more questions? Good…let’s vote”
In the coming days we’ll hear Governor Malloy ramp up his rhetoric about the need to vote and vote quickly on his “Education Reform” bill.
Malloy’s exclusive focus on trying to make people believe that Senate Bill 24 is only about modifying teacher tenure and the evaluation system for teachers seems to be working.
His biggest concern has got to be that legislators, the media and the public will actually read the 163 page bill.
While it is true that the bill includes significant changes to Connecticut’s teacher tenure and evaluation laws, there are still many people – including many legislators – who apparently don’t know or don’t understand the ramifications of some of the other incredible policy changes that have been packed deep into Malloy’s bill.
Here is a quick refresher on the ones we’ve discussed to date:
Section 7: Money for Charter Schools at the Expense of Urban Schools:
Malloy’s proposal is to give Connecticut’s charter schools an increase of $2,600 per student, $1,000 of which will be funds that are presently going to Connecticut’s lowest performing, poorest and predominantly most minority school districts.
The result will be that funding for the average charter school student will go up by $2,600 while the funding for the students in the 30 poorest school districts will only go up by $150 per student.
The biggest winner of all will be Achievement First Inc., the large charter school management company that Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor helped create and manage for the past 8 years before he resigned to become Malloy’s point person on education reform.
Achievement First, a company that educates less than 3,000 students receive more NEW money than the entire Hartford School System, New Haven School System or Bridgeport School System.
Section 8: Start Up Grants for Charter Schools/Limiting Collective Bargaining:
Meanwhile, as many school districts continue to lay-off teachers and cut vital programs, Section 8 of Malloy’s bill provides a NEW grant program for NEW charter schools. Malloy’s bill provides these new charter schools with a $500,000 start-up grant, $3,000 per student grants and, for the first time in Connecticut, language limiting collective bargaining rights for teachers in these new charters.
Section 11: Penalize Small Districts:
Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill will penalize and take education funding away from school districts that have less than 1,000 students.
While small, neighborhood elementary schools are not only allowed but encouraged for urban and suburban districts, Malloy’s bill will force small towns to regionalize their elementary schools or face losing their state education funding.
Section 18: Commissioner’s Network – taking over 25 low performing schools – while attempting to reverse the Bridgeport Supreme Court Decision:
One of the most amazing sections of the entire bill is Section 18 which gives the gives the Commissioner of Education the authority to unilaterally take over up to 25 Connecticut schools.
He can manage these schools himself or delegate the control of the schools to some 3rd party, including a private entity.
The “Commissioner’s Network” schools would be exempt from Connecticut laws concerning the use of consultants, competitive bidding and purchasing. All teachers in these schools would be laid off and although they can re-apply for their jobs, Connecticut’s collective bargaining laws WILL NOT apply in “Commissioner’s Network” schools.
And as if the language on the “Commissioner’s Network” schools was not shocking enough, Section 18 also includes the language attempting to legalize the state of Connecticut’s illegal attempt to take over the Bridgeport School System. The bill’s language says that if the state did do something illegal, that action is no longer illegal.
At the same time, the bill quietly removes the requirement that the state must help train and support local school boards before it can unilaterally un-elect elected officials. With that nuisance out-of-the-way, it will be easier for Malloy’s Department of Education to simply disband local boards of education in towns that they want to take over.
Section 19: Here comes yet another Standardized Test:
Education reformers love standardized tests and Malloy’s bill mandates yet another standardized test that all students would be forced to take. In addition to the mandatory CMT and CAP tests given in the 4th, 8th and 10th grades (along with the practice tests given in every other year), Senate Bill 24 adds a new “College Readiness Test” for eleventh graders.
Section: 33: Tougher Certification for Teachers; Less Certification for Superintendents:
Despite all the talk about instituting a tougher certification process, Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill significantly weakens the requirements for superintendents. Presently Boards of Education MAY NOT employ a school superintendent who does not have the appropriate certification.
As of now, acting superintendents can only work for no more than 90 days without proper certification. The bill allows a board of education, with the commissioner’s approval to appoint an un-certified acting superintendent for an unlimited duration.
The bill also allows the commissioner of education to waive the certification requirement altogether for any person who he or she believes is “exceptionally qualified.” Gone is all the language requiring that the “exceptionally qualified” person have some significant job-related experience.
Section 33 also continues that law so that Steven Adamowski, the former Hartford Superintendent and present “Special Master” in Windham can add four more years to his publicly funded pension even though he was not certified, made no effort to become certified and the law, as it now stands, only allows certified teachers and administrators to collect a pension.
Section 52: Ending Enrollment Lotteries for Charter Schools (no this isn’t a joke)
Readers of Wait, What? will recall that over the past year I have written numerous pieces about Connecticut’s charter schools and how they are “creaming off the best students” so that they can make it appear that they do a better job when it comes to getting standardized test scores up.
In fact, as the data shows, charter schools students are less poor, much more likely to be fluent in English, almost always come from homes where English is the primary language and are much less likely to need special education services.
If you go back and read the comments you will see that every time I’ve raised this issue, charter school administrators and supporters have challenged my assessment saying that the lottery system ensures that everyone has an equal chance to get into the charter school.
The Governor’s bill allows charter schools to stop using an enrollment lottery if they get a waiver from the commissioner of education and use their new authority to recruit students from under-represented populations.
There are other extremely troubling sections of Governor Malloy’s “Education Bill” which is why the best solution for the Malloy Administration is to tell State legislators “What Ever You Do – DON’T READ THE BILL!”