The next stop for the governor’s education reform train is Bethel High School tonight. If the past is prologue, then many teachers will attend to urge the governor to get education reform done right in this legislative session.
Jeannette Picard, a reading consultant at Lebanon Middle School, was among the hundreds of people who attended Governor Malloy’s education reform plan town hall style meeting in Windham last night, and one of a handful selected to ask the governor a question.
Picard, who has been teaching for 29 years, works with academically troubled students. She told the governor to put the interests of children first. She said that, while she loves her job and the children, they wouldn’t need her help if they received the services they needed from the beginning, and that 500 new slots for preschool are not enough to solve the problem.
“Rather than punish teachers, let’s look at the real problem and spend the money for early childhood education that our children deserve,” she said.
Malloy responded that he is a big supporter of universal preschool, and told the crowd that his plan is not a punishment for teachers. “What’s more punishment than working with teachers who are incompetent and can’t be removed because it can’t be proven?” Malloy asked.
He read to the audience CEA’s tenure proposal from A View from the Classroom and the plan to shorten the time frame and use one arbitrator instead of three. “Our plan mirrors [the teacher’s plan] in so many ways, including in designing a new evaluation plan… I know what people are telling you but I am not lying to you,” said Malloy.
“I believe you believe in what you are saying,” said Picard, “but as a past union president I did see tenured teachers leave because the administration did their job, and it didn’t take a long time—the teachers were treated with respect and had due process. The system we have in place does work.”
Malloy asked her if the standard for dismissal should be incompetence or ineffectiveness.
“I think you’re playing a rhetorical game with me,” said Picard. “An ineffective teacher is an incompetent teacher.” Picard’s response was greeted with applause and shouts of agreement from the audience.
The governor’s next education reform town hall meeting is tonight, March 15, at Bethel High School, 300 Whittlesey Drive, at 7 p.m.