Governor Dannel P. Malloy told a crowd of more than 400 people at his education town hall-style meeting yesterday at Walsh Elementary School in Waterbury that the reform plan he is pushing is “scary” to some people. But he says things have to change in public education.
Waterbury teacher Teresa Morias stepped up to the microphone to ask the governor how he could propose enabling a principal to have absolute control over a teacher’s evaluation and state certification. “How can you want to pass a bill that will enable an evaluator to bully his or her staff?” Morias asked the governor. He replied, “I don’t know what people are telling you. There’s no way one person will be able to control all the factors” outlined in the framework adopted this winter by the State Board of Education.
Malloy’s Education Bill #24 also eliminates the master’s degree requirement for teachers. According to Malloy, he is trying to “recognize exemplary teachers” and not “the hours in a seat” they spend in graduate school.
At Walsh Elementary School janitors had been at work since Friday night scrubbing floors and walls, replacing ceiling tiles, and cleaning the grounds. While they appreciated their nice clean school, some people lamented, “Would it not have been better if the governor had been able to see the conditions students and teachers confront daily?”
Waterbury parent Heather Greene is worried about the impact the governor’s bill will have on her children. Greene told CEA, “With teachers under attack, I’m worried about how that will affect students academically and emotionally. This is not a good situation.”
Greene is PTA president at West Side Middle School. She shared with the governor that she’s troubled that parents and teachers did not have adequate input in his education bill. He disagreed, saying that he has been meeting with teachers and parents and that Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor went on a listening tour of Connecticut schools last fall.
The governor’s meeting was a family affair for some. Torrington teacher Carrie Phillips attended with her mother, Janet Phillips, a Waterbury vice principal. Both are concerned about whether teacher evaluation, as outlined in the governor’s bill, can be carried out in a fair and valid manner. When he adds state certification and salary schedules to the mix, they become “alarmed.”
Waterbury teacher Jahana Hayes said she loves working as an educator, but she worries whether the new systems that the governor proposes will be an incentive for good teachers to flee city schools.