Ridgefield teacher Mark Reinders says he’s living “in semi terror” of the implications of the governor’s education bill, SB 24. He attended the governor’s education meeting in Bethel Thursday, expressing concern that SB 24 is out of proportion to what students and teachers really need. “If I hit my toe with a hammer, please don’t cut off my leg to fix it,” he told the governor.
In a relatively long exchange with the governor, he went on to address additional concerns. He told Malloy, “When I see this legislation it makes me think my colleagues and I are being held solely responsible for the achievement gap.”
“There is research showing the achievement gap correlates directly to the income gap,” Reinders added. “How are teachers expected to sufficiently compensate in situations where there is just not enough money?”
“There are interesting things you have said,” Governor Malloy responded. “No one has ever said that teachers can do it alone, but at the same time, no one should say a poor kid can’t overcome.”
The subject of teacher evaluation was also addressed, as it has been at most of the governor’s education reform meetings.
Governor Malloy told the crowd, “With regard to evaluation, all the bill does is implement a system both unions have agreed to.”
Members of the audience shouted, “That’s not true.”
Malloy said, “This bill changes the status quo. What we actually do is that which is represented by two years of work by PEAC. This is what CEA called for on its own website, to take into statute that very evaluation process that PEAC adopted.”
What CEA agreed to as a member of PEAC (The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council) has nothing to do with the governor’s proposal in his Education Bill No. 24 to tie a teacher’s evaluation to his or her certification and license to teach and earn a living.
In developing a general framework for teacher evaluations PEAC members had no discussion and no idea that the framework designed would ever be misused and exploited to link evaluation, certification, salary schedules and tenure, as is proposed in Bill No. 24.
Accountability for all
“I know the bill holds teachers accountable,” Heather Green, a parent, told the governor, “But I’m concerned about administrators and parents being held accountable, too.” The crowd responded with loud applause.
“I have seen parents swear at teachers,” she continued. “There are students who hinder teaching. One of the guidance counselors at my daughter’s school got punched in the face the other day. Can you do something with parents and administrators?”
The governor answered, “yes,” saying that laws are being discussed to protect teachers.
Last year a CEA bill on teacher assault passed the State Senate but died on the House calendar before it could be voted on. CEA has continued to advocate for more protections for teachers, testifying before the Labor and Public Employees Committee in favor of teacher assault legislation last week.
The governor’s education reform tour continues this week on Monday in New London and on Tuesday in Waterbury. More information here.