Connecticut’s House of Representatives has unanimously passed a wide-ranging education reform bill. Legislators describe the bill as an important step toward improving the state’s public schools and closing Connecticut’s achievement gap.
The chamber erupted in cheers after the 149 to zero vote, giving final legislative approval to a compromise education reform measure.
Representative Andrew Fleischmann fielded hours of questions and praised lawmakers for the collaborative process. He also called on Republicans and Democrats to stay committed as things move forward.
"It’s the beginning of a critical process that our commissioner and our school superintendents and our school leaders and our teachers and our parents and our children will undertake together. But we’ve gotten the ball rolling with the right team."
The education bill includes an additional 1,000 new preschool seats in low-income communities; creates a Commissioner’s Network with up to 25 low-performing schools; and increases per pupil funding for charter schools over the next three years. The measure steers clear many of Governor Malloy’s most disputed proposals around teacher tenure. There is no link between certification, pay and evaluations.
Representative Gary Holder Winfield said the bill was not revolutionary - it was something, given the state’s largest-in-the nation achievement gap, that Connecticut needed to do.
"I think we should have been doing this for a long time, but quite frankly it wasn’t until this state got embarrassed that we decided to do something about this."
House Republican Leader Larry Cafero praised the governor for tackling the issue, and pointed to the difficulty of the process.
"Unfortunately as the debate unfolded, maybe because of a poor choice of words, there was an attitude that developed that our teachers were under attack. And I hope with the passage of this bill in this final form, that the message is just the opposite."
In a statement, the CEA, the state’s largest teachers union called the bill “reform done right”. In his statement Governor Malloy called education reform the civil rights issue of our time. The measure moves now to the Governor’s desk.