By Kathleen Megan

Published by The Hartford Courant, February 14, 2012

In recent months, education-focused groups – one after the next – suggested reforms they hope to see addressed by the state legislature and on Tuesday six of those agencies announced shared goals.

“Our organizations have different positions on different issues and we will probably continue to have,” said Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. He outlined areas where the groups agree, including efforts to raise the level of teaching and school leadership, improving teacher preparation and certification programs and supporting the new state Board of Education guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation.

On the issue of teacher tenure, the group said, it “should be earned and kept based on satisfactory evaluation results. At any point, teachers who do not consistently receive at least a proficient rating should be dismissed,” Cirasuolo said.

Joining the superintendents’ group were the Connecticut Association of Schools; the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education; the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN); the Connecticut Council for Education Reform; and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. There were no teacher groups.

Cirasuolo said the teachers unions have “very different perspectives” on certain issues, so they are not part of this collaborative group. “I think they know we were talking to each other,” Cirasulo said, “and I think they know we are very interested in speaking with them as well.”

Robert Rader, executive director of the association of boards of education, emphasized that the six groups are unified in “supporting teachers and providing them with the professional development they need to do a good job. It is not about bashing teachers.”

The six groups also supports measuring student progress by learning versus time in school; pre-school for all; and varying the levels of assistance provided to schools and districts based on need.

Finally, the group said the state law on binding arbitration – used when a school district and the local teachers union cannot come to agreement — should be amended so that the learning needs of students are paramount.

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