By Eileen FitzGerald

Published by, February 8, 2012

“In too many places, Connecticut public schools are failing their two most basic missions: to provide children with an equal, world-class education, irrespective of race or income, and to ensure that their skills and knowledge match the needs of Connecticut’s employers.”

That’s what Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says and that is why he’s urging bold changes to the state’s education system — and more money to make them.

The depth and breadth of the governor’s proposals, which were unveiled over the course of the last week and reinforced in his State of the State speech Wednesday, are guaranteed to draw fans and opponents.

But no matter what, there’s no doubt Malloy has made a firm, important commitment to Connecticut schools.

Now the General Assembly will be tested to follow through with legislation.

Teachers clearly will be concerned, since the proposals call for a controversial overhaul of the teacher tenure system, which guarantees teachers’ jobs.

But educators should welcome many changes, including Malloy’s addition of $50 million to the $1.89 billion state education grant to towns.

Most will go to districts serving students with the greatest need. And, in exchange, those districts will be required to pursue key reforms.

Highlights of his other proposals include funding an additional 500 preschool seats for children living in poverty and investing in a new rating system to improve the quality of preschools.

Malloy proposed the Commissioner’s Network, a system of state supports and interventions to improve chronically low-performing schools.

He’ll pursue $5.5 million in new funding for creating new schools, including local charter schools, community schools, and five new state charter schools.

He wants to increase state aid to charter and magnet schools, vocational technical schools, and agricultural science schools.

He wants to overhaul the state’s teacher preparation programs, including instituting higher grade-point requirements for students pursuing education degrees and forgiving loans of up to $10,000 for young teachers who get jobs in low-performing schools.

He’s proposed a system for evaluating teachers and principals that would include student achievement.

“For those of us who have worked to bring the interests and actions of top leaders in business, government and education to bear on resolving the challenges faced by today’s public school educators: Take a look at Connecticut; today is your day,” said Rae Ann Knopf, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform in a press release Wednesday after Malloy’s speech.

The reforms represent about $128 million more in spending, Knopf said.

Costs for taxpayers for each of the state’s 9,000 high school dropouts is about $518,000 for each life time, so she said it makes the $128 million investment in schools sound business.

Patrick Riccards, CEO of the reform group ConnCAN, said the proposals, if enacted into law, would propel Connecticut’s education system into a new realm focused on ConnCAN’s beliefs of accountability, flexibility and choice.

The devil’s in the details. Let’s hope people work together for students, not for their personal careers.

Passion counts for a lot, and Malloy has it in abundance.

Link to article.