Connecticut is ready for changes in its education system

Senate Bill 24, the education reform bill put forward by Governor Malloy, is now under consideration in the Education Committee. Plenty of folks around the state have weighed in with their opinions about where the bill doesn’t go far enough, where it goes too far, and everything in between.

We know that Connecticut residents – including teachers and principals – overwhelmingly support these reforms, and many of us agree that it does not go far enough. Yet as the governor continues in his third week of town halls about education reform, a vocal minority interested in protecting the status quo is saying that this bill is bad for teachers, and some even have said that it is bad for students, despite the fact that it is squarely focused on making student-centered policy changes.

Here is one more indication of broad-based support for these changes: 1,000 Connecticut residents signed a petition thanking Governor Malloy for his leadership on education reform and calling on him to stay strong on his proposed changes.

It can be challenging to cut through what a relatively small, yet loud, contingency has been saying about the reform proposals on the table. The fact is, this bill makes students our top priority while elevating the teaching profession tremendously by recognizing educators’ skills and contributions, not their time in the classroom. I encourage all of those interested in these issues to come out and hear the governor himself, rather than relying on the (often factually incorrect) rhetoric being repeated over and over by those quoted in in newspapers and speaking at forums across the state.

The governor is serious about getting the system right for kids, and the ideas he’s put forward are important steps in that direction. We should all be doing whatever we can to demonstrate we have a similar commitment to our students and our future, despite the politically challenging nature of these discussions. Governor Malloy has sounded the alarm, and it’s up to all of us to say together, “‘next year’ isn’t going to cut it anymore.” That’s not an answer to this state’s massive achievement gaps and stagnating student performance.

The time has come for change, and Connecticut is ready. It is now up to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Education Committee to hold strong to the promise of reform. What happens with S.B. 24 will determine what happens in our education system and our economy for generations, and it will be critical for these leaders to listen to all sides of the conversation – and to make sure that they are hearing the authentic voices of people on the ground, and not just an echo chamber of misunderstandings and myths as propagated by the coalition of the status quo.

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