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Facing mounting criticism on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Connecticut’s public schools, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday named members of a new task force to provide recommendations on how to ensure a successful rollout.

The 25-member advisory panel is to provide solutions by June 30 on how to improve what the state’s largest teachers union calls a “botched” and “mishandled” implementation of the standards. The recommendations are expected to impact Common Core implementation for the 2014-15 school year.

The governor’s announcement comes a day before the legislature’s Education Committee is set to hear testimony from the public on a bill addressing the implementation of Common Core. The noon public hearing is the result of a move by Republican minority legislators to force the reluctant committee leaders to hold a hearing on the bill that would put implementation of the state’s new academic standards on hold. On the eve of the hearing, 128 people have already submitted testimony. Most of them oppose the new standards adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010.

The Democratic governor’s 25-member panel consists of 12 teachers, four principals, four superintendents,  two parents, two local school board members, and the chief academic officer at the State Department of Education.

“Connecticut teachers and education professionals have raised legitimate concerns that preparations for the implementation of Common Core State Standards and the incorporation of Common Core State Standards into the teaching curriculum have been uneven across the state,” the Democratic governor wrote in an executive order creating the Common Core Implementation Task Force Tuesday. (Read the executive order here.)

“I respect and understand the concerns raised by Connecticut teachers and education professionals and believe that the implementation of Common Core State Standards can be improved by establishing a task-force to share lessons-learned, and that Connecticut teachers and students alike will benefit,” Malloy wrote.

The governor’s education commissioner, Stefan Pryor, has said that the department is moving full speed ahead with implementation of Common Core, but that the state is attempting to do so in a “low-stakes environment.” The Connecticut Department of Education on Feb. 28 requested that the federal education department relax the requirement that Connecticut districts link teacher evaluations to the new Common Core-aligned standardized tests.

Here are the names of the members the governor named to the task force;

  • (co-chair) Erin Wilson, elementary school teacher in Hartford and a teacher of the year finalist
  • (co-chair) Nate Quesnel, superintendent of East Hartford
  • Juanita Harris, special education teacher in Danbury
  • Andrea Middlebrooks, life sciences middle school teacher in Cromwell
  • Ken Daly, English and language arts high school teacher in Wallingford
  • Bruce Yarnall, special education middle school teacher in Stonington
  • William McKinney, high school teacher in New Haven
  • Patti Fusco, elementary school teacher in West Haven
  • Susan Schmidt, elementary school teacher in New Britain
  • Diana Burns, elementary school teacher in Westbrook
  • Sue Loud, department head for English and social studies at Eli Whitney Technical High School in Hamden
  • Barbara Johnson, librarian at an elementary school in Colchester
  • Anne Jellison, principal in Meriden
  • Anthony Ditrio, principal in Norwalk
  • Vicki Reed, elementary school principal in Wallingford
  • Edith Johnson, high school principal in New Haven
  • Paula Talty, superintendent in Cromwell
  • Sean McKenna, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Groton
  • Ivelise Velazquez, director of reading and social sciences in Windham
  • Candy Yeager, Stamford parent
  • Don Harris, chairman of Bloomfield Board of Education
  • Liz Brown, Waterbury Board of Education
  • Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, chief academic officer, State Department of Education
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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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