Part of the conversation between Dan Malloy and Tom Foley fit Tuesday's setting as Fairfield University hosted the third debate between the gubernatorial candidates. Along with questions they have handled before on the economy and transportation, the two also spoke about the state's education system.
Specifically, the moderators asked what they would do to narrow the state's achievement gap and "make sure Connecticut has the best teachers possible."
Foley, a Republican businessman from Greenwich, said his plan was "virtually the same" as the recommendations made by the Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement. He supports offering choices in public schools, with funding directly tied to each child, and grading schools and teachers for progress. He also talked up a "final exam" that all students must pass to graduate high school.
"Here in Connecticut, thankfully, we have mostly excellent teachers," Foley said. "But we need to make sure that the teachers who aren't meeting minimum levels of performance are provided opportunities for professional development."
Malloy, the Democratic former mayor of Stamford, said he already instituted many of the commission's recommendations in his city. He proposed adding universal prekindergarten to the curriculum, lengthening school days and years, and creating individualized plans for each student.
"One of the things I want to see is more time spent in the classroom on early reading skills and early math skills," Malloy added. "We should design a program where no child leaves third grade one or two years already behind."
Education also factored into budget talks, when the moderator asked how the candidates would deal with excess staffing at the state's five public universities. Both promised to look at the salaries of administrators.
"I will play a role in selecting who will be the trustees at each of the college systems," Malloy said. "And I will make sure they will have Connecticut common sense."
"The cost of an education in Connecticut is very high," Foley said. "We need to control very carefully the cost at all our higher education institutions, so that we can keep tuitions low."