NORWALK, Conn. – It’s about getting the children of Connecticut the best education possible. That was the message Gov. Dannel Malloy delivered at a Town Hall meeting at a Norwalk school Tuesday night.
Parents and teachers alike lined up in the auditorium at West Rocks Middle School to ask Malloy questions or call him out on his education reform plan, Senate Bill 24, which recently passed through the legislative Education Committee.
“I’m here to listen, be yelled at I’m sure, be complained about, I’m sure. But if there are ideas I’d love to hear them,” Malloy said. But “when I say what it’s about, it’s gotta be about the kids.”
Georgia Mendola, a third-grader at Side by Side Charter School, went to the meeting with her mother, Kim, who had an opportunity to speak to Malloy. Kim said that Georgia had asked to go so she “could talk about her school.” Kim did most of the talking, thanking Malloy for recognizing charter schools in his proposal.
But for many, education reform is not just about the students – it’s about the teachers.
“The reason I want to be a teacher is because I want to teach these students. It's all about teachers,” said substitute teacher Frank Ellison. He said teachers have been kept out of the discussions on the reform bill.
Malloy said parts of the bill recognize teachers who are exceptional and helps those who are not through a proposed evaluation format, which was called a “radical and untested” program by New Canaan teacher Kristine Goldhawk.
But Maryland and Delaware adopted a similar program last year, Malloy said, and the unions have already given the evaluations their stamp of approval.
“Is this bill good enough? The answer is no. Do we have enough time to make it better? The answer is yes,” Malloy said. “All in all, this is a package that is designed, to over a period of time, set us on a course that many other states have been on for multiple years.”