As The Hanging Shad has highlighted before, the only policy area in which Gov. Dannel Malloy did not realize a near complete victory in his first term is education reform and although he wasn’t mentioned by name, Malloy seems to have an unlikely ally—former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Often mentioned as a 2016 presidential candidate should Republican Mitt Romney not succeed in November, Bush is the founder of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a reform group dedicated to fundamental and meaningful changes in the way our children learn. Bush spoke at the headquarters of GE in Fairfield and was hosted by the Connecticut Policy Institute. The former two-term governor highlighted gains made in Florida during the time he was governor when he pushed through significant reform and urged Connecticut parents, teachers and legislators to get on board.
Education reform was at the top of the Malloy agenda during the 2012 session of the General Assembly but ran into serious resistance primarily from the teachers’ unions. State legislators were hesitant to go against the powerful unions especially in an election year. Reform legislation was watered down in the committee process where heavy lobbying against change and for the status quo took place. Yet the current system is clearly not working. The achievement gap between low-income students and their wealthier peers is the largest in the nation. The gap between black and Hispanic students and white students is also one of the worst in the country.
Malloy, who might also be on the “national scene” in 2016, did succeed in some reform in the 2012 session such as a pilot program for a new method of evaluating teachers (Malloy wanted a complete, statewide overhaul) and a move to implement uniform state standards. Some 1,000 new pre-k spots are being created as well. State lawmakers can count on additional education reform measures coming up in the next session.