Gov. Dan Malloy Friday made it clear he won’t back off his efforts to close the education achievement gap and increase high school graduation rates. Going against the politically powerful teachers unions and their flunkies in the blogoshere, Malloy says he will not support legislation that would prohibit the creation of new public charter schools for two years. Malloy, in a very tough budget year, has including funding for two more public charter schools, one in Bridgeport and one in Stamford, the governor’s hometown.
Malloy has been aggressive in pursuing his education reform agenda and while he has also compromised on some issues, he is dead set against the current legislation. The bill had a public hearing Thursday.
Out front supporting the halt of new charter schools are the teachers unions which seem to be more interested in maintaining the status quo—and its perks—than in what’s best for the students.
Malloy says he’d oppose attempts to stop the creation of any type of public school if it’s needed. The two-year moratorium would supposedly allow time for a master plan to be developed. As one charter school proponent put it, parents can’t hit the pause button on their kids’ education.
Democrats have long been torn by the charter school issue. While the party supports virtually all efforts to lift people out of poverty, lawmakers also count on union support to stay in office. Sadly, many legislators choose union support over helping low-income and largely minority families get the same opportunities wealthy families get by sending their children to private schools. Malloy should be graduated for standing in support of the kids.
The entire charter school debate may be redefined by a lawsuit in Massachusetts that seeks to frame it as a civil rights issue. The commonwealth has a statutory cap on charter schools. The Massachusetts Constitution demands that every student be provided a quality education. The lawsuit contends the cap denies students in urban and low-income areas that right. Previous attempts to lift the cap have been thwarted by the state legislature.
“This is, frankly, an issue of civil rights, and this is an issue which the legislature, for one reason or another, has failed to act on,” Michael Keating told the Boston Globe. Keating is a highly respected Boston attorney and a past president of the Boston Bar Association. “It is not inappropriate, in those circumstances, to seek judicial relief,” he said.
Malloy is ahead of the curve on education reform.