Malloy Seeking Minority Support To Pass His Education Bill
Asks Black And Hispanic Legislators To Speak 'In A Single Voice'
By KATHLEEN MEGAN
April 24, 2012
HARTFORD — Gov.Dannel P. Malloyhas faced many harsh critics of his education package at about a dozen "town hall" style meetings around the state, but Monday night at Faith Congregational Church people were asking him how they could help.
Malloy told them that his plan calls for efforts to turn around the 30 lowest-performing school districts. If the 81 state representatives and 27 or 28 senators from those districts voted for his original bill, Malloy said, it would pass.
He added, if all of the black and Hispanic representatives who serve in the Black and Hispanic Caucus "would in a single voice talk about passing a bill that had real change in it, then people would have to listen."
Sherry Frazier, a community coordinator for the NAACP, said that she and others would have to start making phone calls.
The Rev. Stephen W. Camp, the senior pastor at Faith Congregational, the oldest black church in Hartford, said: "Yes, race is a factor in the education of our children. It is time to admit it, deal with it … My city children deserve the same outcomes as the child from every suburban town, and it should be the priority of this state."
Malloy has been on the road talking about problems in Connecticut's education system and trying to whip up support for the original education reform bill that he announced on Feb. 8. The General Assembly's education committee revised the bill, stripping out many of its provisions and producing a substitute bill on Feb. 26 that Malloy said Monday is "substantially watered-down." He said again Monday night that he would not sign it as it has been revised.
In recent days, legislators and Malloy administration members have been meeting behind closed doors to attempt to come up with a bill that all can agree on.
After Malloy departed, Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, who has been involved in negotiations on the education bill, said the parties are getting close to an agreement. He said he expects an agreement will be announced on Wednesday or Thursday.
Malloy said that his original bill was about "funding and replicating" educational models that work. He said his bill also would identify the 30 lowest-performing districts and the 25 lowest-performing schools and work to turn those schools around, with an additional investment of $1 million to $2 million in those schools.
"By the way," he said, after describing those elements in his original bill, "just about everything I said" has been "gutted."
One speaker, Jay Lewis of Windsor, asked Malloy to address the "socio-economic" issues that are the "hidden problem" for many children who are not successful in school. These are children, he said, who don't have a parent waiting for them when they get off the bus and don't have anyone to help supervise their homework.
Malloy said that if homework isn't getting done, the school day should be extended to ensure that kids do get their homework done.
"We know what works," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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