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Teachers Union Leader Says Malloy's Collective-Bargaining Proposal Could Jeopardize No Child Waiver

Malloy's Senior Aide Says 'Not True'


April 30, 2012

A top official of the Connecticut Education Association said Monday that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposal to limit the use of collective bargaining in a network of low-performing schools could jeopardize the state's application for a waiver of the federal No Child Left Behind act.

Mary Loftus Levine, executive director of the association, said in a statement that the U.S. Department of Education requires compliance with collective bargaining laws in its guidelines for states seeking waivers from the No Child Left Behind act.

Levine said the governor's proposal would jeopardize the state's waiver application "by running roughshod over teachers' collective bargaining rights."

Roy Occhiogrosso, senior adviser for Malloy, said in an e-mail that the governor proposed "finding a way to expedite the collective bargaining process in a limited number of failing schools. It's based on what's already been done in a couple of places in Connecticut, and in other states."

"As everyone tries to come to an agreement that represents real reform," Occhiogrosso said, "Mary's rhetoric is not helpful. In this case, it's also not true."

On Friday, The Courant obtained an April 17 letter from U.S. Acting Assistant Education Secretary Michael Yudin that made it clear that the state's ability to turn around low-performing schools and link teacher evaluations to personnel decisions are key concerns as the federal agency weighs the state's application for a waiver.

State education officials have said that a key element in turning around schools is the flexibility to change the length of the day or the school year or make other changes. To help expedite changes like these, Malloy proposed in his original bill a more limited use of collective bargaining for teachers who want to teach in a commissioner's network of up to 25 low-performing schools.

Levine said Monday that teachers in this situation would have "no collective bargaining rights" compared with what they have now, while state officials have said that's not the case.

Malloy's bill has since been revised by legislators, who restored union powers in the proposed network. The Malloy administration and legislators are now negotiating to reach agreement on an education reform bill before the end of the session May 9.

The state applied for a waiver from the 2002 No Child Left Behind law in February and is one of 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, to submit an application. The law was intended to improve academic achievement in elementary and secondary schools.

Jim Polites, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said the governor is seeking a more moderate approach than other states that have "taken steps to eliminate or overturn collectively bargained agreements."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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