Students, communities, and the state’s economy are beneficiaries of reform done right

CEA sounded a note of great optimism tonight as the State House of Representatives unanimously approved the sweeping education reform bill that sailed through the State Senate early this morning.

CEA President Phil Apruzzese said, “The governor and top legislative leaders have recognized that teaching and learning is complex, and that teachers’ view from the classroom is essential to enacting education reform that will benefit students and our communities. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to a long list of legislators, especially Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, House Speaker Chris Donovan, and Education Committee Co-Chair Sen. Andrea Stillman, for their leadership and tireless efforts in legislative negotiations.”

Early this morning, Sen. Stillman was at the helm fielding questions from her Senate colleagues, and tonight Education Committee Co-Chair Rep. Andrew Fleischmann did the same with his House colleagues.

Apruzzese continued, “Over the past few months, there have been ups and downs on the road to education reform. At its lowest point, the debate demonized teachers. Fortunately, with leadership in the Education Committee and in the House and Senate, the state turned a corner and put on the emphasis where it belongs: more pre-K, early literacy, health and social supports for disadvantaged students, respect for teachers bargaining rights, improved and fair teacher evaluation and dismissal, and access to innovative programs with proven track records.”

According to CEA, students, teachers, families, and communities today have every reason to be upbeat: Connecticut public education can reclaim its position as a national leader with this new reform package as the foundation.

CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine said, “Innovation cannot happen without collaboration. We want to take an opportunity to focus the spotlight on the thousands of teachers who studied legislative proposals and reacted by contacting their legislators-effectively articulating their concerns for their students. The time and energy teachers put into these activities showed their dedication to their students, parents, and communities as well as their commitment to getting reform done right. The legislation that state representatives are voting on soon recognizes teachers as professionals and elevates their voice in school improvement decision making.”

Loftus Levine continued, “Fundamentally, the legislation is about transparency that will promote trust and shared accountability that will enable everyone to work together for the benefit of our students. The bill carves out a role for colleges, RESCs, and other non-profits that will enable our state to build capacity for systemic change working with teachers, parents and communities.”

Teachers are willing to do their part as they step up and accept even greater responsibility for school improvement. “The ideas embodied in this new legislation are grounded in research. We are proud that our state is moving ahead with proven ideas that work,” added Loftus Levine.

It’s widely agreed that Connecticut cannot build a strong economy unless we have high-quality education. Apruzzese remarked, “Clearly, this legislation is a giant step forward with far-reaching proposals. We look forward to engaging in positive, collaborative action with parents, administrators, local community leaders, and everyone who’s interested in improving the quality of our public schools and preparing our students for tomorrow’s challenges.”

The Connecticut Education Association represents 43,000 teachers in Connecticut.


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