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Hartford - In a letter to state lawmakers Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the state "can't wait" another year to enact the big changes that a legislative committee recently excised from his education reform proposal.
"If we wait, we are consigning too many of our children to another year in which they will continue to fall behind their peers," Malloy wrote. "The further behind they fall, the less likely they are to ever catch up. And if they don't catch up, well, we all know their chances of building a good life for themselves are slim."
The letter is Malloy's first formal response to the Education Committee's scaling back of his reform plans in Senate Bill 24.
Committee members voted 28-5 Monday to move forward a different version of the bill, jettisoning a proposed overhaul of the teacher tenure system in public schools that called for linking tenure, certification and salary guidelines to a new teacher evaluation system. The committee's bill instead orders a study of the overhaul idea to be finished by next year.
The bill also reduced the size and scope of Malloy's proposed Commissioner's Network program for turning around the lowest performing schools.
The content of the bill is expected to change again this spring as it moves through other committees on its way to the floor of the House and Senate. In his letter, Malloy called on lawmakers to make hard decisions rather than put them off.
"I see kids almost every day who I know we're failing because we're sending them into broken parts of our school system," Malloy wrote. "I am aware that change is hard, and I am aware that we all have relationships and alliances that make change even more difficult. But when it comes to education reform, it's time to put the needs of our children ahead of those relationships and alliances."
Leaving the Capitol Wednesday night, Education Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, said he doesn't view the letter as any sort of veiled threat from the governor that legislators had better get on board with his agenda and put his reform ideas back in the education bill.
"It's been evident since he first took office that Governor Dannel Malloy is a very high-energy, go-get-'em individual," Fleischmann said. "He fights for what he believes in and he wants to see things happen yesterday."
Fleischmann said he believes the chances are good that the General Assembly will pass a strong education bill this year.