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Hartford - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy committed an additional $15 million in spending to continue launching Common Core in Connecticut's public schools on Thursday, saying the money is part of an effort to bring together teachers, parents and administrators to implement the new education standards.
The funding, which includes $10 million in borrowing for new school technology, stems from recommendations made by a task force that recently finished reviewing the state's rollout of the new set of college- and career-ready standards for students in grades K-12. Malloy created the panel in March after he said teachers and education professionals raised "legitimate concerns" about preparations for incorporating the new standards.
"Figuring out the best way to move forward is what the challenge has been, and we will endeavor to do that in our state," Malloy said.
Malloy said the task force recommendations released Thursday will allow the state to take "quick and deliberate action" to improve support for teachers and ensure Connecticut students succeed with the new standards. The task force included members of the state's two major teachers unions, which both called the recommendations a good first step.
While some of the state's public school districts have begun using the standards, other schools have lagged behind.
The issue has become a political one for Malloy, who is facing re-election in November. He has faced criticism from both his potential Republican opponents for his handling of education reform, as well as from a liberal critic, petitioning gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Pelto, who called on Malloy to withdraw from Common Core.
Republican candidates Tom Foley and John McKinney have said they've fielded complaints about the implementation of Common Core, teacher evaluations and other proposals from teachers. The teachers contend the initiatives have hampered their efforts to educate and were pursued with little input from those who work every day in the classrooms.
"These standards were decided by executives who do not represent Connecticut families or teachers," Mc Kinney said. "The standards were not debated before the legislature. They were forced on the people of Connecticut by this administration without any analysis that they will actually help our state's schoolchildren."
At Thursday's news conference, held at a Hartford magnet school, Malloy tried to make it clear that teachers, parents and administrators will continue to play a major role in the implementation of Common Core.
"This is not an endpoint. This is just one more spot in the continuum of discussion, ongoing dialogue, to make sure that we're getting it right and bringing everyone along as we do it," he said.
Besides the $10 million for the new school technology needed for student testing and other purposes, the governor announced $2 million to fund at least 1,000 professional training days for teachers; $1 million for mini-grants for teachers and parents to bring Common Core-related resources into the classrooms; and $2 million to help students with special needs and a lack of English language skills.
Melodie Peters, president of the Connecticut branch of the American Federation of Teachers, said her union has been actively informing members about what's happening with the Common Core standards and their implementation.
While acknowledging some teachers still have issues with Malloy, she contends that Common Core is not a major political issue for her members.
"There are a handful that are not supporting anything the governor does," she said. "But it's so minor compared to our numbers."