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Education Reform Vote Looms in Legislature

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – The General Assembly’s Education Committee that includes key Fairfield County legislators may vote as early as Monday on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s sweeping education reform bill.

The majority Democratic committee, which must vote on the proposed bill by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline, includes two Fairfield County Republicans -- State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), whose district also includes Westport, Weston and New Canaan, and State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton), whose district includes part of Norwalk.

“This is the most important education bill the legislature has ever voted on in Connecticut,” Lavielle said. “So we have to get it right.”

While it is not clear when the committee will vote, the panel has scheduled meetings for Monday and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Republicans, including the Republican minority leaders of the House and Senate, State Rep. Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk), and State Sen. John McKinney, (R-Fairfield), have complained that the GOP is being “kept out” of the education committee’s last-minute negotiations with teachers and state education officials.

Democratic leaders could not be reached for comment.

Teacher union leaders and officials from the state department of education are negotiating with lawmakers on controversial parts of the bill, such as a proposed overhaul of teacher tenure and more stringent evaluations that would hold teachers accountable for student achievement.

Meanwhile, the website for the Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, is urging supporters to keep sending emails and letters to legislators asking for key changes to the bill.

“Your continued activism will ensure that legislators are hearing teachers' concerns and will make changes to the bill that so many are calling for — and that we know will improve education in Connecticut," the website says.

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