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Malloy Aims to Reform Connecticut Education

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Saying Connecticut has "lost our edge" in education, Gov. Dannel Malloy told the state Legislature and education groups Tuesday that the state's economy depends on passing wide-ranging education reform in 2012.

Though Connecticut's best school districts and students remain among the nation's top performers, the state's minority and low-income students are falling further behind, Malloy wrote in a letter to lawmakers and education groups Tuesday.

“Our state’s positioning has weakened to the point that we are not competitive in national grant competitions like the recent Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge,” Malloy wrote.

“Worse, the recent release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress results demonstrated that in most cases, Connecticut’s poor and minority students are less prepared for success than their peers in the vast majority of other states — and that our state has the largest achievement gap in the nation.”

Judging teachers and principals by performance rather than tenure, providing more intensive assistance to low-performing schools, giving the state's top districts more freedom to innovate and expanding access to high-quality early-childhood education are among Malloy's proposals for reform.

"One of the most frustrating things I heard repeatedly from employers on my jobs tour was some version of 'I have job openings at my company but I can't find enough qualified people to fill them,'" Malloy wrote. "We cannot prosper if we do not produce a workforce equal to the task of keeping Connecticut's companies competitive."

The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now — a statewide group that annually ranks school district performance — commended Malloy's plan on its website Tuesday . The organization, better known as ConnCAN, called it "an audacious set of priorities."

“We are particularly excited about the governor’s emphasis on excellent teachers and principals, fair funding for the students and districts that are most in need, expanding high-quality school options and transforming the lowest-performing schools and districts," ConnCAN CEO Patrick Riccards wrote.

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