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Malloy Tells Lawmakers: 'We Can't Wait' on School Reform

HARTFORD, Conn. – Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy is firing back at state lawmakers – many in his own party – who are trying to weaken his sweeping education reform bill.

At least one Fairfield County legislator, state Rep. Gail Lavielle, a Republican who represents Wilton and Norwalk, strongly supports Malloy’s message.

“We can't wait to take on reforms that some of our neighbors implemented nearly 10 years ago, reforms that have led their graduation rates to improve while ours continue to decline," Malloy said in a Wednesday letter to the state’s General Assembly.

"We can't wait to implement an evaluation system that will make sure the good teachers in our system have peers that are their equal," Malloy said.

Politics must be put aside, he said. “We all have relationships and alliances that make change even more difficult,” he said. “But when it comes to education reform, it's time to put the needs of our children ahead of those relationships and alliances."

On Tuesday, the governor indicated he would not sign the revised version of his education reform bill approved late Monday by the legislature’s Education Committee in a 28-5 vote.

The revised bill would delay for at least a year reforms to teacher tenure, requiring only that the state education commissioner report back in January on how a new evaluation system is working and on how it “might” be connected to tenure. It also reduces the governor’s proposal for a commissioner's network to turn around 25 of the state's lowest-performing schools to just 10.

Malloy has indicated he will work to restore key parts of his original bill before the General Assembly’s May 9 deadline.

Lavielle was one of five legislators on the Education Committee who voted against the revised bill, saying it “eviscerates” Malloy’s proposal.

State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, whose district also includes Westport, Weston and New Canaan, also voted against what she called a “watered-down bill that would not accomplish education reform.”

Lavielle said Wednesday she was “encouraged that the governor is fighting for his original proposal.

“My constituents, particularly in Norwalk, are getting very impatient,” said Lavielle. “Things are getting worse and nothing is changing in their schools.

“I’m glad he (Malloy) has done something, but I would like to see him be even more specific about what he feels strongly needs to be restored to the bill,” said Lavielle. “I agree with him that we can’t wait. … But the truth is, we are running out of time.”

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