1,000 Conn. teachers turn out for Capitol rally
HARTFORD, Conn.—Members of Connecticut's two major teachers' unions called on state lawmakers to listen to those in the classroom as they finish crafting a bill that overhauls the state's public school system.
An estimated 1,000 teachers, members of the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, turned out for a rally on the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday evening. Many carried signs touting ideas they have for boosting student performance, such as more early childhood opportunities and smaller class sizes.
Some teachers said they worry about what's being considered in closed-door negotiations. Many favor the Education Committee's version of the bill first proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, including some of the legislators who appeared at the rally. That bill does not link a teacher's certification and tenure to their evaluations.
David Olio, an English teacher at South Windsor High School, said including such a link in the bill is "a non-starter" for teachers.
"The whole thing should be about how teachers improve," he said. "It doesn't make sense to have professionals improve by being told you're going lose something if you don't do something. You don't do that in the medical profession, you don't do that in any other kind of profession."
Malloy has said he won't sign the version of the bill that was passed by the committee.
A contingent of legislative leaders, including House Speaker Chris Donovan and Senate President Donald Williams Jr., assured the teachers Tuesday that they do take seriously their input for improving the education system and will take their ideas into account as the negotiations continue.
"I think it's so critical that we hear from those in the trenches," Williams said.