This is the fourth in a series of blog posting regarding the plans of the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor, Tom Foley and Dan Malloy. All of the information provided in the posting is from the candidate’s web sites, http://www.danmalloy.com/policy and http://www.tomfoley2010.com clicking on the “Issues” and “Tom’s Plan” selections. The opinions are my own and not cleared with either candidate’s staff. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a supporter of Dan Malloy and worked as a volunteer on his 2006 campaign as well as the current 2010 campaign.
I will begin with some general observations about the plans that the candidates have posted on their web sites. If less is more, then Foley wins hands down. His plan turns out to be seven pages in my word document. The Malloy plan is a whopping forty eight pages with great detail. I guess that is fitting since most Republicans believe less government is better, obviously a short plan will lead to less government. From the Democratic perspective, government is good and Malloy shows just how he plans to shape and change much of the state government in great detail.
Of course, there is no guarantee that either of the candidate’s will do what they lay out on their web site when actually in office, but like a stock prospectus, it is an indication of the plan and direction each candidate will pursue once in office.
I am leaving out much of the explanatory text in the plans and just noting the planned action items. Both plans are written in the first person, so I will keep that same format as I quote or paraphrase from each plan. The reader will have to remember that the occasional “I” is either “Governor” Foley or “Governor” Malloy.
This comparison continues with the prospective governors’ take on education. Since I started with “Governor” Foley in the last post, I will start with “Governor” Malloy in this post. I will continue this alternate presenting throughout this series of postings.
“Governor” Dan Malloy
Flat out, I refuse to accept the false choice that you're either "pro-reform," or "pro-teacher." I'm both, and not only do I not think that's contradictory, I think it's in perfect harmony.
What can we do to help make sure our children have the best possible teachers? First, let's give teachers the resources they need in the classroom. Second, the overly burdensome requirements of the traditional routes to the profession create roadblocks that turn away too many talented, capable people who desperately want to teach. Let's change that to ensure that successful alternate certification programs can genuinely thrive and place highly competent new teachers and principals in schools that need them most. Third, let's be smart about how we evaluate teachers
The most important thing we can do to harness the influence of parents in our schools is to enhance parenting. In order to accomplish this, I want to propose employee release time for school-time activities (volunteering, parent conferences, etc.), and establish a parental involvement challenge grant to promote innovation and adoption of effective parental involvement strategies. And I'd like to find a way to work with local school boards to adopt policies that ensure parents can access homework assignments and their children's attendance and available grades in real time, online. Many districts are doing this already, and I think all should.
I'd like to examine the feasibility of transitioning toward a new, smarter system of funding for all of our public schools where money follows children based on their needs. I'd also look to refocus state school funding by indexing foundation aid to rising costs, adding measures of essential classroom resource equalization, and weighting more for pre-school and elementary grades where the greatest educational gains can be made.
As Governor, my guiding principle will be for our schools to maximize opportunities for students, while not losing the flexibility they need to help each student reach his or her potential.
I'm a supporter of charter public schools, because they serve a different, very important function: they provide families with options within the public school system. We should seek to expand charter schools that are fully funded by the districts in which they're located.
As Governor, restoring education funding will be among my highest priorities and the lynchpin to reforming the property tax system that has become so unfair and unwieldy to homeowners across the state. It is also critical to continually improving our schools and the essential work taking place in our classrooms.
I believe "life-long learning" strategies are essential to the future prosperity and economic security of all Connecticut students. As Governor, my initiatives to enhance education across the state will be guided by these goals:
1. Focusing on Early Childhood Education
Pre-schools are becoming a necessary extension of our traditional elementary schools. Studies have long shown that children who receive pre-kindergarten education are more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to repeat a grade or need special education classes, and less likely to be disruptive in the classroom and hinder teaching. The investment we make in pre-K education pay us back dramatically. Cost savings from reduced education expenditures later in life, fewer social service costs, and higher economic earning capacity are significant.
2. Innovations in Teaching and Learning
I believe that we should do all we can to promote innovation and to rethink the ways our schools work. I believe that we can accomplish much by ensuring collaboration among parents, teachers, administrators, and community leaders. We must also promote innovation in a way that doesn't diminish the good things that are already happening in schools across the state. We must not sacrifice the art of teaching, an art that made a big difference in my life, for the next generation of children.
3. Connecting Students to College and the Workplace
With the expansion of the global economy, our world has changed. We must change the way we prepare young adults for the world if they are to be able to thrive in it. Connecticut can enhance educational opportunities by strengthening connections between high schools and colleges. And we can complete the connection by broadening opportunities for high school students to gain valuable work experience as well. As Governor, I will work to build better connections between high schools and colleges to ensure more opportunities for students to transition into higher education.
4. A Smarter Higher Education Agenda
If we want to succeed economically, we must make increasing our state's postsecondary educational attainment level the foundation of Connecticut's economic development strategy. And we need a Governor who will aggressively lead our state's schools and colleges in facing this challenge. Here is what we must do:
Higher education institutions must fight their dropout challenge with the same commitment that we expect from our high schools in reducing the high school dropout rate. Students must recognize that education is challenging and requires a lot of work outside the classroom, but it offers great rewards to those who succeed. Families must support their children's college-going plans starting in middle school and assure that their children succeed in the courses that get a high school graduate ready for college on day one. Employers also have an important role in encouraging their employees to join the increasing ranks of adults returning to higher education later in life.
Build regional partnerships to increase student success
I am proposing a voluntary testing program which high school students could choose to participate in during their junior year, which would ascertain how prepared they are for basic college level math and English. Where needed, the student's 12th grade curriculum would be adjusted to help them better prepare for their freshman year of college.
I will annually convene the education, community and business leaders in each region of the state to report on our progress and develop local plans for increasing the number of graduates. We need our high schools and local colleges to actively partner for student success in the same way that high performing school districts expect elementary, middle and high schools to actively work together to prepare students for the next level.
Increase the commitment in our teacher education programs to meeting the needs of our local pre-K through 12 schools
Maintain our commitment to financial aid
Focus higher education spending on students and learning
Build a world class research and development sector
Enhancing Workforce Development and Job Training
Malloy Plan summarized
Early Childhood Education
Expand access to pre-Kindergarten programs across Connecticut, the goal being to make it universal within 4 years
Primary and Secondary Education
Innovate in learning
Encourage local school districts to restore a broader and deeper curriculum for all students that include hands-on science, history, civics, foreign languages and arts
Allow districts to self-fund new charter schools
End the "seat time" later years of high school by allowing successful seniors to graduate early for higher education
Better fund adult education for those unlikely ever to graduate
Create a community college "grade 13" option for those not quite prepared for college level education.
Promote high-quality, standard-based assessments
Innovate in teaching
Expand access to alternative teaching programs
Enhance teacher evaluation systems
Champion employee release time for school-time activities (volunteering, parent conferences, etc.)
Establish a parental involvement challenge grant to promote innovation and adoption of effective parental involvement strategies.
Require local school boards to adopt policies that ensure parents can access homework assignments and their children's attendance and available grades in real time. Many districts are doing this already, all should.
Examine feasibility of transitioning toward a new, smarter system of funding for all of our public schools where money follows children based on their needs
Refocus state school funding by indexing foundation aid to rising costs, adding measures of essential classroom resource equalization, and weighting more for pre-school and elementary grades where the greatest educational gains can be made
Limit school district administrative expenditures and instead offering incentives to retain and recruit classroom teachers in the face of cutbacks and a growing teacher shortage
Move some of the existing community colleges to four year degree granting programs Build regional partnerships to increase student success Allow optional testing in high school to gauge college preparedness levels in math and English, and tailor senior year curriculum accordingly Maintain our commitment to financial aid Focus higher education spending on students and learning, not administration Build a world class research and development sector
Workforce Development & Job training
Provide more opportunities for high school students to participate in apprenticeship training, earn community-college credit, or gain real workplace experience Increase the commitment in our teacher education programs to meeting the needs of our local K-12 schools Create a more responsive and integrated rapid reemployment and job training infrastructure that focuses on emergency services for displaced workers Enhance economic security by expanding customized and incumbent-worker job training to help workers enhance their skills and better protect against more jobs being lured from our state
“Governor” Tom Foley
Connecticut has some of the best schools in the country, but we also have the country’s largest achievement gap. We have an obligation to provide an excellent education to all of our young people. We can and must do better. Our economy and the future of our state depend on it.
The lessons learned in our best charter schools can be used to improve regular public schools that are not performing well. Among other things, we must end social promotion and should introduce performance pay for teachers. Parents and children who are not served by well-performing regular public schools must have other choices. Connecticut should strive to be a leader in the ‘Race to the Top.’
The reader is able to see that Malloy has a definite dedication to Education based on his experience as a learning disabled child making his way through the educational system with support from family, teachers, and the community. This experience has given him a grounding and an emotional commitment to education. Malloy’s plan seems fully developed and shaped by his personal experience while the Foley plan is standard “boilerplate.” As noted in the Health Care review, the reader will have to decide if Malloy’s Education plan is unaffordable or if it is unaffordable for Connecticut not to carry out some or all of his proposals.