State Senator Toni Boucher released the following statement today re: Changes made to the Governor’s Education Reform Bill, SB 24 by the leadership of the Education Committee.

March 27, 2012

“Has the Governor’s education reform Bill (SB 24) been hijacked by the unions over the weekend?

Many in the political arena say they run for office to make a difference. What I have learned over the years is that the too often cited noble goal of “Making a Difference” is extremely elusive. Very few endeavors even come close to making a true difference in this world. There are only two places where we have a real fighting chance to make a lasting, life-altering difference- in the home and in the classroom.

And if the home fails a child, there is only one place left, the classroom.

Today’s meeting on what the Governor’s stated was to have been ground braking and bold education reform. Instead, is a water downed, weakened document that has been stripped of almost all of the Governor’s proposals.

To say that many of us are extremely disappointed would be an understatement. The bipartisan process that was to reflect the good work that was done on the jobs bill was absent as many of us were left out of the room and the process.

The education committee needs to approach reform very seriously. There is an imperative that is a decade too late with too many young lives negatively impacted, some lost forever. I have been in the educational trenches since 1987 and have seen fits and starts, dragging of feet and outright hostility by those that oppose change no matter the governors, commissioners, superintendents or principals. It is time to move education forward as we are dropping further and further behind. We as a state have fallen from number 1 in education to 16 and falling. Our graduation rates have dropped in just the last year. Our neighboring states have closed their achievement gap and ours has widened to the largest in the country.

We will be failing our children if we do not move our school systems forward. (And they are all our children on this committee).

The bill substantially lowers support for charter schools that the mayors of Bridgeport, Waterbury and Hartford strongly support. These charters are finding much more fertile ground in our neighboring states where they are now choosing to expand as they are more welcomed. The bill removes any efforts by the commissioner to revamp our 10 worst performing schools, and dilutes or eliminates language that addresses evaluations, tenure, certification and the dismissal process. In some cases the language just says “study” to be presented to the education committee in the future.

Bottom line, with a Gubernatorial veto looming. This is now an education reform bill that seems to be on life support.

I am yet hopeful that we can resuscitate the educational system in our state, that we will regroup, bring everyone back to the table and make the changes necessary to elevate education and the most important profession in our society.”

Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) is ranking member on both Education and Higher Education Committees.