Legislators Hear Concerns From Canton Teachers, Administrators [Hartford Courant]

February 8, 2014

By Ken Byron | February 06, 2014 | Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

CANTON — The two legislators from Canton toured town schools recently, where they heard concerns about a new system for evaluating teachers, according to an announcement from their spokesperson.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos and state Rep. Tim LeGeyt toured town schools on Jan. 28 and were joined by Susanne Russell, a special education teacher in the district and president of the Education Association of Canton. That tour came on the same day that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called for slowing down the implementation of the new teacher evaluation system.

“Since the beginning of the school year, we have heard from teachers and administrators voicing their concerns that too much change is hitting their classrooms at once,” Malloy wrote in a letter to an advisory council of educators that was quoted in a published account of his decision. “This confluence of changes jeopardizes the success of our teachers, and thus our students.”

“We’ve heard their concerns loud and clear, and understand,” Malloy wrote in the letter to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council. “Too much change all at once impedes teachers’ ability to be effective in their classrooms.”

In an account of their visit to the town schools, LeGeyt and Witkos said they too heard concerns about the teacher evalaution system.

“I was made aware of obstacles our teachers face and the needs of our local schools, especially when it comes to evaluations and teacher assessments,” Witkos said in a statement.
LeGeyt, a retired teacher who taught in the town schools for 30 years, said educators were working hard to implement the new system, despite misgivings.

“I am hearing across the board the frustration on the part of teachers and administrators that there simply isn’t enough time to complete the evaluation process,” LeGeyt said in a statement.

Russell said she was glad that the two legislators spent a day in the town schools learning first-hand about the challenges that the teacher evaluations present.

“Our state has made too many changes all at once,” Russell said in a statement. “Canton administrators and teachers have been working diligently on these daunting initiatives. The state needs to slow down on these initiatives and ‘get it right’ for the sake of our children.”

LeGeyt, a Republican, represents the 17th House District, which covers Canton and part of Avon. Witkos represents the 8th Senate District, which includes Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington.