Education scandals could hurt reform efforts, advocates say

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The leader of Connecticut's largest teachers' union sees the recent education scandals in Hartford and New London as evidence that nontraditional school-reform efforts are unraveling and could collapse under their own weight. He took issue with both charter school reform efforts and the state's approach of sending in special masters to troubled districts such as New London and "offering their solution" with a "certain degree of abrogating the rights and responsibilities of local boards of educations."

Even reform advocates who disagree, or see that as an overstatement, say they expect the scandals to slow the expansion of charter schools in the state and to produce a higher level of scrutiny for all efforts related to education reform, including the vetting of employees. Legislators say they expect to see proposals in the next session to strengthen oversight of charter schools.

"I think these two incidents as well as others are going to start raising the issues which we've raised all along," said Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, which represents more than 43,000 teachers and has been critical of aggressive educational reform efforts. "To assume that a third-party, private outside provider is going to come into the educational field and all of a sudden turn it around or reform it — it's a little naïve at best."

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