Connecticut lawmakers will be asked next year to allow more state intervention in troubled school districts, more autonomy for high-achieving schools, changes in teacher evaluation methods to emphasize skill over seniority, more early childhood education services and other possible reforms.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy listed those topics and others as his highest priorities for the 2012 General Assembly session in a letter he sent Tuesday to legislative leaders.
He also sent copies to 44 education groups, state agencies and other organizations for whom Connecticut's education system is the central focus of their work or a major portion -- a move that some saw Tuesday as a clarion call to start preparing now for changes being proposed in the session when it starts in February.
Malloy and legislators have said the 2012 session will focus heavily on education reform, and new Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor has been meeting with school leaders, parents and others statewide for their input in recent weeks.
Malloy's priorities in his Tuesday letter echoed several themes that Pryor has mentioned in those visits: the desire to reduce red tape for high-performing districts, the need to get resources to struggling districts, state support to help them improve and the overriding concern: closing the achievement gap between rich and poor students, and between white and minority students.
Pryor said Tuesday that his visits and conversations with professional groups, school leaders and others have been "enormously constructive," and that the reforms may manifest themselves in legislation, state Board of Education policies and changes in how his department operates.
"In all of these cases there's interest in these subjects, and in each of these conversations there seem to be the potential for real proposals to evolve," Pryor said.