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Conn.'s Malloy Faces Tough Slog to Win Support on Ed. Plans

I wrote earlier about a small majority of Californians approving of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to increase taxes to fund education, but fellow Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy in Connecticut might just walk on his hands through Hartford on Interstate 84 to get Brown's poll numbers.

A new Quinnipiac University poll of Connecticut residents finds that only 38 percent approve of his handling of education, which has generated a sizable backlash in the state among teachers unions and fellow Democrats in the legislature. (Results are on page 10 of the poll results.) Malloy could take some comfort in the fact that only a plurality (43 percent), not a majority, of those polled disapprove of his education plans. His overall job approval rating (37 percent) happens to nearly match his approval numbers on education.

Quoted in the Associated Press, Malloy said such polls wouldn't affect his approach: "You have to be able to ignore polls."

In an interesting parallel to California, where a majority of those polled gave schools an A or B grade, a Quinnipiac poll conducted in March found that a majority of those surveyed, 60 percent, said schools in the state are fairly good, while 17 percent classified them as very good. (The poll was a telephone survey of 1,745 Connecticut voters.)

As I discussed in a previous piece on governor-driven education proposals this year, Malloy came out with a big wagon-load of education reform proposals this year. Among his more controversial proposals, one would tie a teacher's pay and ability to get tenure in part to student achievement, and another would expand charter schools in the state.

These proposals have garnered the support of advocates including Michelle Rhee, leader of StudentsFirst. But members of the Connecticut Education Association (a National Education Association affiliate) and the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut erupted in protest when Malloy's grand plan was fully revealed. Democratic state lawmakers have not backed up Malloy very strongly.

As reported April 24 in the Connecticut Mirror, which has covered the school scrum in the Constitution State in great detail, legislators have stripped out the governor's plan to link the new teacher evaluation system to pay and tenure from his own bill. One illustration of the gap between Malloy and fellow Democrats on education was the sight of the state senate president pro tem addressing a rally against parts of Malloy's plan that was organized by the teachers union.

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