On the gymnasium risers at Macdonough Elementary School stood the future governor of Connecticut, but there was not a Board of Education member, or a member of the school board administrative staff in sight.
ConnCan also failed to invite, or introduce Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, who attended anyway, and made sure that organizers understood his feelings about being left off the guest list. On the list were many state-level Democratic politicians (Tom Gaffey, Joe Serra, Jim O'Rourke, Matt Lesser and Paul Doyle) and Meriden Mayor Michael Rohde. Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission Quentin Phipps and member Richard Pelletier along with alternate board member Michael Johnson attended along with numerous teachers, union representatives, parents and other interested parties. Members of the Common Council were also absent due to a workshop on parking held at city hall.
Malloy repeated referred to his "seventeen page plan" for education in the state from pre-K to higher ed as "the only plan" on paper issued by any candidate. He championed recently-legislated parent governance council which allow parents at failing schools to reconstitute education there. He also demanded that more money be put into classrooms than into administration.
In terms of higher education, Malloy said that higher education needs to be more in reach for all families.
"I think people who are against teacher performance evaluations are against progress," Foley said.
Foley champions what he calls the "market forces" of choice including the support and creation of magent and charter schools, the identification and promotion of excellent teachers, the need for money to "follow the student" and not lag behind with test results, strict teacher evaluation and reform-minded people on the state Board of Education. Foley also called for a universal high school graduation test.
"This is a war, and we can't afford to lose it," Foley said.
Surprisingly, no candidate talked about the inequities of municipal property taxes as a method for funding schools across the state, or how that impacts the achievement gap between wealthy suburban districts and strapped city schools. Nor did candidates acknowledge that the success of many schools of choice (magnet and charter schools), is determined by their ability to be selective about students admitted, to reject and eject students who are problems, to ignore standardized testing and to work outside of negotiated contracts with teachers. Though each candidate did concur that not enough magnet or charter schools could be created in the state, early enough, to solve the crisis they observed in education.