Donovan dances around ed reform questions

I joined CT News Junkie‘s Christine Stuart in approaching state House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden this morning at the capitol for his reaction to a legislative committee’s decision to gut Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s controversial education reform bill.

The proposal – particularly changes to tenure (job security) – has been opposed by the very teachers’ unions that have endorsed Donovan’s bid for Congress. So as a key player in Hartford he’s in a sticky spot.

Here’s what Donovan had to say. To use a school analogy, he was dancing around faster than an elementary student who downed too many juice boxes at snack and desperately wants permission to go to the bathroom.

Q: What do you think of the education committee’s vote and the changes to the governor’s reform package?

A: Everybody wants the best education for our kids. It’s a process. The committee studied it, they had hearings, they put forward a proposal. I know there’s still going to be more discussion going on. So I think we’re moving forward on education reform.

Q: Are you generally supportive of the language of the bill? Is there anything you’d like to see changed?

A: Right now the committee put out its report, put out its bill. We’re going to take a look at that. It’s going to work its way and other caucus members will have a say in what needs to be done. I know there’s going to be further discussions with the governor’s office. So let’s keep the process going and keep pushing for education.

Q: Are changes to collective bargaining a deal breaker for you?

A: Right now we have a bill, we’re still talking about it.

Q: Do you think it’s wise to hold off on the tenure changes and to study them?

A: What I want – I want an agreement with the governor, the General Assembly, teachers, kids, school systems. That’s what we want.

Q: But you’re not going to get that.

A: Hey, that’s what I work for. That’s what I work for every day – to try to get that to happen. And that’s the best solution. Education is so important and so personal to many people that’s the best way to do it – if everybody comes to the table and there’s agreement.

Q: But just on that tenure issue and the committee’s decision regarding delaying the tenure changes…

A: All the various groups are talking about possible changes in tenure. Those discussions will take place. They’re taking place now.

Q: But do you think they should be put off until the next session?

A: I think there’s going to be – right now that bill, there is currently discussions going on about tenure. I can’t comment yet what’s going to happen at the end but those discussions are happening now.

Q: Have you heard Governor Malloy express his disappointment in the bill that came out of committee yesterday?

A: I have not.

Q: You didn’t get a phonecall?

A: I didn’t. Okay? Because people are still talking. Agreement, that’s what we want. Agreement.

Brian Lockhart