This afternoon the General Assembly’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus held a press conference outlining members’ suggestions for education reform.
Although the group did not portray their proposals as taking a side in the ongoing debate at the Capitol, observers argued the caucus is closer to Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s bill than what critics have called the watered-down legislative version.
“They definitely support the Governor’s reforms more than what came out of the Education Committee,” said Rae Ann Knopf, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform.
Not present for the event were two of the caucus’ and legislature’s more influential members – Sen. Toni Harp and Rep. Toni Walker, lawmakers from New Haven and the chairs of the Appropriations Committee.
Walker was minutes later seen having some tense discussions with members.
Asked why she and Harp were not part of the presentation, Walker said, “We were not informed.”
She said the pair have been focused on budget matters.
“I may be in support (of the caucus positions). I may not,” Walker said.
Then she expressed her frustration with the push to enact education reform before the 2012 legislative session ends Wednesday.
“This whole process has been way too fast,” she said. “This rush … is set up so we don’t know what the end result will be.”
Walker said that is not good for students and she will not be a part of it.
The Appropriations Committee reduced the budget for Malloy’s reforms in March. But Walker and Harp subsequently argued their budget plan “embraced the pillars” of the Governor’s vision.
Rick Green, a columnist for the Hartford Courant, also attended the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus event and saw a way out of the education reform deadlock.