In a debate last week between incumbent Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-WFP) and Republican challenger Tom Foley, Malloy blamed his state’s adoption of the Common Core standards on his Republican predecessor, even though the governor has embraced the standards, dismissed criticism of them as jargon, and said he believes Common Core is the best way for students to become prepared for college and careers.
“Common Core was instituted by a Republican governor of Connecticut,” Malloy said.
“And, yes, we’re in the process of implementing it. I am working with school districts all across the state to make this as easy as possible,” he added. “That’s why we’ve made millions and millions of dollars in technical grants … technology grants to school systems, and that’s why we’re reaching out even as we speak to the federal government to make sure we can lessen the amount of tests that 11th graders would take.”
Malloy’s statement is yet another sign that candidates want to distance themselves from their prior endorsements of the controversial nationalized initiative that many governors recently said have become a “radioactive” political issue.
Though the governor portrayed his approach to the Common Core standards as a difficult chore he is attempting to make “as easy as possible,” Breitbart News reported in June that he said the teachers he has spoken to support the standards because they say their students will be more prepared for college and careers.
Under Malloy, the state education department allotted $2 million from its existing budget for professional development for language arts and math instruction, and an additional $10 million to the $24 million already allocated for school technology upgrades to support transition to the Common Core. The $10 million for school technology upgrades was added to the state Bond Commission agenda.
Malloy also created a task force, through an executive order, to make recommendations about the Common Core standards, but the task force never considered a halt to the implementation of the Common Core or an exit from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the federally funded multi-state group that is developing tests aligned with the standards.
During the debate, Malloy bragged that two teachers’ unions have endorsed his candidacy.
Foley referred to Malloy’s education reform bill as “education reform lite,” and he criticized the governor’s implementation of the Common Core standards for all schools in Connecticut, even those that were previously performing at a high level. While Foley did not appear particularly knowledgeable about the nature of the Common Core standards, he said he believed education should be decided at the local level.
“This governor imposed Common Core assessments on schools that are performing different assessments that they’re satisfied with, and they’re doing a good job on educational outcomes. I don’t know why he would do that,” Foley said.
“He imposed evaluations on teachers statewide. These were mandated in school districts and schools even where local control is working well, and they had their own teacher evaluation method,” he continued. “So I think this governor made a tremendous mistake in both the way his education reform bill is conceived and that it was never really implemented properly.”
“I don’t believe we should mandate Common Core across the state; I believe that was a mistake, and I won’t do it when I’m governor,” Foley said.
A month ago, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Foley leading Malloy by six percentage points, but a new poll released Wednesday showed that both men are now tied with 43 percent of the vote.
“The poll is good news for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy,” said poll director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D. “After trailing Republican Tom Foley by 6 points a month ago, Malloy is tied as this race promises to go down to the wire.”