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McKinney calls for resignation of education commissioner

By Johanna Somers

Publication: theday.com

Published February 04. 2014 10:00PM   Updated February 04. 2014 11:48PM

Hartford — State Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, called Tuesday for the commissioner of the state Department of Education to resign after hearing from nearly 500 teachers who said they were frustrated with the state’s handling of teachers evaluations and Common Core State Standards reforms.

“The state is not doing its job because the State Department of Education, led by Stefan Pryor, is not doing his job,” McKinney, a candidate for governor, said. “... If you lose the faith and trust of the people you are supposed to lead, you can’t lead.”

Teachers throughout the state have been voicing their concerns about tying students’ performance on standardized tests to teachers’ evaluations next year. In response to teachers’ criticisms, Malloy asked for more flexibility in rolling out the reforms in a letter to the state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, which crafted the new evaluation system.

McKinney said the state has hit the pause button on education reforms and that the General Assembly needs to review Common Core for the first time.

“We can’t go forward if teachers and administrators don’t have faith and trust in people who are charged with implementing those reforms and that is why I am calling today, although something I consider difficult to do, calling today for the resignation of the commissioner Stefan Pryor,” McKinney said.

The Malloy administration said McKinney’s call for Pryor’s resignation was an attempt to get media attention. Allan Taylor, chairman of the State Board of Education, said in a prepared statement that the board stood by Pryor.

“Commissioner Pryor is helping to bring Connecticut education to where it needs and ought to be,” Taylor said in the statement. “He has tackled all challenges with great skill and extraordinary energy.”

State Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, who is chairwoman of the Education Committee, said it made sense to try and fix things first.

“Let’s see what we can do to work it out,” she said.

j.somers@theday.com

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