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Saturday, March 24 News

O'Dea pushes for public hearings on Common Core

State Reps. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, and Tom O'Dea, R-New Canaan, were among the signatories of petitions recently filed by House Republicans that would force the chairmen of the General Assembly's Education Committee to conduct formal public hearings on two bills related to the controversial Common Core curriculum and the new public school teacher evaluation process.

The petitioning process, which is seldom used, allows legislators to overrule decisions by legislative committees on conducting public hearings for bills. House Republicans gathered the required 51 signatures from their caucus members under Joint Rule 11 in order to file the petitions that triggered the requirement for the two bills to be raised with a public hearing to follow, the representatives said.

"Because the state Board of Education made the decision to adopt the Common Core standards in Connecticut, the subject never came before the General Assembly," Lavielle said. "Hundreds of people have contacted us to express concerns about the content and implementation of the Common Core. The simultaneous implementation of both the Common Core and the new teacher evaluation system has also aroused great concern among educators, who fear that these two processes are taking them away from their primary job in the classroom. These are sweeping statewide changes that affect students and teachers in every school district, and any change of this magnitude should be subjected to proper public scrutiny and review by the legislative body that represents so many concerned constituents. I am pleased that everyone will now have a chance to be heard."

O'Dea added, "Stakeholders have a right to be heard and this should have happened long ago. Those affected will have valuable input and I look forward to hearing from interested parties."

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One of the Republican bills to be raised codifies the proposals brought forth by the committee created to establish teacher evaluation standards known as the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council.

The second bill, authored by state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, R-Old Saybrook, would freeze the implementation of the Common Core Statae Standards until all stakeholders have time to examine its potential effects and consider possible changes.

According to the representatives, the Education Committee's Democratic chairmen had agreed only to have an "informational hearing" where the speakers would be selected ahead of time and the discussion controlled by time constraints, with no members of the public participating. That hearing was scheduled to take place Feb. 28. The date for the public hearing triggered by the House Republicans' petitions has not yet been set.