Contribute Now to January 2011: Boston City Councilor John Connolly

by DFER Reformer of the Month

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DFER's mission is to encourage a more productive dialogue within the Democratic Party on the need to fundamentally reform American public education. Each month, we identify one candidate who is standing up for meaningful reform and innovation, and we help demonstrate the broad base of support for his or her efforts. Please give as generously as you can.

January 2011: City Councilor John Connolly

It’s exciting to see dramatic changes in Boston. In the 90’s, the Hub was an original incubator for ed reform ideas. But charter schools eventually hit their cap and statewide complacency set in, and the wheels fell off the reform truck.

John Connolly and FriendsIn the last few weeks, though, Mayor Tom Menino has been talking tough about a new teachers contract that would extend the school day, give principals more hiring leeway, and tie teacher pay to student performance. It’s spurred a debate Boston really hasn’t seen before.

These changes are on the table today because of the work of a Boston City Councilor, John Connolly. John, who chairs the city’s education committee, orchestrated an eight-hour hearing on the 255 page union contract. He called parents, students, community organizers, and education experts to testify about the importance of a longer school day. In the process, he completely reset the agenda.

John is a dyed-in-the-wool ed reformer. He grew up in Boston and went to Harvard, where he wrote his thesis on charter schools. He even taught at a charter school before running for a seat on the council.

Here’s the rub: Connolly is up for reelection this year. Don’t think for a second that the deep-rooted special interests in Boston will just let this happen. What John needs right now is money. Contribution limits are low in Boston, so every dollar goes an especially long way.