Gov. Dannel Malloy is coming to the defense of East Hartford schools after U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos criticized East Hartford High School and quoted a former student who used the phrase "dangerous daycare" to describe it.
Malloy has also invited DeVos to come to Connecticut before the end of the school year to see the state’s education system for herself.
Last week, DeVos told a congressional committee that East Hartford High School neglected and failed to help a former student she called "Michael."
"He described the school he was assigned to, and I quote, 'Nothing more than adult daycare. A dangerous daycare,'" DeVos said, adding that the former student received a diploma but not an education.
The remarks came during testimony about what DeVos called the failure of public schools and the need for more school choice.
“I was disheartened to learn of your disparaging remarks toward East Hartford Public Schools. Let me be clear – the experience you described of a former student is not acceptable. It pains me to hear of any child who does not feel safe and supported in the classroom,” Malloy wrote in a letter to DeVos Tuesday.
“However, it strikes me as equally unacceptable that you attempt to malign East Hartford Public Schools as an illustration of all that is broken in public education. In reality, this school community sets itself apart as an example of what we can accomplish working together to deliver on the promise public education holds for all our students,” Malloy wrote.
A U.S. Education Department spokeswoman said DeVos testified about how many students need educational options and did not generalize about the high school's student body.
“I invite you to come to Connecticut and join me on a school tour before the end of the school year. This way, you can see first-hand the impact Connecticut’s ground-breaking reforms and historic investments are having for students across our state. To that end, I also offer personally to pay for your travel,” Malloy wrote. “I hope that you will accept this invitation so that we may have the opportunity to discuss the future of public education together.”