Another Malloy mouthpiece explains why we must support Malloy or else

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Or, as Mahatma Gandhi’s wisely observed,

First they ignore youthen they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

This time the pro-Malloy message is delivered by Patrick Scully who describes himself as, “a high-profile communications, public relations, media and political consulting professional.”

Scully takes aim at the notion that a broad range of Connecticut voters are actually disgruntled with the prospect of four more years of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy.

Wait, What? readers may recognize the name because Scully once wrote for the pro-corporate education reform blog called CTEducation180.

At some point, Scully turned the blog over to ConnCAN, the corporate funded pro-charter advocacy group that was part of the $6 million record-breaking lobbying campaign on behalf of Malloy’s “education reform initiative.” The blog ceased functioning in December 2012 with a post attacking fellow pro-education advocate and blogger Wendy Lecker and myself.

Among the gems posted during CTEduation180’s were the following,

  • “Jonathan Pelto, author of the “Wait, What?” blog, continues to ride his train to nowhere.”
  •  “And in cyber-land, all by his lonesome, we have Jonathan Pelto, self-appointed gadfly and blogger extraordinaire of “Wait, What?”
  • “In a recent rambling diatribe on his “Wait, What” blog, anti-education reformer Jon Pelto continued his journey into an alternate universe of conspiracy theories.”
  • You might remember Pelto from his continuing series of blog posts attacking the state’s education commissioner, the governor, the schools chiefs from Windham, Hartford and Bridgeport, and many, many other folks who have made improving Connecticut’s schools their life’s work.
  • “What is Jon Pelto’s problem? He provides no service, offers no solutions, yet feels it’s his place to publish every little conspiracy theory he dreams up…His latest rambling diatribe against Windham Special Master Dr. Steven Adamowski makes no sense, and readers must question Pelto’s motivations.”
  • “The enraged blogger (Pelto) takes on a true leader (Moales)…Blogger Jonathan Pelto has done what appeared to be impossible: He has sunk to a new low.”

Now Pat Scully returns with a blog entitled, Pelto Would Help Elect a Republican Governor if he can Stick it to Malloy.

Scully explains,

News that union stooge Jonathan Pelto might run for governor is not really all that surprising. Pelto will do anything—even help elect a Republican governor—if he can stick it to Gov. Dannel Malloy.

Pelto is teasing out a possible gubernatorial run with the hint that the Working Families Party (WFP) might endorse him. That in and of itself is not significant although the WFP adds important elements to the political discourse in the state. Fortunately, Pelto less than zero chance of becoming governor. But the possibility that a WFP endorsement can pick off votes from Malloy is real.

Pelto’s blog is nothing more than a hate space for Malloy particularly on education reform. Malloy is looking to fix a broken public education system. Pelto is hell-bent on defending the status quo with its deplorable dropout rate and the worst achievement gap in the nation. He flames Malloy every chance he gets and as long as his union people are happy, he’s happy, never mind the students who suffer. Even when a poll shows overwhelming support for Malloy’s reforms, Pelto counters with absolute nonsense.

His argument goes downhill from there, but those of you who want to read it can find it at: http://scullycommunications.com/archives/5131.

So there you have it, the Malloy forces defend Malloy’s indefensible support the corporate education reform agenda including the Common Core, the Common Core Testing scheme and the privatization of public education.

Their message is that we must remain silent because any criticism or challenge to Malloy will lead to a Republican victory.

And they conveniently overlook the myriad of reasons Connecticut citizens might want to vote against Malloy.  A top list of those reasons can be found in my recent post – The growing list of reasons to vote against Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election.

Why Common Core tests are bad (By Nicholas Tampio)

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Fellow education blogger Nicholas Tampio has a commentary piece on today’s CNN website.  Tampio is an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University.

Speaking to New Yorkers, Tampio delivers a message that will resonate here in Connecticut.

Looking to the guidance of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Tampio does an extraordinary job explaining why the “common core test are bad.”

Tapio writes,

In a few weeks, the New York State Education Department will begin the second round of Common Core tests. Earlier this spring, thousands of students refused to take the Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) exams. In New York, as in states across the country, parents are telling administrators that their children will not sit for exams that pressure teachers to teach to the test and drain school budgets.

Ignore the baseless charge that families don’t want high academic standards for their kids or are afraid their kids won’t live up to higher standards. Parents and students want schools that offer a well-rounded curriculum and a sensible amount and way of testing. But the Common Core seems to focus too much on testing.

According to the 2014 New York Testing Program School Administrator’s Manual, parents may eventually review students’ responses to open-ended questions, but they are not allowed to look at the test itself. Although educators are under a gag order from New York State and Pearson that prohibits them from discussing specifics of the tests, Principal Elizabeth Phillips of PS 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and other educators across the state have decried the ELA exams as confusing and developmentally inappropriate.

The situation may be the same in mathematics. Stanford professor James Milgram argues that the Common Core math standards do not command international respect and will not prepare students for STEM careers. If the state keeps hiding the exams from public scrutiny, then parents and educators have a right to doubt their pedagogical value.

There are other issues. The Race to the Top program awarded New York $700 million on the condition that the state adopts a value added modeling teacher evaluation system, in this case, APPR. Put plainly — the state may now fire teachers if test scores are low. That creates incredible pressure to teach to the test.

Additionally, English language learners must also take the tests, regardless of how well they can understand them, and teachers in impoverished school districts are more likely to be punished, despite taking on harder assignments. In the words of noted education scholar Diane Ravitch: VAM is a sham.

I recently attended an iRefuse rally held on Long Island. The poster for the event juxtaposes two silhouettes of a child’s head: one, under the title “Learning,” is filled with images of Shakespeare, a guitar, a flower, math equations and plants. The other, under the title “Testing,” is filled with a multiple-choice exam. That is why parents are refusing — they want school to be a place where children’s talents are cultivated and not harmed by tests whose main use is to fire teachers.

In 1849, the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote a classic essay on civil disobedience that has inspired countless activists around the world, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. According to Thoreau, “It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.”

According to Thoreau, people are too inclined to respect the government rather than question whether the people who lead it are acting justly. Today, a parent inspired by Thoreau would point out that the New York Education Department is led by fallible human beings such as John King, Ken Slentz and Ken Wagner, and the tests are created by Pearson, a corporation that has been found to use its nonprofit foundation to produce curriculum materials and software for its for-profit business.

Such a parent would also object to the School Administrators Manual’s policy that “schools do not have any obligation to provide an alternative location or activities for individual students while the tests are being administered.” This sentence justifies the sit-and-stare policy whereby refusing children are not allowed to read or talk, but are forced to remain at their desks while their peers take the tests. In other words, this manual encourages administrators to employ the “silent treatment” on kids who don’t want their education to become endless test prep. This is bullying pure and simple.

As a parent, what would you do if you wanted to refuse the upcoming math test for your child? Write a letter or e-mail to the board of education, superintendent, principals and teachers in your school district to formally notify them of your decision to refuse to allow your child to participate in any local assessments tied to APPR for the 2013-2014 school year.

Tell them that you want your child to be scored as a “refusal” with a final score of “999″ and a standard achieved code of 96, on all state testing. This ensures that schools and teachers are not impacted by the refusals.

There is a chance that administrators will try to dissuade you. Tell them that you are advocating for your children to receive a well-rounded, personalized education. Tell everyone in your district that you are not fighting him or her, but rather political and corporate forces that are trying to centralize and standardize public education.

The commentary piece can be found at: http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/23/opinion/tampio-common-core/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_latest+(RSS%3A+Most+Recent)

LISTEN TO THE FOOLS (A guest post by Ann Poicelli Cronin on the Common Core)

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Ann Policelli Cronin is an experienced educator and an outspoken advocate for public education.  In this commentary piece the former Connecticut Outstanding English Teacher of the Year responds to national columnist David Brooks’ recent op-ed column in the New York Times in which he lauds the Common Core.

Cronin has some choice words for Brooks and his inability or unwillingness to consider the facts before pontificating on the benefits of the Common Core Standards and its associated Common Core Testing scheme.

LISTEN TO THE FOOLS – By Ann Poicelli Cronin

There just may be an ideological circus coming to town, as David Brooks predicts in a recent editorial. With any circus come silly and distracting clowns. With this Common Core circus, however, some who David Brooks dismisses as clowns are like the fools in Shakespeare’s plays: fools pointing to truths – truths not seen on the surface, truths we need to recognize or face great peril, truths that David Brooks didn’t probe.

The first truth is: Employees of testing companies, not the National Governors Association or the Council of State School Officers, wrote the Common Core standards. No educators were involved in creating the standards. It was all about what could be tested, not about what students should learn.

The second truth is: Standards by themselves accomplish nothing. To accomplish the goals of those who fund the Common Core, the standards must be intimately connected to a mandated curriculum and standardized testing with consequences for non-compliance. That compliance must be strictly enforced with punishments for students, such as not being promoted or not graduating and for teachers, the non-renewal of their contracts. What is measured on those tests is narrow and reducible to easily scored assessments that have nothing to do with the complex thinking, collaboration, questioning skills, and innovation that the modern world requires. The trade-off is real learning and thinking for simplistic measurements which diminish what it means to go to school.

The third truth is: The Common Core does “determine what students read and how teachers should teach”.  An example of “the how” is a video featuring David Coleman, chief writer of the Common Core English standards. View link here.  Coleman has never been a teacher yet explains how to teach. By dismissing alternate philosophical approaches to the teaching of reading, he makes clear that all variations in the “how” must be under the philosophical umbrella of an approach called New Criticism (Coleman calls it text-dependent analysis.), which was prevalent in the 1940’s and 50’s but abandoned because it was intellectually unsound and pedagogically bankrupt. An example of “the what” is the literature that students read with the Common Core: books chosen because their vocabulary and structure are difficult for the age group, excerpts of novels instead of whole books, and emphasis on informational texts. Proof that the Common Core intends to change what students read is that Bill Gates funded the Fordham Institute to track those changes. The how and what of instruction is curriculum. No doubt about it; the Common Core is curriculum – an inadequate one.

The fourth truth is: The federal government did not merely “encourage states to embrace the new standards”, it threatened to impose sanctions in regard to No Child Left Behind on them and denied states the chance for Race to the Top money if they didn’t adopt the Common Core.

The fifth truth is: The Fordham Institute is not an impartial judge of state standards. It uses a highly subjective rubric with loosely-defined terms. Its ratings of state standards do not correlate with student performance or college completion of high school graduates in those states. The Fordham Institute is funded by the Gates Foundation which has spent nearly 2 billion dollars on the Common Core. The Gates Foundation paid the Fordham Institute $1,961,116 to promote the Common Core and $1.5 million for operating expenses. To accept what the Fordham Institute says about the Common Core is like taking the word of a car salesman in the showroom of a dealership about which manufacturer makes the best car on the road.

The sixth truth is: The Common Core does not improve the teaching of English. I have been in hundreds of English classrooms and have never witnessed a teacher doing what David Brooks accused teachers of doing: telling students to simply “read a book and then go off to write a response to it” without citing explicit text evidence. If there were such a teacher, professional development would be the remedy, not prescribing the antiquated and ineffective way of teaching reading that the Common Core mandates.

The seventh truth is: The Common Core tests are not rigorous. They don’t demand complex thinking. Anyone can create a multiple choice “gotcha” test which most students fail.  It is important to distinguish between rigor and test-making. A test which most test-takers fail often is not a rigorous one, just a dumb one.

The eighth truth is: Education is more than making “students competitive with their international peers” on standardized tests.  First of all, using standardized tests as the competition is tricky business. International tests began in the 1960’s, and the U.S. scored near the bottom or last in all of them, yet, in those 54 years, the U.S. led the world in innovation and has been the dominant economy. Keith Baker, a long-time researcher for the U.S. Department of Education, investigated what happened to the 12 nations that took the First International Math test in 1964 and found no relationship between a nation’s economic productivity and its test scores. In fact, the higher the score, the worse a country’s economic performance.

The tests themselves have shaky reliability. For instance, Shanghai ranked #1 on the 2012 PISA but prohibits at least a quarter of potential test-takers from taking the test since the children of under-educated migrants are excluded. Also, in this country, children in poverty scored low.  U.S. children attending schools with less than 10% living in poverty, however, score 1st over all nations in reading and science and 5th in math.  If the game is test scores, then U.S. students not living in poverty are winners. So do we have an education problem or a societal problem?

The ninth truth is: Addressing racism and poverty will improve student learning and the achievement of our less advantaged students. There is an opportunity gap based on established inequities in our society. Standardized test scores always correlate with the family income of the test takers. The Common Core’s testing and failure rates will produce an underclass of high school dropouts and underachievers in our poorest communities.

The tenth truth is: We can transform our schools but not with the top-down Common Core approach of testing and punishments. I have been part of creating effective change and agree with Michael Fullan, an expert in school change and systemic reform, that the ingredients that work are:  building the capacity of educators (teachers, principals, and superintendents), establishing a collaborative school culture centered on learning, focusing on effective pedagogy, and bringing those three pieces together with an underlying philosophy and plan of action.

David Brooks is a good writer but not an educator. Like the heroes in Shakespeare, he and the nation would profit by listening to the “fools” who are pointing to the lack of substance and ineffectiveness of the Common Core and not confuse the “fools” with the political clowns.

Ann Policelli Cronin is a consultant in English education for school districts and university schools of education. She has taught middle and high school English, was a district-level administrator for English, taught university courses in English education, and was assistant director of the Connecticut Writing Project. She was Connecticut Outstanding English Teacher of the Year and has received national awards for English curricula she designed and implemented.

Even More Corporate Education Reform money flows to Malloy’s political operation

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The latest federal campaign finance reports are in and Governor Malloy’s political operation continues to rake in the cash from those associated with the effort to privatize Connecticut’s public schools and undermine Connecticut’s teachers.

As a result of Connecticut’s campaign finance program, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is on track to collect $6.2 million in public funds to pay for his 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

But thanks to a loop-hole in Connecticut law, the Malloy campaign has already diverted nearly $2.2 million in individual and political action committee donations into an account controlled by the Democratic State Central Committee.  Malloy is rounding up donations to this Democratic account so that his team will have additional money to supplement Malloy’s publicly funded campaign this year.

The campaign finance loop-hole is so large you could drive a truck through it.  As a result, much of the money that Malloy and his team has raised into the separate account is coming from individuals and businesses who have state contracts, as well as, from registered lobbyists, political action committees and special interests that would otherwise be banned from contributing to Malloy’s campaign.

One of the most “generous” sources of money for Malloy’s “off-line” political operation has been the corporate education reform industry.

The latest report filed with the Federal Elections Commission reveals the proponents of Malloy’s “education reform” initiative continue to line up to give the Governor campaign donations.

New contributions in March included,

  • Another $20,000 from Jonathan Sackler and his wife.  Sackler helped Stefan Pryor create Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company.  Sackler also founded ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading charter school advocacy group and 50CAN, a national charter school advocacy organization. 
  • Sackler and his wife have now given $38,000 to the Democratic Party “special” account and another $20,000 to the Connecticut Democrats regular account.  In addition, Sackler hosted a fundraiser that brought in almost $50,000 for the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee. 
  •  $10,000 from Susan Mandel, the spouse of billionaire Steve Mandel.  Mandel is the primary supporter of the Bridgeport charter school advocacy group called Excel Bridgeport, Inc. and serves on the national board of directors of Teach for America.  Mandel and his wife have now contributed $30,000 to the Democratic account that is being used to fund Malloy’s political operation. 

These new contributions to help Malloy come on top of tens of thousands of dollars in additional donations that have been sent by other key players from the corporate education reform industry. For example, Michelle Rhee’s PAC and the Wal-Mart PAC have already sent large donations to boost Malloy’s re-election chances.

You can read about the other donations in the following Wait, What? posts,

Corporate Education Reform Industry pours money into Malloy campaign operation (Feb 2014)

Malloy’s campaign donation haul from corporate education reform industry tops $70k (Dec 2013)

Malloy continues to cash in on Education Reform initiative (Nov. 2013)

Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform (Oct. 2013)

Mouthpiece for Malloy & Education Reform industry responds to possible Pelto candidacy

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As we discuss strategies to keep Governor Malloy and his administration from spending four more years undermining teachers, privatizing our public education system and moving Connecticut in the wrong direction, it is clear that we can count on the Malloy political operation and its allies in the corporate education reform industry to reiterate why our state needs new leadership.

As if on cue, a pro-Malloy blogger who works closely with two of Connecticut’s corporate funded education reform industry front groups has weighed in on the discussion that we challenge the incumbent in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Writing for the blog Education Bridgeport, the blogger wrote,

The absurdity of a possible “Jon Pelto for Governor” campaign is eclipsed only by the horror of the possibility.

Jon Pelto, who hasn’t held public office since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, is actually thinking about running for governor against Dannel P. Malloy. Since leaving the state legislature, Pelto has made a career out of being a professional critic. He sits at his computer and tells everybody what they’re doing wrong without ever offering a solution of his own.

The blogger added,

The problem is not that he might win. A meteor might strike, but I’m not worried about that either. The problem is that Pelto can divert votes away from Malloy. Put simply, if Pelto runs for governor, nobody wins.

Pelto is fond of calling our governor “anti-teacher” and “anti-union.” The irony would be abundantly apparent if Malloy loses — should Republicans take back the State Capitol, you’d really see the meaning of the phrases, “anti-teacher” and “anti-union.”

And the blogger closes with,

Pelto should not be ignored. If you ignore a cough and a runny nose, you end up getting sick, and if you ignore Jon Pelto, his influence grows, too, like a virus. Pretty soon you’re laid up in bed and no amount of vitamin C will help you feel better.

Perhaps our governor can instead give Mr. Pelto a job, one for which he is well suited, to divert the blogger’s attention while we all quietly run away.

Perhaps the Ringling Bros. have an opening for a clown?

When it comes to the rhetoric coming from the Malloy side, it is often hard to figure out their underlying strategy.  But one thing is certain.  When looking at Governor Malloy’s record, the message that Connecticut must accept another four years OR ELSE is probably not their strongest argument.

In an effort to give equal time, you can read the blogger’s full post at: http://educationbridgeport.com/

Another MUST READ column – Are Wall Street Values Right for Schools?

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Fellow public school advocate and award-winning columnist Sarah Darer Littman had another “MUST READ” column posted on this past weekend’s CT News junkie website.

Sarah Darer Littman reminded readers that while Governor Malloy and the corporate education reform industry are fond of claiming their reforms are all about the children, the reality is far from that.

Here piece traces the “education reformers” and their on-going effort to bringing Wall Street values to our local public schools.  Her column could also have been entitled, “Beware: Their preoccupation with data is destroying our schools.”

Littman reminds readers that President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recently said,

 “Data is an essential ingredient in the school reform agenda. We need to follow the progress of children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career to see whether they are on-track for success . . . I look forward to the day when we can look a child in the eye at the age of eight or nine or 10 and say, ‘You are on track to succeed in colleges and careers.’ . . . Data systems are a vital ingredient of a statewide reform system . . . Data can help us unleash the power of research to advance reform in every school and classroom in America. Data can help us identify the teachers and principals all across America who are producing miracles in the classroom every day . . . Data can help us identify outdated policies and practices that need to change so our children will succeed in school and in the workforce.”

And she added Bill Gates’ comment that,

“Aligning teaching with the common core — and building common data standards — will help us define excellence, measure progress, test new methods, and compare results. Finally, we will apply the tools of science to school reform.”

But then Littman turned to the real experts, the ones who actually understand that value and role of data.

In this case it was the American Statistical Association, one of the nation’s leading academic experts on the role of data and statistics.  The organization recently blasted the education reformers and their failure to recognize the very real problems associated with their junk science.

All of those who are fighting to save our schools should definitely read Sarah Darer Littman’s latest piece which can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_are_wall_street_values_right_for_schools/

When you read it, you’ll also find that Littman ended her column with a paragraph worth clipping and saving.  She wrote,

Teaching is a collaborative profession, something that the current administration and the billionaires who guide its actions don’t appear to understand. What’s more, as parents we want our children to receive a well-rounded education that prepares them not just to be “college and career ready” but to be life ready — to develop the critical thinking skills, the creativity, the social skills, and the ability to advocate for themselves that they’ll need as citizens in what’s left of our democracy post-Citizens United and McCutcheon. Perhaps that’s what the billionaires are afraid of?

Taxpayer funds continue to flow to out-of-state companies for Malloy’s “education reform” initiative

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Thanks to Governor Malloy and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor you can hear the wild cheering from the corporate education reform industry as millions of dollars in taxpayer funds continue to flow to out-of-state companies so that they can come here to tell Connecticut’s  teachers, administrators and public schools how to implement the Common Core and how to “improve.”

A partial list of Malloy’s Education Reform “winners” include;

LearnZillion Inc.
Cost to taxpayers:       $1,513,500

 

Task:  The Washington D.C. company is being paid $1.5 million by the Malloy administration to “Design and deliver professional learning for the implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCSS).”

BloomBloard Inc.
Cost to taxpayers:  $1,238,000

 

Task:  The California company was paid $1.2 million by the Malloy administration to provide “Strategic Initiatives Related to CT Educator Evaluation and Support system.”  The contract, which was funneled through the Connecticut Association of Schools, was supposed to be completed in 2013.  It is unclear whether the contract was extended.

MassInsight Inc.
Cost to taxpayers: $1.8 million and growing

 

Task:  The Massachusetts company is being paid $1.8 million by the Malloy administration to “Develop the state’s turnaround strategy and improve the most struggling schools.”  The contract was supposed to end on January 31, 2014, but on the day AFTER the contract ended, it was officially extended for another year, while doubling in cost.

And meanwhile, as parents and teachers know, Connecticut’s public schools are being turned into Common Core testing factories where the focus has now become preparing students for this inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test.

But the “less learning, more testing” mantra shouldn’t come as a surprise since it was Governor Malloy himself who said that he didn’t mind having teachers and schools teach to the test as long as test scores went up.

Weekend Posts on Gubernatorial Campaign 2014

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On Governor Malloy:  Malloy political operation sidesteps Connecticut law limiting contributions from lobbyists.

Limiting the financial influence of lobbyists was one of the most important elements of Connecticut’s post-Rowland campaign finance reforms.

In its final form, Connecticut law states that,

“…lobbyists and their immediate families may make qualifying contributions of up to $100 like any other individual, but only when the legislature is not in session.”

The law means that as candidate for Governor, Malloy could only accept checks for up to $100 from a lobbyist and COULD NOT accept any funds during the legislative session.

But that law didn’t stop Governor Malloy and his political operation from collecting well over $32,000 from Connecticut lobbyists during the past eighteen months.  More than $10,000 of those funds was collected during the legislative session, despite the complete ban on lobbyist donations during that period.

So how did Malloy’s political operation do it?

As noted previously here at Wait, What?, a gigantic loop-hole built into the campaign finance system allows the sitting governor to divert money to one of the Democratic Sate Central Committee’s campaign accounts, even during a legislative session.

This loophole allowed more than 25 of Connecticut’s top lobbyists to sidestep Connecticut law and reward Malloy’s political aspirations with contributions in excess of the $100 limit over the past year and a half.

Even Governor John Rowland’s former chief of staff, who is now a lobbyist, got in on the act by providing the Malloy political operation with a campaign contribution —- right in middle of the 2013 legislative session.

And on a Pelto candidacy for governor:  Saw it on the Internet so it must be true… (No, but…)

After an email exchange [Friday], Neil Vigdor, a leading reporter for the Hearst Media Group, put up a blog post entitled, “Malloy gets “Pelto-ed” from the left?”

As the saying goes, take the story with a grain of salt.  Like much of what we read on the Internet, aspects of the story are true while other elements aren’t quite so accurate.

What the story does represent is the growing concern that many of us have about Governor Malloy’s record over the past four years and his extraordinary failure on a number of fronts.

A direct challenge, either as a Democrat or as a third-party, independent Democratic is just one of many options for those of us who truly believe that another four years of a Malloy administration would be disastrous for a variety of reasons – one of those reasons being our on-going effort to push back the corporate education reform industry and the pressing need to retake control of our public schools.

So….let me be perfectly clear, I am not a candidate for governor (at this time).

The Hearst Media Group blog post begins with the following;

Just when the denizens of Connecticut thought the debate over Common Core was caustic.

Now there’s this.

Jonathan Pelto, a relentless opponent of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education agenda and former state representative, is entertaining a run for the state’s highest office, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers has learned.

The 53-year-old from Storrs, who has expended significant bandwith on his “progressive” blog and on Facebook railing against Malloy, could run either as a Democrat or a third party candidate, a person familiar with Pelto’s thinking told the newspaper.

“We are looking at a variety of options,” Pelto told Hearst by email Friday afternoon.

A campaign spokesman for Malloy, who is considered by political pundits to be vulnerable in the midterm elections this November, declined to comment on the prospect of a Pelto candidacy.

On his blog, “Wait What?” Pelto penned an April 13 entry titled “the growing list of reasons to vote against Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election.”

“Malloy’s “education reform” legislation has earned him the title of the most anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-charter school Democratic governor in the nation.”

Connecticut “schools of choice” are a vehicle for discrimination

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Fellow commentator and public school Advocate Wendy Lecker’s latest column in the Stamford Advocate examines CT Voices for Children’s new research report which is entitled, ”Choice Watch: Diversity and Access in Connecticut’s School Choice Programs.”  The study found that charter schools and other “choice schools” systematically prevent equal access to some of the state’s neediest students.

As Wendy Lecker reports,

Of special concern, the report found that Connecticut charter schools are “hypersegregated” — at least 90 percent minority. Furthermore, the authors revealed that charters grossly underserve English Language Learners (`ELL”) and students with disabilities.

Connecticut Voices noted that charters have a financial incentive to exclude ELL students. Unlike the cost of special education services, which is borne by the district where a charter school student lives, charter schools must pay for ELL programs and services. If, however, a charter has fewer than 20 ELL students, it is not required to provide an ELL program.

Connecticut’s rating system, which judges and sanctions schools based on standardized tests scores, provides more reasons to exclude. ELL students and students with disabilities tend to score lower on standardized tests, therefore charter schools look higher performing when they do not have either subgroup.

A traditional public school would never be able to get away with excluding any child in their district. Such a move would be illegal. However, the state enables the charter schools’ exclusionary behavior. Charters are not required to have specific diversity targets in enrollment. Moreover, while in theory a charter can be revoked if a charter school does not serve enough ELL or students with disabilities, no charter school has ever suffered that fate. With an Education Commissioner who is a founder of one of the worst offending charter chains, charters are safe to continue their exclusionary practices.

The fact that these publically funded “choice schools” have become a vehicle to further segregate our society undermines the very essence of our public education system.

As Wendy Lecker explains,

The idea of equity for all was the driving force behind the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. declared that “I am never what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.

“Lyndon Johnson’s motto was “doing the greatest good for the greatest number.”

The principles of communal good underpinned Connecticut’s commitment to school integration. Connecticut’s Supreme Court deemed that having children of different backgrounds learn together is vital “to gain the understanding and mutual respect necessary for the cohesion of our society.” The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall maintained: “Unless our children learn together, there is little hope that our people will learn to live together.”

Armed with the evidence provided by the new CT Voices for Children Report, Wendy Lecker concludes,

As voters, we have a choice. We can recommit ourselves to school integration, realizing that instilling in our children a sense of community is the key to our cohesion as a democratic state. Or, we can allow politicians to school our children in avoidance, and risk becoming like the fractious and unstable nations we see in the world around us.

Be sure to read Wendy Lecker entire column which can be found at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Some-needy-students-frozen-out-of-5413855.php

You can read and download the CT Voices for Children report at: http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/choice-watch-diversity-and-access-connecticuts-school-choice-programs.

Happy Easter…

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And a belated happy Passover, Holi, Paryusan, Ostara and other spring holidays to all my readers.

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love! Chief Sitting Bull

May the longer days and brighter light bring everyone comfort, warmth and joy.

Today we rest and reflect, tomorrow we will begin anew. For as Khalil Gibran said,

Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.

In the meantime, here is a video that Diane Ravitch posted on her blog, www.dianeravitch.net this morning to remind us that beauty is found in many places;

Father Kelly of Ireland sings Hallelujah:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYKwqj5QViQ

Oh, and since the battle to take back our system of public education from the corporate education reform industry and their allies is always on our minds, lest we forget, it was Plutarch who wrote the following 2,000 years ago,

The very SPRING and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.

Interestingly, Plutarch also said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”

 

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