Request for donations to Pelto 2016 for Congress

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As a Green Party candidate for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of Connecticut, I’m asking for your financial support so we can ramp up our efforts to educate, persuade and mobilize people to stand up and speak out about the challenges and problems that face our nation, state and communities, not to mention our world.

In these dark times, change will not come easily.

However, by rising up and combining our voices … We can not only be heard, but can have a real impact on the course of affairs.

Please give what you can to Pelto 2016.  Your financial support is needed and appreciated,

Jonathan Pelto

On-line donation capability is coming, but for now, please print off and send the following form with your check to Pelto 2016, PO Box 400, Storrs, CT. 06268

Pelto 2016 Campaign Contribution Form

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Pelto Slams Every Student Succeeds Act – Calls on Obama and Congress to postpone adoption of ESSA Regulations

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Jonathan Pelto, Green Party candidate for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District, is calling on President Obama and Congress to postpone adoption of the Every Student Succeeds (ESSA) Regulations until the new President and Congress take office in January, 2017.

“Limiting a parents’ fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory standardized testing scheme and mandating that every child must take a standardized test ever year are just two of the damaging provisions of the ESSA draft regulations being proposed by the Obama Administration,” Pelto said.  “As presently written, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulations continue many of the failed education policies of the federal government.  The President and Congress should, at the very least, postpone action on those regulations until the new president and new congress take office in 2017.”

Pelto condemned the legislation and new regulations explaining;

  • The ESSA regulations inappropriately require that ALL students take a standardized test every year. The most successful public education systems in the world DO NOT utilize mandatory annual testing.  Requiring such a practice is a huge waste of scarce public funds and valuable student instructional time.
  • The ESSA regulations do not provide clear concise language guaranteeing a parent’s’ fundamental and inalienable right to opt their child or children out of the annual standardized testing program. Failure to recognize a parents opt out right is a fatal flaw in the regulations and this issue must be corrected before any meaningful statute and regulation can move forward.
  • The ESSA regulations require that standardized assessments be focused exclusively on Math and English, thereby narrowing the curriculum and failing to provide the framework for the type of comprehensive education that all students need to compete and proposer in the 21st

As the Vermont State Board of Education noted in their recent testimony in opposition to the regulations;

‘By requiring that test scores in two subjects and graduation rates be given preferential weight, [the regulations] discourage schools from supporting truly broad opportunities to learn and the skills necessary for a healthy society.  In a world where violence and terrorism command the news, the education of our youth to participate in a strong civic life in a democracy is a fundamental skill. Similarly, we must equip students with the capabilities to address critical imperatives like global warming, environmental degradation and growing global inequality.’

  • The ESSA regulations require that states develop a single letter grade to rank order all schools. This is a false, inaccurate and invalid mechanism to inform students, parents, teachers and the public about an individual school or school system’s strengths and weaknesses.  Children, teachers and schools cannot be properly evaluated when complex factors are reduced to a single number.
  • The ESSA regulations maintain the federal government’s commitment to the privatization of public schools by requiring that states must implement programs to turn the “bottom 5%” of schools over to privately owned and operated charter schools or instituted an alternative type of privatization or turnaround program. This arbitrary system to turnover public schools to private interests limits the rights of state and local elected officials.”

According to the federal government’s ESSA regulation process, the public only has until August 1, 2016 to submit testimony and the regulations are presently scheduled to be adopted prior to or soon after the 2016 election.

“The ESSA regulations will serve to guide public education policy for an entire generation.  President Obama and Congress must halt the adoption of these harmful regulations until the next President and Congress have the opportunity to review and revise the ESSA law and its associated regulations,” Pelto concluded.

Background Footnote:  Senate Bill S. 1177 – The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) – was passed Congress and signed into law by the President.  As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Congressman Joe Courtney voted for the legislation in committee and in the House of Representatives. The Obama Administration is presenting working to adopt the regulations to implement the Act.

Connecticut Charter School Industry spends another half a million dollars on lobbying elected officials

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According to the latest lobbying reports filed with the Connecticut Ethics Commission, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies spent another $555,000 during this year’s legislative session in their ongoing effort to support Governor Malloy and persuade Connecticut legislators to divert even more public money to the privately owned and operated charter schools in the state.

While Governor Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly instituted the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy and the Democrat’s new budget actually increased the amount of scarce public funds going to the charter schools.

At the same time, the charter school front groups were working with Malloy to fight off efforts to fix Connecticut’s flawed teacher evaluation program.

Malloy and the charter schools are intent on keeping the scores that student receive on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC standardized tests as a prominent factor in determining teacher quality, despite the fact that every major academic study has revealed that individual teachers have an extremely small impact on how individual students do on standardized tests.

Rather than develop a teacher evaluation system based on how well that educator is actually doing, Malloy and the education reformers want to stick with a faulty system that will unfairly judge teachers on factors beyond their control.

Meanwhile, as Wait, What reported earlier this year, the charter school industry and their corporate funded front groups have spent in excess of $9 million on lobbying since Governor Malloy took office in 2011.  See: Charter School Industry “invests” more than $9 million in Connecticut lobbying

The latest ethics reports indicate that, once again, the New York based Families for Excellent Schools continue to spend the most on lobbying in Connecticut, having reported an additional $300,000 in lobbying expenditures since the beginning of this year’s legislative session.  The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) took the 2nd and 3rd spots on the charter school lobbying chart.

While Families for Excellent Schools and the entire charter school industry continue to expand their lobbying efforts, Neil Vigdor, of the Hearst Media Group, reports that Families for Excellent Schools and other so-called education reformers have set up another Political Action Committee that they will be using to reward and punish candidates who support or oppose their agenda.

In Charter schools step up political action Vigdor reports;

The charter school movement — backstopped by a billionaire club that includes Michael Bloomberg, Paul Tudor Jones and Ray Dalio — wants to put its stamp on the Legislature in Connecticut.

CT Forward, a newly launched nonprofit advocacy group, will survey House and Senate candidates across the state on their support for public charter schools. The litmus test will determine which candidates receive financial and grassroots support from the group’s dues-paying members, who will be made up heavily of parents.

Families for Excellent Schools, which has wrangled with Bridgeport administrators over education reform, is behind the election-year initiative.

[…]

For giants of the hedge fund industry such as Jones and Dalio, both Greenwich residents, charter schools have become a favorite cause. Each has contributed to Families for Excellent Schools, which reported $17.6 million in contributions and grants for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, to the IRS. [FES Director] Kittredge’s compensation was $222,297 for that time period, more than Connecticut’s state education commissioner and New York City’s schools chancellor.

A spokesman for Jones declined to comment. Multiple requests for comment were left for Dalio, whose Westport hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, is the largest in the world. Bloomberg has not contributed directly to FES, but has been strongly linked to the charter school movement.

Lobbying legislators, handing out campaign cash…it is all part of the effort to privatize public education in Connecticut and across the country.

BREAKING NEWS – Trump goes with anti-public education running mate

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As expected, the most unqualified candidate to be President of the United States has chosen a running mate who is equally unprepared, ill-equipped and incapable of representing the people of the nation.

Not only is Indiana Governor Mike Pence the most anti-choice governor in the country, he is nothing short of a puppet for the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies.

As Indiana’s governor, Pence has driven an anti-teacher, anti-public education political and legislative agenda that has included dramatically expanding charter schools and diverting scarce public funds to voucher programs that, in turn, have allowed private individuals to use taxpayer money to send their children to religious schools.

As a gubernatorial candidate Pence has used his anti-public education agenda to raise massive amounts of money from wealthy corporate education reform donors both in and out of his state.  Many of the most prominent anti-public school big donors appear on Pence’s fundraising reports.

As the Indianapolis Star and other Indiana based newspapers and blogs have reported, Pence has been collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school owners and voucher supporters.

Pence’s education donors include;

  • Fred Klipsch, founder and chairman of Hoosiers for Quality Education, “a leading pro-voucher organization. Klipsch boasted in 2012 that he had put together the campaign funding to overcome teacher opposition and push through legislative approval of the Mitch Daniels-Tony Bennett education agenda, including vouchers and charter schools.”
  • John D. Bryan, founder and director of Challenge Foundation, “which operators several charter schools, including the Indianapolis Academy of Excellence. He has given nearly $600,000 to Republican campaigns in Indiana, including $145,000 to Pence’s campaigns for governor.
  • Roger Hertog, of Success Academy infamy.  Hertog, a major right-wing donor has also given pro-charter school governor Andrew Cuomo at least $30,000.
  • Robert L. Luddy,  “who runs a group of private schools and who provided much of the campaign financing for school board candidates who overturned a model school desegregation program in Wake County, N.C., schools.

In July 2012, the education blog, In School Matters led with an article entitled, More on the money behind the Indiana school-voucher law.  Pro-public education blogger Steve Hinnefeld wrote;

Hoosiers for Economic Growth chairman Fred Klipsch explained recently how his organization and several affiliated groups spent $4.4 million to push through the education policies that Indiana adopted in 2011, including a huge voucher program, expansion of charter schools and anti-union measures.

Klipsch spoke in May at a national policy summit in Jersey City, N.J., hosted by the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice, organizations that promote taxpayer funding of private schools.

You can download a PowerPoint of Klipsch’s presentation from the website of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options. You can also watch a video of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett receiving the John T. Walton Champion of School Choice Award at the summit.

Hoosiers for Economic Growth spent almost $1.3 million during Indiana’s 2010 election cycle, most of it targeted to producing a Republican majority in the Indiana House. Organizations like School Choice Indiana and Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Aiming Higher also contributed to the effort, according to Klipsch’s presentation.

The goal was to overcome what Klipsch referred to as “the problem” – the Indiana State Teachers Association, which his presentation calls “the most powerful political force at the Statehouse and at the ballot box” and “the biggest spender by far” in Indiana politics.

The ISTA’s political action committee, the Indiana PAC for Education or I-PACE, spent $792,683 in 2010, according to campaign finance reports.

Hoosiers for Economic Growth gets much of its money from the Indiana PAC of American Federation for Children, a pro-voucher outfit headed by Michigan Republican activist Betsy DeVos. The PAC’s money comes from Philadelphia and New York hedge-fund managers and Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton.

More about Pence in the coming days

Why Do I Teach? By Poetic Justice

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As the Charter School Industry and their corporate education reform allies continue their unprecedented attack on public schools and public school teachers, it is important to remember why so many great teachers work so hard to support, guide and educate their students.

The following is a poem by Connecticut educator, education advocate and blogger, Poetic Justice.  It was written and published on their blog a couple of months ago.

The poem reveals the sentiment as why so many of us continue to fight for public school students, parents, teachers and schools across Connecticut and across the nation.

How can I say “no” to them and walk away?

Last week, the dark child brightened up.
Yesterday, the angry child smiled.
Just today, the sad child laughed.
And tomorrow, the child beyond hope, will graduate.

Each child a new challenge.
Each challenge a routine and a painful burden.
Each burden, mine to bear for a brief period of time –
my special chance to help God perform His miracle
in each child.

We teach because we are called to teach.
We teach because the children need us now.
We teach because we need to love them.
We teach because it is life to us.

How can we say “no” to them and walk away?

To read and comment on the original post go to: https://poeticjusticect.com/2016/05/28/why-do-i-teach/

Drive up education degree is an insult to every student, parent, teacher and taxpayer

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In her latest commentary piece, Connecticut education advocate Wendy Lecker explains that latest fade from the corporate education reform industry.  In, A blind acceptance of the robot teacher, Lecker takes on the charter school industry advocates who claim that teachers don’t need all those education and child development courses.  All they need, they say, is a quick, fly-by-night crash course on how to make children sit and succeed at taking standardized tests scores.

Wendy Lecker writes;

Connecticut seems to accept a constricted vision of education for its neediest children that is never imposed on more affluent districts. The most recent example of this disparity is the recent partnership between the New Haven Public Schools and an outfit called Relay Graduate School of Education, to provide alternative certification for would-be teachers.

Relay was founded by representatives of three charter school chains, Achievement First, KIPP and Uncommon Schools — chains with a troubling record of suspensions, harsh discipline and attrition. It was founded to train charter school teachers. Relay employs not one professor of education.

The Relay vision of teaching is narrow. Its primary goal is to train teachers to raise test scores. Consequently, Relay focuses on giving its trainees a prepackaged set of “skills” that focus mainly on classroom management and getting students to do what teachers want. The contrast between Relay’s methods and goals and those of existing Connecticut schools of education is stark.

For example, UConn’s teacher education program strives to “establish a safe and positive learning environment” and “promote democratic participation and community. UConn’s core practice principles focus on helping prospective teachers learn to use their professional judgment, and to help students develop into independent thinkers. UConn’s principles help teachers develop “strategies, activities and approaches that are responsive to cultural, linguistic, ability and other student differences,” “plan learning opportunities that teach content through inquiry” and “use knowledge of students as individuals and members of cultural and social groups to inform instruction.” The aim is to help teachers meet students where they are and develop each student’s capabilities.

Relay employs the principles of one of its “star” faculty, Uncommon Schools’ Doug Lemov. Those principles focus on control and compliance. For instance, Lemov instructs trainees that “(a) sequence that begins with a student unwilling or unable to answer a question ends with that student giving the right answer as often as possible even if they only repeat it.” Even if they only repeat it!

The principles also instruct trainees to “set and defend a high standard of correctness in your classroom” and “control the physical environment to support the specific lesson goal for the day.” Relay’s prescriptive, robotic methods churn out teachers focused on getting students not to think for themselves, but to regurgitate the one “correct” answer.

Relay falsely claims its methods are proven. As University of Washington Professor Kenneth Zeichner has found, there is no peer-reviewed evidence demonstrating the success of Relay Graduate School of Education. In fact, even education reformers have called into question Relay’s methods. Katherine Porter Magee, of the conservative Fordham Institute, criticized one Relay lesson video, noting it “included low-level questions and inadequate wait time, and was generally rushed and superficial.”

Connecticut has several university-based schools of education. Three — Albertus Magnus, Southern Connecticut and Quinnipiac — are in the New Haven area. Yet New Haven partnered with Relay. Why do New Haven’s children, the majority of whom are poor children of color, need teachers trained only to control them, when Connecticut’s schools of education focus on developing children based on their individual needs and strengths?

This partnership must be seen in the larger context of Connecticut’s abandonment of its previous deep commitment to robust teacher training. Connecticut used to be a national model for teacher education. Its BEST program was state-funded and developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) over 15 years, in conjunction with developing the state’s academic standards. CSDE ensured that a robust teacher induction system was designed, implemented, researched and evaluated. The state raised teacher salaries; required, funded and trained experienced teachers as mentors; developed licensing requirements and a staged licensing process; and required ongoing professional development.

Although the successful BEST program was lauded nationwide, Connecticut abandoned BEST, because it was seen as too costly. Apparently, Connecticut’s leaders viewed providing tax subsidies to insurance companies and hedge funds as more worthwhile than investing in Connecticut’s children. Connecticut has also in recent years cut state programs for alternative teacher certification. Thus, the burden and cost of certification increasingly falls to school districts.

At the same time, Connecticut has imposed more mandates on university-based teacher education programs. It is almost as if the state wants to drive existing schools with a proven track record into the ground and replace them with cheap, fly-by-night operations.

Connecticut children deserve teachers who can help them reach their potential, not parrot from canned scripts. They deserve better than teachers trained in five-week Teach for America training programs or quick certification factories such as Relay.

 You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s column at : http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-A-blind-acceptance-of-the-robot-8348106.php

 

News Flash – Pelto to run under Green Party Banner for 2nd Congressional District Seat

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Wait, What? Readers:

Below is the press release that was issued this morning.  Since my gubernatorial effort in 2014, I’ve learned that the only effective way to get substantive media coverage on the important issues that challenge our state and nation is to be a candidate for office.  Since issues like the corporate education reform industry attack on public education and the nation’s unfair tax system that coddles the rich and burdens the middle class deserve far more attention, I have decided to run for Congress under the Green Party banner.  Discussing the critical issues we face is the most important step toward educating persuading and mobilizing people to stand up and speak out.  Watch for more information and a website soon.  Your support and participation would be greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile, Wait, What? will continue its work.

Jonathan

For Release:                                                                 For More Information Contact:
July 12, 2016                                                                Jonathan Pelto 860-428-2823

Pelto to run under Green Party Banner for 2nd Congressional District Seat

Long-time education advocate and former State Representative seeks to empower voters with issue agenda

(Storrs, Connecticut) Jonathan Pelto, a public education advocate and former Connecticut state representative, announced that he will run for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District this year as a member of the Green Party.  The Green Party’s nominating convention will be held on July 30 at Mansfield Public Library’s Buchanan Auditorium.

“I’m running for Congress as a Green Party candidate because this year’s election is so critical for sustaining the future of our democracy.” Pelto said, “I’m not running against Joe Courtney, whose performance in Congress has been extremely admirable, but to ensure that a variety of key issues are raised in this political campaign cycle.  Uncontested and under-contested elections reinforce apathy,  and this year, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, we need every voter to understand what is at stake and participate by voting.”

The Connecticut Green Party is the Connecticut affiliate of the Green Party of the United States. Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s Presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, is from Connecticut and signed Jonathan Pelto’s petition to run for Governor in 2014.

“A Congress that will adopt a fair and equitable tax system that requires large corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share, so that we can pay for vital services and reduce our national debt, is essential for securing the future of our country and create a healthier, safer and more equitable future for all of our citizens” Pelto added.

“In addition to highlighting the importance of an equitable and viable tax system, I will use this campaign to articulate an agenda that stops the privatization of public education and deals with the student debt crisis. Other critical issues include creating a more open and honest government, effective legislation that stops the wealthy from buying political decisions and laws that support, rather than undercut, renewable energy so that we can reduce the devastating effects of climate change.  We must also work to convert our defense industry to develop products for commercial markets,” Pelto concluded.

Over the past ten years, Green Party members have been elected to local positions in New Haven, Windham and New London.  The Connecticut Green Party holds a ballot line in the 2nd Congressional District, having received at least the required one percent of the vote in every election cycle since 2008.

“Jonathan Pelto is Connecticut’s leading voice on behalf of public education” said New London Board of Education member Mirna Martínez. “His willingness to stand up and speak out on the important issues we face will make him an outstanding candidate. We are looking forward to having him heading our Green Party slate in eastern Connecticut.”

Scott Deshefy, who gained ballot access in 2008 to become the first Green Party candidate to run in the 2nd Congressional District, added, “The Green Party is about educating and persuading voters to become better informed and more active in our democracy. Jonathan Pelto’s candidacy is a major step forward in our effort to reach more voters with our agenda of fairness, equity, social justice and grassroots democracy, which touched off the current progressive movement.”

This year’s race presents an unprecedented an opportunity to raise the visibility of the Green Party and to present sensible and humane solutions to the challenges faced by our country, state, and municipalities

“As Connecticut approaches the critically important 2018 gubernatorial campaign, the party and its Congressional candidate must receive at least one percent of the vote in the 2016 election, in order to maintain ballot access and its minor party status in the 2nd Congressional District. I hope to be able to ensure that the Green Party gets those votes” Pelto said.

###

Pelto, 55, has long a long record of involvement in Connecticut politics and government.  Pelto was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1984, where he served five terms.  During his legislature tenure he served in a variety of leadership positions including deputy majority leader of the House.  In 2014 Pelto was an unsuccessful petitioning candidate for governor.

Pelto is the founder and coordinator of the Education Bloggers Network, a confederation of more than 240 pro-public education bloggers around the country.  For the past six years Pelto has written the Wait, What? Blog, which is purportedly the most read commentary website in Connecticut.

Another victory for government secrecy in Connecticut?

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The CT Mirror headline reads; Fate of legislature’s investigative arm hangs on budget battle.

As background, in 1992 I served as the House Chairman of the Connecticut General Assembly Program Review and Investigation Committee.  In many respects it is one of the most important committees in the legislative branch of government.  The bi-partisan committee and its professional staff are tasked with providing the legislature with the ability to review and investigate administrative agencies, programs and policies and the committee serves as a unique mechanism to counter the power of the Governor and his control over all state activities.

But as a result of their disastrous budget agreement, Malloy and Democratic leaders took a major step toward undermining, even destroying, this important vehicle of transparency.

As the CT Mirror explains;

The fate of the legislature’s chief investigative arm probably will be determined in the next few weeks as top leaders decide whether to impose a cut that would chop the nonpartisan agency in half.

Meanwhile, the House’s longest-serving current member, Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, insists House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey’s office assured her the planned reduction to the Program Review and Investigation Committee staff would be significantly muted — in exchange for her support for the new state budget.

But the speaker, who is retiring after this year, said last week his office never made that pledge. And while he said he would try, nonetheless, to ease the fiscal pain, it is doubtful that several of the 12 positions in the investigative office won’t be eliminated.

In the short term, undermining the Program Review and Investigation Committee would derail important legislative reviews including studies into the State’s school desegregation programs; long-term care services; substance abuse prevention services and the state’s handling of discrimination complaints.

But the far more serious issue is that by decimating the Program Review Committee’s staffing and mission, the legislature would be taking another giant leap backwards in its duty to monitor and investigate the actions of the administrative branch of government.

But less executive branch oversight and less independence for the state’s clean government agencies appears to be one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s prime objectives. Unfortunately Democratic leaders have done little to subdue Malloy’s unprecedented attack on open and honest government.

As for the Program Review and Investigations Committee, according to the CT Mirror’s latest coverage,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature struggled to eliminate a nearly $1 billion hole in the 2016-17 fiscal year without raising taxes. And the $19.76 billion budget they enacted funds most departments and agencies below the level originally promised for that fiscal year.

When Sharkey and Looney announced a tentative budget agreement with the Malloy administration during the waning hours of the regular legislative session in early May, one of the cuts they announced was $750,000 to be achieved by eliminating half of the program review office’s 12 jobs.

Both Sharkey and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said they highly value program review’s work.

But they also felt the legislative branch’s portion of the budget — albeit a small one — should sacrifice in the same way the rest of state government was.

However, rather than cut out more of the top heavy political operation within the House and Senate Democratic and Republican caucuses, the legislative leaders, apparently with Republican leadership support, are seeking to preserve the money spent of guaranteeing the power of incumbency and achieving the savings incorporated in the new state budget by going after the Program Review and Investigations Committee.

You can read the complete CT Mirror article at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/07/11/fate-of-legislatures-investigative-arm-hangs-on-budget-battle/

Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn (Sarah Darer Littman)

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The truth is that UConn needs a lot more than transparency – its needs a new President, new top administrators, a new Board of Trustees and a new Governor.

In a CT Newsjunkie column last week, education advocate Sarah Darer Littman highlighted the UConn management’s fiscally irresponsible, tone-deaf and elitist leadership style, an approach in which the President receives raises and bonuses and hands out large pay raises to her top staff, all while the state’s “flagship” university faces one record budget cut after another.

Perhaps more than any other area of state government, Governor Dannel Malloy’s disdain for doing the right thing has been on full display at Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.

Claiming to be concerned about Connecticut’s economy, Malloy’s state budget policies have undercut college and career educational opportunities by dramatically reducing state support, which in turn, has led to much higher tuition and fees, all while reducing the level of programing at UConn and the state’s other colleges and universities.

Yet at the very same time, with Malloy serving as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the Board and UConn President have increased the already outrageously high salaries of top administrators at the University.

It is, as Sarah Darer Littman wrote, a “let them eat cake” moment.

As Littman explains in her Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn commentary piece,

Connecticut’s political parties might be increasingly polarized, but there’s one issue upon which they finally reached unanimous agreement: UConn President Susan Herbst has had a “let them eat cake” moment and her Board of Trustees is utterly tone deaf.

Jump into the DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor and set the date for February 24, 2015, when President Herbst testified about how cuts to the university’s block grant would have dire impacts on the quality of education at the university:

 “A reduction to the appropriation in that amount would without question have a devastating impact on every aspect of university operations, faculty teaching and research, and student success . . . The greatest consequences of this would be the effect it would have on our students, our academic programs, and the role UConn must play in the state’s future, economic and otherwise. It would be a giant step backward. To address the gap this would create, our cost savings and revenue options will include: strategic workforce reductions and, to the extent permitted by collective bargaining obligations, unpaid furlough days for all employees including management and unionized workers, reductions to student financial aid, closing academic departments and programs including in Storrs and the regional campuses and ending certain degree programs.”

As of February, 30 faculty members had been laid off, according to Michael Bailey, Executive Director of the UConn chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors). It’s happening across the country — tenured professor positions are being filled by less expensive adjuncts for whom the university isn’t required to pay benefits.

“Approximately 50 percent of the faculty is off the tenure track with adjuncts accounting for 25 percent of those. There has been about a 10 percent increase in adjunct faculty use in the Fall semesters since 2010,” according to Bailey.

Yet despite this, at a time of massive state budget deficits and statewide layoffs, President Herbst and the Board of Trustees have chosen — because let’s be clear, it’s a choice — to go forward with massive pay increases to a few non-union administrators on the basis that “everyone else is doing it.” One can’t help but think of that oft-heard parental reprimand, “If all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you do that, too?”

“The university does not run itself,” President Herbst reminded Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Senate Chair of the Higher Education Committee, in a letter responding to their questions. “We strongly believe in hiring high quality employees in order to fulfill UConn’s potential and ensure that we are as good as we can be as an institution. There are undeniably costs to that including the pay for the four people that prompted your letter, out of a workforce of more than 9,000.”

“I believe a contract is a contract and people should abide by contracts,” Board of Trustees chair Larry McHugh told the Hartford Courant.

What’s interesting — and revealing — is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s position. He was stridently adamant that labor unions reduce their contractual benefits in light of the new fiscal situation

Those who care about the state’s fiscal survival, let alone the future of the University of Connecticut, would do well to read Littman’s piece which can be found at:

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_herbsts_let_the_eat_cake_moment_shows_need_for_transparency_at_uconn/

The logical conclusion after reading it is that Connecticut AND UConn are in need of new leadership….

For more on UConn and its problems, read;

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter?  (Part I)

ALERT:  Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union

Can Jennifer come out and play?  How about Jeffrey?

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Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) gets paid a lot of money to be the spokesperson for the Connecticut charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies.

Doing that job earned her $224,000 in salary and benefits in 2014. Her board of corporate elite even gave her a $25,000 bonus that year, all so that she could continue to push their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher political agenda.

However, while Jennifer Alexander spends plenty of time inside the Capitol lobbying legislators and working with the Malloy administration, she has refused, to date, to accept an offer to debate the real problems and issues facing Connecticut’s public school children, parents, teachers and schools.

Not that long ago, UConn actually invited me to participate in a panel discussion about the very issues facing Connecticut’s public schools.  Other participants were to include both Jennifer Alexander and Jeffrey Villar, the highly paid executive of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, another charter school industry front group.

However, within 48 hours of the invitation being sent, UConn suddenly cancelled the panel.  And when it was rescheduled months later, no invitation to me was forthcoming.

Meanwhile, thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly, while Connecticut’s public schools are being hit with the deepest cuts in state history, Malloy and his administration are shoveling even more scarce taxpayer dollars to privately owned and operated charter schools that have consistently refused to educate their fair share of children who require special education services or those who need extra help learning the English language.  These charter schools even allow a significant number of uncertified teachers and staff to “educate” the children they claim to serve.

One would think that being paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year would give Jennifer Alexander the courage and conviction, or at least the obligation, to actually come out and debate the issues.

But in Malloy’s Connecticut, honesty and transparency are useless terms and those paid to defend his positions choose to remain hidden inside their golden temples.

Thus, I renew my request and offer.

Ms. Alexander, we’re waiting with baited breath.  Come out and debate.

Or perhaps Mr. Villar would be willing to defend the reformers’ indefensible positions.

How about it Jen or Jeffrey?

This is an important election year, why not accept my challenge and debate the issues so that Connecticut’s voters have the information they need to make informed decisions.

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