ConnCAN yelps response to Sarah Darer Littman’s Commentary piece

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Provides stunning argument as to why Malloy does not deserve four more years! Over this past weekend, public education advocate and CT NewsJunkie columnist Sarah Darer Littman published a scathing commentary piece on the Malloy administration, the disgraced Jumoke/FUSE charter school chain and the tens of millions of taxpayer funds being wasted on charter schools in Connecticut. You can read Sarah Darer Littman’s CTNewsJunkie column here – Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse and the Wait, What? re-post and assessment of the piece here - Another MUST READ column on Jumoke/FUSE by Sarah Darer Littman. But as incredible as Sarah Darer Littman’s original piece is, the response from the CEO of ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group, is even more telling. Wait, What? readers will recall that ConnCAN led the $6 million, record breaking, lobbying effort on behalf of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s corporate education reform bill that undermined local control and attempted to do away with tenure for all public school teachers, while repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts. ConnCAN also played a pivotal role in the failed attempt to do away with an elected board of education in Bridgeport, their campaign becoming the most expensive charter revision effort in history. And more recently, ConnCAN’s Board of Directors, and their immediate family members, have funneled more than $100,000 into Malloy’s re-election campaign operation — despite the fact that Malloy has taken $6.2 million in public funds to pay for his re-election effort. Normally, when presenting an attack piece by the corporate education reform industry, some critique is required, but not in this case. In this case, the response from Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN’s CEO, is so absurd that it stands on its own without any introduction or review… You can read ConnCAN’s full response here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_lets_develop_solutions_to_connecticuts_toughest_problems/ Alexander writes,

Regarding Sarah Darer Littman’s Sept. 19, 2014, op-ed, “Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse,” the egregious twisting of facts and history buries the important message at the core of Littman’s argument. Sadly, the piece is also a distraction from the real issue at hand, which is improving schools for all children in our state. […] I encourage her to join a real dialogue about how best to achieve these goals. It’s time to move away from tired personal attacks and unfounded conspiracy theories, roll up our sleeves and get to the real work of improving public education. Our kids are counting on it. It is, after all, our responsibility to ensure all kids have the opportunity to achieve their goals. Together, with hard work, dedication, and a bit of creativity, we can ensure Connecticut remains a place where people want to live, work, and invest in their future.

This from the individual and organization that recently sang the praises of Jumoke/FUSE and the man formerly known as “Dr.” Michael Sharpe.  Not to mention their unending efforts to divert taxpayer funds to privately run schools that consistently discriminate against those who don’t speak English and those who need special education services. The message from ConnCAN is loud and clear…..their message is – If you are satisfied with Malloy’s corporate education reform policies, then go ahead and vote for him. If, on the other hand, you are tired of charter schools wasting millions of dollars of our scarce public funds, then Malloy is definitely not the one you want to vote for. Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Malloy to Teachers – Just for the record, I’m lying to get your vote

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“In a recent interview published in this past weekend’s Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy admitted that when it comes to his corporate education reform industry agenda, he intends to continue along the same track.

Malloy said,

“What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out,”

  • We all know that Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.
  • Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.
  • When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate (even unconstitutional).  As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.
  • As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support.  Connecticut has learned from the Jumoke/FUSE Charter School debacle that charter schools are not held accountable and it took a raid by the FBI to ensure that charter schools are held responsible for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.
  • And while tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive Common Core Standardized Testing Program, Malloy and his administration have repeatedly lied and misled parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.

In an attempt to mislead teachers about this year’s election, the leadership of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers recently sent out an email quoting AFT President Randi Weingarten talking about the “distinguished AFT Connecticut’s relationship with the Malloy-Wyman Administration.”

As reported by the New Haven Register,  AFT President Weingarten said,

“she spends a lot of time with a lot of governors, but Malloy, unlike others, ‘instead of doubling down on that which didn’t work, there are adjustments that are being made.’

“‘Just like with kids in your classroom…you make adjustments. That’s what individualized learning is all about and the governor needs to be given credit for that…'””

Adjustments?????

They are trying to convince Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates that Dannel “Dan” Malloy is making adjustments to his reckless, wasteful and damaging education policies.

While Malloy has issued various press releases and reportedly made comments behind closed doors saying that, if re-elected, he’ll stop denigrating teachers, destroying public education and wasting tens of millions of taxpayer funds, just a month ago he told the Day Newspaper of New London.

“During a brief, surprise visit to The Day on Monday, part of a campaign push through the area, the governor assured us he will stay the course on education reform if re-elected.”

For the details, see the Wait, What? blog post entitledMalloy promises to “stay the course” on education reform!

Now with just five weeks to go until Election Day and the Connecticut Education Association scheduled to decide whether or not they will endorse Malloy for a second term on Friday, Malloy has made his position painfully clear…yet again.

In the weekend article, Malloy told the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper,

“Malloy said he intends to continue along the same track. “’What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out,’” 

Any teacher, parent or public school advocate who votes for Malloy is voting for another four years of a governor and an administration that has signed onto the worst elements of the corporate education reform industry agenda.

Don’t let Malloy or anyone else fool you…

Dannel “Dan” Malloy is as anti-teacher as he has ever been.

If not, he would have publicly renounced his 2012 proposal to do away with teacher tenure and repeal collective bargaining for teachers in the  poorest districts, he would have decoupled the unfair and inappropriate Common Core standardized tests from the teacher evaluation program, he would have committed to settling the vital CCEJF v. Rell lawsuit, he would have instituted a moratorium on more charter schools until a system can be developed to hold them accountable for their actions and he would be honest with parents and tell them that they do HAVE THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO OPT THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF THE ABSURD COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME.

Some Malloy apologists are saying that the alternative to Malloy will be worse.

But let’s be clear.  A month ago Malloy said if he was given four more years he’d stay the course of his corporate education reform initiatives and he said it again over the weekend.

Malloy is the one who has made the case.

The truth is that any other governor, faced with a Democratic General Assembly, will do less harm to public education than giving Dannel “Dan” Malloy another four years in office.

Just read a few of the recent Wait, What? posts to see what has been going on and what would continue under four more years of Malloy.

The pro-Common Core Standardized Testing governor throws students, parents and teachers a bone. (9/21/14)

Another MUST READ column on Jumoke/FUSE by Sarah Darer Littman (9/20/14)

Connecticut, a Jim Crow state? [A must read by Ann Policelli Cronin] (9/19/14)

 

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

The pro-Common Core Standardized Testing governor throws students, parents and teachers a bone.

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With election day in sight, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, one the of country’s leading corporate education reform supporters, recently issued a press release announcing that he was writing a letter to Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to “explore” reducing the use of the Common Core standardized testing for 11th graders.  (Malloy’s pro-corporate education reform industry initiatives have earned him more than a quarter of a million dollars in campaign donations from the state and national education reformers so far this year).

Pro-public education advocate and Hearst Media Group columnist Wendy Lecker takes on Governor Malloy’s standardized testing ploy in an commentary piece entitled, “Malloy’s empty words about testing

Wendy Lecker writes,

Throughout his administration, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s education policies have been characterized by a disdain for evidence of what helps children learn, and a refusal to listen to those closest to students — parents and teachers. While it has been proven that test-based accountability has done nothing to help learning, and has increased stress in children of all ages, Malloy callously maintained, “I’ll settle for teaching to the test if it means raising test scores.”

Now, weeks before the gubernatorial election, the governor has suddenly declared an interest in the welfare of children — or some children. In a self-congratulatory news release, the governor announced that he wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to begin a “dialogue” about how to reduce one standardized test for 11th graders.

Malloy’s newly discovered concern for over-testing for one grade must be understood against his record on standardized testing. Just two years ago, the Malloy administration rushed through an application for an NCLB “waiver,” which exchanged some of NCLB’s mandates for many other mandates — including massively increasing standardized testing. The waiver obligated the state to administer the Common Core tests, including moving the high school test from 10th to 11th grade, and to use the widely discredited method of including standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.

Recognizing the potential for an explosion in standardized testing, parents, school board members and teachers implored the Malloy administration not to apply for the NCLB waiver until it assessed the impact on our children and the cost to taxpayers. Yet, the Malloy administration ignored these warnings and submitted the application.

A year before the administration of the SBAC field tests statewide, I and others wrote about the lunacy of moving the high school test to 11th grade, a year when most students have a heavy course-load, AP tests, ACTs and SATs. Again, the Malloy administration disregarded the public and charged ahead.

When the statewide SBAC pilot tests were to be administered last year, parents expressed reluctance to state and local officials about subjecting their children to this experiment. Rather than consider their genuine concern, the Malloy administration employed a strategy to intimidate parents. It called for presenting parents with threatening letters and half-truths. Finally, if a parent persisted through the gauntlet of misrepresentations and insisted on opting her child out, the Malloy administration would relent and admit there is no penalty for doing so.

Some parents defied the Malloy administration’s bullying and sat their children out of the field tests. Eleventh graders sat out in the largest numbers. Hence Malloy’s new-found concern for over-testing — for 11th graders only.

Though Malloy professes concern about over-testing 11th graders, in reality he plans to increase testing for everyone. In May, his PEAC commission announced a plan to use multiple standardized tests in teacher evaluations going forward. Not only does this plan double down on the flawed practice of using standardized tests to measure a teacher’s performance, it also vastly increases testing for children. The SBAC interim tests, which the Malloy administration recommends, will likely double the standardized testing that already exists.

Against the reality of his policies, Malloy’s letter to Duncan proves to be nothing more than political posturing.

Contrast Malloy’s empty rhetoric with the actions of Vermont’s state officials. As Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe explained to parents in a letter in August, Vermont chose not to apply for the NCLB waiver because of the voluminous evidence demonstrating that including test scores in teacher evaluations is inaccurate; and the evidence that over-emphasizing standardized tests discourages teaching a rich curriculum.

In this letter, Holcombe explained that Vermont disagrees with federal education policy around standardized testing. She declared that NCLB’s reliance on test scores as the main measure of school quality “does not serve the interest of Vermont schools, nor does it advance our economic or social well-being.” Noting the failure of test-based accountability to narrow learning gaps between poor and affluent children, Holcombe wrote: “We need a different approach that actually works.”

Vermont’s State Board of Education followed with a resolution carefully reviewing the evidence on testing; calling on the federal government to reduce testing mandates and to stop using tests to evaluate teachers; and calling on state and national organizations to broaden educational goals and ensure adequate resources for schools.

The actions of Vermont’s state government remind us that the purpose of education policies is to benefit children. Sadly, Governor Malloy only seems to acknowledge the welfare of children when he is trying to snag votes.

You can read Wendy Lecker’s full commentary piece in the Stamford Advocate at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Lecker-Malloy-s-empty-words-about-testing-5768147.php

Another MUST READ column on Jumoke/FUSE by Sarah Darer Littman

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Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens.  She is also one of the most important voices on behalf of public education in Connecticut.

This week Sarah Darer Littman’s commentary piece on  CTNewsJunkie is a key addition to the discussion about the impact the corporate education reform industry is having in Connecticut and how key players in the Malloy administration, the City of Hartford and various pro-education reform entities are undermining Connecticut’s public education system.

In a piece entitled, “Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse,” Sarah Darer Littman writes,

“…I read the Hartford Courant report on the discovery that computers and equipment are missing from the Jumoke Academy at Milner…

[…]

Last year, Hartford received a “gift” in the form of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Hartford is a city where the Board of Education is under mayoral control — a situation the corporate education reformers in this state (and many forces from outside the state) tried extremely hard and spent a lot of money to try to replicate, unsuccessfully, in Bridgeport in 2012

This means that Mayor Pedro Segarra appoints five members of the Hartford Board of Education, and four are elected by the people of Hartford. However, according to its bylaws , the Board is meant to act as a whole.

But that’s not what happened in the case of the $5 million grant announced back in December 2012.

On June 29, 2012, staff members of the Gates Foundation came to Hartford for a meeting. According to a memo former Hartford Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto sent to the Board on October 12, 2012  — which was the first time the wider board knew of the meeting — “Participants included Board of Education Chair Matthew Poland, Mayor Segarra, Hartford Public Schools, Achievement First and Jumoke Academy senior staff members, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Connecticut Council for Education Reform, ConnCAN, and other corporate, community and philanthropic partners.”

[…]

What’s really disturbing is that by funneling a grant through another foundation, a private foundation was able to impose public policy behind closed doors, and what’s more, impose policy that required taxpayer money — all without transparency or accountability.

I had to file a Freedom of Information request in order to get a copy of the paperwork on the Gates grant and what I received was only the partial information, because as Connecticut taxpayers will have learned from the Jumoke/FUSE fiasco, while charter schools consistently argue they are “public” when it comes to accepting money from the state, they are quick to claim that they are private institutions  when it comes to transparency and accountability.

But what is clear from the grant paperwork is that Hartford Public Schools committed to giving more schools to Achievement First and Jumoke Academy/Fuse, a commitment made by just some members of the Board of Education in applying for the grant, which appears to be a clear abrogation of the bylaws. Further, as a result of the commitment made by those board members, financial costs would accrue to Hartford Public Schools that were not covered by the grant — for example, the technology to administer the NWEA map tests, something I wrote about back in December 2012, just after the grant was announced.

One of the Gates Foundation grant’s four initiatives was to “Build the district’s capacity to retain quality school leaders through the transformation of low-performing schools, replicating Jumoke Academy’s successful model of a holistic education approach.”

And the stunning, disturbing and incredible story gets worse…. Much, much worse…

The entire “MUST READ” article can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_dont_let_foundation_money_be_a_trojan_horse/

Sarah DarerLittman ends her piece with the observation,

That’s why we need transparency and accountability in our state, not backroom deals structured to avoid the public eye, but which still impact the public purse.

Editor’s Note:

While Sarah is absolutely right about the need for greater transparency and accountability, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that various players within the Malloy administration and the City of Hartford violated the spirit and the letter of Connecticut law.  While great transparency and accountability is vitally important, when it comes to the Jumoke/FUSE issue, indictments and convictions are also in order.

But please take the time to read the commentary piece – Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse.

Questions that teachers (parents, public school advocates and all voters) should be asking…

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Over the next week, the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association will be deciding whether to follow the lead of the American Federation of Teachers and endorse Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts or whether they will endorse another candidate or whether they should make no endorsement in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Here are some of the issues that Connecticut’s public school teachers should be mulling over;

Issue #1:  As has been noted repeatedly, no other Democratic governor in the nation has proposed doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest and lowest performing public schools.   At a candidate debate earlier this month, Malloy tried to clarify his infamous observation that teachers need only show for four years to get tenure by saying,

I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”

Wait, What? … Malloy’s comment wasn’t about teachers, “It was about tenure?

If Malloy thought he deserved the support of Connecticut’s teachers, why hasn’t he publicly renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining proposal?

 

Issue #2:  Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.  On the other hand, there are multiple teacher evaluation models that do not tie teacher evaluations to unfair, inappropriate and misleading standardized test results.

If Malloy wanted to show he understands the challenges facing teachers and public education why hasn’t he said that, if re-elected, he will decouple the mandated teacher evaluation system from unfair standardized testing?

 

Issue #3:  When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate.  As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.

If Malloy believes he deserves the votes of teachers (and parents and taxpayers), why won’t he simply say that if he gets a second term in office he will settle the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit and use the CCFEF Coalition’s expertise to fix Connecticut’s broken school funding system?

 

Issue #4:   As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support.  Virtually all of the new funding was allocated to the state’s 30 so-called Alliance Districts (with major strings attached).  The result has been a loss of local control for Connecticut’s poorest towns and no meaningful support for middle-class towns that have become even more reliant on regressive local property taxes.

If Malloy wants teachers, parents and public school advocates to vote for him, why hasn’t he announced that he will institute a moratorium on additional charter schools and devote scarce public resources to where they belong…Connecticut’s real public schools?

 

Issue #5:  COMMON CORE AND THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME

The Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Testing Scheme have become particularly controversial.  Tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive standardized testing program.  In addition, the Malloy administration has repeatedly lied and mislead parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.

If Malloy wants a second term, why hasn’t he ordered his State Department of Education to be honest with parents (and teachers) and tell parents that they DO HAVE A RIGHT TO OPT THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME and why does he continue to support the implementation of the Common Core and its massive Common Core Testing program?

These and many other important education issues will face the individual who is elected in November.

Before endorsing or supporting or voting for any candidate, Connecticut’s public school teachers (and every other Connecticut voter) should ask why Malloy has failed to adequately address these important issues.

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Connecticut, a Jim Crow state? [A must read by Ann Policelli Cronin]

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This commentary piece by Ann Policelli Cronin first appeared in the CT Mirror –  Op-Ed: Connecticut, a Jim Crow state?

Unless Connecticut changes direction in what has been packaged and sold as “education reform,” its achievement gap, the largest in the nation, will be exacerbated.

All of Connecticut’s children are harmed by the narrow and inappropriate content of the Common Core Standards and by the amount of instructional time lost to preparing for and taking standardized tests to measure acquisition of that content.

Connecticut children of color,already hurt by poverty and racism, however, suffer the most. Current “education reform” will further marginalize them as Jim Crow laws of the past marginalized African Americans in southern states.

The content of the Common Core standards was established by employees of testing companies. The content is simply what those employees determined can be measured on standardized tests.

For example, not one educator with expertise in teaching students how to develop as thoughtful readers and effective writers chose the 188 random skills to be taught in grade 9 and 10 English courses, or the 192 random skills for grades 11 and 12.  Also, no field studies were done to determine if those particular skills lead to achievement in college or careers.

The tests to assess mastery of this arbitrary content are meaningless hurdles whose function is to produce scores by which schools, teachers, and students are ranked. The more a school focuses on teaching the narrow and inappropriate content of the Common Core, the more its students will be harmed.

Connecticut schools vary widely in their adherence to the Common Core. None of the private prep schools, which specialize in preparing students for college, teach or test the Common Core. Many school districts with affluent parents and a history of good test scores pay lip service to the Common Core and continue with their own curricula.

However, the school districts with a history of low test scores teach exclusively to the Common Core tests because so much rides on raising those scores and not being identified as failing schools. Teaching to the test means those students are not taught to be engaged readers, motivated writers, critical thinkers, and thoughtful questioners as their peers in schools of the more privileged are taught to be. Impoverished students of color are often taught to simply be takers of standardized tests.

All this test preparation, however, is not likely to help students, disadvantaged by poverty and racism, score well. The “cut score” or passing grade on the Common Core aligned tests has been arbitrarily set so that approximately 30 percent of the test takers pass and 70 percent fail.

Scores on all standardized tests, such as the SAT and Connecticut’s CMT and CAPT, correlate with the family income of the test takers. Children living in poverty are disadvantaged in so many ways that even stringent test prep will not produce scores equal to their more advantaged peers. A large proportion of the 70 percent of Connecticut students who fail the tests will come from homes affected by poverty and racism.

The Common Core tests are given in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11. How will failing tests year after year affect children’s sense of themselves and their belief that schools are places for them to learn and grow?

How will it feel to come to school each day and look at the data wall in their classroom which posts each child’s scores on practice Common Core tests given throughout the school year and recognize their failures?

When they are 16, will they take the 11th grade test or drop out of school beforehand?  If they stay in school and are not among the 30 percent who pass the test, what will the schools do with the students who fail the test and, therefore, do not qualify to graduate? Keep testing them?

What will Connecticut as a state do with large numbers of teenagers who give up and drop out of school?  What are those young people without high school diplomas to do with their lives?

Connecticut’s students of privilege have the opportunity of receiving a private or public school education not restricted to the Common Core which prepares them to be future participants in society and the workforce who can innovate, collaborate, and communicate effectively. Students in schools intent upon raising test scores, however, have little opportunity of acquiring those necessary skills.

How can Connecticut turn this around and keep from becoming a Jim Crow state dividing those who are well-educated from those denied a productive education?

First, we must reject the misguided “reform” of the Common Core and its accompanying tests. As parents, we must opt our children out of those tests, and, as educators, we must reduce instructional time given to teaching the narrow and inappropriate Common Core content and preparing for Common Core tests.

Secondly and most importantly, as educators we must offer an alternate vision about teaching and learning, one grounded in well-documented knowledge about how children and adolescents grow and learn, and design ways to assess the achievement of real growth, real learning.

Connecticut has the resources — the educators, the research institutions, and the knowledge — to lead the country in creating real reform for children of all races and all incomes. Let’s begin.

Ann Policelli Cronin is a consultant in English education for school districts and university schools of education. She has taught English, been a district level administrator for English programs, taught university courses in English education, been assistant director of the Connecticut Writing Project, and won state awards for her teaching and national awards for curriculum design.

The question IS NOT whether UConn has a major impact on Connecticut’s economy

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The question IS NOT whether UConn has a major impact on Connecticut’s economy.

An additional issue is whether voters fully understand how UConn spends its public funds.  For example, UConn uses student and public funds to subsidize the school’s big-time athletic programs to the tune of about $19 million a year.

Yesterday, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and UConn President Susan Herbst released a $50,000 study, produced by an out-of-state company that reported that that the University of Connecticut “had a $3.4 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2013.”

The University of Connecticut is a public institution of higher education that is dedicated to research, teaching and public service.  UConn’s total budget is in excess of $1 billion a year, about 27% of which comes from state funds.  It wasn’t that long ago that the state funded almost half of UConn’s budget.  UConn is part of the nation’s network of land-grant universities.   The concept of land-grant universities originated in the 1860s as a way to target public funds to promote “agricultural and technical educational institutions.”

Putting aside the obvious issue that this publicly-funded study was timed to showcase Malloy during the 2014 gubernatorial election, the bigger question is the governor’s double-standard when it comes to UConn and Connecticut’s other public colleges and universities.

At yesterday’s press conference, Malloy proclaimed,

“It’s important for the people of Connecticut to understand just how vital the University of Connecticut is to economic activity.”

Of course, this statement comes from the very same governor who pushed through the deepest budget cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.

Since becoming governor, Malloy has reduced state support for the University of Connecticut by well over $100 million.  (The same pattern of budget cuts has taken place at the Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges).

As a direct result of Malloy’s budget cuts to UConn and the other public colleges and universities, the schools have been forced to shift the costs onto the backs of Connecticut’s students and their parents.

Since Malloy took office, the cost of going to UConn has skyrocketed by 20% for students living on campus.  As a result of Malloy’s budget cuts, students who commute to UConn or can’t afford to live on campus have seen their tuition and mandatory fees jump by an incredible 28%.

Compounding the problem is the lack of transparency and honesty coming from the Malloy administration and UConn’s Board of Trustees.

The public subsidy of UConn’s athletic programs is just such an example.

When the State of Connecticut built a new stadium in East Hartford and UConn moved to 1-A football, state officials claimed that the move would be lucrative and that within a few years UConn football would be paying for the entire cost of UConn’s athletic programs.

However, according to a 2013 financial report provided to the NCAA, the State of Connecticut and UConn students continue to provide a massive subsidy to UConn’s big-time athletic programs.

Last year, UConn’s athletics program cost in excess of $63.3 million.  Incredibly, 29.7% of that money comes from UConn’s Operating Fund which is primarily made up of tax dollars, as well as, UConn student tuition and fees.

While “big time” athletics are certainly part of almost every major university, Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents deserve to know that they are subsiding UConn athletics to the tune of about $19 million a year.

And while having top tier coaches is a vital part of any successful major athletic program, most Connecticut taxpayers, students and parents probably don’t know that UConn’s top four coaches collected in excess of $7.1 million in compensation in 2013 and that nearly a third of that money came directly from students, parents and taxpayers.

The truth is that Connecticut should be proud of the University of Connecticut and the impact UConn has on the state.

And Governor Malloy certainly has the right to highlight the fact that he has put nearly $2 billion on the state’s credit card to build even more new buildings for the University.

But for Governor Malloy to hold a press conference about UConn, without explaining that he implemented historic cuts to UConn’s operating fund, is extremely inappropriate and misleading.

As a direct result of Malloy’s policies, UConn has become more expensive for Connecticut families.

That is certainly something he shouldn’t be proud about.

You can read more about the new study and Malloy’s press conference at:

CTNewsJunkieNew Report Touts UConn’s Impact On State Economy

CT Mirror: UConn touts its economic contribution but touches off a political dustup

CT Democratic Chair – The pot that called the kettle black

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“The pot calling the kettle black” is an idiom used to claim that a person is guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another.

For example,

“Oho!” said the pot to the kettle;
“You are dirty and ugly and black!
Sure no one would think you were metal,
Except when you’re given a crack.”

“Not so! not so!” kettle said to the pot;
“‘Tis your own dirty image you see;
For I am so clean – without blemish or blot –
That your blackness is mirrored in me.”
—Maxwell’s Elementary Grammar, 1904,

With that as the backdrop, some of you may have recently received an email from Democratic State Chair Nancy DiNardo.

The email ALERT read,

BAD NEWS: GOP Super-PACs are planning to spend an unprecedented $6 million (and probably more) on TV ads to defeat Democratic candidates across Connecticut.

And this is on top of everything else the GOP is doing to win this November.

We need September to be a HUGE month for Connecticut Democrats if we want our candidates to survive the onslaught of attacks. Chip in $5 or more now >>

Truth be told, the email is another fine example of the pot calling the kettle black idiom.

The Chair of the Connecticut Democratic Party was writing on behalf of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy.

The same Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy that pushed through the legislation that allows a candidate for governor in Connecticut to take $6.2 million in public funds for their campaign and still raise millions more through their political party and related political action committees.

In Malloy’s case, not only has he cashed the $6.2 million taxpayer-funded check, but he has raised more than $3.5 million into the Democratic State Central Committee from state contractors, lobbyists, and individuals that have benefited financially from Malloy’s corporate welfare programs.

And that doesn’t even count the Democratic Super-PAC called Connecticut Forward, an entity that has already dumped more than $3.5 million into campaign 2014 to support Malloy and oppose Foley.

And just who are the people and organizations that are pouring money into the Malloy campaign operation?

Readers won’t be surprised to learn that one of the biggest donors to Malloy’s campaign extravaganza is the corporate education reform industry.

According to the last set of federal and state campaign finance reports, Governor Malloy, the champion of the corporate education reform industry and the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest schools has received well over a quarter of a million dollars from leaders and political action committees associated with the national education reform and privatization effort.

You read that right…Malloy’s political campaign has benefited from more than $250,000 in campaign contributions from the corporate education reform industry.

For example, in Connecticut, the leading force behind Malloy’s education reform initiative is ConnCAN.

ConnCAN is the charter school advocacy group that helped make the lobbying campaign in support of Malloy’s education reform bill the most expensive in state history.

ConnCAN’s Board of Directors and their immediate family members have donated more than $100,000 to Malloy’s campaign.

In addition, donors to the Democratic State Central Committee and political action committees supporting Malloy’s re-election bid include the anti-teacher Democrats for Education Reform, one of the nation’s leading corporate education reformers, billionaire Eli Broad, and Connecticut billionaire and education reform-funder, Steven Mandel.

Sadly, the Chairperson of the Connecticut Democratic Party fails to explain to the Democratic Party’s rank and file that their $5 contribution to confront the GOP Super-PAC will be deposited into the same account that is awash in millions of dollars that are being dumped into the Malloy campaign by the corporate elite that are so eager to see Malloy in office for another four years.

Malloy’s Fundraising Operation – “Offensive but not illegal”

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As noted earlier this week in Wait, What? post entitled, Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his campaign operation has collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign by directing large campaign contributors to make donations to the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account.  Much of the money has come from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.

Under Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law that passed in 2005, following former governor John Rowland’s conviction, Malloy’s fundraising scheme would have been illegal.

But thanks to changes in the law that were proposed by Malloy and approved by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2013, the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ruled yesterday that Malloy’s tactics are an “offensive” violation of the law’s “spirit and intent,” but not illegal.

Details of Malloy’s close call with the law can be found in the Hartford Courant’s Panel Condemns NU Exec’s Pro-Malloy Solicitation As ‘Offensive’ – But Finds No Violation and the CT NewsJunkie’s Election Regulators Call NU Solicitation ‘Egregious’.

As CTNewsJunkie explains,

The State Elections Enforcement Commission dismissed a complaint against Northeast Utilities CEO Thomas May Tuesday, but not before offering some harsh criticism of the solicitation the state contractor sent last September to his employees.

“The next gubernatorial election is upon us, and I am asking each of you to join me in financially supporting Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy,” May wrote in his Sept. 27, 2013 email to company managers. The email, which was sent from May’s private gmail account, suggested that donations be made to the Connecticut Democratic State Central’s federal account.

State election law prohibits state contractors from contributing to state party accounts or the campaigns of statewide candidates. Even though the email solicitation mentioned Malloy’s accomplishments at length, the commission was unable to find that May violated state election law because the money went to the party’s federal account.

“The Commission does conclude that the content of the solicitation by Mr. May is both offensive and disturbing and violates the spirit and intent of the Connecticut state contractor ban,” the 5-0 decision to dismiss the complaint reads.

The Hartford Courant adds,

If May had asked his people to donate to the Democratic Party’s account for state political operations, or directly to Malloy or any other candidate for state office, it would have violated the statutory ban on contractors giving money to state campaigns, the commission said.

However, “[b]ecause the contributions…were deposited into the [Democratic Party's] federal account which is generally outside the Commission’s jurisdiction, and not to a state [party] committee,” the commission “lacks the authority…to sanction the conduct,” the commission said in its decision.

The underlying problem with the State Elections Enforcement Commission decision is that everyone associated with the Malloy ploy knew exactly what was going on.

The Hartford Courant quotes an SEEC Commissioner as saying,

“To direct money that on its face was being raised for the support of a statewide candidate” – Malloy – “and deposit that money into a federal account, is an abuse not only of what that federal account is intended for, but clearly seems to be an effort to bypass the workings of the Connecticut finance law,” commission member Stephen T. Penny said.

Twice in the past month, the commission put off a decision in the case after deliberating it behind closed doors. “At first blush the conduct of [May] appeared to be an egregious violation…but after a careful review of state law, we were unable to find any specific violations,” Penny said.

In a blistering attack on the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s ruling, State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney issued a statement saying,

“Clearly, NU’s CEO violated the spirit of our clean election law – a law which was once a model for the country. That historic legislation has become a mockery. Gov. Malloy now has a choice to make. He can keep the money he received from NU officials, or he can return it. If he keeps the money, he will place a cloud on our campaign finance system. If he returns it, he will restore some integrity to the system.”

But of course, the likelihood of Malloy returning the ill-gotten campaign funds is zero because on top of the $50,000 he collected from NU are millions of dollars more from other state contractors, as well as, individuals and companies that have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program.

While Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform legislation was rigged to keep 3rd party candidates out of the system, it did do an outstanding job limiting the influence of corporate, lobbyist and special interest funds.

That was before Malloy, with the help of the Democratic members of the Connecticut General Assembly, made a mockery of the law adding a series of loopholes designed to allow Malloy to use public and special interest funds to pay for his campaign.

Now, not only are Connecticut taxpayers giving Malloy (and Foley) $6.2 million each, but Malloy and his political operation are inappropriately, but not illegally, taking millions of dollars from those doing business with the state or benefiting directly from Malloy’s state spending strategies.

You can read more about this development at:

CTNewsJunkie:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/election_regulators_call_nu_solicitation_egregious/

Hartford Courant: http://touch.courant.com/#section/2237/article/p2p-81383792/

Jumoke Charter School Company back in the news due to missing computers

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The disgraced charter school company that got tens of millions of taxpayer dollars thanks to no-bid contracts from the Malloy administration is back in the news.

Apparently the constant flow of checks from Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s Department of Education wasn’t enough to appease the charter school company and its management.

The Hartford Courant is reporting that Jumoke may have removed more than $40,000 worth of “technology and equipment” before being booted out of Hartford’s Milner School earlier this year.

The Malloy administration gave Jumoke/FUSE charter school company no-bid contracts to run public schools in Hartford and Bridgeport and was granted management of a new charter school in New Haven.  There are also reports of a secret deal that fell through to give the charter school company control of a public school in Waterbury.

After a series of scathing investigative news stories written by the Hartford Courant, the Jumoke/FUSE charter school company collapsed, although the Malloy administration has allowed Jumoke to continue to run its original charter school in Hartford.  To date, Jumoke’s Hartford Charter School has cost Connecticut taxpayers over $50 million.

Now, according to a report in the Hartford Courant, when the Hartford Public School System re-took control of the Milner School this past summer, “among the 30 assets that cannot be found at Milner are 19 computers with monitors, including nine Lenovo computers that were acquired by Milner in January 2013 at a price of $900 each.”

The Hartford Courant reports that Hartford School officials wrote to Jumoke saying,

“If the Hartford Public Schools does not receive notice that Jumoke Academy, Inc./FUSE is returning the items or paying for the full replacement value of the identified missing materials, we will have no alternative but to treat the matter as a theft with the appropriate authorities,” wrote Paula Altieri, Hartford schools’ chief financial officer, in a certified letter dated Sept. 9.”

[…]

Hartford school officials said the district conducted a physical inventory of all schools in May 2013, then reviewed Milner’s assets again in late February and noted 54 “unaccounted for” items totaling $70,391.90 in value, including 11 laptops and five electronic SMART Boards.

School officials said they informed Michael M. Sharpe, then the CEO of FUSE, of the results of the second Milner inventory during an early March conference call. Sharpe has disputed the district’s findings.

At some point along the way, the Hartford Courant apparently asked Michael Sharpe, Jumoke/FUSE’s former CEO, about the missing equipment.  According to today’s Courant news story, Sharpe “blamed the Hartford school system for losing the equipment.”

You can read the full Hartford Courant story at: http://touch.courant.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81386037/

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