Send a message – Vote on principle – Write in Pelto/Murphy

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It is not a standardized test, but you do start by darkening the bubble

STEP #1:  Mark Box 1G

STEP #2:  Write in Pelto/Murphy or Pelto

WRITE- IN V1

Can we have a little honesty about Connecticut’s state budget problems?

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No, because – That’s not how it works! That’s not how any of this works! 

Rather than honestly confront the projected $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget and the shortfall of more than $4.8 billion over the next three years, the two major party candidates for governor have decided to simply lie their way to Election Day in the hopes that voters will not discover the magnitude of the fiscal problems Connecticut will face over the next few years.

At last night’s candidate’s debate, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, knowing that he will actually be forced to cut services and increase taxes, chose to repeat his “read-my-lips” pledge by saying, “Let me be very clear, there will not be a deficit, nor will there be a tax increase.”

Meanwhile, Foley, the Republican nominee who didn’t even bother to show up for the candidate debate, has taken an equally disingenuous approach to the state budget.

The two major party candidates’ — “Budget deficit? What budget deficit?” – strategy was on full display this week as the CTNewsjunkie reported, “Malloy, Foley Both Promise To Hold Towns Harmless.”

So Malloy and Foley are telling voters they will be no tax increases, no significant cuts in state services, no cuts in education or municipal aid and no mass layoffs of state employees.

The incredible truth is that the only candidate being honest about Connecticut’s budget problem is petitioning candidate Joe Visconti who says he’ll slash the state budget until it balances.  It would be a hard, even impossible, strategy to achieve and the impact would be disastrous, but give Visconti an A+ for his honesty.

Readers who want to know the truth about Connecticut’s ongoing fiscal crisis should read the Wait, What? posts of September 3, 2014 (Foley and Malloy are just plain wrong on taxes) and September 16, 2014 (Why Malloy’s (and Foley’s) anti-tax pledge is anti-middle class.)

As noted in the September 3rd post,

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is fond of saying that he inherited a $3.7 billion budget deficit when he was sworn into office in January 2011.  (The number comes from reports produced by the Legislature’s independent Office of Fiscal Analysis).

The candidate who is sworn in as Governor of Connecticut in January 2015 will be facing a combined budget deficit of at least $4.8 billion over the next three years. YES – You read that number correctly.  Even after taking into consideration increased revenue from an “improving” economy, Connecticut state government will be $4.8 billion short of what is needed to maintain the present level of services and meet its present statutory obligations.

On the campaign trail, Malloy claims that there is “no deficit” in the future; these projections come from the same independent Office of Fiscal Analyses, the entity he quotes in his regular campaign stump speech.

The truth is that Connecticut continues to face a budget crisis, but rather than tell the truth about the fiscal house of cards that has been built up over the past two decades, the two major party candidates have made a calculated decision that politics trumps reality and that their best tactic is to mislead the voters in the hope that Connecticut citizens will remain docile, compliant and unaware of the fiscal crisis that will not only swallow up their economic stability but that of their children as well.

Malloy has based his campaign on a promise never to propose or accept any tax increase in a second term, while telling voters that he will not cut vital services and telling state employees that he will not need to discuss further concessions with their union leaders.

Tom Foley, in turn, has made an equally strong commitment to a “no tax” pledge” saying that he will honor the existing state employee agreement and that he will not use state employee layoffs to balance the state budget.

In a recent attempt to prove that Foley’s “no tax” pledge is bigger than Malloy’s “no tax pledge,” the Hartford Courant wrote that Foley and his running mate, Heather Somers have even launched a new online “No New Taxes Petition.”

The “I’m no tax, no I’m no tax” charade make Foley and Malloy the modern day equivalents of  Frick and Frack, the two Swiss skaters who rose to fame as original members of the Ice Follies,  doing ice skating tricks while wearing Lederhosen.

But if the Democrat and Republican candidates for governor succeed in ducking the real tax issue facing the state, the people of Connecticut, especially our middle income taxpayers, will be the true losers.

The truth is that most of the expenses related to the $4.8 billion projected budget deficit over the next three years must be paid.  Neither Malloy nor Foley can wish or lie the problem away.

For example, Governor Malloy’s irresponsible borrowing policies mean that the state MUST increase its debt service payments by at least $672 million dollars over the next three years and mandatory payments to the state employee and teacher pension and healthcare funds will account for an additional $620 million.

Putting aside critically important issues like the increased costs for education, healthcare, transportation, support and services for citizens with developmental chalengees, our public colleges and universities and all the other areas of state expenditures, Malloy and Foley can pledge that they will not raise any taxes all they want, but the winner of the gubernatorial election will need to come up with $1.3 billion over the next three years just to pay the additional debt service on the state credit card and the minimum payments into the state pension and healthcare funds.

On top of which, while the “no tax” pledges sound good in a television ad, the major party candidates owe the voters a detailed list of where they are going to cut billions from the state budget and how they are going to sidestep having to sit down and talk with state employee unions about the financial crisis.

This isn’t a magic show.  It is an extremely serious decision about who will lead the state and how they will deal with the very real issue of increased taxes.

As taxpayers across Connecticut are aware…

When Malloy introduced his record-breaking tax increase in 2011, he increased the income tax rate for everyone except those making over $1 million a year.  He told a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly that he wasn’t increasing the income tax rate on the wealthy because he didn’t want to “punish success.”

As if Connecticut’s middle class and working families weren’t the ones who really deserved to be called successful.

Furthermore, a growing number of people are aware that in Connecticut, middle income families pay about 10% of their income in state and local taxes, the poor about 12% and the wealthy about 5-6%.

When Malloy and Foley say they will not support any increase in state taxes, what they ARE saying is that the full burden for maintaining our schools and other important local services will fall on Connecticut’s already overburdened local property taxpayers.

In fact, every time a Connecticut voter hears a gubernatorial candidate say they he will not support additional taxes, they should understand that he is saying that he will continue Malloy’s strategy of coddling the rich and dumping the burden on homeowners, car owners and those who pay property taxes through increased rent.

When it comes to the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, one truth stands out.

Foley and Malloy will use their television ads to claim that they won’t raise taxes.

But there should be a huge disclaimer on those ads that should read:

If this candidate wins, vital state services will be cut and Connecticut’s middle class will be facing massive local property tax increases or face unparalleled cuts to their local public schools.

And no voter, liberal, moderate or conservative, should cast their vote for either Malloy or Foley until each is willing to explain how they will actually deal with the fiscal realities that are facing Connecticut.

Malloy and Democrats are violating Connecticut law with use of Federal PAC funds

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With Election Day eleven days away, one thing is certain.  One of the biggest losers this year is the integrity of Connecticut’s once promising campaign finance reform law.

In addition to collecting $6.5 million in public funds for his campaign, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his political operation have raised over $4.3 million into the Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account.”  This $10.8 million doesn’t even count an additional $4.4 million that is being funneled into Connecticut in support of Malloy via a Super PAC ironically named “Connecticut Forward.”

Opposing Malloy’s $15.2 million is Foley’s campaign with $12.2 million, $6.5 million in public funds and another $5.7 million through the Grow Connecticut Super PAC.

As has been widely reported in the media, the ethical and legal controversy underling the 2014 gubernatorial campaign is the fact that the Democrat Party’s “Federal Account” received hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who have state contracts or have directly benefited from Governor Malloy’s corporate welfare program.

The use of campaign donations from state contractors to support Malloy’s re-election effort destroys the fundamental purpose of Connecticut’s landmark 2005 campaign finance reform law, a law that passed and signed into law to prevent any future governor from doing what helped send disgraced Governor John Rowland to prison.

However, less than ten years after Rowland went to prison and Connecticut adopted its sweeping campaign reform law, Malloy is using state contractor funds to pay for a series of campaign mailings to promote his re-election effort.

Even worse, the on-going violation of the spirit, and probably the letter, of Connecticut law goes well beyond the use of campaign donations from state contractors.

Malloy and his operatives have collected and deposited more than $425,000 from political action committees into that same Democratic Party “federal account.”

And the vast majority of those donations came from Federal Political Action committees THAT ARE PROHIBITED from using their funds to benefit a state-level candidate in Connecticut.

Connecticut law clearly requires that a political action committee (PAC) must register with the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission before it can give money to benefit state candidates.

According to Connecticut law and the State Elections Enforcement Commission,

“A political committee registered with the Federal Election Commission under federal law or with another state other than Connecticut may not make contributions or expenditures to or for the benefit of a Connecticut state or municipal candidate or a Connecticut political committee or party committee. A separate committee must first be registered in Connecticut (by filing a SEEC Form 3, designating a treasurer and a depository institution situated in Connecticut) and then must solicit funds specifically for use in Connecticut campaigns in accordance with Connecticut’s campaign finance laws”

However, the Malloy campaign has been directly benefiting from money donated by political action committees that are registered with the Federal Election Commission BUT HAVE NOT registered with the State of Connecticut.

The following chart lists political action committee donations that have been deposited into the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account” and identifies contributions that have come from PACS that are prohibited from helping the Malloy campaign because they are not registered in Connecticut.

While it is appalling that Malloy and his campaign would use money donated by state contractors and people who have directly benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program, it is equally disturbing that Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee would utilize PAC funds that violate one of the most fundamental aspects of Connecticut’s campaign finance law.

NOT Registered in CT Political Action Committee Name City State Amount
X AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS COMMITTEE ON POLITICAL EDUCATION (COPE) WASHINGTON DC $15,000
X COZEN O’CONNOR POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE PHILADELPHIA PA $10,000
X HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP INC ADVOCATES FU HARTFORD CT $10,000
X IBEW PAC VOLUNTARY FUND WASHINGTON DC $10,000
X JOBS AND INNOVATION MATTER PAC (JIM PAC) WASHINGTON DC $10,000
X PFIZER INC. PAC NEW YORK NY $10,000
X THE TRAVELERS COMPANIES PAC HARTFORD CT $10,000
X UNITEDHEALTH GROUP, INC. PAC HOPKINS MN $10,000
X SHEET METAL WORKERS’ INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION PAC WASHINGTON DC $9,500
X ROBINSON & COLE FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE HARTFORD CT $8,000
X UAW V CAP DETROIT MI $7,875
X BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE RIDGEFIELD CT $7,500
X COMCAST CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE- FEDERAL PHILADELPHIA PA $7,500
X COVANTA ENERGY CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMMITTEE MORRISTOWN NJ $7,500
UNITED BROTHERHOOD OF CARPENTERS/JOINERS OF AMER NEW ENGLAND REG CARPENTERS LEGIS EMP CMTE NORWALK CT $7,500
X INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF IRONWORKERS WASHINGTON DC $7,000
X NEA FUND FOR CHILDREN AND PUBLIC ED WASHINGTON DC $6,850
X GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTE WASHINGTON DC $6,000
X ALVAREZ & MARSAL HOLDINGS LLC PAC WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION-COPE WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X AT&T INC. FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (AT&T DALLAS TX $5,000
X BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION PAC (FKA MBNA CORPORATION FEDERAL PAC WILMINGTON DE $5,000
X CIGNA CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION PAC FALLS CHURCH VA $5,000
X DEMOCRATS FOR EDUCATION REFORM WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X FOXPAC WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIRE FIGHTERS PAC WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HEAT & FROST INSULATORS AND ASBESTOS WORKERS P A C LANHAM MD $5,000
X INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS & ALLIED TRADES POLITICAL ACTION TOGETHER POLITICAL COMM LEESBURG VA $5,000
X MACHINISTS NON-PARTISAN POLITICAL LEAGUE UPPER MARLBORO MD $5,000
X NEW DEMOCRAT COALITION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE WASHINGTON DC $5,000
NEW ENGLAND REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS LEGIS EMP CMTE BOSTON MA $5,000
** NUTMEG PAC STAMFORD CT $5,000
OPERATING ENGINEERS LOCAL 478 POLITICAL ACTION COM HAMDEN CT $5,000
X PRAXAIR, INC. PAC DANBURY CT $5,000
X PURDUE PHARMA PAC STAMFORD CT $5,000
X SEIU COPE PAC PCC WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X SYNERGY PAC MCLEAN VA $5,000
X THE WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS EMPLOYEES PAC WASHINGTON DC $5,000
X WAL-MART STORES INC. PAC FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT BENTONVILLE AR $5,000
X WELLPOINT, INC. WELLPAC INDIANAPOLIS IN $5,000
DOMINION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE RICHMOND VA $3,500
X PITNEY BOWES, INC. PAC STAMFORD CT $3,500
X THE PHOENIX COMPANIES PAC HARTFORD CT $3,500
X GHC ANCILLARY CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE KENNETT SQUARE PA $3,000
WEBSTER BANK PAC-FEDERAL WATERBURY CT $3,000
X PULLMAN & COMLEY FEDERAL PAC BRIDGEPORT CT $2,850
SENATE DEMOCRATS VICTORY PAC WEST HARTFORD CT $2,655
X AETNA INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE WASHINGTON DC $2,500
ASSOCIATION OF COMMUTER RAIL EMPLOYEES PAC NEW YORK NY $2,500
X CERNER CORPORATION PAC KANSAS CITY MO $2,500
CT STATE COUNCIL OF MACHINISTS PAC KENSINGTON CT $2,500
X FUELCELL ENERGY PAC DANBURY CT $2,500
X GENERAL DYNAMICS VOLUNTARY POLITICAL CONTRIBUTION FALLS CHURCH VA $2,500
X MINERALS TECHNOLOGIES INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (MTI PAC) NEW YORK NY $2,500
X MURPHPAC WASHINGTON DC $2,500
X NATIONAL CONFECTIONERS ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES, INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE WASHINGTON DC $2,500
X NORTHEAST UTILITIES EMPLOYEES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE-FED WASHINGTON DC $2,500
X OLDCASTLE MATERIALS INC. PAC WASHINGTON DC $2,500
X SPECTRA ENERGY CORP POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (SPECTRA-DCP PAC) HOUSTON TX $2,500
X UNITED ASSOCIATION POLITICAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE ANNAPOLIS MD $2,500
X WALGREEN CO PAC DEERFIELD IL $2,500
X XEROX CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (XPAC WASHINGTON DC $2,500
CONNECTICUT BANKERS ASSOCIATION PAC, BANKPAC FARMINGTON CT $2,000
X DRIVE COMMITTEE WASHINGTON DC $2,000
X INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF BOILERMAKERS CAMPAIGN KANSAS CITY KS $2,000
X INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES WASHINGTON DC $2,000
X INTL UNION OF BRICKLAYERS & ALLIED CRAFTWORKERS PAC WASHINGTON DC $2,000
LD PAC FARMINGTON CT $2,000
X O’NEILL & ASSOC. PAC BOSTON MA $2,000
X THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC INC. PAC WALTHAM MA $2,000
CEUI PAC MIDDLETOWN CT $1,850
DREW PAC MIDDLETOWN CT $1,685
CT STATE EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION PAC HARTFORD CT $1,615
DEMOCRATS FOR NEW LEADERSHIP WETHERSFIELD CT $1,500
X XL AMERICA. INC. – PAC CONTRIBUTION ACCOUNT HARTFORD CT $1,500
PROPEL PAC ( PRO PROGRESSIVE ENERGETIC LEADERSHIP ) PAC NEW BRITAIN CT $1,430
X CBS CORPORATION PAC WASHINGTON DC $1,000
CONNECTICUT STATE UAW-PAC COUNCIL FARMINGTON CT $1,000
X DAVID WEPRIN FOR CONGRESS HOLLIS NY $1,000
X GREENBERG TRAURIG, P.A. PAC ALBANY NY $1,000
X HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN OF GREATER NEW YORK FEDERAL NEW YORK NY $1,000
X LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION EMPLOYEES’ POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE ARLINGTON VA $1,000
X MARYLAND ASSOCIATION FOR CONCERNED CITIZENS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE PIKESVILLE MD $1,000
X THE NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA INC. POLITICAL ACT STAMFORD CT $1,000
LOCAL 387 CHESHIRE CORRECTION COMPLEX PAC MILLDALE CT $875
SEIU STATE COUNCIL PAC HARTFORD CT $875
** URBAN LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE BLOOMFIELD CT $850
** O’BRIEN ’13 WEST HAVEN CT $775
A BETTER CONNECTICUT PAC ROCKY HILL CT $725
C.P.F.U. (CONNECTICUT POLICE & FIRE UNION) PAC HARTFORD CT $600
** EILEEN HEAPHY FOR MAYOR STAMFORD CT $600
** MATT PAC WEST HARTFORD CT $570
STAMFORD PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS PAC FUND STAMFORD CT $525
THE GREATER HARTFORD PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S CLUB SOUTH WINDSOR CT $525
AQN PAC BRIDGEPORT CT $500
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT CARPENTERS LOCAL UNION 24 PAC YALESVILLE CT $500
CONNECTICUT ASSOCIATION OF OPTOMETRISTS INC PAC ROCKY HILL CT $500
** PROJECT DEMOCRACY WEST HARTFORD CT $500
UNIFORMED PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS ASSOCIATION OF CT PAC WEST HARTFORD CT $500
139TH DISTRICT DEMOCRATIC PAC WEST HARTFORD CT $450
30 PAC MARION CT $370
CWA LOCAL 1298 PAC HAMDEN CT $370
HERE LOCAL 35 PAC NEW HAVEN CT $350
SHEET METAL WORKERS LOCAL 40 PAC ROCKY HILL CT $350
CONNECTICUT YOUNG DEMOCRATS HARTFORD CT $300
AFT CONNECTICUT PAC ROCKY HILL CT $250
CHARTER OAK PAC HARTFORD CT $250
CONNECTICUT HISPANIC DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS NEW HAVEN CT $250
UCPEA PAC STORRS MANSFIELD CT $250
X UNITY9 PAC WASHINGTON DC $250
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT DEMOCRATS ROCKY HILL CT $200
WORKING WOMEN AND MEN OF CENTRAL CONNECTICUT ROCKY HILL CT $200
MIDDLESEX COUNTY LEADERSHIP PAC CLINTON CT $185
CT FEDERATION OF DEMOCRATIC WOMEN EAST HARTFORD CT $175
SOJOURNER NETWORK OF DEM. WOMEN PAC HARTFORD CT $175
STAMFORD GREEN LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE STAMFORD CT $175
X COMMITTEE TO RE-ELECT BRIAN CURTIN BURLINGTON MA $100
GUARDIAN FREEDOM PAC STAMFORD CT $100
SHORELINE LEAGUE OF DEMOCRATIC WOMEN POLITICAL ACCOUNT GUILFORD CT $100
THIRD STREET PAC WEST HARTFORD CT $100
COLCHESTER DEMOCRATIC WOMENS CLUB COLCHESTER CT $50
DEMOCRATIC VOICES FOR CHANGE LAKEVILLE CT $50
DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S CLUB OF EAST HARTFORD GLASTONBURY CT $50

** = Not registered with Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission but may be registered with local town clerk.

Malloy must come clean on his attempt to repeal collective bargaining rights

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In defense of its endorsement of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, the Connecticut Education Association is using its EXAMINE THE FACTS campaign to tell teachers that Malloy, “Supports teachers’ rights to collectively bargain and negotiate contracts, benefits, and working conditions.”

At the same time, most of Connecticut’s other unions are trying to persuade their members that if elected, Republican Tom Foley will follow Wisconsin’s right-wing, anti-union governor and destroy collective bargaining altogether.

But the fact remains that Governor Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose unilaterally eliminating collective bargaining rights for a group of public employees.

In Malloy’s case, as part of his corporate education reform industry initiative, he proposed repealing collectively bargaining rights for public school teachers working in the poorest schools.

Had the Connecticut General Assembly not stripped Malloy’s anti-union provisions, 1,000 – 1,500 public school teachers, in up to 25 schools across Connecticut, would have lost their rights to collective bargain.

In response to Malloy’s proposal, the CEA wrote to its members on March 14, 2012 telling them that Malloy’s Education Bill would have “real and dramatic consequences for teachers.”

Leading the list of negative impacts, the CEA leadership explained that,

“The bill would take away collective bargaining rights from teachers in the lowest performing schools….”

The CEA letter went on to urge teachers to contact their legislators and tell them to “Fix the governor’s bill” and “Restore collective bargaining rights.”

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Governor Malloy has an obligation to come clean about his position on collective bargaining. 

Malloy claims that he supports collective bargaining rights, the leaders of Connecticut’s unions are telling their members that Malloy supports collective bargaining rights…but it is worth repeating, yet again, that Dannel Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose repealing collective bargaining rights for unionized public employees.

To earn the votes of Connecticut’s teachers and other union members, Malloy needs to stand up, explain why he produced such an anti-union proposal and renounce his 2012 effort to repeal collective bargaining rights.

More on Common Core – Truth Is Truer Than Fiction (Guest post by Ann Policelli Cronin)

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Ann Policelli Cronin provides Wait, What? readers with another powerful commentary piece!

Ann writes,

The old adage “If something seems too good to be true, maybe that’s because it is” came to mind as I read Jennifer Alexander’s Op-Ed (“Don’t let misinformation destroy the promise of the Common Core”, October 9, 2014) Read here. In it, she said that the Common Core standards will ensure that Connecticut remains a place where people want to live, work and invest in their future, that the standards are clear and high and will make students ready for college and careers, and that those standards will cause children of poverty to graduate from high school in increasing numbers.

Oh if only it were true. But none of it is. It is fantasy at best and the author not understanding what it means to teach and what it means to learn at worst.

First of all, the Common Core standards have never been tested in the real world for accuracy or effectiveness.  No one has any idea if a high score on a Common Core-aligned standardized test will result in a student being successful in college or in a career. No work has been done to determine if those tests actually measure the capabilities and skills that professors in higher education and people successful in a wide variety of careers want college students and professionals to have. Those people were never asked.  The standards were simply decided by employees of testing companies. All that we know for sure is that the Common Core standards are skills that testing companies can measure on their tests.

The Common Core standards are also neither “high” nor “clear”.  The Connecticut State Standards for English Language Arts are much more rigorous than the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and have a strong and deep research base that is totally lacking with the Common Core. The Common Core standards require a way of teaching students to read and to write that has long been discredited. Not only will the Common Core approach severely restrict students’ development as readers and writers, it will discourage students from even wanting to become readers and writers. The Common Core standards are definitely not rigorous, as teachers who have required rigor of their students know.

Standards that are rigorous encourage students to read and to write. They actively involve students in reading books that engage them and in writing poems, essays, narratives, plays, and speeches about ideas that are theirs alone.  The author of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, David Coleman, has said over and over at conferences, in interviews and in online presentations that students’ personal responses and interpretations have no place in the classroom nor does discussion of the cultural and historical context in which books are written or in which students live belong in that classroom. Also, as writers, the personal voice of students is not allowed and essays of personal interpretation and evaluation have been replaced with impersonal, formulaic essays that have nothing in common with real writing. Rigorous learning engages students with the big questions that great literature poses, encourages students to connect their own lives to those questions, and requires students to integrate the classroom discussions about those ideas so that they create new knowledge for themselves.

As for the Common Core standards being “clear”, they are not.  There are 42 English Language Arts standards crammed with almost 200 different skills to be taught in each academic year.  They are a mishmash of skills without a plan of developmental appropriateness and devoid of logic as to why some of them are in one grade and others in another grade. In a recent article in Education Week (September 23, 2014), Mike Schmoker reports that Gerald Graff, the former president of the professional organization of college English professors (Modern Language Association) said that most of the Common Core standards are unnecessary and nonsensical. For curriculum expert Robert Shepherd, the Common Core standards are “just another set of blithering, poorly thought-out abstractions.” Schmoker challenges any of us to make sense out of this 8th grade Common Core standard:

Analyze how the points of view of the characters and audience or reader (e.g. created through the use of dramatic irony) create effects like suspense or humor.

It’s gobbeldy gook.

Not only are students receiving a poor education with the Common Core but the dropout rate will also increase. The Common Core aligned tests have the passing rate set at 30%; therefore, about 70% of the students in Connecticut will fail those tests. Since all standardized test scores correlate with family income, many children of poverty will fail.  The way to break that correlation is not by testing and punishing students but by addressing the needs of those disadvantaged by poverty and racism. Feed the kids, give them eye exams, lower the class size so that that they get the adult conversation they crave, add personnel for extended learning experiences after school and in the summer. Standardize opportunities for learning.

Insisting upon real rigor for all Connecticut’s children and addressing the needs of children disadvantaged by poverty and racism – that is how Connecticut will be a state where people want to live, work, and invest in their future.

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.

While Malloy stays the course on the Common Core, Cuomo distances himself from it

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According to Truth in American Education (TAE), a national, non-partisan group of concerned parents and citizens, “Andrew Cuomo Says He’ll Delay Using Common Core Scores for Five Years.

Like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a long-time, out-spoken proponent of the Common Core and the Corporate Education Reform Industry.  However, faced with mounting opposition to the Common Core and its associated Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme, Cuomo is changing his position and has even begun to run campaign television ads distancing himself from the Common Core.

The new Cuomo anti-Common Core ad can be seen here.

Truth in Education reports,

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a campaign ad yesterday that he will delay using Common Core assessment scores for five years and then only if New York children are ready.

[…]

The Stop Common Core Ballot Line delivered over 62,000 signatures.  Over 30,000 students opted-out of Common Core assessments last spring including Cuomo’s Republican challenger, Rob Astorino’s children.

The TAE article also pointed to a July 2014 Siena College Poll that reported that 49% of New Yorkers want Common Core implementation stopped, while only 39% want to see the standards implemented.

The Siena College Poll also revealed that opposition to the Common Core was across the entire political spectrum noting, “More moderates, conservatives, union households, non-union households, men, women, suburbanites, upstaters, whites, Catholics, and members of all age groups want to see the Common Core stopped.”

But here in Connecticut, Governor Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, have remained dedicated to the implementation of the Common Core and its related Common Core SBAC Standardized Test.

Earlier this year, State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told the New Haven Register’s editorial board that postponing implementation of the Common Core would be “ill conceived” and would be a step backward.

And Malloy himself has said that it is too late to turn back on the Common Core and his corporate education reform industry agenda.

Malloy recently old the Waterbury Republican-American Newspaper, “What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out” and the editorial board of the Day newspaper of New London spoke with Malloy and wrote, “The governor assured us he will stay the course on education reform if re-elected.”

The Hartford Courant has also reported that following another meeting, “the governor emphasized that he is not backing off his support for the teacher evaluation system or the Common Core. It’s ‘not that either one isn’t the right thing to do,” Malloy said.”

As appalling as Malloy and Pryor’s support has been, even worse is the fact that Malloy and his Commissioner of Education have spent countless hours engaged in a campaign to mislead parents into thinking that they do not have the right to opt-out their children from the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test.

It is worth repeating that while Governor Malloy and Commission Pryor claim that federal and state laws trump parental rights when it comes to taking the Common Core Standardized Tests, there are no federal or state laws that prohibit parents from opting their children out of the Common Core Tests nor is there any law that allows schools to punish parents or students for opting out of the tests.

Rather than protecting the rights of parents, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education sent out a memo to Connecticut’s school superintendents explaining how they should go about misleading, scaring and lying to Connecticut parents in an immoral effort to stop parents from opting-out their children.

Even if Cuomo’s “conversion” on the Common Core is nothing more than political self-preservation, it is certainly an interesting development that even New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has come to recognize that parroting the Common Core and Corporate Education Reform Industry rhetoric is not the right thing to do.

Breaking News: 3rd Malloy mailing paid for with dirty money arrives in mail boxes

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The Malloy campaign has been surrounded by controversy over the past couple of weeks following their announcement that the Connecticut Democratic Party intended to use money contributed by state contractors to pay for a mailing promoting Malloy’s bid for re-election.

Now it turns out that the tainted campaign funds have paid for at least three mailings, the 3rd arriving at households yesterday.

malloy brochures2 The money in question IS NOT the public funds that Malloy and Foley collected as participants in Connecticut’s Public Finance System nor is it the Super PAC money that has pouring into Connecticut in recent weeks.

The money that the Malloy campaign is using to pay for these mailings was raised and deposited into the Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account” and comes from state contractors, people who have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program, federal political action committees and wealthy donors from around the country.

Note:  Please read the following to understand how unethical this action is.

After former governor John Rowland was sent to prison, Connecticut adopted a sweeping campaign finance reform law.  As a result of that law, “State contractors may not contribute to a party committee, nor may they contribute to a candidate seeking office in the branch (legislative or executive) for which the contractor holds a contract.

The law means that a candidate for governor is prohibited from benefiting from any campaign donation that have been made by a state contractor or an entity that does business with the state of Connecticut.

The issue is as follows: Under Connecticut law, both Malloy and Foley received $6.2 million in taxpayer funds to pay for their gubernatorial campaigns.  By accepting the public funds, Malloy and Foley were prohibited from soliciting or accepting campaign donations in excess of $100 or receiving any campaign money from state contractors or political action committees.

Meanwhile, as a result of federal law, so-called Super PACS have been funneling millions of dollars into Connecticut in support or opposition to Malloy and Foley. The Malloy associated Super PAC is called Connecticut Forward, Inc. and has spent over $4.1 million to support Malloy and oppose Foley.

The Malloy money has come primarily from the national Democratic Governors Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME). On the other hand, the Foley associated Super PAC, Grown Connecticut Inc. has spent about $4.9 million.

The Foley money has come almost exclusively from the national Republican Governors Association.

The controversy surrounding the extra Malloy mailings is separate of the $12 million plus that taxpayers have given to Malloy and Foley or the $9 million that has been spent by the Super PACS.

The issue is that these Malloy mailings are being paid for with money that has been donated by state contractors, federal political action committees, lobbyists and others and is reaching they Malloy campaign by being laundered through the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account.”

The Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee actually maintains two accounts – a state account and a federal account.  The state account CAN NOT ACCEPT MONEY FROM STATE CONTRACTORS OR FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES.

Over the decades, the state account has been the party’s sole mechanism for supporting their Democratic nominee for governor. Under Federal Law, the “Federal Account” can only be used to support candidates running for a federal position (US Senate and US House of Representatives) or for general voter registration and Get-out-the-Vote activities.

Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission recently wrote that the Federal Election Commission has determined that,

“’get-out-the-vote-activity’ includes encouraging potential voters to vote; providing information about times when polling places are open, the location of particular polling places, early voting or voting by absentee ballot; and offering or arranging transportation to the polls. The regulations go on to provide, however, that ‘[a]ctivity is not get-out-the-vote activity solely because it includes a brief exhortation to vote, so long as the exhortation is incidental to a communication, activity, or event.’”

However, in an unprecedented maneuver, Governor Malloy and his political operation are using the Connecticut Democratic Party’s “Federal Account” to pay for mailings that are exclusively about Malloy.

In fact, Malloy and his political operatives have raised more than $4.3 million into the Party’s “Federal Account” – much of it from sources that are prohibited from giving to a state campaign – AND – they are now using that money to support Malloy. This charade allows Malloy and his campaign to utilize donations from state contractors and federal PACS to fund his campaign, a move that is unethical, immoral and I believe illegal.

The tainted money includes the following:

$50,000 plus in contributions from corporate officers of Northeast Utilities despite the fact that NU is prohibited from donating to state candidates because of their contracts with the state

$50,000 plus from the owners of Winstanley Enterprises, the developers of Downtown Crossing in New Haven who directly benefited from Malloy’s decision to give Alexion Pharmaceuticals $51 million in corporate welfare payments to move to their property.

$45,000 plus from the owners of HAKS, an engineering firm that received a $8.6 million contract to conduct inspections on the Metro North power lines. $40,000 plus from the owners and senior management of Bridgeport Landing, the company that owns the property where Bass Pro Shops is opening after getting $31 million in corporate welfare from Malloy.

$30,000 plus from the operators of the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry company who recently learned that the Connecticut Department of Transportation would no longer oppose their plan to move their dock in Bridgeport

And the list goes on and on with over $1 million coming from state contractors, people who have benefited directly from Malloy’s corporate welfare program and federal political action committees.

The fundamental issue is not whether Malloy, Foley and those who support each candidate can pump millions of dollars into the race for governor.  The issue is that Malloy’s action is making a mockery of Connecticut’s historic effort to keep state contractors and those who do business with the state from buying up our politicians and our democracy.

The corrupting influence of tainted money – A must read by Sarah Darer Littman

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In 2005, Connecticut adopted an absolute ban on campaign donations from state contractors and those who directly benefit from state contracts.  As the Hartford Courant recently explained;

“That ban on contractors’ money was approved by the legislature along with a public-financing system under which taxpayers pay for grants to fund state candidates’ campaigns. Having taxpayers fund the campaigns’ expenses was considered better than candidates indebting themselves to big-money contributors – including state contractors – who have special interests in government decisions.”

Faced with the question about why the Malloy campaign was circumventing state law and using money from state contracts to fund a campaign mailer, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy told the media,

“We need to spend money”

CTNewsJunkie columnist has written yet another “MUST READ” commentary piece.  This week it is entitled, Bipartisan Lack of Integrity Destroys Confidence in Political System

Sarah Darer Littman writes,

“… integrity is a trait that’s increasingly rare in politics. In fact, in the last 24 months, I’ve begun to despair that we will ever shed our state’s reputation for an ingrained culture of political malfeasance.

[…]

Connecticut Democrats are working hard to weaken the very reforms they legislated, to the point that the party sent out a mailer paid for from its federal account, without waiting for a ruling from the Federal Election Commission, despite having sought the FEC’s opinion beforehand.

As State Election Commission officials observed, the move is an attempt to “cynically circumvent our state’s carefully tailored pay-to-play state contractor provisions.”

Evan Preston, director of the Connecticut Public Research Interest Group, told the FEC last week: “Our reforms were intended to improve public faith in our political process by showing who is supporting candidates, to curb contributions that are, or could seem, corrupting, and to raise the voices of ordinary citizens so they are not marginalized by donors with significantly deeper pockets.”

[…]

Doris Kearns Goodwin, a historian and writer whom I admire greatly, was a recent guest of the Connecticut Forum for a discussion called, “Debating Our Broken Political System.” She observed: “If I had to name one reason why it’s broken, it is power of money in the system today. It is the poison in the system . . . it is the amount of time that it takes our politicians to raise the funds, it’s the special interests that they are then beholden to, it’s the fact that they’re not doing the business of the country, and I blame everybody for it.”

Every Connecticut voter, Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated should take the time to read Sarah Darer Littman’s latest piece – which can be found at – http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op_ed_bipartisan_lack_of_integrity_destroys_confidence_in_political_system/

The Charter School Hoax

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They call themselves “public schools” when they want to collect nearly $100 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds each year, but refuse to come clean about how they spend that money pointing out that they are “private companies.”

Furthermore, here in Connecticut, they predominately refuse to educate Latinos, bi-lingual students and students who have special education needs.

And when they do happen to get students they don’t want through their so-called “open lottery” system they have a sophisticated operation for “counselling” or pushing out students who have behavior issues or otherwise don’t meet their limited “criteria” for the type of student they want in their school.

In fact, according to the most recent data available on the State Department of Education website, Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company co-founded by Stefan Pryor, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, manages to “lose” about 50% of its high school students over the course of four years.

In her latest, “MUST READ” commentary piece, public school advocate Wendy Lecker writes in the Stamford Advocate that it’s time to confront the truth about the charter movement.

Wendy Lecker writes;

Almost daily, headlines are filled with stories of charter school fraud or mismanagement. Recent revelations about possible illegal practices in charter schools in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere have led even charter supporters to try to distance themselves from the “crony capitalism” fueling this sector.

It is cold comfort that Connecticut officials are not alone in allowing unscrupulous charter operators to bilk taxpayers. It is time to reassess the entire charter movement in Connecticut.

Recall the original promises made by charter proponents: that they would benefit all public schools — showing public schools the way by using “innovative” methods to deliver a better education to struggling students in an efficient, less expensive manner.

None of those promises have been kept. Charters cannot point to any “innovations” that lead to better achievement. Smaller classes and wraparound services are not innovations — public schools have been begging for these resources for years. Charter practices such as failing to serve our neediest children, e.g., English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and “counseling out” children who cannot adhere to overly strict disciplinary policies, are not “innovations” — and should be prohibited.

Charters often spend more than public schools. Charters in Bridgeport and Stamford spend more per pupil than their host districts. And while it appears that charters in New Haven and Hartford spend comparable amounts, they serve a less needy, and less expensive, population. Moreover, Connecticut charters need not pay for special education services, transportation, or, if they serve fewer than 20 ELL students, ELL services.

While Connecticut owes billions of dollars to our neediest districts, officials provide higher per-pupil allocations to charters. For example charter schools receive $11,500 per pupil from the state, but Bridgeport’s ECS allocation is only $8,662 per pupil. Bridgeport is owed an additional $5,446 according to the CCJEF plaintiffs, not including the cost of teacher evaluations, the Common Core, and other unfunded mandates imposed over the years.

Connecticut increased charter funding over the past three years by $2,100 per pupil, while our poorest school districts received an average increase of only $642 per pupil.

As former New York charter authorizer Pedro Noguera lamented recently, charter schools are a “black box”; fighting transparency in enrollment, educational, managerial and financial practices. It is time for taxpayers force the black box open. Charters receive billions of public dollars. We must ensure that these funds are spent to improve education for all children.

Connecticut officials do not help matters with their almost nonexistent oversight of charter schools. Our State Board of Education’s shocking blindness in the Jumoke scandal is only one example. In their rush to approve any new charter, the board fails to verify charter claims, ignores community opposition and disregards its own rules against segregation in and over-concentration of charter schools. While punishing poor school districts, SBE routinely reauthorizes charters with poor records, excusing their failure to meet academic targets. Connecticut’s state education officials clearly need a scripted curriculum.

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s “Public Accountability for Charter Schools,” is a good starting point. The report outlines areas that demand equity, accountability and transparency: such as enrollment, governance, contracts, and management.

Connecticut must require, as a condition of continued authorization, that charters serve the same demographics as their host districts, through clearly delineated controlled choice policies.

Charter schools must maintain transparent and publicly available annual records and policies regarding enrollment, discipline and attrition. Charters must ensure that they do not employ subtle barriers to enrollment, such as strict disciplinary policies or requirements for parent participation as a condition of attendance. No such barriers exist in public schools.

Charters must prove that they meet the specific needs of the host community in a way the public schools do not. Charters must not be imposed over community opposition. State officials must assess the negative impact of charters on a district, including segregation and funding effects.

Charters must post all contracts and fully disclose revenues and expenditures. Charter officials, board members and employees must undergo background checks and disclose any relationships with contractors, state officials and others dealing with their school. Parents in charter schools must be allowed to elect charter board members.

Charters must show evidence annually that their unique educational methods improve achievement.

These are only some of the reforms that must be enacted — and enforced — for all charters, to ensure that these privately run schools are not shortchanging taxpayers, parents or children. In the meantime, Connecticut needs a moratorium on any new charter schools until this sector gets its house in order.

You can read the full commentary piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Reassess-the-charter-movement-5830482.php

Union PR person claims Malloy never tried to repeal collective bargaining

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Since raising concerns about the accuracy of the CEA’s “EXAMINE THE FACTS” endorsement piece that was sent out to persuade educators to vote for Governor Malloy, I’ve gotten some pretty harsh emails and comments on my blog and Facebook.

Having now blogged for nearly four years, it is interesting that some people feel that it is appropriate to criticize our opponents when they mislead, falsify or lie, but holding our own to the same standard is identified as being disloyal or worse.

In one comment, a person wrote, “I really wish you’d stay out of CEA business.”

In another, a Democratic official opined, “Why do you just not accept that people are sick of your self serving crap you put out !!!”

Personally, I don’t think challenging a piece of campaign propaganda that the CEA sent out to 70,000 or so active and retired teachers is interfering in the internal affairs of the union. That would be like saying that only Walmart stockholders have the right to criticize the actions of that monster of a company.

I have no doubt that CEA’s leadership is perfectly capable of dealing with the fall-out from its decision to endorse the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers.

What intrigues me more is that Malloy supporters or union allies would write that my “posts look like they are being written… by the Koch Brothers.”

Really?

I’m pretty sure that the Koch Brothers are elated, not condemning Malloy’s corporate education reform industry policies and his massive corporate welfare program that is successfully redistributing money from the middle class to the wealthy elite.

But when all is said and done, the most unique criticism of all came from a union staff person, not with the CEA or AFT, who wrote,

“Malloy never, in any portion of the bill, stripped collective bargaining from teachers. Just because you believe something and repeat it over and over still doesn’t make it a fact or based in reality.”

Now that is one statement that deserves to be challenged.

In fact, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy certainly did propose unilaterally repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest schools in Connecticut.

And to my knowledge, no Connecticut governor – Democrat, Republican or Independent – has ever proposed unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for any group of public employees since public sector collective bargaining began in the 1970s.

Here are the facts:

Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiative was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in a bill entitled “AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS.”  Malloy’s bill was submitted on February 9, 2012 and referred to the Education Committee for a public hearing.

Section 18 of Senate Bill provided for the creation of what has become known as “Commissioner’s Network Schools.”

Malloy’s proposal was to allow the Commissioner of Education to override local boards of education and take control of Commissioner Network Schools by requiring local or regional boards of education to “enter into a turnaround agreement with the department regarding all aspects of school operation and management, without limitation.”

As part of that agreement, the proposal provided that the Commissioner of Education would have the power to, “Require the implementation of specific operating and working conditions in a commissioner’s network school.”

Since the unilateral control of the operating and working conditions would violate collective bargaining agreements, Malloy’s bill included the following language;

(F) The provisions of sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive, [which are the state’s collective bargaining laws] shall not apply to any teacher or administrator who is assigned to a commissioner’s network school, except (i) that such teacher or administrator shall, for the purposes of ratification of an agreement only, be permitted to vote as a member of the teacher or administrator bargaining unit, as appropriate, for the local or regional board of education in which the commissioner’s network school is located, and (ii) insofar as any such provisions protect any entitlement of such teacher or administrator to benefits or leave accumulated or accrued prior to the teacher or administrator being employed in a commissioner’s network school. The provision of any financial or other incentives, including, but not limited to, compensation or the availability of professional coverage positions, shall not be subject to collective bargaining pursuant to sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive.

Malloy’s proposed language unilaterally repealed teachers’ rights to collectively bargain – if they worked in a Commissioner Network School – and specifically stated that compensation or other professional working conditions – SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

Malloy’s bill was nothing short of a proposal to destroy the collective bargaining rights of teachers (and administrators) in what was supposed to be up to 25 public schools in Connecticut.

While the impact of Malloy’s proposal impacted fewer public employees than what Governor Scott Walker proposed in Wisconsin, the challenge to public sector workers’ fundamental rights to collectively bargain were no less serious.

Thankfully, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly stripped Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining rights before they went on to pass most of the rest of his bad bill.

The truth is that Malloy did proposed repealing the collective bargaining rights and to this day he has never stated that his proposal was a mistake, inappropriate or wrong.

Apologizing is harder for some than for others, but I believe that no member of a Connecticut union, or anyone else who supports the right to collectively bargain, should vote for Dan Malloy until he publicly states that what he did was wrong and that he would not repeat this type of proposal in a second term.

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