Teacher “wins” appointment to State Board of Education  

7 Comments

Congratulations to Erin Benham, a Meriden teacher on her appointment to the State Board of Education!

It is great news that a teacher will be added to counter-balance the cadre of corporate education reform industry advocates who have spent the last four years undermining public education.

In an apparent move to show teachers, parents and public school advocates that he is a softer, kinder and more pro-public education governor, Dannel “Dan” Malloy announced today that he has appointed educator Erin Bernham to the State Board of Education.

Erin Benham has been a secondary school teacher for 34 years.  She presently serves as a Literacy Teacher at Lincoln Middle School.

Teacher Benham is also the President of the Meriden Federation of Teachers and the Vice President of the AFT-CT Executive Committee.

Wait, What? readers may remember that the American Federation of Teachers was the union that refused to allow me to fill out a candidate questionnaire, interview with the AFT Political Action Committee or even speak to the AFT Executive Committee before they endorsed Malloy.

Of more interest than the political connections between Malloy and the AFT leadership is the fact that Benham and the Meriden Federation of Teachers are the recipients of a major grant from the American Federation of Teacher’s national “Innovation Fund.”

The AFT Innovation Fund supports a variety of programs at the local level.  While many of those programs are undoubtedly valuable, the major donor to the American Federation of Teacher’s national Innovation fund is Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation.

In 2010, the Gates Foundation gave $4 million to the AFT Innovation Fund and another $4.4 million in 2012.  The money was targeted to pay for the union’s work to build support for the Common Core.

Hopefully Teacher Benham will use her classroom expertise to persuade Malloy and the State Board of Education that while standards are an important part of a successful educational system, the Common Core‘s unfair, inappropriate and expensive Common Core Testing Scheme is hurting Connecticut’s students, teachers and public schools and must be suspended until it can be redesigned and appropriately implemented.

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

Malloy misleads teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers – again!

6 Comments

Pelto Media Statement in Response to Governor Malloy’s Press Release:  GOV. MALLOY: MILLIONS IN ADDITIONAL FUNDING WILL ASSIST STRUGGLING SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Malloy misleads teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers – again!

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, just issued a press release that began with the following:

HARTFORD, CT) — Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, today hat Alliance Districts are set to receive a total of $132,901,813 in additional funding for the 2014-15 academic year to help implement academic improvement plans.  To date, 28 of 30 Alliance District Year Three plan amendments have been approved, with the final approvals expected in the coming weeks.

In typical fashion, the Governor and Commissioner of Education have used their announcement as a way to further mislead Connecticut’s teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers.

Malloy claims that his “initiative” is providing Connecticut’s 30 most struggling school districts with another $132 million in state aid, but the truth is that this year’s increase is only about $45 million and that in order to get those funds, school districts were required to accept a series of new mandates and programs aimed at further implementing Malloy’s corporate education reform agenda and diverting scarce public dollars to private companies.

For example, some of the new money is being used to pay for pet projects such as Achievement First, Inc.’s “Residency Program for School Leadership.”

As Connecticut has come to know, Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

And thanks to Malloy and Pryor, Achievement First, Inc. has received more new funding than any other charter school operator in Connecticut.

While most school districts in Connecticut have effectively been flat funded, Achievement First, Inc. has benefited from a massive increase in per pupil funding, more charter school seats, and additional resources from various grants that were once reserved for Connecticut’s real public schools.

And if that windfall wasn’t enough, hidden inside this so-called “new” money for Connecticut’s poorer school districts is yet another special deal for Achievement First, Inc.

Note that in today’s press release, Malloy and Stefan Pryor brag about how 28 or the 30 “Alliance District Year Three Plans” have been approved.

What Malloy and Pryor don’t explain is that in order to get approved, towns were required to include certain education reform initiatives, including forcing Connecticut’s largest school districts to participate in Achievement First, Inc.’s “Residency Program for School Leadership.

As part of the program, Connecticut taxpayers will not only pay Achievement First, Inc., for their “services,” but Connecticut school teachers, paid for by Connecticut taxpayer funds, will be sent to teach in Achievement First for schools.  This means that in addition to paying the charter school chain $11,500 per student, paying for all of their transportation costs and all of their special education costs, Achievement First, Inc. will be will be further subsidized thanks to having taxpayer funded public school teachers working in their privately run charter schools.

Achievement First, Inc. calls their “Residency Program” a “unique opportunity.”

There is no doubt about that, it is a unique opportunity for Achievement First to get more of our public funds.

When more and more questions are being raised about the lack of oversight of Connecticut’s charter schools, Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are diverting record amounts of public money to charter schools.

While Malloy claims he is investing another $132 million into Connecticut’s poorest schools, the truth is that Connecticut taxpayers are being forced to waste even more money on Malloy’s failed education reform policies.

All this while our public school students continue to be left without the support they need and deserve.

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

Malloy promises to “stay the course” on education reform!

14 Comments

It turns out that it took less than 24 hours for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy to make it clear that Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s departure IS NOT a sign that Connecticut’s anti-teacher, pro-corporate education reform Democratic governor is going to use a second term to do a better job representing the concerns of teachers, students, parents and public school advocates in Connecticut.

Although Malloy is the only Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in “turnaround” schools, the announcement that Stefan Pryor will be leaving his position at the end of this year was seen by some as a signal that Malloy was going to shift away from his corporate education reform industry and privatization policies and would use a second term to provide more support for Connecticut’s real public education system.

But at a stop yesterday at the Day newspaper of New London, Malloy made his real intentions clear,

“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.”

As proponents of public education know, significant changes are needed to close the achievement gap between students who live in rich and poor communities, but “staying the course” with the corporate education reform industry’s agenda is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

It would seem that when it comes to Malloy’s campaign for re-election, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

You can read the Day editorial at: http://www.theday.com/article/20140820/OP01/308209937

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

Stefan Pryor Not Serving a 2nd Term as State Ed Chief

36 Comments

From the Hartford Courant;

Stefan Pryor, the controversial state education commissioner, will leave his post and is “actively seeking new professional opportunities,” according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office.

Pryor informed the governor Monday that he will not serve a second term. “Having served for nearly three fulfilling years as commissioner, I have decided to conclude my tenure by the end of this administration’s current term and to pursue new professional opportunities,” Pryor said. “Because I believe it’s important to communicate my decision proactively to the governor and the public, I am doing so now.”

The following is a media statement released by Jonathan Pelto, Candidate for Governor, Education and Democracy Party.

Pryor’s departure is great news for Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers

”Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s decision to send Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor packing is long overdue, but it is still great news for Connecticut’s  public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

As a leading proponent of the corporate education reform industry, Stefan Pryor and his team of anti-teacher, pro-standardized testing, privatization zealots have done immeasurable harm to Connecticut’s public education system.

While Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in so called ‘turnaround schools,” one would hope that he is finally recognizing that his anti-teacher, pro-charter school, pro-Common Core agenda is bad news for Connecticut public schools or, at the very least, a political disaster for him has he aspires to a second term in office.

When it comes to actually supporting Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy’s true intentions remain unknown, but Pryor’s departure is a small step in the right direction.”

 

You can read more about this breaking story at:

http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/stefan-pryor-not-serving-a-2nd-term-as-state-ed-chief/

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/pryor_wont_stay_for_second_term/

http://ctmirror.org/stefan-pryor-to-leave-education-post-after-one-term/

http://blog.ctnews.com/dixon/2014/08/18/controversial-education-commissioner-stefan-pryor-is-on-the-way-out/

 

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

You call this a Democracy?

11 Comments

During the next week or so, Connecticut’s Secretary of State will determine whether the Jonathan Pelto/Ebony Murphy ticket will appear on the 2014 ballot for governor.

Over the last eight weeks, hundreds of volunteers sent countless hours collecting more than the 7,500 signatures necessary to ensure that voters have an option other than voting for Dannel “Dan’ Malloy or Tom Foley in this year’s gubernatorial election.  Supporters of 3rd party candidate Joe Visconti were doing the same thing over the last couple of months.

The deadline for submitting petitions was August 6, 2014.  As required by state law, Connecticut’s 169 Town Clerks (often delegated to local Democratic and Republican registrars of voters) have two weeks to process those petitions and certify to the Secretary of the State how many “good signatures” each candidate has obtained.  Good signatures meaning signatures from actual registered voters.

A candidate collecting at least 7,500 signatures from Connecticut voters qualifies to be on the November ballot.

In one of the most interesting moments of the campaign so far, Governor Malloy recent told the New Haven Register Editorial Board that he had “serious doubts’ that Pelto will clear the hurdle by collecting the necessary 7,500 signatures of registered voters.”

Have Malloy’s political operatives been to the Secretary of the State’s office to “help” count the signatures?

Have Malloy’s people reached out to Connecticut’s 169 Town Clerks or local Democratic registrars of voters?

Is Malloy a clairvoyant?

Or is Governor Dannel Malloy admitting to the fact that Connecticut’s petitioning process is rigged to make it virtually impossible for 3rd party candidates to get on the ballot?

A recent visit to the Secretary of the State’s Office to review some of the Pelto/Murphy petitions that have already been processed provided a unique opportunity to see how the system really works.

Readers who have seen a candidate petition know that the form includes a column for the voter to sign his or her name, a column for them to write their name, a column to list their birthdate and a column to list their address.

However, the law only requires that, “A signator shall print his name on said line following the signing of the signator’s name.”

According to Connecticut law and the instructions from the Secretary of the State’s office, listing one’s birthday is entirely optional and the address is only provided to help identify that the person signing is actually a voter in that community.

Connecticut state law goes on to state, “Such town clerk shall certify…which names were on the registry list last-completed or are names of persons admitted as electors since the completion of such list. In the checking of signatures on such nominating petition pages, the town clerk shall reject any name if such name is not the name of an elector as specified above…The town clerk shall not reject any name for which the street address on the petition is different from the street address on the registry list, if (1) such person is eligible to vote for the candidate or candidates named in the petition, and (2) the person’s date of birth, as shown on the petition page, is the same as the date of birth on the person’s registration record.”

Under Connecticut’s Constitution and Connecticut law, elected officials must make every attempt to recognize the intent of the voter.

But incredibly, a recent review of names rejected by town clerks reveal that a number of names on the Pelto/Murphy petition were illegally rejected because they did not write down their birthday, despite the fact that the birthday is completely optional.

In other cases, names were illegally rejected because while the addresses didn’t match, the birthdays did and the signatures should have been counted.

Connecticut law further states, “The use of titles, initials or customary abbreviations of given names by the signer of a nominating petition shall not invalidate such signature if the identity of the signer can be readily established by reference to the signature on the petition and the name of a person as it appears on the last-completed registry list at the address indicated or of a person who has been admitted as an elector since the completion of such list.”

However, once again, a review of some of the petitions certified by town clerks show that signatures were rejected even though it is obvious, thanks to the address and the birthdate, that the person who signed the petitions is, in fact, a voter.

Finally, an initial review of some of the petitions revealed that a number of town clerks (or registrars of voters) rejected signatures because the signer was on the town’s “inactive” voter list.

State law does allow towns to maintain an active and inactive voter list, with the inactive voter list containing people who are still voters but who have not participated in recent elections or failed to return a postcard to the local registrar of voters.  But an “inactive” voter who shows up at the polls must be allowed to vote and an absentee ballot submitted by someone on the “inactive” voter list must be counted.

But despite the fact that signing a Pelto/Murphy petition is a legally authorized part of the voting process, some local town clerks and registrars illegally rejected any signatures from voters on the “inactive” voter list.

To these and other violations of state law by town clerks and registrars, the Secretary of the States attorney’s only advice was for the Pelto/Murphy ticket to sue should these violations prevent it from qualifying for the November ballot.

The entire situation makes one wonder if we are living in the United States or Putin’s Russia?

Even more to the point, it is a sad commentary about the health of our democracy that here in the Constitution State, state and local officials are stripping Connecticut voters of their constitutional and legal rights.

It is equally appalling that the Governor of Connecticut, who is sworn to uphold our State Constitution, so quickly dismisses the situation by saying that he “he has “serious doubts” that the Pelto/Murphy team will collect the 7,500 signatures of to get on the ballot.”

Any governor, even when challenged, should stand up for the Constitutional rights of his or her citizens.  Winning may be important, but Governor Malloy should look in the mirror and remember that there are some things even more important than winning.

[In closing, let me add a personal note.  I remain confident that despite the barriers that are being thrown up before us, that Ebony and I have collected the required 7,500 signatures that we need to be on the ballot in November.  Although we hope it won’t come to this, if legal action is necessary to ensure that the constitutional rights of Connecticut voters are protected against the powers of the incumbency and the incumbency system, we will take whatever legal actions are necessary to ensure that democracy in Connecticut is not crushed by illegal or political maneuvers.

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

Lieutenant Governor Hopeful Ebony Murphy on Education and the Wealth Gap

3 Comments

“I chose Ebony Murphy to be my Lt. Governor because she has the knowledge, skills and ability to be a true and equal partner as we work to put Connecticut back on track and develop effective policies that will ensure that all of our state’s residents have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.

A government that fails to treat its citizens with honesty, respect and dignity has lost its right to serve and we intend to put Connecticut on the list of governments that are truly dedicated to fulfilling our obligation of making the ‘American Dream’ a reality rather than a withering hope. – Jonathan Pelto

The following interview with Ebony was published in the August, 6 2014 edition of Hartford’s Northend Agent’s.  The informative paper can be read at: http://www.northendagents.com/.

In the article written by Tiffani Jones and entitled, “Lieutenant Governor Hopeful Ebony Murphy on Education and the Wealth Gap,” the voters of Connecticut have an opportunity to read more about Ebony Murphy, the Education and Democracy Party’s candidate for Lt. Governor.

Tiffani Jones writes,

Connecticut politics have been heating up as candidates lobby to get on the ballot or get re-elected to office this election year. Each has a bulleted list of ideas about how they propose to ‘save the state’, what’s currently lacking in Connecticut and what they promise to prioritize if elected; and Hartford resident Ebony Murphy is no exception. Murphy, who’s running for the office of Lieutenant Governor (along with running mate Jonathan Pelto) as a potential third-party candidate, caused quite the stir earlier this summer when she filed paperwork to get on the ballot for this upcoming November’s election.

When Connecticut media outlets read the tagline of Ebony Murphy’s inactive blog, they immediately honed in on the fact that she, jokingly, self-identified as an ‘Uppity Negress’. Though Ebony, who is Black, hasn’t filled the blog with any content, the ‘About’ section lists her academic accomplishments, teaching credentials, and all the community outreach and volunteer work she’s done in Hartford. Ebony’s tagline also lists the fact that she’s a feminist, ‘Teamster’s kid’, a ‘Literacy Visionary’ and a ‘Big sister’, but ‘Uppity Negress’ is what Neil Vigdor immediately honed in on, in a June article in the CT Post.

When I spoke to Ebony about the CT Post piece, she said that Neil Vigdor (who she described as a political reporter who writes from a “conservative angle”) asked her about the blog’s tagline and that she’d confirmed that she was being tongue-in-cheek. She said the conversation was a pleasant one, so she was “surprised” by the tone of Neil’s CT Post article. But alas, Ebony Murphy seemed unfazed by the mild rumble she caused right out the gate, and chalked it up to being par for the course for young, Black, ambitious women who often receive pushback as a consequence for being outspoken and driven in their endeavors.

“A progressive Hartford activist named David Samuels called me a token who’s taking [her] marching orders from [her] running mate,” Ebony chuckled. “There’s always this tone of ‘who do you think you are?’ from people. I get pushback from conservatives and progressives. It’s amusing and it reminds me of the time I was in high school doing well at a track meet, and someone [sarcastically] said to me, ‘You sure have big plans for yourself, don’t you?’”

“Society can be indignant towards women with goals,” Ebony continued. “We pretend to be post-racial, but add race to the equation, and there will be pushback when people see ambitious Black women. It’s just the way it is.”

Ebony noted a parallel between herself and Coalition and CT Republican party consultant, Regina Roundtree, who was fired by the Penny Bacchiochi for Lt. Governor campaign after complaining about white privilege on Facebook.

“We’re diametrically opposed politically, yet treated similarly,” she said.

Push-back, skeptics and accusations of she and her running mate being two-party ‘spoilers’ notwithstanding, Ebony Murphy, who’s running under the Democracy Party, seems up to the task of helping enact change in Connecticut and is part of a growing number of educators who refuse to remain silent about the achievement gap, corporate entities’ disdain for teachers and the charter school problem. Last year, Murphy wrote an incendiary piece about her experiences working at Capital Prep under the supervision of controversial charter school advocate and CEO, Dr. Steve Perry. The piece was published to several highly read education sites, including Jonathan Pelto’s blog, Diane Ravitch’s site, and to the National Education Policy Center’s site.

“Jonathan and I are concerned about equitable school funding, well-funded schools, and alternative ways to fund schools,”

Ebony said.

“People who grow up [here] locally should be able to afford the cost of living. The achievement gap is explicitly connected to poverty. Folks like Dr. Steve Perry and Michelle Rhee tell us otherwise. Perry has never been a teacher or taught in a classroom, ever,” she emphasizes. “Poverty does affect the classroom experience. And in light of what’s going on with Terrence Carter, Jumoke Academy, Paul Vallas, and Steven Adamowski, the most credentialed people are being shut out.”

As to the question about why Connecticut is one of the richest states in the country, but has such a wide wealth and achievement gap and poor job market, Ebony considered it a bit before positing,

“The wealthy in Connecticut is comprised of old-money. There are also newer transplants that come here from wealthy backgrounds; you see a lot of generational poverty reflected, as well.”

Ebony Murphy acknowledges that she and Jonathan Pelto have their work cut out for them and concedes that it’s difficult for candidates outside of the two-party system to get their message out there. Murphy believes that there are a great number of people (possibly state workers and union leaders) who support her and her running mate’s platform, but that they are afraid of being too open in showing their support, for fear of retaliation: such as running afoul of Governor Dannel Malloy and losing their jobs.

Whether Ebony Murphy, and her running mate Jonathan Pelto, have what it takes to engage voters and get Connecticut on track, remains to be seen, as they scramble to get enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. But Ebony was emphatic about Connecticut’s need for competent leaders who will listen to voters’ concerns when making decisions,

“People need to take a look at how they choose their political and educational leaders in the state. Government belongs to the people, not the other way around.”

For more information on the Pelto-Murphy campaign, visit peltomurphy2014.com or Follow campaign progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Tiffani Jones is the creator and writer of Coffee Rhetoric, a blog about women, pop-culture, film and race. A contributor to both print and digital platforms, she has offered commentary on HuffPost Live and WNPR’s Where We Live.

You can find the complete article at: http://www.northendagents.com/lieutenant-governor-hopeful-ebony-murphy-education-wealth-gap/

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

Giving voters more choices…should be as American as the Fourth of July – Ralph Nader

18 Comments

First there was the “social justice” lobbyist who wrote a piece in the Hartford Courant instructing people not to sign a Pelto/Murphy 2014 ballot petition because it might hurt Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election chances.

More recently, a Journal Inquirer editorial entitled, Nader, Pelto, and the spoilers in our two-party system, claimed that that running as a 3rd party candidate is “ just another example of the ‘purist’ thinking of many Americans on the political right and left….If they cannot have their own way in implementing their own ideas within the two-party system they move to act as spoilers. Their refusal to accept the two-party system as a reality of American life only makes them ineffective in implementing their ideas.”

And yesterday, in an interview with the New Haven Register Editorial Board, Malloy sought to dismiss the vital issues we’re raising in this year’s election by saying, “Jonathan Pelto has no shot” and adding, “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about issues until I know that it is a real issue, as opposed to someone’s desire.”

One thing is for sure, Malloy’s propensity for arrogance remains alive and well.

But with perfect timing, Ralph Nader has written a commentary piece in today’s Hartford Courant.  Connecticut voter Ralph Nader takes on the ongoing efforts to dismiss those of us who believe that voters need and deserve more choices than simply Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Ralph Nader writes,

The word “spoiler,” when applied only to small-party candidates, is an epithet of political bigotry. It says to people who want to enter the electoral arena and talk about ignored but important issues that they should not do so.

It says the two big parties own all the voters, and they should not be taken away by third-party candidates who can’t win. Nor should these candidates be given an opportunity to build voter familiarity and an eventual chance at winning over several elections.

Many Americans, despite their disgust with the behavior of the two major parties, think nothing of telling people not to run because they’ll be “spoilers.” That is equivalent to telling candidates to shut up — a nasty demand that one would not readily use in daily interactions.

Even so, I was surprised that my mere signing of former state legislator Jonathan Pelto’s petition, along with thousands of other Connecticut voters, to get him on the gubernatorial ballot made news. After all, giving voters more choices and voices in an election year should be as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July. Except that it isn’t.

[…]

A freedom-loving democratic view is that everyone has an equal right to run for elective office. Since all candidates are trying to get votes from one another, they are all “spoilers” to each other.

Perpetuating an entrenched two-party politics, marinated in a corporatism that is voraciously driving our country into the ground, while exporting jobs and industries to suppressive fascist and communist regimes abroad, should not go uncontested.

Aren’t we glad that enough voters split away from the Democratic and Whig parties in 1840 to vote for the antislavery Liberty Party? Or that after the Civil War, voters supported third parties pushing for women’s right to vote and Progressive Era regulations of railroads, banks and other industries to protect farmers and workers? Those smaller parties exposed the rot and ruinous policies of the business-driven politics of the day. The major parties eventually got the message. We are the beneficiaries today.

[…]

Those who throw the charge of “spoilers” need to be reminded that running for public office is the consummate use of the First Amendment — namely, to exercise the right to freedom of speech, petition and assembly.

Remember that the words “political parties,” “corporation” and “company” are not even mentioned in our Constitution, raising the central question of why they are ruling “we the people” today

You can read Ralph Nader’s complete commentary piece at: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-op-ralph-nader-let-so-called-spoilers-run-20140814,0,4428452.story

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

The problem is poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs!

20 Comments

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and Tom Foley both claim that they are committed to doing something about Connecticut’s “failing” schools.

Democrat Malloy began his approach by becoming the only Democratic governor in the national to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining in the poorest and lowest performing schools which he euphemistically calls “turnaround schools.”   Malloy also proposed massive amounts of new Common Core standardized testing for all public school students and tied his modest funding increases for poor schools to inappropriate privatization strategies.

Republican Foley has also proposed more standardized testing.  According to a recent article in the New Haven Register, “Foley also wants a third-grade reading test before children are promoted and a regents’ style exam to test basic skills in order to graduate from high schools.”

However, to his credit, Foley recognizes that state education funding formulas must address the needs and challenges students face.  Foley explains that the school funding grant “’should be variable depending on the needs of the child,” with less money for capable, independent students with a lot of enrichment at home and more for special needs children.’

While both Malloy and Foley lament the large achievement gap that exists in Connecticut, neither appears willing to set aside the nonsense of more testing and focus the state’s resources on the factors that do limit academic success – poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs.

Malloy and Foley would do well to read the recent CT Newsjunkie commentary piece written by Barth Keck.  Keck’s piece is entitled, “It Doesn’t Take Captain Obvious to Identify A Stacked Deck,” and he explains,

Among the obvious realities of public schools:

1. A disadvantaged family life negatively affects educational Achievement.

“A family’s resources and the doors they open cast a long shadow over children’s life trajectories,” says Johns Hopkins sociologist Karl Alexander , whose research tracked nearly 800 Baltimore schoolchildren for 25 years. “This view is at odds with the popular ethos that we are makers of our own fortune.”

Another recent study  from the Washington University School of Medicine found that “children who are exposed to poverty at a young age often have trouble academically later in life” since poverty “appears to be associated with smaller brain volumes in areas involved in emotion processing and memory.”

Brain scans of 145 children between 6 and 12 showed that “poverty also appears to alter the physical makeup of a child’s brain; those children exposed to poverty at an early age had smaller volumes of white and cortical gray matter, as well as hippocampal and amygdala volumes.”

This is especially bad news for Connecticut, as poverty among children has increased by 50 percent since 1990, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Barth Keck’s latest commentary piece can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_it_doesnt_take_captain_obvious_to_identify_a_stacked_deck/.

His message is clear and concise.

Poverty limits academic achievement and poverty among Connecticut’s children has increased by about 50% in recent years.

When it comes to dealing with Connecticut’s achievement gap, both Malloy and Foley are wrong.  We need less testing and more learning, not the other way around.

We can and must confront Connecticut’s achievement gap…

But the solution is definitely not the anti-teacher, pro-privatization effort being pushed by Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and their allies in the corporate education reform industry.

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

State Deficit?  What State Deficit?”

4 Comments

In a recent interview with the CT Mirror, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy said,

“We really don’t have a deficit.”

However, if the truth be told, according to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, the State of Connecticut continues to face a monumental fiscal crisis.  In fact, here are the projections from the experts for the fiscal years following this November’s election;

Fiscal Year 2016:  A $1.4 billion Connecticut state budget deficit

Fiscal Year 2017:  A $1.6 billion Connecticut state budget deficit

Fiscal Year 2018:  A $1.8 billion Connecticut state budget deficit

Malloy says the Office of Fiscal Analysis is wrong, although he uses their numbers when he complains that he inherited a $3.7 billion state budget deficit from former Governor Rell.

The most recent campaign pitch from Malloy is that he wants to be judged on his record.

And the fact is his record is extremely clear.

As a result of Malloy’s unfair tax package that coddled the rich and disproportionately hit the middle class, along with his constant use of budget gimmicks, the candidate who wins this year’s gubernatorial election will have to deal with a situation in which Connecticut will be at least $4.8 billion short of what would be needed to balance the state budget over the next three years.

Meanwhile, the cornerstone of Malloy’s campaign is his claim that he won’t propose or accept any tax increases during the next four years, he won’t need to renege on his deal with the state employee unions nor will he have to ask for further concessions from state employees and he won’t cut vital services here in Connecticut.

Is Malloy intentionally misleading voters?

Is he straight out lying?

According to that same CT Mirror article, Malloy says he will be able to achieve the un-achievable because, as he puts it, “he’s confident that both the nation’s and Connecticut’s economy are on the cusp of a major surge. 

As Connecticut heads into the last three months of the 2014 gubernatorial election, Governor Malloy may want to remember the famous phrase attributed to President Abraham Lincoln who said, 

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

 If there is one thing that the 2014 campaign for governor should be about – it is tell the people of Connecticut the truth.

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

Connecticut Primary Day – Just don’t spoil things with your vote!

15 Comments

A recent editorial in Connecticut’s Journal Inquirer newspaper included the headline, Nader, Pelto, and the spoilers in our two-party system.  The JI’s owner-editorial writer pontificated,

The Hartford Courant recently reported that Ralph Nader, the Winsted critic, has signed a petition to place Jonathan Pelto on the gubernatorial ballot.

How ironic.

Nader’s futile attempt to run for president helped George W. Bush beat Al Gore in 2000 by drawing just enough votes to ensure that Gore lost the state of Florida to Bush, thereby guaranteeing — with the Supreme Court’s help — Bush’s election.

Now Nader has encouraged Pelto to do the same thing against Gov. Dannel Malloy.

[…]

This is just another example of the “purist” thinking of many Americans on the political right and left.

If they cannot have their own way in implementing their own ideas within the two-party system they move to act as spoilers. Their refusal to accept the two-party system as a reality of American life only makes them ineffective in implementing their ideas.

Putting aside the “magical thinking” that a two-party system is the best possible form of democracy, let’s take a step back and address the whole “spoiler” concept.

Various political observers, including a select group of high-ranking Democratic Party and union leaders adhere to the notion that Ralph Nader “spoiled” the 2000 presidential election and claim that therefore he is responsible for ushering in eight years of George W. Bush.

The truth is that Al Gore won the national popular vote in the 2000 election but lost the presidency, in part, because he failed to carry the State of Florida.  Florida’s Electoral College votes went to Bush, allowing him to overcome the will of the American People, and take control of the Executive Branch of government.

The Electoral College is an odd and outdated system that should be eliminated, but for now it is required by the United States Constitution.

In any case, to this day, many Democratic leaders swear that but for Ralph Nader, Al Gore would have won Florida and therefore the election.

For them, it is a simple issue of arithmetic…  Case closed.

But their simplistic and anti-democracy statements fail to take into consideration the actual facts surrounding the Florida 2000 election.

Here are the facts;

  • According to the official count, out of more than 6 million votes cast, Al Gore lost Florida to George W. Bush by 537 votes.
  • The exit polls conducted at the time determined that approximately 308,000 Florida Democrats voted for George Bush.  By comparison, Ralph Nader got 24,000 votes from Democrats that fateful day.
  • Those promoting the “spoiler theory” would also have us believe that there were only three candidates on the Florida ballot in 2000 – Al Gore, George W. Bush and Ralph Nader.  However, there were actually ten (10) candidates on the ballot.  Gore lost by 537 votes and ALL EIGHT 3RD PARTY CANDIDATES on the Florida ballot received more than 537 votes each.  Yet you never hear the others being called “spoilers.” Those other 3rd party candidates included the Workers World Party candidate, the Socialist Party candidate, the Socialist Workers Party candidate and five others including Nader.
  • In addition, a major academic study of the 2000 Florida election determined that Gore would probably have won Florida’s Electoral College vote had there been a full statewide recount.  However, the Gore campaign only requested a recount in four of the most Democratic counties….  Al Gore never asked for a statewide recount and the Florida Supreme Court only ordered a recount among an even smaller sub-set of voters.
  • And it certainly wasn’t Ralph Nader’s fault that the United States Supreme Court voted, on partisan lines, to stop the Florida recount altogether, which had the immediate effect of ensuring Bush’s victory.

The truth about Ralph Nader and the 2000 Florida election is pretty simple.

When you hear political and media pundits, particularly those loyal to Connecticut Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy complain that Ralph Nader “spoiled” the 2000 presidential election or that my candidacy for governor in 2014 could “spoil” Malloy’s re-election aspirations, remind them off the following:  “Al Gore lost seven-and-a-half times more Democrats to Bush, than he lost Democrats and Independents combined to Nader.”

Al Gore lost Florida because not enough voters – especially Democrats – cast their vote for him.  Malloy could easily face a similar problem in Connecticut.

Democracy is the system of government in which The People have the opportunity to choose their leaders.  To suggest that a 3rd party candidate “spoils” the notion of democracy by running for office is to reject the most fundamental values and principles our nation is supposed to represent.

Supporters of Governor Malloy, or any other candidate for that matter, would do better spending their time explaining why their candidate deserves to win rather than working to undermine and denigrate the very essence of our democracy.

Their absurd complaints are unbecoming and un-American.

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

Older Entries