Hartford’s Matt Poland lashes out at citizens who write to him about his upcoming TFA vote

Appointed by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland serves as a member of the Hartford Board of Education.  While he will remain on the Board, Poland is stepping down as Chairman tonight and Segarra’s appointees will elect the one Republican on the Board to become the Chairman.

Matt Poland also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Hartford Library.  Poland became the Hartford Public Library’s Deputy Administrator in June 2008.  He became interim Director in December 2008 and by October 2009 he had acquired the title of Chief Executive Officer.  This was the first time that such a title had been used since the library opened in 1893.

As a public servant, whether on the Hartford Board of Education or as an employee of the Hartford Public Library, Poland’s primary job is to serve the public.

It is for that reason his email attack on citizens who contacted him is all the more bizarre.

As noted in previous Wait, What? blog posts, the Hartford Board of Education will be voting on a $650,000 Teach for America contract tonight.  Over the past few weeks a number of citizens have written to members of the Hartford Board of Education urging them to vote no.  Some citizens wrote following an informative email they received from the American Federation of Teachers (see below).

On Saturday night, after receiving a number of emails, Matt Poland went into an email tirade and sent out this response.

Collecting the names of the people who had written to him, Poland sent out a blast email that was cc’d to all the people who wrote.  His email read,

“I have just received 13 e-mails from this group on the above-referenced topic in which each of you have presented yourselves as Hartford residents, while only 6 are actually residents and taxpayers in the City (please see the list of locations below). Let me begin by saying that this demonstrates a lack of good judgement on the part of those writers who misrepresented themselves.

Since this is a form letter, it is clear that there is an organizing entity behind this effort. I will tell you what I intend to do when one of you tell me who you represent.

Matt Poland
Board Chair

Windsor
Newington
Rocky Hill
West Hartford
East Hartford (2)
Bloomfield
Hartford (6)

If there was a “Hall of Fame” to highlight the arrogance and sense of entitlement that permeates American politics, politicians and political appointees, Poland’s missive could certainly be a stand-alone exhibit.

It would certainly be inappropriate for a non-Hartford resident to say they lived in Hartford.  As members of the Hartford Board of Education, Poland and the others certainly have a primary duty to Hartford students, parents, teachers and residents.

However for Poland to dismiss the concerns of the people who wrote to him is beyond insulting.

Here are some important facts:

As a result of the Open Choice program, Hartford schools accept children from the entire region. 

Even more to the point, only about 23 percent of Hartford’s $415 million school budget is funded by Hartford taxpayers.  Connecticut taxpayers pick up about 67 percent of Hartford’s school budget and the federal government pays for most of the last 10 percent.

From the available evidence, it certainly doesn’t appear that any person was trying to “trick” Poland into believing they were Hartford residents, but more to the point, as a public official Poland has a duty to be open-minded enough that voices – even those outside of Hartford – are heard.

The individuals who wrote the emails to Poland were apparently persuaded to write after reading the following email sent out by the American Federation of Teachers,

Hartford’s Board of Education is expected to vote Monday night on whether to renew a recruiting contract with Teach for America (TFA) worth nearly three quarters of a million dollars.

Is this really the best use of the city’s limited education resources?

Handing $651,000.00 to TFA over three years as a “finders-fee” for an additional 210 recruits for the district raises additional questions:

Why spend tax dollars on a human resources function when parents are crying out for improvements to their neighborhood schools?

Why outsource recruiting to TFA instead of partnering with our state’s public colleges and universities?

Why import TFA recruits from outside the state when there is no shortage of credentialed teachers right here in Connecticut?

Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”

The growing “Hartford Rising” movement has been saying school officials need to listen to parents, communities, and educators before making decisions that impact students and their opportunity to learn. Join them in urging the board vote “NO” to this costly contract.

In solidarity,

Melodie Peters
President, AFT Connecticut

Steve McKeever
First Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Jean Morningstar
Second Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Andrea Johnson
President, Hartford Federation of Teachers Local 1018

Shellye Davis
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221

Jackie Aviles
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221

P.S. Click here for a brief story on the board’s planned vote and the growing movement to “resist TFA” in local schools across the nation.

And when you, “Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside ‘head hunters,’” you get this,

Hartford BOE: Make Better Choices than Finder’s Fees

Hartford school officials are about to decide on renewing a three-year, $651,000.00 contract with Teach for America (TFA) for an additional 210 recruits for the district. We are urging members living in Hartford to contact the Board of Education before their February 24 meeting and urge they make better choices with scarce education resources.

Join the Hartford Rising! movement in urging the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”

In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.

Please look up and use your full nine-digit zip for the best results. Please enter your zip/postal code

  • buygoldandprosper

    While it was very difficult to be critical of libraries, I learned long ago that they are chock full of corruption. Who would think!? New York in general and Queens in particular. The latest:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/queens-library-board-trustees-nixes-ceo-2m-golden-parachute-article-1.1622134

    When library issues were brought up to Mayor Dan Malloy…well, let’s just say it continued to be business as usual.
    It seems that Matt Poland will fit right in but I would suggest that the residents of Hartford monitor their system closely and forever.
    Check T&L. The more they fly the more they want to fly.
    Compensation.
    Retirement.
    “Other” benefits (car and driver?)
    Contracts. Watch that IT budget!
    Monitor the board…the buddy system is firmly in place!
    Library systems are frequently below everyone’s radar but I guarantee you will be unpleasantly surprised if you even just scratch the surface!

  • buygoldandprosper

    WARNING WILL ROBINSON!!

    “I am the chief executive officer of Hartford Public Library in Hartford CT, a 21st century public library serving the information and learning needs of our citizens. Over 25 years’ experience in human resources and general management. Solid capabilities in strategic planning, policy formulation, management development, employee relations, and change management. Strong business acumen developed through line and staff positions in various industries. Effective change agent with the ability to serve as a catalyst for profitable and orderly workforce change. Skilled communicator able to establish rapport with diverse groups from entry-level employees to board members. An idea generator, leader, and resourceful problem solver.
    Team leader and troubleshooter with proven ability to bring together talent and ideas to create an imaginative, innovative, and successful organization.
    Specialties: General management, non-profit leadership, fundraising and development, policy and planning, employee relations, communications, strategic planning, leadership development, change management, facilitation, labor relations, general management.”
    Does Mr. Poland have a degree in library science??

    • educationmatters

      It looks like the same fiction writer that created Perry’s bio worked on Poland’s. There’s about as much truth up there as in your average bodice ripper. Wow.

      • buygoldandprosper

        No Library Science Degree?
        I promise you…that is a major warning sign.
        It looks as though a Poland family “gave back” to the annual fund drive but I think that there is clearly a lack of participation by familiar names in Hartford who feed off the body politic and give very little, if anything, back. Do they know something the rest of us do not?!!
        As someone recently pointed out…I don’t know what people do “behind the scenes” but deep pockets and short arms seem to be a common characteristic of modern “leaders”.

    • Linda174

      No he does not and I am not too sure of his ability to display any of the skills listed above. Well, maybe if you always agree with him and never ever challenge him.

  • buygoldandprosper

    HARTFORD! FOLLOW THE MONEY!
    The Hartford library has $22,257,266 net assets. In the bank?
    Last year,
    –Endowment= $567,655
    –Fees= $79,202
    –Grants= $478,870
    –Gifts= $286825
    –City Contribution= $8,215,000
    Mr. Poland received $129,085 to mind the nest egg
    while the CFO Julio Molleda received $28,541 and the Chief Administrative Officer received a whopping $24,967.
    Folks in Hartford…those are you tax dollars and that is your library.
    Watch out!

  • Kerri

    Mr. Poland would do well to put down the red herring.
    The fact is that the BOE received letters from six Hartford residents who do not approve of the plan to rubberstamp the TFA contract continuation. To be fair, he is not the only board member to have pulled this tactic. Others have done this before when petitions were signed, making a big deal out of non-residents signing something while ignoring that actual residents *had* opposed their plans.
    Your job, Mr. Poland, as part of the school board, is to listen to the people. Whether you like it or not, those who sympathize with unions, those who oppose your ideology…those are also people.
    If you are truly interested in returning civility as you claimed to when not exploring another round of chairing the board, you’d behave with more respect toward those exercising their rights as citizens.

  • buygoldandprosper

    “The mission of the Hartford Public Library is to provide free resources that inspire reading, guide learning and encourage individual exploration.”
    “To provide and support literacy and learning, to provide free and open access to information and ideas and to help people participate in our democratic society”

  • silverkicksass

    I think “buygoldandprosper” has passed their allotted posts for the month 🙂

    • buygoldandprosper

      I agree.

  • buygoldandprosper

    As he heads back to his book filled empire, I ask again… does Mr. Poland have a degree in library science? No doubt, he does, and from a prestigious school of library science.
    We know he has an active Twitter account…must be a Hartford thing.

    • jonpelto

      Good one BuyGold!

  • cindy

    So Gates foundation owns not only schools, but our public libraries? This is a scandal.

    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/media-center/press-releases/2012/12/gates-foundation-invests-nearly-25-million-in-seven-cities

  • Guest

    Doesn’t Poland have it backwards? Form letter or not, the emails were from concerned citizens. Shouldn’t the question be, Who does HE represent? Many students who do not live in Hartford attend many Hartford schools. Is Poland not aware of this?

  • mookalaboona

    I wrote to him, but not on the urging of my union, CEA. I don’t believe CEA sent anything out. I identified myself as a teacher from another town and gave him reasons why they should not go ahead with this. I did not get a response.

    • jonpelto

      Maybe you should have said, I’m at Hartford resident – catcha – I’m just a nobody who helps fund your schools and your salary and wanted to utilize the rights inherent in that thing called the US and Connecticut constitutions

  • TMS

    Please forgive my stupid question, but why do Connecticut taxpayers pick up such a large portion of Hartford’s education budget? How is this fair to my town/city? I work in Hartford and get so tired of Hartford’s arrogance and perception of entitlement just because it is the capital city. Not only do we pick up the tab for a majority of their education budget, state taxpayer dollars are used (via DECD) to poach businesses from other towns and bring them to Hartford. I’m willing to help my fellow citizen as much as the next person, but if Hartford can afford cars for city officials, high six-figure salaries for city workers, expense accounts and performance bonuses then they can afford to pay for their own school system. Maybe if they were spending their own money instead of everyone else’s, they wouldn’t be so quick to throw it around and more residents would be more outspoken about how the money is spent.

  • Philip Stull

    Today’s must read on Diane Rativch’s blog New Mexico Teacher testimony.

    • R.L.

      Yes, it was a very good piece.

  • educationmatters

    Another political appointee who thinks his budget comes from fairy dust and unicorn rainbows.

  • HartfordPirates

    I will now be attending the meeting tonight if for no other reason than to remind Mr. Poland, and the rest of the Board of Education, that Matt Ritter fought a hard won battle to continue the state subsidy for our property taxes in Hartford. Mr. Poland, et al: Conecticut is watching and actually does have a say in what we do in Hartford, since Connecticut seems to be footing the bills.

    To waste state taxpayer money is to tempt the wrath of every citizen outside of Hartford. And while we seem to have a tough time getting citizens out to vote, don’t assume that is the case in every other town in Connecticut.

    I can see the question now: “Why should the state continue a subsidy when Hartford wastes the money they are given. if Hartford can afford so extravagant an expense, then clearly we are well off enough to not need it any longer…”

    Don’t waste Mr. Ritter’s profound efforts and risk the retaliation of the state. You are in a fiscal crosshairs and if people from other cities are reaching out…that means that the state is paying attention. There are ramifications to your actions.

  • jrp1900

    There’s only one word that describes Mr. Poland’s conduct: disgraceful. No, wait, his conduct is better described by two words: utterly disgraceful!

  • MBC

    Hartford Public Schools should be used as an example to students, parents, school administrators, school boards, and communities of outside of Hartford as an example of how odious things get when a district’s leadership and school board sells out to corporate school reform.

    In regards to the TFA $650.000 contract, it is also important to consider how it will ultimately increase unemployment in CT. There is no shortage of talented certified teachers working in HPS or who inspire to teach Hartford’s youth. However, HPS will create room for TFA’s by continuing it’s unethical practices of squeezing well qualified certified staff by creating hostile work conditions and using the teacher evaluation system as a tool to non-renew their contracts.

    The following letter was written on my behalf by former student. This is only one of the many that I had received from my students. I hope that by sharing provides some insight on the realities of the types of teachers HPS is forcing out to make room for TFA.

    Dear Board of Education,

    My name is xxxxxx and Mr. C has been my history teacher for my junior year. I have to say that I am shocked and deeply upset at the fact that he will not be coming back next year. I personally don’t understand this because Mr. C has done nothing but good for the students of GPA. And I am left bewildered at why the administration here would ever want to get rid of him. This school year Mr. C has worked extremely hard this year to teach us and to do it with excellence. Unlike many of my other teachers this year, he didn’t just give us endless bookwork, packets and lecture us for the entire class period. Instead, he worked diligently to come up with interesting projects for us to do, to really immerse us in the topics.

    Another good thing about Mr. C was that he always came into class with a positive attitude; he was never unpleasant and always treated his students with respect. Mr. C was more than just a teacher to us. He was a mentor to many of his students. In addition to teaching us history he also taught us lessons that we will apply to our lives even after high school, like the values of responsibility, honesty and more.
    The one thing that really stood out to me the most about Mr. C is his undeniably good character. He is the kind of man who finds a wallet full of money, and instead of taking the money and leaving; he would do everything he could to see that the wallet would be safely returned. He always honest with us and kept it real throughout the year. Even when he found out in February, he didn’t let that affect him at all and continued to teach us with excellence throughout the year.

    Mr. C isn’t the kind of teacher you should be firing, but the kind of teacher who should be getting a raise. No other teacher in the whole school works as hard as Mr. C does or cares about their students as much. All of his students could tell that he genuinely wanted us to succeed from the beginning of the year. Thank you for taking the time to listen to what I had to say and I hope that you will take my words into consideration.

    Regards,XXXXXXXXX

    • Castles Burning

      R.L.,

      I do not know what to say. Sorry is not sufficient. Thank you for sharing your experience and your student’s letter. You had to teach from February?? May I ask what the reason was given for your dismissal?

      • MBC

        C.B.
        Thanks for your reply. I must be honest in saying that my intentions for the post is to give an accurate account of what is really happening in Hartford. Lots of great teachers are getting shelled in Hartford for no other reason but to make room for TFAs and push an agenda.

        The reason I was given was tied to performance which I could not accept because it was a bs reason. I knew it had everything to do with tenure. I could not bring myself to sign a letter of resignation that was prewritten by the otm and accept the deal that they offer of sign it and resign keep your insurance to the last day of summer and a guarantee that HPS would not challenge an unemployment claim. Instead, my non renewal was emailed to several Directors within HPS, My family’s healthcare plan would expire the last day of school, and HPS would release my non renewal to all that inquired. I fought the non renewal and eventually forced a settlement. As you can see my story is a long one but is well documented.

        • Castles Burning

          Yes and your account has just been backed up by the hiring of all those TFAs. Hartford loses and the justifications for such a vote will be interesting to say the least. Jonathan, be sure to keep those email connections up (as if you would take them down). A crying shame all around . . .

        • brutus2011

          Your predicament is echoed all over Ct and the US. Teachers are disposable “workers,” as viewed not only by the corporatizers but also by public school districts. This whole thing has been, is now, and will be about money, power, and control.

          And, where are the teacher union management?

          And, why do teachers keep electing those who sell them out?

  • Bronx

    “Skilled communicator able to establish rapport with diverse groups from entry-level employees to Board members…”… Hmmmm, doesn’t that imply Mr. Poland plays well with others? It’s nice to know Mr. Poland magnanimously spreads his greatness around to everyone, even the newbies at the Hartford Public Library. A veritable “man of the people.” Just don’t be critical of his policies though, or be a taxpayer outside of Hartford, and you’ll get along with him seamlessly!!!!!

  • CTedFromTheTrenches

    I’m curious to know what message CT state universities must be pushing to their education students right now… These TFA moves are a massive insult to all that is logical and just. Are certified education grads who actually pay their dues, just lambs to the (jobless) slaughter?

    • Ebony in Inwood

      UCONN’s Neag School of Ed has a lot of explaining to do