Malloy vetoes bill requiring that education commissioner have education experience

Dannel shows his true stripes yet again…

The CT Newsjunkie headline reads- Union Leader ‘Stunned’ By Malloy Veto of Standards For Education Commish while the CT Mirror exclaims Malloy vetoes qualifications for education commissioner

The leader of Connecticut’s teacher unions are stunned because the Right Honorable Governor Dannel P. Malloy decided to veto legislation that would have required that the state education commissioners have “a strong classroom background, something his first education commissioner lacked.”

The legislation passed the Education Committee 32 to 0

It passed the State Senate 36 – 0

And it passed the Connecticut House of Representatives  138-5

Only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill in the House.

But Dannel Malloy vetoed it anyway.

The story?

Harken back just over one year ago, and the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s was holding its political endorsing convention.

As a candidate attempting to petition on to the ballot, the union refused to allow me to address the delegates.

Instead, as the CT Mirror called it, the convention was “a two-day infomercial promoting the re-election of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, with one carefully choreographed note of discord: A rebuke to the Democratic governor’s choice of Stefan Pryor as commissioner of education.”

Before formally endorsing Malloy, the statewide labor federation adopted a resolution Tuesday calling for a requirement that an education commissioner hold the same credential as a school superintendent, a standard that Pryor does not meet.

“We’re hoping the governor’s listening,” said Melodie Peters, the president of AFT-Connecticut, one of the state’s two major teachers’ unions.

The resolution drawn up by the AFT, which separately endorsed Malloy ahead of the AFL-CIO convention, was a message to a Democratic governor and to labor’s rank-and-file. It was meant as a gentle rebuke to Malloy, not a rejection; a way to soothe educators, not provoke them.

Pryor never was mentioned by name, but he has become a pressure-relief valve for labor, which acknowledges a need to draw anger away from the governor. Peters agreed when asked if the resolution was a second-term message to Malloy about a need for a new commissioner.

Now, a year later, having failed to testify against the union’s proposed bill or even voice any opposition what-so-ever, Malloy vetoed the very concept  was submitted as a result of that AFL-CIO resolution.

As the CT Mirror explained last year,

Teacher unrest has given Jonathan Pelto, an education blogger and former Democratic state legislator, an opening to try to organize a third-party run for governor.

Malloy told the delegates Monday in a well-received speech that he’s made mistakes, but he stopped far short of apologizing for what teachers still say was a gratuitous and deliberate insult.

The task for union leaders has been to manage the anger of the rank-and-file, sharply contrasting the overall labor record of Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in a generation with the hostility to labor and collective bargaining by GOP governors in once-union friendly states like Wisconsin and Michigan.


A procession of delegates stepped up to microphones Tuesday to speak in favor the resolution.

“Education is a profession, not a hobby,” said Edward Leavy of AFT Local 4200 A.

The delegates cheered.

Anna Montalvo, the president of AFSCME Local 1522, which represents paraprofessionals in Bridgeport, said a superintendent and education commissioner should meet standards, as do her members.

The delegates cheered again.

But the message of the convention eventually circled back to a simple equation: What would be best for labor, the re-election of a Democratic governor or a Republican?

Sharon Palmer, a former AFT-Connecticut president who is Malloy’s labor commissioner, vouched for the governor’s commitment to labor.

“Let me say from up close and personal, he is a good boss,” Palmer said. “Sometimes he has a sharp tongue, but more often than not he uses that sharp tongue to fight off those who would diminish us.”

Palmer, Peters and Randi Weingarten, the national AFT president who was the second-day keynote speaker, all reminded the members of Malloy’s support for a broad labor agenda and his defense of locked out health workers represented by AFT at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

Weingarten ended the convention with a loud, passionate pitch for Malloy. She acknowledged rough spots in AFT’s relationship with Malloy over tenure.

“Yeah, I don’t like some of the things he’s said, either,” Weingarten said. “But what he’s done, he’s increased funding for K-12, increased funding by seven percent for K-12, making Connecticut the second-highest education spender in the country since the recession.”

She called Pelto a friend who has some important things to say, but his candidacy is a distraction and a danger that can only draw votes away from Malloy.


She told reporters after the convention that she spoke by telephone the previous day with Pelto, who had complained he wasn’t invited to speak. Only the major-party endorsed candidates addressed the convention.

Weingarten said third-party candidates can play an important role, and she has supported some in the past.

She said the stakes in Connecticut are too high: “The stakes here are whether you’re going to have a Dan Malloy or a Tom Foley as governor, whether you are going to have a Connecticut that acts as Connecticut or that emulates Wisconsin.”

As to why Dannel Malloy would veto the bill out of the blue?

According to the CT Newsjunkie,

In his veto message, Malloy said the legislation “encroaches on the purview” of the chief executive and would prevent them from picking “the best candidate to lead the department.”

Connecticut Education Association Executive Director Mark Waxenberg said he was “stunned” by the veto. He said it’s good public policy that doesn’t take away any of the governor’s authority to choose a qualified individual for the job.

Just like teachers have to be certified, the state’s Education Commissioner should have minimum qualifications, Waxenberg said.

He said his members will be angry about this veto and will speak with legislative leaders to “seriously consider an override session.”


AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel said she’s “disappointed” in the veto, but to Malloy’s credit he heard their voices and “chose a new commissioner with extensive background in the classroom.”

Hochadel added: “We expect that he and future governors would follow this example in recommending leadership for the state’s education agency. Our state’s students and their parents deserve nothing less.”

But Malloy made it clear in his veto message that he should have the ability to hire the most qualified candidate, regardless of their background.

“Open-mindedness and flexibility are paramount in a search for the right candidate who can best respond to the educational challenges that face our state,” Malloy said in his veto message. “The establishment of qualification for the Commissioner of Education in statute closes the door on a broad pool of talented and diverse leaders who would otherwise be eligible and could foster greatness in our schools.”

Malloy said he’s concerned it would unintentionally reduce the diversity of future commissioner applicant polls, since representation of African American and Hispanic teachers and administrators remains disproportionately low.

As the legislative report (JR report) explains, when the Education Committee held its public hearing, the testimony was almost unanimous in favor of the bill.

Melodie Peters, President, AFT Connecticut AFL-CIO spoke;

Ms. Peters and AFT Connecticut support the proposed bill citing the role of the Commissioner in providing, “direction and guidance to districts, schools and educators.” AFT believes the credibility of the Commissioner of Education depends, in part, on the shared experience of the Commissioner with teachers, administrators, and superintendents.”

Dr. Anne Jellison, Chair, Connecticut Association of School Administrators spoke:

“Dr. Jellison testified in favor noting that it is critical for the Commissioner of Education to have credibility and expertise among all stakeholders in Connecticut’s education system. She included that an effective, credible Commissioner needs “first-hand knowledge” of Connecticut schools and understands the impact of not only day-to-day situations but how policies impact the school environment.”

Jeff Leake, Vice President, Connecticut Education Association spoke:

“Mr. Leake testified in support of the bill, commenting that many of the members of the CEA are also in favor of a person with a background in the education field serving as Commissioner. The CEA feels the bill may be too basic in the required qualifications but stressed to the committee that their organization is looking for a commissioner who understands the qualities necessary to be a true educator.”

Lori Pelletier, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Connecticut AFL-CIO spoke:

“Ms. Pelletier testified in support of the bill. The position of the AFL-CIO is that high standards that have been set for teachers, administrators, and superintendents should also be a standard for the Commissioner of Education.”

But there was one person who rose to oppose the requirement that Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education have substantive educational experience…

Jennifer Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, ConnCAN:

“ConnCAN opposes the proposed bill because they believe the requirements laid out in the bill for the Commissioner of Education would severely limit Connecticut’s ability to recruit talent and would, “unnecessarily exclude qualified and experienced candidates from being considered for appointment as Education Commissioner.”

So there you go…

  • vpotus

    Sigh. I’m not that surprised. Disgusting.

  • buygoldandprosper

    Stop whining. You got a win. You got a loss.

    “When retired teachers still living in Connecticut file their income tax returns next spring, 10 percent of their pensions will be exempted, saving them an estimated $11.8 million. That exemption is slated to grow to 25 percent one year later, and then to 50 percent two years from now.”
    Danny needs to wet his beak too,and that charter school money…well, let’s just say there is a lot of it and very little accountability.
    Oh! I will add that anyone foolish enough to retire in Connecticut deserves what they get.

    • Bill Morrison

      Do you get Social Security? We teachers don’t, even if we contributed throughout our lives in other careers or jobs. I will lose over 35 years of contributions to Social Security simply because I am a teacher. Take your criticism of our exemptions and stuff it! We have lost far more than we will gain.

      • mookalaboona

        Thanks Bill. I too worked 42 years in other positions….summer school, church organist, tutoring, private school teaching, performing….. I’m in the same boat. 42 years of paying into SS and it’s offset because of that stupid federal law that should have been changed long ago. If you add it all up, I’ve had money taken from me, and I’ll never get it back. And when you have family ties in CT. it’s impossible to retire somewhere else. Easier said than done. And why should I have too?

  • Charlie Puffers

    Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, arrogant Malloy. Does he want to bring in some more fake Dr.s? Friends of Adamowski? Does he think he will always be governor? What if Tom Foley wins the next election? Will Donald Trump make a good candidate for commish? I’m sure Donald thinks he’s up for the job. What about one of the Kochs? Michelle Rhee? Mickey mouse?

    And, stupid, stupid, stupid union leadership. Teachers are tired of being dumped on. Teachers are weary from the test obsessed inexperienced number crunchers hired to run schools or as a chief at central office. Teachers are sick of the data driven drivel, the fraud, the ignorant arrogant fakes claiming to have the vision to repair the neglected, underfunded, abandoned schools without providing funding, leadership, services, or resources. What a waste of a governor. The union leadership didn’t listen to the rank and file and totally blew this one. Malloy sucks pond water.

    • R.L.

      The union leadership does not respond to the rank and file. They haven’t for a while. There should have been a lot more noise (backed up by data of course) when these school deformation changes began being implemented way back in the Bush days or at least Adamowski’s early Hartford days. Where was the noise? I remember one board meeting where the union actually gathered people to confront the Hartford Board on some bad Adamowski policies. There was a strong showing. Some of us spoke up at a board meeting to help keep “Dr.” Steven “There will be head injuries” Perry from getting his money grubbing hands on another Hartford school. There was a little bandwagon opt out rally recently so the CEA leadership could pretend they had a strong stance against testing just before they came up for “election”. What else? The “teacher’s” union leadership endorsed Malloy after he had repeatedly stabbed us in the back. Now he can stab us in the front. Hey, “we” have that seat at the table that Melodie Peters gave so much for. The union is a collective bargaining service and a lawyer insurance agency and that’s all they are to me at this point. They could have made history, endorsed Jonathan Pelto, and if nothing else show that they are not just democrat (corporate or otherwise) lackeys. There is a lot of noise about the attack on unions, especially public sector ones, these days. It doesn’t help the union interest to alienate the people who are the union. I’d personally like to see you be union president (at any level) some day. Something like that might actually restore my faith in the thing.

  • truthsayer

    It’s like he can hypnotize the CT Democrat Party and Teacher’s and State Employees unions. They bitch about him then do everything he asks, he stabs them in the back then they all vote for him again. All putting the party ahead of the State’s welfare.

  • jhs

    That;s is what they get for trusting Dan.

    • Bill Morrison

      By the way, where are the apologists? I haven’t seen any posts from them. Come on, you who voted for Malloy AGAIN, where, oh where are you?

  • Bill Morrison

    Just like Malloy . . . Why pick a qualified person for the job when a non-qualified profiteer will take it?
    I think I’ll have a beer tonight and thank all of the Malloy apologists who got him reelected in spite of his strong anti-teacher, anti-public education policies. We knew what we would get, but some of us voted for him anyway.

  • mookalaboona

    Waxenburg is going to do nothing! Neither are the other 2 clowns Cohen and Leake! They endorsed the bully and this is what they got. No surprise. And the idiot teachers at the RA were stupid enough to put Cohen and Leake back in office instead of voting for true leadership. They were more concerned about golf tournaments, teddy bears and social events than choosing leaders who would fight for education. So, no one needs to be stunned!

  • mookalaboona

    Typical CEA. On their Facebook page, their most recent post is about member deals for July, rental cars and hotels. Nothing about this travesty that really affects the membership!

  • hugo ontario
  • ctprof

    My cynicism tells me that the CEA leadership has been paid off by someone. Maybe they have and maybe they have not but I cannot think of any other explanation. Meanwhile, this just took place in Ohio with a Republican governor and legislature, no less.

    • Bill Morrison

      I also believe that AFT-CT Leadership has been bought and paid for by Malloy. Melodie (I have a seat at the table!) Peters has used we teachers as bargaining chips for her support of the health care workers in the “American Federation of TEACHERS” so that the only group to make out during Malloy’s reign are the HC workers. That is her legacy.
      I also believe that the Republicans are becoming aware that, if they can get the appearance of supporting teachers, we might vote for them en mass. We have to remember that Bush and the GOP started this mess with NCLB. Does anyone remember the Bush Education Miracle in Texas?
      Therefore, we cannot trust democrats or republicans in this struggle. And, we have to forcibly take OUR Unions back so that we have the voice and the power to fight back. We must impeach Union leadership that has sold us out.

  • mookalaboona

    Sent this to the CEA “leaders”. I have sent them numerous emails over the past two years, but they can’t be bothered to respond or are hiding. They didn’t respond to this either:

    Hey “leaders”;

    Still think you should have endorsed Malloy? I think you should leave the knife in your back to remind you three how you turned your back on every teacher in the state last year. And by the way, I tried to warn you not to endorse Malloy and my reasoning almost two years ago. With his recent vetoes I am truly validated. How could three seemingly intelligent people not see that Malloy could not be trusted after what he did his first term?

    You really should be ashamed of yourselves. CEA in the CT Mirror looks weak beyond belief and really that’s what you are.

  • CTedFromTheTrenches

    Malloy’s arrogance is sickening. There is NO EXCUSE for this veto.