The fundamental lack of principle, vision and courage has become a sad and disturbing hallmark of American politics.
However, in a powerful move to stand up on behalf of Hartford, Connecticut’s public school teachers, students, parents and schools, the Hartford Federation of Teachers (HFT) has withdrawn its endorsement of Luke Bronin, the Greenwich native who is now campaigning to become Hartford’s next mayor.
Following an emergency meeting of the Hartford Federation of Teacher’s Executive Committee on Monday, a meeting that candidate Luke Bronin attended but where he failed to appropriately address his relationship with the charter school industry, the HFT voted unanimously to withdraw their endorsement of Bronin and his campaign for mayor.
Hartford Federation of Teachers President Andrea Johnson has been one of the state’s most outspoken advocates on behalf of public school students, parents and teachers.
Johnson and her union leadership have consistently pushed for adequate funding for Hartford’s public schools and against the immoral and unethical effort to divert scarce public funds to privately-owned charter schools, schools that, in Hartford, discriminate against Latino students, students who need help with the English language and students who require special education services.
In June, after interviewing all of the mayoral candidates, the HFT endorsed Luke Bronin.
But when it came to light that Luke Bronin was collecting campaign contributions from the charter school industry, Johnson and the HFT leadership sat down with him a second time to discuss his relationship and connection with charter school proponents.
The charter school operators and supporters who gave money to Bronin’s campaign are also associated with the corporate-funded lobbying in support of the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and the inappropriate effort to evaluate teachers on the basis of the Common Core test results.
According to Bronin’s campaign finance reports, charter school proponents, including those associated with the disgraced FUSE/Jumoke Charter School charter chain and others who are connected with the New York-based charter school advocacy front group called Families for Excellent Schools have provided Bronin with campaign contributions. Families for Excellent Schools is the entity that bused charter school parents and students to Hartford from as far away as New York and Boston to rally in support of Governor Dannel Malloy’s effort to divert even more public funds to charter schools. The group was also instrumental in supporting Steve Perry’s effort to collect tens of millions of dollars in public funds so that he could open his own, privately operated, but publicly funded charter school in Bridgeport.
In recent months Luke Bronin has been saying that, if elected, he would be a strong supporter of Hartford’s neighborhood public schools but when the HFT asked Bronin to return the tainted money that he had raised from the charter school industry, he refused, despite the fact that he had over $500,000 on hand as of the last campaign finance report (a 5-1 advantage over Mayor Pedro Segarra) and that the Bronin for Mayor campaign has reportedly raised hundreds of thousands more since July 1, 2015.
The fact that Luke Bronin was unwilling to return the money that he had collected from the charter school industry speaks volumes about his unwillingness to stand with Hartford’s public school teachers, students and parents.
Considering Bronin never attended public schools, opting instead for some of the most prestigious private schools in the nation, the aspiring candidate for mayor had a perfect opportunity to make it clear that he was ready, willing and able to be there for Hartford’s 20,000 public school students and to stand in solidarity with Hartford’s 2,200 teachers and education professionals.
But instead, the lure of campaign funds and whatever commitments he has made to the charter school industry kept him from doing the right thing.
In response, Andrea Johnson and the Hartford Federation of teachers did exactly the right thing by revoking their endorsement of Bronin’s campaign and making it clear that as long as he is unwilling to commit to making Hartford’s public school students, parents, teachers and schools a true priority, he is simply not ready for the critically important job of serving as Hartford’s mayor.
The Hartford Courant has also covered this developing story. Their article entitled “Hartford Teachers Union Rescinds Bronin Endorsement” reads,
The Hartford Federation of Teachers has rescinded its endorsement of mayoral challenger Luke Bronin after he refused to return campaign donations from charter school advocates, the union said Wednesday.
The complete Hartford Courant article can be found at: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-teachers-union-endorsement-0827-20150826-story.html