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.
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,
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…