Highlights and Lowlights of the Pelto/Murphy 2014 campaign continue to grow

Kicked off by yesterday’s Wait, Wait? Blog post, the Hartford Courant’s Chris Keating wrote a news update entitled, “Breaking: Pelto Fears He Will Not Reach 7,500 Signatures To Get On Ballot.”

Keating began his article with the following,

In a potential political boost for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto told The Hartford Courant on Saturday that he fears he will not reach the necessary threshold to qualify for the gubernatorial ballot in November.

Pelto has threatened to go to court to gain a place on the gubernatorial ballot against Malloy, Republican Tom Foley, and petitioning candidate Joseph Visconti, but Pelto said in an interview that a potential court fight on disputed signatures might be fruitless if he is not close enough to the threshold.

“It’s not looking good,” Pelto said Saturday. “I am increasingly concerned the situation is starting to look grim. It is clear that we submitted far fewer petitions than I had expected. … I may be wrong. But for the first time, I think we may fall short.”

The news article goes on to explore the issues and challenges surrounding what may be our failed effort to qualify for a position on the November gubernatorial ballot.

You can read the original Wait, What? blog here: http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/08/23/youre-rightyou-just-can-make-sht/

And the Hartford Courant story here:  http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/breaking-pelto-fears-he-will-not-reach-7500-signatures/

As a candidate for governor over the past few months, I’ve been honored and humbled to hear some amazing complements, along with some pretty harsh insults.

I have to say, after striving to serve as an outspoken supporter of Connecticut public school teachers and state employees over the last four years, in addition my pro-collective bargaining, pro-labor, pro-state employee, pro-teacher voting record when I served as a state legislator more than two decades ago; I was deeply offended when the AFL-CIO refused to allow me to address the delegates at their summer endorsing convention and when the President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) refused to allow me to fill out a candidate questionnaire, to have an interview with their political action committee or even address their executive committee before they endorsed Governor Malloy.

I was equally stunned, although more hurt than anything else, when the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association prohibited me from collecting signatures outside of their Summer Leadership Conference earlier this month.  Their claim was that allowing me to collect signatures from CEA members would be perceived as an unfair advantage.

Ironically, during the entire campaign, the CEA was the only public or private organization that prohibited me from collecting signatures at an event.

Although all of these situations were real “eye-openers,” they are “water of the dam” and there is no use “crying over spilt milk.”

Besides, to be honest, they have been replaced by two more remarkable reader comments that appear at the end of the aforementioned Hartford Courant article.

While some of the reader comments add perspective to the story, there is Dan who writes, “Did Malloy and/ or his Demon Cronies Pay him off ???”

Followed by Charles who ponders the hundreds of rejected petition signatures asking, “How many wee undocumented immirants?”

I have to say, regardless of whether we do or do not qualify for a position on the ballot, those two comments, along with many of these other experiences. will make the whole episode truly unforgettable.

Oh and just in case there is any doubt – Ah, Dan, the answer is no.

And Charles, if you can describe to me what an “undocumented immigrant” looks like, I’ll try to remember if we saw 900 of them lining up to illegally sign our petitions.

And to Dan and Charles, I urge you to look up the quote that Pogo provided us many years ago.

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

Malloy can’t contain himself, uses speech to criticize lobbying effort by teachers and education unions…

As readers are aware, Governor Dannel Malloy traveled to Washington D.C. yesterday to speak to the right-wing, neoconservative American Enterprise Institute.  His speech was entitled, “School reform dos and don’ts: Lessons from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.”

As originally proposed, Malloy’s “education reform” initiative was the most anti-teacher, anti-union education reform legislation proposed by any Democratic governor in the nation.  Even after the proposal was modified by the Connecticut General Assembly is still held out as a prime example of the corporate education reform industry’s obsession with more standardized testing and inappropriate teacher evaluation programs that utilize standardized test results.

What as most noteworthy about the Malloy’s speech to the American Enterprise Institute was that while taking full credit for the legislation he tried to re-position himself for the 2014 gubernatorial election by praising teachers rather than playing his traditional role of criticizing and demeaning them.

As the CT Mirror reported yesterday, in his speech to the American Enterprise Institute, “the governor acknowledged that he could have been more delicate when introducing his proposals…’I’ve probably used the wrong language more than once. I know I have,’ he said, routinely pointing out how important teacher buy-in is to the success of the initiative.”

Apparently his remarks were supposed to appease teachers who might still be upset that in Malloy’s major education speech in 2012, he called for doing away with tenure while saying, “In today’s (public education) system, basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours.”

Malloy infamously added, later that year, his observation that he didn’t mind teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up.”

But despite a carefully written script yesterday, Malloy’s real personality and opinions couldn’t stay hidden for long.

During the question and answer period following Malloy’s talk, Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of ConnCAN and co-founder of A Better Connecticut, the corporate education reform lobbying group, tossed Malloy a soft-ball question about the town meetings Malloy held around the state to promote his education reform initiative in 2012.

Readers will recall that A Better Connecticut, ConnCAN and other corporate education industry organizations have spent a record $6 million and counting lobbying in support of Malloy’s education reform initiative to date, including more than $2 million in television advertisements thanking Malloy for his “leadership.”

In response to a question from ConnCAN’s CEO, Malloy talked about how people were mad and how he stood up to the angry teachers and led the way forward for the General Assembly.

Malloy summarized the situation saying he was needed because “folks [were] spending a lot of money to try and defeat an organized effort at school reform….”

It was another great truly another great Dannel Malloy moment.

When teachers, parents and public school advocates came out to public meetings to speak out on behalf of public education, Malloy says that they were part of a group of “folks” who were “spending a lot of money to try and defeat” education reform.

But there he was – speaking at the ultra-right wing American Enterprise Institute and happily taking a question from the paid lobbyist whose organization has led the most expensive lobbying campaign in state history.

Tucked into the safety of a right-wing “think tank,” the Malloy we have come to know couldn’t resist the opportunity to attack teachers and their unions while accepting the accolades of the corporate education reform industry.

That said, not everyone who watched Malloy’s performance came away with the same reaction.

While you can read my take on the Malloy speech by reading the Wait, What? post entitled “Malloy tells right-wing American Enterprise Institute he is the “education governor”, you may also want to read what the Connecticut Education Association posted to their blog yesterday.

While both blogs report on Malloy’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute, the different interpretations of same event is rather extraordinary.

From the 12/2/2013 CEA Blog: Malloy on Teachers & School Reform

Governor Dannel P. Malloy told a national audience today that teacher concerns about the rapid pace of change in Connecticut public education are real, adding that “we’re going to get through it.”

The governor called teachers “good, hard-working people.” Malloy said, “I probably used the wrong language more than once. I know I have. It’s not because I don’t appreciate what teachers do.”

Malloy’s comments came in an interview this afternoon at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Malloy talked about the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that are being implemented and new CCSS tests—so-called Smarter Balanced Assessments that could be linked to teacher evaluations down the road. According to Malloy, teachers are ready, but that doesn’t mean they are not scared. “Far better a carrot than a stick,” he said.

Apparently referring to Connecticut’s new teacher evaluation system, Malloy said “the vast majority of Connecticut teachers are doing a great job,” and they will be recognized for this. Malloy said he’s taken steps to make the magnitude of education reform easier on public schools. Connecticut school districts have flexibility on two fronts: administering just one test to students during this school year—the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments or the CMT and CAPT—and giving local school districts the power to decide whether or not to include that test data in teachers’ evaluations.

Malloy took questions from an AEI audience, including one about the legislative battle over Connecticut school reform. Referring to his role, he made a number of comments, including that somebody had to be the leader, somebody had to bring the discussion to communities, and that somebody had to emphasize we needed to change direction in public education.

Malloy said “I had to fly in the face of traditional Democratic constituencies.” He added that reform cannot be accomplished top down. He called it a combination of leadership, getting buy-in, and staying at it year after year.

You can see Malloy’s performance at the American Enterprise Institute here:  http://www.aei.org/events/2013/12/02/school-reform-dos-and-donts-lessons-from-connecticut-governor-dannel-malloy/

Who could possibly oppose School Governance Councils? Paul Vallas put your hand down!

For one thing, properly utilizing School Governance Councils is the law in Connecticut!

In addition, even Governor Malloy, at least when he was a candidate, supported the creation of School Governance Councils.  In fact, he promised to expand their use.

In support of the federal government’s Race to the Top program, candidate Dan Malloy backed a 2010 Connecticut law saying that it sought to “engage parents in a meaningful way.”

In a response on the website On the Issues, Dan Malloy wrote, “The bill establishes local school governance councils that include parents and help create a sense of community that can make schooling more relevant to kids, and kids more connected to their community.  However, these councils are only required for low-achieving schools.  We should not stop there…  While governance councils are one tool for improving achievement, they are still a top-down approach to decision-making that limit involvement to only a few engaged parents.  My administration will create opportunities for all parents to be involved.”

Apparently the memo concerning his commitment to “create opportunities for all parents to be involved” didn’t make it to the desk of Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools.”

In fact, Paul Vallas’ unwillingness to follow the law and properly include parents, teachers and community leaders in the decision-making process has become so severe that the Connecticut Education Association has taken the unprecedented step of filing a complaint with the State Department of Education.

Although Connecticut law requires that School Governance Councils be utilized in school districts that are facing the greatest challenges, in Bridgeport, Paul Vallas appears either unwilling or unable to meet his obligation to include the community, parents, and teachers in the educational decision-making process.

The complaint against Vallas cites numerous situations in which Vallas violated the law.

In particular, the complaint charges that Vallas failed to provide Bridgeport’s School Governance Councils the opportunity to; (1) to review the fiscal objectives of the draft budget for the school and provide advice before it was submitted, (2) participate, as required, in the hiring process of administrators, (3) work with school administration to develop and approve a school compact, (4) be involved in developing and approving a written parent involvement policy outlining the role of parents in the school, (5) participate in analyzing school achievement data and school needs relative to the improvement plan for the school, (6) assist the principal in making programmatic and operational changes for improving the school’s achievement and the list goes on.

As CEA President, Sheila Cohen explained, “These are just some of the examples of the flagrant disregard Bridgeport Public Schools Superintendent Vallas has shown for School Governance Councils and state law.”

“School Governance Councils have a successful track record of engaging parents, teachers, and community members in important school activities and providing collaborative support to improve student achievement. These opportunities and the benefit of state laws must be afforded members of the Bridgeport school community.”  Cohen Added.

In addition to his pattern of failing to appropriately include School Governance Councils, the CEA’s complaint actually cites a school board meeting at which Vallas said that there were priorities more important than governance councils.

After the CEA issued their complaint, the Hartford Courant wrote that, “Vallas, reached at his office late Tuesday afternoon, said: ‘We are really busy and we don’t have time to deal with this type of nonsense because that’s what it is. No one has reached out more than my team — to parents, the teachers, faith-based organizations, even the non-teachers..’”

Vallas made a similar claim to the CT Post saying, “We are in full compliance,” Vallas said, adding, “I don’t have time for this nonsense.”

How Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, handles the complaint will be interesting to watch since Vallas brags that he came to Connecticut because Pryor asked him to take over the Bridgeport School System.

Pryor’s action will also be closely watched because there has also been widespread discussion that Steven Adamowski, the Department of Education’s Special Master for the Windham and New London School Systems has also failed to properly include School Governance Councils in those two school districts.

You can read more about the issue at: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-teachers-union-complaint-0522-20130521,0,5097870.story and http://www.ctmirror.org/story/union-files-complaint-against-bridgeports-superintendent and http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Union-Vallas-snubbed-governance-councils-4536210.php and http://blogcea.org/2013/05/21/complaint-cites-violations-of-law/