Peas in a pod – Malloy ally Cuomo appoints Finch to run New York Thruway system

In a move that would make the likes of Donald Trump, or any other example of the Peter Principle proud, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has appointed defeated Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch to run the $2 billion a year New York Thruway system

Finch, who as mayor of Bridgeport undermined Bridgeport’s public schools, supported and defended education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas, handed tens of millions of dollars in public funds to the charter school industry and used his power for personal gain, has landed nicely on his feet, after getting thrown out of office by Bridgeport voters.  Earlier this week, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo handed Finch a $175,000 high-profile political appointment.


“Finch didn’t leave office in Bridgeport on the best of terms, approving $2.5 million in retroactive raises for himself, city supervisors and political appointees that Ganim has said contributed to a $20 million budget deficit.”  CT Post (6-15-16)

“That’s insane.  I’m lost for words. He’s never exhibited any kind of positive managerial ability. He nearly bankrupted us completely — a city in shambles.” Enrique “Rick” Torres, a former City Council member who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year.  (As quoted in the CT Post)

The Connecticut Post goes on to explain;

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated Finch on Monday to lead the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corp., a surprise choice for the high-profile post that had some of Finch’s former rivals scratching their heads.

Cuomo’s recommendation of Finch was unanimously accepted Monday by the agency’s board of directors. Finch will serve as the agency’s acting executive director until he is confirmed by the state Senate or 60 days passes, which is when the interim tag would be removed from his job title.

Finch, 60, assumes control of a $2.1 billion annual budget and 2,312 full-time employees in his new post, which will pay him $175,000 annually.

It marks the return to the public sector for Finch, who lost his 2015 re-election bid to the city’s once-imprisoned ex-mayor Joe Ganim,


“Bill Finch is a dedicated public servant and his combination of state and local government experience will be an asset to the Thruway Authority,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The Thruway is a critical part of New York’s transportation system and I look forward to working with Bill to ensure the safety and economic viability of our highways across this state.”

Finch notably inherits a $4 billion project to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River between Westchester and Rockland counties. The new span is expected to be complete in 2018.

The development calls for a moment of silence in honor of the great writer, Roald Dahl, who observed;

“The fine line between roaring with laughter and crying because it’s a disaster is a very, very fine line. You see a chap slip on a banana skin in the street and you roar with laughter when he falls slap on his backside. If in doing so you suddenly see he’s broken a leg, you very quickly stop laughing and it’s not a joke anymore.”

But in this case, the joke and the disaster rests squarely on us, the people of the tri-state area…

With money from Walmart’s Walton Foundation – They call themselves Democrats for Education Reform

Today’s CT Mirror includes a deceitful and extraordinarily misleading commentary piece entitled, “This legislative session, let Connecticut children win for a change.”

Shavar Jeffries, the mouthpiece for a corporate funded, New York based, charter school advocacy group that calls itself “Democrats for Education Reform (DFER)” uses the space to urge Connecticut legislators to DEFEAT a bill that, if passed, would require Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration to develop an honest and effective teacher evaluation system rather than continue with Malloy’s present program that is dependent on the results of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme.

Jeffries, who is the founding Board President of Newark’s Team Academy Charter Schools, a board member of the charter school front called Students for Education Reform (SFER) and a Director for Eva Moskowitz’s infamous Success Academy charter school chain, instructs Connecticut’s elected officials to “stay the course” with Dannel Malloy’s failed anti-student, anti-parent, anti-teacher and anti-public school agenda.

In the face of overwhelming evidence that reveals that the SBAC testing scam is not an appropriate measure of student academic achievement or an effective tool for evaluating teachers, the highly paid spokesman for the charter school industry opines,

“Will Connecticut beat back the progress it made in adopting a modern educator evaluation system in 2012? That system recognizes great teachers for a job well done, while providing support to struggling teachers. Or will lawmakers cave to a power structure that wants to keep things the same?”

The charter school fan’s incredible statement speaks volumes. 

The truth is that it is Malloy’s shameful corporate education reform initiative of 2012, and his utter failure to properly fund public education that is taking Connecticut in the wrong direction.

Malloy, who has proposed record-breaking cuts to Connecticut’s public schools while diverting more and more scarce taxpayer funds to privately owned and operated charter schools has become a poster-boy for the insidious and devastating impact that the education reform and privatization effort is having on public education in Connecticut.

The negative consequences of Malloy’s actions are particularly evident when it comes to the absurd teacher evaluation system that he has championed.  To better understand the problems with Malloy’s teacher evaluation program start with the following Wait, What? posts;

Wendy Lecker explains – Again – Why the Malloy-Wyman teacher evaluation system is a terrible farce

Speaking out for decoupling Common Core testing from the teacher evaluation process

Why Common Core SBAC results SHOULD NOT be part of the teacher evaluation process

New York Superintendents call for an end to evaluating teachers on standardized test results

However, when it comes to DFER and its allies, the truth has no value.

In fact, it is the truth that serves as the most serious impediment to their goals.

DFER and their plan to “transform” public education by handing it over to Wall Street investors, the elite hedge fund owners, and the private companies that seek to make money off the backs of our children, teachers and public schools require a political and public policy environment in which the truth is not allowed to get in the way.

Speaking of that dystopian approach to governance, George Orwell summed it up sixty-seven years ago writing in his once fiction – now non-fiction – epic titled 1984;


Of course, when it comes to the real actors behind the effort to undermine public education, Shavar Jeffries is but a two-bit player.  His commentary piece in today’s CTMirror is a reminder that he is just someone who will carry the water for those that would prefer to remain hidden in the dark.

It is the dark and it’s associated “dark-money” where DFER flourishes.

Much has been written here at Wait, What? and elsewhere about DFER and those behind the charter industry.

An early description of the group appeared in December 2010, when the UFT’s Michael Hisrch wrote;

Among the group’s eight-person board is hedge-fund manager John Petry of Gotham Capital, who with Eva Moskowitz co-founded the Harlem Success Academy Charter School. The board also includes Tony Davis of Anchorage Capital, the board chair of Brooklyn’s Achievement First East New York school; Charles Ledley of Highfields Capital Management; and Whitney Tilson, chief of T2 Partners and Tilson Funds and vice chairman of New York’s KIPP Academy Charter Schools.


Of DFER’s seven-person advisory board, five manage hedge funds: David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, LLC; Joel Greenblatt, founder and managing partner of Gotham Capital and past protégé of fallen junk-bond icon Michael Milliken; Vincent Mai, who chairs AEA Investors, LP; Michael Novogratz, president of Fortress Investment Group; and Rafael Mayer, the Khronos LLC managing partner and KIPP AMP charter school director.

Orbiting the group is billionaire “venture philanthropist” and charter school funder Eli Broad, whose foundation gave upwards of $500,000 to plug advocacy related to the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and another charter-touting film, “The Lottery.” Though not himself a DFER board member, Broad is a major funder of Education Reform Now, DFER’s nonprofit sister organization, also headed by Joe Williams.

Meanwhile, Andrew Rotherman, recently retired DFER director and EduWonk blogger, is co-founder of and a partner in for-profit Bellwether Education, described as “offering specialized professional services and thoughtful leadership to the entrepreneurial education reform field.” Rotherman sits on the Broad Prize Review Board, while DFER board member Sara Mead is a senior associate partner at his Bellwether Education and sits on the Washington, D.C., Public Charter School Board.

DFER is actually part of a much larger multi-headed beast that also includes Education Reform Now and Education Reform Now Advocacy, two tax-exempt entities that allow the billionaires and corporate elite behind the charter school industry to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into political, lobbying and advocacy efforts.  (For an example of their approach see Wait What? post, Figures that the super-rich would turn privatization of public schools into a game)

As noted previously, DFER is also a key player behind SFER – Students for Education Reform.  The SFER story explains a lot about just how far the corporate education reformers are willing to go to corrupt the system.

For more on SFER read;

SFER – The $7 million+ “student run” Corporate Education Reform Industry Front Group

MORE ON SFER – Corporate Money in the 2015 Denver Board of Education Election

Perhaps most telling of all is that when it comes to Malloy’s disastrous SBAC tests and his dangerously warped teacher evaluation program, the only entities supporting it are the groups and individuals funded, directed or at the beckon call of these hedge fund managers and corporate elite.

NOTE:  Who else has taken Walton money?

Governor Dannel Malloy and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo to Teachers: Drop Dead (Could just have easily come from Malloy)

Friend and fellow education blogger Peter Greene posted a powerful piece on his blog over the weekend entitled, Cuomo to Teachers: Drop Dead.  Peter’s commentary piece focused on the recent pronouncements of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo who has pledged to use his second term to destroy public education in New York.

Sadly, Cuomo’s words aren’t very different than Governor Dan Malloy’s actions.  No matter how much Malloy and his supporters spin it, he remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose ending teacher tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in Connecticut’s poorest schools.  While Malloy and his supporters focused on his so-called “apology” for claiming teachers need only show up for four years to get tenure, he never publicly said his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining position was a mistake.

And in fact, it was less than twelve hours after he declared victory in November, that Malloy’s Education Commissioner and Malloy’s political appointees to the State Board of Education voted to approve 8 more non-unionized charter schools —- at the very same time the Malloy and his administration continue to refuse to provide Connecticut’s public schools with a Constitutionally adequate amount of money.

As you read Peter Greene’s piece on Cuomo, recall Malloy’s unprecedented assault on teachers and the teaching profession and the failure of the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly to derail Malloy’s unfair, inappropriate and counter-productive initiatives on teacher evaluation and the massive expansion of the Common Core Standardized Testing scheme.

Cuomo to Teachers: Drop Dead

If you have not yet seen the letter from Cuomo aid Jim Malatras to ed leaders Tisch and King, you can find a copy right here. If you want to see just how direct and ugly an attack by a governor on his own state’s public education system can be, you should read it. If you are a teacher in New York, you should read it twice.

I’ll hit the highlights, not because the letter’s particularly hard to parse, but because some things are just so ugly, they need to be held up to the light as much and as often as possible.

It opens with the observation that New York’s low success percentages for proficiency on the Big Test are simply “unacceptable” and therefore Cuomo will make sure that the cut scores are set at more acceptable levels as determined by educators and not politicians. Ha! Just kidding. He’s going to pretend that those proficiency numbers represent something other than political gamesmanship by the governor’s office.

Speaking of proficiency, the next paragraph opens with this sentence:

Governor Cuomo believes in public education it can open up unlimited opportunity to our students.

I believe Malatras he is not a careful proofreader. I sympathize. I am the king of speedy mistakes, as my readers can attest. But I’m not on the state payroll, writing documents of record.

Malatras goes on to say that “virtually everyone” thinks the system must be reformed and improved, and I wonder if he’s counting the people who believe that reformation and improvement start with getting Cuomo’s grabby hands off public education’s neck. But no– three guesses where efforts to fix schools must be focused:

Part of the package will be to strengthen one of our most important professions teaching. While some seek to demonize teachers, Governor Cuomo believes the exact opposite wanting to reward excellence in teaching and by recruiting the best and brightest into the profession. 

(Yes, the letter is riddled with mistakes. No further comment). Those damn teachers. those stupid incompetent teachers that Cuomo loves so very much.

Malatras goes on to note that the governor doesn’t have a lot of control over education, and that this represents a wise and rational distribution of power in running a state. Ha! No, kidding again. Cuomo doesn’t have that kind of power, so he’s going to use the budget process to just take it. He’s asking Tisch and King for their input on Cuomo’s ideas as matter of policy (leave the politicking to the legislature). Here are Cuomo’s Twelve Awesome Thoughts, with a bit of translation. You’re welcome.

1) The teacher evaluation system sucks because it’s not failing enough teachers. How can we jigger it so that more teachers are failed by it?

2) It’s too hard to fire bad teachers. Hard work is hard. How can we make it less hard to get rid of the teachers that we’ll be failing more of once we straighten out the evalouation process?

3) How can we make becoming a teacher harder? Because if we make it really hard to become a teacher, then teachers will be better. Can we give them all a competency test? Recruiting best and brightest would be cool.

4) Cuomo would still like to get merit pay up and running, because the fact that it has never worked anywhere doesn’t change his love for how it would reduce payroll costs. Because recruiting teachers (point 3) goes better when you tell them they might get well paid if you feel like paying them more.

5) Could we make the pre-tenure period longer, and could we make their certification temporary so that they have to get re-approved every couple of years. We need to make them stop thinking of teaching as a lifetime career, because that’s how you recruit the best and the brightest.

6) What can we do about schools that suck? Particularly Buffalo, because we would really like to accelerate the hand-over of Buffalo schools to charter operators, who make much better campaign contributions than low-paid teachers.

7) Charters? Charters charters charters. Can we just increase the cap in NYC? A whole lot?

8) Education special interests have resisted using courses delivered by computer. Could we just go ahead and do that anyway? Because one college instructor with a computer = 143 high school teachers we could fire.

9) What about mayoral control? It looked like a great idea in NYC until they elected some bozo who didn’t get the deal with charters until Cuomo had the legislature rough him up a bit. Mayoral control is better than a damn elected board, but mayors are also elected and those damn voters are a pain in my ass.

10) Should we combine some of the 700 school districts in New York? (This might be the only thing on the list that isn’t either evil or stupid. I would make fun of 700 different school districts in New York, but I’m in PA and we aren’t any better).

11) The damn regents are appointed by the legislature. Do you think we should fix that, because having to work with people not under his direct control is a real problem for the governor.

12) We’re about to replace Dr. King. Is there a way to have a transparent process to replace him with someone I pick?

Oddly enough, the Cuomo office has no interest in looking at rampant testing, craptastic canned curriculum, or widely unpopular standards. I would have said that it was hard to blame these not-beloved-by-teachers programs on teachers, but since Rudy Giuliani found a way to blame the death of Eric Garner on teachers, I’m going to accuse Cuomo of slacking on this department.

Several weeks ago Governor Cuomo said that improving education is thwarted by the monopoly of the education bureaucracy. The education bureaucracy’s mission is to sustain the bureaucracy and the status quo and therefore it is often the enemy of change. The result is the current system perpetuates the bureaucracy but, fails our students in many ways.Tackling these questions with bold policy and leadership could truly transform public education and finally have it focus on the student as opposed to the bureaucracy. 

Because having power centered in places that aren’t the governor’s office is just, you know, bad.

In a charming coda, Malatras notes that King might now give even better advice now that he is unshackled from the political demands of his office, because you know that John King– he was always so constrained by his deep concern about public opinion, and his willingness to listen to the public just tied him up. Now as a federal bureaucrat hired outside any sort of approval system, he’ll be free to disregard public opinion entirely. Because A) that’s a good thing and B) it’s not at all how he conducted himself in his New York job.

Man, I just hope all those New York teacher union officials who carried Cuomo’s water throughout the primary season are really enjoying this unfettered direct attack against the profession and the public schools. Tisch and King are supposed to get back to Cuomo with their advice on how best to kick New York’s teachers in the teeth by December 31, so to all my NY teacher neighbors, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays, because 2015 will bring open season on public school teachers in the Empire State.

Here in Connecticut, Malloy’s intentions will become clear in the coming weeks.  Who will he appoint as Commissioner of Education and will he has the members of the State Board of Education to step down so that he can appoint some people who have not sold their souls to the corporate education reform industry.

As Peter Greene says to his NY teacher neighbors, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays, because 2015 will bring open season on public school teachers in the Empire State.”

The same is true here in Connecticut.  CT teachers; if we know anything about Malloy and his inner circle of anti-teacher, anti-public education corporate education reform industry groupies we can safely say – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays, because 2015 will bring open season on public school teachers in the Constitution State.

Another Charter School bites the dust….after founder lies…

At the same November meeting that the New York Board of Regents approved Capital Prep Steve Perry’s application to open a charter school in Harlem, they voted to grant a charter to Ted Morris Jr. and the Greater Works Charter School to open a charter school in Rochester, New York.

Days later, the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper of Rochester reported that the Greater Works Charter School “will no longer open in Rochester in 2015, part of the continuing fallout over lies in the resume of its 22-year-old founder.”

The newspaper, along with fellow education bloggers led by Mercedes Schneider, have been reporting on the school and its founder, Ted Morris Jr. who  “represented himself to the New York State Education Department as a precocious businessman and educational adviser with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.”

However, it turns out that Ted Morris Jr. has no college degrees at all.

According to the Greater Works Charter School application,

 “Ted [Morris Jr.] is the Lead Applicant for and Founder of GWCS. He is a life-long resident of Rochester, NY. Currently, Ted is an education consultant with the Morris Firm and has previously held positions such as the Director of Operations, Finance, Development, and Assistant CEO with various non-profit youth, education, and human service-related agencies. He has 7+ years of experience in these fields. Ted has a B.S. in Human Services, an M.S.W. in Non-Profit Leadership and is finishing up his Ed.D. in Administration.

But Morris doesn’t have a Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree nor is he finishing up his Education Doctorate.

In fact, at age 22, Morris doesn’t even have “7+ years of experience” in the education management field.

But the fact that his resume was obviously falsified and the charter school application was a fraud, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Education and Board of Regents decided to give Morris and his company the lucrative charter.

In a quote worthy of Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, when the New York Board of Regents was asked how they could have granted a charter to someone who falsified their resume and had no college degrees, the New York State Department of Education spokesman said, “We don’t grant charters to individuals. We grant charters to boards based on the application.”

Considering the fall-out with the Greater Works Charter School, it will be interesting to see how the New York Board of Regents handles Steve Perry, now that it appears that Perry doesn’t have the legal right to replicate “Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School” since the concepts, ideas and materials associated with Capital Prep are owned by the City of Hartford and not Steve Perry’s private company.

You can read more at the controversy surrounding the Greater Works Charter School at and

Steve Perry’s plan – Turn Hartford’s Capital Prep into a charter, open charters in Bridgeport and New York

This is Part 1 of a series about Steve Perry and his ongoing effort to get public officials to help him build a financially lucrative charter school management company with taxpayer funds.

When the Hartford Board of Education rejected Steve Perry’s plan to transfer Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School and a nearby neighborhood elementary school over to his private charter school company last year, Perry took to Twitter saying;

 Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”

If anyone else had Tweeted a similar threat they would have certainly been detained and questioned by the police.  But while Perry’s Tweet was covered by the Washington Post, Connecticut’s state and local officials simply looked the other way.

After all, Steve Perry is the one who describes himself as “America’s most trusted educator.”

But now Perry is maneuvering for a new deal that will prove far more lucrative.

For the record, Steve Perry is a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education and serves as the principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School, a public school located on Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut.

In 2012 Perry created a Connecticut company called Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc.

For state registration purposes, Perry’s company is located at his residence in Middletown, Connecticut.  However, when it comes to filing his corporation’s federal paperwork and tax forms, Perry has been using the address of the public school in which he works.

Almost three months ago Steve Perry’s PR operation issued a press release announcing, “Dr. Steve Perry, and the founders of what US News & World Reports has called one of America’s top high schools, are coming to Harlem.”

While Perry’s media team made it appear that Capital Prep Harlem Charter School was already a “done deal,” in reality Perry’s plan is one of 15 new charter school proposals that will be considered by the New York Board of Regents at its November 2014 meeting.

Steve Perry’s Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School application reveals a lot about Perry’s empire building plans.

And they start with the City of Hartford handing their Capital Prep public school over to Perry’s charter school management company.

According to the New York State charter school application, Perry’s Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. is “designed to be a fiscally fit ‘boutique’ charter management organization (“CMO”).”

Perry goes on to explain,

“We are focused on distinguishing ourselves as a mid-sized network of schools…Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools. It is our hope that we will manage two schools in Harlem. The first is to be Capital Prep Harlem, 6-12. The second would be a kindergarten to 5th grade school in or near the first…Managing four schools in three cities that are within a two-hour drive of each other allows us to support the schools without having to hire completely new staff for each school.”

Perry adds,

“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students. The Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport Connecticut will have 765 students at full enrollment. Capital Prep Harlem will have 600 students in the next five years, and we hope to open a companion kindergarten to fifth grade school in Harlem that will serve another 600 students.”

As for the scope of management fees that he intends to collect, Perry’s New York charter school application boasts,

“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015.   The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected.  Conservative five- year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

Besides assuming his company will be able to collect management fees from Hartford’s Board of Education, Perry is also counting on Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy to come through for him.

In a surprise move earlier this year, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and the Connecticut State Board of Education rammed through a plan that would allow Steve Perry to open a new charter school in Bridgeport in the fall of 2015.

Although no state funding has been allocated for the Capital Harbor Charter School in Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut is facing a $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget, Perry’s New York application makes it clear that he is expecting Malloy to cough up millions of dollars so he can open his Bridgeport operation and collect his management fees.

Among the many interesting things about the document that Perry has submitted to the New York Board of Regents is the fact that he intends to use the same core “Management Team” for Hartford, Bridgeport and New York.

Since most of the members of Perry’s “Management Team” are presently public employees, his plan raises extremely serious ethical and legal issues.

State and local laws prohibit public employees from engaging in private work that conflicts with their public duties and under no circumstances may public employee use concepts, materials or information developed with public resources to make money during or after their employment with the government.

But despite those legal issues, Perry writes,

“CPS enlisted its founders, current teachers at Capital Prep in Hartford, and strategic consultants to codify the mission, vision and key design elements of the Capital Prep model and operationalize the educational philosophy of the school in order to facilitate replication and training. In addition, this extensive team collaborated to refine the school design in light of the needs of the Harlem community and to develop this proposal. Through regular in person and telephonic meetings, as well as file sharing and other virtual collaboration tools, Dr. Perry…coordinated the production of the proposal with the team of Capital Prep teachers and consultants. Each member of the proposal preparation team has taken on different responsibilities based on their given expertise. The principle writers of this application are Dr. Perry, Ms. Rachel Goldstein, a consultant to CPS and faculty members from Capital Prep.”

Equally troubling is his statement that,

“CPS will launch operations with a core management team representing a mix of deep education experience, business expertise, and political savvy. This ‘hybrid’ team will be crucial to CPS’ success as a high-growth organization in a rapidly changing industry.”

In addition to himself, Perry’s “Management Team” includes Capital Prep’s present assistant principal, Richard Beganski, who is slated to serve as the charter school management company’s chief academic officer.

According to the application, other “Management Team” members include, Kelly Horan, a Capital Prep science teacher; Scott Kapralos, a Capital Prep math teacher; Kitsia Ferguson, a Capital Prep English teacher who presently serves as the Head of Capital Prep’s Lower School; Monique Ethier, another Capital Prep math teacher; Lauren Davern, a Capital Prep history teacher and Lisa Loomis, another Capital Prep English teacher.

Beyond the obvious management and financial issues, Perry’s New York proposal highlights a variety of other areas of concern that will be covered in upcoming posts.

Check back soon for the next post in this series.

While Malloy stays the course on the Common Core, Cuomo distances himself from it

According to Truth in American Education (TAE), a national, non-partisan group of concerned parents and citizens, “Andrew Cuomo Says He’ll Delay Using Common Core Scores for Five Years.

Like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a long-time, out-spoken proponent of the Common Core and the Corporate Education Reform Industry.  However, faced with mounting opposition to the Common Core and its associated Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme, Cuomo is changing his position and has even begun to run campaign television ads distancing himself from the Common Core.

The new Cuomo anti-Common Core ad can be seen here.

Truth in Education reports,

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a campaign ad yesterday that he will delay using Common Core assessment scores for five years and then only if New York children are ready.


The Stop Common Core Ballot Line delivered over 62,000 signatures.  Over 30,000 students opted-out of Common Core assessments last spring including Cuomo’s Republican challenger, Rob Astorino’s children.

The TAE article also pointed to a July 2014 Siena College Poll that reported that 49% of New Yorkers want Common Core implementation stopped, while only 39% want to see the standards implemented.

The Siena College Poll also revealed that opposition to the Common Core was across the entire political spectrum noting, “More moderates, conservatives, union households, non-union households, men, women, suburbanites, upstaters, whites, Catholics, and members of all age groups want to see the Common Core stopped.”

But here in Connecticut, Governor Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, have remained dedicated to the implementation of the Common Core and its related Common Core SBAC Standardized Test.

Earlier this year, State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told the New Haven Register’s editorial board that postponing implementation of the Common Core would be “ill conceived” and would be a step backward.

And Malloy himself has said that it is too late to turn back on the Common Core and his corporate education reform industry agenda.

Malloy recently old the Waterbury Republican-American Newspaper, “What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out” and the editorial board of the Day newspaper of New London spoke with Malloy and wrote, “The governor assured us he will stay the course on education reform if re-elected.”

The Hartford Courant has also reported that following another meeting, “the governor emphasized that he is not backing off his support for the teacher evaluation system or the Common Core. It’s ‘not that either one isn’t the right thing to do,” Malloy said.”

As appalling as Malloy and Pryor’s support has been, even worse is the fact that Malloy and his Commissioner of Education have spent countless hours engaged in a campaign to mislead parents into thinking that they do not have the right to opt-out their children from the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test.

It is worth repeating that while Governor Malloy and Commission Pryor claim that federal and state laws trump parental rights when it comes to taking the Common Core Standardized Tests, there are no federal or state laws that prohibit parents from opting their children out of the Common Core Tests nor is there any law that allows schools to punish parents or students for opting out of the tests.

Rather than protecting the rights of parents, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education sent out a memo to Connecticut’s school superintendents explaining how they should go about misleading, scaring and lying to Connecticut parents in an immoral effort to stop parents from opting-out their children.

Even if Cuomo’s “conversion” on the Common Core is nothing more than political self-preservation, it is certainly an interesting development that even New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has come to recognize that parroting the Common Core and Corporate Education Reform Industry rhetoric is not the right thing to do.

In the New York Democratic Primary:  It is Governor Andrew Cuomo vs. Zypher Teachout

This coming Tuesday, Zypher Teachout, the liberal Fordham University law professor is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, Governor Cuomo supported some progressive causes like gay marriage and gun control.  But, also like Malloy, Cuomo has championed corporate welfare policies, coddled the rich and has been a huge supporter of the corporate education reform industry.

In fact, when it comes to his failure to support public school teachers and public employees, Andrew Cuomo’s record is almost as bad as Governor Malloy’s.

Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the “lowest performing” schools.  On the other hand, Cuomo is even more supportive of privately run, unaccountable charter schools.

Andrew Cuomo has raised $35 million. Teachout has raised $200,000.

Although Cuomo is expected to “easily” beat Zypher Teachout in Tuesday’s primary, the big difference between the gubernatorial races in Connecticut and New York is the way unions have handled the pro-union, liberal candidate in the race for governor.

In New York, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) – the state’s largest teachers union – refused to endorse Cuomo and played the key role in blocking the AFL-CIO from endorsing Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

The Public Employees Federation – the state’s second largest employee union – with 54,000 members – went even further and actually endorsed Zephyr Teachout, Malloy’s opponent.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, the Local Education Leaders of New York State (a newly formed statewide group of teachers) all endorsed Teachout.

NYC KidsPAC, a political action committee composed of parent leaders devoted to strengthening our public schools. Has also backed Teachout, saying, “NYC KidsPAC wholeheartedly endorses Zephyr Teachout for Governor for her commitment to fight against privatization of our public education. We need a governor who believes in small class sizes, provides adequate resources for our most vulnerable students, respects the profession of teaching, opposes education driven by standardized tests and will fight for a high quality schools for all students throughout the State.”  The group added, “Governor Cuomo…supports raising the cap on charters, and has pushed through preferential access for charters to expand in space paid for by the city, while hundreds of thousands of our public school students sit in overcrowded schools, in trailers or on waiting lists for their zoned neighborhood school.”.

Other supporters of Cuomo’s opponent include the Yonkers Firefighters Union and a variety of liberal groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Organization of Women.

On the other side of the ledger, the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, the Transport Workers Union, 1199 SEIU (the health care workers union) and some other unions have endorsed Cuomo.

In Connecticut, 1199 SEIU was one of the unions that endorsed Malloy without even allowing me to fill out a questionnaire or have an interview with their political action committee.  1199 SEIU was also the union that issued a press release calling me “anti-worker,” despite my lifetime record of supporting collective bargaining and unions.

According to media reports in New York, the Hotel and Motel Trades Council and 1199 SEIU were also “instrumental in helping Cuomo secure the Working Families Party nomination in May after a brutal battle.”

The liberal magazine, The Nation, endorsed Teachout for governor and the New York Times REFUSED to endorse Cuomo.  As Diane Ravitch explained, “The Times lavishly praised Teachout but did not endorse because she opposes the Common Core…”

With the New York Democratic Primary on Tuesday, it is virtually impossible for Cuomo to lose, but New Yorkers still have the opportunity to vote for a pro-public education/anti corporate education reform candidate.

Let’s hope New York teachers, parents and public school advocates use the primary to make a loud statement.

If it is loud enough, the candidates for governor in Connecticut may even hear it.

New York Working Families Party fails to move Cuomo on education but endorses anyway

When it comes the to the rise of the corporate education reform industry, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy continually jockey for 1st and 2nd place as to which one is more anti-teacher and anti-public education.

While Cuomo has poured more money into charter schools than Malloy, Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and proposing legislation that would unilaterally eliminate collective bargaining for teachers in turnaround schools.

While the New York Working Families Party talked big about standing up for principle and running a candidate against Cuomo, in the end, the union-connected political party endorsed him without getting any commitment that he’ll stop denigrating teachers or their professional rights during a second term in office.

As Diane Ravitch noted,

On education, where Cuomo has governed as a conservative Republican, he promised nothing of substance. Districts are still stuck with a 2% tax cap, which requires a 60% supermajority to overturn; New York City still has the most charter-friendly legislation in the nation; the state will still have highly inequitable funding.

Quoting from an article written by Peter Goodman, Ravitch adds,

“Cuomo, who indicated he’d back the party’s goals of helping Democrats take back the State Senate and allowing localities to raise the minimum wage, downplayed the boos and heckling he received in absentia this weekend at the convention of the Working Families Party, whose union and progressive members have long grumbled about Cuomo’s fiscally conservative policies and working relationship with Republicans.

“It’s very simple at these political conventions: you either win or you lose. Uh, and I won, and I’m very happy to have their support,” Cuomo said.

In other words, the promises were strategic. He won. That’s all that matters.

Cuomo’s arrogance and sense of entitlement is familiar…As is the apparent unwillingness to demand that a Democratic governor respect and support teachers and public education.