Why Connecticut Teachers SHOULD NOT VOTE for Governor Malloy

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Here is a long but important blog.  If you are a teacher, parents or supporter of public education, please take the time to read it.

On Friday night the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Education Association voted, on behalf of their 45,000 members, to endorse Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy.

With that move, the CEA joined the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter in throwing their support and money behind the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest districts.

You can read about the CEA’s vote in the Wait, What? blog post entitled, “In a stunning move, Connecticut Education Association Board of Directors Endorses Malloy.”

That blog has generated more than 141 comments, a Wait, What? record.  Among the comments is an impassioned defense of Malloy by a few of the blog’s readers, including one named Tom,  who I know and respect as a dedicated teacher, union leader and defender of teachers.

It seems that the fundamental argument driving Malloy’s supporters is that the alternative to Malloy (a Foley administration) would be worse.

When it comes to the issue of education, I think reasonable people can disagree on whether Foley, challenged by a Democratic General Assembly, would be worse than a Malloy administration, backed by a Democratic legislature.

Over the past thirty years, I served as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives under a Democratic Governor and a Republican/Independent Governor and worked with a variety of progressive and liberal groups, including unions, as we advocated for policy changes under two different Republican governors.

In each situation, the General Assembly played a very different role in the process, often successfully taking on or co-opting the Republican governor and proving that, with a backbone, the legislative branch of government can have an important and positive impact on public policy.

The role of the Democrats in the legislature was especially evident last week after Republican Tom Foley borrowed heavily from Malloy’s education agenda and introduced his own pro-corporate education reform industry plan for Connecticut.  Within hours, Democratic legislators held a press conference blasting Foley for his outrageous plan.  The irony being that those same legislators voted for many of those same proposals and concepts when they were previously introduced by Governor Malloy.

But before we get to the “Foley would be worse” argument, teachers, parents and public school advocates need to ask the question of whether Dannel “Dan” Malloy does or does not deserves to be re-elected based on his record on public education issues.

The fact is that no Connecticut governor in the last forty years has done as much damage to Connecticut’s public education system than Governor Malloy and that includes a realistic assessment of disgraced Republican Governor John Rowland.

Here are the facts about Dannel Malloy and his education policies.  [And let me add that Malloy, the AFT or the CEA are welcome to provide a substantive response to the following and I will publish it, unedited.)

The good news is that over the past few weeks, education policy has finally become a top tier issue with Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates.

The bad news is that during this period, Malloy has repeatedly pledged to “stay the course” on his destructive education reform initiatives.

Just last week Malloy told the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, “What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out,”  A few weeks earlier, after meeting with the editorial board at the Day newspaper of New London, the newspaper wrote, the governor assured us he will stay the course on education reform if re-elected.”

So what are the initiatives that Malloy promises to “stay the course” on?

#1:  As has been stated over and over again here, and elsewhere, Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.

The truth is that Malloy has never publicly renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.

The Malloy camp claims that Malloy has apologized for his anti-tenure position.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What Malloy said was,

“I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”

The sad truth is that Malloy’s HAS NOT retracted his anti-tenure stance and his effort to “apologize” to teachers only made his anti-tenure position clearer.

 

#2:  Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires that the state’s teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students.  Every major academic study has determined that standardized test scores ARE NOT A VALID MEASURE of teacher performance.  To date, the only substantive change that Malloy was willing to make to his unfair, inappropriate and inaccurate teacher evaluation program was to propose using the average of at least two standardized test scores rather than using just one.  In this case, two wrongs do not make the system any less absurd, unfair or inappropriate.

The truth is that Malloy has not committed to “de-coupling” the teacher evaluation program from the unfair and inappropriate standardized tests.

 

#3:  Dan Malloy knows that Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing Formula is inadequate and unconstitutional.  Malloy even pledged in his 2006 and 2010 campaigns to take a leadership role in developing a new, comprehensive education funding formula that would be designed to reduce the present burden that falls on the backs of local property taxpayers.   As Mayor of Stamford Malloy was even one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, a lawsuit that seeks to throw out the unfair and unconstitutional school funding formula and replace it with one that meets the requirements of Connecticut’s Constitution and would be better for Connecticut’s schools and taxpayers.

Hover, rather than do the right thing, Malloy has spent the last four years trying to get the CCJEF lawsuit dismissed and when that failed, to get it postponed until after this year’s election.

Incredibly, Malloy refuses to promise that, if given a second term, he would settle the CCJEF lawsuit and use the expertise of the CCJEF plaintiffs to develop a constitutionally appropriate school funding formula.

 

#4:  No Connecticut governor, in history, has wasted so much public money on unaccountable, privately-run charter schools.  During his four years in office, Malloy has increased state spending on charter schools by 73.6%, while increasing state aid for Connecticut’s public schools by only a 7.9%.

Making the situation even more unfair, Malloy has provided no meaningful additional support for public schools in Connecticut’s middle-income communities meaning that the burden of local property taxes has become even more unfair for middle-class families.

 

#5:  What is particularly offensive about Malloy’s pro-charter school policies is that Connecticut’s privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools refuse to educate their fair share of non-English speaking students or students with special education needs.  They take public funds but refuse to abide by the laws governing public schools.

In addition, Malloy’s pro-charter school policies are nothing short of corporate welfare for a few select companies.  The charter school chain that has received the most money under Malloy is Achievement First, Inc., the company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.  In addition, Malloy and his commission provided no-bid contracts to the Jumoke/FUSE charter school management company.  Not only has Jumoke/FUSE taken more than $53 million in public funds for their charter school but they were given control and the associated public funding to take over public schools in Hartford and Bridgeport and approved for another charter school in New Haven before the Hartford Courant reported on the criminal background of the company’s CEO and the FBI raised the company’s offices.

The truth is that Malloy has not announced a moratorium on additional charter schools until mechanisms are developed and put in place that will ensure that taxpayer funds are not being misused, wasted or stolen and that charter schools must not discriminate against Latinos, non-English speaking students and students with special educational needs.

 

#6:  Governor Malloy, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy administration have consistently lied to Connecticut parents, teachers and citizens about the Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Standardized Testing scheme.  It is bad enough that Malloy is wasting millions of dollars in scarce taxpayer funds to push the Common Core and its unfair “SBAC” Common Core Test, but it is even worse that Malloy and his administration have been lying and misleading parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.

Connecticut parents have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core standardized testing program.  There is no state or federal law that supersedes parents’ rights to opt their children out of these inappropriate and wasteful tests nor is there any legal action the state or school district can take to punish parents.  Instead of supporting Connecticut’s parents, Malloy and his administration have engaged in scare tactics and used school superintendents and principles to coerce parents into believing the Common Core testing is not option.

Even if Malloy wasn’t committed to implementing the corporate education reform industry agenda, lying and misleading parents is reason enough for voters to refuse to give him a second term in office.

 

#7: Over the past four years, Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Pryor have been engaged in an unprecedented effort to privatize the State Department of Education.  Instead of using the expertise available here in Connecticut, they have wasted tens of millions of public funds on high-priced, less qualified out-of-state consulting companies.  In many cases, these lucrative contracts have been given out on a no-bid basis, violating the spirit and letter of Connecticut law.  In addition, an ongoing effort to demoralize and destroy the professional capacities of Department of Education has been taking place.  For example, as the point-person for Malloy, Pryor has undermined the State Department of Education by eliminating the Leaders in Residence Program, removing three experienced former Connecticut superintendents and four other expert administrators, as well as transferring a number of nationally-recognized experts including one in English as a Second Language, one in Multi-cultural Education and one in School Climate and Bullying.  In their place, these tasks were outsourced to an inexperienced, out-of-state company for nearly $2 million dollars.

 

#8:  While overfunding Connecticut’s charter schools, Malloy and his administration purposely underfunded Connecticut’s successful Magnet School program.  Magnet Schools serve as an important and accountable mechanism for giving students and parents additional choices.  However, rather than provide the funds necessary to maintain Connecticut’s long-standing commitment to Magnet Schools, Malloy purposely left out nearly $50 million in funding for these schools.  The result is that after spending public funds to build and expand Magnet Schools, classrooms are now being left empty.

 

And the list of Governor Malloy’s failure when it comes to public education goes on and on.

Connecticut teachers, as well as, Connecticut’s parents, students and those who support public education have a right to know the truth about Malloy and his record of failure.

The truth is that Dannel Malloy’s own actions have voided his right to continue to serve as governor in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers would have their members, and all voters, believe that Malloy deserves to be re-elected.

On the issue of education … Malloy deserves to be defeated.

And if, on the other hand, Malloy, the CEA and the AFT want to claim that Malloy is the “better of two evils,” then at the very least they have the obligation to tell the truth about Malloy’s record.

Governor Malloy’s failure on education issues is unprecedented. His policies have rightfully earned him the title as the most anti-teacher, anti-public education democratic governor in the nation.

And adding insult to injury, Malloy has made no substantive changes or commitments that he would do a better job if given another four years.

Before endorsing Malloy, the leadership of the CEA and the AFT should have used their positions to force Malloy to retract his support for his anti-public education policies and lay out a new pro-public education agenda for Connecticut.

But in that task they failed, which only makes Malloy’s failure that much clearer.

 

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

*** Please excuse the typos ***

Tom Foley’s bizarre move on Education Policy and its potential impact on the CEA endorsement

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In what appears to be an ongoing effort to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, Tom Foley, the Republican candidate for governor, has proposed an education policy that looks eerily similar to Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s corporate education reform initiatives.

Over the past four years Governor Malloy has earned the reputation as the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the nation and remains the only Democratic governor to propose doing away with teacher tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the state’s poorest schools.

However, instead of providing Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates with appropriate policies that would support and strengthen public education, Tom Foley has proposed an education plan that appears to be designed by the very same corporate education reform industry groupies that are behind Malloy’s ill-conceived education initiatives.

In fact, elements of Foley’s plan appear to be a virtual copy of the proposals being pushed by Steven Adamowski, one of Malloy’s top advisors who presently serves as Malloy’s “Special Master” for New London and formerly worked in the same capacity in Windham.

While Foley’s plan is vague and lacks details, the foundation of his education agenda, according to media coverage, would “mandate that parents in struggling schools be allowed to move their students anywhere within their local school systems, with money following the child.”

It is a system that has been tried and failed repeatedly around the country and is a particular favorite of Steven Adamowski, who previously served as superintendent of schools in Hartford before taking that same inappropriate approach with him to New London and Windham.

Tom Foley is quoted as saying,

“What I’m hoping is that when you have in-district public school choice and money follows the child that the marketplace starts to exert pressure on schools to perform better…So, right away, that schools are on notice that if I’m governor, I’m going to try to make sure this gets passed and implemented, so if they should start trying to be better schools right away, to the extent they can.”

The Foley plan would be a disaster for Connecticut, but in what may be one of the biggest ironies of the entire 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Malloy and his legislative supporters have blasted Foley for announcing his plan…despite the fact that Malloy and the Democrats in the General Assembly have supported very similar policies.

In a story entitled, Malloy sees, seizes opportunity in Foley’s school plan, the CT Mirror reported,

“Gov. Dannel P. Malloy moved quickly Thursday to exploit what Democrats say is an ill-considered and impractical proposal by Republican Tom Foley to allow urban parents to pick the local public school of their choice and strip money from failing schools as their children go elsewhere.

Malloy said the education proposals Foley made Wednesday as part of a larger urban agenda show that the Greenwich businessman has no grasp of current education policies and resources, nor does he appreciate how devastating it would be to urban school systems to begin denying funds to schools that need more resources.

“You can’t treat a school like a factory. You don’t sell it. You don’t close it. You have an obligation to make it work,” Malloy said.”

This from the Democratic governor whose “Commissioner’s Network” program has undermined local control, handed public schools over to the disgraced Jumoke/FUSE charter school chain in Hartford and Bridgeport and devastated a number of urban schools by implementing a “money follows the child” system that has left troubled schools without the resources they need to even serve the students that have remained in those schools.

According to the news article, Malloy went on to blast Foley saying,

“It’s a bunch of mush. It’s a mouthful of mush is what it is, except it’s dangerous,” Malloy said of what he called an ill-defined plan. “It’s defeating. It underlies an absolute lack of understanding of how education works in Connecticut. He gets an F for homework. He gets an F for plagiarism. And he gets an F for new ideas.”

Malloy’s quote is truly incredible considering the ideas that Foley is “stealing” come from Malloy, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, and the gaggle of education reform industry supporters that surround Malloy.

As the CT Mirror reports, Malloy and his campaign operatives are hoping that they can use Foley’s blunder on education to persuade the Connecticut Education Association to endorse Malloy tonight when they meet to decide whether to endorse a candidate for governor or make no endorsement in this year’s election.

The fundamental problem with Malloy’s latest strategy is that it would require the CEA leadership to overlook Malloy’s record of failure and destruction when it comes to his own policies on public education.

To endorse Malloy, the CEA would be throwing their members “under the bus” since Malloy’s record includes the following:

  • Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.
    • To date, Malloy has never publically renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.
  • Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.
    • To date, Malloy has not committed to “de-coupling” the teacher evaluation program from the unfair and inappropriate standardized tests.
  • When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate (even unconstitutional).  As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.
    • To date, Malloy has not promised to settle the CCJEF lawsuit and develop a constitutionally appropriate school funding formula.
  • As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support.  Connecticut has learned from the Jumoke/FUSE Charter School debacle that charter schools are not held accountable and it took a raid by the FBI to ensure that charter schools are held responsible for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.
    • To date, Malloy has not announced a moratorium on additional charter schools until mechanisms are developed and put in place that will ensure that taxpayer funds are not being misused, wasted or stolen.
  • And while tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive Common Core Standardized Testing Program, Malloy and his administration have repeatedly lied and misled parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.
    • To date, Malloy and his administration have FAILED to tell parents that they do have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core standardized testing scheme.

Despite Tom Foley’s decision to join Malloy in backing the corporate education reform industry’s agenda, any endorsement of Malloy – prior to him publicly reversing course on the issues listed above – would be an insult to every Connecticut teacher and the tens of thousands of parents and public school advocates who are counting on the Connecticut Education Association to stand up for public education in Connecticut.

You can read more about Foley and Malloy’s antics in the following articles:

CT Mirror:  http://ctmirror.org/malloy-sees-seizes-opportunity-in-foleys-school-plan/ and http://ctmirror.org/foleys-urban-agenda-something-borrowed-something-new/

CT NewsJunkie: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/malloy_stands_his_ground_on_education_policy/ and http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/democratic_lawmakers_criticize_foleys_education_policies/

Courant: Malloy, Unions Criticize Foley’s Education Plan

 

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

Malloy’s administration to tout Corporate Education Reform Industry Agenda at National Conference

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While wooing teachers with false promises of a change in policy here at home, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his administration continue to trumpet their Corporate Education Reform Industry Agenda far from the gaze of Connecticut voters.

Next month Connecticut taxpayers will pick up the tab to send the Connecticut delegation to the annual meeting of the National Association of State Boards of Education annual meeting in Colorado. Of course, ever year, the taxpayers also pick up the tab for Connecticut’s membership in the organization.

The National Association of State Board of Education (NASBE) claims that it “exists to serve and strengthen State Boards of Education in their pursuit of high levels of academic achievement for all students.”

How do they go about doing that? Well just last year the NASBE accepted an $800,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to spend the next two years pushing the Common Core with state boards of education and other “stakeholders” involved with running public education around the country.

So while Malloy will spend his October trying to persuade Connecticut teachers, parents and public school advocates that he is “softening” his pro-corporate education reform stance, his delegation will be jetting off to Colorado to showcase Malloy’s “record of success” when it comes to dramatically increasing the use of standardized tests, expanding the role of charter schools and undermining the role and rights of parents, teachers and school boards.

One session at the NASBE national conference is entitled “State Policy and Practice for Turnaround Schools.” Lead presenters include Morgan Barth, one of Stefan Pryor’s top appointees at the State Department of Education and State Board of Education member Stephen Wright.

Barth is the former Achievement First Inc. employee who, with no state certification, illegally taught and worked at Achievement First for at least six years before Achievement First’s lobbyists managed to get the law changed to allow charter schools to have up to 30% of their teaching and administrative staff be non-certified.

Although repeatedly warned by the State Department of Education that Barth’s lack of appropriate certification meant he was teaching illegally, Achievement First, Inc. kept him on the payroll and in the classroom the entire time.

When Stefan Pryor, the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. became Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Pryor hired Barth to play the key role in the SDE’s “turnaround office” where he has spent his time getting Alliance Districts to turn over their schools to charter companies, most notably, to the disgraced Jumoke/FUSE charter school chain.

Connecticut’s other representative at the National Association of State Boards of Education annual meeting is Steven Wright, a Malloy appointee to the State Board of Education who served as chairman of the Trumbull Board of Education.

Wright has been one of Malloy and Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s strongest allies and safest votes on the State Board of Education.  Reporting on another national conference earlier this year, the conference wrote,

“Wright hailed the state’s work to adopt Common Core standards, saying the standards are the best thing for students and teachers…’They are empirically superior and age-appropriate — developed by educators,’”

And in 2012 when the Trumbull Education Association refused to accept an “award” from ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group, Wright, in his role as Chairman of the Trumbull Board of Education, attacked the union saying,

“I read with no small measure of disappointment the letter of the Trumbull Teacher’s Association rejecting the prestigious recognition the high school received from ConnCAN… through an obvious display of ignorance of the goals of ConnCAN and an undertone of an elitist attitude, the authors of the letter have managed to alienate trusted allies and provided the missing ingredients that will sway those who were on the fence with the education reform legislation to side with the Governor and give wholesale support to the reforms proposed in Senate Bill #24.”

And if Barth and Wright’s participation wasn’t telling enough, another speaker at the October National Association of State Boards of Education will be a senior corporate officer from Global Strategies Group, the political consulting group that serves as Malloy’s lead campaign consultant while running the public relations program for Connecticut’s corporate education reform groups.

In the past year or so, Global Strategies Group has collected at least $297,000 from the Malloy campaign and his shadow political operation at the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee.

During the same period, Global Strategies Group has billed ConnCAN and A Better Connecticut, Connecticut’s two leading education reform groups, more than $2.5 million for consulting services and media costs.  Global Strategies produced and broadcast nearly $2 million in television advertisements “thanking Governor Malloy” for his leadership on the education reform effort.

And what will the Global Strategies Group representative be speaking about?

“What’s in Store on Election Day and What Does It Mean for Education?”

One wonders how many times he’ll mention Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, the most pro-education reform, anti-teacher Democratic governor in the nation.

But one thing will be certain — While Malloy’s operatives will be singing his praises at the NASBE meeting in Colorado, Malloy himself will be here, at home, telling teachers, parents and public education advocates that he has “seen the light” and will spend his second term supporting teachers and Connecticut’s public education system.

Malloy to Teachers – Just for the record, I’m lying to get your vote

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“In a recent interview published in this past weekend’s Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy admitted that when it comes to his corporate education reform industry agenda, he intends to continue along the same track.

Malloy said,

“What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out,”

  • We all know that Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.
  • Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.
  • When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate (even unconstitutional).  As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.
  • As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support.  Connecticut has learned from the Jumoke/FUSE Charter School debacle that charter schools are not held accountable and it took a raid by the FBI to ensure that charter schools are held responsible for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.
  • And while tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive Common Core Standardized Testing Program, Malloy and his administration have repeatedly lied and misled parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.

In an attempt to mislead teachers about this year’s election, the leadership of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers recently sent out an email quoting AFT President Randi Weingarten talking about the “distinguished AFT Connecticut’s relationship with the Malloy-Wyman Administration.”

As reported by the New Haven Register,  AFT President Weingarten said,

“she spends a lot of time with a lot of governors, but Malloy, unlike others, ‘instead of doubling down on that which didn’t work, there are adjustments that are being made.’

“‘Just like with kids in your classroom…you make adjustments. That’s what individualized learning is all about and the governor needs to be given credit for that…'””

Adjustments?????

They are trying to convince Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates that Dannel “Dan” Malloy is making adjustments to his reckless, wasteful and damaging education policies.

While Malloy has issued various press releases and reportedly made comments behind closed doors saying that, if re-elected, he’ll stop denigrating teachers, destroying public education and wasting tens of millions of taxpayer funds, just a month ago he told the Day Newspaper of New London.

“During a brief, surprise visit to The Day on Monday, part of a campaign push through the area, the governor assured us he will stay the course on education reform if re-elected.”

For the details, see the Wait, What? blog post entitledMalloy promises to “stay the course” on education reform!

Now with just five weeks to go until Election Day and the Connecticut Education Association scheduled to decide whether or not they will endorse Malloy for a second term on Friday, Malloy has made his position painfully clear…yet again.

In the weekend article, Malloy told the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper,

“Malloy said he intends to continue along the same track. “’What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out,’” 

Any teacher, parent or public school advocate who votes for Malloy is voting for another four years of a governor and an administration that has signed onto the worst elements of the corporate education reform industry agenda.

Don’t let Malloy or anyone else fool you…

Dannel “Dan” Malloy is as anti-teacher as he has ever been.

If not, he would have publicly renounced his 2012 proposal to do away with teacher tenure and repeal collective bargaining for teachers in the  poorest districts, he would have decoupled the unfair and inappropriate Common Core standardized tests from the teacher evaluation program, he would have committed to settling the vital CCEJF v. Rell lawsuit, he would have instituted a moratorium on more charter schools until a system can be developed to hold them accountable for their actions and he would be honest with parents and tell them that they do HAVE THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO OPT THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF THE ABSURD COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME.

Some Malloy apologists are saying that the alternative to Malloy will be worse.

But let’s be clear.  A month ago Malloy said if he was given four more years he’d stay the course of his corporate education reform initiatives and he said it again over the weekend.

Malloy is the one who has made the case.

The truth is that any other governor, faced with a Democratic General Assembly, will do less harm to public education than giving Dannel “Dan” Malloy another four years in office.

Just read a few of the recent Wait, What? posts to see what has been going on and what would continue under four more years of Malloy.

The pro-Common Core Standardized Testing governor throws students, parents and teachers a bone. (9/21/14)

Another MUST READ column on Jumoke/FUSE by Sarah Darer Littman (9/20/14)

Connecticut, a Jim Crow state? [A must read by Ann Policelli Cronin] (9/19/14)

 

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

Another MUST READ column on Jumoke/FUSE by Sarah Darer Littman

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Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens.  She is also one of the most important voices on behalf of public education in Connecticut.

This week Sarah Darer Littman’s commentary piece on  CTNewsJunkie is a key addition to the discussion about the impact the corporate education reform industry is having in Connecticut and how key players in the Malloy administration, the City of Hartford and various pro-education reform entities are undermining Connecticut’s public education system.

In a piece entitled, “Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse,” Sarah Darer Littman writes,

“…I read the Hartford Courant report on the discovery that computers and equipment are missing from the Jumoke Academy at Milner…

[…]

Last year, Hartford received a “gift” in the form of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Hartford is a city where the Board of Education is under mayoral control — a situation the corporate education reformers in this state (and many forces from outside the state) tried extremely hard and spent a lot of money to try to replicate, unsuccessfully, in Bridgeport in 2012

This means that Mayor Pedro Segarra appoints five members of the Hartford Board of Education, and four are elected by the people of Hartford. However, according to its bylaws , the Board is meant to act as a whole.

But that’s not what happened in the case of the $5 million grant announced back in December 2012.

On June 29, 2012, staff members of the Gates Foundation came to Hartford for a meeting. According to a memo former Hartford Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto sent to the Board on October 12, 2012  — which was the first time the wider board knew of the meeting — “Participants included Board of Education Chair Matthew Poland, Mayor Segarra, Hartford Public Schools, Achievement First and Jumoke Academy senior staff members, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Connecticut Council for Education Reform, ConnCAN, and other corporate, community and philanthropic partners.”

[…]

What’s really disturbing is that by funneling a grant through another foundation, a private foundation was able to impose public policy behind closed doors, and what’s more, impose policy that required taxpayer money — all without transparency or accountability.

I had to file a Freedom of Information request in order to get a copy of the paperwork on the Gates grant and what I received was only the partial information, because as Connecticut taxpayers will have learned from the Jumoke/FUSE fiasco, while charter schools consistently argue they are “public” when it comes to accepting money from the state, they are quick to claim that they are private institutions  when it comes to transparency and accountability.

But what is clear from the grant paperwork is that Hartford Public Schools committed to giving more schools to Achievement First and Jumoke Academy/Fuse, a commitment made by just some members of the Board of Education in applying for the grant, which appears to be a clear abrogation of the bylaws. Further, as a result of the commitment made by those board members, financial costs would accrue to Hartford Public Schools that were not covered by the grant — for example, the technology to administer the NWEA map tests, something I wrote about back in December 2012, just after the grant was announced.

One of the Gates Foundation grant’s four initiatives was to “Build the district’s capacity to retain quality school leaders through the transformation of low-performing schools, replicating Jumoke Academy’s successful model of a holistic education approach.”

And the stunning, disturbing and incredible story gets worse…. Much, much worse…

The entire “MUST READ” article can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_dont_let_foundation_money_be_a_trojan_horse/

Sarah DarerLittman ends her piece with the observation,

That’s why we need transparency and accountability in our state, not backroom deals structured to avoid the public eye, but which still impact the public purse.

Editor’s Note:

While Sarah is absolutely right about the need for greater transparency and accountability, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that various players within the Malloy administration and the City of Hartford violated the spirit and the letter of Connecticut law.  While great transparency and accountability is vitally important, when it comes to the Jumoke/FUSE issue, indictments and convictions are also in order.

But please take the time to read the commentary piece – Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse.

Questions that teachers (parents, public school advocates and all voters) should be asking…

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Over the next week, the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association will be deciding whether to follow the lead of the American Federation of Teachers and endorse Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts or whether they will endorse another candidate or whether they should make no endorsement in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Here are some of the issues that Connecticut’s public school teachers should be mulling over;

Issue #1:  As has been noted repeatedly, no other Democratic governor in the nation has proposed doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest and lowest performing public schools.   At a candidate debate earlier this month, Malloy tried to clarify his infamous observation that teachers need only show for four years to get tenure by saying,

I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”

Wait, What? … Malloy’s comment wasn’t about teachers, “It was about tenure?

If Malloy thought he deserved the support of Connecticut’s teachers, why hasn’t he publicly renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining proposal?

 

Issue #2:  Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.  On the other hand, there are multiple teacher evaluation models that do not tie teacher evaluations to unfair, inappropriate and misleading standardized test results.

If Malloy wanted to show he understands the challenges facing teachers and public education why hasn’t he said that, if re-elected, he will decouple the mandated teacher evaluation system from unfair standardized testing?

 

Issue #3:  When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate.  As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.

If Malloy believes he deserves the votes of teachers (and parents and taxpayers), why won’t he simply say that if he gets a second term in office he will settle the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit and use the CCFEF Coalition’s expertise to fix Connecticut’s broken school funding system?

 

Issue #4:   As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support.  Virtually all of the new funding was allocated to the state’s 30 so-called Alliance Districts (with major strings attached).  The result has been a loss of local control for Connecticut’s poorest towns and no meaningful support for middle-class towns that have become even more reliant on regressive local property taxes.

If Malloy wants teachers, parents and public school advocates to vote for him, why hasn’t he announced that he will institute a moratorium on additional charter schools and devote scarce public resources to where they belong…Connecticut’s real public schools?

 

Issue #5:  COMMON CORE AND THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME

The Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Testing Scheme have become particularly controversial.  Tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive standardized testing program.  In addition, the Malloy administration has repeatedly lied and mislead parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.

If Malloy wants a second term, why hasn’t he ordered his State Department of Education to be honest with parents (and teachers) and tell parents that they DO HAVE A RIGHT TO OPT THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME and why does he continue to support the implementation of the Common Core and its massive Common Core Testing program?

These and many other important education issues will face the individual who is elected in November.

Before endorsing or supporting or voting for any candidate, Connecticut’s public school teachers (and every other Connecticut voter) should ask why Malloy has failed to adequately address these important issues.

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

Connecticut, a Jim Crow state? [A must read by Ann Policelli Cronin]

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This commentary piece by Ann Policelli Cronin first appeared in the CT Mirror –  Op-Ed: Connecticut, a Jim Crow state?

Unless Connecticut changes direction in what has been packaged and sold as “education reform,” its achievement gap, the largest in the nation, will be exacerbated.

All of Connecticut’s children are harmed by the narrow and inappropriate content of the Common Core Standards and by the amount of instructional time lost to preparing for and taking standardized tests to measure acquisition of that content.

Connecticut children of color,already hurt by poverty and racism, however, suffer the most. Current “education reform” will further marginalize them as Jim Crow laws of the past marginalized African Americans in southern states.

The content of the Common Core standards was established by employees of testing companies. The content is simply what those employees determined can be measured on standardized tests.

For example, not one educator with expertise in teaching students how to develop as thoughtful readers and effective writers chose the 188 random skills to be taught in grade 9 and 10 English courses, or the 192 random skills for grades 11 and 12.  Also, no field studies were done to determine if those particular skills lead to achievement in college or careers.

The tests to assess mastery of this arbitrary content are meaningless hurdles whose function is to produce scores by which schools, teachers, and students are ranked. The more a school focuses on teaching the narrow and inappropriate content of the Common Core, the more its students will be harmed.

Connecticut schools vary widely in their adherence to the Common Core. None of the private prep schools, which specialize in preparing students for college, teach or test the Common Core. Many school districts with affluent parents and a history of good test scores pay lip service to the Common Core and continue with their own curricula.

However, the school districts with a history of low test scores teach exclusively to the Common Core tests because so much rides on raising those scores and not being identified as failing schools. Teaching to the test means those students are not taught to be engaged readers, motivated writers, critical thinkers, and thoughtful questioners as their peers in schools of the more privileged are taught to be. Impoverished students of color are often taught to simply be takers of standardized tests.

All this test preparation, however, is not likely to help students, disadvantaged by poverty and racism, score well. The “cut score” or passing grade on the Common Core aligned tests has been arbitrarily set so that approximately 30 percent of the test takers pass and 70 percent fail.

Scores on all standardized tests, such as the SAT and Connecticut’s CMT and CAPT, correlate with the family income of the test takers. Children living in poverty are disadvantaged in so many ways that even stringent test prep will not produce scores equal to their more advantaged peers. A large proportion of the 70 percent of Connecticut students who fail the tests will come from homes affected by poverty and racism.

The Common Core tests are given in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11. How will failing tests year after year affect children’s sense of themselves and their belief that schools are places for them to learn and grow?

How will it feel to come to school each day and look at the data wall in their classroom which posts each child’s scores on practice Common Core tests given throughout the school year and recognize their failures?

When they are 16, will they take the 11th grade test or drop out of school beforehand?  If they stay in school and are not among the 30 percent who pass the test, what will the schools do with the students who fail the test and, therefore, do not qualify to graduate? Keep testing them?

What will Connecticut as a state do with large numbers of teenagers who give up and drop out of school?  What are those young people without high school diplomas to do with their lives?

Connecticut’s students of privilege have the opportunity of receiving a private or public school education not restricted to the Common Core which prepares them to be future participants in society and the workforce who can innovate, collaborate, and communicate effectively. Students in schools intent upon raising test scores, however, have little opportunity of acquiring those necessary skills.

How can Connecticut turn this around and keep from becoming a Jim Crow state dividing those who are well-educated from those denied a productive education?

First, we must reject the misguided “reform” of the Common Core and its accompanying tests. As parents, we must opt our children out of those tests, and, as educators, we must reduce instructional time given to teaching the narrow and inappropriate Common Core content and preparing for Common Core tests.

Secondly and most importantly, as educators we must offer an alternate vision about teaching and learning, one grounded in well-documented knowledge about how children and adolescents grow and learn, and design ways to assess the achievement of real growth, real learning.

Connecticut has the resources — the educators, the research institutions, and the knowledge — to lead the country in creating real reform for children of all races and all incomes. Let’s begin.

Ann Policelli Cronin is a consultant in English education for school districts and university schools of education. She has taught English, been a district level administrator for English programs, taught university courses in English education, been assistant director of the Connecticut Writing Project, and won state awards for her teaching and national awards for curriculum design.

Another MUST READ article by Connecticut professor Dr. Yohuru Williams

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Yohuru Williams is Chair and Professor of History at Fairfield University.  Dr. Williams is also a powerful, leading voice for public education, both at the national level and here in Connecticut.

His latest column for the Huffington Post is entitled, Lies My Corporate Ed Reformers Told Me: The Truth About Teacher Tenure and the Civil Rights Movement.

Williams writes,

The champions of corporate education reform insist that efforts to strip teachers of the procedural guarantees of due process embedded in tenure are somehow an extension of the Civil Rights Movement. In the latest iteration of this make-believe history, former CNN anchor Campbell Brown and her ally, lawyer David Boies, wax philosophical about how their campaign to end tenure is really “about Civil Rights.” While the rhetoric plays well in the press, it deliberately misrepresents the actual history of Civil Rights. In reality, teachers played a critical role in the movement. In some cases, they were able to do so because they were bolstered by tenure, preventing their arbitrary dismissal for activism.

Early in its campaign to challenge segregation in the courts the NAACP chief attorney, Thurgood Marshall recognized teachers as important allies. In Simple Justice, his seminal study of the history of Brown v. Board of Education, historian Richard Kluger observed,

“teachers were of special importance because there were so many of them, because they were generally leaders in their community, and because they were paid by the government, which in theory was not supposed to discriminate against anyone on account of race.”

What Kluger described of course, was the thin but important layer of protection offered by tenure that allowed teachers to participate in lawsuits and other actions that would have proved difficult for those with no such guarantee of due process. During the Jim Crow era, one of the most effective weapons segregationists had in their arsenal of terror was the power to fire or refuse to hire those who engaged in acts of civil disobedience or challenged the status quo. With the higher duty to protect children, many teachers bravely faced this challenge, using their classrooms not only to teach basic skills, but also to encourage critical thinking skills and inspiring young people to challenge second-class citizenship. Recent scholarship as well as personal memoirs captures this important role played by educators. In a 2009 biography Claudette Colvin, who at 15 refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus nearly nine months before Rosa Parks, credited her teachers with inspiring her to make her courageous stand against Southern apartheid.

Not all Black teachers were awarded tenure. In fact, very few states in the South offered the basic guarantee of due process to Black teachers but, in those states where teachers were protected, they were able to speak and testify openly and honestly about the detrimental impact of Jim Crow on their students.

Their professionalism and candor underscored the damning nature of Jim Crow, not in the lack of quality instruction but in the substandard facilities, large class sizes, lack of resources, and psychological impact segregation had on students — not to mention the disparities in pay and benefits including tenure.

[…]

So when so called “reformers” like Campbell Brown try to make the case that tenure extends teachers an unfair guarantee of employment unlike other public servants, she is more than stretching the truth. To be clear, when confronted with inequalities in pay and the denial of tenure to Black teachers, the NAACP did not argue for an end to tenure, but for the extension of the same basic protections of due process to Black teachers. In addition, when her allies like David Boies try to claim they are carrying on the legacy of the movement, they are not. Instead, they should address the issues of poverty and inequality; the same issues raised by the NAACP in 1950s and1960s that continue to plague American education. The lack of resources, bloated class sizes, high stakes testing, and zip code discrimination are real problems — not teacher tenure.

At the end of the day, what made teachers so critical to the Civil Rights Movement is partly what makes many of them dangerous to the agenda of the so-called education reformers today. Why is divesting tenure at the top of their list? In stripping away due process and removing basic protection against retaliation, they will effectively silence the strongest line of defense against those practices, such as high stakes testing, and re-segregation that remain harmful to children. In the process, they will clear the way for the ultimate corporatizing of American education in opposition to both the history and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. Fortunately teachers have already begun to organize to make a stand in an effort to shield and protect those who stand to be harmed most — our children.

You can read the entire column by going to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yohuru-williams/campbell-brown-teacher-tenure_b_5807346.html

Also follow his work via:  www.twitter.com/yohuruwilliams

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

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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.

For whom the bell tolls…

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With Election Day less than nine weeks away, Connecticut teachers, parents and public school advocates continue to wait for an indication as to whether any of the candidates for governor will truly stand up against the tide of the corporate education reform industry, including their absurd, unfair and expensive Common Core testing scheme.

Tens of thousands of votes hang in the balance.

The growing anger and frustration about the corporate takeover of public schools extends well beyond Connecticut.

However, as teachers and public education supporters know, Connecticut is home to the only Democratic Governor in the United States to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining in some of Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

The uncomfortable reality is that the corporate education reform industry is equally aggressive in other states across the country.

In Iowa, Richard Doak, the Des Moines Register’s two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and former editorial page editor recently critiqued Iowa’s incumbent Republican governor Terry Branstad by writing,

“In Iowa and throughout the nation, education “reform” is being driven not by parents and educators but by business leaders. The stated purpose of the reforms is to produce a better labor pool for businesses and make the state and country more economically competitive.

The change in thinking about education in this country has been subtle but profound. The original purpose of public education was to create an enlightened citizenry that would sustain democracy. Now the purpose is to turn out educated workers who have the knowledge employers want.

The extent to which education and other functions of government have been co-opted by the business community is a huge untold story in this country. America is well on its way to becoming a nation of corporate interests, by corporate interests and for corporate interests.”

The editorial could just have easily been written about Connecticut’s incumbent Democrat Governor Dannel “Dan’ Malloy.

With Election Day fast approaching, now is the time for Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates to clarify where the stand;

Do they stand with Connecticut’s students, teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers or will they continue to turn our public schools into little more than testing factories and money pits for an industry that is gorging itself on scarce taxpayer funds while undermining the role of teachers, parents and the local control of public education.

Candidates:  Speak up or you may just find that when it comes to your electoral future, the bell tolls for thee.

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