Forgive them, for they know not what they do – Not!

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Read my lips…No New Taxes!

“Both Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his Republican challenger Tom Foley said they will not increase taxes… (CT NewsJunkie)

When Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy took office he faced a $3.6 billion dollar deficit.

As result of budget gimmicks, the use of one-time revenue and his failure to require the wealthy to pay their fair share in income taxes, the candidate for governor that is elected next month will have to manage a $4.8 billion dollar deficit over the next three fiscal years, including at least a $1.4 billion shortfall in next year’s state budget.

But rather than tell voters the truth about Connecticut’s fiscal situation at last night’s WFSB candidate debate, both Malloy and Foley reiterated their promise not to raise taxes over the next four years.  Their pledges come despite the fact that both of these politicians know that there is absolutely no way to balance the state budget without additional revenue.

Both Malloy and Foley say that, if elected, they will not raise taxes, not cut vital services, not reduce the state workforce and will not need to negotiate contract changes with state employees.

The notion that such campaign promises could be met is not only laughable but it is a sad commentary on how far from the truth Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates will stray in their ongoing efforts to get elected.

Malloy and Foley’s claim that they will “flat fund” the state budget purposely overlooks the fact that the state budget will grow by at least half a billion dollars next year including an additional $330 million for debt service as a result of Malloy’s excessive state borrowing.

If Malloy and Foley were being honest with voters they’d be saying that if they win, they will need to raise taxes, cut services, transfer costs to the cities and towns and negotiate contract changes with state employees.

However, as appalling as the candidate’s performances were in last night’s debate, the award for “anti-democracy” goes to WFSB for excluding or agreeing to exclude Joe Visconti, the petitioning candidate for governor, from the event.

According to the CT Newsjunkie article, “WFSB officials didn’t include him because he didn’t receive 10 percent support in the last public poll.”

A candidate needs to get 10% in the polls to attend a debate?

Wait, What?

WFSB, in conjunction with the two major party candidates, banned Visconti from the stage despite the fact that he collected the requisite 7,500 signatures and will be listed as a gubernatorial candidate on this year’s ballot.  Although it should irrelevant at this point, Visconti also received 7 percent of the projected vote in the last public opinion poll.  That translates to over 70,000 Connecticut voters saying they will vote for the 3rd party candidate.

The decision by WFSB and the Democratic and Republican candidates to hold a debate without Visconti is nothing short of an insult to every voter in Connecticut.  Connecticut has been traditionally known as the Constitution State but to refuse to allow a certified 3rd party candidate to participate in the televised debate violates the most basic tenets of our democracy.

Rather than exclude 3rd party candidates, WFSB and other broadcasters have an obligation to open up access for their viewers.  As WFSB knows,

“Broadcasters have an obligation to serve the public’s interests, not just their own commercial interests. The government provides broadcasters free and exclusive access to a portion of the public airwaves – “spectrum” – for broadcasting. These profitable licenses come in exchange for broadcasters’ commitment to serve the “public interest, convenience, or necessity.”

Preventing a certified candidate for governor from participating in the televised debate should be viewed as a violation of WFSB’s broadcasting license.

Common Core Testing – Will Foley or Malloy join Visconti in protecting parental rights?

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ed12The only Connecticut gubernatorial candidate on the November 2014 ballot that is publicly committed to protecting the right of parents to opt their children out of the inappropriate and unfair Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test (SBAC) is petitioning candidate Joe Visconti.

With Connecticut public schools wasting more and more taxpayer funds and instructional time on “preparing” children for the Common Core Testing Scheme and taking the Common Core tests, the silence from Foley (and Malloy) on this important issue is extremely disturbing.

Last year, Governor Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, spent months 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 Field Test.

Governor Malloy and Commission Pryor repeatedly claimed that federal and state laws trump parental rights when it comes to taking the Common Core standardized tests.

However, there are no federal or state laws that prohibit parents from opting their children out of the unfair Common Core tests and there is no 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.

Pryor’s memo was posted on the State Department of Education website, until it was highlighted here and elsewhere, then it disappeared.

The one thing that has become increasingly clear is that the statements made by Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor were completely wrong.

In fact, when confronted about the issue at a legislative hearing last spring, Connecticut’s State Board of Education Chairman Allen Taylor admitted that there was no law that prevents parents from opting their children out of these Common Core Tests. (See - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLm9gaCkNjY).

But with the new school years comes fresh reports that superintendents are, once again, engaged in efforts to persuade parents that they do not have the right to opt their children out of the standardized testing.

All of this means that the question for the candidates for governor becomes that much more important.

So to Tom Foley, when are you going to make your position clear on the right of parents to opt their children out of the Common Core testing?

And to Governor Malloy, have you changed your position on the right of parents to opt their children out of the standardized tests or will you continue to use the power of your office and the State Department of Education to mislead parents about this issue?

For more information about the opt-out movement, check out the following websites:  United Opt Out: http://unitedoptout.com/ and Fair Test: http://www.fairtest.org/.

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

ConnCAN yelps response to Sarah Darer Littman’s Commentary piece

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Provides stunning argument as to why Malloy does not deserve four more years! Over this past weekend, public education advocate and CT NewsJunkie columnist Sarah Darer Littman published a scathing commentary piece on the Malloy administration, the disgraced Jumoke/FUSE charter school chain and the tens of millions of taxpayer funds being wasted on charter schools in Connecticut. You can read Sarah Darer Littman’s CTNewsJunkie column here – Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse and the Wait, What? re-post and assessment of the piece here - Another MUST READ column on Jumoke/FUSE by Sarah Darer Littman. But as incredible as Sarah Darer Littman’s original piece is, the response from the CEO of ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group, is even more telling. Wait, What? readers will recall that ConnCAN led the $6 million, record breaking, lobbying effort on behalf of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s corporate education reform bill that undermined local control and attempted to do away with tenure for all public school teachers, while repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts. ConnCAN also played a pivotal role in the failed attempt to do away with an elected board of education in Bridgeport, their campaign becoming the most expensive charter revision effort in history. And more recently, ConnCAN’s Board of Directors, and their immediate family members, have funneled more than $100,000 into Malloy’s re-election campaign operation — despite the fact that Malloy has taken $6.2 million in public funds to pay for his re-election effort. Normally, when presenting an attack piece by the corporate education reform industry, some critique is required, but not in this case. In this case, the response from Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN’s CEO, is so absurd that it stands on its own without any introduction or review… You can read ConnCAN’s full response here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_lets_develop_solutions_to_connecticuts_toughest_problems/ Alexander writes,

Regarding Sarah Darer Littman’s Sept. 19, 2014, op-ed, “Don’t Let Foundation Money Be A Trojan Horse,” the egregious twisting of facts and history buries the important message at the core of Littman’s argument. Sadly, the piece is also a distraction from the real issue at hand, which is improving schools for all children in our state. […] I encourage her to join a real dialogue about how best to achieve these goals. It’s time to move away from tired personal attacks and unfounded conspiracy theories, roll up our sleeves and get to the real work of improving public education. Our kids are counting on it. It is, after all, our responsibility to ensure all kids have the opportunity to achieve their goals. Together, with hard work, dedication, and a bit of creativity, we can ensure Connecticut remains a place where people want to live, work, and invest in their future.

This from the individual and organization that recently sang the praises of Jumoke/FUSE and the man formerly known as “Dr.” Michael Sharpe.  Not to mention their unending efforts to divert taxpayer funds to privately run schools that consistently discriminate against those who don’t speak English and those who need special education services. The message from ConnCAN is loud and clear…..their message is – If you are satisfied with Malloy’s corporate education reform policies, then go ahead and vote for him. If, on the other hand, you are tired of charter schools wasting millions of dollars of our scarce public funds, then Malloy is definitely not the one you want to vote for. Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

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

The pro-Common Core Standardized Testing governor throws students, parents and teachers a bone.

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With election day in sight, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, one the of country’s leading corporate education reform supporters, recently issued a press release announcing that he was writing a letter to Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to “explore” reducing the use of the Common Core standardized testing for 11th graders.  (Malloy’s pro-corporate education reform industry initiatives have earned him more than a quarter of a million dollars in campaign donations from the state and national education reformers so far this year).

Pro-public education advocate and Hearst Media Group columnist Wendy Lecker takes on Governor Malloy’s standardized testing ploy in an commentary piece entitled, “Malloy’s empty words about testing

Wendy Lecker writes,

Throughout his administration, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s education policies have been characterized by a disdain for evidence of what helps children learn, and a refusal to listen to those closest to students — parents and teachers. While it has been proven that test-based accountability has done nothing to help learning, and has increased stress in children of all ages, Malloy callously maintained, “I’ll settle for teaching to the test if it means raising test scores.”

Now, weeks before the gubernatorial election, the governor has suddenly declared an interest in the welfare of children — or some children. In a self-congratulatory news release, the governor announced that he wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to begin a “dialogue” about how to reduce one standardized test for 11th graders.

Malloy’s newly discovered concern for over-testing for one grade must be understood against his record on standardized testing. Just two years ago, the Malloy administration rushed through an application for an NCLB “waiver,” which exchanged some of NCLB’s mandates for many other mandates — including massively increasing standardized testing. The waiver obligated the state to administer the Common Core tests, including moving the high school test from 10th to 11th grade, and to use the widely discredited method of including standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.

Recognizing the potential for an explosion in standardized testing, parents, school board members and teachers implored the Malloy administration not to apply for the NCLB waiver until it assessed the impact on our children and the cost to taxpayers. Yet, the Malloy administration ignored these warnings and submitted the application.

A year before the administration of the SBAC field tests statewide, I and others wrote about the lunacy of moving the high school test to 11th grade, a year when most students have a heavy course-load, AP tests, ACTs and SATs. Again, the Malloy administration disregarded the public and charged ahead.

When the statewide SBAC pilot tests were to be administered last year, parents expressed reluctance to state and local officials about subjecting their children to this experiment. Rather than consider their genuine concern, the Malloy administration employed a strategy to intimidate parents. It called for presenting parents with threatening letters and half-truths. Finally, if a parent persisted through the gauntlet of misrepresentations and insisted on opting her child out, the Malloy administration would relent and admit there is no penalty for doing so.

Some parents defied the Malloy administration’s bullying and sat their children out of the field tests. Eleventh graders sat out in the largest numbers. Hence Malloy’s new-found concern for over-testing — for 11th graders only.

Though Malloy professes concern about over-testing 11th graders, in reality he plans to increase testing for everyone. In May, his PEAC commission announced a plan to use multiple standardized tests in teacher evaluations going forward. Not only does this plan double down on the flawed practice of using standardized tests to measure a teacher’s performance, it also vastly increases testing for children. The SBAC interim tests, which the Malloy administration recommends, will likely double the standardized testing that already exists.

Against the reality of his policies, Malloy’s letter to Duncan proves to be nothing more than political posturing.

Contrast Malloy’s empty rhetoric with the actions of Vermont’s state officials. As Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe explained to parents in a letter in August, Vermont chose not to apply for the NCLB waiver because of the voluminous evidence demonstrating that including test scores in teacher evaluations is inaccurate; and the evidence that over-emphasizing standardized tests discourages teaching a rich curriculum.

In this letter, Holcombe explained that Vermont disagrees with federal education policy around standardized testing. She declared that NCLB’s reliance on test scores as the main measure of school quality “does not serve the interest of Vermont schools, nor does it advance our economic or social well-being.” Noting the failure of test-based accountability to narrow learning gaps between poor and affluent children, Holcombe wrote: “We need a different approach that actually works.”

Vermont’s State Board of Education followed with a resolution carefully reviewing the evidence on testing; calling on the federal government to reduce testing mandates and to stop using tests to evaluate teachers; and calling on state and national organizations to broaden educational goals and ensure adequate resources for schools.

The actions of Vermont’s state government remind us that the purpose of education policies is to benefit children. Sadly, Governor Malloy only seems to acknowledge the welfare of children when he is trying to snag votes.

You can read Wendy Lecker’s full commentary piece in the Stamford Advocate at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Lecker-Malloy-s-empty-words-about-testing-5768147.php

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

Malloy’s Fundraising Operation – “Offensive but not illegal”

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As noted earlier this week in Wait, What? post entitled, Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his campaign operation has collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign by directing large campaign contributors to make donations to the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account.  Much of the money has come from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.

Under Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law that passed in 2005, following former governor John Rowland’s conviction, Malloy’s fundraising scheme would have been illegal.

But thanks to changes in the law that were proposed by Malloy and approved by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2013, the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ruled yesterday that Malloy’s tactics are an “offensive” violation of the law’s “spirit and intent,” but not illegal.

Details of Malloy’s close call with the law can be found in the Hartford Courant’s Panel Condemns NU Exec’s Pro-Malloy Solicitation As ‘Offensive’ – But Finds No Violation and the CT NewsJunkie’s Election Regulators Call NU Solicitation ‘Egregious’.

As CTNewsJunkie explains,

The State Elections Enforcement Commission dismissed a complaint against Northeast Utilities CEO Thomas May Tuesday, but not before offering some harsh criticism of the solicitation the state contractor sent last September to his employees.

“The next gubernatorial election is upon us, and I am asking each of you to join me in financially supporting Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy,” May wrote in his Sept. 27, 2013 email to company managers. The email, which was sent from May’s private gmail account, suggested that donations be made to the Connecticut Democratic State Central’s federal account.

State election law prohibits state contractors from contributing to state party accounts or the campaigns of statewide candidates. Even though the email solicitation mentioned Malloy’s accomplishments at length, the commission was unable to find that May violated state election law because the money went to the party’s federal account.

“The Commission does conclude that the content of the solicitation by Mr. May is both offensive and disturbing and violates the spirit and intent of the Connecticut state contractor ban,” the 5-0 decision to dismiss the complaint reads.

The Hartford Courant adds,

If May had asked his people to donate to the Democratic Party’s account for state political operations, or directly to Malloy or any other candidate for state office, it would have violated the statutory ban on contractors giving money to state campaigns, the commission said.

However, “[b]ecause the contributions…were deposited into the [Democratic Party's] federal account which is generally outside the Commission’s jurisdiction, and not to a state [party] committee,” the commission “lacks the authority…to sanction the conduct,” the commission said in its decision.

The underlying problem with the State Elections Enforcement Commission decision is that everyone associated with the Malloy ploy knew exactly what was going on.

The Hartford Courant quotes an SEEC Commissioner as saying,

“To direct money that on its face was being raised for the support of a statewide candidate” – Malloy – “and deposit that money into a federal account, is an abuse not only of what that federal account is intended for, but clearly seems to be an effort to bypass the workings of the Connecticut finance law,” commission member Stephen T. Penny said.

Twice in the past month, the commission put off a decision in the case after deliberating it behind closed doors. “At first blush the conduct of [May] appeared to be an egregious violation…but after a careful review of state law, we were unable to find any specific violations,” Penny said.

In a blistering attack on the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s ruling, State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney issued a statement saying,

“Clearly, NU’s CEO violated the spirit of our clean election law – a law which was once a model for the country. That historic legislation has become a mockery. Gov. Malloy now has a choice to make. He can keep the money he received from NU officials, or he can return it. If he keeps the money, he will place a cloud on our campaign finance system. If he returns it, he will restore some integrity to the system.”

But of course, the likelihood of Malloy returning the ill-gotten campaign funds is zero because on top of the $50,000 he collected from NU are millions of dollars more from other state contractors, as well as, individuals and companies that have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program.

While Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform legislation was rigged to keep 3rd party candidates out of the system, it did do an outstanding job limiting the influence of corporate, lobbyist and special interest funds.

That was before Malloy, with the help of the Democratic members of the Connecticut General Assembly, made a mockery of the law adding a series of loopholes designed to allow Malloy to use public and special interest funds to pay for his campaign.

Now, not only are Connecticut taxpayers giving Malloy (and Foley) $6.2 million each, but Malloy and his political operation are inappropriately, but not illegally, taking millions of dollars from those doing business with the state or benefiting directly from Malloy’s state spending strategies.

You can read more about this development at:

CTNewsJunkie:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/election_regulators_call_nu_solicitation_egregious/

Hartford Courant: http://touch.courant.com/#section/2237/article/p2p-81383792/

Tea Party tells Joe Visconti to drop out of the race for governor…

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The Hartford Courant has a story on their blog entitled, Tea Party Ups Call for Joe Visconti to Exit the Governor’s Race,

In a response to such an attack, Joe Visconti is certainly more than capable of deciding, on his own, what is best for the people of Connecticut and the issues that he believes in.  I will just say that I can certainly relate, having also been the victim of the anti-democracy attacks from those claiming to “share” my values.

As the Hartford Courant is reporting,

Tea party activists in Connecticut are reiterating their call for petitioning candidate Joe Visconti to get out of the governor’s race.

“While we admire and respect your efforts, and those of your dedicated volunteers, if you continue in this race, you do so without the support of the majority of tea party, conservative and grassroots groups,” tea party activists wrote in an open letter to Visconti posted on Facebook. The letter was signed by several prominent leaders in the conservative movement in the state including Wallingford attorney Tanya Bachand and Bob MacGuffie, founder of Right Principles.

The Courant adds,

Visconti’s response, posted on his own Facebook page, suggest he isn’t going anywhere. “Sad to see you all sell out to the establishment that you once castigated,” he wrote.

And finally article concludes with,

(Interestingly one of those jumping to Visconti’s defense is Hartford lawyer Ken Krayeske. “[F]rom Tea Party patriots who purport to represent and hold dear constitutional values, like the First Amendment, this is an astonishing, hypocritical statement of values,” Krayeske commented. “And thank you, Mr. Visconti, for enduring despite such unfounded critiques of your candidacy.”)

I want to take the opportunity to echo Attorney Krayeske’s comments and add that it is a sad commentary on the corporatization of America that not only do Democratic and Republican leaders claim to support our democracy and then decry the impact of third parties and third party candidates, but that forces from the so-called “right” and “left” are just as disingenuous.

The fact that “Tea Party Patriots” would urge someone not to stand up, speak out and run for office is as absurd as the “social justice lobbyist” who used a Hartford Courant commentary piece to urge liberals not to sign my petition or the actions of unions like the American Federation of Teachers who would not even allow me to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the AFT endorsing committee or speak to their executive committee before endorsing Governor Malloy, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose eliminating teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest schools districts.

Claiming to “speak for their members” the AFT endorsed Malloy, despite the fact that he remains committed to a teacher evaluation system that includes the use of unfair, inappropriate and absurd standardized test scores when determining whether a teacher is doing a good job or not.

Over the course of the last few months I’ve had the honor of sitting down and talking with Joe Visconti.

Although we come from very different philosophical foundations, and disagree on some fundamentally important issues, there is no question in my mind that he understands what is going on out here in the real world, that he profoundly respects the role of teachers and public education, that he would confront the ongoing effort to destroy the middle class and that he has the honesty and integrity to tell the citizens of Connecticut the truth about the fiscal crisis that we face as a result of the irresponsible policies of the two major political parties.

By urging Joe Visconti to drop out of the race for governor, Connecticut’s Tea Party leaders reveal that they are just as much a part of the problem as the incumbency parties that have shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they are incapable (or unwilling) to do what is right for the citizens of our nation and our state.

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