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

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

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

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

Truth in Education reports,

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking News: 3rd Malloy mailing paid for with dirty money arrives in mail boxes

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The Malloy campaign has been surrounded by controversy over the past couple of weeks following their announcement that the Connecticut Democratic Party intended to use money contributed by state contractors to pay for a mailing promoting Malloy’s bid for re-election.

Now it turns out that the tainted campaign funds have paid for at least three mailings, the 3rd arriving at households yesterday.

malloy brochures2 The money in question IS NOT the public funds that Malloy and Foley collected as participants in Connecticut’s Public Finance System nor is it the Super PAC money that has pouring into Connecticut in recent weeks.

The money that the Malloy campaign is using to pay for these mailings was raised and deposited into the Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account” and comes from state contractors, people who have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program, federal political action committees and wealthy donors from around the country.

Note:  Please read the following to understand how unethical this action is.

After former governor John Rowland was sent to prison, Connecticut adopted a sweeping campaign finance reform law.  As a result of that law, “State contractors may not contribute to a party committee, nor may they contribute to a candidate seeking office in the branch (legislative or executive) for which the contractor holds a contract.

The law means that a candidate for governor is prohibited from benefiting from any campaign donation that have been made by a state contractor or an entity that does business with the state of Connecticut.

The issue is as follows: Under Connecticut law, both Malloy and Foley received $6.2 million in taxpayer funds to pay for their gubernatorial campaigns.  By accepting the public funds, Malloy and Foley were prohibited from soliciting or accepting campaign donations in excess of $100 or receiving any campaign money from state contractors or political action committees.

Meanwhile, as a result of federal law, so-called Super PACS have been funneling millions of dollars into Connecticut in support or opposition to Malloy and Foley. The Malloy associated Super PAC is called Connecticut Forward, Inc. and has spent over $4.1 million to support Malloy and oppose Foley.

The Malloy money has come primarily from the national Democratic Governors Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME). On the other hand, the Foley associated Super PAC, Grown Connecticut Inc. has spent about $4.9 million.

The Foley money has come almost exclusively from the national Republican Governors Association.

The controversy surrounding the extra Malloy mailings is separate of the $12 million plus that taxpayers have given to Malloy and Foley or the $9 million that has been spent by the Super PACS.

The issue is that these Malloy mailings are being paid for with money that has been donated by state contractors, federal political action committees, lobbyists and others and is reaching they Malloy campaign by being laundered through the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “Federal Account.”

The Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee actually maintains two accounts – a state account and a federal account.  The state account CAN NOT ACCEPT MONEY FROM STATE CONTRACTORS OR FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES.

Over the decades, the state account has been the party’s sole mechanism for supporting their Democratic nominee for governor. Under Federal Law, the “Federal Account” can only be used to support candidates running for a federal position (US Senate and US House of Representatives) or for general voter registration and Get-out-the-Vote activities.

Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission recently wrote that the Federal Election Commission has determined that,

“’get-out-the-vote-activity’ includes encouraging potential voters to vote; providing information about times when polling places are open, the location of particular polling places, early voting or voting by absentee ballot; and offering or arranging transportation to the polls. The regulations go on to provide, however, that ‘[a]ctivity is not get-out-the-vote activity solely because it includes a brief exhortation to vote, so long as the exhortation is incidental to a communication, activity, or event.’”

However, in an unprecedented maneuver, Governor Malloy and his political operation are using the Connecticut Democratic Party’s “Federal Account” to pay for mailings that are exclusively about Malloy.

In fact, Malloy and his political operatives have raised more than $4.3 million into the Party’s “Federal Account” – much of it from sources that are prohibited from giving to a state campaign – AND – they are now using that money to support Malloy. This charade allows Malloy and his campaign to utilize donations from state contractors and federal PACS to fund his campaign, a move that is unethical, immoral and I believe illegal.

The tainted money includes the following:

$50,000 plus in contributions from corporate officers of Northeast Utilities despite the fact that NU is prohibited from donating to state candidates because of their contracts with the state

$50,000 plus from the owners of Winstanley Enterprises, the developers of Downtown Crossing in New Haven who directly benefited from Malloy’s decision to give Alexion Pharmaceuticals $51 million in corporate welfare payments to move to their property.

$45,000 plus from the owners of HAKS, an engineering firm that received a $8.6 million contract to conduct inspections on the Metro North power lines. $40,000 plus from the owners and senior management of Bridgeport Landing, the company that owns the property where Bass Pro Shops is opening after getting $31 million in corporate welfare from Malloy.

$30,000 plus from the operators of the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry company who recently learned that the Connecticut Department of Transportation would no longer oppose their plan to move their dock in Bridgeport

And the list goes on and on with over $1 million coming from state contractors, people who have benefited directly from Malloy’s corporate welfare program and federal political action committees.

The fundamental issue is not whether Malloy, Foley and those who support each candidate can pump millions of dollars into the race for governor.  The issue is that Malloy’s action is making a mockery of Connecticut’s historic effort to keep state contractors and those who do business with the state from buying up our politicians and our democracy.

The corrupting influence of tainted money – A must read by Sarah Darer Littman

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In 2005, Connecticut adopted an absolute ban on campaign donations from state contractors and those who directly benefit from state contracts.  As the Hartford Courant recently explained;

“That ban on contractors’ money was approved by the legislature along with a public-financing system under which taxpayers pay for grants to fund state candidates’ campaigns. Having taxpayers fund the campaigns’ expenses was considered better than candidates indebting themselves to big-money contributors – including state contractors – who have special interests in government decisions.”

Faced with the question about why the Malloy campaign was circumventing state law and using money from state contracts to fund a campaign mailer, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy told the media,

“We need to spend money”

CTNewsJunkie columnist has written yet another “MUST READ” commentary piece.  This week it is entitled, Bipartisan Lack of Integrity Destroys Confidence in Political System

Sarah Darer Littman writes,

“… integrity is a trait that’s increasingly rare in politics. In fact, in the last 24 months, I’ve begun to despair that we will ever shed our state’s reputation for an ingrained culture of political malfeasance.

[…]

Connecticut Democrats are working hard to weaken the very reforms they legislated, to the point that the party sent out a mailer paid for from its federal account, without waiting for a ruling from the Federal Election Commission, despite having sought the FEC’s opinion beforehand.

As State Election Commission officials observed, the move is an attempt to “cynically circumvent our state’s carefully tailored pay-to-play state contractor provisions.”

Evan Preston, director of the Connecticut Public Research Interest Group, told the FEC last week: “Our reforms were intended to improve public faith in our political process by showing who is supporting candidates, to curb contributions that are, or could seem, corrupting, and to raise the voices of ordinary citizens so they are not marginalized by donors with significantly deeper pockets.”

[…]

Doris Kearns Goodwin, a historian and writer whom I admire greatly, was a recent guest of the Connecticut Forum for a discussion called, “Debating Our Broken Political System.” She observed: “If I had to name one reason why it’s broken, it is power of money in the system today. It is the poison in the system . . . it is the amount of time that it takes our politicians to raise the funds, it’s the special interests that they are then beholden to, it’s the fact that they’re not doing the business of the country, and I blame everybody for it.”

Every Connecticut voter, Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated should take the time to read Sarah Darer Littman’s latest piece – which can be found at – http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op_ed_bipartisan_lack_of_integrity_destroys_confidence_in_political_system/

The Charter School Hoax

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They call themselves “public schools” when they want to collect nearly $100 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds each year, but refuse to come clean about how they spend that money pointing out that they are “private companies.”

Furthermore, here in Connecticut, they predominately refuse to educate Latinos, bi-lingual students and students who have special education needs.

And when they do happen to get students they don’t want through their so-called “open lottery” system they have a sophisticated operation for “counselling” or pushing out students who have behavior issues or otherwise don’t meet their limited “criteria” for the type of student they want in their school.

In fact, according to the most recent data available on the State Department of Education website, Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company co-founded by Stefan Pryor, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, manages to “lose” about 50% of its high school students over the course of four years.

In her latest, “MUST READ” commentary piece, public school advocate Wendy Lecker writes in the Stamford Advocate that it’s time to confront the truth about the charter movement.

Wendy Lecker writes;

Almost daily, headlines are filled with stories of charter school fraud or mismanagement. Recent revelations about possible illegal practices in charter schools in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere have led even charter supporters to try to distance themselves from the “crony capitalism” fueling this sector.

It is cold comfort that Connecticut officials are not alone in allowing unscrupulous charter operators to bilk taxpayers. It is time to reassess the entire charter movement in Connecticut.

Recall the original promises made by charter proponents: that they would benefit all public schools — showing public schools the way by using “innovative” methods to deliver a better education to struggling students in an efficient, less expensive manner.

None of those promises have been kept. Charters cannot point to any “innovations” that lead to better achievement. Smaller classes and wraparound services are not innovations — public schools have been begging for these resources for years. Charter practices such as failing to serve our neediest children, e.g., English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and “counseling out” children who cannot adhere to overly strict disciplinary policies, are not “innovations” — and should be prohibited.

Charters often spend more than public schools. Charters in Bridgeport and Stamford spend more per pupil than their host districts. And while it appears that charters in New Haven and Hartford spend comparable amounts, they serve a less needy, and less expensive, population. Moreover, Connecticut charters need not pay for special education services, transportation, or, if they serve fewer than 20 ELL students, ELL services.

While Connecticut owes billions of dollars to our neediest districts, officials provide higher per-pupil allocations to charters. For example charter schools receive $11,500 per pupil from the state, but Bridgeport’s ECS allocation is only $8,662 per pupil. Bridgeport is owed an additional $5,446 according to the CCJEF plaintiffs, not including the cost of teacher evaluations, the Common Core, and other unfunded mandates imposed over the years.

Connecticut increased charter funding over the past three years by $2,100 per pupil, while our poorest school districts received an average increase of only $642 per pupil.

As former New York charter authorizer Pedro Noguera lamented recently, charter schools are a “black box”; fighting transparency in enrollment, educational, managerial and financial practices. It is time for taxpayers force the black box open. Charters receive billions of public dollars. We must ensure that these funds are spent to improve education for all children.

Connecticut officials do not help matters with their almost nonexistent oversight of charter schools. Our State Board of Education’s shocking blindness in the Jumoke scandal is only one example. In their rush to approve any new charter, the board fails to verify charter claims, ignores community opposition and disregards its own rules against segregation in and over-concentration of charter schools. While punishing poor school districts, SBE routinely reauthorizes charters with poor records, excusing their failure to meet academic targets. Connecticut’s state education officials clearly need a scripted curriculum.

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s “Public Accountability for Charter Schools,” is a good starting point. The report outlines areas that demand equity, accountability and transparency: such as enrollment, governance, contracts, and management.

Connecticut must require, as a condition of continued authorization, that charters serve the same demographics as their host districts, through clearly delineated controlled choice policies.

Charter schools must maintain transparent and publicly available annual records and policies regarding enrollment, discipline and attrition. Charters must ensure that they do not employ subtle barriers to enrollment, such as strict disciplinary policies or requirements for parent participation as a condition of attendance. No such barriers exist in public schools.

Charters must prove that they meet the specific needs of the host community in a way the public schools do not. Charters must not be imposed over community opposition. State officials must assess the negative impact of charters on a district, including segregation and funding effects.

Charters must post all contracts and fully disclose revenues and expenditures. Charter officials, board members and employees must undergo background checks and disclose any relationships with contractors, state officials and others dealing with their school. Parents in charter schools must be allowed to elect charter board members.

Charters must show evidence annually that their unique educational methods improve achievement.

These are only some of the reforms that must be enacted — and enforced — for all charters, to ensure that these privately run schools are not shortchanging taxpayers, parents or children. In the meantime, Connecticut needs a moratorium on any new charter schools until this sector gets its house in order.

You can read the full commentary piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Reassess-the-charter-movement-5830482.php

Union PR person claims Malloy never tried to repeal collective bargaining

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Since raising concerns about the accuracy of the CEA’s “EXAMINE THE FACTS” endorsement piece that was sent out to persuade educators to vote for Governor Malloy, I’ve gotten some pretty harsh emails and comments on my blog and Facebook.

Having now blogged for nearly four years, it is interesting that some people feel that it is appropriate to criticize our opponents when they mislead, falsify or lie, but holding our own to the same standard is identified as being disloyal or worse.

In one comment, a person wrote, “I really wish you’d stay out of CEA business.”

In another, a Democratic official opined, “Why do you just not accept that people are sick of your self serving crap you put out !!!”

Personally, I don’t think challenging a piece of campaign propaganda that the CEA sent out to 70,000 or so active and retired teachers is interfering in the internal affairs of the union. That would be like saying that only Walmart stockholders have the right to criticize the actions of that monster of a company.

I have no doubt that CEA’s leadership is perfectly capable of dealing with the fall-out from its decision to endorse the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers.

What intrigues me more is that Malloy supporters or union allies would write that my “posts look like they are being written… by the Koch Brothers.”

Really?

I’m pretty sure that the Koch Brothers are elated, not condemning Malloy’s corporate education reform industry policies and his massive corporate welfare program that is successfully redistributing money from the middle class to the wealthy elite.

But when all is said and done, the most unique criticism of all came from a union staff person, not with the CEA or AFT, who wrote,

“Malloy never, in any portion of the bill, stripped collective bargaining from teachers. Just because you believe something and repeat it over and over still doesn’t make it a fact or based in reality.”

Now that is one statement that deserves to be challenged.

In fact, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy certainly did propose unilaterally repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest schools in Connecticut.

And to my knowledge, no Connecticut governor – Democrat, Republican or Independent – has ever proposed unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for any group of public employees since public sector collective bargaining began in the 1970s.

Here are the facts:

Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiative was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in a bill entitled “AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS.”  Malloy’s bill was submitted on February 9, 2012 and referred to the Education Committee for a public hearing.

Section 18 of Senate Bill provided for the creation of what has become known as “Commissioner’s Network Schools.”

Malloy’s proposal was to allow the Commissioner of Education to override local boards of education and take control of Commissioner Network Schools by requiring local or regional boards of education to “enter into a turnaround agreement with the department regarding all aspects of school operation and management, without limitation.”

As part of that agreement, the proposal provided that the Commissioner of Education would have the power to, “Require the implementation of specific operating and working conditions in a commissioner’s network school.”

Since the unilateral control of the operating and working conditions would violate collective bargaining agreements, Malloy’s bill included the following language;

(F) The provisions of sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive, [which are the state’s collective bargaining laws] shall not apply to any teacher or administrator who is assigned to a commissioner’s network school, except (i) that such teacher or administrator shall, for the purposes of ratification of an agreement only, be permitted to vote as a member of the teacher or administrator bargaining unit, as appropriate, for the local or regional board of education in which the commissioner’s network school is located, and (ii) insofar as any such provisions protect any entitlement of such teacher or administrator to benefits or leave accumulated or accrued prior to the teacher or administrator being employed in a commissioner’s network school. The provision of any financial or other incentives, including, but not limited to, compensation or the availability of professional coverage positions, shall not be subject to collective bargaining pursuant to sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive.

Malloy’s proposed language unilaterally repealed teachers’ rights to collectively bargain – if they worked in a Commissioner Network School – and specifically stated that compensation or other professional working conditions – SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

Malloy’s bill was nothing short of a proposal to destroy the collective bargaining rights of teachers (and administrators) in what was supposed to be up to 25 public schools in Connecticut.

While the impact of Malloy’s proposal impacted fewer public employees than what Governor Scott Walker proposed in Wisconsin, the challenge to public sector workers’ fundamental rights to collectively bargain were no less serious.

Thankfully, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly stripped Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining rights before they went on to pass most of the rest of his bad bill.

The truth is that Malloy did proposed repealing the collective bargaining rights and to this day he has never stated that his proposal was a mistake, inappropriate or wrong.

Apologizing is harder for some than for others, but I believe that no member of a Connecticut union, or anyone else who supports the right to collectively bargain, should vote for Dan Malloy until he publicly states that what he did was wrong and that he would not repeat this type of proposal in a second term.

Malloy’s “Final Destruction” of Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Reform Law

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s has finally succeeded in his effort to utterly destroy Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Reform Law.

In stark contrast to Malloy’s action this year, the Democratic Party has long claimed that eliminating the inappropriate influence of tainted political donations has been one of the its most important values.  Over the years, unions and progressive organizations have made campaign finance reform a cornerstone of their political agenda.

But in just one term in office, Governor Malloy and his political operatives have managed to undermine and now destroy Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law of 2005.

Following the downfall of Governor Rowland, Connecticut adopted a nationally-recognized campaign finance reform law that provided political candidates with public funds, as long as they refused to take any additional money from political action committees, companies or individuals that do business with the state, large donors or any other special interests.

In his earlier campaigns, Malloy claimed to be a champion for campaign finance reform, but as a direct result of loopholes proposed by Governor Malloy and approved by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly, Malloy has left the spirit and the letter of Connecticut’s campaign finance law in shambles.

Not only has Malloy taken the $6.2 million in public funds for his re-election campaign this year, but he has also inappropriately tapped into nearly $4 million in tainted money that has been laundered through the Democratic State Central Committee and another $3.5 million that has been funneled through a political action committee associated with Malloy’s campaign.

Malloy’s final blow to Connecticut’s commitment to “clean elections” came with the news that the Connecticut Democratic Party has sent out a “mass mailing to promote Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election with money raised for federal congressional campaigns — even though state regulators have denounced the plan and the Federal Election Commission hasn’t yet said whether it’s legal.”

The details surrounding the Malloy campaign’s latest maneuver can be found at CTNewsJunkie Democratic Party Goes Forward With Malloy Mailer and the Hartford Courant at Democrats Send Controversial Pro-Malloy Mailing Without Waiting For Feds’ Opinion

What is particularly revolting about Malloy’s action it that it allows him to use money that comes directly from people who have state contracts or who have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program.  By using money from the Democratic State Central Committee’s “federal account,” Malloy is also utilizing funds that came from Federal Political Action Committees, a source of money that we never allowed even in the Rowland and pre-Rowland era of pay to play politics.

Malloy’s attitude is either that the law simply doesn’t apply to him or that “the end justifies the means,” no matter how immoral those political actions may be.

As Jon Lender notes in his article,

The SEEC [State Election Enforcement Commission] sent a 10-page letter Tuesday to the FEC saying the Democrats’ mailing would undermine state clean-election laws passed after the 2004 corruption scandal surrounding then-governor Rowland. Those clean-election laws included a ban on state contractors’ money in election campaigns, which was supposed to keep special-interest money out of state elections

But rather than do the right thing, Malloy and the Democrats sent out their mailing using money from state contractors and other organizations that were banned as a result of Connecticut’s campaign finance reform legislation.

Dannel Malloy has turned Connecticut’s once prominent position on campaign finance reform into a joke.  Proponents of clean elections, including Democrats, union members and progressives should be ashamed by Malloy’s actions.

Teachers misled with claim that Malloy deserves credit for “fully funding teacher pension”

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Meanwhile, why hasn’t Malloy announced that, if re-elected, he will de-couple the state’s teacher evaluation system from the unfair, inappropriate and ineffective standardized testing scheme

Many of Connecticut’s active and retired teachers recently received a “fact” sheet urging them to support Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s bid for re-election.

While the “EXAMINE THE FACTS” document failed to highlight the reality that Governor Malloy actually proposed CUTTING funding for teacher health care, in an attempt to persuade teachers to vote for Malloy, the “fact” sheet claimed that Malloy is the “First governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his term in office and guarantee full funding in the future.”

Let’s be honest – if Governor Malloy had unilaterally taken steps to “fully fund teacher pensions” and “guarantee full funding in the future,” that would have been a powerful reason for teachers to consider voting for him, but the truth is far from what Malloy’s supporters are suggesting.

The state law mandating full funding of teacher pensions, which were made iron-clad through “bond covenants” with Wall Street was adopted in 2007, four years BEFORE Dannel Malloy became governor.

In 2007, after persuasive lobbying by the Connecticut Education Association, Republican Governor Jodi Rell and the Democratic majority in the General Assembly approved a plan to borrow $2 billion to shore up Connecticut’s underfunded teacher pension system.

The legislation required that, “for each fiscal year in which the bonds are outstanding [up to 30 years], the act automatically appropriates the actuarially required annual state contribution to the Teacher’s Retirement Fund (TRF).”

As part of the bond covenants with the Wall Street investors, that state of Connecticut was prohibited from repealing that language.

Yes Virginia, there is a power greater than the democratically-elected government of Connecticut and it is called Wall Street.

The EXAMINE THE FACTS document makes it seem that Governor Malloy made the decision to fully-fund the Teacher Retirement Fund because he was “committed” to teachers.

That is simply not true.

Connecticut State Government made the necessary payments to fully fund the teachers retirement system because it had signed a contract with Wall Street investors in 2007 that required that those payments be made.

We know that the Democrat’s mantra is that Tom Foley is dangerous, despite the fact that he will be dealing with a Democratic General Assembly…But misleading or lying about Malloy’s record is hardly an effective way to persuade teachers to cast their vote for Malloy.

You can read the “fact” sheet here – http://www.cea.org/issues/news/2014/sep/29/pdf/Malloy-Foley-Examine-the-Facts.pdf

Meanwhile, why hasn’t Malloy announced that, if re-elected, he will de-couple the state’s teacher evaluation system from the unfair, inappropriate and ineffective standardized testing scheme.

Connecticut – Our children are not stupid

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However, that is EXACTLY what the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test is designed to tell us.

The shocking, truth is that parents who do not opt their child out of the unfair, inappropriate and expensive Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing regime this year will “discover” that approximately 70% of the state’s children are failing.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

In a CT Mirror commentary piece entitled “Don’t let misinformation destroy the promise of Common Core,” Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of ConnCAN, Connecticut’s charter school lobbying group goes to great length to actually MISLEAD Connecticut’s parents about the false promise of the Common Core.

This pro-Common Core cheerleader and leading apologist for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s corporate education reform industry agenda claims that,

…we must continue to implement consistent high standards like the Common Core across every classroom, every school, and every district in our state. It is a necessary step toward our goal of providing a high-quality education for every Connecticut child.

But what Jennifer Alexander, Governor Malloy and the other proponents of the Common Core fail to tell parents, and the public, is that the Common Core SBAC Test is designed in such a way as to ensure that only about one-third of our state’s public school students get passing marks.

How is that possible?

Because the Common Core Test uses what is called the NAEP “proficient” level as its passing grade.  NAEP is The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a national testing entity.

According to NAEP, the “proficient” level is a standard that is equivalent to what is deemed “high performance,” rather than what would be considered grade-level performance.

So, in reality, the Common Core Test is not designed to determine whether our children are learning what is expected at that grade level, but is purposely designed to pretend that all students should be “higher performers.”

Of course, as every parent knows, while all children can learn and thrive with the right support, not all students are academic “high performers” each step of the way.

But proponents of the Common Core testing system like Jennifer Alexander and Governor Malloy won’t tell parents that their children will be deemed failing if they don’t score at the “high performer” level.

When New York State implemented the Common Core Test, student scores across the state dropped by nearly 50 percent from the scores those same students had received in previous, more grade level-oriented, standardized tests.

The result of the Common Core Test was that only 31 percent of all public school students in New York State got a “passing score” on the math and English language arts  Common Core tests.

Did New York students suddenly become stupid?

No, of course not!

Even worse, the Common Core Test design is particularly unfair to African American and Latino American students.  In New York State, only about one in five Black and Latino students “passed’ and the Common Core test design ensured that only 3% of the English Language Learners achieved passing scores under the new Common Core scheme.

To put it bluntly, the Common Core Test is designed to send students of color, students who have English Language barriers and students with special education needs home with a report that indicates that they are failing.

The underlying problem with the Common Core Testing is not a secret, although many politicians wish that it was.  As has been widely reported, the Common Core Test gives fifth graders questions that are written at an 8th grade level.

The harsh reality is that the “cut score” or passing number on the Common Core Test has been purposely set so that approximately 30 percent of the test takers pass and 70 percent fail.

Jennifer Alexander, who is paid a six-figure income to speak for the charter school industry, doesn’t reveal that the real reason the corporate education reform industry loves the Common Core Testing is because it produces an almost unlimited list of failing schools.

And thanks to Presidents George W. Bush and Barak Obama, federal law provides that failing schools can be handed over to charter school management companies…and with it hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds going to private charter school corporations to run public schools.

For the truth about the Common Core Testing system one need only go back to a 2011 article in the Washington Post in which James Harvey, the executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable, explains what the NAEP proficient level really means.

Harvey says,

“Proficiency remains a tough nut to crack for most students, in all subjects, at all grade levels. NAEP reports that only one third of American students are proficient or better, no matter the subject, the age of the students, or their grade level

[…]

NAEP’s benchmarks, including the proficiency standard, evolved out of a process only marginally better than throwing darts at the wall.

That’s a troubling conclusion to reach in light of the expenditure of more than a billion dollars on NAEP over 40-odd years by the U.S. Department of Education and its predecessors. For all that money, one would expect that NAEP could defend its benchmarks of Basic, Proficient, and Advanced by pointing to rock-solid studies of the validity of its benchmarks and the science underlying them. But it can’t.

Instead, NAEP and the National Assessment Governing Board that promulgated the benchmarks have spent the better part of 20 years fending off a consensus in the scientific community that the benchmarks lack validity and don’t make sense. Indeed, the science behind these benchmarks is so weak that Congress insists that every NAEP report include the following disclaimer: “NCES [National Center for Education Statistics] has determined that NAEP achievement levels should continue to be used on a trial basis and should be interpreted with caution”

So the Common Core score is tied to a system that even the United States Congress admits should be “used on a trial basis and should be interpreted with caution”

Harvey goes on to explain,

“Proficient Doesn’t Mean Proficient.

Oddly, NAEP’s definition of proficiency has little or nothing to do with proficiency as most people understand the term. NAEP experts think of NAEP’s standard as “aspirational.” In 2001, two experts associated with NAEP’s National Assessment Governing…made it clear that:

“[T]he proficient achievement level does not refer to “at grade” performance. Nor is performance at the Proficient level synonymous with ‘proficiency’ in the subject. That is, students who may be considered proficient in a subject, given the common usage of the term, might not satisfy the requirements for performance at the NAEP achievement level.”

Despite the mountains of evidence about the problems with the Common Core and Common Core testing, corporate elitists like ConnCAN have the chutzpah to say we should implement the Common Core and the unfair Common Cores tests because, “many national studies that show wide support for clear, high standards to help ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, are ready for the challenges of college and career.”

As parents of public school children, we all recognize that there is nothing wrong having “clear, high standards.” Standards are good and Connecticut has its own process for updating and enhancing our state’s academic standards.

Yet rather than using Connecticut’s process and respecting the values inherent in the local control of education, the Common Core was developed using a system that did not include the full involvement of teachers, parents and the community.

Governor Malloy, ConnCAN and the corporate education reform industry have thrown their support behind an inappropriate set of national standards that were not developed by teachers, parents or those who know what is developmentally appropriate for children.

Furthermore, had the proponents of the Common Core been genuinely interested in enhancing educational standards in the United States they would have developed those standards using the appropriate people and then phased in those goals over a period of ten years, thereby allowing our schools to ramp up what we expect of our children and our public education system.

Instead, in a grotesque effort to grab as much public funding as possible for the testing companies and the rest of the education reform industry, these people, with the help of our government officials, mandated the Common Core standards and then mandated that our children be tested against those standards immediately.

So what have we been given?

Connecticut has been served up a system that is designed to tell 70 percent of our students that they are failures.

And that is nothing short of child abuse.

Rather than pushing the flawed Common Core testing program on our students, teachers and public schools, Governor Malloy, Education Commissioner Pryor, and Connecticut’s public school superintendents and principals should be standing up and protecting our children from this unwarranted abuse.

But since they won’t, it is up to parents to take on the task of stopping this abuse by opting our children out of the absurd Common Core Standardized Testing program.

And if your school district tells you that you can’t opt out your child, remind them that this is America and that there is absolutely no federal or state law that revokes your parental rights when it comes to standardized testing in our public schools!

The only way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them.

In this case, the Malloy administration and the proponents of the Common Core and its related testing apparatus are nothing short of bullies —– and they must be stopped before they do any more damage to our children and our public schools.

The charter school industry’s commentary piece in today’s CTMirror is a clear reminder.

The time is now to tell your school district that your children will not be participating in this year’s Common Core Testing.

The Democrat’s sanctimonious claims about campaign money

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In recent weeks, many of us have received the emails or invitations from the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee urging, pleading and cajoling us to give them money so that they can fight off the “big” money that is pouring into Connecticut to attack Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his re-election campaign.

The display has been nothing short of sanctimonious – otherwise known as “pretending to be morally better than other people” or being “hypocritically pious or devout.”

Readers may recall the various Wait, What? blog posts over the past three years about how Connecticut’s once nationally-recognized campaign finance reform law became nothing more than a joke as a result of the loopholes that were proposed by Governor Malloy and passed by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly.

“Big money,” “tainted money,” “special interest money,” is now pouring into Connecticut, in large part, because of Malloy’s effort to corrupt Connecticut’s campaign finance system in order to allow for the very mechanisms that he and Tom Foley are now using to augment the $6.2 million in taxpayer funds that each of them received to pay for their 2014 gubernatorial campaigns.

For background on the issue, read the September 15, 2014 Wait, What? post entitled, “Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy has deposited his check for $6.2 million from the State’s Public Finance System.

As a result of Connecticut’s landmark 2005 campaign finance reform bill, in return for raising $250,000 in contributions of under $100, Malloy (and the Republican nominee for governor) have each received $6.2 million in public funds to pay for their gubernatorial campaigns.

The original concept, which passed following the conviction of Governor John Rowland in 2005, was that in return for a multi-million dollar campaign donation from the public, candidates would agree to forgo private funds raised from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees, and the wealthy and other special interest.

But that was before Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly torpedoed the most important elements of the law.

Now, in addition to the $6.2 million in public funds, Malloy and his political operatives have collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign into the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account, much of it from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.   The political maneuver was made possible thanks to a proposal Malloy and the Democrats pushed through in 2013.

In addition, a “separate” political action committee called Connecticut Forward, has already raised $2.5 million to run ads in support of Malloy and against his opponent.

Now, as the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender is reporting in “Democrats Press Controversial Attempt To Use Federal Account To Fund Malloy’s Re-Election,” and Christine Stuart is explaining in Democratic Party Wants To Use Federal Account For Malloy Mailer, Malloy and the Democrats are taking their campaign finance charade one step further.

The Courant reports:

The state Democratic Party is pushing an already controversial campaign-financing issue to a new level, asking the Federal Election Commission to comment on the legality of the party using money from a federal campaign account to pay for a planned campaign mailing asking voters to re-elect Gov. Dannel Malloy.

And CTNewsJunkie explains Malloy ruse with:

State election law prohibits state contractors from contributing to state party accounts or statewide candidates. But state contractors are not prohibited from giving money to the party’s federal account, which pays for some administrative costs and federal campaign activities.

Last month, state election regulators were forced to rule that an email solicitation from the head of Northeast Utilities in 2013 didn’t violate Connecticut election law even though it used Malloy’s accomplishments to solicit money for the Democratic Party’s federal account.

The SEEC concluded that it was “offensive and disturbing and violates the spirit and intent of the Connecticut state contractor ban,” but there was nothing in the state law that made the more than $50,000 in contributions illegal.

The decision to pass Connecticut’s campaign finance reform law in 2005 and give candidates public funds to run their campaign was based on the requirement that candidates would not be able to accept money from people doing business with the state or others whose vested interest was to “buy” themselves public policy.

But instead, Malloy and the Democrats passed loopholes in the campaign finance laws that they sought to benefit from by being able to divert money from companies that do business with the state into the Democratic Central Committee’s Federal Account.

And now, Malloy wants to go even further and use that tainted money to directly pay for his campaign mailings.

Malloy’s blatant disregard for campaign finance reform is a perversion of everything the Democrats claim to stand for when it comes to getting dirty money out of politics and overturning the disastrous Citizens United ruling in which the United States Supreme Court determined that, in essence, defines corporations as people for the purposes of being able to buy elections.

And who are some of the “people” who donated to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s “Federal Account” that Malloy is now trying to use for his campaign?

In addition to numerous corporations and individuals who directly benefit from having state contracts are the following political action committees;

AETNA INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $5,000

AT&T INC. FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (AT&T FEDERAL PAC) — $5,000

BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION STATE AND FEDERAL PAC — $5,000

BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM USA CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $7,500

CBS CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $1,000

CIGNA CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $5,000

COMCAST CORPORATION & NBCUNIVERSAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE – FEDERAL — $5,000

COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION PAC — $5,000

COZEN O’CONNOR POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $5,000

DEMOCRATS FOR EDUCATION REFORM — $5,000

DOMINION RESOURCES, INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE – DOMINION PAC —$2,000

GENERAL DYNAMICS CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (GDC PAC) — $2,500

GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (GEPAC) — 6,000

GHC ANCILLARY CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $3,000

MINERALS TECHNOLOGIES INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (MTI PAC) —$2,500

NATIONAL CONFECTIONERS ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES, INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $2,500

NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA INC. PAC — $1,000

NORTHEAST UTILITIES EMPLOYEES’ POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE-FEDERAL —$2,500

PFIZER INC. PAC — $10,000

PITNEY BOWES INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $3,500

PRAXAIR, INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE — $5,000

PURDUE PHARMA INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (PURDUE PAC) — $5,000

SPECTRA ENERGY CORP POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (SPECTRA-DCP PAC) —$2,500

SYNERGY PAC — $5,000

THE HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP, INC. PAC (AKA THE HARTFORD ADVOCATES FUND) — $10,000

THE PHOENIX COMPANIES, INC. – PAC FEDERAL — $2,500

THE TRAVELERS COMPANIES INC. PAC — $10,000

THE WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS EMPLOYEES PAC — $5,000

THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC INC. PAC — $2,000

UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INCORPORATED PAC (UNITED FOR HEALTH) — $10,000

WAL-MART STORES INC. PAC FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT — $5,000

WALGREEN CO PAC — $2,500

WEBSTER BANK PAC – FEDERAL — $2,500

WELLPOINT, INC. WELLPAC — $2,000

XEROX CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (XPAC) — $2,500

Guest Post – Connecticut Education Association’s Lesser Evilism: Why endorsing Malloy is a losing strategy

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Editorial Note:  Many of the mot powerful and informative blog posts over the past three years have come in the form of guest posts from teachers, parents and public school advocates.  If you have a commentary piece inside you that you’d like to write down and have posted, just drop me a note – [email protected]

Connecticut Education Association’s Lesser Evilism: Why endorsing Malloy is a losing strategy ( A Guest Post by Jay Poppa)

[For informational purposes only, Jay Poppa is the Vice President of the Bridgeport Education Association; this commentary piece is his own and not associated with his position in the BEA]

On Friday, September 26 the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) Board of Directors fell into the pit of lesser evilism by voting to endorse incumbent Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy for a second term.

CEA leadership ignored the recommendations of the CEA PAC, which was to not endorse any candidate running for Governor, a decision at least two of Connecticut’s largest teacher locals, affiliated Bridgeport (CEA) and unaffiliated Hartford (AFT), already made on their own.

The CEA is now committed to supporting the teacher attacking, pro-corporate education reformer Malloy. What’s more is that this decision highlights the failed strategies of the CEA in thinking that choosing a so-called “lesser evil” will help to protect teachers, students and schools from the greater evil represented by people like Republican candidate Tom Foley. However, Malloy is just as eager to carry out the education reform dictates pushed by the profit hungry corporate education reform industry, and has publicly stated so.

The CEA’s strategy of lesser evilism and their reluctance in calling out their Democratic Party political “friends” over the last few years has hampered the union’s ability to effectively fight for the schools we need. Supporting the Democrats is a political dead-end for any union. In this political climate only organizing a strong rank and file base with deep community ties will effectively combat corporate education reform and the general attack on the working class.

As the late historian Howard Zinn said, what matters most isn’t who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in. If social movements and workers aren’t in motion, making demands on politicians and struggling from below, mainstream politics will be shaped by the pressure from above, by the demands and priorities of the wealthy and the education reform industry they promote.

Over the past year the CEA leadership has made some positive efforts to be more responsive to their membership and move toward an organizing model of unionism. Unfortunately, endorsing Malloy will significantly undermine these efforts by eroding their leadership and the trust of their rank and file activist base and community allies. If the CEA is serious about its efforts to organize the teacher rank and file and their community allies they must retract their endorsement.

When looking at the CEA position it isn’t surprising to find their endorsement of Malloy falls in line with what many of the largest and strongest teacher unions in the country are doing.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) whose historic 2012 strike inspired and energized the US labor movement, voted to endorse Democratic Governor Pat Quinn whose running mate is former Chicago Public School superintendent Paul Vallas.  Vallas has been the poster boy for the “shock doctrine” style, pro-charter school, school privatization schemes.  He oversaw the wholesale privatization of the New Orleans Public Schools following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in which he turned almost all of the public schools over to charter school operators. He then went on to wreak havoc on the Philadelphia, Haiti and Bridgeport, CT (where he was forced out by a coalition made up of the community and the CEA/BEA) school systems.

Lesser evilism as a strategy has plagued the American labor movement for decades. It has played a part in the ineffective response to the employers offensive on American unions and living standards over the past four decades. It is a strategy that hasn’t helped to overcome union retreat and defeat and has created a steady decline in the unionization rate from a high 1950s high of 35% to 11.3% of the total work force.

One aspect of this employer’s offensive has been the desire to eradicate American unions. After decades of steady attacks by the employers the unionization rate in the private sector is about 6.7%.

Now both Republicans and Democrats have set their sights on destroying public sector unions who make up about 35.3% of this workforce.  This attack has been a bipartisan effort aimed mainly at teachers, the largest section of organized labor, but this attack extends to all public sector workers.

The CEA Leadership Bungles SB24

In the winter and spring of 2012 Malloy proposed and helped to get passed his “education reform” bill SB24 that was written by the corporate education reform industry.

Connecticut teachers have been angry at Malloy’s verbal attack on their profession.  Malloy’s most infamous quote from his address to the 2012 Connecticut House of Representatives, “Basically, the only thing you have to do is show up for four years (to earn tenure)” is widely remembered for its vitriolic character. Malloy’s willingness to engage in some of the most outwardly heinous aspects of the corporate reform movement such as teacher bashing were only outdone by his actions which have positioned him as one of the most aggressive pro-corporate education reform Governor’s in the country.

The CEA, then led by Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine and President Phil Apruzzese, responded to SB24 in a manner that could only be characterized as top down, bungling and inadequate.

Apruzzese and Levine initially agreed to some of the most hated aspects of SB24 such as the new teachers evaluation that aimed to tie teacher certification to evaluations based heavily on standardized test scores. Apruzzese and Levine unilaterally released their “View From the Classroom” which was the CEA plan for education reform that included some of worst provisions of SB24.

Instead of sharply and aggressively critiquing SB24 which was what was needed to match the support put together by the corporate education reform industry and Malloy, the CEA hugged the line between collaboration and mild criticism effectively making their critiques weaker at a time when they needed to be stronger and sharper.

Current CEA Leadership

The current CEA leadership, under President Sheila Cohen and Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, has stated their desire to and actually has taken some steps to change the course of the CEA to focus more on organizing teachers and community members against education reform. These steps, however, have been slow and often inadequate. In fact, outside of the Summer Leadership Conference organizing workshops and the Bridgeport fight to keep an elected school board, the CEA has publicly continued on the path of compromise.

On some provisions of SB24 the current CEA leadership has quietly accepted or has positioned themselves as good partners in Malloy’s education reform plan.

Even critical participation has been absent in the conversations over the Commissioner’s Network a “turn around,” competitive grant style school funding scheme. In fact the CEA and local affiliates have done little to organize or discuss with the public that these programs seek to lower our expectations as to what we will receive in terms of funding and resources from the state and they also seek to curtail the rights of union members. The CEA could highlight these issues, along with some of the real problems our schools and students face, such as how our schools are underfunded by the state, or that our “underperforming schools” are predominantly in poorer, working class neighborhoods, and neighborhoods of color.

Token Gestures and Defending the Real Evil

Now election season is nearing and Malloy is behind in the polls. He has offered teachers a few token gestures; getting rid of Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and alleviating some of the provisions of the new teacher evaluation plan. Unfortunately for teachers and students most of the damage has been done. Malloy’s SB24 locks in additional state funding for charter schools when our public schools aren’t even adequately funded. It still uses standardized test data to evaluate teacher performance, which will lead to more “teaching to the test.”

In the coming days and weeks we will hear CEA leadership justify their decision in many ways. They will argue that not endorsing Malloy would have been irresponsible because it would allow Foley to get elected or that our allies and fellow union members were counting on us to help keep Foley out. They will tell us that Foley wanted to bring right to work legislation to Connecticut or bring about a “Wisconsin moment” and that supporting Malloy was a “hard choice” for the CEA to make. We will hear that Malloy isn’t what we want but he’s the best we can get. CEA will advise that we hold our noses and vote for Malloy anyway.

While Foley’s “money follows the child” position on education is lunatical and his pension ideas are frightening, the truth is that there is no good choice between the two mainstream parties.  However, supporting Malloy will only allow him to continue a rightward slide and attack on public education while saying to us, “Well, at least I’m not Foley.”

The reality is that the words and actions from the CEA leadership show a lack of understanding as to who the forces are behind the corporate education reform project.

Through the 2010 remarks of News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch we can see how the richest 1% of the American ruling class see public education.

“When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching….”

They see it as a massive untapped market for private investment and profits.

The problem isn’t that the Democrats are too weak-willed to fight against the profit driven Murdoch and his ilk. As left-wing writer Doug Henwood clearly wrote about the nature of the Democrats:

“Another recurrent feature of the ["lesser evilism"] genre: a lament over the Democrats’ lack of spine, which is often treated as a curable condition. But in fact, the invertebrate status is a symptom of the party’s fundamental contradiction: it’s a party of business that has to pretend for electoral reasons that it’s not. Related to that, it’s getting harder to say what the party’s core beliefs are. Republicans have a coherent philosophy–loopy and often terrifying, yes, but coherent–which they use to fire up an impassioned base. The Democrats can’t risk getting their base too excited, lest it scare their funders.”

In fact among Malloy’s top two campaign donors are Jonathan Sackler and Mary Corson, his wife. Sackler is the director of Purdue Pharma and a major proponent of charter schools in Connecticut. Of course Sackler and Corson are going to want something for their money.

We have to remember that by supporting politicians like Malloy we are helping to push the Republican Right even further to the right. A position of “no endorsement” could have sent a message to both candidates that their politics are not supported.  Instead the CEA’s message to the public and Malloy is, “there is no consequence for your attacks on us, keep it up.”

What’s more is that there is a genuine third-party candidate who is running and who has been a vocal opponent of corporate education reform. Jonathan Pelto, a progressive activist and pro-public education, pro-teacher blogger announced that he would be running for governor over the summer. Unfortunately, he didn’t get enough signatures to get his name on the ballot although he is still running as a write in candidate.

The truly hard choice for the CEA would have been the most sensible. They could have put their money and political support behind Pelto’s campaign. Even if he didn’t win it would have excited thousands of teachers, parents and community activists. It would have spread the message of why corporate education reform is a bad thing and how Malloy is an advocate of it. It would have helped to organize allies together and it could have set the CEA and pro-public education forces up to wage a stronger fight against whoever gets elected Governor.

The Democratic Party has been called “the graveyard of social movements” for a reason, because once you accept the idea that defeating the Republicans is the most important political strategy, it makes sense to prioritize that over everything else. The result is that movements don’t stand up when the attacks come from Democrats, as they already have and will continue to in the future.

Even those in the CEA leadership who understand the importance of organizing but still engage in lesser evilism will continue to postpone organizing efforts and claim that the unions aren’t strong enough yet to pursue a strategy that doesn’t include endorsing bad politicians. This position ultimately allows activists to kick the can down the road to some imaginary future in which we magically have the right level of organizational strength to put forward a real alternative.  That magical future will never arrive if we don’t start organizing for it now and on a principled political basis.

When we support the lesser evil, even if we do so reluctantly, we make it harder to fight against the greater evil of education reform. Whoever gets elected will aim to gut the public education system and scapegoat teachers. The battle against this will need to be waged by the rank and file teachers, their allies. Unfortunately, we will be starting from a position in which our leadership just spent money and time defending Malloy, helping to put him back into the Governor’s seat.

If the CEA truly wants to wage the fight necessary to defeat the education reform industrial complex, they will need to rescind their endorsement and truly move completely into an organizing model of unionism. Any other gesture from the CEA will seem disingenuous and conciliatory. If the CEA leadership isn’t willing to change course on its own then it will be up to the hundreds of rank and file teachers that have more recently emerged inside the CEA to put forward the ideas, politics and strategies we need to win.

You can reach Jay Poppa at [email protected]

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