Terrence Carter’s Ph.D. Award Date Arrives, But His Doctorate Doesn’t

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The Hartford Courant’s investigative reporter, Jon Lender, “effectively” finishes up his sure to be award winning series on U.S.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s “hand-picked” education reform disciple, Terrence Carter, with a breaking news story entitled,  Terrence Carter’s Ph.D. Award Date Arrives, But His Doctorate Doesn’t.

Lender, who led the Courant’s investigation of “Dr.” Michael Sharpe, the disgraced former head of the Jumoke/ FUSE charter school chain, turned his attention to the highly touted education reform export who the Malloy administration was bringing in to join Special Master Steven Adamowski to “turnaround” New London public schools.

The Courant’s investigative operation quickly determined the truth about “Dr.” Terrence Carter including the fact that despite what Carter claimed, he did not have a Ph.D from Stanford University or Stanford and Oxford Universities or even from Lesley University in Massachusetts.

Among one of “Dr.” Terrence Carter’s many explanations was the observation that while he hadn’t actually received a Ph.D from Lesley in the past, he was going to be given one this month.  He even bragged that when he defended his thesis, the committee informed him that he could now call himself “Dr.”

Well, the good “doctor’s” version of reality appears to be a bit different from the reality that the rest of us live in.

In this afternoon’s Courant article, Lender writes;

Embattled New London school superintendent candidate Terrence P. Carter had been scheduled to receive his Ph.D. in Education Monday from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. — but that didn’t happen.

“I can confirm that Terrence Carter does not have a degree from Lesley University,” Director of Communications John Sullivan said in an email.

He was then whether other candidates received their degrees on Monday’s long-scheduled “conferral date” of Aug. 25, and whether it’s still possible that Carter would receive his doctorate.

“Degrees have already been conferred today. He does not have a degree from Lesley,” Sullivan said in a subsequent email. “Beyond that, I have no further comment on his or any other student’s academic information.”

Carter did not respond to Courant messages seeking comment Monday.

Carter was selected by New London’s school board in June to be its next superintendent of schools, but the Board postponed a vote on awarding him an employment contract in late July.

The postponement came in the wake of newspaper revelations that Carter had used Ph.D. and Dr. with his name for at least five years without having a doctorate from an accredited college, and that large portions of his New London job application essay were identical to language in articles published on the Internet.

Lesley University would not discuss the reasons why Carter’s doctorate was not awarded.

Questions about Carter deepened when a national research organization provided The Courant with a copy of a bio that it says Carter submitted in 2011 including the claim that he had a Ph.D. from Stanford University, which he does not;. Also, The Courant reported that Carter got a Ph.D. in 1996 from “Lexington University” — which doesn’t have a campus and had a website offering degrees for several hundred dollars with the motto “Order Now, Graduate Today!”

The school board commissioned an investigation into Carter’s background after the newspaper disclosures in July,. The report on that probe by the Hartford law firm of Shipman & Goodwin, the board’s legal counsel, is due to be presented at a meeting Thursday night. It’s unclear whether the board will go through that night with its previously scheduled vote on whether to enter an employment contract with Carter.

Carter had told New London officials during the application process that he was due to receive a Ph.D. in education from Lesley this summer — and, in a letter dated June 10, Carter’s senior adviser at Lesley verified that he had “successfully defended his dissertation” on May 28, and would officially be awarded his Ph.D. on the “next degree conferral date, August 25, 2014 — which was Monday.

But that situation has changed, according to Sullivan’s email.

[...]

The Ph.D. that Carter had been scheduled to receive was for a dissertation entitled “Driving Value within a Changing Network of Schools through Learning and Development: The Use of a 360° Feedback Tool To Drive Change and Bring Value in Public Education.”

Carter told the Courant in July he would be willing to send a copy of the dissertation, but he has not done so. Lesley has declined to release a copy.

Carter and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment last week on Simmons’ letter and other questions concerning the New London situation.

The New London board’s June choice of Carter was watched more closely than most local hirings of school administrators, partly because the state Department of Education has played a strong role in addressing the local system’s record of low performance. The board’s June announcement that it had selected Carter was endorsed publicly by state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.

You can read Jon Lender’s full story at: http://touch.courant.com/#section/2225/article/p2p-81175756/

Gubernatorial Debates:  Ask questions that matter.

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On Wednesday, August, 27th, 2014, the Norwich Bulletin newspaper will host the first of the 2014 gubernatorial debates.  Ray Hackett, the Bulletin’s editorial page editor will moderate the debate.

For reasons that I can’t seem to wrap my head around, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and Republican challenger Tom Foley are the only gubernatorial candidates that have been invited to participate in this 2014 debate, which will take place at the Slater Museum auditorium on the campus of Norwich Free Academy. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Joe Visconti, who has successfully petitioned onto the November ballot, will be prohibited from participating.

In addition, it appears that the only way to attend the debate is to get one of two hundred tickets, half of which have been provided to the Malloy campaign and the half to the Foley campaign.

Although I may not be on the list, hopefully the future gubernatorial debates will include all of the candidates who have qualified to be on the November ballot.

The debates provide a unique opportunity to ask the candidates the difficult questions that voters deserve to have answered.

If I was a participant in the debates, one of the questions that I would have asked the other candidates is the following:

Governor Malloy:  You are the only Democratic Governor in the United States who has proposed doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in turnaround schools.  While public school advocates and teachers have criticized you for saying a teacher need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, but that is a minor complaint compared to your proposal to actually do away with teacher tenure and repeal collective bargaining for a subset of public school teachers.

Mr. Malloy, will you use this moment to renounce your 2012 proposal and can you tell us exactly what is your position on teacher tenure and collective bargaining?

 

Mr. Foley/Mr. Visconti:  Governor Malloy earned the wrath of teachers and public school advocates when he proposed, in 2012, to do away with teacher tenure for all public school teachers and collective bargaining for teachers in the lowest performing schools.  Can you tell us whether you would have supported or opposed Governor Malloy’s proposal to end teacher tenure and limit collective bargaining and what you would do on these two issues if you are elected governor.

If it turns out that I am not on the ballot this year, and therefore cannot participate in the debates, I hope the moderators will ask the candidates these and other important questions.

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

You’re right…You just can’t make this sh*t up

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[First, on a personal note.  The Secretary of the State’s office continues to count the Pelto/Murphy petitions as they are sent in by local town clerks.  While the process won’t be concluded until the middle of next week, it appears increasingly likely that we will fall short of the 7,500 “valid” signatures to get on the ballot.  Although we’ve identified a significant number of signatures that were inappropriately or illegally rejected, the traceable problems do not appear, at this time, to be enough to put us over the top – even if we were able to go to court and ask a judge to overrule the actions taken by certain local officials.   When we know the final status of the petition count we will, of course, inform readers immediately.  Regardless, we want to thank all of you who have been so supportive of this quest ---- more to come].

 

Meanwhile, pro-education advocates and columnists Wendy Lecker and Sarah Darer Littman have produced two more “MUST READ” pieces.

Wendy Lecker’s piece can be found in the Stamford Advocate and the other Hearst Media outlets, while Sara Darer Littman’s column can be found in at the CT Newsjunkie.

The two pieces should be mandatory reading for all candidates seeking office in Connecticut, as well as the media and the various investigators that are looking into the inappropriate, and potentially criminal, efforts to undermine our public education system and replace it with the corporate education reform and charter school industry’s agenda of privatization and diverting public funds to private enterprise.

Wendy Lecker’s latest column is “Connections in charter world a curious weave,” while Sarah Darer Littman’s latest is entitled “It’s Past Time for Transparency at the State.”

Wendy Lecker writes,

The most disturbing revelation of the FUSE/Jumoke charter school scandal is that Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education have consistently neglected to provide any oversight of charter schools. FUSE/Jumoke’s CEO Michael Sharpe’s criminal history and false academic credentials were easily discoverable, yet no one bothered to check. Even worse, Pryor turned a blind eye to Sharpe’s persistent failure in running Hartford’s Milner elementary school- despite the heightened scrutiny Pyror was required to provide of schools in his Commissioner’s Network.

While Milner was floundering, Pryor and the State Board handed Sharpe a new charter school in New Haven, Booker T. Washington Academy (“BTWA”). In April, the Board unanimously approved Sharpe to head BTWA. BTWA’s partnership with FUSE/Jumoke was a major factor in the unanimous vote. When Sharpe was later disgraced, BTWA lost not only its director, but also the basis upon which the SBE approved its application.

Given Pryor’s and the Board’s gross negligence in allowing the first application to sail through without scrutiny, it was incumbent upon them to exert real oversight when the BTWA founder, Reverend Eldren Morrison, decided he still wanted to open a charter school. Since the original application was invalidated, Pryor and the Board should have required that BTWA repeat the same legally required process all charter school applicants must undergo.

Instead, Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education rushed through a “modified” application ignoring both the charter law and SDE’s own procedure, which mandated, among other things, a local public hearing. The cut-and-pasted new application was presented directly to the State Board on August 4.

Astoundingly, the State Board once again abdicated its responsibility and approved this modified application without any scrutiny.

The most outrageous illustration of the Board’s negligence was its treatment of the school’s new director, John Taylor. Taylor, who had worked at the Northeast Charter Schools Network, co-founded by Michael Sharpe, touted his success founding and running a charter high school in Albany, called Green Tech.

One board member questioned his record there, based on an article in Albany’s Times-Union. The newspaper reported that when Taylor ran the school, performance was abysmal- with a four-year graduation rate of only 36 percent and only 29 percent of students passing the English Language Arts Regents exam.

When confronted with this data, Mr. Taylor flatly denied this report, claiming he had wanted a retraction from the newspaper.

A quick check of the New York State Education Department website proves that the Times-Union`s data were accurate. Moreover, my source confirmed that Mr. Taylor never requested a retraction.

Green Tech’s performance was so poor that the SUNY Charter Institute refused to fully reauthorize it. SUNY noted that the school did not “com[e] close to meeting its academic Accountability Plan goals.” Although Mr. Taylor contended that 100 percent of graduates went to college, SUNY reported that only 68 percent went. And not one student passed an AP exam.

These facts cast doubt on Mr. Taylor’s veracity and his ability to deliver on his promises for BTWA. Yet the Board chose to ignore the data and accept Mr. Taylor’s erroneous claims.

The new application is rife with dubious connections. Derrick Diggs of Diggs Construction Company submitted a letter of recommendation for the initial BTWA. Now, Diggs Construction will be handling the renovations for the new BTWA’s temporary and permanent buildings; which cost several hundred thousand taxpayer dollars. Jeff Klaus wrote a letter of recommendation for the initial application. Klaus’ wife is Dacia Toll, CEO of Achievement First Charter chain. Achievement First now has a contract with BTWA to provide professional development; and Achievement First is subletting its vacant building to BTWA as its temporary home. BTWA will return to AF a building renovated on the public dime. Given the self-dealing that permeated FUSE/Jumoke, it is shocking that the Board did not probe these questionable relationships.

Not even religious entanglement bothered the board. After supporters testified about the need for a school that “would promote God’s principles,” SBE Chair Allan Taylor admonished BTWA that the school is a public school- not an adjunct of the church. Yet Reverend Morrison’s church’s home page prominently features a link to Booker T. Washington Academy.

When it comes to rubber-stamping charter schools, even a major scandal cannot shake the State Board from its status quo. One has to wonder what it will take to get the State Board of Education to fulfill its duty to protect Connecticut’s children and taxpayers.

[Thanks to Mary Gallucci for her invaluable help researching this piece]

Wendy Lecker’s complete piece can be found here: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Connections-in-charter-world-a-curious-weave-5706568.php

Sarah Darer Littman also examines the activities of Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and his band of education reform and charter school aficionados who have been given control of Connecticut’s public education system.

Littman writes,

As soon as the Hartford Courant reported  that a state grand jury had issued a subpoena for “all emails of Commissioner Stefan Pryor since January 2012,” it was obvious the controversial head of the state Department of Education was on borrowed time. Frankly, I’m surprised he survived this long.

From the start, Pryor presided over a culture of cronyism and opacity, rather than the transparency Gov. “Dannel” P. Malloy promised.

Take his funneling of $255,000 in no-bid contracts through the State Education Resource Center, for example.

Back in 2012, Tom Swan, Executive Director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, filed a whistleblower complaint  regarding these contracts after learning about them through emails he’d obtained through an FOIA request.

Gov. Malloy’s legal counsel at the time, Andrew McDonald, who has since been elevated to the bench as an associate justice of the State Supreme Court, called Swan’s complaint “reckless” and “devoid of any evidence.”

Except that it wasn’t.

According to the interim report released by the state auditors : “. . . contracts were entered into with private companies to provide various consulting services. Again, the contracts were executed by the State Department of Education, SERC and the private company. The contracts state that the State Department of Education selected the vendor and SERC was not responsible for directing or monitoring the vendors’ activities. In each of these cases, the state’s personal service agreement procedures and its contracting procedures were not followed.”

Pryor’s Education Department has been strong on accountability for teachers, but did it hold itself to those same standards? Not so much.

While the pro-corporate education reform Hartford Courant editorial page waxed lyrical about Pryor’s accomplishments , let’s not forget that these are the same folks who were singing Michael Sharpe’s praises and wanting to give him more taxpayer money only hours before the FUSE/Jumoke scandal blew up.

[…]

Pryor’s reign at the state Department of Education has certainly been great for consultants. It’s hard for the average Nutmegger to know exactly how great, because of his administration’s opacity…

Sarah Darer Littman’s piece can be found here:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_its_past_time_for_transparency_at_the_state_department_of_education/

Finally, if you get a chance, print off these two commentary pieces and when the candidates or political parties come to your door or call you on the phone during the next nine weeks, tell them that  you’d be happy to hear their “message” … once you are done reading them Wendy and Sarah’s two columns.

Teacher “wins” appointment to State Board of Education  

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Congratulations to Erin Benham, a Meriden teacher on her appointment to the State Board of Education!

It is great news that a teacher will be added to counter-balance the cadre of corporate education reform industry advocates who have spent the last four years undermining public education.

In an apparent move to show teachers, parents and public school advocates that he is a softer, kinder and more pro-public education governor, Dannel “Dan” Malloy announced today that he has appointed educator Erin Bernham to the State Board of Education.

Erin Benham has been a secondary school teacher for 34 years.  She presently serves as a Literacy Teacher at Lincoln Middle School.

Teacher Benham is also the President of the Meriden Federation of Teachers and the Vice President of the AFT-CT Executive Committee.

Wait, What? readers may remember that the American Federation of Teachers was the union that refused to allow me to fill out a candidate questionnaire, interview with the AFT Political Action Committee or even speak to the AFT Executive Committee before they endorsed Malloy.

Of more interest than the political connections between Malloy and the AFT leadership is the fact that Benham and the Meriden Federation of Teachers are the recipients of a major grant from the American Federation of Teacher’s national “Innovation Fund.”

The AFT Innovation Fund supports a variety of programs at the local level.  While many of those programs are undoubtedly valuable, the major donor to the American Federation of Teacher’s national Innovation fund is Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation.

In 2010, the Gates Foundation gave $4 million to the AFT Innovation Fund and another $4.4 million in 2012.  The money was targeted to pay for the union’s work to build support for the Common Core.

Hopefully Teacher Benham will use her classroom expertise to persuade Malloy and the State Board of Education that while standards are an important part of a successful educational system, the Common Core‘s unfair, inappropriate and expensive Common Core Testing Scheme is hurting Connecticut’s students, teachers and public schools and must be suspended until it can be redesigned and appropriately implemented.

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

Malloy misleads teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers – again!

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Pelto Media Statement in Response to Governor Malloy’s Press Release:  GOV. MALLOY: MILLIONS IN ADDITIONAL FUNDING WILL ASSIST STRUGGLING SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Malloy misleads teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers – again!

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, just issued a press release that began with the following:

HARTFORD, CT) — Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, today hat Alliance Districts are set to receive a total of $132,901,813 in additional funding for the 2014-15 academic year to help implement academic improvement plans.  To date, 28 of 30 Alliance District Year Three plan amendments have been approved, with the final approvals expected in the coming weeks.

In typical fashion, the Governor and Commissioner of Education have used their announcement as a way to further mislead Connecticut’s teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers.

Malloy claims that his “initiative” is providing Connecticut’s 30 most struggling school districts with another $132 million in state aid, but the truth is that this year’s increase is only about $45 million and that in order to get those funds, school districts were required to accept a series of new mandates and programs aimed at further implementing Malloy’s corporate education reform agenda and diverting scarce public dollars to private companies.

For example, some of the new money is being used to pay for pet projects such as Achievement First, Inc.’s “Residency Program for School Leadership.”

As Connecticut has come to know, Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

And thanks to Malloy and Pryor, Achievement First, Inc. has received more new funding than any other charter school operator in Connecticut.

While most school districts in Connecticut have effectively been flat funded, Achievement First, Inc. has benefited from a massive increase in per pupil funding, more charter school seats, and additional resources from various grants that were once reserved for Connecticut’s real public schools.

And if that windfall wasn’t enough, hidden inside this so-called “new” money for Connecticut’s poorer school districts is yet another special deal for Achievement First, Inc.

Note that in today’s press release, Malloy and Stefan Pryor brag about how 28 or the 30 “Alliance District Year Three Plans” have been approved.

What Malloy and Pryor don’t explain is that in order to get approved, towns were required to include certain education reform initiatives, including forcing Connecticut’s largest school districts to participate in Achievement First, Inc.’s “Residency Program for School Leadership.

As part of the program, Connecticut taxpayers will not only pay Achievement First, Inc., for their “services,” but Connecticut school teachers, paid for by Connecticut taxpayer funds, will be sent to teach in Achievement First schools.  This means that in addition to paying the charter school chain $11,500 per student, paying for all of their transportation costs and all of their special education costs, Achievement First, Inc. will be will be further subsidized thanks to having taxpayer-funded public school teachers working in their privately-run charter schools.

Achievement First, Inc. calls their “Residency Program” a “unique opportunity.”

There is no doubt about that, it is a unique opportunity for Achievement First to get more of our public funds.

When more and more questions are being raised about the lack of oversight of Connecticut’s charter schools, Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are diverting record amounts of public money to charter schools.

While Malloy claims he is investing another $132 million into Connecticut’s poorest schools, the truth is that Connecticut taxpayers are being forced to waste even more money on Malloy’s failed education reform policies.

All this while our public school students continue to be left without the support they need and deserve.

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

Malloy promises to “stay the course” on education reform!

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It turns out that it took less than 24 hours for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy to make it clear that Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s departure IS NOT a sign that Connecticut’s anti-teacher, pro-corporate education reform Democratic governor is going to use a second term to do a better job representing the concerns of teachers, students, parents and public school advocates in Connecticut.

Although Malloy is the only Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in “turnaround” schools, the announcement that Stefan Pryor will be leaving his position at the end of this year was seen by some as a signal that Malloy was going to shift away from his corporate education reform industry and privatization policies and would use a second term to provide more support for Connecticut’s real public education system.

But at a stop yesterday at the Day newspaper of New London, Malloy made his real intentions clear,

“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.”

As proponents of public education know, significant changes are needed to close the achievement gap between students who live in rich and poor communities, but “staying the course” with the corporate education reform industry’s agenda is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

It would seem that when it comes to Malloy’s campaign for re-election, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

You can read the Day editorial at: http://www.theday.com/article/20140820/OP01/308209937

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

Stefan Pryor Not Serving a 2nd Term as State Ed Chief

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From the Hartford Courant;

Stefan Pryor, the controversial state education commissioner, will leave his post and is “actively seeking new professional opportunities,” according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office.

Pryor informed the governor Monday that he will not serve a second term. “Having served for nearly three fulfilling years as commissioner, I have decided to conclude my tenure by the end of this administration’s current term and to pursue new professional opportunities,” Pryor said. “Because I believe it’s important to communicate my decision proactively to the governor and the public, I am doing so now.”

The following is a media statement released by Jonathan Pelto, Candidate for Governor, Education and Democracy Party.

Pryor’s departure is great news for Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers

”Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s decision to send Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor packing is long overdue, but it is still great news for Connecticut’s  public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

As a leading proponent of the corporate education reform industry, Stefan Pryor and his team of anti-teacher, pro-standardized testing, privatization zealots have done immeasurable harm to Connecticut’s public education system.

While Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in so called ‘turnaround schools,” one would hope that he is finally recognizing that his anti-teacher, pro-charter school, pro-Common Core agenda is bad news for Connecticut public schools or, at the very least, a political disaster for him has he aspires to a second term in office.

When it comes to actually supporting Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy’s true intentions remain unknown, but Pryor’s departure is a small step in the right direction.”

 

You can read more about this breaking story at:

http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/stefan-pryor-not-serving-a-2nd-term-as-state-ed-chief/

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/pryor_wont_stay_for_second_term/

http://ctmirror.org/stefan-pryor-to-leave-education-post-after-one-term/

http://blog.ctnews.com/dixon/2014/08/18/controversial-education-commissioner-stefan-pryor-is-on-the-way-out/

 

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

You call this a Democracy?

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During the next week or so, Connecticut’s Secretary of State will determine whether the Jonathan Pelto/Ebony Murphy ticket will appear on the 2014 ballot for governor.

Over the last eight weeks, hundreds of volunteers sent countless hours collecting more than the 7,500 signatures necessary to ensure that voters have an option other than voting for Dannel “Dan’ Malloy or Tom Foley in this year’s gubernatorial election.  Supporters of 3rd party candidate Joe Visconti were doing the same thing over the last couple of months.

The deadline for submitting petitions was August 6, 2014.  As required by state law, Connecticut’s 169 Town Clerks (often delegated to local Democratic and Republican registrars of voters) have two weeks to process those petitions and certify to the Secretary of the State how many “good signatures” each candidate has obtained.  Good signatures meaning signatures from actual registered voters.

A candidate collecting at least 7,500 signatures from Connecticut voters qualifies to be on the November ballot.

In one of the most interesting moments of the campaign so far, Governor Malloy recent told the New Haven Register Editorial Board that he had “serious doubts’ that Pelto will clear the hurdle by collecting the necessary 7,500 signatures of registered voters.”

Have Malloy’s political operatives been to the Secretary of the State’s office to “help” count the signatures?

Have Malloy’s people reached out to Connecticut’s 169 Town Clerks or local Democratic registrars of voters?

Is Malloy a clairvoyant?

Or is Governor Dannel Malloy admitting to the fact that Connecticut’s petitioning process is rigged to make it virtually impossible for 3rd party candidates to get on the ballot?

A recent visit to the Secretary of the State’s Office to review some of the Pelto/Murphy petitions that have already been processed provided a unique opportunity to see how the system really works.

Readers who have seen a candidate petition know that the form includes a column for the voter to sign his or her name, a column for them to write their name, a column to list their birthdate and a column to list their address.

However, the law only requires that, “A signator shall print his name on said line following the signing of the signator’s name.”

According to Connecticut law and the instructions from the Secretary of the State’s office, listing one’s birthday is entirely optional and the address is only provided to help identify that the person signing is actually a voter in that community.

Connecticut state law goes on to state, “Such town clerk shall certify…which names were on the registry list last-completed or are names of persons admitted as electors since the completion of such list. In the checking of signatures on such nominating petition pages, the town clerk shall reject any name if such name is not the name of an elector as specified above…The town clerk shall not reject any name for which the street address on the petition is different from the street address on the registry list, if (1) such person is eligible to vote for the candidate or candidates named in the petition, and (2) the person’s date of birth, as shown on the petition page, is the same as the date of birth on the person’s registration record.”

Under Connecticut’s Constitution and Connecticut law, elected officials must make every attempt to recognize the intent of the voter.

But incredibly, a recent review of names rejected by town clerks reveal that a number of names on the Pelto/Murphy petition were illegally rejected because they did not write down their birthday, despite the fact that the birthday is completely optional.

In other cases, names were illegally rejected because while the addresses didn’t match, the birthdays did and the signatures should have been counted.

Connecticut law further states, “The use of titles, initials or customary abbreviations of given names by the signer of a nominating petition shall not invalidate such signature if the identity of the signer can be readily established by reference to the signature on the petition and the name of a person as it appears on the last-completed registry list at the address indicated or of a person who has been admitted as an elector since the completion of such list.”

However, once again, a review of some of the petitions certified by town clerks show that signatures were rejected even though it is obvious, thanks to the address and the birthdate, that the person who signed the petitions is, in fact, a voter.

Finally, an initial review of some of the petitions revealed that a number of town clerks (or registrars of voters) rejected signatures because the signer was on the town’s “inactive” voter list.

State law does allow towns to maintain an active and inactive voter list, with the inactive voter list containing people who are still voters but who have not participated in recent elections or failed to return a postcard to the local registrar of voters.  But an “inactive” voter who shows up at the polls must be allowed to vote and an absentee ballot submitted by someone on the “inactive” voter list must be counted.

But despite the fact that signing a Pelto/Murphy petition is a legally authorized part of the voting process, some local town clerks and registrars illegally rejected any signatures from voters on the “inactive” voter list.

To these and other violations of state law by town clerks and registrars, the Secretary of the States attorney’s only advice was for the Pelto/Murphy ticket to sue should these violations prevent it from qualifying for the November ballot.

The entire situation makes one wonder if we are living in the United States or Putin’s Russia?

Even more to the point, it is a sad commentary about the health of our democracy that here in the Constitution State, state and local officials are stripping Connecticut voters of their constitutional and legal rights.

It is equally appalling that the Governor of Connecticut, who is sworn to uphold our State Constitution, so quickly dismisses the situation by saying that he “he has “serious doubts” that the Pelto/Murphy team will collect the 7,500 signatures of to get on the ballot.”

Any governor, even when challenged, should stand up for the Constitutional rights of his or her citizens.  Winning may be important, but Governor Malloy should look in the mirror and remember that there are some things even more important than winning.

[In closing, let me add a personal note.  I remain confident that despite the barriers that are being thrown up before us, that Ebony and I have collected the required 7,500 signatures that we need to be on the ballot in November.  Although we hope it won’t come to this, if legal action is necessary to ensure that the constitutional rights of Connecticut voters are protected against the powers of the incumbency and the incumbency system, we will take whatever legal actions are necessary to ensure that democracy in Connecticut is not crushed by illegal or political maneuvers.

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

Giving voters more choices…should be as American as the Fourth of July – Ralph Nader

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First there was the “social justice” lobbyist who wrote a piece in the Hartford Courant instructing people not to sign a Pelto/Murphy 2014 ballot petition because it might hurt Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election chances.

More recently, a Journal Inquirer editorial entitled, Nader, Pelto, and the spoilers in our two-party system, claimed that that running as a 3rd party candidate is “ just another example of the ‘purist’ thinking of many Americans on the political right and left….If they cannot have their own way in implementing their own ideas within the two-party system they move to act as spoilers. Their refusal to accept the two-party system as a reality of American life only makes them ineffective in implementing their ideas.”

And yesterday, in an interview with the New Haven Register Editorial Board, Malloy sought to dismiss the vital issues we’re raising in this year’s election by saying, “Jonathan Pelto has no shot” and adding, “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about issues until I know that it is a real issue, as opposed to someone’s desire.”

One thing is for sure, Malloy’s propensity for arrogance remains alive and well.

But with perfect timing, Ralph Nader has written a commentary piece in today’s Hartford Courant.  Connecticut voter Ralph Nader takes on the ongoing efforts to dismiss those of us who believe that voters need and deserve more choices than simply Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Ralph Nader writes,

The word “spoiler,” when applied only to small-party candidates, is an epithet of political bigotry. It says to people who want to enter the electoral arena and talk about ignored but important issues that they should not do so.

It says the two big parties own all the voters, and they should not be taken away by third-party candidates who can’t win. Nor should these candidates be given an opportunity to build voter familiarity and an eventual chance at winning over several elections.

Many Americans, despite their disgust with the behavior of the two major parties, think nothing of telling people not to run because they’ll be “spoilers.” That is equivalent to telling candidates to shut up — a nasty demand that one would not readily use in daily interactions.

Even so, I was surprised that my mere signing of former state legislator Jonathan Pelto’s petition, along with thousands of other Connecticut voters, to get him on the gubernatorial ballot made news. After all, giving voters more choices and voices in an election year should be as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July. Except that it isn’t.

[…]

A freedom-loving democratic view is that everyone has an equal right to run for elective office. Since all candidates are trying to get votes from one another, they are all “spoilers” to each other.

Perpetuating an entrenched two-party politics, marinated in a corporatism that is voraciously driving our country into the ground, while exporting jobs and industries to suppressive fascist and communist regimes abroad, should not go uncontested.

Aren’t we glad that enough voters split away from the Democratic and Whig parties in 1840 to vote for the antislavery Liberty Party? Or that after the Civil War, voters supported third parties pushing for women’s right to vote and Progressive Era regulations of railroads, banks and other industries to protect farmers and workers? Those smaller parties exposed the rot and ruinous policies of the business-driven politics of the day. The major parties eventually got the message. We are the beneficiaries today.

[…]

Those who throw the charge of “spoilers” need to be reminded that running for public office is the consummate use of the First Amendment — namely, to exercise the right to freedom of speech, petition and assembly.

Remember that the words “political parties,” “corporation” and “company” are not even mentioned in our Constitution, raising the central question of why they are ruling “we the people” today

You can read Ralph Nader’s complete commentary piece at: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-op-ralph-nader-let-so-called-spoilers-run-20140814,0,4428452.story

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

The problem is poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs!

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and Tom Foley both claim that they are committed to doing something about Connecticut’s “failing” schools.

Democrat Malloy began his approach by becoming the only Democratic governor in the national to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining in the poorest and lowest performing schools which he euphemistically calls “turnaround schools.”   Malloy also proposed massive amounts of new Common Core standardized testing for all public school students and tied his modest funding increases for poor schools to inappropriate privatization strategies.

Republican Foley has also proposed more standardized testing.  According to a recent article in the New Haven Register, “Foley also wants a third-grade reading test before children are promoted and a regents’ style exam to test basic skills in order to graduate from high schools.”

However, to his credit, Foley recognizes that state education funding formulas must address the needs and challenges students face.  Foley explains that the school funding grant “’should be variable depending on the needs of the child,” with less money for capable, independent students with a lot of enrichment at home and more for special needs children.’

While both Malloy and Foley lament the large achievement gap that exists in Connecticut, neither appears willing to set aside the nonsense of more testing and focus the state’s resources on the factors that do limit academic success – poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs.

Malloy and Foley would do well to read the recent CT Newsjunkie commentary piece written by Barth Keck.  Keck’s piece is entitled, “It Doesn’t Take Captain Obvious to Identify A Stacked Deck,” and he explains,

Among the obvious realities of public schools:

1. A disadvantaged family life negatively affects educational Achievement.

“A family’s resources and the doors they open cast a long shadow over children’s life trajectories,” says Johns Hopkins sociologist Karl Alexander , whose research tracked nearly 800 Baltimore schoolchildren for 25 years. “This view is at odds with the popular ethos that we are makers of our own fortune.”

Another recent study  from the Washington University School of Medicine found that “children who are exposed to poverty at a young age often have trouble academically later in life” since poverty “appears to be associated with smaller brain volumes in areas involved in emotion processing and memory.”

Brain scans of 145 children between 6 and 12 showed that “poverty also appears to alter the physical makeup of a child’s brain; those children exposed to poverty at an early age had smaller volumes of white and cortical gray matter, as well as hippocampal and amygdala volumes.”

This is especially bad news for Connecticut, as poverty among children has increased by 50 percent since 1990, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Barth Keck’s latest commentary piece can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_it_doesnt_take_captain_obvious_to_identify_a_stacked_deck/.

His message is clear and concise.

Poverty limits academic achievement and poverty among Connecticut’s children has increased by about 50% in recent years.

When it comes to dealing with Connecticut’s achievement gap, both Malloy and Foley are wrong.  We need less testing and more learning, not the other way around.

We can and must confront Connecticut’s achievement gap…

But the solution is definitely not the anti-teacher, pro-privatization effort being pushed by Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and their allies in the corporate education reform industry.

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

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