AFT, NEA and the Corporate Education Reform oriented DGA

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Perhaps we should simply call it a symptom of the corporatization of the modern American labor movement.

Or perhaps we call it a product of the centrifuge that is sucking mainstream American politics into the control of the corporate elite.

But whatever we call it, the premature decision by the American Federation of Teachers to endorse Hillary Clinton for President is yet another example of how the unions representing teachers have been gravitating toward backing those who are perceived to be more acceptable to corporate interests, display a track record of supporting policies that are less than supportive of teachers and the nation’s public schools and/or are defined as the “only” choice because the Republican alternative would be “even worse.”

Truth be told, the issue isn’t even really about Hillary Clinton.  As the presidential nominating process moves forward Hillary Clinton may very well be the “best” choice for the Democrats and the electorate, but the AFT leadership’s decision to endorse her now is an stark indicator of just how far the teacher unions have gone to become part of the get-a-long, go-along status quo.

Rather than requiring that any candidate seeking political support from teachers have a solid progressive record on public education and articulate clear-cut policies and positions that are diametrically opposed to the corporate education reform industry, there is a growing acceptance of candidates who have thrown their support behind the charter school industry and the broader education reform agenda.

Above all else, one thing is certain and that is that the American Federation of Teachers, and for that matter, the National Education Association, has consistently backed Democratic candidates whose records and positions are closely aligned with the so-called “education reformers.”

No where is that clearer than with the massive financial support that the AFT and NEA have given to the Democratic Governors Association, despite the DGA’s outspoken and on-going support for President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s education reform agenda, the Common Core, the associated Common Core testing scheme and the inappropriate requirement that standardized test scores be used as part of the teacher evaluation process.

Over the past five election cycles, the American Federation of Teachers has handed the Democratic Governors Association more than $5.5 million in money that was earned by America’s teachers and given to their union with the intention that the funds would be used to support candidates and promote policies that support teachers and enhance public schools.  The National Education Association has donated $4.8 million more.

But despite teacher unions giving more than $10 million dollars to the DGA over the past decade, the organization whose role it is to elect Democratic governors has remained committed to an education reform agenda that is actively and intentionally undermining teachers, the teaching profession and the nation’s public education system.

Just last summer, as opposition to the Common Core and its associated unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme grew, along with the resulting opt-out movement, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who was Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association at the time, dismissed the legitimate concerns that were being raised as nothing more than the work of right-wing nuts.

As reported in an AP story in June 2014, Democrat Shumlin dismissed the opponents of the Common Core as “crazy” conservatives adding, “The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems.”

But of course, opposition to the corporate education reform agenda is not a “right-wing issue,” nor is the push back against the heavy-handed and faulty implementation of the Common Core and the Common Core testing scam.

In fact, it is real world it is a broad spectrum of liberal, moderate and conservative parents, teachers and public school advocates who are leading the effort, all across the United States, to turn back the corporate funded public school privatization and education reform effort.

Although the NEA and AFT were two of the DGA’s four largest donors during recent 2014 election cycle, one would think the DGA went out of its way to remind teachers that while their money was useful, their opinions were not.

Not only did the DGA spend more than $3.8 million to promote the re-election of corporate education reform aficionado Democrat Dannel Malloy to serve a second term as  Connecticut’s governor, but the members of the DGA went on to elect Malloy to serve as the next Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Malloy, who in 2012 became the first sitting Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest schools districts is such an eager charter school advocate that he threatened Connecticut’s Democratic controlled General Assembly that at the same time he was proposing to cut funding for public schools, he would not sign any budget bill that did not expand the number of charter schools in the Constitution State.

And the Democrats in the legislature acquiesced to Malloy’s threats.

Malloy also vetoed a bill, passed with bi-partisan support, to require that anyone who serves as Connecticut’s commissioner of education must have appropriate classroom teaching experience.  Malloy whined that requiring the state’s education commissioner to have education experience would cramp his appointment decisions.

Although Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy rivals New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo when it comes to anti-teacher rhetoric and policies, the harsh reality is that Malloy is nothing more than a continuation of the DGA’s effort to support Democratic governors who are wedded to the corporate education reform agenda.

Teachers, students, parents and public school advocates deserve better from the Democrats and from the unions representing teachers, the very same unions that are pouring millions of dollars into the Democratic Party.

State’s most vulnerable children get their day in court by Wendy Lecker

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Wendy Lecker is one of Connecticut’s most outspoken education advocates.  As senior attorney at the Education Law Center, she has helped lead critically important school finance lawsuits.  Wendy Lecker is also a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.  This week she reports on Connecticut’s vital CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Lawsuit.

Once supporters for ensuring Connecticut has a fair and equitable school funding formula, Governor Dannel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepson are now leading the effort to ensure that Connecticut’s public school students and Connecticut’s local property taxpayers don’t get the help they need and deserve.

Wendy Lecker explains,

Connecticut’s elected officials have steadfastly refused to fix our school finance system, which leaves schools underfunded and local property taxpayers overburdened. Public school students and local property taxpayers will finally have their day in court when Connecticut’s school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, starts trial in October. It is now important to understand some of the basic tenets in school finance.

First, all children have the constitutional right to school resources sufficient for an education enabling them to participate in democratic institutions, attain productive employment, or progress to higher education.

Second, it costs more to educate some children than others. Children living in poverty often require more services than children who do not. The stresses associated with poverty affect brain development, often leaving children with behavioral and cognitive difficulties. As a result, schools serving poor children need specific resources, such as: social workers, behavioral therapists, psychologists, learning specialists, small classes.

Children learning English require more services than those already proficient. The services necessary to help a child learn English are different than those needed to support a child who lives in poverty. Similarly, children with disabilities require additional services.

Third, some municipalities cannot raise as much revenue as others, and therefore need more state school aid. Often, those municipalities serve the highest concentration of the neediest — and therefore most expensive to educate — children.

These cornerstones of school finance are universally accepted and understood. They form the bases of school funding systems across the nation. They undergird the CCJEF plaintiffs’ case. Essentially, the plaintiffs claim Connecticut has underfunded its public schools in large part because the state school finance system does not accurately account for the cost of education in general, the cost of educating students with additional needs or a municipality’s capacity to raise revenue.

CCJEF’s school finance experts calculated the gap between what the state provides in school aid and what our schools and children need to be about $2 billion; based on 2004 standards, costs and demographics.

What does this massive school funding shortfall mean? Schools serving our neediest children lack essential academic resources: teachers, reading specialists, guidance counselors, social workers, reasonable class size, well-equipped libraries, academic intervention services, computers, preschool, etc.

Connecticut’s leaders have gone to great effort — and expense — to ignore these three basic tenets of school finance.

Since the CCJEF case was filed in 2005 — when then-Mayor Dannel Malloy of Stamford was a plaintiff — our leaders have convened commissions, task forces and ad hoc committees ostensibly to study school funding. They did this without consulting real school finance experts. These gimmicks provided the appearance politicians were doing something to fix the problem.

In reality, our leaders have done next to nothing. The state owes our neediest districts up to $7,000 dollars per pupil. However, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, the average increase in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) aid to our neediest received was $642 per pupil.

The only recent change politicians made to our ECS formula undermined fair funding. The legislature removed from the ECS formula the ELL weight: i.e. the adjustment in the formula that attempted to account for the cost of educating ELL students. This move is contrary to sound education finance policy and is particularly absurd in a state with a growing ELL population.

Connecticut’s inaction on school finance is why our small wealthy state figures prominently in a national report on financially disadvantaged districts. Connecticut is ranked fifth in the nation in the percentage of children enrolled in financially disadvantaged districts, with more than 13 percent of our children in these districts. The state with the highest concentration, Illinois, has 25 percent.

At the same time the state has done nothing to help poor districts, it has spent millions on unsuccessful attempts to have the CCJEF case dismissed.

In the latest budget season, the state made matters worse. State figures reveal that the largest increase our financially distressed districts will receive in 2016 is about $100 per pupil. Windham will receive an increase of only $19 per pupil. Most needy districts will get no increase for 2017.

At this pathetic rate, it will take more than 20 years before the state makes up the gap in school funding.

In human terms, that means two generations of children will go through school without adequate resources to help them learn, losing years of learning they cannot recapture.

Year after year Connecticut’s elected officials have been unresponsive to the educational needs of our most vulnerable children. In October, they will have to answer for that in court.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s original piece at: http://m.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-State-s-most-vulnerable-children-6378743.php?utm_content=buffer47d00&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Superintendents and Legislators – Beware – the SBAC Tsunami is coming!

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An open letter to Superintendents and Legislators 7/10/2015;

For more than a year and a half, public education advocates in Connecticut have been delivering the message that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test is unfair, inappropriate, discriminatory and fundamentally flawed.  The Common Core SBAC test is DESIGNED to fail the vast majority of public school students.  It is a product of the education reform industry that is set on convincing policymakers and the public that our nation’s public education system is broken, that our public school teachers are bad and that the answer is more standardized testing and diverting scarce public funds to charter schools and other privatization efforts.

Rather then fight back, far too many politicians and school administrators climbed on board the education reform initiatives train that are undermining public education today.

In Connecticut, the SBAC disaster was slowed by a handful of  dedicated and committed public school superintendents who recognized that parents had the fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the destructive SBAC test, but the majority of local education leaders (and elected officials) kowtowed to the Malloy administration and engaged in an immoral and unethical effort to mislead parents into believing that schools had “no degrees of freedom” on the SBAC testing issue.

We all know that defense was nothing short of an outright lie.

Now the results of the 2015 SBAC tests are coming in and students, parents, teachers and the public will finally see for themselves just how unfair and discriminatory the SBAC testing scam really is.

Common Core testing is unfair to all public schools students, but it is particularly damaging to students who come from poorer families, those that have English language challenges and those who require special education services.

As the following Wait, What? blog post reports, Washington State, another SBAC testing ground, has already released their early results and 7 in 10 high school juniors have been deemed failures according to the SBAC math test.

Although the Connecticut State Department of Education continues to claim that the SBAC results are not yet available, the news from other SBAC states is that preliminary information has been handed over to the states and, as the corporate education reform industry always intended, the vast majority of public school students have been deemed failures.

So a warning to Connecticut’s superintendents and other school administrators.  Whether you have been given the results or are still waiting for them to be handed over, beware of the Tsunami that is coming…

We all know that while the state has a significant achievement gap due to poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs, our public schools are not broken and our children and teachers are not failures.

Strategies exist to close the achievement gap, but the State of Connecticut and its leaders have simply refused to address the core issues that would improve academic achievement in any meaningful way.

And Connecticut’s parents will not forget that when it came to protecting Connecticut’s students, teachers and public schools from the negative consequences of the SBAC testing scheme, the vast majority of Connecticut’s elected and appointed officials simply turned their heads away and did nothing.

In the coming weeks, when tens of thousands of Connecticut parents are wrongly informed that their children are academic failures remember, the bell tolls for thee…

Here are the numbers from Washington State.

More than 7 in 10 high school juniors in Washington State FAIL the Unfair SBAC Math Test (Wait, What? Post 7/9/15)

And for more, read;

TAKE NOTE – Real Educators don’t punish AND bully students and parents for opting out!

BEWARE: 9 in 10 Children who utilize special education services will fail the inappropriate Common Core SBAC Test

More than 90% of English Language Learners “Projected” to Fail Common Core SBAC Test

 

 

More than 7 in 10 high school juniors in Washington State FAIL the Unfair SBAC Math Test

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While there is nothing but silence from Connecticut’s State Department of Education about the results of this year’s unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test, the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction (Washington State’s equivalent of the Connecticut State Department of Education) is reporting that,

Only 29 percent of Washington High School students passed the SBAC math test.  That means that about 50,000 high school juniors, many of who are preparing to apply to college next year, are unfairly being labeled as failures.

As anti-SBAC advocates in Washington State are reporting, “By comparison, only 12,380 students from the Graduating Class of 2015 failed to pass the previous state math test.”

As in Washington State, Connecticut juniors will soon discover that they too have been the victims of the test designed to fail the vast majority of public school students.

And rather than protect Connecticut’s public schools students, Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly provided the funding and support for this outrageous injustice.

In a series of Wait, What? posts last spring, including articles entitled Is your public school student a “failure” – the Common Core SBAC Test says probably yes!  and  Opt your High School Juniors out of the Common Core SBAC Test, it became increasingly evident that the Common Core SBAC test is literally designed to fail students.

According to the SBAC  organization’s own reports, approximately 70 percent of high school juniors would fail the Common Core SBAC test in math and, as the Washington State results reveal, the SBAC has succeeded in failing 7 of 10 high school juniors in that state.

But those young people are anything but failures!

As Washington State anti-SBAC advocates note,

“What is most shocking about this result is that these same students who were not able to pass the unfair SBAC Math test were second in the nation on the NAEP (National Assessment of Student Progress) Math Test and among the highest performing math students of any students in the entire world on international math tests!”

Connecticut’s public schools students and their parents will soon learn that the pro-common core, education reform industry and their allies like Governor Malloy have succeeded in undermining our children as well.

For Connecticut parents who did not have the foresight to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test, if you aren’t angry yet…. You will be soon …. just wait until the Malloy administration releases Connecticut’s SBAC results.

For more about this news go to: http://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/50-000-juniors-in-washington-state-fail-to-pass-the-unfair-sbac-math-test and http://k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2015/PrelimSmarterBalancedResults.aspx

Vallas’ $10m textbook farce means Bridgeport students don’t have Common Core aligned math textbooks

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When the Common Core SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) test results come back later this summer, about 7 in 10 public school students will be labeled as failures.

Considering that lower standardized test scores are a result of poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs, the number of children labelled as ‘FAILURES” will be even higher in Bridgeport and Connecticut’s other poorer cities and towns.

And while the Common Core SBAC test requires students to meet the Common Cores standards, it now turns out that the new textbooks students in Bridgeport and other Connecticut communities have been given are not appropriately aligned to those Common Core standards.

In Bridgeport the problem stems from a massive contract that education reformer extraordinaire and faux Bridgeport superintendent of schools Paul Vallas rushed through without proper oversight and signed on June 12, 2012.

Vallas, the darling of both Governor Dannel Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, signed a contract with the Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt publishing company that committed Bridgeport to a $10 million deal in which payments were spread out over 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The contract was for 90,000 new textbooks, instructional materials, testing software and training for teachers on how to utilize the various materials.

Although the problems with the “Textbook Deal” were evident from the beginning [See Wait, What? Post], it turns out the situation is much, much worse than initially reported.

Vallas purchased the new textbooks claiming they were needed in order to prepare Bridgeport students to meet the Common Core Standards

However it is now clear the textbooks Vallas ordered fail to meet those standards.

Edreports is a new non-profit organization that is  funded – of course – by the Gates Foundation and other education reform foundations and was created to review whether the textbooks that are being used by the nation’s public school are aligned to the Common Core.

Vallas ordered Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Math in Focus Program, a package that included textbooks, printed and electronic instructional content and training for teachers.  The cost to Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayers for the math curriculum products was well in excess of $3 million.

But as reported by Education Week, the Washington Post and other media outlets, Edreports has determined that the Math in Focus series DOES NOT MEET the Common Core standards.

After a complete review of each of the math textbooks that is part of the Math in Focus program, Edreports’ review included the following observations.

The materials are not coherent or consistent with the standards.”

“Correct math vocabulary is not consistently used throughout the text.”

“There is not enough content for one school year.”

“Teachers using the materials would not be giving their students extensive work in grade-level problems.”

“Overall coherence and consistency of the standards is not achieved.”

“The materials do not provide a focus on the major work nor are the materials coherent.”

And the list goes on…

For details go to: http://www.edreports.org/reports/series/math-focus.html and http://www.edreports.org/reports/series/math-focus-a.html

The news is more than a bit disturbing.

While their textbooks are not aligned to the Common Core standards, students in Bridgeport (and across Connecticut) are expected to take and pass the SBAC Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test, a test that is already designed to fail up to 70 percent of all students…and that assumes that students have actually been taught the materials they are being tested on..

Incredibly, the textbooks that Paul Vallas purchased aren’t the only ones to fail the review, which means public school children across Connecticut and the nation are being taught with textbooks that don’t prepare them for the Common Core testing program.

As Education Week reported in an article entitled, “Most Math Curricula Found to Be Out of Sync With Common Core,”

The first round of a Consumer Reports-style review for instructional materials paints a dismal picture of the textbook-publishing industry’s response to new standards: Seventeen of 20 math series reviewed were judged as failing to live up to claims that they are aligned to the common core.

“In general, the results are pretty bad for all the publishers,” said Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, who studies common-standards alignment but was not involved in the EdReports.org project. “I think people really will pay attention to this, and I think it will affect [curriculum] adoption processes going forward.”

In all, just one curriculum series stood out from the pack. Eureka Math, published by Great Minds, a small Washington-based nonprofit organization, was found to be aligned to the Common Core State Standards at all grade levels reviewed.

With every passing day we continue to learn that the Common Core SBAC testing scheme is nothing short of a scam with our state’s children being used as little more than “profit centers” for the corporate education reform industry.

Is your bank or insurance company helping to undermine your child’s education?

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Yesterday we learned that the CT School Finance Project is nothing more than a front for another group called the Connecticut Council for Education Reform.  (See Wait, What? post CT School Finance Project – Here we again – Another education reform front group.)

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform Inc. (CCER) is a corporate funded “education reform” advocacy group that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, anti-teacher initiatives.

In fact, no one, other than Governor Dannel Malloy, has been a bigger cheerleader for the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing system than CCER.

The Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is rigged to fail up to 70 percent of all public school children and up to 90 percent of children who have special education needs or face English Language barriers.

As a result of the inappropriately designed SBAC test, approximately 3 in every 4 African-American and Latino children will be labeled failures this year.

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) purports to be a non-partisan, 501(c) (3) (non-profit) organization, but their agenda is extremely political and their funds are being used to undermine Connecticut’s public schools and unfairly label Connecticut’s public school students and teachers.

You can read some of the absurd things CCER and its allies have written via the following articles;

CT Mirror– Op-Ed: Test data matters for Connecticut. Education is a science

Demystifying Student Assessment

For Parents, Testing is an Opportunity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Education is a Data-Driven Science

And where does this corporate funded group get their money?  According to their own reports CCER’s biggest donors include;

Webster Bank

Bank of America

Wells Fargo

First Niagara Foundation

Ion Bank Foundation

Other major funders include The Hartford and the Travelers Foundation

If you bank with these organizations or buy policies through these companies you are actually helping to fund an organization that is actively undermining our public schools and the children who attend them.

And just how far will they go to contaminate the debate around public education?

The Chairman of CCER’s Board of Directors is Steve J. Simmons.  The Greenwich cable company executive is not only a major funder of the charter school industry, but just last week he co-hosted a fundraiser for none-other-than Education Reform Groupie Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch has consistently failed to fund Bridgeport’s public schools while diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to privately owned but publicly funded charter schools.  However, Mayor Finch’s anti-public education efforts didn’t stop Steve Simmons and other “Education Reformers” from asking their friends to hand over up to $1,000 a person for Finch’s re-election campaign.

It is bad enough that CCER is misleading the public and is lobbying on behalf of an agenda that is hurting students, parents, teachers and public schools, but it is even worse they are doing it with money that belonged to Connecticut consumers.

If you bank with Webster Bank, Bank of America or any of the other corporations that are pushing Governor Dannel Malloy’s corporate education reform industry agenda, the next time you go to the bank, speak with your insurance company or communicate with one of CCER’s funders, ask them why they are using the money that they take from us to undermine our public schools and label our children as failures.

CT School Finance Project – Here we again – Another education reform front group

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Like some type of gigantic octopus, the pro-charter school, pro-common core, pro-SBAC testing scheme and anti-teacher corporate education reform industry has set up multiple front groups while dumping more than $7.9 million dollars into their lobbying effort on behalf of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s “education reform” initiatives.

By now you’d think these hedge-fund managers and corporate executives would have created enough different groups to create the impression that they are more than what they seem.

But that’s just not the way it works…

Connecticut’s education policy arena is being honored with the presence of yet another “reform” front group.

And as with their earlier pronouncements, the charter school and education reform industry is claiming that their latest front group is an “independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”

The newest corporate funded education reform group to invade Connecticut’s education policy debate is called the Connecticut School Finance Project and according to its PR;

“Founded in 2015, the nonprofit Connecticut School Finance Project strives to be a trusted, nonpartisan, and independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”

Independent?

Transcends special interests?

File this one under – There is truly no lie that is too big for the charter school industry and its corporate education reform associates.

Earlier this year, the so-called “independent” Connecticut School Finance Project posted an advertisement that it was hiring a “Communications Manager.” Applicants were instructed to send their resume and cover letter to Katie Roy at [email protected].

At the time Katie Roy was actually serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, one of the leading entities lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s anti-public education policies.

According to CCER,

“Katie Roy is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations, finance, and human resources.  She also works on organizational strategy and leads CCER’s education finance work.”

Now with their own website, the self-described, non-profit, “independent” Connecticut School Finance Project has three employees, although it is yet to reveal where it is getting is money.

Katie Roy (Director & Founder) is the former COO of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

Patrick Gibson (Data & Policy Analyst) is a former employee of CCER, who, the site claims, “worked in close collaboration with Education Resource Strategies and three Connecticut public school districts to improve student learning outcomes and better align allocated resources with district strategy through an understanding of people, time, and money utilization”

Michael Morton – the new Communications Manager who recently transferred from Texas to take on the task of explaining to Connecticut voters why charter schools, privatization and Malloy’s damaging education reform strategies are what Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public schools need to ensure a better future.

CT School Finance Project asserts,

“The goal of the Connecticut School Finance Project is to collaborate with everyone who is impacted by this problem to find solutions that are fair to kids and taxpayers, and work better for schools, towns and cities.”

And yet, although they claim to be engaged in addressing Connecticut’s education funding issues, they fail to make any mention of the critically important CCJEF v. Rell School Funding lawsuit, a case that will go to trial this fall… A case that is finally forcing the State of Connecticut and the Malloy administration to address that fact that Connecticut’s school funding formula is not only unfair, discriminatory and hurts Connecticut’s students and property tax payers, but is blatantly unconstitutional.

Connecticut School Finance Project states that, “The way that Connecticut funds its schools is broken. It’s unfair to kids and taxpayers, and it doesn’t work for many schools, towns and cities.”

Yet this corporate education reform front group FAILS to even mention the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit.

They fail to mention that their hero, Dannel Malloy, was an initial sponsor and plaintiff  of the CCJEF lawsuit when he was Mayor of Stamford but turned tail when he became governor and actually had chance to do something about the way Connecticut’s public schools are funded.

They fail to mention that Connecticut’s Attorney General George Jepsen, a former state representative and state senator from Stamford, is fully aware of the problems with Connecticut’s school funding formula and yet is spending massive amounts of public funds and staff time in an immoral and unethical fight against the interests of Connecticut’s children and property taxpayers.

Proving just how much of a farce this new Connecticut School Finance Project is, the group doesn’t even address the State of Connecticut’s historic under-funding of Connecticut’s schools or the battle to dramatically increase the amount of state funding for public schools as the only fair and constitutional method for reduce the unfair burden on local property taxpayers while ensuring all Connecticut’s public schools students get the support they need and deserve.

But that is because the Connecticut School Finance Project is most definitely not a “trusted, nonpartisan, and independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”

One need only look at its origin and its employees to know that the corporate education reform industry has rolled out yet another front group in their effort to undermine Connecticut’s public schools.

When it comes to the “NEW” Connecticut School Finance Project, remember the wise words of Matthew who warned;

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening and ferocious wolves.”

Republican State Senator Toni Boucher calls Malloy out on his latest anti-teacher hissy fit

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While Democrat legislators are strangely silent on Governor Malloy’s latest attack on teachers and the teaching profession, Republicans in the State Senate, led by State Senator Toni Boucher, the ranking member of the Education Committee is speaking out about Malloy’s bizarre veto of a bill requiring that the Commissioner of Education have some classroom experience.

Apparently Malloy feels that that notion of having to select someone who actually knows something about teachers and what is going on in the classroom would cramp his style, so the governor who will become the leader of the Democratic Governors Association next year vetoed a bill that passed the General Assembly’s Education Committee 32 – 0, the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 36 -0 and the Connecticut House of Representatives by a vote of 138 – 5.

Through the entire legislative process, only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill (In the State House) and neither Malloy nor his administration ever raised any public opposition to the common sense bill.

Yet another stunningly arrogant action from a politician who will soon be traveling the country urging voters to cast their vote for the Democrats.

Compared the silence of the lambs, the Republican reaction actually sounds like a clarion call to action.

In a press release entitled, “Why Is Governor Malloy Undermining Teachers Again?” Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), the ranking member of the Education Committee and State Senate Minority leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) quickly released a strong statement yesterday about the Governor’s decision to veto of HB 6977; AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

The two Republican legislators wrote, 

“Since taking office in January 2011, Governor Malloy has been highly critical of teachers and retired teachers.  Today’s veto of an important measure will surely give them cause for concern.

“The bill simply requires the state education commissioner be a qualified person with a master’s or a higher degree in an education-related field.  Additionally, they must have at least five years as a teacher and three years as an administrator in a school or district in Connecticut or another state.  Currently, the commissioner is not required to hold a degree or have any experience in education.

“Why would he veto this valid request?  Apparently, it ‘restricts’ his authority to pick a new candidate,” said Boucher and Fasano.

When announcing the new commissioner, Dianna Wentzell, Malloy stated: “I made it clear that we were looking from day one for someone who has been a teacher.” Previously, the governor had been criticized by teachers for his prior commissioner, Stefan Pryor, who lacked teaching experience.

Senator Fasano said, “In the words of Queen, another one bites the dust. Governor Malloy is backpedaling on another policy he seemed to support not too long ago. The governor made education experience a priority when searching for his new commissioner, after distancing himself from a previous controversial choice. So why reject a bipartisan effort to ensure that education experience is always a priority?”

Senator Boucher said, “If you recall in in February of 2012 Malloy said in order for teachers to earn tenure, ‘basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years.  Do that, and tenure is yours.’ Sadly, the insults continue.  We encourage the state board of education and the Governor to at least follow the spirit of this legislation- supported unanimously in the legislature – which sought to bring the highest possible standards to one of the most important positions in our state government.  Which requires the depth of experience and knowledge in the field of education. It is important to the future of education in our state.”

Malloy vetoes bill requiring that education commissioner have education experience

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Dannel shows his true stripes yet again…

The CT Newsjunkie headline reads- Union Leader ‘Stunned’ By Malloy Veto of Standards For Education Commish while the CT Mirror exclaims Malloy vetoes qualifications for education commissioner

The leader of Connecticut’s teacher unions are stunned because the Right Honorable Governor Dannel P. Malloy decided to veto legislation that would have required that the state education commissioners have “a strong classroom background, something his first education commissioner lacked.”

The legislation passed the Education Committee 32 to 0

It passed the State Senate 36 – 0

And it passed the Connecticut House of Representatives  138-5

Only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill in the House.

But Dannel Malloy vetoed it anyway.

The story?

Harken back just over one year ago, and the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s was holding its political endorsing convention.

As a candidate attempting to petition on to the ballot, the union refused to allow me to address the delegates.

Instead, as the CT Mirror called it, the convention was “a two-day infomercial promoting the re-election of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, with one carefully choreographed note of discord: A rebuke to the Democratic governor’s choice of Stefan Pryor as commissioner of education.”

Before formally endorsing Malloy, the statewide labor federation adopted a resolution Tuesday calling for a requirement that an education commissioner hold the same credential as a school superintendent, a standard that Pryor does not meet.

“We’re hoping the governor’s listening,” said Melodie Peters, the president of AFT-Connecticut, one of the state’s two major teachers’ unions.

The resolution drawn up by the AFT, which separately endorsed Malloy ahead of the AFL-CIO convention, was a message to a Democratic governor and to labor’s rank-and-file. It was meant as a gentle rebuke to Malloy, not a rejection; a way to soothe educators, not provoke them.

Pryor never was mentioned by name, but he has become a pressure-relief valve for labor, which acknowledges a need to draw anger away from the governor. Peters agreed when asked if the resolution was a second-term message to Malloy about a need for a new commissioner.

Now, a year later, having failed to testify against the union’s proposed bill or even voice any opposition what-so-ever, Malloy vetoed the very concept  was submitted as a result of that AFL-CIO resolution.

As the CT Mirror explained last year,

Teacher unrest has given Jonathan Pelto, an education blogger and former Democratic state legislator, an opening to try to organize a third-party run for governor.

Malloy told the delegates Monday in a well-received speech that he’s made mistakes, but he stopped far short of apologizing for what teachers still say was a gratuitous and deliberate insult.

The task for union leaders has been to manage the anger of the rank-and-file, sharply contrasting the overall labor record of Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in a generation with the hostility to labor and collective bargaining by GOP governors in once-union friendly states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

[…]

A procession of delegates stepped up to microphones Tuesday to speak in favor the resolution.

“Education is a profession, not a hobby,” said Edward Leavy of AFT Local 4200 A.

The delegates cheered.

Anna Montalvo, the president of AFSCME Local 1522, which represents paraprofessionals in Bridgeport, said a superintendent and education commissioner should meet standards, as do her members.

The delegates cheered again.

But the message of the convention eventually circled back to a simple equation: What would be best for labor, the re-election of a Democratic governor or a Republican?

Sharon Palmer, a former AFT-Connecticut president who is Malloy’s labor commissioner, vouched for the governor’s commitment to labor.

“Let me say from up close and personal, he is a good boss,” Palmer said. “Sometimes he has a sharp tongue, but more often than not he uses that sharp tongue to fight off those who would diminish us.”

Palmer, Peters and Randi Weingarten, the national AFT president who was the second-day keynote speaker, all reminded the members of Malloy’s support for a broad labor agenda and his defense of locked out health workers represented by AFT at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

Weingarten ended the convention with a loud, passionate pitch for Malloy. She acknowledged rough spots in AFT’s relationship with Malloy over tenure.

“Yeah, I don’t like some of the things he’s said, either,” Weingarten said. “But what he’s done, he’s increased funding for K-12, increased funding by seven percent for K-12, making Connecticut the second-highest education spender in the country since the recession.”

She called Pelto a friend who has some important things to say, but his candidacy is a distraction and a danger that can only draw votes away from Malloy.

[…]

She told reporters after the convention that she spoke by telephone the previous day with Pelto, who had complained he wasn’t invited to speak. Only the major-party endorsed candidates addressed the convention.

Weingarten said third-party candidates can play an important role, and she has supported some in the past.

She said the stakes in Connecticut are too high: “The stakes here are whether you’re going to have a Dan Malloy or a Tom Foley as governor, whether you are going to have a Connecticut that acts as Connecticut or that emulates Wisconsin.”

As to why Dannel Malloy would veto the bill out of the blue?

According to the CT Newsjunkie,

In his veto message, Malloy said the legislation “encroaches on the purview” of the chief executive and would prevent them from picking “the best candidate to lead the department.”

Connecticut Education Association Executive Director Mark Waxenberg said he was “stunned” by the veto. He said it’s good public policy that doesn’t take away any of the governor’s authority to choose a qualified individual for the job.

Just like teachers have to be certified, the state’s Education Commissioner should have minimum qualifications, Waxenberg said.

He said his members will be angry about this veto and will speak with legislative leaders to “seriously consider an override session.”

[…]

AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel said she’s “disappointed” in the veto, but to Malloy’s credit he heard their voices and “chose a new commissioner with extensive background in the classroom.”

Hochadel added: “We expect that he and future governors would follow this example in recommending leadership for the state’s education agency. Our state’s students and their parents deserve nothing less.”

But Malloy made it clear in his veto message that he should have the ability to hire the most qualified candidate, regardless of their background.

“Open-mindedness and flexibility are paramount in a search for the right candidate who can best respond to the educational challenges that face our state,” Malloy said in his veto message. “The establishment of qualification for the Commissioner of Education in statute closes the door on a broad pool of talented and diverse leaders who would otherwise be eligible and could foster greatness in our schools.”

Malloy said he’s concerned it would unintentionally reduce the diversity of future commissioner applicant polls, since representation of African American and Hispanic teachers and administrators remains disproportionately low.

As the legislative report (JR report) explains, when the Education Committee held its public hearing, the testimony was almost unanimous in favor of the bill.

Melodie Peters, President, AFT Connecticut AFL-CIO spoke;

Ms. Peters and AFT Connecticut support the proposed bill citing the role of the Commissioner in providing, “direction and guidance to districts, schools and educators.” AFT believes the credibility of the Commissioner of Education depends, in part, on the shared experience of the Commissioner with teachers, administrators, and superintendents.”

Dr. Anne Jellison, Chair, Connecticut Association of School Administrators spoke:

“Dr. Jellison testified in favor noting that it is critical for the Commissioner of Education to have credibility and expertise among all stakeholders in Connecticut’s education system. She included that an effective, credible Commissioner needs “first-hand knowledge” of Connecticut schools and understands the impact of not only day-to-day situations but how policies impact the school environment.”

Jeff Leake, Vice President, Connecticut Education Association spoke:

“Mr. Leake testified in support of the bill, commenting that many of the members of the CEA are also in favor of a person with a background in the education field serving as Commissioner. The CEA feels the bill may be too basic in the required qualifications but stressed to the committee that their organization is looking for a commissioner who understands the qualities necessary to be a true educator.”

Lori Pelletier, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Connecticut AFL-CIO spoke:

“Ms. Pelletier testified in support of the bill. The position of the AFL-CIO is that high standards that have been set for teachers, administrators, and superintendents should also be a standard for the Commissioner of Education.”

But there was one person who rose to oppose the requirement that Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education have substantive educational experience…

Jennifer Alexander, Chief Executive Officer, ConnCAN:

“ConnCAN opposes the proposed bill because they believe the requirements laid out in the bill for the Commissioner of Education would severely limit Connecticut’s ability to recruit talent and would, “unnecessarily exclude qualified and experienced candidates from being considered for appointment as Education Commissioner.”

So there you go…

No Victory on “CT Transportation Initiative” despite claims

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The 2015 Session of the Connecticut General Assembly is over and as you listen to Connecticut politicians claiming victory on a new transportation initiative – face it – they are quite simply…lying!

The lack of the promised transportation funding “Lockbox” and the successful effort to by-pass Connecticut’s competitive bidding laws have become the pillars of Governor Dannel Malloy’s purported “transportation initiative.”

Although it failed to garner any media attention, included in the massive 686-page “budget implementation” bill just passed the legislature were sections rolling back an important aspect of Connecticut’s competitive bidding laws for transportation projects.

As noted in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, WARNING! “Budget Implementation Bill” includes language undoing post-Rowland competitive bidding reforms, the Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders embedded language into the “budget implementation” bill that allows the Malloy administration to side-step competitive bidding requirements on what will likely be the largest transportation projects the agency undertakes.

Equally astonishing is that while the legislature approved Malloy’s request for billions of dollars in transportation bonding, the General Assembly failed to ensure that the taxes intended to pay for the transportation program will actually be spent on the transportation program.

As the CT Mirror Reports,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy got the $2.8 billion in bonding he needs to launch his transportation overhaul initiative — but not the legal ‘lockbox’ he insisted upon to protect it.

The transportation safeguards lawmakers approved Monday lack a mandated pledge to bondholders — something Malloy had said was essential to ensure dollars earmarked for transportation are spent for that purpose.

Instead legislators merely wrote in statute that transportation funds can’t be diverted for other purposes. For more than a decade, legislators and governors have assigned resources to transportation with one law, and then redirected them for other purposes with another law.

The CT Mirror goes on to remind readers that Malloy promised that he would VETO any transportation funding bill that did not include a “Lockbox” to protect taxpayer investment in transportation improvements.

In his State of the State Address in January, the governor said the state must pledge in its transportation bond covenant — effectively the control between the state and its investors — not to divert transportation funds.

“No gimmicks, no diversion,” the governor said. “And we should include a covenant with bondholders and all people of Connecticut to ensure that money set aside for transportation projects is only used for that purpose.”

Malloy added that until the legislature passed legislation with this safeguard, “I will veto any attempt to levy additional sources of new revenue for transportation.”

By way of response, the governor’s spokesperson dismissed Malloy’s earlier rhetoric about the need for a “Lockbox” noting,

“Today’s vote is the first step towards the future of a best-in-class transportation system,” Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia said. “This issue is too important — for jobs, for businesses, and for families. We would like to thank the legislature for sharing the governor’s vision to transform our infrastructure.  This one vote will have ramifications that will benefit generations of residents.”

You can read more about Malloy’s “Transportation Victory” at:

CT Mirror: http://ctmirror.org/2015/06/29/senate-approves-initial-bonding-for-malloys-transportation-overhaul/

CT Newsjunkie:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/language_implementing_budget_includes_dozens_of_other_legislative_concepts/

Courant: http://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-senate-debating-budget-implementer-20150629-story.html#page=1

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