Shhhh… Don’t tell but Malloy administration will be releasing SBAC test results as early as next week

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About six weeks AFTER states like Washington and Oregon provided their citizens with state-wide data about how students did on the 2015 SBAC testing scheme, Governor Dannel Malloy’s State Department of Education appears to be getting ready to release the state-wide numbers in conjunction with giving Connecticut’s school districts the information they will need to inform parents and teachers about how students did in the test that was designed to label the majority of students as failures.

In a memo dated August 3, 2015, but entitled “Student Assessment News August 8, 2015,” local school officials are being told that;

“Smarter Balanced and CMT/CAPT Science Results Information on the embargoed and public release of Smarter Balanced Assessment baseline results and CMT/CAPT Science results will be forthcoming.  At this time, embargoed secure release of district level results is estimated to be no earlier than August 5, 2015.

Meanwhile, a toolkit of materials has been created for district use.

These materials may be customized when presenting Smarter Balanced results to educators, boards of education, families, and community members.”

The State Department of Education’s SBAC “toolkit” would make the government in George Orwell’s supposedly “non-fiction” book 1984 proud.

Among the documents that superintendents and principals are expected to use when “explaining” the SBAC test results are;

The Connecticut Smarter Balanced Interpretive Guide 2015  (This guide is designed to help educators, parents, students, the public, and members of the media understand and explain the results of the Smarter Balanced summative assessments.)

A PowerPoint Template for District or School Results (This slide deck is fillable and editable. It provides the basic steps of presenting district or school level assessment results.)

A Back to School Smarter Balanced Presentation which serves as “A presentation and a FAQ to assist in explaining the Smarter Balanced assessments.

The propaganda includes language such as, “Points to remember about annual state testing” which reads;

An annual assessment is intended to;

Accurately describes student achievement and growth as part of program evaluation and schools, district and state accountability systems.

Provides valid, reliable, and fair measures of students’ progress/attainment of the knowledge and skills required to be college and career ready at the end of grade 12

Provides an annual snapshot of student achievement that should be used along with other information, such as class work and other tests, when making education decisions.

Considering we know that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Tests achieve NONE of these goals, it is clear that the materials are nothing more than an extension of the effort to mislead parents about the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory SBAC testing scam.

The August 3, 2015 memo to local school officials also states;

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CDSE) has also developed parent brochures to accompany the hard copy of individual school reports that schools send home.  Tailored by grade (for example, third grade test takes entering fourth grade, fourth grade test takers entering fifth grade, etc.), each brochure ties the previous year’s standards with the upcoming year’s standards and provides useful tools and strategies for parents to assist their children at  home.”

So Parents — When your local school administration “brief” you and your community on the 2015 SBAC results, be sure to ask the presenter whether they are using the misleading materials that they were provided by the State Department of Education.  If they are, it would probably be a good time to tell your local school board it is time for new administrators.

Check back for more about the materials that the Malloy administration has prepared to convince YOU that the disastrous SBAC tests are good for your child, their teacher and our public schools.

NEWSFLASH: Washington State on 2015 SBAC results – “NEVER MIND”

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Unlike Connecticut, Washington State has been posting its state-wide Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing results on its State Department of Education website.  Yesterday, the Washington State Board of Education held a special meeting to address the fact that – as projected – the majority of Washington State public school students were deemed failures.

But in the great tradition of Gilda Radner’s  Saturday Night Live character, Emily Litella, the Washington State Board of Education, having spent the last few years championing the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco, turned to the television and addressed the results of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scam by saying…

“NEVER MIND”

As the Associated Press reported in an article entitled, “State Board of Education sets lower bar on Common Core tests.”

SEATTLE (AP) – The State Board of Education decided Wednesday to set a score below the college-ready level as the Washington state graduation standard on the new Common Core tests.

The people creating the tests, which are also known as the Smarter Balanced exams, say a score of 3 or 4 means students are “college and career ready.”

The State Board of Education decided Wednesday afternoon to set a score in the middle of the 2 range – just above 2.5 – as the graduation level for the Common Core math and English tests in Washington.

[…]

Board members had a long and complex debate before voting on the new graduation scores. Some of the discussion was around fairness. Other parts of the discussion were more technical, involving the difficulty of choosing the right scores and making sure everyone understood what the scores meant.

Staff members, with help from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, attempted to set the pass level at a place where about as many kids are expected to pass the exams as passed the state’s previous tests.

Yup, you read that correctly, after taxpayers were forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing the Common Core and the Common Core Tests and students and teachers wasted unfathomable amounts of time prepping and taking the tests that were designed to label the vast majority of students as failures, the “lead” state behind the SBAC testing scheme simply threw out results.

Instead of going with the cut score that was adopted by the SBAC coordinating committee last November, an unfair rating system that was adopted with the support of Governor Dannel Malloy’s representatives, the Washington State Board of Education choose a new “passing” level , “where about as many kids are expected to pass the exams as passed the state’s previous tests.”

Explaining the decision to simply reject the SBAC scoring system,

“Ben Rarick, executive director of the state board, went as far as calling the data bizarre”

The test results were Bizarre?

Over and over and over again public school advocates have been writing that the Common Core SBAC test was fundamentally flawed and would unfairly label children as failures!

And now the Executive Director of the Washington State Board of Education is calling the results bizarre?

Explaining their action, the executive director went on to say;

“The bottom line is the board was trying to be fair. We’re transitioning between two systems,” Rarick said. “How can we hold students harmless to the changes the adults are contemplating? Everybody rallied around that point.”

Okay everyone – now would be a good time for Connecticut’s students, parents and teachers to start screaming out of utter frustration and anger! 

And then let’s go get the pitchforks!

As a follow up, Connecticut public education advocate and New Canaan Board of Education candidate Maria Naughton posted the following comment on to her Facebook page today,

PREDICTION: When the SBAC test results come back, the SDE of CT has to set a “pass” score so parents know what the 1 through 4 actually means. I predict they will do exactly what Washington State has done, since WA is the lead state in the Smarter Balance consortium.

***To be deemed ready for college, a student will need a 2.5 or higher. Eight hours of testing, after 12 years of schooling, and a 2.5 on this highly questionable test shows that a student does indeed know enough to go on to college. Under that 2.5, they are not ready for college.

The students, parents and teachers of Connecticut have been had and we have our elected officials to thank for wasting millions of dollars and even worse, precious instructional time that our children will never get back.

The students, parents and teachers of Connecticut have been had and we have our elected officials to thank for wasting millions of dollars and even worse, precious instructional time that our children will never get back.

You can read more about this extraordinary development at:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/State-Board-of-Education-sets-lower-bar-on-Common-Core-tests-320847091.html

 

Ridiculing Latino Leaders says volumes about Luke Bronin’s Campaign for Mayor of Hartford

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Last Saterday Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives, the first Hispanic woman to serve as a Ranking Member of a full House committee and the immediate past Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus came to Harford to endorse Mayor Pedro Segarra’s re-election campaign for mayor.

Segarra is the only Puerto Rican mayor of a major city in the continental United States.

But in a disgusting Fox News like moment, Governor Dannel Malloy’s former spokesperson, who is now working as the mouthpiece of Hartford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, responded to the news with an insulting and disingenuous diatribe that spoke volumes about Luke Bronin and his neo-colonialist attempt to become Hartford’s leader.

When interviewed for a Connecticut Latino News article entitled, “National Latino Political Leaders Focus On Hartford Mayoral Race,” Luke Bronin’s PR person mocked the twelve term congresswoman saying,

“With all due respect to Congresswoman Velazquez, the mayor’s campaign is becoming increasingly erratic.  One minute, he’s decrying outsiders, the next minute he’s bringing them in to help with his struggling campaign.”

News Flash #1 to Luke Bronin;

It is one thing to move to Hartford, run for mayor, raise record-breaking amounts of money from out-of-state and Greenwich residents and claim you are ready to lead a city whose population is majority Hispanic and where 80 percent of the residents are minority … despite NEVER having substantively involved in local government, never having run for office and never even having attended a public school.

It is something very different when one of the most respected and highest ranking Puerto Rican officials in the nation comes to Hartford to endorse a colleague who she has worked with on a number of projects including the historic national Latino and Hispanic Get-Out-The-Vote on effort on behalf of President Obama.

News Flash #2 to Luke Bronin;

For someone who has attended the most exclusive private schools in the nation and the world and thus “MUST” be very smart, it is beyond incredibly stupid to allow your campaign to attack a successful and dynamic member of Congress because she is dedicated to helping other Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Latino leaders.

Your campaign’s inappropriate tactic was the exact opposite of what would expect from a campaign that claims to be about issues.

You personally owe Congresswoman Velazquez and Mayor Segarra an apology and you’d do well to kick your spokesperson to the curb, especially considering he is also the paid representative of the charter school industry in Connecticut.  Using him reiterates the growing reality that you are little more than a creation of Dannel Malloy.

Finally, considering your campaign finance reports indicate no payments to your spokesperson’s New York based PR company, you and your campaign are engaging in a serious campaign violation by using his services without compensation.  It is called an illegal corporate campaign contribution and it calls for action by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

But above all else, allowing your spokesperson’s outrageous comments to stand reveals just how little respect you have for the real people of Hartford.

You can read more about Luke Bronin and his effort to become Hartford’s mayor at:

Wealthy, White, privileged, male from Greenwich tells Hartford – Make me your leader

Just don’t mention race, ethnicity or white privilege and everything will be okay.

Luke Bronin’s Law Firm – 131 White Lawyers, No Latino Lawyers

Luke Bronin – Buying Hartford with the help of Greenwich money

Big Money flowing through Bronin’s New York to Hartford pipeline

Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee – In plain English it’s called obstructing Justice

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Connecticut’s MUST READ news article of the weekend, in case you missed it, was Jon Lender’s “Delay In Enforcing Subpoena Of Democratic Party Records Raises Questions.”

As Wait, What? readers will recall, in the fall of 2013, it became increasingly apparent that Governor Dannel Malloy and his political operatives were intent on undermining Connecticut’s campaign finance law.  The issues began to surface in an October 31, 2013 post entitled, Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform.”

That article was followed by many more…. (See partial list below)

The inappropriate tactics engaged by Malloy and Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee generated multiple campaign finance complaints and a major investigation by the State Election Enforcement Commission.

In a virtually unprecedented step the Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission issued a subpoena for records and documents related to Malloy’s campaign.

As Jon Lender explained,

The SEEC’s May 29 (2015) subpoena sought records that might shed light on the GOP’s claim that Democrats illegally circumvented the state’s ban on contractor contributions last year by collecting state contractors’ money in a “federal account” and using it to pay for mass mailings on behalf of Malloy.

But instead of complying with the subpoena, the lawyer representing Malloy’s political operation refused to hand over the required documents and they have done everything they can to delay, derail and prevent a fair, open and thorough investigation.

The Governor who will become the head of the Democratic Governors Association in January 2015 is engaged in a blatant effort to obstruct justice.

Jon Lender writes,

“The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted June 25 to go to court to enforce a subpoena that the state Democratic Party has defied rather than hand over the party’s records of communications between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and top aides about allegedly illegal spending in his 2014 re-election campaign.

The SEEC’s extraordinary action generated a flurry of news reports. But now, more than a month later, all the noise has died down and no such action has been filed in state Superior Court.

What’s going on?

Government Watch addressed that question a few days ago to the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen, which has the responsibility of filing any court action in behalf of the SEEC. A Jepsen spokeswoman responded with a written statement saying that although the attorney general’s office is aware of the SEEC’s June 25 vote, it hasn’t yet received a written “referral” that formally requests the court action.”

This would be a good time to say…. What the ­­­­­______?

When Lender contacted Jepson’s office he got this,

“In response to your inquiry, our office has not yet received a formal referral from the SEEC. We have been in communication with SEEC — though those communications are subject to attorney-client privilege and we are, therefore, unable to provide details of those communications — and we have designated significant staff resources in anticipation of the referral,” said the statement. “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

It would be inappropriate to comment?

The State Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating whether the Democratic State Central Committee broke the law by using money from its “Federal Account” to benefit Dannel Malloy.

Malloy’s lawyer claims that even though the direct mail pieces were all about Malloy they were actually intended to benefit the entire Democratic Ticket – a Democratic Ticket that included Attorney General George Jepson.

However you look at it – the money was either spent to support Jepsen’s colleague – Dannel Malloy – or it was spent to benefit Jepsen … or both!

And Jepsen’s Office is hardly in a position to “lead” the investigation.

One person who is speaking out is Connecticut’s Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano.

It was the Republican Party’s original complaint that led to the investigation into the Malloy campaign’s inappropriate use of the Democratic State Central Committee’s Federal Account.

Lender adds,

“Romano said he’s not only been wondering what delayed the court action concerning his party’s pending complaint, but he also questions whether the SEEC should be represented by the office of Jepsen — a former state Democratic party chairman who successfully ran for re-election on the same statewide ticket as Malloy.

By statute, the attorney general represents administrative agencies such as the SEEC in court, unless some actual or perceived conflict of interest results in the hiring of an outside, independent law firm. The SEEC has not asked to be represented by legal counsel outside of Jepson’s office — and such a request would be controversial and probably would be viewed as impolitic.

Romano had no qualms about that, though. “The SEEC is doing the best job they can,” he said, but “the people in charge of this” — the handling of the court case, that is — are all allied and were elected along with members of the same party.”

That party, he said, lately has been “doing everything, at all costs, not to have the public look at their records.”

What is clear is that Democratic State Central Committee and their lawyer, David Golub, are working non-stop to derail the investigation.

As background, Lender notes,

“The Republicans’ complaint was filed after the Democrats sent out mass campaign mailings last October that were dominated by photos and assertions aimed at re-electing Malloy. The mailings also contained some small print telling voters when polls would be open on Election Day and providing a phone number to call to get a ride to the polls.

Democrats said that the inclusion of the small print turned the pro-Malloy mailings into “get-out-the-vote” materials — and that because those get-out-the-vote efforts also would help Democratic candidates for Congress who were on the ballot, the mailings had to be paid for using the party’s “federal account.”

Republicans called that a dodge, saying that state contractors were permitted to contribute heavily to the state party’s “federal account” — and that this was a means for Democrats to pump contractors’ money into campaigns for state offices and skirt the clean-election laws that they once championed. Good-government groups such as Common Cause have agreed.

A month before last November’s election, state Democrats requested a legal opinion from the Federal Election Commission on the legality of their plan to use money from their “federal account” to pay for the Malloy mailings. But within a week or so, they went ahead with the mailings and withdrew their request for the FEC’s opinion.

In June, The Courant disclosed that a draft of the legal opinion had been written at the FEC but had not been approved by the time the Democrats withdrew their request. If issued, it would not have been good news for the Democrats; one of its findings was that the mailings appeared to be part of an attempt to “avoid” and “bypass” Connecticut’s clean election laws.

“It would be absurd,” the draft opinion said, “to allow the [Democratic State Central Committee] to circumvent the anticorruption measures of state law by using a federal law that is intended to prevent circumvention of anticorruption measures.”

You can find Jon Lender’s full story at:  http://www.courant.com/politics/hc-lender-democrats-subpoena-delayed-0802-20150801-column.html#page=1

For more about the issue check out the following Wait, What? posts;

Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform (10/31/2013)

Did you see the “For Sale” sign that the Malloy Administration put up? (12/4/2013)

Campaign Finance Reform Malloy Style: NU CEO says support Malloy by giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party (12/5/2013)

Malloy pulls in $36,000 plus from Connecticut nursing home industry (12/6/2013)

Democratic response to Malloy’s fundraising strategy is absurd and insulting… (12/8/2013)

Lobbyists ponied up more than $95,000 for Malloy campaign operation (1/6/2014)

State Contractors can’t make political donations – oh – except to benefit Malloy (1/15/2014)

Connecticut Democratic Party Leaders: It is okay to lie, as long as it’s to raise money… (1/18/14)

Malloy’s double dipping campaign finance gravy train (4/11/2014)

Malloy political operation sidesteps Connecticut law limiting contributions from lobbyists. (4/19/2014)

Malloy is a fraud on campaign finance reform issues  (5/1/2014)

Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut! (9/15/2014)

CT Democratic Chair – The pot that called the kettle black 9/17/2014)

The Democrat’s sanctimonious claims about campaign money (10/7/2014)

Malloy and Democrats are violating Connecticut law with use of Federal PAC funds (10/13/2014)

Breaking News: 3rd Malloy mailing paid for with dirty money arrives in mail boxes (10/19/2014)

Malloy Administration – Release the damn SBAC results!

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The Washington State Department of Education, the lead entity for the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium entity, was using their official website to update that state’s citizens about the 2015 SBAC results on a daily basis as early as June.

By July 2, 2015 Washington officials provided the public with a clear picture of the statewide results in a news release entitled, Sneak Peek at Washington’s Smarter Balanced Results.

For more detail see the Wait, What? post  SBAC results from Washington State confirm test designed to fail vast majority of children

At the same time, the Idaho State Department of Education released its statewide SBAC test results on Wednesday July 1, 2015.  Media outlets in Idaho immediately reported that 70 percent of high school juniors were labeled as failures in math and 67 percent were labeled as failures in English Language Arts, although they did quote Idaho’s education agency as proclaiming that the  STATEWIDE SBAC SCORES BEAT PROJECTIONS.

In Idaho, the media explained,

The SBAC grading process has been fraught by a series of technical and staffing problems. Vendors had pledged to deliver scores within 10 days of testing — the testing window ran from March 30 to May 22. However, districts had been waiting weeks for their scores.

In Maine, the Maine State Department of Education reported

NEW July 8, 2015: Reporting of 2015 Assessment Results: Our earlier estimates of dates for preliminary data being available in the Online Reporting System (ORS) have been revised because the process of scoring constructed-response items took longer than anticipated. Preliminary data intended for internal use will be made available electronically on Tuesday July 14, 2015

But while states across the nation have been reporting their preliminary results and working to get detailed SBAC results out to districts and parents…

There has been nothing but silence from Governor Dannel Malloy’s State Department of Education.

True, other states have spent significant time and energy bending and twisting themselves into knots trying to explain away the unfair and discriminatory results, but at least they have provided information about their 2015 state-wide SBAC results and are moving to get detailed results to the local school districts …. AND PARENTS!

Even in the large state of California, the State Department of California reported that local districts should be getting their DETAILED SBAC data by this week.

But not in Connecticut…

It is way past time for Governor Malloy, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education and the State Department of Education to stop playing games and release the 2015 SBAC data.

We know, from their previous behavior, that they will say or do anything to try to explain that the Common Core and the Common Core SBAC testing scheme are good for Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and schools.

But the truth is the SBAC is unfair, inappropriate, and discriminatory and designed to fail our children.

Yet school districts, school administrators, teachers and parents are going to be told that they should use the 2015 SBAC results to identify students with problems.

The notion is absurd and insulting.

However, even more disingenuous and insulting is failing to provide the test results at all.  Parents and teachers deserve to get the results so they can see just how inappropriate and unfair the Common Core SBAC testing is.

Malloy and his pro-Common Core, Pro-Common Core testing, corporate education reform industry entourage need to come clean and just release the damn SBAC results!

Connecticut taxpayers coughed up more than $30 million in state funds for these terrible tests and every Connecticut school district spent even more as they purchased more computers, more Internet bandwidth while teachers and students wasted countless hours on test prep and testing.

As the CT Post reported just two days ago in a story entitled  Districts still waiting for SBAC test results

The controversial on-line test tied to the new Common Core Curriculum standards forced school districts to increase band-widths, rotate students through computer labs in many cases, and helped fuel a growing anti-testing movement.

So what are the results? How bad did students do? (If other states ahead of Connecticut in giving the test are any indication, the news will not be good.) Well, districts still don’t know or aren’t saying. At last check, Bridgeport’s Interim Superintendent of Schools, Fran Rabinowitz, said she did not even know what level of specificity she will be getting in terms of scores. She said it better provide her more with a number and a label for students. She wants to know specifically what they know and what they don’t.

“I want results that will allow me to make changes in the curriculum,” Rabinowitz said. “I don’t want results that simply say, ‘below average.’ I want to know what are the curriculum implications for the child and the district.”

Before the next school year begins would also be nice.

Yeah, before the next school year begins would be nice…

In fact, how about releasing the results NOW? – Considering the Malloy administration has had the statewide results for about a month!

Luke Bronin’s Law Firm – 131 White Lawyers, No Latino Lawyers

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After serving for two years as Governor Dannel Malloy’s chief lawyer, Greenwich native Luke Bronin left his $160,000 a year state position to run for mayor of Hartford.  At the same time Bronin landed a lucrative position as a partner with the major law firm of Hinkley-Allen.

According to Law Firm Stats, the “world’s largest and most detailed source of information about law firms,” Hinkley Allen has 131 White Lawyers, 2 Asian Lawyers and 2 African American lawyers.

The law firm tracking company reports that when it comes to diversity – or the lack thereof – Hinkley Allen’s failure to hire Latino and African-American’s places it almost in the bottom 10 percent of all major law firms in the nation,

While Bronin’s law firm may lack diversity, lawyers with the firm have certainly been stepping up to support their colleague’s campaign.

In the first 120 days of Bronin’s campaign, there were at least 29 major contributions from attorneys with Hinkley Allen.  The amount of money pouring in from lawyers at the firm totaled $13,500 and that doesn’t even count the money that came in from their spouses.

Originally based in Rhode Island, Hinkley Allen has offices in Hartford, Boston, New York and elsewhere.

Hinkley Allen arrived in Connecticut in 2008 when it merged with the law firm of Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn.  In 2013, the politically connected law firm of Levy, Droney became part of Hinkley Allen.  John Droney, a co-founder of Levy, Droney is the former chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Hinkley Allen is perhaps best known for its representation of major contractors including a number that have contracts with the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford.

Just don’t mention race, ethnicity or white privilege and everything will be okay.

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Despite the angry remarks and heated denials, as the United States flirts with the potential of beginning a discussion about actually coming to grips with the rampant racism that undermines its egalitarian principles, the fact that the Hartford Democratic Town Committee handed its endorsement for mayor to a white, wealthy, privileged Greenwich native is, in fact, an appropriate issue to discuss.

For Democrats, who have traditionally supported the underlying value and necessity of affirmative action and recognized the critical importance of political self-determination, Luke Bronin’s rising candidacy could be called an example of neo-colonialism, in which the super elite and outsiders, claiming to “know best,” manipulate or corrupt the political process.

To others, Bronin’s arrival on the scene is being described as a way to save Hartford from itself.

As a suburban Democrat posted to Facebook yesterday,

“For when you consider Luke Bronin for Mayor‘s resume, its more like a top-notch major league pitching prospect choosing to start his career with a basement-dwelling single-A ball club that nobody goes to see play.”  He added, “Hartford is incredibly lucky that a man with Bronin’s ambition, strategic vision, and demonstrated ability to execute wants this job.”

However you see it, this political development pushes Hartford and Connecticut into the national debate about the role of race, ethnicity and white privilege in American politics.

The tone and tenor of the comments, Tweets and Facebook posts the followed the recent publication of the Wait, What? post Wealthy, White, privileged, male from Greenwich tells Hartford – Make me your leader also say a lot about how we grapple with the topic of race, ethnicity and power.

As we should all be keenly aware, racism, discrimination and the notion of white privilege goes well beyond the issue of shooting unarmed African American men in the back or dragging an African –American woman off to jail because she was not a “model person” when inappropriately stopped by a white police officer.

So “with all due respect” to the individuals who commented or Tweeted that I was a racist and a bigot for even discussing Luke Bronin’s rise to stardom, the facts themselves are pretty simple.

In a city in which half the residents are Latino, and more than 80 percent are “minority,” it is certainly newsworthy that Hartford’s Democratic elite have thrown their money, power, support and endorsement behind a White newcomer rather than go with the incumbent Latino mayor.

With Mayor Pedro Segarra calling the endorsement process corrupt and walking out of the Democratic Town Committee meeting last night, the final vote was 49 for Bronin with 23 members abstaining.

But more hidden from view, and far more consequential was the dance of the power-brokers who had successfully lined up considerable support for Bronin’s candidacy.

With significant guidance from William DiBella, the former State Senator and present Chairman of the influential Metropolitan District Commission, along with other key white political players at the state and local level, Bronin has been able to persuade many political and business leaders in Hartford to support him rather than support or seek out alternative African-American and Latino candidates.

In the world in which we live it would be unlikely, even unfathomable, that a young Latino or African-American would be able to move from Hartford to Greenwich and quickly line up the support to become the town’s first selectman.  For that matter, any person, no matter their color, would have a hard time moving from one town to another and then announcing that they are ready to be chosen as the community’s chief elected official in a matter of a few years.

However, the reality surrounding wealth and white privilege functions by its own set of rules – especially when it is inserted into the urban, minority politics of a major city.

Not only did the stars align early for Bronin’s quest to become Hartford’s mayor, but the evidence is clear that Governor Malloy, top Democratic state leaders and a number of the state’s corporate executives played a major role in giving life to Luke Bronin’s aspirations.

And leading the list of factors is harsh reality that money is “The Mother’s Milk” of politics.

According to his most recent campaign finance report, Luke Bronin raised a record-breaking $661,000 in the first six months of his campaign, leaving him with five or six times what Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has to defend his position.

Bronin’s donor list turns out to be a who’s who in Connecticut government and politics including Malloy’s former Chief of Staff, Tim Bannon, and a lengthy list of major lobbyists, those who do business with the state and those who have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare programs.

The money trail also speaks volumes about Luke Bronin’s candidacy, modern politics and the state of our democracy.

In the opening weeks of the campaign, Bronin raised just over $381,000 including nearly 100 $1,000 donors – the maximum allowable contribution – from people who reside outside of Connecticut.

While this mayoral election is about who should lead the City of Hartford, Connecticut, a leading source of Bronin’s major donors is New York, where he collected $50,000 in 50 individual $1,000 checks in just the first sixty or so days of his campaign.

Additional maximum contributions came from people in Washington D.C., Florida, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Hawaii, Nebraska, Delaware, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin, Vermont, North Carolina and Nebraska.

During those early weeks, Bronin held two campaign fundraisers in Washington D.C., as well as fundraising events in Los Angeles and New York City.

Bronin was also able to cash in with donors from his hometown of Greenwich, where at least 31 people gave him the maximum allowable contribution of $1,000 per person.

As the first fundraising period ended, Bronin had nearly 120 people in suburban Connecticut donate the maximum $1,000 contribution.

Next to Greenwich, the most fertile ground was West Hartford were his donor list includes some of the biggest and most consistent donors to the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Whether measured by the influence of Connecticut political and business elite or by the massive amount of money that is pouring into Luke Bronin’s campaign, what is happening to the people of Hartford is indicative of something much bigger than simply a primary challenge between the community’s various political factions.

Self-determination is traditionally defined as the right of the people of a particular place to choose their government and leaders and where they have the freedom to make their own choices.”

Luke Bronin may very well get elected and be a fine mayor, but to pretend that race, ethnicity and white privilege is not a factor in the Hartford’s mayoral campaign is to deny reality and to deny the truth is a grave injustice to the people of Hartford.

For more about recent political developments in Hartford check out the following links;

Hartford Courant – http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-democrats-nominating-convention-0728-20150727-story.html

CTNewsjunkie – http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/segarra_walks_out_as_bronin_secures_mayoral_endorsement/

Colin McEnroe – http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/city-of-hartford-jedi-masters-need-not-apply/

WNPR – http://wnpr.org/post/hartfords-pedro-segarra-wins-emotions-luke-bronin-wins-endorsement

NBC (CT) – http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics/Hartford-Mayoral-Candidate-Luke-Bronin-Wins-Democratic-Party-Endorsement-318727211.html

WFSB (CT) – http://www.wfsb.com/story/29643077/hartford-dems-endorse-luke-bronin

 

 

Wealthy, White, privileged, male from Greenwich tells Hartford – Make me your leader

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UPDATED to include Bronin’s time in Hartford in when he served as aide to the President of Hartford Financial Services

Meet Luke Bronin.

Luke moved to Hartford from Washington just over two years ago.

[Luke had previously lived in Hartford for period in 2007-2008 when he had served as the top aide to the President of the Hartford Financial Services company]

Luke grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Luke attended the exclusive Greenwich Day School and then Philip Exeter Academy; the nation’s most elite preparatory boarding school.  Bronin went on to get degrees from Yale University, Oxford University and then returned to Yale School of Law for to get his law degree.

With no municipal or elected experience, Luke now says he is ready to “bring new leadership” to Harford, the poorest city of its size in the United States.

In a city in which more than 80% of the residents are “minority,” the notion that a White, privileged, wealthy, young man from Greenwich would move to Hartford, Connecticut and run for Mayor might raise some eyebrows.

So would the fact that Luke Bronin, who has never run for office, raised more than $660,000 in first six months of his campaign, a significant amount of that money coming from the white, business elite who may work in Hartford, but live far, far away from the city and its troubles.

But perhaps the most telling development of all is that with the Hartford Democratic Town Committee set to meet tomorrow, July 27, 2015 to select their nominee for mayor, Luke Bronin appears on the verge of getting enough support from Hartford’s leading political players that the Democratic Party will jettison its Hispanic, incumbent Mayor, Pedro Segarra, and hand the Democratic nomination to the newcomer.

Back on January 15, 2013, Governor Dannel Malloy named Luke A. Bronin to replace Andrew McDonald as the governor’s chief counsel.

At the time, Bronin announced that he was “happy to be moving back” to Connecticut and would be locating in Hartford.  Unmentioned was the news that Bronin and his wife had purchased a dilapidated Bushnell Park Brownstone seven months earlier and were part-way through renovating it.

Less than two years later, Malloy’s Office announced that Bronin was leaving the post as Malloy’s legal advisor.  As the Hartford Courant explained at the time, Luke Bronin, who is “strongly considering” a run for mayor of Hartford, will join the law firm Hinckley Allen.

On January 15, 2015 exactly two years from the date Malloy announced Bronin would leave Washington for Connecticut, Bronin announced that he would be challenging Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for the mayor.

The move surprised many since Mayor Pedro Segarra has worked tirelessly on Governor Malloy’s behalf and not only had he appointed Bronin’s wife to serve on Hartford’s powerful Planning and Zoning Commissioner, but despite her being new to the City, made her the Chair of the PZC where she helped push through the new Hartford Stadium Project.

But Luke said he was running and compared to Hartford’s per capita income of $16,610, the Bronin’s income must place him among the wealthiest 1% in the Capital city.

Certainly his prestigious education background and golden-boy credentials put him in a league by himself.

Bronin’s state-of-the-art website, developed by a Washington D.C. consulting firm that built Governor Malloy’s campaign website and has also done work for the Connecticut Democratic Party, features a “Meet Luke” section in which the viewer will be informed by pictures of Luke Bronin on the steps of his Hartford Brownstone, a picture of Luke in full military battle attire and the ever-present picture of Luke surrounded by his attractive family.  (Mayor Segarra, whose spouse is male, has pictures that are somewhat different).

The Meet Luke bio explains;

Luke is a father, a husband, a veteran, an attorney, and a committed public servant — who is running for Mayor to get Hartford working again — for all of Hartford’s residents.

In this day and age when people often “pad their resumes” or go so far as to attempt to “change” their race or ethnicity to gain the upper hand, Luke Bronin’s website, interestedly, makes absolutely no mention, at all, of his educational background.

While dozens of Bronin bios on the Internet celebrate his elite educational achievements, there is not a single word on his campaign website biography about where he went to school or that he is new to Hartford.

While there is mention of his work fighting “Al Qaeda” and “rogue regimes like Iran and Syria, and international organized crime,” there is no mention that he graduated with a law degree from Yale University in 2006, or got a degree from England’s venerable Oxford University in 2003, or a Philosophy degree in 2001 from Yale.  He even fails to mention he graduated from Philips Exeter Academy, the most prestigious boarding school in the nation, or that he also graduated from the Greenwich Day School, the very same institutions that educated President George H.W. Bush.

Bronin’s pitch stays on the straight and narrow message that he is a “Man of the People” and simply arrived on this earth ready for battle for the “little people.”

While the Bronin website goes into great detail about his previous occupations, there is no mention of the Greenwich Day School (Tuition starts at $33,500 for kindergarten and rises to $37,500 a year for the higher grades), Phillips Exeter Academy (With a cost of $48,000 a year, although that does include the $180 “Linen Fee”) or that he spent ten years in the halls of Oxford and Yale.

In today’s dollars, the cost of an education like that would be far more than the vast majority of Hartford residents will ever make in their lifetime… In fact, it is more than all the residents of entire Hartford neighborhoods earn.

There is certainly one thing you can say for Luke Bronin…he has been planning for his rise to power and stardom for a very long time.

Long before Luke Bronin announced that he was planning to become Hartford next mayor in January 2015, he had already reserved a plethora of website names, including;

ilikeluke.com

ilikeluke.net

ilikeluke.us

ilikeluke.org

Along with other sites he might need such as luckbronin.com, lukebronin.us, lukebronin.net and lukebronin.org.

All are now linked to his campaign website: http://lukebronin.com/

Most, if not all, of these sites were purchased when Bronin was still a kid at Yale University, where he collected the website names using his Yale University email and his Greenwich home address.

In total, Bronin appears to have reserved at least twenty three website names, the majority aimed at locking down any and all that he might want to use in his future political endeavors.

Although, at the time, it looks like he also purchased underpuppy.com and underpuppy.net, but one assumes that must have been for some unrelated project.

And then there is this…

While Bronin’s early effort to buy up every “ilikeluke” website reveals the drive of the young politician, the more noteworthy tidbit may be that on January 12, 2015 – three days before Bronin announced that he was running for mayor– some “entity” purchased and locked up:

Ilikepedro.com

Ilikepedro.net

Ilikepedro.org

And that secret entity?  PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC, using Network Solutions LLC

And what do does one discover when looking up the various Ilikeluke and his other Luke Bronin campaign websites?  They are all managed by PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC, using Network Solutions LLC.

Yup, looks like Luke Bronin is so “sophisticated” that not only did he buy up websites that he might need to promote his own name, but before he even announced that he was running against Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, he bought up the websites Segarra might want to use.

Bronin’s calculated effort to become Hartford’s mayor is a powerful reminder that while hashtags like #blacklivesmatter continues to trending on Twitter,

#wealthywhiteprivilegedandmale is still a concept that is very much a part of the American political environment.

Stay tuned for the news from tomorrow’s Hartford Democratic Town Committee meeting.

A reader asks their Legislator – Why did you bail on Connecticut’s students, parents and teachers?

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Bill Morrison is an outstanding educator and education advocate.

A regular reader and participant on the Wait, What? blog, Bill recently followed up on the post Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam, to ask his state legislator why they simply turned their back on their constituents when Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed a bill that would have required Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate education experience.

If everyone would take such action, legislators across the state would understand that their subservient behavior to Malloy’s whims was unacceptable.

What follows is Bill’s correspondence with his legislator followed by a breakdown of how legislators voted on the veto override effort.

From Bill Morrison:

I wrote the following letter to my Representative. He was one who failed to even show up.

Dear Representative Ryan,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a registered Democrat, a constituent, and I voted for you. I am also retired Navy, and I am a public high school history and social studies teacher.

That said, I am extremely disappointed that my state legislature allowed itself to be bullied into not overriding Malloy’s veto of the Bill setting minimum professional standards for State Commissioners of Education. As a professional educator, I am heartily sick and tired of Malloy’s targeting us for persecution, demonization, and vilification. I am sick of him undermining our strong efforts, especially in urban schools. And, I am disillusioned that a Democrat governor could so obviously pander to corrupt corporate interests through his immense support of charter schools and high-stakes standardized testing. In short, I am very disgusted by my own Party because of its sycophancy towards Malloy and corporate interests.

Yesterday, the legislature voted not to override Malloy’s veto, with many Democrats not even showing up for the vote. As you are aware, Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, was extremely unqualified for the position, and he wreaked havoc in Connecticut’s public schools. His appointment was on obvious conflict of interest because of his affiliation with Achievement First Charter Schools (a corporation that gained financially because of Malloy’s and Pryor’s influence), and he was manifestly not qualified for the position because of his not having any background in education. I had hoped that the legislature would stand up for the Connecticut’s citizens instead of slavishly pandering to Malloy. Instead of doing the right thing for Connecticut’s children, families, and schools, Democrats would not even stand up for a Bill that they had drafted in the first place, a Bill that passed the Senate unanimously with all but five dissenters in the Legislature.

I feel nothing but shame for my Party, and I sincerely hope that Democrats learn from this that they need to return to their roots and support their true constituents not big money.

Bill Morrison

While nearly every Republican legislator voted in favor of students, parents and teachers, the vast majority of Democratic legislators reversed their support or simply failed to show up when the vote to override Malloy’s veto was taken.

Here is more information about how legislators voted;

Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam.

No Democratic legislator voted against the bill during the regular session, but apparently terrified to upset Governor Dannel Malloy or go against their own Democratic leaders, nearly 60% of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives failed to show up for the vote.

Of the 37 Democrats who did attend the veto session, 18 voted to override Governor Malloy’s veto, while an incredible 19 Democrats rolled over and changed their votes in a bizarre subservient gesture to Malloy.

Democrats switching sides to vote in favor of Malloy’s veto included the Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Majority Leader of the House Joe Aresimowicz, Chairman of the Education Committee, Andrew Fleischmann, Chairman of the Human Services Committee Peter Tercyak, and Windham State Representative  Susan Johnson  The entire list included; 

DEMOCRATS supporting Malloy’s veto
ALTOBELLO
ARCE
ARESIMOWICZ
FLEISCHMANN
GENGA
HENNESSY
JANOWSKI
JOHNSON
LOPES
MCGEE
SANTIAGO, E.
SANTIAGO, H.
SIMMONS
STAFSTROM
TERCYAK
SHARKEY (SPKR)
GENTILE (DEP)
GODFREY (DEP)
SAYERS (DEP)

 

Democrats who failed to even show up at the 2015 Veto Session included

DEMOCRATS FAILED TO SHOW UP
ADAMS X
ARCONTI X
BACKER, T. X
BAKER X
BARAM X
BECKER, B. X
BERGER X
BOUKUS X
BRYCKI X
BUTLER X
CANDELARIA, J. X
CONROY X
CUEVAS X
CURREY X
DARGAN X
DILLON X
ESPOSITO X
FOX X
FRITZ X
GONZALEZ X
GUERRERA X
HAMPTON X
HEWETT X
KINER X
LESSER X
LUXENBERG X
MCCARTHY VAHEY X
MCCRORY X
MEGNA X
MILLER, P. X
MUSHINSKY X
PERONE X
REED X
RILEY X
RITTER X
ROJAS X
ROSARIO X
ROSATI X
ROSE X
SCANLON X
SERRA X
STALLWORTH X
TONG X
URBAN X
VERRENGIA X
WALKER X
ZONI X
MILLER, P.B. (DEP) X
MORRIS (DEP) X
RYAN (DEP) X

 

Democrats who stood up to Malloy and the Democratic Leadership and voted to override Malloy’s veto;

 

DEMOCRATS VOTED TO OVERRIDE MALLOY
ABERCROMBIE Y
ALBIS Y
ALEXANDER Y
COOK Y
D’AGOSTINO Y
DEMICCO Y
HADDAD Y
JUTILA Y
LEMAR Y
MORIN Y
NICASTRO Y
PORTER Y
ROVERO Y
SANCHEZ Y
STEINBERG Y
VARGAS Y
WILLIS Y
ORANGE (DEP) Y

 

Perhaps most telling of all, the following Democratic legislators co-sponsored the legislation requiring Connecticut’s commissioner of education have educational experience and then failed to back the bill when that support was necessary.

Rep. David W. Kiner, 59th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. David Arconti, 109th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, 95th Dist.              (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Terry B. Adams, 146th Dist.                  (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, 145th Dist.         (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Kim Rose, 118th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Louis P. Esposito, 116th Dist.               (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Eric D. Coleman, 2nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, 17th Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Marilyn Moore, 22nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

If you don’t know who your State Senator or State Representative is go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/

And scroll down for form to use to identify your elected officials

Charter School + Corporate Education Reform Industry continue record-breaking spending on lobbying

4 Comments

With the 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly finally over, the corporate education reform industry is celebrating its victories.

More money for charter schools, while Connecticut’s public schools remain significantly underfunded, tops their list.

In addition, of course, there is the incredible and unethical defeat of the legislation that would have required Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate classroom and education experience.

All together the various corporate funded “education reform” groups dropped another $1.4 million, over the last six months, to promote and lobby on behalf of Governor Dannel Malloy’s anti-teacher, education reform initiatives that included diverting even more scarce public funds to privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

According to the June reports filed with the Connecticut Office of State Ethics, Charter Schools and Corporate Education Reform groups have spent the following so far this year;

Corporate Education Reform Organization Amount Spent on Lobbying
   
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN) $84,100
   
Achievement First, Inc. (Dacia Toll/Stefan Pryor) $5,700
   
Connecticut Council for Education Reform  (CCER) $40,000
   
North East Charter School Network $109,700
   
Families for Excellent Schools Inc./Coalition for Every Child $1,123,300
Bronx Charter School for Excellence $13,100
   
Other Corporate Education Front Groups include FaithActs for Education, Educators 4 Excellence, Connecticut School Finance Project, Achieve Hartford, Excel Bridgeport…  
TOTAL LOBBYING EXPENDITURES BY CHARTER SCHOOL INDUSTRYJanuary 1, 2015 – May 31, 2015 $1,375,900

 

Not surprising, a number of individuals associated with Malloy have collected huge amounts of money in lobbying and public relations fees to help promote his “education reform” agenda.

Consultants and lobbyists who made money this year from the corporate education reform industry included;

Corporate Education Reform Group Consultants and Lobbyists
Families for Excellent Schools Andrew Doba (Malloy’s former spokesman)
Roy Occhiogroso (Malloy’s chief advisor)
ConnCAN: Gaffney, Bennett & Associates
Connecticut Council for Education Reform: Reynolds Strategy Group
NE Charter School Network: Depino, Nunez & Biggs

 

Since the corporate education reform industry began ramping up their lobbying efforts as part of Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative of 2012, the various charter school advocates and education reform groups have spent a record breaking $8.4 million on behalf of their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing, anti-teacher agenda.

CT Mirror recently took a look at lobbying expenditures in an article entitled Digging into spending on lobbying in ConnecticutAlthough they noted the massive expenditure by the lead education reform group, Families for Excellent Schools, which is based in New York, they didn’t total all of the funds being spent by the corporate funded education reform advocacy group.

However, no matter how you calculate it, the education reform industry has become the biggest “player” when it comes to lobbying Connecticut State Government.

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