Education Reform, Pelto, Sarah Darer Littman, Standardized Testing, Wendy Lecker Standardized Testing
(A Blog Post by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto)
Ask any parent, high school student or teacher- 11th grade is hell. Aside from the heavy course-load, juniors have to suffer through a litany of standardized tests- and these count: SATs, SAT subject tests, ACTs, APs.
Could anyone make junior year any worse? Why yes! Thank President Obama, Secretary Duncan, Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education and Connecticut’s esteemed legislators. They all pushed and/or voted to make the Common Core State Standards Connecticut law.
As we all know, the CAPT test, the only state standardized test in high school, is administered in 10th grade. That test will now be replaced by the Common Core test, which will now be administered in 11th grade.
Would anyone who has any familiarity with high school ever be moronic enough to add ANOTHER standardized test to 11th grade, losing weeks of learning time and adding stress to the pressure cooker that is junior year?
Of course not- but then again, students, parents and teachers were never consulted before the Common Core was rammed down our throats.
What could possibly be the justification for this move to eleventh grade testing? That “we” want to make sure students are “college-ready?” Do people really think that a standardized test, scored in seconds by a computer, will tell us whether a student is ready for the research, writing and in-depth learning she will face in college? Rather than imposing tests that pretend to measure whether they are college-ready, leave our kids alone- they already have enough exams on their plate. We want them to be well-rounded, healthy individuals, with time for extra-curricular interests and yes, even a social life.
Defenders of the Common Core, a set of standards written with virtually no teacher involvement, like to claim that its critics are right-wing nuts or left-wing nuts.
But we aren’t. We are parents, who care deeply about education and learning. We also love our children and unlike the geniuses that thought it would be a bright idea to add another round of high stakes testing in junior year, we understand their social and emotional needs.
When Sarah told her junior daughter that the Greenwich Board of Education had planned Common Core Alignment Testing to gather data for the State Board of Education this month, while she was also going to be taking AP Exams and preparing for the SAT, she said, “That’s just disrespectful.” She is right.
We adults expect respect from our teenagers. But to earn their respect, we must show them the respect they, too, deserve. Expecting them take an assessment test for data purposes when they are already facing so much pressure is not only disrespectful, it is unhealthy.
Greenwich parents rebelled and Greenwich was allowed to opt-out of testing – for this year. But just for this year. Meanwhile, across the state, juniors in other districts are suffering. Parents in the wealthy suburbs had better wake up and smell the coffee. This testing madness is coming for your kids too.
As adults, we should be modeling balance for our kids, not cruelty and insanity. The rate of suicide for the 15-24 age group has nearly tripled since 1960. Is it any wonder when the State Board of Education and the National Secretary of Education treat our already stressed out teens like lab rats instead of human beings?
This is not a partisan issue. This is a conflict between those driven by ideology alone, who clearly will never live with the consequences of their policies, versus those who live with children in our public schools. And for those of us who teach in, learn in or have children in high school, no matter what our political affiliation, it is time to rise up and shout: “Enough is enough!”
Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto are public education advocates and commentators. In addition to their pieces here at Wait, What? you can find many of Wendy’s commentary pieces at the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media Group papers and Sarah’s at CTNewsjunkie.
Pelto 2012, Pelto
“Every New Year is the direct Descendant, isn’t it, of a long line of proven criminals? – Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
Maybe it is me, but I am never quite sure what Ogden Nash was referring to half the time.
That said, here we are; at the end to another year… and it’s time to post an observation (with apologies for any typos).
Following the unimaginable horror and despair that enveloped us the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre, it remains difficult to know how to move forward, let alone look back on 2012.
The notion of “fiscal cliffs” and “deficit mitigation bills” seem almost minor in scale and yet somehow a fitting portrayal of life, as we know it, in our “modern, advanced capitalist” world.
I mean, in the face of an impending fiscal catastrophe, we are left to watch the outrageous activities of some of our Nation’s “leaders.” They leave me with the indelible imagine of the little child sitting with his hands over his eyes, singing out… “You can’t see me.”
And meanwhile, right here at home in Connecticut, a Democratic legislature adopts a Deficit Mitigation Bill that no self-respecting Democrat should have ever voted for.
But it is…as the saying goes…par for the course.
According to a study by Credit Suisse Research, when it comes to the gap between the haves and have-nots, the United States is quickly becoming the most economically unequal country in the world. As the report concluded, “Among countries with at least a quarter-million adults, only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon are more unequal.”
Meanwhile, the richest 10 percent of Americans own 93 percent of the non-home wealth in this country.
Way back in the 2000s, “only” about 66% of all income went to the richest 1%. But good news for the rich, in the first year following the recent “Great Recession,” the Levy Economics Institute, at Bard College, found that more than 90% of all new income went to the richest 1%.
None of this should come as a surprise. Leading up the Great Depression, the top ten percent of Americas received about 45 percent of the income. In 2010, the top 10 percent’s share reached a record-breaking 47.9 percent.
Put another way, from 1983 to 2010, “the share of total wealth in the U.S. held by the richest 10 percent of American households increased from 68.2 percent to 76.7 percent” …while the other 90 percent of the population got poorer.
Not to be confused by the facts, the media continues to report on the rising stock market, as if the daily numbers are sure to help every American. They someone forget to mention that the “60% of the lowest earning American’s own just .2% of all non-home equity (i.e. stocks)
And to personalize the whole picture, according to Standard & Poor’s, the CEOs of the top 500 companies earned 380 times more than the average American worker. The difference is a not so small change from 1965 when the average CEO earned 20 times more than the average American worker.
Not long ago, Bill Moyers was asked to address the state of the American Economy.
To drive a key point home, Moyers spoke of Connecticut resident Ray Dalio, who is not only one of America’s richest men, but founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund.
Of course, readers of Wait, What? know Dalio and his hedge fund. It was only a few months ago that Governor Malloy decided to give Dalio $115,000,000 (that is $115 million) in public funds this year to persuade him to move his business from one Connecticut town to Stamford.
As Moyer’s writes, Dalio “earned between two and three billion dollars in 2011 and wound up #55 on the Forbes 400 list. The New Yorker reports that he is a philosopher at heart. He claims to have figured out not only how the economic machine works but how the principles of natural selection – “the survival of the fittest” – apply to business. He has even produced a collection of maxims to explain, as he puts it, how “almost everything is like a machine. Nature is a machine. The family is a machine. The life cycle is a machine.” To succeed in this kind of world, he wrote in one essay, you need to “Be a hyena. Attack the wildebeest.”
With that Dalio wrote, “When a pack of hyenas takes down a young wildebeest, is that good or evil? At face value that might not be ‘good’ because it seems cruel, and the poor wildebeest suffers and dies. Some people might even say that the hyenas are evil. Yet this type of apparently ‘cruel’ behavior exists throughout the animal kingdom. Like death itself, it is integral to the enormously complex and efficient system that has worked for as long as there has been life. It is good for both the hyenas who are operating in their self-interest and the interest of the greater system of the wildebeest, because killing and eating the wildebeest fosters evolution (i.e., the natural process of improvement.) In fact, if you changed anything about the way that dynamic works, the overall outcome would be worse…Like the hyenas attacking the wildebeest, successful people might not even know if or how their pursuit of self-interest helps society, but it typically does…”
Moreover, he concludes: “How much money people have earned is a rough measure of how much they gave society what it wanted.”
Well, Connecticut’s Democratic legislators may have decided to balance the state’s $415 million dollar deficit on the back of many of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, along with those attending public institutions of higher education, but at least we gave Dalio the $115 million he wanted to remain a Connecticut.
Lest we forget, in his day, the Great Greek thinker, Plutarch, (ca. 46-120 CE), observed that, “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”
In any case, all of this brings us back to the notion that on December 31, one is supposed to look back at the highlights of the year.
And traditionally, it is necessary to pick our one or two things that truly summarize the year that was.
It would certainly be tempting to give the “man of the year” award to someone like Dalio. When all is said and done, he did manage to get $115 million in publically funded corporate welfare at a time when vital services were being cut, but all things considered, I think there is an even more worthy candidate.
My vote for the man who best represents 2012 —- in fact – let us call him the epitome of 2012 is Capt. Francesco Schettino.
Why yes, Captain Francesco Schettino.
Perhaps we should have realized it was an omen of things to come, but in January 2012, as Captain of the Costa Concordia, Schettino managed to get himself charged with causing a shipwreck, engaging in manslaughter and abandoning the ship worth hundreds of millions of dollars – before all passengers were evacuated.
According to published reports, the Costa Concordia ran aground that fateful January day with roughly 4,200 people on the Costa Concordia, 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members.
Less than half an hour after the accident, the Captain ordered dinner, but then, when the magnitude of the disaster became clear, he abandoned the ship.
With only a dozen or so dead, the Captain’s brother-in-law defended him in an Italian newspaper later that same week saying that the Captain, “managed to avoid a tragedy — it could have been worse,” and when asked about the fact that the captain had abandoned ship, the brother-in-law said, “”He was not running away, he came down (from the ship) to survey the damage.”
Meanwhile, the company that owned the ship issued a statement saying that Costa Cruises, “complies very strictly with all safety regulations and our personnel are committed, first and foremost, to guest safety and security…All crew members are trained in basic safety and emergency management, and their skills are tested periodically by Coast Guard authorities…”
It would have been an impressive statement had CNN not reported that, “Survivors of the wreck, however, described crew members who appeared overwhelmed, ‘There wasn’t anybody to help you,’ said passenger Vivian Safer. ‘I mean, the passengers were loading the lifeboats by themselves.’”
So, in the spirit of the Season, I urge all my readers to lift the glasses in a toast….
Here is to Captain Schettino, Billionaire Ray Dalio, the Washington politicians sitting around thinking that by covering their eyes we can’t see them, and the politicians here at home that decided that rather than ask millionaires to pay their fair share in income taxes, it was smarter and better to cut essential services.
Or…As Oprah Winfrey said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”
In all times, but especially in these troubled times, we must never forget the essential words of Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), the great philosopher who helped lay the ground work for the Enlightenment;
“Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” - Baruch Spinoza
In this season of hope, whether you are celebrating the Wiccan holiday of Yule, or the festival of light celebrated in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism or any of the other faiths and beliefs that create our patchwork of humanity –
May peace come to you and yours.
I hope you find yourself surrounded by family and friends, enjoying a safe, healthy and joyous time.
Education Reform, Malloy, Pelto, School Funding/ECS, State Budget, Wendy Lecker Lecker, Malloy, Pelto, school funding, State Budget
It is common to hear school reformers say that money isn’t a real issue in improving schools. Here’s a piece that says otherwise. It was written by Wendy Lecker, parent of three children in Stamford, Connecticut’s public schools, and Jonathan Pelto, a former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives who now provides commentary on politics and public policy at his blog,“Wait, What?” This appeared in the Hartford Courant.
By Wendy Lecker and Jonathan Pelto
“The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities just issued a report concluding that Connecticut’s public schools are grossly under-funded and calling for meaningful reform of Connecticut’s school funding system.
Pulling no punches, the report acknowledges that school finance reform cannot be done on the cheap and that significantly more funding is needed in order to provide all students with a quality education.
As the report declared, “the State should not sacrifice the futures of another generation of school children waiting for the courts to tell them — yet again — to meet its state constitutional funding responsibilities.”
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) estimates $763 million in underfunding, representing only the gap between current funding and fully funding the Education Cost Sharing formula as it stands now. However, that formula is flawed and does not reflect the true cost of education in Connecticut. In fact, as part of its recommendations, CCM calls for an “education adequacy cost study” to assess the actual cost of education, including all the factors affecting this cost. Doing so increases the number beyond $1 billion.
CCM’s clarity of vision derives from the experience of its members: the municipalities that deal on a daily basis with escalating education costs and inadequate funding. Because of the state’s underfunding of public schools, Connecticut’s cities and towns, especially its poorer communities, are forced to deprive their own schools of needed resources.
The result is that children and teachers must endure large classes, insufficient textbooks, computers and other learning tools, buildings in disrepair, slashing of teaching positions, and the elimination of programs and courses.
In Connecticut and around the country, courts have consistently ruled that underfunded schools amount to constitutional violations of children’s right to an education.
In New York, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Washington and many other states, courts have determined that there is “a causal connection between the poor performance of … students and the low funding provided their schools.“
Unlike the modern corporate education reformers, rather than vilify teachers and educational experts, courts value their firsthand knowledge of school conditions, their effects on learning, and the resources needed to give all students an equal opportunity to learn.
When shown evidence of conditions in actual schools, courts consistently find what CCM contends – without adequate funding, schools cannot provide an adequate education.”
The rest of the Washington Post column here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/11/25/how-grossly-underfunded-are-public-schools/
And you can find the original Hartford Courant piece here: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-pelto-lecker-connecticut-schools-underfunded-20121123,0,6000165.story
Malloy, Pelto, School Funding/ECS, State Budget, State Legislature, Wendy Lecker Malloy, school funding
Will Malloy rise to the occasion and make resolving Connecticut’s School Funding Crisis his legacy?
From today’s Hartford Courant Commentary by JONATHAN PELTO AND WENDY LECKER
“Courts have been equally clear that when schools are given adequate resources, learning improves.
In New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, Massachusetts and elsewhere, increased spending on basic educational resources led to demonstrated improved achievement.
Despite vast differences among states, courts enumerated a remarkably consistent list of educational necessities, including: high-quality preschool, small class size, additional services for at-risk students, supports for teachers such as professional development, curriculum supports, supplies, equipment, adequate facilities, and adequate books and other learning tools.
As Stamford’s mayor, Dannel P. Malloy understood the direct link between resources and achievement. He was a founding member of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, the plaintiff in Connecticut’s pending school funding lawsuit.
By joining the coalition’s lawsuit, then-Mayor Malloy acknowledged that the state cannot meet its duty to provide every child with a quality education without providing every school with the resources to meet each child’s needs.
Sadly, as governor, Malloy has not made resolving the lawsuit and properly funding education a true priority. Instead, his new “solutions” for education are privately run charter schools and teacher evaluations based on test scores.
Yet charter schools, serving 1 percent of Connecticut’s public school students, have dismal graduation rates and routinely exclude Latino students, English language learners and students with disabilities.
Furthermore, teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores have been proven to be wildly inaccurate and to massively increase the frequency of standardized tests children must take.
Instead of diverting funds to reforms that do not work, this governor has the historic opportunity to create a fair and equitable school funding system. Malloy’s legacy will rest on how he deals with the education-funding crisis highlighted in CCM’s report. More important, our children’s futures depend on it.”
To read the full piece go to: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-pelto-lecker-connecticut-schools-underfunded-20121123,0,6000165.story
I want to wish all my readers and their families a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving and to thank you for reading my blog, participating in the discussions and joining in the effort to educate our fellow citizens about the happenings in the world around us.
There are some among us who have many things to be thankful for, and some whose list is less than what it should be, but I hope that everyone can find warmth and comfort on this day.
A special wish for peace and comfort goes out to those who have lost loved ones this year. The loss is highlighted on festive days, like this, but it also gives us the opportunity to speak about our love and remembrances, which further ensure that the ones we’ve lost live on in such a special way.
I’d also ask that each one of us take a moment to pledge to do our best to ensure that when Thanksgiving Day comes around again, there are even more of us who can say with certainty that they are safe and warm and healthy and thankful.
Finally, here are a couple of quotes to ponder as you enjoy the blessings of the day – food, friendship, football and now thanks to the excesses of Black Friday – even shopping . Each quote reflects, to some degree, its author, while both sparkle with a truth worth remembering on this day.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy who said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
And the always insightful, if not a bit acerbic, Mark Twain, who reminded us that, “Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for — annually, not oftener — if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.”
So with that, Peace and Goodwill to one and all.
Corporate Welfare, Economic Development, Economy, Malloy, Pelto, Wait What? Corporate Welfare, Malloy, Pelto, Wait What?
An 18-month old company, incorporated in Delaware, with an office in Westport, but its chief financial officer and chief operations officers in California, landed $750,000 in Connecticut taxpayer funding this week, thanks to Connecticut Innovations, a quasi-state agency that works to support the Connecticut economy by investing public funds in private companies.
deets, inc., who has had no sales to date, is developing a “productivity App” that, “facilities message sharing for a specific group of workers, parents of Little League players or other small groups, getting them information cleanly and quickly. It also provides smooth contact synchronization.”
A version of the App is now available at the Apple App Store. According to an article written by the Hartford Courant’s Mara Lee, “The writers of the free app, which has nearly 10,000 users since its launch in August, are hoping to capitalize on the “’anti-social sentiment that’s out there.’”
The company plans to use the new funding to hire 5 employees in Connecticut.
In addition to the Apple version of the app, deets reports that an Android version will be out in January and the plan, according to the Courant, will be to “launch paid versions for businesses. The businesses could use deets to send messages to customers or to help teams communicate internally.”
The news that scarce public funds are being given to a company with limited connections to Connecticut, but who are engaged in an effort to break into a growth field, led Jonathan Pelto, whose blog, Wait, What? seeks to bring transparency and accountability to the Malloy Administration and Connecticut State Government, in general, to consider submitting an application for funding.
“We are definitely considering submitting an application to one of these agencies,” Pelto said, “Attempting to bring transparency to the Malloy Administration is definitely a growth market and we’ve literally had hundreds of thousands of visits to Wait What?,” Pelto noted.
“While our sales have been limited to date, with $750,000 we’d hire, not five, but at least ten Connecticut residents to be researchers and writers, and with that, we’re convinced we could turn the blog into a money-making venture over the next two years,” added Pelto.
However, when asked whether he or his Blog, Wait, What? might be blacklisted from getting state aid, Pelto failed to return multiple phone calls, and referred any further questions to his lawyers.
For the Courant Story see: http://www.courant.com/business/hc-ci-deets-inc-relocation-20121113,0,281750.story
Pelto Pelto, Wait What?
First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who have been so generous in your support for Wait, What?
Contributions in support of Wait, What? came in from all over the state, and even from around the country. Donations ranged from $10 to $250 and each and every contribution is an extraordinary statement about your commitment to helping me continue and strengthen this blog and the role of advocacy journalism in the state. I truly can’t thank you enough.
In addition to my work with Wait, What?, in the coming weeks, we’ll be rolling out a new entity called Connecticut Public School Advocates. CT-PSA will be a grass-roots organization dedicating to promoting PUBLIC EDUCATION in Connecticut. Unlike the “education reformers,” who will do or say anything in their effort to demonize teachers and privatize our educational system, those of us who believe in the fundamental importance of high quality public education for everyone, are ready, willing and eager to have an honest discussion about the challenges facing public education in this nation and how best to meet those challenges.
More about how to get involved in Connecticut Public School Advocates will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, I will continue to use Wait, What? as my primary vehicle for raising awareness and pushing for meaningful change in how government and politics function in Connecticut. As we’ve witnessed, on many issues, at both the state and local level, things are “off-track.”
While reasonable people can certainly disagree about specific proposals or policies, my work with Wait, What? has reiterated my belief that; (1) we are all better off when citizens have a true understanding of the challenges that confront us, (2) that policymakers must be held accountable for their actions, and (3) as Democrats, we have an obligation to hold our own to the same or greater standard than we hold our opponents.
If you haven’t had a chance to help support Wait, What? through a donation, your help now would be greatly appreciated.
Any contribution, whether large or small, will help ensure that we continue our effort to educate, persuade and mobilize people to speak out on the important issues and challenges that we face.
As always, thank you very much,
To support Wait, What – please go to http://fundly.com/lomx4hbr
PS: The way this particular fundraising site works is that the names of donors are listed on the page after a contribution is made. If you’d prefer not to have your name listed on the website’s “Fundraising Page” all you have to do is check the anonymous box on the “donation page.” All the information will still come through to me, but your name will not show up in the “Pulse” section of the on-line fundraising page…. Regardless I will take the page down after the fundraising effort is over.
Alternatively, if you would prefer, donations can be made by check. Simply send it to Wait, What? C/o Jonathan Pelto, PO Box 400, Storrs, CT. 06268
Contributions are not tax-deductible, nor do they qualify as campaign donations. They are simply donations or contributions toward the maintenance of Wait, What?
Pelto, State Politics Liberal, McGovern, Pelto
In 1972, I had the honor of meeting George McGovern when he flew into Bradley Airport to speak at a nearby hotel ballroom.
That year, at the age of eleven, I spent hundreds of hours making persuasion, ID and GOTV phone calls at the Mansfield Democratic Headquarters. I still remember some of the mean comments that were made when someone heard my childlike voice. That November, I stayed up late on election night, watching CBS News and thinking that somehow California and the West Coast would turn the tide and give McGovern he Electoral College votes he needed to win. I cried when I went to bed that night and wore a block armband the next day to school.
Another one of the greatest moments in my political life occurred when last august, Patrick Scully, an apologist for Governor Malloy, and a self-described “high-profile communications, public relations, media and political consulting professional” decided to attack me, my blog and my criticisms of Malloy and his administration.
When I blasted Malloy for his arrogant and insensitive comments about Connecticut’s public employees last August, Scully penned a Harford Courant commentary piece in which he wrote that Jonathan Pelto is “hopelessly disconnected from the average Connecticut citizen and continue to wallow in the failed, far-left, now-fringe policies of 1970s.”
Scully added, “George McGovern is no longer relevant, nor are his policies. Today’s Democrats (myself included) are in the camp of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and, yes, Dan Malloy.
Scully’s “insults” may have been among the greatest compliments that I’ve ever received.
Today, and in the coming days, people interested in George McGovern, and his legacy, will have plenty to read.
Here are a just a few highlights of his many contributions to our nation.
At the age of 20, George McGovern enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served as an extremely active B-24 bomber pilot, a service that earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war, McGovern returned to the country and earned a Masters and Doctorate in American history and government from Northwestern University. He then returned to South Dakota to become a university teacher.
A few years later he became political director for the South Dakota Democratic Party and then won a seat in the United State House of Representatives in 1956. He was re-elected to the House in 1958 but lost his bid for the United States Senate in 1960.
In 1961, President Kennedy appointed McGovern a special assistant to the president, and director of the Food for Peace Program. That program continues to be the world’s largest emergency hunger relief program in the world.
McGovern returned to South Dakota a year later, winning the U. S. Senate seat, a position he was re-elected to in 1968 and 1974.
In 1972, George McGovern’s anti-Vietnam war message helped him become the Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee. He went on to a historic lose to Richard Nixon, whose campaign was behind the 1972 Watergate crimes, and who was forced to resign in disgrace a few years later..
The key elements of McGovern’s 1972 campaign included the following;
His Democratic Nomination speech in which he said, “Let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad,”
A domestic agenda designed to, “ensure that every American able to work has a job to do.”
A call to end the artificial government economic controls of the 1970s, “in which labor is depressed but prices and corporate profits run sky high.”
A “national health insurance plan”
And “a fair and just tax system,” that included a proposal for higher taxes on the wealthy.
While McGovern returned to the U.S. Senate after the 1972 Presidential campaign, he lost his Senate Seat in the Landslide of 1980.
President Bill Clinton appointed McGovern to serve as the United States ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in 2000 and was named the first United Nations global ambassador on hunger in 2001.
Although McGovern initially endorsed Hillary Clinton in the last presidential campaign, he later switched his endorsement to Barack Obama.
However, during Obama first year in office, McGovern wrote a scathing attack on the Obama administration’s decision to continue to war in Afghanistan.
McGovern wrote, “As a U.S. senator during the 1960s, I agonized over the badly mistaken war in Vietnam…After doing all I could to save our troops and the Vietnamese people from a senseless conflict, I finally took my case to the public in my presidential campaign in 1972. Speaking across the nation, I told audiences that the only upside of the tragedy in Vietnam was that its enormous cost in lives and dollars would keep any future administration from going down that road again. “I was wrong.”
This morning, George McGovern died at the age of 90.
He was a great American and a proud liberal.
To the fools, he was a dangerous radical or an example of the “failed fringe politics of the 1970s.”
To those of us who knew of his accomplishment sand his dedication and commitment to our nation and humanity, he was and will always be a hero.
Economy, Malloy, Obama, Pelto
Barack Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention, last night, was impressive, (as one would expect.)
The President’s passion, dedication and commitment to putting the country on track were evident, and he provided a sense of hope that a Second term would see a true re-commitment to the ideal that got him elected four years ago.
For many of us, it is that sense of hope that will lead us back to the polls to vote for him in November.
The President’s speech also brought me back to a commentary piece I wrote for the Hartford Courant in April 2008 that was titled “Bitter? You Bet.”
At the time, the Democratic Party nomination process was headed into the all-important Pennsylvania primary. At an event, candidate Obama was quoted as saying that some people in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere in the country) were bitter.
Establishment politicians and the media went nuts.
The New York Times reported, “The remarks touched off a torrent of criticism from Mrs. Clinton, Mr. McCain and Republican activists and party officials, all accusing Mr. Obama of elitism and belittling the working class.”
Time Magazine led with an article entitled, “Will Obama Pay for ‘Bitter’ Flap?” The piece observed, “After the last few days he has endured over his controversial comments about ”bitter” small-town America , Barack Obama can only hope that the Pope’s arrival in Washington on Tuesday steals some of the spotlight. But given the hits he took from both the Clinton and McCain campaigns over his questionable choice of words, that may be too much of a miracle to ask for.”
Obama’s response was, “No, I’m in touch…I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania, I know what’s going on in Indiana, I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed up, they’re angry, they’re frustrated, they’re bitter and they want to see a change in Washington. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.”
But among political pundits, there was serious discussion as to whether Obama “bitter” comment might have derailed his campaign. His own team was backtracking, saying Obama meant to use the word frustrated, not bitter.
Although a supporter of Hillary Clinton, a week later, I wrote a commentary piece for Sunday’s Hartford Courant.
Bitter? You Bet, started out with the statement that, “Our Political Leaders Seem Unable to Grasp, Let Alone Solve, The Economic Problems Confronting Connecticut and the Nation.”
“Although I can’t speak for the small-town people of Pennsylvania, I can certainly report that as far as I’m concerned, I’m bitter and getting more bitter by the day.
In fact, as a middle-income American, I’m not only bitter, I’m angry and disappointed as well. Political pandering, mediocrity and incompetence on the national and state levels are undermining many of the fundamental values that we middle-income Americans hold dear, while threatening the economic vitality and viability of our country and our state and undermining the economic health of many of our families.
The damage from failed leadership is evident throughout the political process and across the political spectrum. Perhaps most clearly of all, it can be seen right here in Connecticut, where our state is losing its competitive edge while our leaders are unable or unwilling to confront the challenges of the 21st century.”
I then outlined the reality of Connecticut’s failed economic development policies and the fact that, “although it’s true that some of Connecticut’s wealthiest families have done just fine over the past decade and a half, the level of income inequality between Connecticut’s top- and middle-income families, as well as the income disparity between Connecticut’s top and bottom families, increased more than in any other state in the country.”
And I concluded with the observation that, “it is hard to imagine anything more troubling than the state’s decision to saddle our state, our taxpayers and our children with an extraordinary level of irresponsible and crippling state debt….Excessive borrowing and the failure to set aside sufficient funds to pay for future costs associated with state employee and teacher pensions, as well as health and retirement benefits, means that a future bill of unimaginable proportions awaits us all.”
I ended my piece with the observation that , “Regardless of what Sen. Obama really meant by his recent comments, it strikes me as quite obvious that many families, lower- and middle-income alike, are undoubtedly bitter.
Here we are, four years later.
We have a Democratic President and a Democratic Governor.
We have a right-wing Republican Party that will do and say anything to undermine the President’s ability to get things done.
And we also have a Democratic Party that is generally timid and meek, unwilling to truly challenge the status quo.
Listening to President Obama, I was reminded, again, just how far short our leaders have fallen from their promised goals.
That said, listening to President Obama’s speech, I was also reminded why the choice to vote for Obama over Romney is such an easy one.
I am bitter. In fact, I’m even more bitter than I was in 2008.
But last night, Barack Obama proved, yet again, that he truly understands what needs to happen in the country, and I’m banking on the hope and belief that, in a second term, he will fight even harder for those beliefs and policies.
The alternative is to vote for Romney and that ensures that we will be going in the completely wrong direction.
My full 2008 Hartford Courant commentary piece can be found by clicking the links above or here: http://articles.courant.com/2008-04-20/news/commentarypelto0420.art_1_connecticut-economy-connecticut-economic-resources-center-job-growth