Democracy appears to be a burden for the “modern” American Federation of Teachers

On Friday, fellow public education advocate and commentator Sarah Darer Littman wrote an incredibly powerful piece in CT Newsjunkie entitled “Serving Up A Preferred Candidate,” in which she took issue with the obviously undemocratic process that the American Federation of Teachers was using to endorse a candidate for President of the United States.

Sarah Darer Littman opened her piece with the following observation,

I’ve been commenting privately for years that the unions don’t need the Koch Brothers to destroy them — they are doing a good job of that themselves by working against the interests of their own rank-and-file membership. I speak in particular of AFT President Randi Weingarten, who reportedly pulled in an AFT income of over half a million dollars in 2014, while the average teacher salary in the United States has declined by 2.3 percent since 2000 to $56,689.

Sarah Darer Littman went on to describe what appeared to be the AFT’s presidential endorsement process, which was hardly a model of openness and transparency.

Less than 24 hours later, AFT President Randi Weingarten, a close personal friend of Hillary Clinton and a member of Hillary Clinton’s “Super-PAC,” announced that that AFT was endorsing Hillary Clinton for President.

As Politico reported, Weingarten explained the endorsement by stating,

“Clinton is a tested leader who shares our values, is supported by our members and is prepared for a tough fight on behalf of students, families and communities.”

The harsh reality is that Hillary Clinton has actually been a vocal proponent of the corporate education reform agenda and she has a long way to go before it can be said that she is the best choice for students, parents, public schools or the teachers who make up the American Federation of Teachers.

Before Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton may very well become the Democratic nominee and the best choice for President, but the AFT’s premature endorsement is actually a disservice to Clinton, and more importantly, to the nation’s teachers and the legacy of the American Federation of Teachers, a union that is steeped in the history of American Democracy.

But Weingarten seems intent on leading a “modern” AFT.

Last summer, Randi Weingarten and the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter was committed to endorsing Governor Dannel Malloy’s and his effort to get re-elected to the governor’s office despite the fact that Malloy was the only sitting Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for teachers in the poorest school districts.

However, rather than use the campaign and the endorsement process to focus attention on Malloy’s ugly record on public education and provide him with an opportunity to become a supporter, rather than an opponent, of teachers and the teaching profession, the union leadership throws out their “democratic” endorsement process in order to hand him the union’s support.

Despite being the only pro-public education, pro-teacher candidate in the race for Governor, the AFT-CT refused to allow me to fill out a candidate questionnaire, refused to allow me to speak to the AFT-CT candidate endorsing committee, refused to allow me to address the AFT-CT executive committee and even prohibited me from speaking to the AFL-CIO’s annual endorsing convention, a meeting in which Randi Weingarten was the keynote speaker.

At the time, no one doubted that the leadership of the AFT and AFL-CIO would endorse Dannel Malloy, but prohibiting an open, transparent and democratic process was a sad reminder that being with the perceived winner – at all costs – has become the exclusive goal of some union leaders.

A year later and nothing has changed.

Once again, few doubted Hilary Clinton would get the endorsement from her friend Randi Weingarten and the union she runs.

But rather than ensure that the AFT provided for an open and honest discussion and an endorsement process that ensured that the membership was heard and their opinions taken into consideration, Weingarten pushed through an early endorsement thereby allowing Time Magazine to write;

Hillary Clinton Wins Key Endorsement From American Federation of Teachers –

Hillary Clinton has secured the first major union endorsement of the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

The American Federation of Teachers, a powerful, 1.6 million-strong national union, voted on Saturday to endorse the former secretary of state, calling Clinton a “champion” for “working families.”

But the truth is the endorsement was from the union’s leadership, not the members. 

Clinton and her historic candidacy would have been better off if the leadership of the AFT had actually engaged in a process to build a true consensus that Hillary Clinton is the best choice for teachers and public education.

And certainly the American Federation for Teachers would have been better off had its leaders approach the endorsement process in a truly democratic way.

Instead the AFT leadership’s actions undermine the extraordinary legacy of the AFT itself.

Begun in 1900, the American Federation of Teachers earned the right to represent more than 1.5 million members because the AFT leadership has always been dedicated to developing a union focused on improving the conditions for teachers and the public schools that educate America’s children.

It has been a difficult journey for the AFT.

Nearly three decades after it was founded, unprecedented efforts to undermine the union and convince teachers not to unionize resulted in the AFT’s membership to drop below 5,000 teachers in the years leading up to the Great Depression.

Even after the Depression and World WW II, the AFT failed to make great strides in the face of opposition to collective bargaining for teachers.

But then came the incredible work of Albert Shanker, Charles Cogen and other fearless labor leaders that changed the course of teachers and their unions.

In the ten years following 1960, a dedication to improving pay and working conditions for teachers and pushing policies that created schools that provided educational opportunities to all children, bolstered the number of AFT members from 65,000 to 400,000

A continued commitment to doing right for teachers and students grew the AFT to over 1 million members by the year 2000.

Shanker and those who built the AFT were never afraid to take controversial positions, fight for real change or push the union’s agenda, but they also understood the importance of including and representing their members in a way that has apparently become foreign to some of today’s union leaders.

Certainly Shanker made his share of mistakes over the years and received more than his fair share of criticism, but he profoundly believed in then notion that collective bargaining and democracy go hand in hand.

Those that know the story behind Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and The March on Washington in 1963 know of the incredible work that the AFT played in that event and throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

For those that don’t know, while many unions tried to hide on the sidelines, the AFT helped finance that historic March and many of Dr. King efforts.   A glimpse at any photo from that momentous day reveals the AFT’s signs and their pro-education, pro-labor and pro-civil rights message.

Yet another extraordinary event in the AFT’s history was the decision by its affiliate, the UFT of New York City, to take a position, decades before others, to refuse to invest their funds in any bank or company that was associated with South Africa’s apartheid system.

Over the decades the American Federation of Teachers never lost sight of the importance of winning, but perhaps even more importantly, it never backed down for its commitment to stand on principle and promote a union that was dedicated to the democratic rights of its members and the nation.

But the passage of time has brought uncomfortable changes and it would appear that “winning,” however narrowly defined, has become the primary goal.

In Connecticut, the AFT’s notion of winning was re-electing a pro-charter school, anti-public education, anti-teacher candidate, rather than allowing a supportive, third-party candidate to even be considered.

And yesterday, the “modern” AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton without utilizing an open, transparent and democratic process.

In the real world, this approach is often referred to as the notion that “The end justifies the means” and, as we know, it is a concept that has been used to explain away some of the most inappropriate actions in history.

Hilary Clinton could become the best choice for teachers, students and our public schools, but she needs to do far better to earn that support.

And teachers, the members of the AFT and the AFT’s legacy deserve better than they got with the Clinton endorsement.

CT Teacher Unions – Please stand up for CT Parents and their right to opt out

On behalf of parents, students and teachers across Connecticut, we are publicly asking the Connecticut Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter and local teacher union chapters to end their silence and take immediate steps to speak out and support the growing effort by Connecticut parents to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC test.

While the leadership of the Connecticut teachers unions have said they want to phase out the destructive Common Core SBAC testing, they have failed, to date, to join their colleagues in other states and at the national level in speaking out, passing resolutions and engaging in political action on behalf of parents and their fundamental, inalienable and constitutionally protected right to opt their children out of Connecticut’s Common Core testing scheme.

In New York State, NYSUT – a federation of more than 1,200 local unions representing more than 600,000 members – a union that is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) has become a leading example of the critically important role that teachers and their unions can play in supporting parents, students and public education.

NYSUT and dozens and dozens of local teacher unions across New York are taking strong, principled action in opposition to the Common Core testing program and the right of parents to refuse to have their children bullied, abused, tormented or labeled by the disastrous Common Core tests.

NYSUT writes;

“Parents and teachers share deep concerns about over-testing resulting from the state’s botched implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). Concerns include: stress on students, appropriateness of tests, erosion of learning time and lack of state transparency on test content.

Parents who decide it is not in their children’s best interests to take these assessments are part of an “Opt-Out” movement that is growing nationally and in New York state.

NYSUT fully supports parents’ right to choose what is best for their children – including NYSUT members who decide as parents to opt their child out of state tests.

In addition, NYSUT encourages members to exercise their rights as professionals to speak out against the harmful effects of high-stakes tests – and will vigorously defend members if a district brings disciplinary charges in that event.”

Not only is the New York Teachers’ union speaking out, but they are putting their words into action.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on April 10, 2015, NYSUT is calling on its members to remind them that students can opt out of the Common Core tests.  The Wall Street Journal explains,

“In an aggressive move against testing, the New York State United Teachers union started robocalling members Thursday with a reminder they can have their children refuse next week’s state exams.

“This is insanity,” says the robocall’s recording of union President Karen Magee. “

The massive common core testing, a program designed to fail the vast majority of students is absolutely the definition of insanity and NYSUT’s President Karen Magee is absolutely right when she urges parents to consider opting their children out of these Common Core tests.

American Federation of Teachers National President, Randi Weingarten, has done the same.

And National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia has written,

“Parents don’t want their children to be treated with a one-size-fits-all education approach. And educators know that students are more than a test score, so let educators teach and put an end the toxic practice of punishing students, schools and educators based on test results.”

In Connecticut the Common Core SBAC test is designed (rigged) to label more than 60 percent of all public school students as failures and the way the test is scored will mean the failure rate will likely exceed 90 percent for students who need special education services or aren’t fluent in the English language.  Governor Malloy’s administration approved “cut scores” that will discriminate against African American and Latino children pegging as many as 75 percent as failures.

But while New York teachers, along with teachers in Massachusetts, Chicago, Washington State, Oregon and dozens of other locations join parents in support of the opt out movement, neither the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) nor the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter (AFT-CT) have taken any meaningful action in support of parents who are opting their children, or trying to opt their children, out of the Common Core SBAC test.

The candidates challenging the leadership of the CEA in this spring’s union election, Martin Walsh (President) and Scott Minnick (Vice President) have been very strong supporters of the opt out effort.  Both have written commentary pieces in support of parents and their right to opt out and Scott Minnick’s decision to opt his own children even made the front page of the Hartford Courant.

But at the very moment when parents need support, the present leaders of the CEA and AFT-CT have remained silent about the opt-out movement.

Now is the time for Connecticut’s teacher unions to step up and speak out in support of the opt-out effort.

The following is just a partial list of New York teacher union chapters who have officially endorsed the opt-out movement. Connecticut’s state and local unions need to do the same thing.

Amityville Teachers’ Association
Amsterdam Teachers’ Association
Associated Teachers of Huntington
Babylon Teachers’ Association
Baldwin Teachers Association
Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association
Bayport- Blue Point Teachers’ Association
Bellmore Faculty Organizaton
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers
Bellmore Teachers’ Organization
Bellport Teachers Association
Bethpage Congress of Teachers
Brentwood Teachers Association
Brockport Teachers Association
Buffalo Teachers Federation (a variation of the I Refuse resolution)
Carmel Teachers’ Association
Camden Teachers Association
Center Moriches Teachers’ Association
Central Islip Teachers Association
Clarkstown Teachers Association
Commack Teachers Association
Connetquot Teachers Association
Cortland United Teachers
Deer Park Teachers’ Association
East Aurora Faculty Association
Eastport/South Manor Teachers’ Association
East Williston Teachers’ Association
Elwood Teachers Alliance
Farmingdale Federation of Teachers
Freeport Teachers Association
Fulton Teachers Association
Garden City Teachers’Association
Garrison Teachers Association
Glen Cove Teachers’ Association
Half Hollow Hills Teachers’ Association
Hamburg Teachers Association
Hauppauge Teachers Association
Hastings Teachers Association
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association
Hicksville Congress of Teachers
Holley Teachers’ Association
Ichabod Crane Teachers Association
Islip Teachers Association
Kingston Teachers Federation
Lancaster Central Teachers Association
Lake Shore Central Teachers’ Association
Lakeland Federation of Teachers
Lawrence Teachers’ Association
Levittown Teachers Union
Lindenhurst Teachers Association
Little Flower Teachers Association
Locust Valley School Employees Association
Lynbrook Teachers Association
Mahopac Teachers’ Association (adopted a variation of resolution)
Malverne Teachers’ Association
Merrick Faculty Association
Middle Country Teachers Association
Middle Island Teachers Association
Miller Place Teachers Association
MORE Caucus (NYC)
New Hartford Teachers Association
New Paltz United Teachers
New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees
New York Mills Teachers’ Association
Newburgh Teachers’ Association
North Babylon Teachers’ Organization
North Bellmore Teachers Association
North Merrick Faculty Association
North Rockland Teachers Association
North Shore Schools Federated Employees
North Syracuse Education Association
Oceanside Federation of Teachers
Oneonta Teachers’ Association
Orchard Park Teachers Association
Ossining Teachers Association
Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers
Plainedge Federation of Teachers
Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers
Port Jefferson Teachers Association
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association
Ramapo Teachers Association
Rocky Point Teachers Association
Rockville Centre Teachers’ Association
Rome Teachers Association
Sauquoit Valley Teachers Association
Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association
Spencerport Teachers Association
Springville Faculty Association
Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association
Somers Education Association
Teachers Association of Sag Harbor
Three Village Teachers Association
Troy Teachers Association
United Teachers of Harborfields
United Teachers of Northport
United Teachers of Seaford
Valley Central Teachers’ Association
Valley Stream Teachers Association
Wallkill Teachers Association
Wappingers Congress of Teachers
Waterville Teachers Association
West Babylon Teachers Association
West Canada Valley Teachers Association
West Genesee Teachers’ Association
West Hempstead Education Association
West Islip Teachers’ Association
West Seneca Teachers Association
– See more at: http://www.nysape.org/resolution-to-support-the-ldquoi-refuserdquo-movement.html#sthash.JSmjdUJA.dpuf

Where the hell are CT’s union leaders as AFT National President Randi Weingarten supports parents who opt out

According to a breaking story posted by the nation’s leading public education advocate Diane Ravitch,   Randi Weingarten – the national president of the American Federation of Teachers – has announced her strong support for parents who are opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing.

Diane Ravitch reports that Weingarten announced yesterday that, “if she were a parent of children in the public schools… she would opt out too.”

As Diane Ravitch goes on to explain opting out is,

“A clear, unambiguous message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control.

Testing is not teaching.

Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong.

The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools.

Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd “cut scores” (passing mark)… Most children will “fail” …

We are the most over tested nation in the world.”

Ravitch is absolutely right and the list of teacher unions and teacher union leaders who are supporting parents’ right to opt out of the disastrous Common Core testing scheme continues to grow.

But here in Connecticut the silence from the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter remains deafening…

Is kowtowing to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Corporate Education Reform Industry worth so much that these some union leaders will refuse to step forward and defend Connecticut’s parents, students and teachers who understand just how bad the Common Core SBAC test is for our children and our schools?

Malloy’s thin skin and vengeance is legendary but there is simply no excuse for the lack of action on the part of the leadership of Connecticut’s two teacher unions.

Last fall, the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter endorsed Dannel Malloy without even allowing other candidates to fill out a questionnaire, meet with their political endorsing committee or address their executive committee.

The leadership of the Connecticut Education Association went so far as to overrule their own political endorsing committee who had voted that the teachers’ union should make “no endorsement” in the race for governor because Malloy’s policies and actions during his first term were so anti-teacher and anti-public schools.

Yet despite that support, Malloy has continued his anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-charter initiatives.

But it is not too late for Connecticut’s teachers’ unions to make a difference.

All across the country, teacher unions are standing up for their teachers and for the students and parents who make up their communities by supporting the opt-out movement.

In nearby New York the following list of teacher unions have endorsed resolutions supporting the right of parents to opt out of the Common Core testing.

Amityville Teachers’ Association
Associated Teachers of Huntington
Babylon Teachers’ Association
Baldwin Teachers Association
Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers
Bellport Teachers Association
Bethpage Congress of Teachers
Brentwood Teachers Association
Brockport Teachers Association
Camden Teachers Association
Carmel Teachers’ Association
Center Moriches Teachers’ Association
Central Islip Teachers Association
Clarkstown Teachers Association
Commack Teachers Association
Connetquot Teachers Association
Cortland United Teachers
Deer Park Teachers’ Association
East Williston Teachers’ Association
Elwood Teachers Alliance
Farmingdale Federation of Teachers
Freeport Teachers Association
Fulton Teachers Association
Garden City Teachers’ Association
Glen Cove Teachers’ Association
Half Hollow Hills Teachers’ Association
Hamburg Teachers Association
Hauppauge Teachers Association
Hastings Teachers Association
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association
Hicksville Congress of Teachers
Ichabod Crane Teachers Association
Islip Teachers Association
Kingston Teachers Federation
Lancaster Central Teachers Association
Lake Shore Central Teachers’ Association
Lakeland Federation of Teachers
Lawrence Teachers’ Association
Levittown Teachers Union
Lindenhurst Teachers Association
Little Flower Teachers Association
Locust Valley School Employees Association
Lynbrook Teachers Association
Merrick Faculty Association
Middle Country Teachers Association
Middle Island Teachers Association
Miller Place Teachers Association
MORE Caucus (NYC)
New Hartford Teachers Association
New Paltz United Teachers
New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees
New York Mills Teachers’ Association
North Babylon Teachers’ Organization
North Bellmore Teachers Association
North Merrick Faculty Association
North Rockland Teachers Association
North Shore Schools Federated Employees
North Syracuse Education Association
Oceanside Federation of Teachers
Oneonta Teachers’ Association
Orchard Park Teachers Association
Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers
Plainedge Federation of Teachers
Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers
Port Jefferson Teachers Association
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association
Ramapo Teachers Association
Rocky Point Teachers Association
Rockville Centre Teachers’ Association
Rome Teachers Association
Sauquoit Valley Teachers Association
Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association
Spencerport Teachers Association
Springville Faculty Association
Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association
Three Village Teachers Association
Troy Teachers Association
United Teachers of Harborfields
United Teachers of Northport
United Teachers of Seaford
Valley Stream Teachers Association
Waterville Teachers Association
West Babylon Teachers Association
West Canada Valley Teachers Association
West Genesee Teachers’ Association
West Hempstead Education Association
West Islip Teachers’ Association
West Seneca Teachers Association

Add the New York State United Teachers Association and now the president of the entire AFT union.

Connecticut’s parents and students deserve no less!

CEA and AFT-CT  – Now is the time to stand up and speak out.

CT Teachers Union against charter schools, except when the vote counts

Less than twelve hours after Governor Dannel Malloy took the stage to declare victory on Election Night 2014, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education met to unanimously endorse a proposal to open eight new charter schools in Connecticut.

A CT Mirror article at the time entitled “State education board wants to open eight new charter schools” reported that while the State of Connecticut faces a $1.4 billion projected budget deficit for next year, “The State Board of Education is asking the state for $11 million to fund eight new charter schools to open over the next two school years…The request, put forward by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and approved unanimously by the state board…”

The CT Mirror added that, “Allan B. Taylor, chairman of the 13-member state panel, said expanding school choice for students makes sense.”

The Hartford Courant covered the story as well noting;

Of the eight new charters proposed to open over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years, two proposals were approved by the board at a lengthy meeting in April amid much testimony for and against new charter schools.

The charters already approved to open in 2015-16 include Stamford Charter School for Excellence and Capital Prep Harbor School in Bridgeport. Those proposals, however, are contingent on the availability of funding.

After funding for Steve Perry’s proposed Bridgeport charter school, along with money for seven others charter schools, won the full support of the State Board of Education, Melodie Peters, the President of the Connecticut Federation of Teachers, submitted a hard-hitting commentary piece to the CT Mirror entitled, “Plan for more charter schools flawed in many ways.”

Peters, one of Malloy’s biggest supporters began her article by saying, “The state education department commissioner’s proposal last week to hand over more public education resources to privately managed charter schools deserves an ‘F’ as both ‘incomplete’ and tone deaf.”

Peters added,

“Now is not the time to ask taxpayers for another $21 million on an experiment whose record of ensuring a quality education for all has yet to be demonstrated.

It has been just six months since the scandal involving the charter management outfit Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE) and the schools it operated in Hartford and Bridgeport made headlines. Recall that the extent of the alleged corruption and nepotism quickly led to a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of FUSE and its affiliated Jumoke schools that today is still ongoing.”

Having told members that Lt., Governor Nancy Wyman would be Malloy’s point person on education in Malloy’s second term, Peters added,

“In August, the Malloy-Wyman Administration rightly responded to the crisis by ordering a thorough review of the department of education’s policies governing charter management companies. The department quickly agreed to changes that echo what parents, educators, and advocates have been urging for years: charters should be held accountable to the same standard as traditional public schools.”

The AFT -CT President went on to blast Pryor’s decision to seek funding for eight more charter school saying, “The state should not green-light more charters or expand their reach without first verifying that education department oversight of charters has actually improved.

Of the various issues associated with President Peters’ “blistering attack” on the decision to approve Pryor’s proposal for eight more charter schools, perhaps the most interesting is that Peters completely and utterly failed to mention that the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden Federation of Teachers President Erin Benham, voted IN FAVOR of the resolution to fund eight new charter schools.

In a political move to reward the AFT-CT for ramming through an endorsement of Dan Malloy, without even granting the other candidates [like myself] the opportunity to fill out a candidate questionnaire, meet with the AFT-CT PAC or address the AFT-CT Board of Directors, Malloy announced on August 21, 2014 that he was taking the unprecedented step of appointing Meriden AFT President Erin Benham to a four year position on the State Board of Education.

As the time, Peters wrote,

“We applaud the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman for selecting Erin Benham to serve on the State Board of Education. They have appointed a committed classroom educator and trusted labor leader with a long, successful record of direct engagement in grassroots efforts to improve schools in Meriden and across Connecticut.

“The SBOE, as well as the state’s education department, will greatly benefit from Erin’s experience in Meriden Public Schools. There, she and her fellow educators have proven that collaboration — not confrontation — is the way to form a productive working partnership with their district’s administration.

“Erin will bring tremendous value to the board with real-world teacher-student, educator-parent and labor-management experience. I have seen firsthand Erin’s passion for her vocation, and I have no doubt she will make a significant contribution to the board’s mission.

“We expect Erin to ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and to play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state’s schools.

“We congratulate Erin on her appointment and look forward to her service on the SBOE throughout her four-year term.”

Two weeks later, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten came to Connecticut to endorse Governor Dannel Malloy for re-election, despite the fact that Malloy was, and is, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for teachers in the poorest school districts in Connecticut, including some of the teachers who worked in Meriden.

And to drive home the special relationship between the AFT and Malloy – and Malloy and the AFT – AFT President Weingarten, AFT-CT President Peters and Malloy started their day with a tour and press conference at a Meriden public school, with none-other-than the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden AFT President Erin Benham.

Yet exactly sixty-one days later, Erin Benham, the teacher who Peters promised would, “ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and [who would] play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state’s schools,” joined Malloy’s other political appointees on the day after the election to vote in favor of diverting millions of dollars to even more privately run, publicly funded charter schools.

In her commentary piece a week after the vote, AFT-CT Peters wrote,

Another unanswered question is why we aren’t investing education resources in community schools that will educate all children, instead of cherry-picking students to boost standardized test scores. An investigation by Reuters in 2013 found charters across the country imposing “significant barriers” that result in “skimming the most motivated, disciplined students and leaving the hardest-to-reach behind….Wouldn’t we all be better served investing our tax dollars in traditional neighborhood schools that do not exclude our special education, ELLs, and children with behavioral disorders?”

And AFT President Peters concluded her commentary piece with the observation, “And until the department can demonstrate that it can, the State Board of Education should deny the outgoing commissioner’s request.”

Over the course of Malloy’s 2014 campaign for re-election, the American Federation for Teachers Federal Political Action Committee donated $10,000 to the Committee Democratic State Central Committee “Federal Account,” the fund that the Malloy campaign used to launder lobbyist, state contractor and political action committee funds into a program to assist the Malloy campaign.

In addition, the American Federation of Teachers Federal Political Action Committee threw in $600,000 to the Democratic Governor’s Association’s $5.7 million Independent Expenditure campaign to support Malloy’s re-election.

But putting aside, for the moment, AFT President Melodie Peters’s anti-charter school editorial of November 17, 2014, when the real vote on the motion to adopt the Malloy administration’s proposal to fund eight more charter schools was taken, it passed the State Board of Education unanimously….with the support of AFT’s representative along with Chairman Allan Taylor, Vice Chair Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Charles Jaskiewicz, Patricia Keavney-Maruca, Maria Mojica and Joseph Vrabely.

That is a lot of teacher’s money for an investment that appears to be ending in disaster.

Some would even call the whole thing yet another Wait, What? moment.

AFT President Randi Weingarten in Farmington today for Malloy campaign rally

Update:  After posting this piece, AFT President Weingarten and Malloy spoke at the AFT Get-Out-The-Vote rally and Weingarten tweeted: “@DanMalloyCT has apologized;affirmed pledge to coll barg.”  The media hasn’t reported what Malloy said, does anyone know?

RanRandi to farmingtondi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, is headlining a Malloy Get-Out-The-Vote Rally for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election effort today in Farmington, Connecticut.

Although a number of public education advocates, including myself, have been critical of Weingarten on some issues, I have tremendous respect for her and the role she has played in the effort to speak up for teachers on numerous occasions including this week’s decision by Time Magazine to run with a cover bashing the nation’s public school educators.

Weingarten, along with the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter and the Connecticut Education Association have endorsed Malloy despite the fact that Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose repealing tenure for all Connecticut public school teachers and unilaterally eliminating collective bargaining rights for a teachers working in the state’s poorest schools.

If Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA were serious about persuading Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates to get out to vote on Election Day and vote for Malloy they would use this opportunity to ensure that Malloy finally renounces his 2012 anti-teacher proposal.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining for a sub-set of public employees:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In response to Malloy’s proposal, the CEA wrote to its members on March 14, 2012 telling them that Malloy’s Education Bill would have “real and dramatic consequences for teachers.”

Leading the list of negative impacts, the CEA leadership explained that,

“The bill would take away collective bargaining rights from teachers in the lowest performing schools….”

The CEA letter went on to urge teachers to contact their legislators and tell them to “Fix the governor’s bill” and “Restore collective bargaining rights.”

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

Malloy’s effort to eliminate tenure for Public School Teaches;

Even the AFT and CEA have admitted that Governor Malloy’s 2012 Corporate Education Reform Industry Initiative sought to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers in Connecticut and replace it with a system of short-term contracts in which continued employment as a teacher would depend, in part, on the test scores teachers’ students got on the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Standardized Tests.

At the time Malloy introduced his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill he famously observed that “teachers need only show up for work” in order to get tenure.

Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA have consistently told their members that Malloy has apologized for proposing his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill.

However, that claim is absolutely untrue.

The truth is that Malloy has never publicly renounced his anti-tenure position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.

When the idiotic “all you have to do is show up” statement was raised at a candidate debate earlier this year, here is what Malloy DID say;

 “I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”

Wait, What?

Malloy is now claiming that his attack on tenure wasn’t an attack on teachers but, “it was about tenure.”

The sad truth is that Malloy’s HAS NEVER retracted his anti-tenure stance and his effort to “apologize” to teachers has only made his anti-tenure position clearer.

With Randi Weingarten in Connecticut today, the leadership of the AFT and CEA have a unique opportunity to actually force Malloy to stand up, step up and come clean about his 2012 effort to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers and repeal collective bargaining for teachers working in Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

A Malloy statement renouncing his actions on tenure and collective bargaining would be the most effective Get-Out-The-Vote effort Weingarten and the AFT and CEA leadership could make.