These are dark time for our students, parents, teachers and public schools, as well as our entire country.
Connecticut continues to historically underfund its school funding formula. The crisis is now being exacerbated by Governor Malloy and the Democratic legislature’s decision to implement the deepest education budget cuts in state history.
At the same time, the legislature completed its 2016 session without addressing the fundamental problems associated with the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scheme, nor did it step forward and require that the Malloy administration develop a teacher evaluation system that is not reliant on the scores of this failed and disastrous testing program.
People should be outraged and should be demanding that elected officials be held accountable for their actions.
In this guest commentary piece, Connecticut educator Matthew Valenti puts into words what many are thinking.
Valenti is not only a retired school teacher and champion on behalf of public education, he is one of the most outspoken advocates for teachers and the teaching profession.
Exactly one year ago, Matt Valenti wrote an open letter to Connecticut teachers that first appeared here in Wait, What. It was entitled, An Open Letter To Every Teacher in the State of Connecticut (By Matthew Valenti). Now, a year later, Matt returns to reflect on the state of the state when it comes to Connecticut’s teachers and public education.
Matt Valenti writes;
Last year, I wrote an open letter to all teachers in Connecticut and what a sad day it was for them. http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/05/21/an-open-letter-to-every-teacher-in-the-state-of-connecticut-by-matthew-valenti/. My letter dealt with the ineffectiveness of the newly elected second term Connecticut Education Association officers and how they ever could have been re-elected after their second term endorsement for a governor who slaps public school teachers around at every turn. After reading my letter a year later, I thought it interesting to reflect on this past year’s events in our state on the teacher front.
After 40.5 years as a public school teacher, I retired in 2014. This past school year, I taught a .4 position in a public school. I was evaluated in April. The evaluation system in Connecticut stinks! As a veteran teacher, I could see no validity to the process. It doesn’t help teachers or education. Even the principal admitted to me that the new evaluation harms great teachers. And I talked to teachers…..they are ready to leave. So I ask all of you, how has CEA made our profession better for teachers or students this past year? Just look at the recent post by Jonathan Pelto in Wait What about how the legislators treated teachers, students, and parents by reading what Jonathan wrote a few days ago http://jonathanpelto.com/2016/05/20/ct-legislators-support-students-parents-teachers-malloy-common-core-testing-mania/
The majority of these were the endorsed candidates of CEA.
And where does public school funding stand? Massive cuts from the state budget again! What about testing? Increased testing! What about charter schools? More support for charter schools and Common Core. So, what exactly did our second term CEA leaders accomplish this past year? You decide. But I’m sure they have been effective with golf tournaments, teddy bears, and dinner meetings at Aqua Turf, or whatever “restaurant de jour” they chose to meet at this year!
Years ago, I signed up to be a lifelong member of CEA and NEA Retired because it was a one time payment and far less expensive than being billed the rest of my life. So, I’m wondering what I get for my dues? Threats of cutting my measly monthly 220 dollar health benefits I earned, threats of pension loss due to the outrageous behavior of the CEA endorsed legislators, a pension I paid into for 40.5 years?
When I took the.4 position, I was notified that my CEA and NEA retired status would be suspended and I would have to start paying half dues since I was considered active. I railed against that! CEA blocked me from making comments on their Facebook page, because they don’t want teachers to know the truth, and I have to pay dues? And, did you ever look at their Facebook page? Stories about planting flowers, lesson ideas for Memorial Day, 5 new books for children to read…..this is a union? I want my dues to protect teachers from corrupt legislators, not hide in fear from a bully governor and report fluff on their social media page!
My suggestion for this election season is to see who CEA endorses, and vote the other way.
No one can think that voting for the CEA endorsed candidates will improve the state. Look at the “progress” from the last election.
Matthew P. Valenti
Semi-Retired Teacher and Union President