Nancy Wyman – It’s time to step up for Academic Freedom and Connecticut’s universities and colleges


There was a time when Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was considered one of the most important and outspoken advocates for public higher education in Connecticut.

Heralding from the 53rd House District, Nancy Wyman served as a state representative from 1987 to 1995.  In that capacity she was a powerful voice for her constituents who were faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and Connecticut’s Community and Technical Colleges.

As the Vice Chair and then Chair of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a high-ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Nancy Wyman worked tirelessly to make public higher education a priority, including helping to successfully derail an outrageous plan to merge Connecticut’s Community Colleges and State Universities under a new bureaucratic and administrative structure.

Considering Nancy Wyman was one of the few public officials who truly understood, appreciated and supported the fundamental role that public higher education plays in Connecticut, there were high hopes that as Governor Dannel Malloy’s Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman would help usher in a new era of state support for public universities and colleges.

Instead, she became a silent partner in Malloy’s unprecedented attack on Connecticut’s institutions of higher education.  Malloy’s excessive and record-breaking budget cuts have systematically undermined all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, resulting in higher tuition and reduced educational opportunities for those who could actually come up with the money to pursue a college degree.

And in what was a truly ironic and tragic moment, Nancy Wyman not only failed to stop Malloy’s inappropriate initiative to merge Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges via the creation of the Board of Regents, but it was Wyman’s phone calls and lobbying of Democratic legislators that actually allowed Malloy to eviscerate the very programs that she had previously worked so hard to support.

Yet as bad as Malloy’s higher education policies have been over the last five years, it has become apparent that the greatest threat to UConn and CSU are the Malloy administration’s recent contract proposals.

Rather than focus on issues of salary and compensation, Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents are seeking contract language and policy changes that would destroy the core aspects of Academic Freedom, shared governance and tenure.

For examples see;

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty.

While both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut State University are speaking out against the Malloy administration’s proposals, the damage that would occur, should these concepts be adopted, would reach well beyond the impact that they would have on the faculty.

These proposals would literally undermine the national reputations that UConn and CSU have been building up over the years and limit what the schools can achieve in the years ahead.

Among Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most important contributions was his observation that,

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

Those of us who have worked with and for Nancy Wyman over the past forty years know the difference she can make when engaged in an issue that she truly cares about and we know she was once a true friend of higher education.

With the very future of Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education hanging in the balance, the time has come for Nancy Wyman to truly and honestly step up and speak out…

Silence is simply not an option.

Bronin says win due to door-knocking not benefits of $1.3 million or White Privilege

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Attributing his political success to his door-knocking efforts rather than the record breaking $1.3 million he raised from city and state contractors, lobbyists and donors from his hometown of Greenwich and out-of-state or the advantages of White Privilege, Luke Bronin’s dream of becoming leader of Hartford has come true.

During the campaign Bronin said he would save Hartford by reducing crime and expanding programs, all while promising not to raise taxes.  The solution, according to the political novice, was more state funding and the wealth that would come with the wave of people moving into the new luxury apartments in the City’s Downtown.

Flanked by Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Bronin claimed victory Election Night but warned residents that “there will be no easy answers.”

In his successful effort to unseat one of the nation’s highest ranking Puerto Rican Mayors, Luke Bronin spent the primary attacking Pedro Segarra for not getting enough money from the Malloy administration, raising taxes and supporting the controversial Dunkin Donuts Baseball Stadium that is being constructed as part of Hartford’s DONO Development.

With his primary victory in hand,  Bronin flip-flopped on the Stadium issue taking tens of thousands of dollars from the Stadium’s developers while remaining quiet about the developers failure to fulfill their contractual obligation to begin construction on the project’s promised grocery store and other elements of Phase II (Parcel E).

As Bronin’s campaign finance reports revealed, not only did he break the record for the most money spent on a mayoral campaign in state history but he funded his political aspirations with campaign donations from nearly 70 city contractors, more than 80 registered state lobbyists and dozens of state contractors.  In the process of raising and reporting those contributions, Bronin and his campaign violated a number of provisions of Connecticut Campaign Finance law, a move that will undoubtedly result in a full-scale investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Of particular note is that while pledging to support Hartford’s Public Schools, Bronin relied heavily on donations from the Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry, collecting huge amounts of money from charter school advocates and Greenwich residents Jonathan Sackler and Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II, as well as employees, board members and lobbyists for Connecticut’s charter schools.

Bronin will take office in January 2016.

Malloy – Wyman Team Earn an “F” on Education


Led by Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly have proven, yet again, that they are unwilling to protect and support Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Today the Connecticut General Assembly will rush through a vote on a massive $40 billion spending and tax bill that not only makes record cuts to vital human services and education funding, but provides the “blood money” needed to open two new charter schools in Connecticut…despite the fact that the boards of education in both “host” communities VOTED AGAINST the allowing the proposed charter schools to open.

As Malloy/Wyman demanded, the infamous anti-union charter school advocate, Steve Perry, will get money, diverted from Connecticut’s public schools, to open a charter school in Bridgeport.

Perry’s most noteworthy accomplishment in Connecticut is his use of the “Table of Shame” at Capital Prep Magnet School to humiliate students who failed to follow his rules.  On the national level, Perry, who calls himself American’s most trusted educator, is fond of calling teachers’ unions’ cockroaches.

Malloy/Wyman are forcing the second charter school upon Stamford.  Again, even though the local board of education voted against the proposal and testified against the project before the State Board of Education and the Connecticut General Assembly, less Connecticut taxpayer funds will be going to public schools and instead, a Bronx charter school company will be getting millions so that it can open a charter school in the Governor’s hometown.

As if giving more money to the discriminatory charter schools, while cutting funding for public schools wasn’t enough to earn the Malloy-Wyman Team an F on Education, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly will end the session by;

  • Failing to decouple the unfair Common Core SBAC test results from the state’s teacher evaluation system.
  • Failing to pass legislation supporting a parents fundamental right to opt their child or children out of the discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core SBAC test.
  • Failing to ensure appropriate protections are put in place to protect the privacy rights of student and parents due to the massive data collection scam that is part of the Common Core SBAC testing scheme.
  • And even failing to make any meaningful changes in the amount of standardized testing that is undermining the ability of Connecticut’s teachers to provide children with the instructional time the need.

From the first day of this year’s legislative session to the last, the Malloy-Wyman Team maintained their never-ending quest to receive a Grade of F on education.  Instead of doing anything to support public education and teachers, Malloy and Wyman maintained their commitment to the following;

  • More money for the charter school industry
  • More support for the corporate education reform agenda
  • Less money for Connecticut’s public schools, meaning higher property taxes
  • An ongoing attempt to denigrate teachers and the teaching profession
  • An unwillingness to treat parents with dignity and respect
  • And a complete failure to support the value of local control.

Every parent, teacher and taxpayer take heed;

Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and the Democrats have proven, beyond any doubt, that they are unwilling to do what is right for Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and schools.

When teachers lose their jobs

When school programs are cut

When local property taxes go up

When students and parents are harassed and abused about the Common Core SBAC testing

When private data on students and parents is shared with private companies

When teachers are unfairly punished by the teacher evaluation debacle

We will know and remember who turned their back when we needed them most

You can read more about the latest education disaster via the following links:

Malloy Flexes Muscle For Charter Schools (CT Newsjunkie)

And from Wait, What?

Hartford Courant reports Malloy got his way with demand for public money for new charter schools

What is the story about Governor Dannel Malloy’s little Bronx Charter School for Excellence

Charter School Mogul Steve Perry owns it all – even without legislative approval

CT Dem Governor Malloy says no state budget without new charter schools

On Common Core SBAC — Still left asking — What the Hell is wrong with these people?


Apparently it really is too much to ask some people to treat public school students and parents with respect.   At the directive of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, the effort to mislead and lie to parents about the Common Core SBAC testing continues, along with strategies and tactics to bully, harass and punish parents (and teachers) who are fighting to protect our children.

A parent, worried about the harassment they were receiving as they tried to opt their child out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC test recently ran into Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and told her about the problem.  Wyman reportedly responded that it was her understanding that parents DID HAVE the right to opt their children out of the SBAC testing.

Once upon a time Nancy Wyman was considered among Connecticut’s strongest advocates for teachers, parents and public education.  Her previous positions included serving as the chairperson of the General Assembly’s Education Committee and Appropriations Education Sub-Committee where she spent years fighting for appropriate school funding and better support for teachers and students.

However, for the past four years she has stood silently by as her partner in governance, Dannel Malloy, has engaged in an unprecedented attack on teachers, the teaching profession and public education.  In addition to his relentless efforts to denigrate teachers, this year Malloy proposed record cuts to public education and refused to decouple the unfair SBAC test scores from the state’s teacher evaluation program.  What Malloy did do was call for a 25 percent increase in funding for privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.  Higher taxes, less money for public education and more money for the charter schools that refuse to educate their fair share of students who need English language help, students who require special education services and students who have behavioral issues.

Meanwhile in Trumbull, a principal recently emailed their school’s teachers telling them that they MAY NOT discuss the SBAC or the Common Core Standards with students (or parents).  The principal wrote, “Should your students ask about opting out, please let them know that it is now part of Connecticut law that they participate in the SBAC assessment. Do not engage in conversations regarding opting out.”  The school’s top administrator even observed that, “philosophical and/or political debates regarding SBAC or the Connecticut Core Standards are both inappropriate and unprofessional to have with your students.”

What a wonderful testament to the notion of academic freedom and inquiry, the benefit of discussion and debate or the notion that we live in an open, democratic and just society that relies on having informed citizens.

In Farmington, parents and students reported that at a March Board of Education meeting, the local superintendent of schools told the Board that any high school junior who was opted out of the SBAC test would be punished by being forced to the back of the line when it came to selecting AP, Honors or other advanced courses for their senior year.  Rather than recognizing that this year’s Common Core SBAC test can only undermine a student’s academic plans for college and that juniors who want to go on to college should be focused on improving the grades, doing well on the college application exams and taking courses that will improve their chances of getting into the college of their choice, the local superintendent is apparently going with a punishment strategy aimed at making it making it harder for Farmington’s high school students who have been opted out of the Common core SBAC test to improve their college applications.

And in Fairfield, parents report that both the superintendent and assistant superintendent continue to engage in their ongoing effort to bully, harass and humiliate students whose parents have opted them out of the Common Core SBAC testing.  As the Fairfield administrators explained in an email to selected parents, “Students who chose not to participate will be marked present and will be required to remain with their class in the test room. There will be no alternate instructional activity provided for students assigned to the test session who refuse to participate”

Fairfield and a handful of other school districts remain committed to using the abusive “sit and stay” tactic despite the fact, so clearly laid out in writing, that such an effort violates the SBAC Testing Protocol.

See: No really… Students who aren’t taking SBAC Test MUST be removed from testing rooms

The following is from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Test Administration Manual which controls that actual SBAC testing process.

“Students who are not being tested or unauthorized staff or other adults must not be in the room where a test is being administered.”

The reality is that we are witnessing government officials, some of who dare to call themselves educators, abuse and bully and demean parents, students and teachers is disturbing beyond words.

Is there really no one in government or in a position of authority who will stand up and put an end to these outrageous abuses?


Is anyone out there?

What the Hell is wrong with these people?

Dianna R. Wentzell – Misleader of parents on Common Core SBAC testing named Connecticut Commissioner of Education


In a press conference today, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman announced that they were removing the word “interim” from Dianne Wentzell’s title today, allowing her to continue as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education.

Wentzell was named Interim Commissioner of Education this past January when charter school founder and corporate education reform insider Stefan Pryor high-tailed it out of Connecticut.

Before taking on the role of Interim Commissioner, Dianna Wentzell served as the State Department of Education’s point person on the Common Core and the Common Core SBAC testing program.

As Commissioner, Wentzell has dramatically increased her effort to undermine Connecticut’s system of public education with the Common Core, the Common Core testing  scheme and Malloy’s unfair and unprofessional teacher evaluation system.

Wentzell has led the Malloy Administration’s continuing effort to mislead and lie to Connecticut parents about the fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme.

In fact, Wentzell is the author of the infamous memo instructing Connecticut superintendents to harass parents who attempted to utilize their opt out rights.

Now, thanks in part to Wentzell’s “leadership,” the Connecticut State Department of Education features propaganda worthy of George Orwell’s novel 1984, which one can find under their aptly entitled section, Communication Tools for Smarter Balanced.

It is there that parents are told that the Common Core SBAC test is “good,” although it skips over the fact that the SBAC test is designed to ensure that the vast majority of Connecticut students are deemed failures and that the unfair and discriminatory test results will be used to punish Connecticut’s public school teachers.

The SDE website reads;

Parent/Guardian Communication

  • A parent template letter that provides information about the new Smarter Balanced assessments and explains that the results will be different.
  • A handout for parents about the new tests that helps explain how the results will be different this year.

By keeping Wentzell as head of the State Department of Education, Malloy and Wyman continue to make it clear that it is full steam ahead with their anti-student, anti-parent, anti-teacher and anti-public school agenda.

It is also clear that the only recourse Connecticut parents now have is to stand up and refuse to allow their children to be given the disastrous Common Core SBAC test.

Happy CMT Day – Connecticut Mastery Test Day!


All across Connecticut, today – and for much of the next two weeks – educational activities will come to a halt for Connecticut’s 570,000 students.  In the state’s more than 1,100 schools, teachers will stop teaching and children will stop learning. 

Instead, the attention of teachers and children will turn to the Connecticut Mastery Tests and the task of filling in bubbles.

Faced with a growing state deficit, state and local government are increasing taxes and cutting services….including some of the most vital and essential services provided by government.

However, over the next two weeks, approximately $30 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds will go to one of the nation’s largest for-profit testing companies to pay for these standardized tests, scoring these tests and the necessary profit that goes along with their “work.”

Add in the lost teaching time and overhead and Connecticut will be diverting at least $50 million away from its already underfunded public education system.

All this so that we can determine that, in fact, poverty, language barriers and the need for special education services continue to be the three single biggest factors in determining standardized tests scores.

With less poverty and language barriers, suburban students will do better.

With more poverty and language barriers, urban students will do worse.

Students who require special education services will perform better or worse depending, in part, on whether their districts are providing them with the services they need and deserve.  And more often than not, the answer to that question depends on whether the local school districts have the funds necessary to properly cover special education costs.

So that is an expenditure of $50 million to tell us what we already know.

The only difference is that this year, if Governor Malloy and his administration, including Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor have their way, the test results will then be used to punish teachers for factors that are clearly beyond their control.

In honor of this crime against our children, here are three (3) things to consider doing;

1)      Sign the Parents Across America – Connecticut Chapter petition against the overuse of standardized testing:  Reduce the use of Standardized Testing in Connecticut 


2)      Drop a note to Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and Commissioner Pryor:
[email protected]
3)     Order yourself a Tested to Despair Bumper Sticker:  See the link to the right of the Wait, What Blog or click on: TESTED TO DESPAIR BUMPER STICKERS


An Endorsement? No, No a Recommendation – The two are very different


Early tomorrow morning, Connecticut Democrats will begin arriving at Central Connecticut State University’s Kaiser Hall to hold their 2012 Democratic Nominating Convention.

The primary agenda item is the endorsement of a Democratic candidate to run for the United States Senate seat being vacated by one-time Democrat Joe Lieberman.

Congressman Chris Murphy is poised to easily win the nomination.  The only question is whether Susan Bysiewicz, who at last check had about $1 million in her campaign bank account, will force a primary which would take place in August.

While Murphy’s nomination has been assured for quite some time, when State Representative William Tong withdrew from the race on May 1st,  Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman (neither of whom have Susan on their Holiday greeting card mailing list) were free to endorse Murphy.

Murphy already had the endorsement of his fellow Connecticut members of Congress, as well as, Attorney General George Jepsen, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Comptroller Kevin Lembo.

In the great Democratic tradition where “primaries are good” unless you are the nominee or support the nominee, Connecticut’s Democratic leadership has been working hard to limit support for Bysiewicz.

Today’s wait, what? post is designed to clarify the big difference between the concept of an endorsement and a recommendation.

You see, “endorsements” are very different from say “recommendations.”  For example, one is an endorsement and the other is a recommendation.  To make matters more complex, it appears that an endorsement can be a recommendation but a recommendation is not an endorsement.

This confusion arises, in part, from the investigative work of Stamford Advocate and Hearst newspaper reporter Brian Lockhart who, in February 2009, wrote about Governor Rell’s successful effort to get Linda McMahon a seat on the State Board of Education.

It took a Freedom of Information request by the Hearst newspapers to fully unravel the whole story, but it turned out that the senior staff from Governor Rell’s Office, McMahon’s lobbyists and the WWE’s vice president of global public affairs were forced to put in some long hours working to “polish McMahon’s image, craft her confirmation hearing statements and schedule as many one-on-one meetings as possible with legislators.”

It all began when the co-chair of the Legislature’s Nominations Committee told the Governor’s Office that she had heard from a constituent who was “concerned about whether Mrs. McMahon would be an appropriate role model.”

Worried about the potential fallout on McMahon’s nomination, the team kicked into high gear.  The WWE vice president informed the Governor’s office that “we are going to be announcing a new community-based program in early February…We also are going to post some clips of Linda speaking at the Republican National Convention, doing stand-ups at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with our Superstars and addressing high school students at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C…”

The FOI also revealed a memo in which McMahon’s team provided the Governor’s Office with “notes” responding to “a list of concerns being circulated by Jonathan Pelto.”

However, the most intriguing information came with the news that the WWE and Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s office were scrambling to gather “letters of recommendation from a variety of bi-partisan sources.”

The packet of letters of recommendations, which was presented to legislators on the day of her confirmation hearing, included letters from;

1. Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy

2. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz

3. U.S. Congressman John Larson

As well as a host of others including the President of Sacred Heart University, the past president of the League of Women Voters of the United States and the President of UBS Investment Bank

Upon further investigation it turned out that Linda McMahon and her family had been very generous campaign contributors to some of the people writing the letters of recommendation.

So, should it come up at tomorrow’s Democratic State Convention, it’s important that the delegates remember that regardless of whether they are persuaded by Governor Malloy’s endorsement of Chris Murphy or Susan Bysiewicz’s endorsement of herself; recommendations are not endorsements, but endorsements might be recommendations.

For one of Lockhart’s great blogs on this issue see:

UPDATE On The Hostage Situation;


Governor Dannel Malloy came out of a closed-door meeting with local elected officials yesterday and put it all the line.  The Governor could not have been any clearer then when he told the city and town leaders from Connecticut’s lowest achieving school districts DO NOT COUNT ON THE $40 MILLION IN THE EDUCATION BUDGET!

Malloy’s words were – “They should not be depending on this money…I think this money is very much in the lurch until we have an educational bill that we can agree on.”

In English that means – if I don’t get the bill I want – you don’t get the $40 million dollars aimed at helping educate the poorest children in Connecticut.

It is not complex.

It is not hard to understand.

It is really quite simple.

Dan Malloy is saying – you better get your legislators to cave in and vote for my version of the bill because if they don’t your towns don’t get the money.  If your towns don’t get the money, you either don’t provide the education services or you have to raise your local property taxes to meet those costs..

$40 million dollars to help 200,000 kids in return for what I want (or you get nothing).

Anywhere but government and it would be called blackmail and the Feds would have had some of those local officials wired for the upcoming trial.

But here in the United States we call it “American Politics” and it’s all fair and legal.

Following the public announcement of Malloy’s threat, some of the mayors and local leaders spoke to the media and some did not.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, once again, threw his support behind the Governor.

New Britain Mayor Tim O’Brien, who used to be a state legislator, was more diplomatic refusing to say which version he liked better (the Governor’s or the Education Committees), but he did go on to say nice things about the governor’s “leadership.”

And Jim Finley, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the organization that represents most cities and towns at the Capitol, said that they support “an education reform bill closer to the governor’s vision than that reported out of the Education Committee.”

Okay – so let’s be really clear.  There are two major sticking points with the bill as it is now written.  Malloy wants the local leaders to side with him so the only real question is do they or do they not agree with the Governor’s position.

Item #1 is whether Connecticut should do away with teacher tenure or whether having a comprehensive teacher evaluation system with a simple process to remove bad teachers enough.  


Item #2 is whether Connecticut should adopt Malloy’s plan for what he calls his “Commissioner’s network” which is the system that allows the Education Commissioner to take over low performing schools.

If these local leaders like the “Commissioner’s Network” plan they simply need to answer YES OR NO to each of the following elements that are part of the “Commissioner’s Network”

(1) The Commissioner’s Network Plan requires that all the teachers and administrators at a school that is taken over by the Commissioner are fired.  Do you support that – YES OR NO?

(2) Towns are then required to find other places for the fired teachers and administrators in their schools systems however the Governor doesn’t provide the towns with any additional funds so the towns must keep a few hundred employees but they will have lost the money to pay them.  Local taxpayers will then have to pick up the extra cost. Do you support that – YES OR NO?

(3) If the towns cannot find places and money for the teachers and administrators who have been fired they are still liable for the contract provisions that are in place AND any unemployment consequences for those teachers and administrators.  In either case, local taxpayers will have to pay. Do you support that – YES OR NO?

(4) Once the employees are fired, collective bargaining at the schools is banned.   Do you support that – YES OR NO?

(5) The Commissioner of Education can then turn the school over to a third-party such as a charter school management company or a private entity.  Do you support that – YES OR NO?

(6)  The new entity running the school is exempt from state laws limiting consultants so they can hire whomever they want as their consultants without having to go through any bidding process. Do you support that – YES OR NO?

(7) The new entity running the school is also exempt from the state laws requiring competitive bidding for other goods and services.  Do you support that – YES OR NO?

(8) And finally, a town cannot cut funding to the network school – even if they have to cut their own school budget – and if they do get additional state funds or raise taxes to fund their remaining schools they MUST provide the Commissioner’s Network school the same proportional increase in funding even though the local board of education doesn’t control the network school nor is the network school unionized.  So if the town negotiates an agreement with its unions they have to pay the network school the same money – even though that school doesn’t have a union. Do you support that – YES OR NO?

So let’s start with the first three;

Mayor Finch?

Mayor O’Brien?

Mr. Finley?

Please simply circle the yes or no answer and post it back here so we can all see where you stand on these issues.

And how about the mayors from the other 28 towns?

Perhaps some readers would be willing to send over these questions to their own mayors (if they live in one of the 30 towns) and ask them to fill out this simple form.

For more background check out these CTNewsunkie and CTMirror stories;

Dan Malloy and The National Forces Pushing for Education Reform


National “Education Reform” Leader instructs Malloy that if he can’t get SB24 back to its original language he should;

“…just veto S.B. 24. Period. It’s not worth signing. Malloy should then work with reformers on running candidates to primary the legislature’s education committee co-chairs.” – RiShawn Biddle 3/27/12

As much as Dan Malloy would like to claim that Senate Bill 24 is simply about education policy in Connecticut, the truth is that it is part of a much broader effort to undermine public education in the United States.

Whether he is leading or simply joining this national effort remains unanswered but the stark reality of the path he is trying to take us down became all the more apparent as more of the “national players” weighed in.

Take for example today’s post by RiShawn Riddle, the editor of the “Education Reform” Blog, “Dropout Nation.”

Biddle authored a piece entitled “Dan Malloy’s Moment of Truth.” (see link below)

You might recognize the name RiShawn Biddle.   On February 16th I wrote about him in conjunction with Governor Malloy’s decision to attend the Capitol Rally at which Michelle Rhee was also scheduled to speak.  (Malloy backed out the following day). Wait, What 2-16-12

At the time I noted that RiShawn Biddle, the consultant to the group hosting the rally, had only weeks before been the keynote speaker at the Minnesota Tea Party’s “Excellence in Education” Forum.”  In addition, Biddle was “a regular contributor to The American Spectator, the right-wing magazine that played a leading role in the efforts to impeach President Clinton.”

Now RiShawn Biddle has spoken out on behalf of Dan Malloy’s proposals and against the Legislature’s efforts to bring some sanity to Malloy’s plan.

Biddle writes “Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy has talked a good game about undertaking systemic reform — and for the most part, he’s walked it too. From appointing reform advocate Stefan Pryor as his education superintendent, to succinctly summing up the problems with tenure and other aspects of traditional teacher compensation…Malloy has made Connecticut one of Dropout Nation‘s Five States to Watch on the school reform front.”

Biddle goes on to applaud Senate Bill 24 saying that it would “end near-lifetime employment, require the use of student test performance data in evaluating teachers, allowing the results of evaluations to be used in awarding tenure and dismissing laggard teachers, and provide charter school operators with funding equivalent to traditional district counterparts.”

And then he shifts his focus to those that stand in Malloy’s way saying “But now, the co-chairs of Connecticut’s joint education committee –after meeting behind closed doors with NEA and AFT bosses…have essentially eviscerated Malloy’s plan.”

Biddle opines that if Malloy doesn’t get the bill back to its original form he “should just veto S.B. 24. Period. It’s not worth signing. Malloy should then work with reformers on running candidates to primary the legislature’s education committee co-chairs. Some would call it hardball. It is. But political leaders don’t deserve allegiance if they don’t do the right thing by their constituents…right now, Malloy has an opportunity to win the long-term war for reforming public education in the Nutmeg State. It is time to take advantage of it.”

Connecticut has become one of the most important battle grounds in the national “Education Reform” movement.

And make no mistake – it is a “movement” – with people like Michelle Rhee leading the charge and hundreds of millions of dollars being pumped into the national effort.

Over the last three years, The Walton Family Foundation (funded by the Wal-Mart family) has poured $450 million into efforts to change education policy and develop charter schools in this country.  They are very open about their “Investment Strategy.” Their goal is to promote charter schools, private school choice and education reforms.  As they put it, “the need to continue improving the public policy environment is central to our education reform strategy.

To that end, the Walton Foundation has donated $1.3 million to the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc. (ConnCAN) and $2.6 million to 50CAN to fund their advocacy efforts.  The Gates Foundation, another major player in the “education reform” battle, has donated another $2.4 million to 50CAN and close to a million to Achievement First, the charter school management company.

Enhancing the quality of our education is the single greatest priority facing our society but the proposals being put forward by these people will take us in exactly the wrong direction and, for whatever reason, Dan Malloy has decided to side with those forces and continue to push their agenda.

There is one point I agree with RiShawn Biddle about.  The only thing protecting our public schools are the Democratic members of the Connecticut General Assembly.  Let’s hope they have the courage and conviction to support our children and protect our public schools.

Read RiShawn Biddle’s commentary piece here:

Education Reform Update: One Step Forward – A Half Step Backwards – While Connecticut’s future hangs in the balance


In the coming days we’ll learn more about the changes that the Democratic members of the Education Committee have made to Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill.

Watching the Governor’s reaction to this latest proposal is a clear-cut reminder that these legislators deserve credit for even contemplating the notion that they have an obligation to do the right thing and do what is best for their constituents and the children of their districts.

That said, there are still provisions here that remind me of the hit and run driver who returns to the scene of the horrible accident, gets out to help the severely injured and then wants an award for their heroism.

Meanwhile, there is no longer any doubt that the Governor and his circle of advisors have, once and for all, squandered the opportunity to be called Democrats.  There is not a Democratic Governor in the country that has proposed legislation that is as anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-union and anti-Democratic values than what this governor has done – first with his budget cuts and middle-income tax increases, then with the state employees and now with teachers and our education system.

Perhaps it is the allure of hanging with the super-rich or maybe it is some sense that his actions will endear him to some national audience of anti-government and anti-community voters, but the result of his actions are clear, concise and devastating.  Over the last 14 months this Governor has managed to belittle, dismiss and backstab every single constituency who stood up and worked hard to see that he was elected as Governor.

Hundreds of thousands of people voted for Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman because they truly believed that the two of them would lead the fight for a fairer, more transparent, more honest and more dedicated state government.

His “Education Reform” proposal and his pedantic reactions to the reasonable efforts to address the proposal’s shortcoming is a sad reminder of how far he has strayed from the promises he made.

Note:  At least the Committee removed that outrageous and immoral provision that Malloy had inserted into the bill that would have granted an expanded state funded pension to the guy who helped write this plan but who refused to follow the rules that 45,000 teachers and 9,000 school administrators had followed.  Although I’d be surprised if we didn’t see the change in law surface again before this is all over.

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