Malloy’s State Bond Commission prepares to give corporate welfare to huge hedge fund.

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Later this morning, Governor Dannel Malloy and the State Bond Commission are slated to vote on Malloy’s deal to give tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to AQR Capital, a hedge fund based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Initial reporting on the bizarre deal came via Wait Wait? when it reported, Malloy gives Climate Change Denier $35 million in taxpayer funded corporate welfare.

Now CT Newsjunkie provides more in-depth reporting in a breaking story entitled, State Bond Commission Poised To Give Another Hedge Fund Money.

The CT Newsjunkie reports;

After a controversial decision earlier this year to give $22 million to the world’s largest hedge fund, Connecticut’s Bond Commission is looking to give $32 million to a Greenwich hedge fund managing $172.4 billion in assets.

On Tuesday, the state Bond Commission is being asked to approve a $28 million loan and $7 million in grants to AQR Capital in Greenwich. In exchange for the help from the state, the company will retain 580 jobs and create up to 217 new jobs within two years, according to the Bond Commission agenda.

The first $13 million of the loan will be forgiven if the company retains 797 jobs for two years. According to its website, the company already had 744 employees as of Sept. 30, 2016, but not all of its employees are in Connecticut. The company also has offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, and Sydney, according to its website.

The company will receive an additional $15 million forgivable loan with the goal of another 189 jobs within five years. The company would also be eligible for $7 million in incremental grants if it creates and retains an additional 140 jobs for a total of 1,126 jobs.

When the state gave $22 million to Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, the deal was criticized by a number of people on both sides of the political aisle because it comes at a time when the state is struggling with its debt, which is taking up an ever-increasing part of the state budget.

Perhaps most telling of all is that the company is ducking media questions about he deal.  As CT Newsjunkie added, “

“Phone calls to the company were not returned.”

For more on the AQR deal see Wait, What? article:  Malloy gives Climate Change Denier $35 million in taxpayer funded corporate welfare

To read and comment on the full CT Newsjunkie on AQR go to:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/state_bond_commission_poised_to_give_another_hedge_fund_money/

Charter lobby chases cut of public funds (By Wendy Lecker)

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Beware parents, teachers, school administrators, local education officials and Connecticut taxpayers! 

Not satisfied with diverting more than $110 million a year to privately owned, but publicly funded, charter school companies in Connecticut, the charter school industry is about to make a massive grab for even more public funds via a gimmick called “Money Follows the Child.”

Counting on the support from the ally, Governor Dannel Malloy, the charter school industry is intent on leaving Connecticut public schools will fewer resources and Connecticut residents with higher tax bills.

In her latest commentary piece entitled, Charter lobby chases cut of public funds, and first published in the Stamford Advocate, public education advocate, Wendy Lecker, lays out the issue.

As soon as Connecticut’s school funding decision in the CCJEF case was rendered, charter lobbyists in Connecticut began salivating at the prospect of using their political influence to craft a new school funding system that would benefit charter schools. Families for Excellent schools planned a rally for “fair funding” for charter schools and ConnCAN kicked its propaganda machine into high gear with polls and statements about the horrors of inequitable funding in Connecticut. The case is now on appeal, but the charter lobby is pressing its agenda now.

The embrace of the CCJEF decision by the charter lobby was extremely disingenuous, given that since the case was filed in 2005, neither ConnCAN nor any of the charter advocates even acknowledged the existence of CCJEF.

CCJEF was never about funding privately managed charter schools serving 1 percent of Connecticut students. The CCJEF plaintiffs seek adequate and equitable funding for the vast majority of children who attend Connecticut’s public schools — particularly in Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

However, ConnCAN, Families for Excellent Schools and Northeast Charter Network now see their opportunity to use the language of equity to serve their interests.

If you think it is illogical to call diverting public money intended for poor school districts serving the many to privately managed schools that serve the few “equity,” you are not alone.

In a growing body of case law, courts across the country are rejecting attempts to use their state constitutions to obtain equal funding for charter schools.

The most recent loss was suffered this month in New York by Northeast Charter Network — a well-funded lobby active in Connecticut — where an appellate court dismissed its attempt to get equal facilities funding for charter schools in Buffalo and Rochester.

New York’s decision is consistent with decisions in Arizona and New Jersey, where charter advocates sued for equal funding, and in Massachusetts, where charter advocates attempted to force the state to lift the charter cap. Washington State’s Supreme Court also ruled that charter schools are not entitled to equal funding, though on different grounds.

Charter advocates used similar arguments in these cases. They claimed that poor school districts have low student outcomes, so if a child chooses to go to a charter school they claim has better outcomes, that charter school has the right to equal funding.

In deciding these cases, courts have exposed the claims of charter schools as being at odds with the nature and purpose of the constitutional right to an adequate education.

First and foremost, these courts point out, charter schools do not have a constitutional right to anything. State constitutions protect children, not schools.

Choice is not a constitutional right, either. As the Massachusetts court explained, while the state must educate all children, there is no “constitutional right to choose a particular flavor of education.” Charters are the prime example of how school “choice” undermines constitutional notions of equality, as they often increase segregation, fail to serve English Language Learners, students with disabilities and other vulnerable children, and impose disproportionately harsh discipline on children of color.

The courts also note that while a state must adequately fund public education, there is no right to two parallel public school systems. They ruled that if a child can attend a district public school that is fully funded, then her right to an education is sufficiently safeguarded.

The courts emphasize that if the public school is not fully funded, the solution is certainly not to divert public funds to a charter school. As the New York court observed, funneling public dollars into a charter school is inconsistent with the State’s constitutional obligation, because “to divert public education funds away from the traditional public schools and toward charter schools would benefit a select few at the expense of” the majority of students in public schools.

These courts also note that charter schools are not like public schools. They are exempt from requirements that traditional public schools must follow. Most notably, they do not have to serve all children in a district nor provide all programs that public schools must provide. They were always envisioned as transitory, and can have their charter revoked if authorizing agencies conduct proper oversight.

Connecticut must reform its school funding system. But it cannot be misled by the charter lobby’s warped “save a few, forget the rest” mentality. Our leaders must ensure a well-funded public school system that serves all children, no matter what their needs. True equity means an adequate education for all.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s commentary piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Charter-lobby-chases-cut-of-public-10594980.php

Malloy gives Climate Change Denier $35 million in taxpayer funded corporate welfare

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Despite Connecticut’s massive and growing fiscal crisis, Governor Dannel Malloy’s corporate welfare program continues to spin out of control.  This time the recipient of the Malloy administration’s taxpayer funded give-a-way program is another massive, extraordinarily profitable hedge fund, a company headed by a multi-millionaire corporate executive who is a climate change denier.

Last Wednesday, as the nation and its citizens reeled from the results of Election Day, Governor Dannel Malloy announced his decision to give Greenwich-based AQR Capital Management $35 million dollars in Connecticut taxpayer funds.

AQR Capital Management is one of the nation’s largest hedge funds, with assets of over $159 billion. The company’s CEO, Cliff Asness, is known for his Republican, Libertarian and right-wing politics, including his consistent denial that climate change is a problem facing the world.

As the Hartford Business Journal reported in, Greenwich firm to expand with $35M in state loans, grants,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday announced the company’s participation in the Department of Economic and Community Development’s First Five program, providing up to $28 million in loans and up to $7 million in grants to support the firm’s $72 million expansion project. AQR Capital will retain 540 jobs as it creates new ones, Malloy said.

Since the Malloy administration’s corporate welfare program is funded through state borrowing, the $35 million gift to AQR Capital Management will cost taxpayers well in excess of $40 million.

Making the corporate subsidy all the more outrageous, AQR’s top executive has been an extremely controversial figure in the business world.

Addressing Cliff Asness’ statements, a Fortune Magazine article published on March 11, 2015 and entitled, Top hedge fund manager: Global warming isn’t a danger, reported;

One of Wall Street’s most successful hedge fund managers is once again wading into the climate change debate. His conclusion: It’s not as big of a problem as some suggest.

The hedge fund executive went on to suggest that, “based on the current pace of global warming, it will take another 500 years before the changes become a real problem.”

Connecticut crippling state debt is already making it impossible to maintain vital services and will leave future generations with impossibly high debt payments.

In fact, Governor Malloy’s unprecedented use of corporate welfare will cost Connecticut taxpayers well in excess of $1 billion and his fiscally irresponsible policies have already undermined Connecticut state government’s ability to meet its obligations in the years and decades to come.

7 Questions Poetic Justice Would Like Teachers (and the New Trump Administration) to Answer (by Poetic Justice)

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poetic-justice-picture-11-12

Poetic Justice is a Connecticut educator, education advocate and poet.  Here are seven important questions posed by Poetic Justice…

  1. Why would we test kids instead of teach kids?
  2. Why would we allow the freedom to teach to be stripped from the teacher?
  3. Why would we allow a system that stifles creativity, humanity, curiosity, and imagination in our charges to continue?
  4. Why would we discourage healthy relationships in our schools? Between students and teachers? Between teachers and teachers? Between teachers and administrators?
  5. How do we kill the current educational regime and rebuild our teachers, students, and schools?
  6. How can teachers, parents, and administrators remain sane if the status quo remains entrenched in our thoughts and in our schools?
  7. By not resisting, are we part of the insanity?

These questions continue to plague me.

#DoNoHarm
#ResistanceMatters
#LetLoveLeadtheWAY

You can read more of Poetic Justice’s writing at: https://poeticjusticect.com/

Sackler ponies up $8,000 more in Charter School Industry’s effort to influence legislative races in Connecticut

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As the 2016 Election came to a close, charter school aficionado and big-time campaign donor – Jonathan Sackler – whose company makes OxyContin, dropped $8,000 into the Charter Cares Political Action Committee, the entity that raised more than $86,000 to support a handful of pro-charter school legislative candidates during this year’s election cycle.  Sackler’s latest contribution comes on top of a $10,000 donation he already made to the charter school PAC.

During the General Election, Charter Cares PAC devoted their resources in support of two legislative campaigns, one effort for incumbent State Senator Steve Cassano (D-Manchester) and the other for incumbent State Representative Andre Bumgardner (R-New London/Groton).

Cassano squeaked out a narrow victory while Bumgardner lost to his Democratic opponent.

Of the total amount of money Charters Care raised, the majority came from Education Reform Now, a shadowy New York based “Dark Money” group that refuses to identify its donors.

In addition to Jonathan Sackler, who is Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest contributor, other major donors to Charters Care were individuals directly associated with Achievement First, Inc and ConnCAN.

Achievement First, Inc. is the large charter school management company that owns and operates charter schools in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island.  ConnCAN is Connecticut’s leading charter school advocacy group that has led the record breaking lobbying effort in favor of Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-public school initiative.

According to reports filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Achievement First and ConnCAN connected donors to Charters Care included Brian Olson who donated $10,000 and Andrew Boas who contributed $4,500.

For more about Charters Care, Education Reform Now Network and their Connecticut campaign effort check out;

New York Dark Money, Pro-Charter Group pours another $15,000 into Connecticut legislative races

Charter School Industry drops $63,000 plus into Connecticut legislative races

Massachusetts Ballot Question #2 – Charter School Industry pours record breaking $26 million into stunning loss

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As Diane Ravitch reported,

Voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly defeated Question 2, by a margin of about 62%-38%. Question 2 would have permitted the addition of 12 charter schools every year into the indefinite future.

A vibrant coalition of parents, educators, and students withstood a barrage of dark money and won. They organized, mobilized, knocked on doors, rallied, and they won. More than 200 school committees passed resolutions against Question 2. None supported it.

The bottom line that unified opponents of the measure was that charters would drain funding from the public schools.

As of November 1, 2016, the charter school industry had raised in excess of $26 million to fund their effort to undermine public education in Massachusetts.  Much of the money came from the infamous New York based billionaires and hedge fund managers who have been funding the charter school industry and their allies in the corporate education reform privatization “movement.

The following chart identifies the major sources of money that drove the record spending by the charter school industry.

 

TOTAL RAISED IN SUPPORT OF CHARTER SCHOOL QUESTION #2 (as of 11/1/16) $26,066,640  
Charter School Industry Entity Amount Raised Major Sources of Funds
Yes on Two $710,100
Alice Walton $710,000
Campaign for Fair Access to Quality Public Schools $2,418,518.04
Jim Walton $1.125 million

 

Alice Walton (Transfer from Yes on Two $710k)
MA Charter Public Schools Voter Education Fund $150k

 

Massachusetts Charter Public School Assoc., Inc.  $100k

 

Great Schools Massachusetts $100k
Paul Sagan $100K
Charles Longfield $100k
Lawrence Coolidge $25K
Charles  Ledley $26k (Plus $40k to Great Schools Massachusetts
Great Schools Massachusetts  

$21,640,982

 

Families For Excellent Schools Inc. and Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy, Inc. (NY)  $17.2 million

 

Strong Economy For Growth $1.1m

 

Expanding Educational Opportunities  575k

 

Great Schools For Massachusetts $501k

 

Michael Bloomberg (NY) $490K
Education Reform Now Advocacy (NY) $314k

 

John Arnold (TX) $250k
Edward Shapiro $225k

 

Bradley Bloom $150k
Ray Stata $100
Campaign For Fair Access To Quality Public Schools $100K

 

Cohasset Vc, Ltd (Dallas TX) $100k

 

Shari Redstone $100k
Robert Small $75k
Abigail Johnson $60k
Stephen Mugford $60k
Daniel Loeb (NY) $50k
George Conrades $50k
Longwood Ventures Partners $50k
Ross M Jones $50k
Advancing Obama’s Legacy on Charter Schools Ballot Committee $722,040
Education Reform Now Advocacy         $155K

 

Campaign For Fair Access To Quality Public Schools $567k
Expanding Educational Opportunities $575,000
Suffolk Cares, Inc.                   $100K

 

State Street Bank and Trust Co.       $100K

 

Partners Healthcare            $100K

 

The Kraft Group$100k

 

Emc Corporation         $75K

 

Massmutual Financial Group  $50K

 

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated   $50K

 

 

As for why the Charter School Ballot Question #2 went down to a stunning defeat, Edushyster, the Massachusetts based education blogger, provides a full analysis in the recent blog post entitled, What Went Down in Massachusetts.

Edushyster writes;

I could give you a long list of reasons why Question 2 went down in flames. It was a complicated policy question that should never have made it onto the ballot. Yes on 2, despite outspending the ‘no’ camp 2-1 couldn’t find a message that worked, and was never able to counter the single argument that most resonated with voters against charter schools: they take money away from public schools and the kids who attend them. #NoOn2 also tapped into genuinely viral energy. The coalition extended well beyond the teachers unions that funded it, growing to include members of all kinds of unions, as well as social justice and civil rights groups, who fanned out across the state every weekend. By Election Day, the sprawling network of mostly volunteer canvassers had made contact with more than 1.5 million voters.

One, two, three part strategy
Question 2 was just one part of an elaborate three-pronged strategy dreamed up by charter advocates in Massachusetts, most notably our own Secretary of Education, James Peyser, to get rid of the charter cap. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s education reform eminence Chester Finn helpfully explaining in his new book how Massachusetts charter advocates had decided that things would go down:

There we see a coherent three-part strategy, beginning with a legislative move to amend the Bay State’s charter law. In case lawmakers balk, a ballot initiative is in the works, as is a legal move involving a prominent Boston firm that has filed a class-action suit to lift the charter cap, arguing that it unconstitutionally denies children access to an adequate education. As part of all three efforts, Families for Excellent Schools is organizing parents and other charter supporters to participate in an advocacy campaign.

Tellingly, Finn’s explication of Team Charter’s strategerizing is in a section entitled *From Grass Tops to Grass Roots.* A model of the *new parent power,* Families for Excellent Schools has successfully organized parents in NYC, most of whom already send their kids to charter schools, to demand more and more charter schools. Here they are marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, 30K strong. Now here they are, arriving in Albany by the busload. Theirs is a powerful spectacle, until one looks too closely and notices that the guys on the walkie talkies are all white and that the parents were told that they had to attend, or that the mayor wants to close their schools, and that their own charter schools had to be closed for the day in order to create the powerful spectacle.

In the spring of 2014, Peyser, who sat on the national board of Families for Excellent Schools, was imploring Boston’s charter schools to *take control of their own destiny by becoming a more potent political force.* By that summer, FES had a Boston offshoot, *seeded* thanks to the largesse of the New Schools Venture Fund, where Peyser worked, and the same Republican philanthropists who would get the #YesOn2MA ball rolling. And yet FES was an expensive flop from the start. What went so wrong? Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the group’s astonishing odiosity. Like refusing to say what they were about. Their first big event, a lavishly choreographed rally at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, made no mention of charter schools. Then there was *Unify Boston,* a months-long petition drive in which organizers gathered signatures from parents who wanted great neighborhood schools. When group leaders informed staff members that the actual goal of the campaign was to lift the charter cap, a revolt broke out. *It’s like they think people of color are stupid,* said one former FES organizer.

In the end, charter advocates couldn’t marshal a parent army for the same reason that has undone one ambitious #edreform vision after another: their logic model was flawed. *People aren’t against charter schools,* Yawu Miller, the managing editor of the Bay State Banner, Boston’s African American newspaper, told me when I interviewed him earlier this fall. *But they don’t want to see the kind of expansion that’s being proposed now. They think there’s a threat to the district school system if that happens.* As Miller pointed out, his son is on the waitlist for several charter schools. So is Save Our Schools parent organizer Malikka Williams. In fact, it turns out that almost everyone in Boston is on some kind of waitlist. Calculate the number of students who are waiting for in-demand Boston district schools the same way that charters do and you end up with a number in excess of 20,000.

You can read more of Edushyster’s analyses at: http://edushyster.com/what-went-down-in-massachusetts/

Additional Background on this nationally significant effort can be found via the following articles

How Long-Time Charter Funders Are Upping the Ante in Their Bid to Blow the Bay State’s Charter School Cap

Playing Three Card Monte With Dark Money

As MA Question 2 Funding Nears $32 Million, DFER Files a New Ballot Committee

 

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

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In the darkness that surrounds us, I want to take an moment to thank each and every person who voted for my candidacy yesterday in Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District.  I also want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Congressman Joe Courtney and I am glad that he will continue to represent us in Washington.  Despite the abysmal results, there are some extremely good people who won the right to serve as our representatives and our voices at the federal, state and local level.

I am honored by the results, especially in my home region and in the great city of New London, a community that remains on the cutting edge of proving the importance of active, energetic and impactful third parties.

Your votes for me not only preserved the Green Party line for 2018, but will help us lay in place the building blocks for the all-important 2018 gubernatorial election, an election in which we will finally take back our state government and ensure that the State of Connecticut properly funds vital services, requires that the wealthy to pay their fair share, ends the privatization of public education and reduces that toxic long-term debt that threatens the well-being of our children and future generations.

Today, many are understandably and properly upset and grieving, but in time we will renew our will and our energy and turn our attention to the task of rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on the elections yet to come.

The real political revolution is the one we will build in the months and years ahead.

The 2018 election is around the corner and I would welcome your advice and participation as we prepare for its arrival.

Meanwhile, our goal was to collect at least 1% of the vote yesterday.  For those who are interested, here are the numbers from the towns that have reported their results in the 2016 2nd Congressional District election.

TOWN PELTO PERCENT OF VOTE
MANSFIELD 4.81
CHAPLIN 3.71
NEW LONDON 3.53
HAMPTON 2.93
WINDHAM 2.81
WILLINGTON 2.73
SCOTLAND 2.65
UNION 2.46
ASHFORD 2.46
BOZRAH 2.22
EASTFORD 2.2
ANDOVER 1.87
STAFFORD 1.75
SUFFIELD 1.73
PUTNAM 1.72
BOLTON 1.68
HADDAM 1.68
ELLINGTON 1.67
NORWICH 1.67
COLUMBIA 1.65
MONTVILLE 1.6
LEBANON 1.58
VERNON 1.57
SPRAGUE 1.57
KILLINGLY 1.55
PRESTON 1.54
CHESTER 1.53
THOMPSON 1.46
MARLBOROUGH 1.45
EAST HADDAM 1.45
WESTBROOK 1.44
STERLING 1.43
NORTH STONINGTON 1.41
TOLLAND 1.37
HEBRON 1.35
GROTON 1.32
EAST HAMPTON 1.31
WATERFORD 1.31
CANTERBURY 1.28
COLCHESTER 1.26
ENFIELD 1.25
PLAINFIELD 1.21
GLASTONBURY 1.21
VOLUNTOWN 1.21
DEEP RIVER 1.19
STONINGTON 1.19
LYME 1.18
BROOKLYN 1.16 1.16
CLINTON 1.16
WOODSTOCK 1.13
EAST LYME 1.13
OLD LYME 1.07
OLD SAYBROOK 1.05
POMFRET 1.04
ESSEX 1.02
GRISWOLD 0.98
MADISON 0.92
SOMERS 0.91
KILLINGWORTH 0.91
SALEM 0.91
LISBON 0.85
FRANKLIN 0.84
COVENTRY No report
LEDYARD No report

Why I am running for Congress by Jonathan Pelto, Green Party Candidate, 2nd CD

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Why I am running for Congress by Jonathan Pelto, Green Party Candidate, 2nd CD

As a public education advocate, investigative journalist, small business owner, parent and former Connecticut state representative, I understand how government works.

But more importantly, I understand how our government and our elected officials are failing to provide the leadership that is needed to put this state and country back on track.

Throughout American history, each generation has worked to fulfill their fundamental obligation to leave their communities, our nation and the world a better place to live, work and raise a family.

But we are failing in the task.

Economic inequities, poverty, hunger, violence, climate change and a lack of access to an education and good jobs have created an environment in which we risk being the first generation to leave our children and future generations with less hope and opportunity.

This is not the United States or the State of Connecticut that our children and future generations deserve.

I am running for Congress because we can and must do better for our nation and its children.

I’m running for Congress because I recognize that this year’s election is critical for sustaining the future of our democracy and the nation.

Uncontested and under-contested elections reinforce apathy, and this year, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, we need every voter to understand what is at stake and learn about the issues, vote and hold those elected accountable.

I recognize that in these dark times, change will not come easily, but without joining together and raising our voices, real change will never come.

On the issues

  1. Fair and equitable tax system

My platform is to push the debate forward on behalf of the adoption of a fair and equitable tax system that requires large corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share, so that we can pay for the vital services that our citizens need, while reducing our national debt.

  1. Fiscal Responsibility

The United States has become the greatest debtor nation on Earth and we must face our responsibility of paying down our debt or we’ll leave our children and grandchildren with such crushing bills to pay that our country will never achieve financial success. I will push for balanced budgets that include a debt repayment component so that we can begin to dig undo the fiscally irresponsible actions that both parties have engaged in over the past 35 years.

  1. A government for, by, and of the people (getting money out of politics)

I will vigorously advocate for a more open and honest government that allows our citizens with access to the actions of our federal government to ensure greater accountability. I will speak up in support of legislation to overturn Citizens United which has allowed wealthy individuals to buy elections and unduly influence political decisions.

  1. Environmental Stewardship and Energy Independence

Perhaps the greatest threat to our country and the world is the threat of climate change. Climate change has already brought rising seas and more extreme weather patterns, putting human lives at risk, and crippling our economy. Without immediate action, the impacts of climate change will only worsen. I will work to combat climate change by prioritizing an energy policy that supports the development of renewable energy to greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and will dedicate resources to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

  1. A stronger, more diverse economy in Eastern CT

Eastern Connecticut’s economy is still very weak, and was one of the nation’s hardest hit by the recession. Our overreliance on only a handful of large employers concentrated within a few industries continues to make us economically vulnerable.  I will work to support the Second Congressional District’s economic development efforts by proposing actionable plans to convert our defense industry to provide our highly skilled manufacturing sector to diversify and develop products for commercial markets rather than be dependent on maintaining the military industrial complex.

  1. High quality, affordable public education

I have devoted a great deal of my political and professional career to support efforts to provide our young people and adults with high quality, affordable public education. Providing our children with knowledge, skills and opportunities is the greatest duty of any government or generation.  This campaign allows me to continue to articulate an agenda that puts an end to the corrupt and ineffective privatization of public education. These damaging policies embraced by both Republican and Democratic politicians are turning our children and our schools into profit centers for private business and have done nothing to enhance the quality of our public schools.

I will also propose real solutions to solve the student debt crisis, which has made it nearly impossible for many middle and low income children from obtaining a college education or other job training.

No one person or politician can make the fundamental changes needed to increase opportunities for all of our citizens, but together we can do those things. It is my hope that this campaign will empower people to engage in our democracy and raise their voices to address the challenges we face each as we work to build a brighter and healthier future for our children and the generations to come.

On Election Day 2016 – Help create a better future and vote!

New York Dark Money, Pro-Charter Group pours another $15,000 into Connecticut legislative races

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Called the Real Reform Now Network, a New York based charter school front group, that won’t reveal the names of its donors, is expanding its effort to convince Connecticut voters to vote for pro-charter school candidates in this year’s general election.

Connected to the Northeast Charter School Network, the Real Reform Now Network pumped another $15,000 into Charters Care late last week.  Charters Care is a political action committee that is also tied to the Northeast Charter School Network.

In their latest filing, the PAC reports that their expenditures continue to be made in support of State Senator Steve Cassano (D-Manchester).

As noted in an earlier Wait, What? post, the Center for Responsive Politics defines Dark Money organizations in the following way;

Politically active nonprofits – principally 501(c) (4) s and 501(c) (6) s – have become a major force in federal elections over the last three cycles. The term “dark money” is often applied to this category of political spender because these groups do not have to disclose the sources of their funding – though a minority do disclose some or all of their donors, by choice or in response to specific circumstances.

These organizations can receive unlimited corporate, individual, or union contributions that they do not have to make public, and though their political activity is supposed to be limited, the IRS – which has jurisdiction over these groups – by and large has done little to enforce those limits.

Relay Is A Very Bad Joke-One That Hurts Kids  (By Ann Cronin)

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Writing on her blog, Real Learning CT, educator, education advocate and education blogger Ann Cronin explains;

The Relay Graduate School of Education recently applied to be a graduate school of education in Pennsylvania, California, and Connecticut. That application was denied in Pennsylvania and California. That application was approved in Connecticut.

What is the Relay Graduate School of Education? Daniel Katz, Director of Secondary Education and Secondary Special Education Teacher Preparation at Seton Hall University sums it up like this:

It is a “Graduate School of Education” that has not a single professor or doctoral level instructor or researcher affiliated with it. In essence, it is a partnership of charter school chains Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First… Relay’s “curriculum” mostly consists of taking the non-certified faculty of the charter schools, giving them computer-delivered modules on classroom management (and distributing copies of Teach Like a Champion), and placing them under the auspices of the “no excuses” brand of charter school operation and teachers who already have experience with it.

Pennsylvania and California made worthy decisions  in rejecting the Relay Graduate School of Education. So how did it get approved in Connecticut?

On November 2, 2016, the Connecticut State Board of Education held a hearing to listen to testimony about whether Relay should be approved or not. More than 30 people testified. The overwhelming majority of those who testified strongly recommended denying Relay’s application. Some cited research about Relay and its ineffectiveness and its lack of quality . Some cited their own experience as teacher educators. Some cited their experiences in being trained as teachers. Some cited ways to bring people of color into the teaching profession in Connecticut without lowering standards and expectations for them. Only those already enrolled in or employed by Relay and two paid advocates forConnecticut charter schools spoke in favor of approving Relay.

Astoundingly, within minutes after the hearing, the Connecticut State Board of Education approved Relay as a valid program for certifying teachers in Connecticut.

The political fix was in.

Connecticut children, particularly those most in need of a good education lost. Again.

Below is my statement at that hearing:

Testimony to the Connecticut State Board of Education on November 2, 2016

My name is Ann Policelli Cronin. I have been recognized as Connecticut’s Distinguished English Teacher of the Year. I have been a district level administrator responsible for English education for 23 years and in that role have supervised and evaluated hundreds of teachers and both created and implemented innovative, state-of-the-art programs, which have won national awards for excellence. I have taught graduate level teacher education courses for 10 years. And, most recently, I have been a consultant in inner city schools identified as “failing schools”. I also recently was an advisor to a Connecticut university seeking accreditation for its teacher preparation program.

Therefore, I know what good teaching is. I know how to prepare prospective teachers to be good teachers and how to help in-service teachers to grow and develop. And I know what kind of accreditation is necessary for a teacher preparation program.

Based on that deep and broad experience as an educator, I can tell you that the Relay Graduate School of Education is a totally inadequate teacher education program.

It offers its students the mentoring of “amazing teachers” instead of academic course work. In fact, the spokespersons for Relay shun the academic work of established teacher preparation programs. I have been and, in fact, still am one of those “amazing teachers”. I have mentored teachers and taught them my skills. There are teachers around the state who could tell you how they benefited from that mentoring. But mentoring is absolutely, definitely not enough.

Teaching is complex. Teachers need more than a “how”; they need a ”why”. Brain surgeons in training certainly benefit greatly by doing their surgical rotation with expert surgeons, but when they are on their own as licensed surgeons, they must have a depth of knowledge to deal with all of the possible complexities that could occur in any surgery. So too with teaching.

Prospective English teachers need to know how cognition and intellectual engagement develop in children and adolescents because it is that understanding that dictates curriculum. They need to know the research from the past 45 years regarding the teaching of writing because, without that knowledge, they will not be able to teach their students to become effective writers. They need to know literary theory because it is that theory that dictates all pedagogy for the teaching of reading and the teaching of literature. They need to know the grammar and conventions of our language and what research says about effective ways to teach that grammar and those conventions to students. They need to know the research about learning being a social endeavor and know how to create the kind of classroom that incorporates that research, the kind of classroom that is a true community of readers, writers, and thinkers. For all of that, a teacher education program requires academic course work. Mentoring is not enough.

The accreditation process has standards to insure that graduates of teacher preparation programs have a deep knowledge of their field and a deep knowledge of child and adolescent growth and development. To be accredited, a teacher education program must also require its prospective teachers to have specified experiences of being mentored by amazing teachers. All prospective teachers need both academic course work and mentoring. Relay denies its students an essential element of teacher preparation, the element that is the foundation of all else.

Relay has been promoted both as a way to bring people of color into the teaching profession and as a fast track to let the teachers of the children of color become certified or earn Master’s degrees. How demeaning is that claim! Demeaning to both the adults of color and the children of color. Prospective teachers of color are capable of the same academic challenges as their white counterparts in accredited teacher preparation programs. And children of color in our cities, whom these teachers in the Relay program are being trained to serve, are entitled to the same appropriately trained teachers as their counterparts in the affluent suburbs.

To permit Relay to prepare teachers in Connecticut is to perpetuate the same gap between the haves and the have-nots in Connecticut that we already have. It is racist and classist. We, as state, cannot endorse that. We must give our children better care. If not us, who? If not you as the State Board of Education, who?

You can read and comment on Ann Cronin’s article at: https://reallearningct.com/2016/11/05/relay-is-a-very-bad-joke-one-that-hurts-kids/

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