Here is one of the odd things about teachers, unions and democracy

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and eliminating collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest school districts.  His corporate education reform legislation is widely recognized as the most anti-teacher piece of legislation ever introduced by a Democratic governor.

Yet, the American Federation of Teachers (Connecticut chapter) endorsed Malloy without allowing his challengers to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the AFT Political Action Committee or address the AFT Executive Committee.

By comparison, the Connecticut Education Association held a candidate forum today, allowing teacher attendees to cast an “advisory” ballot that the CEA leadership will take into consideration when they decide whom to endorse in the coming weeks.

However, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports, in addition to the $6.2 million that Connecticut taxpayers gave to pay for Governor Malloy’s re-election campaign via Connecticut’s Public Financing Program;

  • The American Federation of Teachers has used union dues to donate $10,000 to Malloy’s campaign via the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee and $250,000 to support Malloy through the new Political Action Committee, Connecticut Forward PAC, which was created by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).  The Democratic Governors Association also donated $1.25 million to the Connecticut Forward PAC.

And who are among the larger donors to the Democratic Governors Association?

  • The National Education Association’s Fund for Children’s Public Education!  The same group has also donated $5,000 in to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee to help with Governor Malloy’s re-election.

The CEA hasn’t even endorsed a candidate and NEA is spending money (donated by teachers to their Political Action Committee) in Connecticut to support the nation’s leading anti-teacher Democratic governor.

It is Ironic, to say the least, that Malloy’s campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from teachers when Malloy has earned the title as the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the nation.

It makes one wonder – doesn’t it?

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Pelto/Murphy Register as Write-In Candidates for 2014

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“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone,
you will cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” 
                                                                         — John Quincy Adams
 

Over the past few weeks more than two hundred people have written to tell us that they will be writing in the names of Jonathan Pelto for Governor and Ebony Murphy for Lt. Governor on November 4, 2014 – Election Day.

Some undoubtedly have made the decision to write in our names because they believe in our candidacy and our message.  Others want a mechanism to send a message to the powerful and the elite that change is in the air and that they will not be getting that person’s vote this year.

Of course, despite the fact that we were all taught that every vote counts, according to the laws of the State of Connecticut, a write in vote DOES NOT COUNT unless the candidate(s) file an official state form.

Section 9-373a of the Connecticut State Statues reads, “Any person desiring to be a write-in candidate for any state, district or municipal office to be filled at any regular election shall register his candidacy with the Secretary of the State on a form prescribed by the secretary.”

If the “prescribed” form is not filed, the vote will not be counted.

As many of us are becoming painfully aware, in the United States, Democracy is a relative term.

It was former President Lyndon Johnson who said something like,

“A person without a vote is a person without protection.”

So with that in mind, we are hereby filing the appropriate form and inviting the voters of Connecticut to write in our names for Governor and Lt. Governor in this year’s critically important election.

Change is in the air.  We may not have been the ones to knock the gates down, but we have – and will continue – to shake the chains that seal the gates shut so that future candidates will be better positioned to knock them down and thereby allow the People to re-take control of their government and their future.

We thank you for allowing us to be part of this historic effort,

Jonathan Pelto and Ebony Murphy

 

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
 

CEA Education Forum 2014 – September 13, 2014

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The Connecticut Education Association will be holding their forum with the gubernatorial candidates on Saturday, September 13, 2014 with a follow up CEA Political Action Committee meeting scheduled for September 17, 2014.

Having fallen short on the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, I will not be participating, but I do know the CEA endorsement process includes giving candidates a questionnaire and allowing them an opportunity so speak and answer questions, all before the CEA leadership endorses a candidate.  It is certainly an improvement over the AFT-CT’s “candidate endorsement” process.  In their case, they refused to allow candidates to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the PAC committee or even address the executive committee before they endorsed Dannel Malloy, the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the country.  They have since provided him with even more member dues to help pay for his misleading campaign ads.

There are many questions that should be asked of the candidates for governor, but here are a few that will hopefully be asked at Saturday’s forum.

Question #1:  TENURE

Governor Dannel Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the lowest performing public schools. 

To date, Mr. Malloy has not renounced his anti-tenure proposal.

In response to Malloy’s remark that public school teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy recently told the audience at the Norwich Bulletin Candidate Debate, “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.’”

Apparently as late as this month, Governor Malloy is saying that his anti-teacher statement wasn’t meant to denigrate teachers but was meant to disparage tenure?

Q:  What is your position on teacher tenure?

Question #2:  TEACHER EVALUATION

Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that academic resources show that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.  On the other hand, there are multiple teacher evaluation programs around the country that do not tie teacher evaluations to unfair, inappropriate and misleading standardized test results.

Q:  Will you commit to decoupling teacher evaluation programs from standardized test scores and replacing the present plan with one that actually ties teacher evaluation to factors that successfully measure teacher performance?

Question #3:  CCJEF SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT

Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate.  In fact, Connecticut’s present school funding formula fails to meet the provisions of Connecticut’s Constitution.  The state’s failure to revamp its school funding system has led to the CCJEV v. Rell school finance lawsuit.  As Mayor of Stamford, Governor Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in this critically important case, but as governor, he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.

Q:  Will you commit to settling the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit and use the CCFEF Coalition’s expertise to fix Connecticut’s broken school funding system.

Question #4:  EXISTING SCHOOL FUNDING

Over the past four years, state funding for privately-run charter schools has increased by 73.6% [from $53 million to $92 million], while Connecticut’s public school districts were provided with a 7.9% increase in support.  Virtually all of the new funding was allocated to the state’s 30 alliance districts (with major strings attached).  The result has been a loss of local control for Connecticut’s poorest towns and no meaningful support for middle-class towns that have become even more reliant on regressive local property taxes.

Q:  Since shifting to a new funding system will take time, as governor, how will you handle school funding during in the short term?

Question #5:  COMMON CORE AND THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME

The Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Testing Scheme has become particularly controversial.  The state, local school districts, teachers, students and parents are being faced with rapidly adopting an extremely expensive, educationally questionable system.

Q:  Can you outline your opinion on the Common Core and Standardized Testing?      

Question #6:  COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION

Commissioner Stefan Pryor has announced that he will be leaving his position at the end of 2014.  Mr. Pryor’s tenure has been steeped in controversy, due in part to his commitment to the corporate education reform agenda, his leadership style and his relationship with charter schools, most directly with Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company that has been the largest single financial beneficiary of state funds to charter schools over the past four years.

Q:  As Governor, what type of person would you appoint as Commissioner of Education and can you give us some names of people you think would be worthy of your consideration?

Question #7:  MANAGING THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Over the past four years, the Department of Education has been restructured.  Commissioner Pryor upended the Department’s “turnaround office” by eliminating the Leaders in Residence Program, removing three experienced former  Connecticut superintendents and four other expert administrators, as well as transfer out a number of nationally-recognized experts including one in English as a Second Language, one in Multi-cultural Education and one in School Climate and Bullying.  In their place, these tasks were outsourced to an inexperienced, out-of-state company for nearly $2 million dollars.  In addition, a series of other no-bid contracts were given to other out-of-state companies to perform tasks in which Connecticut expertise was available.

Q:  As Governor, what would be your vision for the State Department of Education and what is would be your approach to outside contracting?

There are many more questions that should be asked as well, please feel free to add them to the list:

Malloy’s Big Lie on Student Financial Aid

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Yesterday, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy traveled around the state to brag about his record and plans “to make higher education more affordable.”  Malloy stopped at various colleges and universities to release his “three-point plan to help families afford a higher education.”

Malloy’s press statement read;

“At a series of events in New Britain, Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford, Governor Malloy outlined a series of proposals to continuing his work to make higher education more affordable for Connecticut families.”

As proof of Governor Malloy’s commitment to helping Connecticut’s college students and their families, Malloy’s PR operation explained, “The Malloy-Wyman Administration has made affordable higher education a priority,” adding “The Malloy-Wyman Administration has already undertaken a number of actions to improve college affordability.”

The move to put a positive spin on Governor Malloy’s record on higher education is an unsettling reminder of just how far some politicians will go to lie and mislead the voters.

Dan Malloy’s record could not be clearer: 

When Malloy became governor in January 2011, the state of Connecticut provided $62.4 million a year in student financial aid grants to Connecticut students with financial need attending Connecticut universities and colleges.

The program was designed to help keep Connecticut’s students in Connecticut rather than have them leave the state to get a college education.

In Malloy’s first year in office, he cut the amount of state funding for grants to $52.1 million.

In his second budget Malloy cut funding for student financial aid to 45.3 million.

The following year he had the Connecticut General Assembly rename Connecticut’s financial aid grant programs so that it would be called the “Governor’s Scholarship Program” and cut the total amount of state money allocated for student aid grants to $42 million, a level of funding  Malloy repeated in this year’s state budget.

At the same time, Governor Dannel Malloy pushed through the deepest cuts in history to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.

By reducing state support for Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, tuition and fees have skyrocketed, as more and more of the burden falls on the backs of Connecticut’s students and their families.

At the very same time, Malloy was making his historic cuts to Connecticut’s universities and colleges, he also CUT funding for student financial aid by 33%.

Since Malloy took office, he has reduced the total amount of state financial aid for Connecticut students attending Connecticut colleges by $69 million.

And now, with about seven weeks to go until the 2014 election for governor, Malloy has the gall to make a series of campaign stops in which his PR operation promises that,

“Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman will add an additional $10 million to the Governor’s Scholarship Program, allowing for thousands more Connecticut residents to afford higher education.”

It would be funny if it wasn’t such a serious commentary about Malloy’s unwillingness to tell the truth about his record, his policies and the fiscal crisis facing Connecticut.

Here we have a campaign promise for more student financial aid from the governor who has slashed student financial aid.

And this from the governor who says he won’t raise taxes, he won’t layoff state employees, he won’t seek union concessions, he won’t reduce vital services AND he will cut taxes…all in front of a backdrop in which his budget strategies have left Connecticut with a projected $1.4 billion budget deficit next year.

Here is the truth about Malloy and Connecticut Student Financial Aid:

Year  State Funding for Student Financial Aid
   
FY 11 (Rell’s last budget) $62.2 Million
FY 12 (Malloy’s first budget) $52.1
FY 13 $45.3
FY 14 $42.0
FY 15 $42.0

 

Of Malloy’s “three point plan,” the other “two points” were equally misleading.  A later Wait, What? blog post will highlight Malloy’s effort to mislead voters on his so-called initiative “Providing Student Loan Interest Relief,” and his equally absurd “Refinancing Student Loans” plan.

In the meantime, you can read more about his spin on higher education in a story written by Keith Phaneuf at:  Malloy urges a 2nd tax cut, this time for those with student debt.

It would appear that the Malloy re-election campaign operation has reached the point where sticking to the truth is no longer of any value whatsoever.

Governor Malloy’s record on state funding for public schools

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A blog post that highlights the problem (see the Part I) and starts to lay out the solution (see Part II.)

PART I:  The problem

Malloy’s record on state funding of public schools.

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy likes to brag that he has increased funding for Connecticut schools.  While he did raise taxes, in part to increase funding for education, he fails to mention how he played favorites with those funds.

In fact, Malloy poured tens of millions of dollars into Connecticut’s privately-run charter schools while leaving the primary burden to pay for the costs of running Connecticut’s public schools on the backs of local property taxpayers.

EXAMPLE #1:  Charter Schools vs. Public Schools:  

The amount and percent change in funding as a result of Malloy’s budgets (in millions of dollars)

FY11 FY15 % CHANGE
Charter Schools  $          53  $          92 73.6%
 ECS  $    1,889  $    2,039 7.9%

 

Since Governor Malloy took control of the state budget, state funding for privately-run charter schools has increased by an incredible 73.6% [from $53 million to $92 million].  And that doesn’t even count the millions more in special grants and bonding funds that the Malloy administration has thrown at charter school companies like Achievement First Inc. and Jumoke Academy.

EXAMPLE #2:  Failure to adequately fund Connecticut’s Public Schools while doctoring the Education Funding Formula.  

And while Connecticut’s charter schools were wallowing in their 73.6% increase in taxpayer funds, Connecticut’s public school districts were provided with only a 7.9% increase in support over the four fiscal years that Malloy has controlled the state budget.

Malloy’s failure to provide adequate funding for Connecticut’s public schools is not only unconstitutional, but means that the burden of paying for public schools in Connecticut has shifted even more onto the backs of local property taxpayers.

Equally noteworthy is the way the Malloy administration was able to manipulate Connecticut’s school funding formula to benefit particular towns.  While the Education Cost Sharing Formula is supposed to help poorer towns more than wealthier towns, even a cursory review of the change in funding reveals that some poorer towns “won” while others didn’t do so well.

What is also clear is that Malloy’s education funding policies have been particularly unfair to most of Connecticut’s middle income school districts.

The following chart highlights the change in state education funding for a cross-section of Connecticut towns since Malloy became governor.

 

TOWN FY11 FY15 % CHANGE
(In millions)      
Stamford  $         8.0  $       10.6 32.5%
Hamden  $       23.0  $       27.0 17.4%
East Hartford  $       42.0  $       49.0 16.7%
New Britain  $       74.0  $       85.0 14.9%
West Hartford  $       16.0  $       18.2 13.8%
Manchester  $       30.6  $       34.5 12.7%
Bridgeport  $    164.0  $    180.0 9.8%
New Haven  $    142.0  $    154.6 8.9%
East Haven  $       18.7  $       20.0 7.0%
Hartford  $    188.0  $    201.0 6.9%
Glastonbury  $         6.2  $         6.6 6.5%
Wethersfield  $         8.0  $         8.5 6.3%
Rocky Hill  $         3.4  $         3.6 5.9%
Naugatuck  $       29.2  $       30.8 5.5%
Stratford  $       20.5  $       21.4 4.4%
Southington  $       19.8  $       20.4 3.0%
Plainville  $       10.1  $       10.4 3.0%
Torrington  $       23.9  $       24.6 2.9%
Watertown  $       11.7  $       12.0 2.6%
Wallingford  $       21.4  $       21.8 1.9%
Thomaston  $         5.6  $         5.7 1.8%
South Windsor  $       12.8  $       13.0 1.6%
Wolcott  $       13.5  $       13.7 1.5%
Plainfield  $       15.4  $       15.6 1.3%

 

The candidates running for governor need to be asked – What are they going to do to properly fund Connecticut’s public schools?

  • Hint:  Candidates – Here is part of the answer:

Part II:  The Solution to Connecticut’s School Finance Crisis:

Connecticut’s governor is the one who must be responsible for taking the lead in revamping Connecticut’s school funding system.  The only true, honest and effective solution is to develop a funding system that reflects the real cost of delivering quality education for every child.

With the critical assessment in place, the Governor and the state of Connecticut must then take dramatic steps to improve the level of state resources going to local school districts.  In that way, the state can ensure that there is real equity across districts lines and that all of Connecticut’s public schools have the resources necessary to provide the equal educational opportunities that are mandated by Connecticut’s constitution and required by a just society.

The truth is that school funding improvements are imperative for closing the unconscionable achievement gap and securing the kind of society and competitive workforce that all our residents need and deserve.

A 21st century school system cannot be achieved through the corporate education reform industry’s agenda of more standardized testing, the privatization of our public schools and the unwarranted and inappropriate attack on our public school teachers.

Instead it requires proper leadership and adequate funding.  The lion’s share of responsibility for funding public schools in Connecticut must be shifted to the state level, where it constitutionally belongs.  A primary benefit of this shift will be to significantly reduce our reliance on Connecticut’s regressive property tax system.

Revenue rebalancing that entails changing the way schools are funded means that all tax/revenue streams will have to be reexamined through the lens of equity, adequacy, and sustainability.

The burden can no longer be unfairly shouldered by struggling middle income and working family homeowners, senior citizens, or others living on modest, fixed incomes.

Rather the burden must be fairly shared by all sectors of the State’s economy, including the wealthy who are simply not paying their fair share.

The critically important CCJEF v. Rell school finance lawsuit, scheduled to go to trial after the election, would accomplish all these goals.  The solutions outlined in the CCJEF lawsuit are the very solutions that will ensure that Connecticut can provide all of its children with the knowledge, skills and training they will need to live more fulfilling lives.

Rather than fighting Connecticut’s schools, students, parents, teachers and property taxpayers in the courtroom, Governor Malloy (and Attorney General George Jepsen) should have settled the CCJEF case and used that coalition’s expertise to help fix the broken school funding system.

The voters of Connecticut can now do what Governor Malloy refused to do.

The voters can pick a candidate for Governor who commits to settling the CCJEF lawsuit because that will be the candidate who understands what must really be done to properly fund our public schools and put Connecticut back on track.

Malloy allocates $500k to figure out how to reduce standardized testing…

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After wasting tens of millions of taxpayer funds instituting his massive Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC) tests, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy has now said that he wants  “to reduce the time Connecticut students spend taking standardized tests” and has even come up with $500,000 in grants to hand out to schools to help them figure out how to undo the very plan he pushed through.

You gotta love election years!

In 2012, Malloy’s education reform industry initiative mandated a huge expansion in standardized testing for public school students, including a new test for high school juniors – this despite the fact that these 11th graders were already taking a number of standardized tests as part  of the college application process.

Now, two years later – and six weeks before Election Day – Malloy has had an epiphany and put out a press release saying, “I am eager to explore solutions for the students who may be our most over-tested: our eleventh-graders.”

In a grandiose attempt to prove his commitment to reducing standardized testing, the Hartford Courant reported,

“Malloy and state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor also announced Friday that school districts can start applying next month for grants to reduce the amount of time students spend taking tests at all grade levels spend taking tests. The total of up to $500,000 in grants will “support local efforts to eliminate tests that are outdated and do not contribute to student learning — thereby increasing classroom time for teaching — and to improve the quality of student assessments already in use, including the tailoring and personalization of assessments to student needs.”

Although the champion of more testing is now saying he wants to “explore” reducing the number of tests for high school juniors, his strong support for the Common Core and Common Core testing charade remains intact.

In addition, although Malloy is apparently trying to throw a bone to students, parents and teachers, he continues to duck the challenge to clarify his position on teacher tenure.

See:  Governor Malloy: Tell the truth about your position on teacher tenure

Governor Dannel Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the lowest performing public schools.

To date, Mr. Malloy has not renounced his anti-tenure proposal.

In response to Malloy’s remark that public school teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy recently told the audience at the Norwich Bulletin Candidate Debate, “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.’”

Is Governor Dan Malloy now saying that his anti-teacher statement wasn’t meant to denigrate teachers but was meant to disparage tenure?

It is time for Malloy to come clean and tell the truth about his position on tenure.

Add your name to demand that Dannel Malloy either confirm or renounce his 2012 proposal to end tenure for public school teachers and repeal collective bargaining for teachers in selected public schools.

************************************************************************

To sign the petition go to:

https://www.change.org/p/governor-dannel-malloy-governor-malloy-tell-the-truth-about-your-position-on-teacher-tenure#

 

You can read earlier Wait, What? posts about Malloy’s 11th grade testing disaster by clicking on any of the following links:

Who on earth would require HS juniors to take the Common Core Field Test in the spring?

Greenwich superintendent joins Commissioner Pryor in misleading parents

Bribing the guinea pigs (aka our students)

Take it from parents; teenagers are people, not data points

 

In the New York Democratic Primary:  It is Governor Andrew Cuomo vs. Zypher Teachout

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This coming Tuesday, Zypher Teachout, the liberal Fordham University law professor is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, Governor Cuomo supported some progressive causes like gay marriage and gun control.  But, also like Malloy, Cuomo has championed corporate welfare policies, coddled the rich and has been a huge supporter of the corporate education reform industry.

In fact, when it comes to his failure to support public school teachers and public employees, Andrew Cuomo’s record is almost as bad as Governor Malloy’s.

Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the “lowest performing” schools.  On the other hand, Cuomo is even more supportive of privately run, unaccountable charter schools.

Andrew Cuomo has raised $35 million. Teachout has raised $200,000.

Although Cuomo is expected to “easily” beat Zypher Teachout in Tuesday’s primary, the big difference between the gubernatorial races in Connecticut and New York is the way unions have handled the pro-union, liberal candidate in the race for governor.

In New York, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) – the state’s largest teachers union – refused to endorse Cuomo and played the key role in blocking the AFL-CIO from endorsing Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

The Public Employees Federation – the state’s second largest employee union – with 54,000 members – went even further and actually endorsed Zephyr Teachout, Malloy’s opponent.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, the Local Education Leaders of New York State (a newly formed statewide group of teachers) all endorsed Teachout.

NYC KidsPAC, a political action committee composed of parent leaders devoted to strengthening our public schools. Has also backed Teachout, saying, “NYC KidsPAC wholeheartedly endorses Zephyr Teachout for Governor for her commitment to fight against privatization of our public education. We need a governor who believes in small class sizes, provides adequate resources for our most vulnerable students, respects the profession of teaching, opposes education driven by standardized tests and will fight for a high quality schools for all students throughout the State.”  The group added, “Governor Cuomo…supports raising the cap on charters, and has pushed through preferential access for charters to expand in space paid for by the city, while hundreds of thousands of our public school students sit in overcrowded schools, in trailers or on waiting lists for their zoned neighborhood school.”.

Other supporters of Cuomo’s opponent include the Yonkers Firefighters Union and a variety of liberal groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Organization of Women.

On the other side of the ledger, the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, the Transport Workers Union, 1199 SEIU (the health care workers union) and some other unions have endorsed Cuomo.

In Connecticut, 1199 SEIU was one of the unions that endorsed Malloy without even allowing me to fill out a questionnaire or have an interview with their political action committee.  1199 SEIU was also the union that issued a press release calling me “anti-worker,” despite my lifetime record of supporting collective bargaining and unions.

According to media reports in New York, the Hotel and Motel Trades Council and 1199 SEIU were also “instrumental in helping Cuomo secure the Working Families Party nomination in May after a brutal battle.”

The liberal magazine, The Nation, endorsed Teachout for governor and the New York Times REFUSED to endorse Cuomo.  As Diane Ravitch explained, “The Times lavishly praised Teachout but did not endorse because she opposes the Common Core…”

With the New York Democratic Primary on Tuesday, it is virtually impossible for Cuomo to lose, but New Yorkers still have the opportunity to vote for a pro-public education/anti corporate education reform candidate.

Let’s hope New York teachers, parents and public school advocates use the primary to make a loud statement.

If it is loud enough, the candidates for governor in Connecticut may even hear it.

Our real national standards (By Wendy Lecker)

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Public Education Advocate and Hearst newspaper columnist Wendy Lecker has another MUST READ piece this week about the Common Core.

Wendy Lecker writes,

We now know that the fiction that the Common Core State Standards are nationally agreed-upon standards that grew from some grassroots movement in the states is manufactured hype. It is now broadly understood that these standards were developed behind closed doors under the direction of two private organizations, and were bankrolled by Bill Gates. The imposition of the Common Core coincided with the increasing awareness — by parents, teachers and experts — that after 20 years of reform by high-stakes standardized testing, the method has failed. As it becomes clear that an increased emphasis on new computerized standardized tests is the true purpose of the Common Core initiative, parents, students, teachers and elected officials, from across the country and the political spectrum, are rising in opposition.

While the national revolt against these artificial national standards gains momentum, on Aug. 29, a Texas judge reminded the nation we already have democratically derived national education standards.

In his ruling, Judge John Dietz found the Texas school finance system unconstitutional. He was guided in his decision by the fundamental purpose of education as articulated by the Texas constitution. According to the state constitution, education is “essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people. It is the foundation of our democracy.”

This view is echoed in state constitutions across the United States. From Vermont, to Wyoming, to Kentucky, to New York, courts have resoundingly held that the framers of their constitutions intended that public education prepare our young children for their roles as citizens.

Dietz found that to prepare children for citizenship, every school must have a basic set of essential resources: pre-K, small class size, enough teachers, libraries, books, technology, support staff — including counselors, social workers and paraprofessionals — and extra services for children with extraordinary needs, adequate facilities and a suitable curriculum. After a lengthy trial, the judge ruled that Texas’ school-finance system failed to ensure schools had these basic resources and that, as a result, children in these schools were being denied their constitutional right to an education.

Across this nation, courts in school funding cases have found that these same resources are essential to a constitutionally adequate education in their states. Like Dietz, they heard evidence from national educational experts and local educational experts — superintendents and teachers who work with public school children every day. These judges heard what children need and what works best to help children learn. From Kansas, to Washington, to New Jersey and beyond, these far-flung courts ruled that their states are responsible for providing schools with this nearly identical basket of educational goods.

So-called education “reformers” push a different and lesser vision of education — perhaps most honestly expressed by the Dayton, Ohio, Chamber of Commerce:

The business community is the consumer of the educational product. Students are the educational product. They are going through the educational system so they can be an attractive product for business to consume.

This diminishment of children as being in service to business is echoed by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who lamented that because of our public education system, “we are falling further behind our international competitors.”

Not only is this vision offensive, it is wrongheaded. It has been proven over and over that U.S. students’ scores on national or international tests bear no relation to America’s economy or worker productivity.

However, this dehumanizing view explains current educational policy where students, and their teachers, are judged merely by standardized test scores.

Judge Dietz’s ruling turns the focus back on what children need. It declares that before we can hold children, teachers or schools responsible for meeting standards, we must hold states responsible for providing basic educational tools.

The requirement that states provide schools with adequate funding to supply basic resources is the true national standard, developed organically from the ground up, and rooted in our democratic process and values. It fulfills a broad vision of the purpose of public education. In the words of the Connecticut Supreme Court, education is “the cohesive element that binds the fabric of society together.”

School-funding suits similar to Texas’ will soon go to trial in Connecticut and New York. Plaintiffs recently prevailed in Washington and Kansas. And more cases are brewing in other states. It seems that as long as our political leaders peddle a false vision of public education, one disconnected from the needs of students, we must look to our judicial system to safeguard children’s rights.

In addition to serving as a columnist for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Wendy Lecker is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.

You can read and comment on the original column at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Our-real-national-standards-5736778.php

Governor Malloy: Tell the truth about your position on teacher tenure

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As we know, on-line petitions demanding that politicians be accountable for their actions have become all the rage.  It is time for Governor Malloy to come clean and tell the truth about his position on teacher tenure.

Therefore we’ve started on an-line petition to do exactly that:

Governor Dannel Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the lowest performing public schools. 

To date, Mr. Malloy has not renounced his anti-tenure proposal.

In response to Malloy’s remark that public school teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy recently told the audience at the Norwich Bulletin Candidate Debate, “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.’”

Is Governor Dan Malloy now saying that his anti-teacher statement wasn’t meant to denigrate teachers but was meant to disparage tenure?

It is time for Malloy to come clean and tell the truth about his position on tenure.

Add your name to demand that Dannel Malloy either confirm or renounce his 2012 proposal to end tenure for public school teachers and repeal collective bargaining for teachers in selected public schools.

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To sign the petition go to:

https://www.change.org/p/governor-dannel-malloy-governor-malloy-tell-the-truth-about-your-position-on-teacher-tenure#

 

This on-line survey is being posted at no expense by Jonathan Pelto.  It is not intended to support or oppose any candidate, but since a Pelto 2014 candidate committee still exists, should a disclaimer be required to meet any State Election Enforcement Commission rules, the disclaimer reads; Paid for and authorized by Pelto 2014.

For whom the bell tolls…

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With Election Day less than nine weeks away, Connecticut teachers, parents and public school advocates continue to wait for an indication as to whether any of the candidates for governor will truly stand up against the tide of the corporate education reform industry, including their absurd, unfair and expensive Common Core testing scheme.

Tens of thousands of votes hang in the balance.

The growing anger and frustration about the corporate takeover of public schools extends well beyond Connecticut.

However, as teachers and public education supporters know, Connecticut is home to the only Democratic Governor in the United States to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining in some of Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

The uncomfortable reality is that the corporate education reform industry is equally aggressive in other states across the country.

In Iowa, Richard Doak, the Des Moines Register’s two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and former editorial page editor recently critiqued Iowa’s incumbent Republican governor Terry Branstad by writing,

“In Iowa and throughout the nation, education “reform” is being driven not by parents and educators but by business leaders. The stated purpose of the reforms is to produce a better labor pool for businesses and make the state and country more economically competitive.

The change in thinking about education in this country has been subtle but profound. The original purpose of public education was to create an enlightened citizenry that would sustain democracy. Now the purpose is to turn out educated workers who have the knowledge employers want.

The extent to which education and other functions of government have been co-opted by the business community is a huge untold story in this country. America is well on its way to becoming a nation of corporate interests, by corporate interests and for corporate interests.”

The editorial could just have easily been written about Connecticut’s incumbent Democrat Governor Dannel “Dan’ Malloy.

With Election Day fast approaching, now is the time for Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates to clarify where the stand;

Do they stand with Connecticut’s students, teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers or will they continue to turn our public schools into little more than testing factories and money pits for an industry that is gorging itself on scarce taxpayer funds while undermining the role of teachers, parents and the local control of public education.

Candidates:  Speak up or you may just find that when it comes to your electoral future, the bell tolls for thee.

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