Great Profile Piece in Reminder News – Jon Pelto and Ebony Murphy petition to run for governor

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rnw-wm-hc-pelto-murphy-0704-1-jpg-20140706

From the Reminder News, written by Melanie Savage

 

Jon Pelto and Ebony Murphy petition to run for governor

After months of careful consideration, Mansfield resident Jonathan Pelto recently made the decision to choose a running mate and then petition to be included on the ballot for the upcoming election for governor of the state of Connecticut.

Pelto has been actively involved in Connecticut public policy, advocacy and electoral politics for nearly 40 years. In 1981, he was elected the youngest Democratic town chairman in Connecticut history, beating out Sam Gejdenson, who Pelto had worked for from 1979 through 1980. In 1984, he was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives and, over five terms, rose to the level of Deputy Majority Leader. He was a long-time member of the Appropriations Committee and Education Committee.

Pelto served as a pro-income tax point person during the historic 1991 legislative session, but was primarily recognized for his expertise in education policy. He helped write the Educational Enhancement Act and the Education Cost Sharing Formula and worked on a number of the other major education issues during the 1980s and 1990s.

After leaving the Legislature, Pelto ran a successful strategic communications company, helping associations, organizations, unions and American Indian tribes with public relations, media relations and advocacy programs aimed at educating, persuading and mobilizing targeted audiences. Through the years, he has been very involved in political campaigns serving as campaign manager or in a senior campaign position on the national, state and local levels. In 1984, Pelto managed Gary Hart’s successful presidential primary campaign in Connecticut and served as a political director in Gov. Bill O’Neill’s successful 1986 gubernatorial campaign. He also served as the political director for Connecticut’s Democratic Party from 1986-1992.

Since 2010, Pelto has served as an advocate and investigative journalist, writing for his blog, “Wait, What?” (www.jonathanpelto.com.).

Pelto’s decision to enter the race was prompted by a number of factors. “Connecticut’s political system is broken, and like the government in Washington, D.C., the leadership of Connecticut state government has lost touch with our citizens and the real problems that our people face,” he said. “The result is Connecticut is headed in the wrong direction and there is no sign that Gov. Malloy or the likely Republican candidate for governor, Tom Foley, is willing or able to put Connecticut back on track.”

Chief among Pelto’s concerns is Malloy’s handling of public education. “Gov. Malloy has earned the title of the most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic governor in the nation by proposing to do away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for certain groups of teachers,” he said. Malloy’s support for the Common Core and the associated testing scheme “is undermining our public education system,” said Pelto. And, said Pelto, Malloy “is engaged in an unprecedented effort to take away the local control of schools and turn them over to private corporations.”

“Malloy’s use of budget gimmicks and regressive tax policies means Connecticut is facing a $1.3 billion dollar deficit next year,” continued Pelto. While Malloy emphasized shared sacrifice, Pelto said that, “by refusing to increase the income tax rate on those making more than $1 million a year he has overburdened the middle class and property taxpayers while coddling the rich.”

Malloy’s economic development program “has been little more than giving scarce public funds to successful multi-million dollar corporations, rather than deal with the real barriers of job creation – overly high energy costs, inadequate transportation systems and a lack of appropriate job training programs,” added Pelto.

Pelto feels that his experience in politics will serve him well as governor. And having been “out in the real world for the past 20 years raising a family, running small businesses and trying to make ends meet, I truly understand the challenges we face,” he said.

There are many changes that need to be made to put Connecticut back on track, said Pelto. At the top of the list are several, including an open and honest budget and legislative process that allows all citizens a voice in their government. Connecticut needs to put an end to the dangerous anti-teacher, anti-public education “corporate education reform industry” initiatives that are undermining our public schools, said Pelto, “including repealing the Common Core and the massive, expensive, unfair and inappropriate Common Core Testing scheme.”

The development of a fair tax policy that reduces the burden on middle class families and local property taxpayers and ensures that the wealthiest residents start paying their fair share is a top priority, said Pelto, as is an end to Malloy’s record funding cuts to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities. “This is simply increasing the cost to students and their families and serves as yet another unfair tax, while limiting accesses for many of our young people who want and need some college level work to successfully compete for a job in the market place,” he said.

Pelto would put an end to Malloy’s “Corporate Welfare” program that gives big companies tens of millions, he said. Instead, he would use some of those funds to actually create jobs, for example, by funding an initiative to ensure that every public school has enough instructional assistants to help teachers support those students who need extra help. He would also strengthen the role of the government watchdog agencies, so that when state officials or state employees fail to fulfil their legal duties, they are caught and held accountable for their actions.

Ebony Murphy calls herself a “local girl.” She lived in Stamford until she was 15, then her family moved to Manchester for her Dad’s work. She was a three-time state champion in class track her senior spring at East Catholic. Murphy’s mom passed away from breast cancer at age 39 at the end of her daughter’s senior year. “I would say the toughest weeks of my life were attending my mother’s funeral, my senior prom, and then my graduation on three consecutive Fridays,” she said.

Murphy majored in English and African American Studies at UConn. She worked at the UConn Co-op and hosted a popular poetry open mike sponsored by the Creative Writing Program for her work study. “I had amazing teachers,” said Murphy, citing Gina Barreca, then state poet laureate Marilyn Nelson, poet and Vietnam memoirist Doug Anderson, and American history scholar Jeff Ogbar.

In 2005, Murphy taught an Upward Bound summer English class and then began teaching GED to pregnant and parenting teens four days a week and folding t-shirts at The GAP. She then worked in a DCF-funded group home run by a community-serving organization in Middletown. In 2008, she bought an apartment in the Asylum Hill section of Hartford and began working at Watkinson School teaching middle school English. “I finished my MA in curriculum and instruction from Uconn in 2010, and that year I married Jon Root, the son and brother of teachers,” said Murphy. Murphy was on the steering committee in the Young Women’s Leadership Program, now dismantled, and under the auspices of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) Last summer, she taught a class for the Charter Oak Cultural Center’s BOTS Center for Creative Learning, which serves some of Hartford’s homeless community. “I saw firsthand what happens when our society gives up on folks or forces them into the margins,” she said.

“Several people have asked me how I can really be pro public education when I have mostly worked outside the sphere,” said Murphy. “I truly believe that there are a wealth of education models that can work, but that pop-up charters run by folks with minimal classroom experience are not the ideal. I have seen up close and personal that when tremendous resources are dedicated to a student, and when all the adults conspire to get a kid where he or she needs to be, not based on some test score, but based on who the kid is, that overwhelmingly kids flourish.”

In 2012 Murphy received a generous scholarship from CT-NOW to attend the Women’s Campaign School at Yale. She was also accepted to Central’s EdD program in Education Leadership in 2013, but had to decline the offer when she got a job at Calhoun, a progressive school with a mission that makes education student-focused “It is expensive, yes, and I believe quality education cannot be done on the cheap,” said Murphy. “Bill Gates and President Obama, too, know that a quality, non-standardized education cannot be done on the cheap, as they send their kids to Lakeside School and Sidwell Friends, where the students are not subject to the Common Core or standardized tests besides the SAT,” said Murphy.

“Jon and I are running because we are both Connecticut-bred progressives, real ones, who are concerned that working and middle class families like the ones we grew up in are struggling,” said Murphy. Corporate welfare abounds, said Murphy, citing the Rock Cats asking Hartford taxpayers to build a $60 million stadium. Charter-school management companies circle like vultures, said Murphy. “Teachers feel betrayed. Public workers, the backbone of the working and middle classes, are being slandered and blamed,” she added. “Gov. Malloy is ignoring the will of the people on so many issues that the tone deafness galls. Now is the time to send a loud message that regular people should have a say in how government operates.”

You can read the full profile at: http://www.courant.com/reminder-news/windham-edition/rnw-hc-wm-pelto-and-murphy-0704-20140704,0,701982.story

Photo curtesy of Melanie Savage

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

Capital Prep’s Steve Perry to headline Koch Brothers’ event

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This coming week, the Charles Koch Institute is sponsoring a forum, “featuring a panel talk with representatives of charter schools and conservative think tanks” at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel.

The panel includes none-other-than Steve Perry, the principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut….which is ironically identified as a charter school in the event program.

As Wait, What? readers are painfully aware, lthough a full-time employee of the Hartford public schools, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, gave Perry permission to open a taxpayer-funded charter school in Bridgeport, despite the fact that there is no money in the budget for the school and the State of Connecticut is facing a $1.4 billion projected deficit next year.

But underfunding magnet and district schools, while dramatically expanding taxpayer funds for charter schools, is nothing new for Malloy, Pryor and the corporate education reform industry.

Meanwhile, Perry has spent the last few years trying to persuade Hartford officials to hand over existing public schools to a  private charter school management company that Perry set  up while serving as a public school principal.

According to the Connecticut Secretary of State, Perry’s company, which uses the same name as the public school he works for, is registered at his home.

However, according to the IRS, Perry’s company is located at the public school where he works, which is a violation of conflict of interest and ethics laws in Connecticut.

Regardless of the apparent irregularities with his private work, the Malloy administration’s decision to give Perry his own charter school will mean that Perry’s company will collect nearly $30 million in taxpayer funds over the next five years, and that doesn’t even count the other costs that will be picked up by the state of Connecticut and the City of Bridgeport.

Steve Perry, of course, is infamous for his November 2013 Twitter diatribe.

After the Hartford Board of Education failed to turn over two public schools to Perry’s private company, he Tweeted

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.

While such a comment would get any other public school administrator, teacher or student arrested, fired or suspended, neither the Hartford superintendent of schools nor the Hartford Board of Education took any disciplinary action against Perry for his actions.

Perry is also fond of calling Diane Ravitch, the country’s leading public school advocate, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, racists.

In fact, Perry’s bullying and failure to fulfill his administrative duties appropriately have generated a series of pending lawsuits from former employees who allege that they were abused and mistreated by the man who calls himself, “America’s Most Trusted Educator.”

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

Connecticut Labor Leader attacks Pelto/Murphy (including on education)

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Yesterday, the Political Director of the Machinists Union posted a commentary piece at My Left Nutmeg (http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/) belittling Ebony Murphy and my effort to give voters an alternative to the Democratic and Republican candidates in this year’s election for governor.

My Left Nutmeg then provided me with the opportunity to respond.

If you don’t read MLN on a regular basis, you should.  The blog is Connecticut’s premier site for learning about, and participating in, the on-going effort to push a liberal/progressive agenda in Connecticut.

The two pieces are also reprinted below, but the Political Director for the Machinists Union lays out his case by making the following claims;

  • “Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap.” 
  •  “Malloy is trying hard to correct the mistakes he made in education.” 
  • “A Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000. The participants in this quixotic mission may find that they have earned the contempt of the very people they are trying to influence, both for them as people, and for our ideas.
  • These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930′s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results

 His full commentary piece is as follows.  After you’ve read the two pieces, please feel free to weigh in on this important debate at http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/ and here at Wait, What? 

GUEST POST: Jon Pelto and the challenge to the Connecticut Left

In an effort to have a discussion regarding Jon Pelto and the potential his candidacy could have on the race for governor, Bill Shortell, Political Director Eastern States Conference of Machinists and Carol Lambiase, International Rep, UE, retired, wrote the following guest post.

The biggest trend in US politics today is the growth of the Right: the flood of right-wing big money into elections at every level; right-wing populism in the form of the Tea Party; the broad attack on the unions; the explosion of the reactionary firearms obsession; the proliferation of small white supremacist groups; the domination of neo-cons in the State Dept….all fed by a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. In Europe there is a dangerous reassertion of fascism.

This is not to say that the left is dead, especially in places like Connecticut, but given our defensive posture, we must be carefully strategic in the allocation of our slender resources.

EDUCATION

Lately a key battleground has been the schools. The “achievement gap,” and the absence of a root cause analysis, has opened the door for privatization and teacher-bashing.  It is a fundamental principle that there will be no equality in educational achievement in the face of drastic economic inequality. In Connecticut especially, the contrast between the poverty of the cities and the wealth of the suburbs is shocking.

Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap. Neither can the governor of a small state, of course. In spite of Dan Malloy’s best efforts, the lingering Great Recession, and the pre-existing desolation of post-industrial cities, is a national, even an international crisis of capitalism.

THE DANGER OF TOM FOLEY

Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?

Pelto’s candidacy, and the support  he is getting from the left, is a sign of frustration. We have no strong independent voice, and are rarely able to make policy. Nationally, hamstrung by a Republican majority in the House, the Dems are unable to implement even the narrow jobs program they espouse.

SPOILER?

There is room, even in these dangerous times for 3rd party candidacies. The minority party representation statute has been successfully used by Working Families in the cities. The Dems, who today have a comfortable majority in the General Assembly, cannot complain if 3rd parties run against right-wing legislators. In a safe Congressional district they would not be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties.

But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000. The participants in this quixotic mission may find that they have earned the contempt of the very people they are trying to influence, both for them as people, and for our ideas.

These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930′s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. Malloy is trying hard to correct the mistakes he made in education. Let’s not forget all the national pressure there has been for this misguided “ed reform,” including among some inner-city people, who cannot wait for an end to the entire achievement gap to find a path out of joblessness.

This is a period for those of us on the left, to work within mass organizations, like the unions and the Democratic Party. We need to build our numbers and hone our ideology before grasping for a ring as heavy as a governorship.

And my response:

Pelto:  Labor Leaders to the Left:  ‘Shut up and sit down’

In an effort of fairness, Jon Pelto requested to publish a repsonse to today’s guest post…here it is.

While reasonable people can debate whether Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy deserves another four years in office, the discussion about my challenge to Malloy’s policies and his re-election aspirations took another odd turn with the publication of a commentary piece written for the blog, My Left Nutmeg, by the Political Director of the Eastern States Conference of Machinists.

My Left Nutmeg is Connecticut’s premier blog when it comes to presenting a platform for discussions about the ongoing efforts to further a liberal or progressive agenda in Connecticut so it comes as no surprise that Connecticut labor leaders would seek to use the blog to defend Malloy and belittle the challenge being mounted by the Pelto/Murphy 2014 campaign.

What is surprising is that Connecticut labor leaders would use MLN to continue their effort to mislead their members and Connecticut’s progressive community into believing that Malloy’s very likely loss in November will mean that Connecticut will became the next Wisconsin – and that we will see a successful Koch Brothers effort to destroy Connecticut’s collective bargaining laws and undermine the existence of the state’s public employees and public services.

In the piece entitled, JON PELTO AND THE CHALLENGE TO THE CONNECTICUT LEFT, the Machinists’ political director and his colleague write,

“Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?

But of course, the authors fail to reveal that Wisconsin Tea-bag Republican Scott Walker achieved his goals thanks to the support of Tea-bag Republican majorities in both the Wisconsin State Senate and State Assembly.

Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation, known as 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, passed because the ultra-right controlled the Wisconsin State Senate by a margin of 19-14 and the Wisconsin Assembly by a margin of 51 to 45.

The truth is that regardless of who becomes Connecticut’s next governor, as a result of the legislative re-districting of 1990, 2000 and 2010, the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives will remain safely in the hands of the Democratic Party.

While few really know what a Tom Foley administration would be like, one thing we can be sure of is that an effort to repeal collective bargaining in Connecticut would not receive the legislative support necessary to become law.

We can also safely say that Connecticut has already witnessed a “Wisconsin moment.”

It occurred in February 2011 when Governor Dannel Malloy become the ONLY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR in the country to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for unionized teachers in so-called “turnaround” schools.

In response to Malloy’s historic, unfair and unwarranted attack on teachers, the Connecticut General Assembly stripped out those two provisions, before unfortunately passing the remainder of Malloy’s inappropriate corporate education reform imitative.

But as if their claim about Connecticut becoming Wisconsin wasn’t misleading enough, the labor leaders use their commentary piece to mock our ongoing effort to push back the corporate education reform industry and re-take control of our system of public education.

The authors claim,

“Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap.

Offered no solutions?

Such a statement is so absurd, that it doesn’t even deserve a response but I’d urge the labor leaders to take the time to read through the 1,636 Wait, what? posts that I’ve written on these subjects over the past 3 ½ years

Finally, as to whether a “left candidate” has a right to run, the Malloy apologists opine,

“In a safe Congressional district [we would not] be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties…But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000.”

And they conclude their attack on our fundamental right to stand up and speak out by actually writing,

These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930′s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. ”

So let us truly understand what these Connecticut’s labor leaders are telling their members and the majority of citizens who oppose Malloy’s re-election.

They appear to be suggesting that my candidacy in opposition of Malloy’s effort to undermine state employees and teachers, destroy public education, coddle the rich, place an unfair tax burden on the middle class and institute a record breaking system of corporate welfare in which scarce public funds are being diverted from vital services to support multi-million dollar corporations is not only inappropriate but nothing short of a precursor to the events that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the 3rd Reich.

Let no one be mistaken, these are, in fact, dark times.

However, the growing array of people who are willing to stand up and demand change are not the problem.  The problem is that some insiders, including some in leadership positions, remain committed to the notion that the “left” can best serve our nation by shutting up and sitting down.

If there was ever an effective argument for why I decided to create the Education and Democracy Party and run for governor in 2014, the new commentary piece submitted by the leadership of the Machinists Union is that treatise.

Upon reading their piece, one can’t help remember the wise words of Woody Guthrie who wrote, “Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.”

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

Connecticut’s Gubernatorial Race Will Be Influenced by Education, Teachers (CT Magazine)

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Connecticut Magazine has posted a new article entitled, “Connecticut’s Gubernatorial Race Will Be Influenced by Education, Teachers.”

As Connecticut Magazine explains,

For the Democratic party, the full-throttled support of teachers’ unions in Connecticut is a given rule—like “I before E, except after C.” But now, when topics such  as Common Core, teacher evaluations, charter schools and the “achievement gap” are added, Gov. Dan Malloy risks becoming that “after C” exception.

Malloy must claw his way to a second term. He is tied with Republican candidate Tom Foley in the most recent (May 9) Quinnipiac University poll of this year’s governor’s race. He barely beat Foley in the 2010 governor’s race, and now faces a challenge from his left flank as former Mansfield state representative Jonathan Pelto is running as a third-party candidate focused almost entirely on the education issue.

The balance could be tipped this year if some of the people who were excited to elect Malloy in 2010 fail to work with as much fervor for him again—or even choose to sit out the election due to his connection to education-reform issues.

Malloy’s relationship with teachers has been occasionally tense and pockmarked with terse exchanges. He’s haunted, for example, by a comment he made to the General Assembly in February 2012. Advocating for tenure reform, Malloy said for teachers to earn tenure, “the only thing you have to do is show up for four years.”

Before that, Malloy appointed Stefan Pryor as the state education commissioner. Pryor, a cofounder of Amistad Academy charter school, has taken heat from teachers’ unions which point out that he has never worked in a capacity as a teacher and lacks teaching credentials. Malloy, like many governors, initially supported all aspects of the federal Common Core public education standards and new teacher evaluation systems based on them. He has since softened his stance on these issues as it became clear that he might lose reelection without the support of teachers. Malloy also supported the installation of known urban-education reformer Paul Vallas as Bridgeport’s superintendent, and then the re-installation of Vallas after a judge’s initial ruling that he did not meet the criteria to be superintendent. Malloy’s backing of Vallas created further friction with the unions. Vallas has since left the district to run for lieutenant governor of Illinois.

[…]

“We do have a respect for each other,” says Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the state’s biggest teachers’ union. “His door is open to us, and over this past year we’ve been able to iron out some of the legislation that may have been well-intentioned and implemented badly.”

[…]

“When teachers think they aren’t being heard, there is going to be frustration, anger, there is going to be anxiety, and frankly, maybe, a lack of a cast of a vote,” says CEA President Sheila Cohen. “They’ll probably go to the polls, the question is who will they vote for? There are a lot of people on that ballot, and (some teachers) could skip a line.”

Malloy’s missteps with teachers offer a natural voter base to Pelto, a liberal firebrand who doesn’t mince words when it comes to characterizing the governor’s positions on education reform.

[…]

On his blog Wait What? and in interviews, Pelto has said Malloy is committed to the “corporate education reform agenda” and criticized the governor for his support in the expansion of charter schools in the state. “We’re not Chicago, Philadelphia,” he said, pointing to places where charter schools have an established foothold. “But there’s something going on in Connecticut that is very different than anything we’ve ever experienced.

[…]

As Malloy courts the support of traditional parts of his political base, including the teachers’ unions and Connecticut’s Working Families Party, whose members have also strongly criticized education reform, he will have to choose whether to further distance himself from organizations such as Families for Excellent Schools (FES), which made a name for itself in New York City when it ran a slick advertising campaign attacking Mayor Bill de Blasio’s opposition to charters. It has been very active in Bridgeport’s education battles.

“We expect at some point to make an endorsement—we’re checking in with members constantly. For now, there’s no question Governor Malloy has been a tremendous advocate for kids and families, and I believe our members recognize that,“ FES cofounder and CEO Jeremiah Kittredge said in a statement.

But that kind of endorsement could do more harm than good for Malloy’s reelection hopes if it risks driving teachers’ union members to Pelto.

FES backed Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s controversial referendum to change the governance of the Bridgeport school board. It was a move opposed by the Working Families Party and Pelto.

In 2010, Malloy did not win enough votes on the Democratic Party line alone—but combined with the votes he took as the Working Family Party’s cross-endorsed candidate, he narrowly beat Foley.

The Working Families endorsement has yet to be determined, but the party has openly expressed nervousness about Malloy’s positions on charter schools. “We have been pretty concerned ourselves with the governor’s education agenda,” said Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Working Families Party.

To read the entire Connecticut Magazine piece go to: http://www.connecticutmag.com/Blog/Connecticut-Politics/July-2014/Connecticuts-Gubernatorial-Race-Will-Be-Influenced-by-Education-Teachers/

Pelto calls on Malloy Administration to reverse course on unfair health care policies

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Pelto calls on Malloy Administration to reverse course on unfair health care policies

As recently reported in the Connecticut media, the Malloy administration is developing a new “State innovation Model (SIM) that would negatively impact the availability of care for hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents. Education and Democracy Party candidate for governor, Jonathan Pelto is calling on the Malloy Administration to halt their plans to implement this flawed healthcare payment and delivery model.

“Yet again, the Malloy administration is playing games with the healthcare of Connecticut residents” Pelto said. “Working behind closed doors and without proper public and legislative review, the Malloy administration is attempting to roll out a new, and untested, State Innovation Model (SIM) that could adversely impact thousands of unsuspecting Connecticut citizens and the healthcare providers who treat them. The Malloy Administration’s new plan is nothing short of a return to the failed ‘managed Medicaid system’ that was tried and rejected because it hurt some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents and cost the state more rather than saving taxpayers’ money.”

The SIM  plan seeks to cut costs by attempting to limit unnecessary tests and other forms of “over-treatment.”  Advocates for low-income residents have said that this type of extraneous testing and treatment might be a concern for people with private insurance, but people on Medicaid often struggle to receive even limited access to specialists and general care.

Healthcare advocacy organizations also have expressed also concerns about the fact that the proposed Medicaid changes were so rushed to meet the federal grant deadline that they have not been adequately were developed so recently that they haven’t been properly evaluated and have called for additional study before being used for 200,000 Connecticut residents.

“We are in an era of unprecedented changes in our health care system, instead of rushing to sneak in something that will clearly jeopardize access to the care people needs and deserve, the Malloy administration should stop playing games, put a halt to the new State innovation Model (SIM), and ensure that citizens, advocates and the legislature play a more active role in reviewing and modifying this plan before it is put into place,” Pelto concluded.

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

Why students leave high school (By Wendy Lecker)

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Wendy Lecker’s latest commentary piece for the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media Group pushes aside the rhetoric coming from the corporate education reform industry and its allies like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

Instead Lecker lays out the real issues about graduation rates and why high school students leave school.  It is another “Must Read” piece and the complete article can be found at:  Lecker: Why students leave high school.

Wendy Lecker writes;

Graduation rates, one barometer of a state’s or nation’s success in educating its children, are great fodder for political recriminations and grandiose claims. Pundits and politicians manipulate numbers to disparage public schools or claim victory in some reform they champion. However, serious conversations about the humans behind the numbers are rarely the subject of media attention.

A recent report attempted to look beyond statistics and explore the reasons teens disengage from school. Researchers at America’s Promise Alliance interviewed more than 200 adolescents in 16 high-poverty urban communities across the country, and surveyed more than 3,000 teens in diverse communities across all 50 states. The resulting report, “Don’t Call them Dropouts,” provides insights into why students leave high school.

The researchers found a cluster of factors causing students to interrupt their education. The majority experienced three or more “toxic” factors in their lives, including: homelessness, violence, an incarcerated parent, the need to care for or economically support a parent or siblings, frequent school transfers, foster care, personal or family health traumas, and living in unsafe environments. Many of the teens experienced one stressor too many, causing them to leave school behind. Compounding these traumas, students spoke of feeling unseen at school. Those who returned to school often were encouraged to do so by a caring adult. For many, a personal connection is what brought them back to or kept them in school.

It is striking that most of the factors affecting a student’s decision to leave school occur outside school. These students are forced to deal with life experiences no teen should have to endure. Society does not provide the institutions to mitigate the stress in these students’ lives. That responsibility falls on schools. Thus, it is essential that schools be given the tools to help at-risk teens overcome these outside obstacles to learning. Those tools include academic and social supports, and opportunities for students to find connections and relevance. Since the research shows that dropping out is a long-term process, these resources need to be present in school from the early years.

Yet many of the schools in these communities are under-funded and cannot provide those resources. This lack of resources is at issue in Connecticut’s school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell. The needy Connecticut districts at issue in the case do not have adequate remedial support, social workers, guidance counselors, psychologists, security staff, electives, clubs, sports, AP courses, reasonable class size and other resources to provide at-risk students with the individual connection they need.

Giving schools the necessary resources produces tangible results. A recent review of school finance reform across the United States, conducted for the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that increasing school funding by 20 percent increased the likelihood of graduation in poor students by 23 percent. During full implementation of its school finance reform, New Jersey virtually closed the graduation gap between white and African-American males. Money matters in education, especially to the most at-risk children.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would tell us that Connecticut’s graduation rate increased some, so there is no need to fund our neediest schools adequately. However, as Trinity College‘s Robert Cotto has pointed out, the State Department of Education refuses to release data that would allow anyone to verify these claims. Moreover, the state has pushed policies like credit recovery and online courses, which allow for manipulation of credit and grades to provide diplomas when it is doubtful that the students really learned. In Hartford, because of a merit pay system favored by the state, the district inflated grades, allowing students to pass by merely bumping them up to get passing grades. These methods of “graduating” students do not provide the resources at-risk teens need to succeed. They are merely window-dressing.

The CCJEF trial, scheduled to start this fall, will no doubt force the state to face the deprivations of at-risk teens and the schools trying to serve them. But it shouldn’t take a costly lawsuit to spur our elected officials to do the right thing for our children. Our children deserve a governor and legislature that give our schools with the resources they need to provide every child with a quality education.

Again, the full article can be found at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Why-students-leave-high-school-5616013.php

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

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES (aka politics today) by Carmen Lopez

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Carmen Lopez is not only a former superior court judge, but she is a truth teller.  Below is a commentary piece she wrote earlier in the month, a version of which was published in the CT Post.

It  provides a view into the political world of Connecticut, in which having friends in high places trumps good public policy time and time again.

What our state needs is more truth tellers….

Friends in High Places (By Carmen Lopez)

The July 2, 2014 edition of the CTPOST reported that two Bridgeport area chiropractors, who participated in a $1.7 million fraud scheme, were recently sentenced in Federal Court.

The scheme involved lawyers, a medical doctor, chiropractors and others, and resulted in a suspended sentence for the two chiropractors, plus an order of restitution totaling approximately $160,000. The online version of the story, posted by reporter Mike Mayko on July 1, 2014, reported that Paul S. Timpanelli, CEO of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and current Barnum Festival Ringmaster, and Mary Jane Foster, a former and perhaps future candidate for Mayor, spoke on behalf of one of the chiropractors who was before Federal Judge Stephan Underhill for sentencing.

Both urged leniency based upon volunteer work performed by one of the chiropractors, Jennifer Lynne, in downtown Bridgeport activities. Apparently, their pleas were heard by Judge Underhill.

Upon reading the story, I couldn’t help wondering if this was the same Mary Jane Foster who self-righteously criticized former mayor John Fabrizi after he attended a birthday party hosted by the owner of local ‘strip club.’ Also, I wondered if this was the same Paul Timpanelli, whose organization, the Bridgeport Regional Business Council counts the strip club owner among its members.

We all recall that Mayor Fabrizi, foolishly, and using very poor judgment, testified on behalf of a friend of his son, in a criminal proceeding. This act was regarded as a disqualification for the office of Mayor and was widely reported in the CTPOST. Fabrizi was called to account, and rightly so. He should not have used his status as Mayor of the largest city in the state, in support of a violent criminal act.

I think he would recognize that with the benefit of hindsight.

No such accountability will be demanded of Paul Timpanelli and Mary Jane Foster. Although their participation in the sentencing hearing was reported online, it was edited out of the print edition of the CTPOST. Oh, to have friends in high places!

Apparently, if the crime merely involves, stealing with a pen, it is ok to stand up for the criminal in a Connecticut court room. The order of restitution by Judge Underhill against Jennifer Lynne, whose volunteer work was vouched for by Timpanelli and Foster, was $117,000. Does anybody remember how much Ernie Newton was accused of stealing, before he was sent to prison for 5 years?

Stories like this, inevitably lead many to conclude, that a pervasive and entrenched double standard exists, in law, in politics, and in print journalism.

Connecticut deserves a government that will tell its citizens the truth

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And a Governor who has the courage and conviction to work to set Connecticut back on the right path.

As the CT Mirror explains in the series on where the candidates stand of the state budget, Pelto: State budget deficit reveals a broken fiscal system; 

Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto doesn’t have any trouble standing out from the rest of the 2014 gubernatorial candidates. For Pelto, a $1.4 billion shortfall – more than four years after the last recession ended – typifies a broken fiscal system that threatens Connecticut’s schools, state workers’ pensions, and middle class families.

The story outlines one of the cornerstones of why I am running for Governor.

Please take the time to read it at: http://ctmirror.org/pelto-state-budget-deficit-reveals-a-broken-fiscal-system/

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

Charter Advocates Give New Meaning To ‘Chutzpah’ (by Sarah Darer Littman)

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Charter Advocates Give New Meaning To ‘Chutzpah’ (CT Newsjunkie)

Sarah Darer Littman, pro-public school advocate, award winning columnist and parent has written one of the most powerful commentary pieces about the state of the state when it comes to the Charter School Industry and how the Malloy administration has allowed tens of millions in taxpayer funds to be diverted to people and companies that are literally felons, liars and cheats.

If there is one article to read about Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and the rise of the corporate education reform movement in Connecticut, this is the one.

Sarah Darer Littman writes,

The traditional definition of chutzpah  is someone who kills his mother and father and then claims being an orphan as a mitigating circumstance.

I’ve been reminded of this word constantly as the FUSE/Jumoke charter scandal unfolded over the last two weeks.

L’Affaire Sharpe has been quite astonishing, because as a mere mortal, not a Crony of Dan Malloy or part of the Charter Chicanery Circus, I underwent more due diligence than Sharpe to become a creative writing instructor for an after-school program at one of the local elementary schools for the non-hefty fee of a few hundred bucks.

To teach this Afters program, run by the Cos Cob Elementary School PTA, I had to undergo a criminal background check.

Last year, when I was hired as an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU (and we know how well adjuncts are paid), before my appointment was confirmed I underwent another criminal background check, and also had to have my transcript sent from the institution where I’d received my Masters Degree. Funnily enough, it was New York University, the educational establishment where Michael Sharpe received his fictional doctorate.

Yet the members of the state Board of Education, all appointed or re-appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, required no such due diligence before forking over $53 million of our taxpayer dollars to “Doctor” Sharpe’s organization. Just to make things even cozier, Gov. Malloy appointed FUSE’s chief operating officer, Andrea Comer, to the state Board of Education. Comer resigned earlier this week, in order to avoid being a “distraction.” I’m afraid it’s a little too late for that.”

Every word of Sarah Darer Littman’s CTNewsjunkie commentary piece paints the ugly story surrounding Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, Pryor’s hand-picked employees and high-paid consultants and the State Board of Education.

In addition, Littman traces the relationship to no-nothing policy makers who have allowed scarce public resources to be squandered on the make-a-fast-buck industry that has been the foundation of Malloy’s education reform effort.

As you read Littman’s piece, remember that these are the same people who have forced the Common Core on our children, promoted the absurd, unfair and expensive Common Core testing scheme and the equally absurd, unfair and wasteful new teacher evaluation program.

No amount of political spin coming from Malloy or his education reform industry allies will disguise the fact that by introducing a bill to do away with teacher tenure and repeal collective bargaining rights for teachers in “turnaround schools,” Malloy became the most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic governor in the nation.

As Sarah Darer Littman concludes,

“I guess no one in Hartford was watching the cookie jar — too much cronyism and not enough good government.”

You can find this MUST READ piece at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_charter_advocates_give_new_meaning_to_chutzpah/

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

NBC Connecticut WVIT premiers Decision 2014 with Pelto interview

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NBC Connecticut WVIT premiers Decision 2014 with Pelto interview

NBC Connecticut’s new show premiered today.  Called Decision 2014, it will give Connecticut voters a first-hand look at the candidates and issues during this election year.

The inaugural show including a segment in which Gerry Brooks interviewed me.

I met Gerry Brooks in the late 1970s when he was a “cub” reporter at WPOP radio and following his shift to television in 1979, was interview by him on numerous occasions including at the 1984 National Democratic Convention when I was part of U.S. Senator Gary Hart’s national effort to change the direction the United States was headed.

I had managed Hart’s political operation in Connecticut, a campaign that produced his biggest win outside of Colorado, despite the fact that Connecticut’s Democratic Governor and the Democratic political establishment were supporting Walter Mondale.

Now thirty years later I had the honor of being interviewed by Gerry once again.

We’ve both aged a bit over the past 3-4 decades, but his commitment to using television as a vehicle to provide people with the information they need has been unwavering.

Being back under the “hot lights” with Gerry Brooks was a lot of fun.

Here is my segment;

http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Jonathan-Pelto—Decision-2014–Ep–1-Seg–2/266820751

And here is a link to the full show at: http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Decision-2014-NBC-Connecticuts-Political-Talk-Show-266827001.html

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

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