The Bevy of Billionaires undermining public education

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The colossal and disastrous effort to privatize public education in the United States is alive and well thanks to a plethora of billionaires who, although they’d never send their own children to a public school, have decided that individually and collectively, they know what is best for the nation’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.

From New York City to Los Angeles and Washington State to Florida, the “billionaire boys club,” as Diane Ravitch, the country’s leading public education advocate, has dubbed them, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars via campaign contributions, Dark Money expenditures and their personal foundations to “fix” what they claim are the problems plaguing the country’s public schools.

These neo-gilded age philanthropists claim that the solution is for parents, teachers and education advocates to step aside so that the billionaires and their groupies can transform public education by creating privately owned and operated – but taxpayer funded – charter schools.

In addition, they pontificate that students learn best when schools are mandated to use the ill-conceived Common Core standards so classrooms become little more than Common Core testing factories and the teaching profession is opened up to those who haven’t been burdened by lengthy college based education programs designed to provide  educators with the comprehensive skill sets necessary to work with and teach the broad range of children who attend the country’s public schools.

The billionaire’s proclaim that the solution to creating successful schools is really rather simple.

They say that public schools run best when they are run like a business…

Cut through their rhetoric and the billionaires want us to believe that by introducing competition and the concept of “profit” they can turnaround any school, no matter the challenges it or its students may face….

Privatization, they argue, will lead to greater efficiencies while opening up the public purse to those who have products that they seek to sell to our children and our public schools.

And, the billionaires would have us believe, that the best teachers are those who get five weeks of training via a high-profile Teach for America program and are then thrown into the classroom where they, like all teachers, should be evaluated based on how well their students do on those unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core standardized tests.

Like the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about more than 55 years ago, the billionaires, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies want us to believe that providing children with the skills and knowledge to succeed and prosper in the 21st Century is nothing more than an opportunity to “wage war” and make money, all at the same time.

And who are these billionaires?

They are the self-professed greatest names in the United States.

The following is a partial and growing list of the super elite who deem to dabble in remaking our public schools.

Or as they would put it, blessed are the wealthy for they shall reform our public schools, with or without our consent.

First Name Last Name Net Worth Relationship with Corporate Education Reform and Charter School Industry (Partial list) How They got their billions
John Arnold $2.5 B Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, EdVoice, New Teacher Project Hedge Fund Owner – Centaurus Advisors LLC
Louis Bacon $1.9 B StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany Hedge Fund Owner – Moore Capital Management
Steve Ballmer $23.5 B Stand for Children, Major Dark Money Donor Microsoft CEO
William Berkley $1.1 B Achievement First, Inc. WR Berkley Corporation Founder Chairman CEO – insurance sports and entertainment companies
Michael Bloomberg $40 B Leadership for Educational Equity, Teach for America, Stand for Children, New Leaders for New Schools, California Charter School Advocates, Major Dark Money Donor Co-founder, Bloomberg LP Owner, former Mayor of New York City
Eli Broad $7.3 B The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, EDVoice, California Charter School, Cuomo Donor, Malloy Donor, Major Dark Money Donor Sun Life Insurance Company of America – (Retired)
Steve Cohen $12.7 B Steve and Alexandra Cohn Foundation, Harlem Children’s Zone, Achievement First, NE Charter School Network, Teach for America Hedge Fund Owner – SAC Capital Advisors
Ray Dalio $15.6 B Dalio Foundation, Teach for America, Hedge Fund Owner – Bridgewater Associates Owner Founder – hedge
Elizabeth DeVos $4.7 B DeVos Family Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Federation for Children, Stand for Children, All Children Matter, Children’s Scholarship Fund, Major Dark Money Donor Amway Owner Co-Founder – Orlando Magic NBA Team Owner
John Doerr $4.1 B New Schools Venture Fund, EdVoice, Venture Capitalist – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byera
Stanley Druckenmiller $4.4 B Children’s Scholarship Fund, Hedge Fund Owner – Duquesne Capital – Retired
David Einhorn $1.4 B Democrats for Education Reform, Hedge Fund Owner – Greenlight Capital
Doris Fisher $2.6 B Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice, Gap Inc. Co-Founder
John Fisher $2.2 B Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Silicon Valley Growth Fund, Ed Voice, Gap Inc. Heir Owner – Oakland Athletics Owner
Bill Gates $75 B Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Microsoft Chairman
Reed Hastings $1.2 B KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice, California Charter School Association, Major Funder Netflix Co-Founder Facebook Board Member
H Wayne Huizenga $2.6 B National Heritage Academies, Inc. (NHA) for-profit charter school management organization, Stand for Children Investor, Waste Management- Blockbuster Video – AutoNation – Swisher Hygiene
Ray Lee Hunt $5.3 B Texans for Education Reform, Hunt Oil Co-Owner Heir – son of founder H L Hunt – oil
Carl Icahn $17 B Icahn Charter Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany Icahn Enterprises Owner
Charles Johnson $4.6 B Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Education Reform Council Chairman, Franklin Resources – Owner of San Francisco Giants
Paul Tudor Jones III 4.7 B Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, Cuomo Donor Hedge Fund Owner – Tudor Investment Corporation
Bruce Karsh $1.9 B KIPP Foundation, Teach for America Hedge Fund Owner – Oaktree Capital Management
Seth Klarman $1.3 B Families of Excellent Schools, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany Hedge Fund Owner – Baupost Group Investments
Charles Koch $39.6 B American for Prosperity, American Encore,  Major Dark Money Donor Koch Industries
David Koch $39.6 B American for Prosperity, American Encore, ,  Major Dark Money Donor Koch Industries
Bruce Kovner $5.3 B Thomas T Fordham Institute (former), Bronx Preparatory Charter School, Hedge Fund Owner – Caxton Associates
Kenneth Langone $2.7 B Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Harlem Children’s Zone, Republicans for Cuomo Home Depot Co-Founder
Daniel Loeb $2.6 B Success Academy, Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany Hedge Fund Owner – Third Point LLC
Stephen Mandel Jr $2.5 B Teach for America, Excel Bridgeport, Hedge Fund Owner – Lone Pine Capital
Robert McNair $3.3 B Texans for Education Reform, Chairman, McNair Group
Rupert Murdoch $10.6 B Amplify News Corporation Founder Chairman, CEO
Laurene Powell Jobs $16.7 B NewSchools Venture Fund, Teach for America, Apple-Pixar Owner
Thomas (Margot) Pritzker $2.7 B University of Chicago Charter School, Pritzker Organization Chairman CEO – Hyatt Hotels Corp Executive Chairman
Penny Pritzker $2.3 B Noble Charter Schools, Hyatt Hotels Heir –
Larry Robbins $2 B KIPP New York, Relay Graduate School of Education, Teach for America New York, Harlem Village Academies, Harlem Children’s Zone Hedge Fund Owner -Glenview Capital Management
Julian Robertson Jr $3.6 B Robertson Foundation, Pave Charter Schools, Families for Excellent Schools, iMentor, Teach for America, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany Hedge Fund Owner – Tiger Management Corporation
Stacy Schusterman $3.4 B Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Ed Voice, Stand for Children, Teach for America Samson Investment Company (oil & gas)
Charles Schwab $5.4 B Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Teach for America, Aspire, KIPP Foundation, Charles Schwab Corp Founder
Paul Singer $2.2 B Paul Singer Family Foundation, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany Elliott Management Corporation Founder Owner – distressed debt acquisitions
Christy Walton $5.2 B Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir-Widow of John-who was son Of Founder Sam Walton
Jim Walton $33.6 B Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Youngest Son Of Founder Sam Walton
Alice Walton $32.3 B Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Daughter of Founder Sam Walton
Carrie Walton Penner (S Robson) Walton $31.9 B Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Son Of Founder Sam Walton
Sam Zell $4.8 B Zell Family Foundation, Teach for America Equity Group Investments Chairman -real estate – private equity
Mark Zuckerberg $44.6 B Zuckerberg Foundation, Newark Project Facebook Chairman CEO

 

 

Russ Walsh’s MUST READ book – A PARENT’S GUIDE TO PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY

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Russ Walsh, an educator, public education advocate and fellow education blogger has written a new MUST READ book.

Every parent or prospective parent of a public school student, along with every elected official, should take the time to read Russ Walsh’s “A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century.”

Russ Walsh’s well-researched, substantive and accessible description of the state of public education and the very serious threat posed by the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies, serves as a powerful guide for those who seek to advocate on behalf of their children and the children of their community.

The knowledge and tools Russ Walsh provides his readers serve as the antidote to the rhetoric and false narrative that is being spewed by the corporate education reformer movement and those who seek to privatize public education.

Available at local bookstores, , on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and as an Ebook, A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century provides parents with extremely important information about what is taking place in the nation’s public schools.

The nation’s federal, state and local officials would also find Walsh’s book a useful primer for what to do and not to do if they are truly dedicated to supporting a comprehensive public education system that  ensure that every child has access to an education that allows that to live broader and more fulfilling lives.

As Carol Burris, the Executive Director of Diane Ravtich’s Network for Public Education wrote in her review of the book;

“When a parent walks their kindergartener through a schoolhouse door for the first time, their heart goes with them. They want to feel secure that they are entrusting their child to a learning environment in which they will thrive. As they listen to sensational reports about ‘failing schools’, it is no wonder that many parents feel doubt. That is why Russ Walsh’s Parent’s Guide is a must read for any parent who is trying to make the best educational decision for their children. It is a clear, thoughtful response that will give parents wisdom, confidence and ease. Walsh is not only a professional, life-long educator, he is a beautiful writer whose style is thoughtful, clear and easy to read. A Parent’s Guide is the best guide for anyone who cares about public schools.”

– Carol Corbett Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education.

And Garn Press, the publisher of A PARENT’S GUIDE TO PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY adds;

What is a parent to make of the current narrative about public education in the United States? We hear that our public schools are mediocre at best and dysfunctional and unsafe at worst. We hear politicians and pundits arguing that the country will fall behind economic competitors like China and Japan, if our schools do not improve. We hear education reformers, well-funded by corporate lions like Bill Gates and the Walton family, suggesting a smorgasbord of solutions from school choice to more rigorous standards and from increased standardized tests to test-based teacher accountability.

What is education reform and how will it impact schools, children and parents? What are charter schools and should I send my child to one? What is the impact of standardized testing on my child? Should I opt my child out of standardized testing? How can I make sure my child gets a good teacher? What does good reading and writing instruction look like? How should technology be used in the schools and at home?

A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century is written to answer these questions and help today’s parents sort through the weeds of educational reform to make informed decisions designed to get the best possible education for their children. The book starts from the point of view that public education is a vital institution, central to our democracy and economic independence, and then suggests ways that parents can not only get the best of education for their own children, but also support policies that will make the institution of public education stronger for future generations.

LMAO – Charter school front group hires “Tactics Manager”

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Families for Excellent Schools, the corporate funded, New York based charter school lobby group, with chapters in Connecticut and Massachusetts, is looking for a manager of tactics.

A Manager of Tactics?

Not just any Manager of Tactics.  They are hiring a National Director of Tactics…

Perhaps they find their calling in the words of Sun Tzu, who wrote about tactics in his epic entitled, The Art of War;

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” –  Sun TzuThe Art of War

So it is that the billionaire funded Families for Excellent Schools has posted a job listing searching for a National Manager of Tactics.

What an incredible and disturbing commentary about the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies.

According to the FES job posting, the pro-charter schools, anti-public education, anti-teacher lobby group’s job posting states;

As National Manager of Tactics, you will support the Tactics team in strengthening best practices and logistics around campaign tactics, such as rallies, press conferences, and other field tactics in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Your primary responsibilities will be producing internal reports on campaign tactics and organizing resources, such as event assets and project tools. You will report to and work closely with the Director of Tactics and work closely with the Managing Director of Tactics as well as collaborate with the rest of the organization on executing its mission.

So there you go…

“As National Manager of Tactics, you will support the Tactics team in strengthening best practices and logistics around campaign tactics…”

And to do that, you will called upon to “produce internal reports on campaign tactics.”

And sadly, these people are for real and their job post is no joke.

They love corporate and military terms, interspersed with as much hyperbole as possible.

Their “non-profit” lobbying groups are headed by people with titles of CEO and make in excess of $150,000, along with plenty of COO and CFOs added for good measure.

And now they are hiring for titles like Director of Tactics, Managing Director of Tactics and other positions within “tactical” teams.

And this is how they intend to provide the nation’s children with the comprehensive education they will need to succeed in the 21st Century?

Me thinks they have watched too many made-for-TV movies about Seal Team Six.

God Help Us.

Again with the absurd complaint that a third candidate is – by definition – a spoiler

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This week’s Fortune Magazine includes an article entitled, The 2016 Presidential Election Could Have Two Spoiler Candidates.  The article reports on the campaigns of Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein.

By calling them spoilers, the magazine of Wall Street clings to the notion that anyone running against the two establishment candidates is, by definition, a spoiler.

Note:  When I was petitioning for an opportunity to run for governor in Connecticut, headlines read;

Spoiler alert: Pelto to challenge Malloy as 3rd-party candidate,” “Spoiler alert: Pelto goes all-in for governor,” “Spoiler Fears on Left in Connecticut Governor Race,”  and Spoiler Alert, Connecticut: Jon Pelto Says He Isn’t One.”

Putting aside the notion that we are supposed to be an egalitarian democracy that thrives on choice, the “mass media” continues to serve as pawns for the Democrat and Republican parties when they state, suggest or imply that more political choices will “spoil” (i.e. ruin) the American political system.

It is an outrageous approach to covering elections considering that the United States was founded on the fundamental concept of democracy, one in which the notion of political parties was frowned upon by some of the most eloquent founders of the country.

In his farewell address, the nation’s first President, George Washington warned;

“Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.”

But the two major American political parties would have us believe that they – and they alone – are the guardians of freedom and democracy.

For example, leaders of the Democratic Party like to claim that it was Ralph Nader who “spoiled” the 2008 presidential election and that, but for Nader, Al Gore would have won Florida and therefore the presidency.

However, such a claim is utterly false, in fact and in function.

Yet, the lie remains part of our revisionist history because it helps the elite protect their standing.

So beware the label of spoiler for when it comes to Florida and the 2000 Presidential election, here are the facts;

  • According to the official “final” count, out of more than 6 million votes cast, Al Gore lost Florida to George W. Bush by 537 votes.
  • The exit polls conducted at the time determined that approximately 308,000 Florida Democrats voted for George Bush.  By comparison, Ralph Nader got 24,000 votes from Democrats on that fateful day.
  • Those promoting the “spoiler theory” would also have us believe that there were only three candidates on the Florida ballot in 2000 – Al Gore, George W. Bush and Ralph Nader.
  • However, there were actually ten (10) candidates on the ballot.  Gore lost by 537 votes and ALL EIGHT 3RD PARTY CANDIDATES on the Florida ballot received more than 537 votes each.
  • Yet you never hear the others being called “spoilers,” few even know there were seven others.  Those other 3rd party candidates included the Workers World Party candidate, the Socialist Party candidate, the Socialist Workers Party candidate and five others including Nader.
  • In addition, a major academic study of the 2000 Florida election determined that Gore would probably have won Florida’s Electoral College vote had there been a full statewide recount.  However, the Gore campaign only requested a recount in four of the most Democratic counties…  Al Gore never asked for a statewide recount and the Florida Supreme Court only ordered a recount among an even smaller sub-set of voters.
  • And it certainly wasn’t Ralph Nader’s fault that the United States Supreme Court voted, on partisan lines, to stop the Florida recount altogether, which had the immediate effect of ensuring Bush’s victory.

The truth about Ralph Nader and the 2000 Florida election is pretty simple.

When you hear political and media pundits complain that Ralph Nader “spoiled” the 2000 presidential election remember, “Al Gore lost seven-and-a-half times more Democrats to Bush, than he lost Democrats and Independents combined to Nader.”

Al Gore lost Florida because not enough voters – especially Democrats – cast their vote for him.

Democracy is the system of government in which The People have the opportunity to choose their leaders.

To suggest that a 3rd party candidate “spoils” the notion of democracy by running for office is to reject the most fundamental values and principles our nation is supposed to represent.

Rather than call any 3rd party candidate a spoiler, the media (and establishment politicians) would do better focusing on the actual campaign and striving to educate or persuade voters as to why their candidate deserves to win rather than working to undermine and denigrate the very essence of our democracy.

Their absurd label that 3rd party candidates are spoilers is unbecoming and un-American.

Cost of SBAC testing in Connecticut is unconscionable, unnecessary (by John Bestor)

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Connecticut educator and education advocate, John Bestor, has written another powerful commentary piece, this time dealing with the utter waste of scarce taxpayer funds on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC testing scheme that is designed to fail a vast number of our state’s children.

With Governor Malloy implementing unprecedented cuts to vital state services, including public education, Malloy and the legislature should have started out by eliminating the funding for the SBAC testing scheme…long before the attacked the programs that are really helping Connecticut’s children, parents, teachers and public schools.

Published in the CTMirror and entitled, Cost of SBAC testing in Connecticut is unconscionable, unnecessary, Bestor writes;

Education activists have been speaking out and pushing back against the misguided Common Core State Standards and the flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) statewide test protocol for several years now, as they have become more aware of the billionaire-driven, media-complicit, and politically-entrenched “corporate education reform” agenda.

Although the computer-adaptive Smarter Balanced Assessment remains unproven and developmentally-inappropriate, proponents of the controversial test have been unable to demonstrate that SBAC is a psychometrically valid or reliable measure of student academic progress, let alone college- and career-readiness.  Nor have they convincingly countered claims that SBAC is unfair and discriminatory to students who are required to suffer through hours of supposedly “rigorous” and often incomprehensible test questions.

Despite a charge from the Connecticut Legislature’s Education Committee to evaluate the efficacy of SBAC, the Mastery Examination Task Force has failed to address the fundamental psychometric criticisms associated with SBAC which have been convincingly presented by Dr. Mary Byrne in her testimony in the Missouri lawsuit against SBAC.

The Task Force has also failed to consider the findings of over 100 California researchers who called “for a moratorium on high-stakes testing broadly, and in particular, on the use of scientifically discredited assessment instruments (like the current SBAC, PARCC, and Pearson instruments).”   Is there any chance that the Task Force would review the College Board executive’s whistle-blower commentary on the unprofessional and fraudulent development of the newly-redesigned SAT?

Although these findings resonate with education activists and an increasing number of parents across the nation, they have fallen on deaf ears with leadership in our state, even while many other states have dropped their membership with the consortium or removed tying results to high stakes until such findings are substantiated.  Perhaps, an understanding of the exorbitant costs associated with the controversial SBAC and Statewide SAT will gain the public’s attention.

Gov. Dannel Malloy and former Education Commissioner
Stefan Pryor signed the NCLB waiver agreement that coerced and committed the CSDE to (at the time) unidentified costs associated with the “next generation” SBAC assessment in order to escape unrealistic NCLB expectations.  The SBAC membership contract is renewed annually for $2.7 million a year (now estimated $2.3 million with 11th-graders out assuming CSDE was able to recover the costs for not testing juniors).

In addition, $13.5 million is paid to AIR (American Institutes of Research) to administer the SBAC test.  Another $15.3 million has been allocated to AIR (over 4 years, including this year’s pilot) to cover CMT/CAPT Science Test administration.  An adjustment was necessary to the original SBAC agreement when the CSDE switched to the unproven, newly-redesigned Statewide SAT for 11th graders which resulted in a $4.4 million three-year contract with the College Board.  Under the current state testing protocol, these expenditures will be recurring and likely to increase in future contract renewals.  These estimates do not include the untold expense associated with the substantial costs to districts for implementation, teacher time for test preparation, and student time lost to meaningful instruction.

During the recent government budget crisis and with future budgets likely to be just-as or even-more difficult, this CSDE/CSBE cost is both unconscionable and unaffordable.

Bottom line: this is an unnecessary expense as the Mastery Examination Task Force can re-design the course of statewide assessments.

Task Force members need to look afresh at the federal testing mandate required by the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act.  This re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in late 2015 empowers each state to determine its own assessment practice as long as the state meets its federal obligation by measuring Reading and Math student achievement annually in grades 3 – 8, 11 and Science achievement three times during that same grade span.

No longer are we required to give one extensive summative test each year, when the requirement can be met by using interim assessments that are already given in schools and combining those with more authentic forms of assessment that are far more meaningful to students.

Rather than expend millions of dollars in massive giveaways to the greedy test industry and their lobbying business partners in the charter-school movement, there is no doubt that this assessment expectation could be accomplished more simply and more cost effectively.

Education activists and the parents who have courageously opted their children out of the unproven SBAC understand the tangled web of deceit with which the proponents of “corporate education reform” are remaking, some say destroying, American public education.

You can read and comment on his piece at: http://ctviewpoints.org/2016/06/29/cost-of-sbac-testing-in-connecticut-is-unconscionable-unnecessary/

 

Malloy destroys Connecticut’s regional hospitals, Jepsen and Democrats fail to act

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While national attention has focused on the Malloy administration’s inappropriate relationship with the insurance industry and the merger of CIGNA and Anthem, few in Connecticut are fully aware that Malloy’s disastrous budget and regulatory policies are leading to the demise of Connecticut’s historic system of regional hospitals and hospitals that are owned and operated by nonprofit entities based in Connecticut.

From The Journal Inquirer, via the Hartford Business Journal, comes more news about the destruction of Connecticut.  In ECHN sale gets final OK; State officials expect end of July completion (6/13/2016) and State gives conditional OK to Waterbury Hospital sale (6/26/16), Connecticut citizens have the opportunity to learn more about the repercussions of Malloy’s unprecedented attacks on Connecticut’s once great system of regional hospitals that were dedicated to the health of the citizens and communities in which they served.

Instead of protecting these important community and health assets, Governor Malloy and his administration – with the support of the Connecticut legislature – have undermined Connecticut’s hospitals and set up a system in which these vital institutions are being turned over to out-of-state, for-profit entities that see Connecticut’s citizens as simply an opportunity to make a buck at the expense of our health and our communities.

Few, except for the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG), have been stepping up to fight Malloy’s destructive policies.  Among those dedicated to the “get-along-to-go-along” approach to politics and governance has been Attorney General George Jepsen who should have been fighting Malloy on his outrageous anti-local hospital policies.

The problem has been taking shape for the past few years,

See Wait, What? articles;

Governor Dannel Malloy – On a Mission to destroy Connecticut’s hospitals (12/14/15)

WARNING: The assault on Connecticut’s Hospitals – Here come the for-profit hospital operators  (7/11/15)

Malloy must take responsibility for many of the these hospital layoffs (6/6/14)

But news that the State of Connecticut had given final approval to the destruction of Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN), including Rockville and Manchester hospitals, came earlier this month and now comes the reporting on the state’s approval of the plan to undermine healthcare in the greater Waterbury area.

In ECHN sale gets final OK; State officials expect end of July completion, the JI wrote;

State regulators have decided not to require an independent ombudsman as a condition for approving the $105 million sale of Eastern Connecticut Health Network to a California for-profit company.

That was the only major change announced Friday in the final decision by the state Office of Health Care Access and Attorney General George Jepsen ratifying ECHN’s purchase by Prospect Medical Holdings Inc.

The ombudsman had been one of the most important conditions for many area residents.

State regulators agreed instead to allow for two new members selected from the community, with full voting privileges, to sit on an oversight board that includes local doctors, health care workers, and ECHN managers.

State officials expect the sale to be finalized by the end of July, when ECHN would become known as Prospect ECHN Inc.

[…]

During two days of public hearings last month in both Manchester and Vernon, residents called for appointment of an independent ombudsman to an oversight committee to ensure the communities’ interests are served.

OHCA included that request in the draft decision, but the wording was changed in the final decision released Friday.

Rather than an ex-officio, non-voting member, the two new “community representatives” will have voting privileges and be selected in consultation with the mayors of both Manchester and Vernon.

[…]

Prospect plans to implement its “Coordinated Regional Care” model here, using a preferred provider network focused on preventive care and early readmission to reduce emergency visits.

Prospect officials said Friday afternoon that they were still reviewing the final decision and had no immediate comment. Nevertheless, they said, they hope to finalize the sale soon.

The private company owns 13 hospitals, including seven in California, four in Texas, and two in Rhode Island. It also plans to buy Waterbury Hospital as well as acute-care facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In California, where Prospect is headquartered, that state’s patient advocate has rated many of its programs and services as “poor.”

In addition, two of its southern California hospitals in Los Angeles and Culver City are facing federal sanctions because of an “immediate jeopardy” status for unsanitary conditions that caused a surgery to be closed for eight days in order to be properly cleaned and pass inspection.

The company is also facing a labor battle with its nurses and other health care workers in Rhode Island, where contracts are about to expire.

Meanwhile, yesterday the JI covered the situation in Waterbury in an article entitled, State gives conditional OK to Waterbury Hospital sale included;

State regulators Friday issued conditional approval of the sale of Greater Waterbury Health Network and Waterbury Hospital to Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc. for $100 million.

The state Public Health Department’s Office of Health Care Access, or OHCA, and the state attorney general’s office late Friday both released their proposed final decisions to approve the health network’s Certificate of Need application, issuing several conditions.

Conditions that California-based Prospect must meet include: reporting to state regulators any changes to patient care or services in the next three years; submitting a health and community needs assessment plan; maintaining current charity and indigent care; hold a semi-annual joint meeting of the board of directors that’s open to the public; designate a voting board member position for a community representative appointed by the mayor; submit a three-year service plan for any consolidation, reduction, or elimination of services; and submit a semi-annual report to state regulators showing how funds are spent on capital improvements.

[…]

For-profit Prospect Medical is also in the process of purchasing nonprofit Eastern Connecticut Health Network, including Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals, for $105 million, with plans to spend $75 million in capital improvements on those facilities over the next five years.

Prospect now owns 13 hospitals in California, Texas, and Rhode Island. It is also seeking to purchase acute care facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

And where are Connecticut’s elected officials?

They remain, silent.

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

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Although Governor Dannel Malloy has consistently ducked his responsibility as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the buck actually does stop on his desk…. Even while he pretends it doesn’t

Back in January 27, 2016, the UConn’s Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, except for one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Then, as the concerns were raised about the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Dannel Malloy suddenly become critical of the agreement – despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board had missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

Malloy’s personal representative has missed every meeting since then, having now missed 15 of the last 18 UConn Trustee meetings.

Malloy pretended like it all occurred on someone else’s watch and demanded the contract be withdrawn or defeated.

Now, six months later, the CT Mirror is reporting a new and even more shocking controversy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 – A few top UConn officials get pay increases despite tough times (CT Mirror)

In a fiscally challenging year in which few non-union managers received pay increases – at UConn or elsewhere in state government – President Susan Herbst is sticking by promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to give multiyear increases to four senior staff.

In December 2014 – one month after the governor cut state funding for UConn by $3.7 million and warned more cuts would come before the fiscal year ended – Herbst gave three of her most senior staff members hefty pay increases over two or three fiscal years.

Those increases went to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s deputy chief of staff. In 2013 she awarded her chief of staff increases and bonuses over the next three fiscal years.

Thursday, June 23, 2016 –  Legislative leaders call UConn ‘tone deaf’ over raises for top staff (CT Mirror)

Legislative leaders Thursday blasted hefty pay increases University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst awarded to four senior staff members as the state and public university grapple with big budget cuts.

“UConn’s administration continues to be tone deaf to the economic realities facing our state. Handing out exorbitant raises to their highest-paid staffers while at the same time increasing tuition on hard-working families is the height of arrogance,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday afternoon. “As state employee layoffs approach the 1,000 mark, and virtually every state agency is dealing with severe budget cuts, the leadership in Storrs has shown once again they just don’t get it.”

Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, in a statement shortly afterward, called on UConn to rescind the raises.

“Really?! You’ve got to be kidding me. One might have thought that the examples of the disastrous mistakes of Chancellor Gray and President Hogan would have left a more lasting impact on decisions regarding raises for administrators in higher education. At a time when painful reductions are being imposed throughout state government, UConn should not see itself as an isolated and privileged exception. I urge President Herbst to reconsider and rescind these untimely raises,” said Looney.

The Connecticut Mirror reported Wednesday that Herbst was sticking to promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to award multiple-year, double-digit percentage pay increases to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.

All received pay increases in the 2015-16 fiscal year even though few other non-union managers did – at UConn or elsewhere in state government.

The school’s top lawyer received a $55,000 increase over two fiscal years, her chief of staff received a $50,000 increase over three fiscal years and her chief architect received a $45,000 increase over two fiscal years. The general counsel and chief of staff also received bonuses of $25,000 to $30,000 each year.

Bonuses and pay raises for a select few elites while state employees are being laid off, tuition is going up and programs are being cut.

The reverse Robin Hood Effect continues to move forward at full steam.

Now watch for Malloy to wake from his stupor and demand something… anything in order to look good in the face of this disturbing development.

But face it, the one thing that won’t happen is for Malloy to take responsibility for his utter lack of leadership on the Connecticut budget or his failure to do what is right for UConn’s students and the institution’s future.

Will Hillary Clinton Turn Her Back on Public Education if Elected President? (By Joseph Ricciotti)

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An insightful commentary piece in today’s CT Newsjunkie by education advocate and veteran educator Joseph Ricciotti raises important and extremely serious questions about what the future of education policy will be should Hillary Clinton be elected President.

Joesph Ricciotti writes;

It would appear more than likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected as the next president of the United States come next fall.

She can be thankful in no small part to the major role that the teacher organizations in the nation such as the National Educational Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) played in their early endorsement of her presidency. Public school teachers and parents are fighting the battle of their lives in attempting to hold off the forces of privatization along with the onslaught of charter schools in the nation.

Sadly, theses forces of privatization received major support from Arne Duncan, the former Secretary of Education appointed by President Barack Obama. No other Education Secretary, especially Democratic, has done more to privatize and weaken public education than Arne Duncan who was also obsessed with standardized testing. Under his regime, public schools across the nation experienced two failed programs with Race to the Top (RTTT) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). His so-called “testocracy” grossly neglected the impact of childhood poverty on learning for children from impoverished homes.

Likewise, under Duncan’s time in office, we have witnessed the demise of the neighborhood school and the growth of charter schools, all with corporate sponsors. Hence, it was obvious that former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was not a public school advocate but rather a paid shill who was in the pockets of the corporate reformers and the testing industry.

If Clinton is elected as president in 2016, it will not take very long for both the NEA and the AFT to know whether their early presidential endorsement has been wasted, as was the case following Barack Obama’s nomination eight years ago in his selection of Duncan as Secretary of Education. Whether Clinton chooses someone to serve as Secretary of Education who will undo the disastrous harm that Duncan has inflicted on public education in his eight years remains to be seen. Will she choose another corporate reformer or will she surprise everyone with an appointment of someone who will be a true advocate of public education and who is widely respected by the supporters of public education in the nation?

From there Joseph Ricciotti explores the issue further.

To read and comment on the full commentary piece, go to http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_will_hillary_clinton_turn_her_back_on_public_education_if_elected_pre/

Malloy’s 2015-2016 state budget off by nearly a billion dollars

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When Governor Dannel Malloy signed THIS YEAR’S state budget he said it was balanced…but he wasn’t telling the truth.

In fact, it was off by nearly a billion dollars.  Budget cuts and layoffs have reduced some of the gap, but when the year ends in ten days – on June 30, 2016 – the state will need to grab much of Connecticut’s “rainy day” fund to balance the books.

As CT Newjunkie reports;

Connecticut’s budget deficit has grown to $315.8 million and the state will have to use more of the Rainy Day Fund than expected to cover the shortfall in this year’s budget.

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said Monday that the deficit has increased by about $56.7 million from last month’s estimates. It means the state will only have about $90.2 million left in its Rainy Day Fund because it will have to use $315.8 million of the $406 million Rainy Day Fund to close the deficit.

In his monthly letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Barnes said that revenues continue to decline. The personal income tax is down about $75 million and the sales tax is down about $28.2 million.

But the even more serious problem is with the budget that begins on July 1, 2016 and runs through June 30, 2017 (FY17 budget).

Again, Malloy and the Democrats have done Connecticut an extraordinary disservice by not setting up a revenue and expenditure plan that balances.

The establishment will try to keep the magnitude of the problem secret until after the November legislative elections, but despite massive layoffs and record cuts to public schools, human services and healthcare, the austerity budget that Malloy and the Democrats passed this spring – and claimed produced a balanced budget – is at least a quarter of a million ($250m) dollars out of balance.

With only $90 million left in the raining day fund, Malloy and his team has created a situation in which they have allowed him to drain the state’s reserves and burden Connecticut’s taxpayers with a massive deficit in the coming fiscal year.

Keith Phaneuf adds more in his article entitled, Outgoing CT budget deficit swells, hints at more red ink to come

The fact is that fiscal irresponsibility is major barrier to economic activity.

The state, its business community and especially its taxpayers would have been better off if Malloy had dealt honestly with the need for appropriate revenue to ensure vital services were maintained and the budget was balanced.

Stench of corruption grows around Malloy

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When running for re-election in 2014, Governor Dannel Malloy took a $6+ million public finance grant to pay for his campaign.  In exchange for the taxpayer funds, Malloy swore, under oath, that he would not solicit, accept or use other funds to pay for his campaign expenses.

But Malloy lied and solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists, state contractors and those who have benefited from his corporate welfare programs.  That money, which in the end totaled more than $5 million, was funneled through a special account within the Democratic Party.

Last week a plea bargain deal with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ended with Malloy’s political operatives paying a fine of $325,000 to the state, rather than the $6 million Malloy should have paid.

Not only were Connecticut citizens saddled with four more years of Dannel Malloy, but Connecticut taxpayers are out more than $5.7 million.

See: Malloy’s Connecticut – Ripping off Connecticut while keeping citizens in the dark and NEWS FLASH – Malloy + Dems slammed with record fine for campaign finance violations but slip off the hook

Meanwhile, it a separate situation, David Sirota, the nationally renowned investigative reporter has been covering Malloy’s actions as they relate to the attempt by CIGNA and Anthem to merge.  Both entities, but especially CIGNA have close political ties to Malloy and the Democratic incumbent has benefited from significant campaign donations from CIGNA and its executive team.

David Sirota is the senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times.  Sirota’s investigation has led to the following stories in the International Business Times:

Each one deserves a complete read-through, but Wait, What? readers should pay special attention to those marked with ***

***Will Cigna And Anthem Merge? How Health Insurance Companies Pump Money Into Politics (6/1/16)

Connecticut Groups Call For Dan Malloy To Remove Insurance Regulator In Anthem-Cigna Merger (6/2/16)

***Connecticut Rejects Request For Records About Anthem-Cigna Merger (6/7/16)

Obamacare Architect Kathleen Sebelius Questions Proposed Healthcare Insurance Mergers (6/10/16)

Cigna-Anthem Deal: Democratic And Republican Lawmakers Demand Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy’s Regulator Be Removed From Controversial Merger Review (6/10/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Gov. Malloy Signs Secrecy Bill That Could Shield Insurance Information From Public Release (6/13/16)

Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Ethics Officials To Vote On Conflict-Of-Interest Controversy (6/14/16)

***Anthem And Cigna Boost Spending On Lobbying As Lawmakers Review Merger (6/16/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Officials Vote To Launch Ethics Review Of Gov. Dan Malloy’s Insurance Regulator (6/16/16)

Cigna-Anthem Merger: California Insurance Regulators Call On Justice Department To Block Insurance Mega-Merger (6/16/16)

***Cigna-Anthem Deal: Connecticut Ethics Probe Spotlights Similar Conflict-of-Interest Charges From The 1990s (6/17/16)

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