A final 2014 campaign shout-out to Connecticut teachers and their supporters

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First and foremost, I want to thank the thousands of teachers, parents and public school advocates who have taken the time to read Wait, What? over the past few years.

Your camaraderie and participation in this endeavor has been a primary reason I stuck with the task of trying to educate, persuade and mobilize people to stand up and speak out on behalf of our public education system.

The last three years have been truly extraordinary as we have watched the corporate education reform industry set its money and political muscle on working to undermine Connecticut’s teachers, parents, students and public schools.

As we know all too well, driven by his devotion to the corporate education industry, in February 2012, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy became the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose eliminating tenure for all public school teachers in Connecticut and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.

No other Democratic governor in the country proposed such an anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education initiative.

With Election Day finally upon us, one of the greatest mysteries of our time is why Malloy has been completely and totally unwilling or unable to apologize for his inappropriate, unfair and outrageous attack on Connecticut’s educators.

Over the last few months, Malloy’s supporters have tried every excuse under the Sun to explain away Malloy’s outrageous behavior…but Malloy himself has refused to step up and publicly admit or correct his statements and actions.

In fact, when Malloy tried to clarify his position this fall he actually managed to make it worse.

Asked about his statement that teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy explained,

“I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure…”

Wait, What?  the problem is really tenure?

Fair due process for teachers is the problem??

Considering Malloy’s policies, it is fair to say that one of the more bizarre moments of the 2014 campaign was when the New Haven Register reported that, “Randi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, told an enthusiastic group of union members Tuesday that the only way to stop the reach of the conservative Koch brothers and the new restrictions on labor is to re-elect Dannel P. Malloy as governor of Connecticut, and not vote for her friend Jonathan Pelto.

Strange considering Malloy’s anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining proposal was right out of the Koch Brother’s anti-teacher, anti-public education playbook.

Not far behind the AFT leadership’s approach was that of the leadership of  the Connecticut Education Association who endorsed Malloy claiming that Malloy was the “First governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his term in office and guarantee full funding in the future.”

However, as we know, Malloy had absolutely no role in ensuring that the Connecticut Teacher Retirement Pension Fund is being fully funded.  The credit for that goes to Governor Rell and the members of the 2007 Connecticut General Assembly who guaranteed that the teacher pension fund would be given the proper funds for 25 years starting in 2008.

But the most remarkable development is not that the AFT and CEA would endorse Malloy but that Malloy would make no meaningful effort to pivot back and address the concerns being voiced by Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates.

As if to prove his unwillingness to listen to Connecticut’s public school proponents, Malloy has told two newspaper editorial boards, in recent weeks, that he intends to “stay the course” on his corporate education reform agenda.

And last week, when asked if there was anything he would have done different over the past four years, if he was given the chance, he said there was nothing he would have done differently.

Nothing he would have done differently?

Nothing he would have changed over the last four years?

Putting aside his decision to skip the perfect opportunity to set the record straight on his attitude toward Connecticut teachers, what kind of person says that – given the chance – there is  absolutely nothing he would have done differently over a period of four years?

I understand that there are plenty of reasons for someone to cast their vote for Malloy or Foley tomorrow, but as a proud graduate of Connecticut’s public schools and now being a public school parent, I will not support any candidate who so callously denigrates and belittles the people who devote their lives to providing our children with the knowledge and skills they will need to deal with our increasingly complex and difficult world.

Malloy’s approach has not only been an embarrassment but it is a sad commentary on how far some of our Democratic officials have strayed from the most fundamental principles and values of our society.

Breaking News: Visconti Drops Out, Endorses Foley

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With Malloy and Foley having now spent in excess of $30 million to destroy each other and mislead voters, the crushing weight of the corrupt, entrenched and out-of-touch political system has claimed another victim.  Earlier today, petitioning candidate Joe Visconti has dropped out of the race of governor and endorsed Tom Foley. If you feel comfortable with the major party candidates, I urge you to vote accordingly on Tuesday, Election Day. However, for those who believe we deserve better or want to send a message to the power elite, I invite you to darken in the bubble that says Write-in Candidate for Governor and then write in the name Pelto or Pelto/Murphy.

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

When assessing the last four years and examining the positions taken by Malloy and Foley during this year’s gubernatorial campaign, the truth is that no matter who wins on Tuesday, the burden to do what is right for the people of Connecticut will rest in the hands of a Democratic legislature.  They will either rise to the occasion or they will not. So for those mulling over whom to vote for… If you believe that our elected officials need to stop their unwarranted assault on teachers and the teaching profession, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe the state must derail the Common Core and its unfair, expensive and discriminatory Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe we must push back the corporate education reform industry that seeks to privatize our public schools and replace them with unaccountable charter schools that refuse to educate their fair share of Latinos, students who face language barriers and children who require special education assistance, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our government must stop coddling the rich and reduce the tax burden on the middle class by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our state must put an end to the outrageous use of corporate welfare and stop giving our scarce taxpayer resources to wealthy corporations, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe that those elected to office must settle the critically important CCEJF v. Rell school funding lawsuit and develop a fair and constitutional school funding formula that will end the pressure on local property taxpayers, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe the time has come to demand that those in office must stop using budget gimmicks and adopt a fair, honest and effective state budget that truly reduces the long-term debt that will destroy our children’s opportunities, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you feel that we must rid the political system of tainted campaign money and hold those who have violated the spirit and law of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws accountable for their actions, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our citizens deserve access to an affordable system of public colleges and universities and you oppose what have been the deepest cuts in history to UConn, CSU and our community colleges over the past four years, feel free to write in the name Pelto. Or if you simply feel that enough is enough and that our political leaders have lost their way, feel free to write in the name Pelto for Governor. Because sometimes standing up and being counted is what is most important. And if you intend to write in the name Pelto, please take a moment over the next 48 hours to urge your friends, families, colleagues and neighbors to do the same.

WRITE- IN V1

 

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

Another Big Week for Corporate Welfare in Connecticut

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With Election Day almost upon us, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy used the past week to continue his massive “Corporate Welfare” Program.

On Wednesday, Malloy delivered a $10 million dollar Corporate Welfare Check, on behalf of Connecticut’s taxpayers, to General Dynamic’s Electric Boat division to help the company renovate a building in Groton that had been vacated by Pfizer.

While most Connecticut taxpayers are still struggling under the weight of the Great Recession, General Dynamics is on track to pull in another $32 billion in revenue this year.  Thanks to the nation’s never-ending war effort, the defense giant has generated revenues in excess of $294 billion over the past ten years.  The company is doing well enough that they even paid their new CEO $18.8 million last year.  (For those that are keeping track, that would be nearly double what Connecticut taxpayers handed the company this week.)

On Thursday, the company receiving Malloy’s taxpayer funded largess was Fuel Cell Energy Inc. Fuel Cell Energy only collected $188 million in revenues last year, but that was up from just $70 million in 2010.  Malloy is giving the company $20 million in taxpayer funds so that they can expand their Torrington facility rather than have to rely on private investors.

And on Friday, Malloy was in Danbury, this time with a Corporate Welfare Check for $32.5 million to help Praxair fund their new corporate headquarters.

Praxair’s revenue last year was about $12 billion, enough to pay their CEO a salary and compensation package of 26.5 million, “earning” him the #33 spot on Forbes list of highest paid executives.    Praxair’s CEO has been paid more than $70.1 million over the past five years.

Of note is the fact that while Malloy was giving away taxpayer funds, Connecticut’s Office of Fiscal Analysis announced that the Malloy administration is overspending this year’s state budget allocation by at least $88 million.  It is grim news and reflects the reality that Connecticut will be facing a major budget deficit next year.

But the fiscal problems facing that state didn’t deter Governor Malloy from giving away $62.5 million more in corporate welfare, and that doesn’t even count the tens of millions of dollars in other checks he handed out this week to private corporations.

In return for all this money, Malloy says that Electric Boat and Praxair have promised to create a total of 330 jobs over the next five years, while Fuel Cell Energy has agreed to create 160 new positions and keep those jobs in place for at least 4 years.

Meanwhile, on the campaign finance front, it is undoubtedly a coincidence that all three of these financially successful companies have generously donated to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s “federal account.”

The campaign contributions from General Dynamics, Praxair and Fuel Cell Energy are just a tiny fraction of the $4.3 million that Malloy and his political operation have raised from state contractors, people who have benefited directly from Malloy’s corporate welfare program, federal Political Action Committees and other wealthy individuals.

While many believe that state law clearly prohibits these funds from being spent to benefit a state-level campaign, Malloy and his campaign have been using the Democratic Party’s “federal account” to pay for his campaign mailings and other campaign expenses, allowing him to augment the $6.5 million Malloy received in public funds from the Connecticut Public Financing Program.

It all leaves one wondering what the “True Capitalists” would think of this world in which public funds are used to subsidize private activities that help ensure corporate officers and investors can get a better return on their private investments?

Of course, as Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors has observed,

“Waste is the highest virtue one can achieve in advanced capitalist society.”

The “Malloy Factor” in Connecticut’s 2014 race for governor

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In March 2013, 43 percent of Connecticut voters reported that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy deserved to be re-elected, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

Nearly twenty months later, after Malloy, Foley and their supporters have spent about $30 million promoting their candidate and attacking their opponent, the Q-poll reports that 43% of Connecticut votes intend to vote for Dannel Malloy next Tuesday.

Over all of this time, Malloy has never exceeded 43 percent of the vote, despite spending the past year and a half as Connecticut’s Chief Executive Officer and having spent approximately $16 million on his re-election campaign, ($6.5 of which came in the form of a grant in taxpayer funds from the State Elections Enforcement Commission.)

Over the same period, Malloy’s Republican opponent, Tom Foley, has spent almost as much.  (Including his own $6.5 million grant in public funds.)

What will go down as Connecticut’s most expensive and nastiest campaign for governor has had no statistical impact on the level of Malloy’s support among Connecticut voters.

While Tom Foley may get the award for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, the real credit for Malloy’s predicament is Malloy himself.

The most accurate thing may be called the primary issue in Connecticut’s 2014 race for governor the “Malloy Factor.”

In April of this year, I published a Wait, What? blog entitled, “The growing list of reasons to vote against Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election.” The article highlighted the issues in which Governor Malloy was failing the vast majority of Connecticut voters.  It focused on Malloy’s record of support for corporate education reform and his anti-teacher agenda, on his decision to make the deepest cuts in state history to our colleges and universities, on the issue of tax fairness, on the massive amount of corporate welfare, on the growing level of government secrecy, on his failure to engage in honest and sound budget practices and on his inappropriate treatment of Connecticut’s front-line state employees.

Five months later, I published a more focused list that was titled, “Why Connecticut Teachers SHOULD NOT VOTE for Governor Malloy.  This Wait, What? commentary piece outlined the most important areas in which Malloy has failed Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates, including his 2012 proposal to repeal tenure for all public school teachers and collective bargaining rights for teachers working in Connecticut’s poorest schools, his unwillingness to de-couple the teacher evaluation program from the use of unfair and inappropriate standardized testing, his  failure to settle the critically important CCEJF v. Rell school funding lawsuit, his excessive support for unaccountable charter schools and his ongoing commitment to the Common Core and the related Common Core testing scheme.

With Election Day 2014 in sight, Malloy and his political operatives have done a particularly good job of demonizing Tom Foley, although, as noted, the credit for that probably goes as much to Foley as it does to the Malloy campaign.

While it appears increasingly likely that Malloy will win re-election in an environment in which more than 50 percent of voters have a negative opinion of him, it is particularly incredible that he has been completely and totally unable to increase his level of support among voters beyond that 43 percent mark.

And the credit for that rests exclusively with Dan Malloy and his advisers.

Although Malloy has known for his entire term in office that far less than 50% of Connecticut voters have ever felt he deserved re-election, he and his administration have continually failed to successfully address the very issues that are of most concern to the majority of Connecticut voters.

Whether driven by utter arrogance or a total inability to listen to the people, a review of the issues laid out in the two blogs ­– “The growing list of reasons to vote against Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-electionand “Why Connecticut Teachers SHOULD NOT VOTE for Governor Malloy” show that Malloy has steadfastly refused to address a single one of those issues.

Many Democrat and unaffiliated voters remain extremely put off by Malloy’s support of the corporate education reform industry and his anti-teacher agenda, his decision to make the deepest cuts in state history to our public colleges and universities, his tax policies that coddle the rich at the expense of the middle class, his on-going commitment to give scarce public funds to extremely successful corporate entities, his disdain and disregard for Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, as well as for the state’s Freedom of Information and Ethics policies, his failure to engage in honest and sound budget and his inappropriate treatment of Connecticut’s front-line state employees.

Malloy’s problem with what should be his base is so severe that according to this week’s Quinnipiac survey, 1 in 5 Democrats are not even voting for him and only one in three unaffiliated voters say they will be voting for Malloy on Election Day.

As the 2014 campaign comes to an end, the real question is whether the Malloy Factor will be enough to keep Malloy from winning a second term as Connecticut’s governor.

Steve Perry’s plan – Turn Hartford’s Capital Prep into a charter, open charters in Bridgeport and New York

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This is Part 1 of a series about Steve Perry and his ongoing effort to get public officials to help him build a financially lucrative charter school management company with taxpayer funds.

When the Hartford Board of Education rejected Steve Perry’s plan to transfer Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School and a nearby neighborhood elementary school over to his private charter school company last year, Perry took to Twitter saying;

 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.”

If anyone else had Tweeted a similar threat they would have certainly been detained and questioned by the police.  But while Perry’s Tweet was covered by the Washington Post, Connecticut’s state and local officials simply looked the other way.

After all, Steve Perry is the one who describes himself as “America’s most trusted educator.”

But now Perry is maneuvering for a new deal that will prove far more lucrative.

For the record, Steve Perry is a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education and serves as the principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School, a public school located on Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut.

In 2012 Perry created a Connecticut company called Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc.

For state registration purposes, Perry’s company is located at his residence in Middletown, Connecticut.  However, when it comes to filing his corporation’s federal paperwork and tax forms, Perry has been using the address of the public school in which he works.

Almost three months ago Steve Perry’s PR operation issued a press release announcing, “Dr. Steve Perry, and the founders of what US News & World Reports has called one of America’s top high schools, are coming to Harlem.”

While Perry’s media team made it appear that Capital Prep Harlem Charter School was already a “done deal,” in reality Perry’s plan is one of 15 new charter school proposals that will be considered by the New York Board of Regents at its November 2014 meeting.

Steve Perry’s Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School application reveals a lot about Perry’s empire building plans.

And they start with the City of Hartford handing their Capital Prep public school over to Perry’s charter school management company.

According to the New York State charter school application, Perry’s Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. is “designed to be a fiscally fit ‘boutique’ charter management organization (“CMO”).”

Perry goes on to explain,

“We are focused on distinguishing ourselves as a mid-sized network of schools…Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools. It is our hope that we will manage two schools in Harlem. The first is to be Capital Prep Harlem, 6-12. The second would be a kindergarten to 5th grade school in or near the first…Managing four schools in three cities that are within a two-hour drive of each other allows us to support the schools without having to hire completely new staff for each school.”

Perry adds,

“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students. The Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport Connecticut will have 765 students at full enrollment. Capital Prep Harlem will have 600 students in the next five years, and we hope to open a companion kindergarten to fifth grade school in Harlem that will serve another 600 students.”

As for the scope of management fees that he intends to collect, Perry’s New York charter school application boasts,

“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015.   The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected.  Conservative five- year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

Besides assuming his company will be able to collect management fees from Hartford’s Board of Education, Perry is also counting on Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy to come through for him.

In a surprise move earlier this year, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and the Connecticut State Board of Education rammed through a plan that would allow Steve Perry to open a new charter school in Bridgeport in the fall of 2015.

Although no state funding has been allocated for the Capital Harbor Charter School in Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut is facing a $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget, Perry’s New York application makes it clear that he is expecting Malloy to cough up millions of dollars so he can open his Bridgeport operation and collect his management fees.

Among the many interesting things about the document that Perry has submitted to the New York Board of Regents is the fact that he intends to use the same core “Management Team” for Hartford, Bridgeport and New York.

Since most of the members of Perry’s “Management Team” are presently public employees, his plan raises extremely serious ethical and legal issues.

State and local laws prohibit public employees from engaging in private work that conflicts with their public duties and under no circumstances may public employee use concepts, materials or information developed with public resources to make money during or after their employment with the government.

But despite those legal issues, Perry writes,

“CPS enlisted its founders, current teachers at Capital Prep in Hartford, and strategic consultants to codify the mission, vision and key design elements of the Capital Prep model and operationalize the educational philosophy of the school in order to facilitate replication and training. In addition, this extensive team collaborated to refine the school design in light of the needs of the Harlem community and to develop this proposal. Through regular in person and telephonic meetings, as well as file sharing and other virtual collaboration tools, Dr. Perry…coordinated the production of the proposal with the team of Capital Prep teachers and consultants. Each member of the proposal preparation team has taken on different responsibilities based on their given expertise. The principle writers of this application are Dr. Perry, Ms. Rachel Goldstein, a consultant to CPS and faculty members from Capital Prep.”

Equally troubling is his statement that,

“CPS will launch operations with a core management team representing a mix of deep education experience, business expertise, and political savvy. This ‘hybrid’ team will be crucial to CPS’ success as a high-growth organization in a rapidly changing industry.”

In addition to himself, Perry’s “Management Team” includes Capital Prep’s present assistant principal, Richard Beganski, who is slated to serve as the charter school management company’s chief academic officer.

According to the application, other “Management Team” members include, Kelly Horan, a Capital Prep science teacher; Scott Kapralos, a Capital Prep math teacher; Kitsia Ferguson, a Capital Prep English teacher who presently serves as the Head of Capital Prep’s Lower School; Monique Ethier, another Capital Prep math teacher; Lauren Davern, a Capital Prep history teacher and Lisa Loomis, another Capital Prep English teacher.

Beyond the obvious management and financial issues, Perry’s New York proposal highlights a variety of other areas of concern that will be covered in upcoming posts.

Check back soon for the next post in this series.

Malloy ploy on Teacher Pension Fund takes center stage

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In this case, the issue isn’t which major party candidate for governor will do more damage to teachers and public education, but whether the candidates and their supporters are accountable for the rhetoric and claims they make during this campaign season.

The backdrop of the story is that in order to persuade Connecticut’s public schools teachers to overlook Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s three year record of demeaning, denigrating and bashing teachers and the teaching profession, Malloy’s supporters have recently sent out a series of campaign pieces claiming that;

Governor Malloy is the “first governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his first term in office and guarantee full funding in the future.”

The primary problem with the claim is that Malloy had no legal option but too fully fund teacher pensions and furthermore, he deserves absolutely no credit for guaranteeing full funding of the teacher pension system in the future.

The credit for Malloy having successfully made the necessary payments and fully funding the state of Connecticut Teacher Pension Fund actually goes to the Connecticut Education Association, the members of the 2007 General Assembly and Governor Rell.

And while trying to inappropriately take credit for something he did not do, Malloy and his supporters conveniently overlook the fact that, as governor, Malloy has taken dramatic actions that have actually jeopardized the financial stability of the fund that helps pay for health insurance premiums for retired teachers.

As was reported in the October 15, 2014 Wait, What? blog entitled, “Teachers misled with claim that Malloy deserves credit for “fully funding teacher pension,” Governor Malloy had no option but to fully fund teacher pensions.  In fact, had Tom Foley been elected in November 2010 instead of Dannel Malloy, he too would have been required to make those same payments.

The reason Malloy or Foley would have been required to fully fund the teacher pension system is a result of a 2007 law that authorized the state of Connecticut to borrow $2.3 million and use those funds to address the historic underfunding of the Connecticut Teacher Pension Fund.

The law not only required the state to make any and all necessary payments for the next 25 years, but that requirement was made iron-clad when the language was added to the bond covenants the accompanied the bonds when they were sold to Wall Street investors.

As previously noted the proposal to safeguard the teacher pension fund was pushed by the Connecticut Education Association, passed by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Rell.

But seven years later, the Malloy political operation has been attempting to mislead teachers into believing that it was none-other-than Malloy who deserved the credit for something that took place before he even became governor.

Today, in a CTMirror article entitled, Fact check: Who really protected teacher pension funding? the truth about this whole controversy is laid out.

As the CTMirror explains,

Since their controversial endorsement of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, leaders of the largest teachers’ union in Connecticut have portrayed the governor as the defender of what teachers worry about most: the future of their pensions.

But while touting Malloy as the first governor to “fully fund” the long-neglected pension system, the leadership message of the Connecticut Education Association doesn’t mention that Malloy had little choice but to do so. His hands effectively were tied by legal guarantees put in place by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the 2007 legislature.

[…]

Each of the four budgets Malloy signed during his term does include the full pension contribution recommended by teachers’ pension analysts. Connecticut governors and legislatures have a history of contributing significantly less than the full amount.

That changed, though, in 2007, when lawmakers and Rell adopted a proposal from Treasurer Denise L. Nappier to borrow roughly $2 billion and deposit it into the cash-starved pension fund.

Connecticut promised in the bond covenant – its contract with investors who bought those bonds – to budget the full pension contribution required by analysts for the entire 25-year life of the bonds.

The CT Mirror story should be required reading for every Connecticut teacher and for all of those who follow the politics that surround Connecticut’s State Budget.

The entire CTMirror article can be found at:  http://ctmirror.org/fact-check-who-really-protected-teacher-pension-funding/

 COMMON CORE IS A LEMON (Guest Post by Joseph A. Ricciotti)

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Governor “Dan” Malloy says it is too late to turn back on the Common Core and its associated unfair, ineffective and expensive Common Core Testing Scheme.  In fact, he has repeatedly said he will “stay the course” on his corporate education reform Industry agenda.

The following is a guest commentary piece submitted by educator Joseph Ricciotti.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were dealt a major setback when two states, New York and Massachusetts, decided to slow down its implementation. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has distanced himself from Common Core citing that it is “problematic” as well as “very controversial” in New York State. Hence, Gov .Cuomo now wants to ask the New York State legislature to “slow down the Common Core’s implementation” and not have any tests aligned with the new standards administered for  five years.

Likewise, Massachusetts also decided to slow down the implementation of Common Core for two years while it investigates how well the tests aligned with Common Core, referred to as PARCC, compare with the state’s existing Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam.

The Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, Mitchell Chester, unlike Connecticut’s Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, believes “that fully adopting the new testing deadline by the 2014-2015 school year is “too precipitous” for his state’s schools.” Massachusetts and New York will now join 15 other states that have decided to reconsider their involvement with the Common Core while Connecticut’s Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor plan to stay the course and do not plan to make any changes in the implementation of Common Core.

Undoubtedly, the uprising against Common Core (often referred to as “the Core) in the country has not gone unnoticed by President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Moreover, they also realize they are losing the public opinion battle as new strategies are being developed by the Obama administration and their Common Core allies to counteract resistance to the new standards. One of the staunchest proponents of Common Core is Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think-tank, who has also received Gates Foundation funding for the support of Common Core. Petrilli is of the belief that if the Core proponents want to win the battle, they have to “get Americans angry about the current state of public education.”  In regard to the Core’s implementation, Petrilli is also responsible for the statement “ the chaos in the classroom will be great” so it appears that logic has not distinguished either Arne Duncan or Mike Petrilli.

In other words, as the corporate education reformers who have unsuccessfully attempted to do with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top (RTTT) by falsely highlighting so-called “failing” public schools, now want more of the same medicine with Common Core. In essence, they are trying to convince parents of public school children in the nation that their schools are failing. Needless to say, the “failing schools” strategy is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the general public in the history of American public education. It has failed to change the general public’s opinion in the past with NCLB and RTTT as parents and the general public continue to hold their public schools in high esteem. Petrilli believes that if parents can be made angry and convinced that public education and public schools are “failing”, it will then pave the way for acceptance and a smooth implementation of Common Core.

One of the leading opponents of Common Core in the nation is Dr. Carol C. Burris, an awards winning high school principal on Long Island who received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has researched and written extensively on the Core but perhaps her most famous and memorable quote is “ the Common Core is a lemon and no amount of professional development will make it right.” We have also heard from Barbara Madeloni, newly elected president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) , a warrior against the corporatization of public education and a fierce critic of Common Core, cite that what is needed in public education today is a new vision “that must replace the dehumanizing data-driven madness that is choking the life from our schools.” One would have to think in light of these developments that the tide is turning for Common Core.

You can read more of Carol Burris’ assessment at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/06/how-to-start-cleaning-up-the-common-core/.

 

Democracy Hypocrisy

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Here we are, a week to go until Election Day and despite the fact that at least 50% of Connecticut voters have a negative opinion of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, he may very well be on the verge of winning re-election with 43% of the vote.

With the “finish line” in sight, the news is full of reports that Republicans are continuing to condemn third-party candidate Joe Visconti for being a “spoiler.”  These “political leaders” are demanding that Visconti get out of the race.

This, while Malloy has been uncharacteristically going out of his way to complement Visconti for his willingness to stand up and be honest about his beliefs.

Despite Malloy’s apparent public “endorsement” of Visconti’s 3rd  party challenge, my recent blog post informing people how they can write in my name for governor has generated a new round of emails and nasty comments from Malloy supporters blasting me for threatening to be a “spoiler.”

All in all it is a wonderful and terrible commentary about the shallowness of principle that guides our establishment political parties and those who blindly follow their lead.

It would appear that as far as leadership of the Democrats and Republicans are concerned, a spoiler is anyone who has the audacity to utilize their fundamental American right to participate in our democracy — if that person might possibly reduce the number of votes their establishment candidates might otherwise get.

Connecticut’s Ralph Nader once observed that the word spoiler is a “politically bigoted term.”  Nader went on to note that those who condemn 3rd parties believe that,

“All of us who think that the country needs an infusion of freedom, democracy, choice, dissent should just sit on the sidelines and watch the two parties own all the voters and turn the government over to big business?”

Or perhaps the outspoken populist, Jim Hightower, put it even better when he wrote,

“So now is the time, more than ever, for those who truly value all the principles of democracy especially including dissent, to be the most forceful in speaking up, standing up and speaking out.”

Here is a message for those who support Malloy or Foley, but claim to believe in democracy…your hypocrisy is showing.

Dissent does not undermine democracy.  In fact, dissent is essential to democracy.

Or as Frederick Douglas said,

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Instead of blaming Visconti or myself for their lack of public support, Malloy and Foley should be looking in the mirror and contemplating the fact that significantly more voters dislike them than like them.

AFT President Randi Weingarten in Farmington today for Malloy campaign rally

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Update:  After posting this piece, AFT President Weingarten and Malloy spoke at the AFT Get-Out-The-Vote rally and Weingarten tweeted: “@DanMalloyCT has apologized;affirmed pledge to coll barg.”  The media hasn’t reported what Malloy said, does anyone know?

RanRandi to farmingtondi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, is headlining a Malloy Get-Out-The-Vote Rally for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election effort today in Farmington, Connecticut.

Although a number of public education advocates, including myself, have been critical of Weingarten on some issues, I have tremendous respect for her and the role she has played in the effort to speak up for teachers on numerous occasions including this week’s decision by Time Magazine to run with a cover bashing the nation’s public school educators.

Weingarten, along with the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter and the Connecticut Education Association have endorsed Malloy despite the fact that Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose repealing tenure for all Connecticut public school teachers and unilaterally eliminating collective bargaining rights for a teachers working in the state’s poorest schools.

If Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA were serious about persuading Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates to get out to vote on Election Day and vote for Malloy they would use this opportunity to ensure that Malloy finally renounces his 2012 anti-teacher proposal.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining for a sub-set of public employees:

Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiative was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in a bill entitled “AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS.”  Malloy’s bill was submitted on February 9, 2012 and referred to the Education Committee for a public hearing.

Section 18 of the Senate Bill provided for the creation of what has become known as “Commissioner’s Network Schools.”

Malloy’s proposal was to allow the Commissioner of Education to override local boards of education and take control of Commissioner Network Schools by requiring local or regional boards of education to “enter into a turnaround agreement with the department regarding all aspects of school operation and management, without limitation.”

As part of that agreement, the proposal provided that the Commissioner of Education would have the power to, “Require the implementation of specific operating and working conditions in a commissioner’s network school.”

Since the unilateral control of the operating and working conditions would violate collective bargaining agreements, Malloy’s bill included the following language;

(F) The provisions of sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive, [which are the state’s collective bargaining laws] shall not apply to any teacher or administrator who is assigned to a commissioner’s network school, except (i) that such teacher or administrator shall, for the purposes of ratification of an agreement only, be permitted to vote as a member of the teacher or administrator bargaining unit, as appropriate, for the local or regional board of education in which the commissioner’s network school is located, and (ii) insofar as any such provisions protect any entitlement of such teacher or administrator to benefits or leave accumulated or accrued prior to the teacher or administrator being employed in a commissioner’s network school. The provision of any financial or other incentives, including, but not limited to, compensation or the availability of professional coverage positions, shall not be subject to collective bargaining pursuant to sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive.

Malloy’s proposed language unilaterally repealed teachers’ rights to collectively bargain – if they worked in a Commissioner Network School – and specifically stated that compensation or other professional working conditions – SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

Malloy’s bill was nothing short of a proposal to destroy the collective bargaining rights of teachers (and administrators) in what was supposed to be up to 25 public schools in Connecticut.

In response to Malloy’s proposal, the CEA wrote to its members on March 14, 2012 telling them that Malloy’s Education Bill would have “real and dramatic consequences for teachers.”

Leading the list of negative impacts, the CEA leadership explained that,

“The bill would take away collective bargaining rights from teachers in the lowest performing schools….”

The CEA letter went on to urge teachers to contact their legislators and tell them to “Fix the governor’s bill” and “Restore collective bargaining rights.”

Thankfully, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly stripped Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining rights before they went on to pass most of the rest of his bad bill.

Malloy’s effort to eliminate tenure for Public School Teaches;

Even the AFT and CEA have admitted that Governor Malloy’s 2012 Corporate Education Reform Industry Initiative sought to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers in Connecticut and replace it with a system of short-term contracts in which continued employment as a teacher would depend, in part, on the test scores teachers’ students got on the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Standardized Tests.

At the time Malloy introduced his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill he famously observed that “teachers need only show up for work” in order to get tenure.

Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA have consistently told their members that Malloy has apologized for proposing his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill.

However, that claim is absolutely untrue.

The truth is that Malloy has never publicly renounced his anti-tenure position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.

When the idiotic “all you have to do is show up” statement was raised at a candidate debate earlier this year, here is what Malloy DID say;

 “I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”

Wait, What?

Malloy is now claiming that his attack on tenure wasn’t an attack on teachers but, “it was about tenure.”

The sad truth is that Malloy’s HAS NEVER retracted his anti-tenure stance and his effort to “apologize” to teachers has only made his anti-tenure position clearer.

With Randi Weingarten in Connecticut today, the leadership of the AFT and CEA have a unique opportunity to actually force Malloy to stand up, step up and come clean about his 2012 effort to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers and repeal collective bargaining for teachers working in Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

A Malloy statement renouncing his actions on tenure and collective bargaining would be the most effective Get-Out-The-Vote effort Weingarten and the AFT and CEA leadership could make.

Send a message – Vote on principle – Write in Pelto/Murphy

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It is not a standardized test, but you do start by darkening the bubble

STEP #1:  Mark Box 1G

STEP #2:  Write in Pelto/Murphy or Pelto

WRITE- IN V1

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