What is the purpose of the State-sponsored Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) “Mastery” Test?

The Common Core SBAC testing scheme is the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory annual testing system mandated by Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration.

Designed to fail a vast share of Connecticut’s students, the SBAC test is aligned to the Common Core, rather than what is actually taught in Connecticut’s classrooms.

If Governor Malloy and his allies in the corporate Education reform industry get their way, the SBAC test will continue to be used to rate and rank order students, teachers and schools.  For them, it is a mechanism to ensure students, and teachers are deemed to be failures, thereby paving the way to turn even more Connecticut public schools over to privately owned, but publicly funded charter school companies and others that seek to profit off the privatization of public education.

With the Connecticut legislature’s approval, the Malloy administration has been busy turning Connecticut’s public schools into little more than testing factories and profit centers for private entities, many of which have become some of Malloy’s biggest campaign donors.

One of the areas that remains unresolved is how the SBAC testing scam will be used in Connecticut’s teacher evaluation process.  Malloy and his ilk want to require that the results of the unfair tests be used as a key tool in determining how well teachers are doing in the classroom.

Teachers, their unions and public school advocates recognize that there are much better teacher evaluation models that could be used and don’t rely on the use of standardized tests to determine which teachers are succeeding, which teachers need additional training and which individuals should be removed from the classroom.

As the CT Mirror reported earlier this week in an article entitled, Grading teachers: Tempers flare over use of student test scores;

In 2010, state legislators created the PEAC (Performance Evaluation Advisory Council), to come up with guidelines for evaluating teachers. In January 2012, the panel agreed to have nearly one-quarter of a teachers’ rating linked to the state exam scores.

Consensus then vanished, however, after the governor proposed linking the new evaluations to teacher certification and pay, and union leaders grew wary that the tests were becoming too high stakes. Complicating the issue further was the rollout of a controversial new state exam that engendered even more skepticism among union officials and many teachers about using the tests for evaluations.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the SBAC test is NOT an appropriate tool to evaluate teachers, the Malloy administration remains committed to implementing their policy of failure.

The controversy has meant that the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) has been unable to come to a consensus on how to proceed with the implementation of Malloy’s teacher evaluation plan.

As a way to move the debate forward, the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers tried, unsuccessfully, to use this week’s PEAC meeting to push the group to, at the very least, define what purpose of Connecticut’s so-called Mastery Testing system.

In a recent CEA blog post, the union explained that at the meeting CEA’s Executive Director told the group,

“The threshold question is, ‘What is the role of the mastery test?’ I hold that it’s to give a 50,000-foot view that can inform resource allocation, curriculum alignment, professional development, and instructional strategies at the district level, at the building level, or even the classroom level.”

Adding,

“That is where we gain knowledge about things like social justice, about fiscal or community needs…

The President of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, concurred saying that the tests

“were never designed to evaluate teachers,” adding, “If we return to that, we’re going to return to teachers teaching to the test, because their jobs depend on it.”

The CEA and AFT leadership are absolutely right on this one.

SBAC is an “inappropriate tool for evaluating teachers.”

As mentioned, there are plenty of teacher evaluation models that the state could and should be using.

Rather than maintaining their war on Connecticut’s children, teachers and schools, Connecticut’s elected and appointed officials should dump Malloy’s proposed teacher evaluation program and shift to one that is fair, efficient and effective.

With Election Day close at hand, candidates for the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives should be making it clear that if elected on November 8th they’ll shift gears and actually do what is right for Connecticut’s students, teachers and public schools.

Democracy appears to be a burden for the “modern” American Federation of Teachers

On Friday, fellow public education advocate and commentator Sarah Darer Littman wrote an incredibly powerful piece in CT Newsjunkie entitled “Serving Up A Preferred Candidate,” in which she took issue with the obviously undemocratic process that the American Federation of Teachers was using to endorse a candidate for President of the United States.

Sarah Darer Littman opened her piece with the following observation,

I’ve been commenting privately for years that the unions don’t need the Koch Brothers to destroy them — they are doing a good job of that themselves by working against the interests of their own rank-and-file membership. I speak in particular of AFT President Randi Weingarten, who reportedly pulled in an AFT income of over half a million dollars in 2014, while the average teacher salary in the United States has declined by 2.3 percent since 2000 to $56,689.

Sarah Darer Littman went on to describe what appeared to be the AFT’s presidential endorsement process, which was hardly a model of openness and transparency.

Less than 24 hours later, AFT President Randi Weingarten, a close personal friend of Hillary Clinton and a member of Hillary Clinton’s “Super-PAC,” announced that that AFT was endorsing Hillary Clinton for President.

As Politico reported, Weingarten explained the endorsement by stating,

“Clinton is a tested leader who shares our values, is supported by our members and is prepared for a tough fight on behalf of students, families and communities.”

The harsh reality is that Hillary Clinton has actually been a vocal proponent of the corporate education reform agenda and she has a long way to go before it can be said that she is the best choice for students, parents, public schools or the teachers who make up the American Federation of Teachers.

Before Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton may very well become the Democratic nominee and the best choice for President, but the AFT’s premature endorsement is actually a disservice to Clinton, and more importantly, to the nation’s teachers and the legacy of the American Federation of Teachers, a union that is steeped in the history of American Democracy.

But Weingarten seems intent on leading a “modern” AFT.

Last summer, Randi Weingarten and the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter was committed to endorsing Governor Dannel Malloy’s and his effort to get re-elected to the governor’s office despite the fact that Malloy was the only sitting Democratic Governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for teachers in the poorest school districts.

However, rather than use the campaign and the endorsement process to focus attention on Malloy’s ugly record on public education and provide him with an opportunity to become a supporter, rather than an opponent, of teachers and the teaching profession, the union leadership throws out their “democratic” endorsement process in order to hand him the union’s support.

Despite being the only pro-public education, pro-teacher candidate in the race for Governor, the AFT-CT refused to allow me to fill out a candidate questionnaire, refused to allow me to speak to the AFT-CT candidate endorsing committee, refused to allow me to address the AFT-CT executive committee and even prohibited me from speaking to the AFL-CIO’s annual endorsing convention, a meeting in which Randi Weingarten was the keynote speaker.

At the time, no one doubted that the leadership of the AFT and AFL-CIO would endorse Dannel Malloy, but prohibiting an open, transparent and democratic process was a sad reminder that being with the perceived winner – at all costs – has become the exclusive goal of some union leaders.

A year later and nothing has changed.

Once again, few doubted Hilary Clinton would get the endorsement from her friend Randi Weingarten and the union she runs.

But rather than ensure that the AFT provided for an open and honest discussion and an endorsement process that ensured that the membership was heard and their opinions taken into consideration, Weingarten pushed through an early endorsement thereby allowing Time Magazine to write;

Hillary Clinton Wins Key Endorsement From American Federation of Teachers –

Hillary Clinton has secured the first major union endorsement of the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

The American Federation of Teachers, a powerful, 1.6 million-strong national union, voted on Saturday to endorse the former secretary of state, calling Clinton a “champion” for “working families.”

But the truth is the endorsement was from the union’s leadership, not the members. 

Clinton and her historic candidacy would have been better off if the leadership of the AFT had actually engaged in a process to build a true consensus that Hillary Clinton is the best choice for teachers and public education.

And certainly the American Federation for Teachers would have been better off had its leaders approach the endorsement process in a truly democratic way.

Instead the AFT leadership’s actions undermine the extraordinary legacy of the AFT itself.

Begun in 1900, the American Federation of Teachers earned the right to represent more than 1.5 million members because the AFT leadership has always been dedicated to developing a union focused on improving the conditions for teachers and the public schools that educate America’s children.

It has been a difficult journey for the AFT.

Nearly three decades after it was founded, unprecedented efforts to undermine the union and convince teachers not to unionize resulted in the AFT’s membership to drop below 5,000 teachers in the years leading up to the Great Depression.

Even after the Depression and World WW II, the AFT failed to make great strides in the face of opposition to collective bargaining for teachers.

But then came the incredible work of Albert Shanker, Charles Cogen and other fearless labor leaders that changed the course of teachers and their unions.

In the ten years following 1960, a dedication to improving pay and working conditions for teachers and pushing policies that created schools that provided educational opportunities to all children, bolstered the number of AFT members from 65,000 to 400,000

A continued commitment to doing right for teachers and students grew the AFT to over 1 million members by the year 2000.

Shanker and those who built the AFT were never afraid to take controversial positions, fight for real change or push the union’s agenda, but they also understood the importance of including and representing their members in a way that has apparently become foreign to some of today’s union leaders.

Certainly Shanker made his share of mistakes over the years and received more than his fair share of criticism, but he profoundly believed in then notion that collective bargaining and democracy go hand in hand.

Those that know the story behind Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and The March on Washington in 1963 know of the incredible work that the AFT played in that event and throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

For those that don’t know, while many unions tried to hide on the sidelines, the AFT helped finance that historic March and many of Dr. King efforts.   A glimpse at any photo from that momentous day reveals the AFT’s signs and their pro-education, pro-labor and pro-civil rights message.

Yet another extraordinary event in the AFT’s history was the decision by its affiliate, the UFT of New York City, to take a position, decades before others, to refuse to invest their funds in any bank or company that was associated with South Africa’s apartheid system.

Over the decades the American Federation of Teachers never lost sight of the importance of winning, but perhaps even more importantly, it never backed down for its commitment to stand on principle and promote a union that was dedicated to the democratic rights of its members and the nation.

But the passage of time has brought uncomfortable changes and it would appear that “winning,” however narrowly defined, has become the primary goal.

In Connecticut, the AFT’s notion of winning was re-electing a pro-charter school, anti-public education, anti-teacher candidate, rather than allowing a supportive, third-party candidate to even be considered.

And yesterday, the “modern” AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton without utilizing an open, transparent and democratic process.

In the real world, this approach is often referred to as the notion that “The end justifies the means” and, as we know, it is a concept that has been used to explain away some of the most inappropriate actions in history.

Hilary Clinton could become the best choice for teachers, students and our public schools, but she needs to do far better to earn that support.

And teachers, the members of the AFT and the AFT’s legacy deserve better than they got with the Clinton endorsement.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García says every parent should have the right to opt their child out of Common Core test

In a blog entitled, The Opt Out End Game, the President of the National Education Association has announced her strong stand for a parent’s fundamental right to opt their child or children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing system.

While explaining that the real goal is to do away with the fixation on standardized testing, NEA’s President is joining the call to recognize that parents do have the right to opt their children out of the testing.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia writes,

Parents should have the right to know for what purpose a test is designed and whether it’s valid and reliable for that purpose; how the results of that test will be used; whether or not testing companies will have access to private student information and for what reason those companies need that information.

They should have a right to demand that any testing companies hired by the district sign the Student Privacy Principles developed and endorsed by major student advocates from the PTA to the NEA to the School Boards Association to the American Library Association and the Thomas Fordham Institute.

And they should have the right, if they are not satisfied with the answers to their questions, to opt their children out of any mandated standardized testing that they believe is inappropriate or harmful to their child. NEA fully supports parents and supports our affiliates who take a stand against tests that serve no educational purpose.

The rest of Eskelsen Garcia’s piece focuses on why the testing is so inappropriate and the NEA’s position is to permanently reduce the use of standardized testing.  Her blog post can be found at: http://lilysblackboard.org/2015/04/the-opt-out-end-game/

Now that the presidents of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have announced their support for parents who want to opt their children out of the destructive common core testing, hopefully the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter will come out strongly on behalf of Connecticut students and parents and their right to opt out of the SBAC test.

Where the hell are CT’s union leaders as AFT National President Randi Weingarten supports parents who opt out

According to a breaking story posted by the nation’s leading public education advocate Diane Ravitch,   Randi Weingarten – the national president of the American Federation of Teachers – has announced her strong support for parents who are opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing.

Diane Ravitch reports that Weingarten announced yesterday that, “if she were a parent of children in the public schools… she would opt out too.”

As Diane Ravitch goes on to explain opting out is,

“A clear, unambiguous message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control.

Testing is not teaching.

Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong.

The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools.

Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd “cut scores” (passing mark)… Most children will “fail” …

We are the most over tested nation in the world.”

Ravitch is absolutely right and the list of teacher unions and teacher union leaders who are supporting parents’ right to opt out of the disastrous Common Core testing scheme continues to grow.

But here in Connecticut the silence from the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter remains deafening…

Is kowtowing to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Corporate Education Reform Industry worth so much that these some union leaders will refuse to step forward and defend Connecticut’s parents, students and teachers who understand just how bad the Common Core SBAC test is for our children and our schools?

Malloy’s thin skin and vengeance is legendary but there is simply no excuse for the lack of action on the part of the leadership of Connecticut’s two teacher unions.

Last fall, the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter endorsed Dannel Malloy without even allowing other candidates to fill out a questionnaire, meet with their political endorsing committee or address their executive committee.

The leadership of the Connecticut Education Association went so far as to overrule their own political endorsing committee who had voted that the teachers’ union should make “no endorsement” in the race for governor because Malloy’s policies and actions during his first term were so anti-teacher and anti-public schools.

Yet despite that support, Malloy has continued his anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-charter initiatives.

But it is not too late for Connecticut’s teachers’ unions to make a difference.

All across the country, teacher unions are standing up for their teachers and for the students and parents who make up their communities by supporting the opt-out movement.

In nearby New York the following list of teacher unions have endorsed resolutions supporting the right of parents to opt out of the Common Core testing.

Amityville Teachers’ Association
Associated Teachers of Huntington
Babylon Teachers’ Association
Baldwin Teachers Association
Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers
Bellport Teachers Association
Bethpage Congress of Teachers
Brentwood Teachers Association
Brockport Teachers Association
Camden Teachers Association
Carmel Teachers’ Association
Center Moriches Teachers’ Association
Central Islip Teachers Association
Clarkstown Teachers Association
Commack Teachers Association
Connetquot Teachers Association
Cortland United Teachers
Deer Park Teachers’ Association
East Williston Teachers’ Association
Elwood Teachers Alliance
Farmingdale Federation of Teachers
Freeport Teachers Association
Fulton Teachers Association
Garden City Teachers’ Association
Glen Cove Teachers’ Association
Half Hollow Hills Teachers’ Association
Hamburg Teachers Association
Hauppauge Teachers Association
Hastings Teachers Association
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association
Hicksville Congress of Teachers
Ichabod Crane Teachers Association
Islip Teachers Association
Kingston Teachers Federation
Lancaster Central Teachers Association
Lake Shore Central Teachers’ Association
Lakeland Federation of Teachers
Lawrence Teachers’ Association
Levittown Teachers Union
Lindenhurst Teachers Association
Little Flower Teachers Association
Locust Valley School Employees Association
Lynbrook Teachers Association
Merrick Faculty Association
Middle Country Teachers Association
Middle Island Teachers Association
Miller Place Teachers Association
MORE Caucus (NYC)
New Hartford Teachers Association
New Paltz United Teachers
New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees
New York Mills Teachers’ Association
North Babylon Teachers’ Organization
North Bellmore Teachers Association
North Merrick Faculty Association
North Rockland Teachers Association
North Shore Schools Federated Employees
North Syracuse Education Association
Oceanside Federation of Teachers
Oneonta Teachers’ Association
Orchard Park Teachers Association
Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers
Plainedge Federation of Teachers
Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers
Port Jefferson Teachers Association
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association
Ramapo Teachers Association
Rocky Point Teachers Association
Rockville Centre Teachers’ Association
Rome Teachers Association
Sauquoit Valley Teachers Association
Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association
Spencerport Teachers Association
Springville Faculty Association
Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association
Three Village Teachers Association
Troy Teachers Association
United Teachers of Harborfields
United Teachers of Northport
United Teachers of Seaford
Valley Stream Teachers Association
Waterville Teachers Association
West Babylon Teachers Association
West Canada Valley Teachers Association
West Genesee Teachers’ Association
West Hempstead Education Association
West Islip Teachers’ Association
West Seneca Teachers Association

Add the New York State United Teachers Association and now the president of the entire AFT union.

Connecticut’s parents and students deserve no less!

CEA and AFT-CT  – Now is the time to stand up and speak out.

Common Core (SBAC) Results May Provoke Shock, Officials Urge Families to Stay Objective

Teachers, Parents, Public School Advocates, it is probably best to sit down for this one….

That bizarre and disturbing statement was the headline in a piece recently posted by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) following this week’s meeting of a Connecticut State Department of Education Working Group.

Reporting on the event, the CEA explained;

“Details are emerging about how the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) program will affect students, teachers, and communities.”

Wait?  “Details are emerging”?

The Common Core Standardized Testing Scam, known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium (SBAC), is actually designed to ensure that about 70 percent of Connecticut students fail. [Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is! and Beware the Coming Common Core Testing Disaster and A system that labels children as failures (another MUST READ by Wendy Lecker]

Not only is the Common Core testing system created to generate the false impression that Connecticut and the nation’s public education system is failing, but by tying the Common Core SBAC test results to the new inept, illogical and counter-productive Connecticut Teacher Evaluation System, the incredibly expensive “golden nugget” of the corporate education reform industry aims to denigrate teachers and blow apart what is left of the teaching profession.

But despite this truth, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration remain wedded to the implementation of the Common Core, the Common Core standardized testing program and a teacher evaluation process based on the results of those tests.

As the CEA’s January 21 2014 blog post explains,

“Most school districts in Connecticut administered a field test last year, but this year the program will be in high gear with educators administering the tests to students in grades 3-8 and 11 this April/May.

[…]

This year, the stakes will be high as students establish a baseline for the test. Jacqueline King, who works for the SBAC program, says the baseline data about Connecticut students’ performance on the first-time test has the “potential to shock” students and their families.”

The CEA goes on to report that at this week’s Working Group Meeting,

“Members of the working group [said they] are concerned about how test results will be messaged to ensure that the public understands that the SBAC program is still a work in progress.”

How the test results will be messaged??

That the SBAC program is still a work in progress?

It was Governor Malloy’s own Commissioner of Education who joined the other state education chiefs who voted to set the “cut score” so that 70 percent of Connecticut’s public school students would be deemed failures.

It was Governor Malloy and his State Department of Education that remain committed to linking the unfair test to the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

And it is because Malloy’s complete unwillingness to de-couple the Common Core SBAC test results from the teacher evaluation system that teachers across Connecticut are being coerced to teach to the very Common Cores Standardized SBAC test that their students will fail – and those failing scores will be used to “evaluate” the teachers.

The CEA article adds,

“Mark Waxenberg, executive director of CEA, raised a series of concerns at today’s meeting, saying that the new testing program is still in “the developmental stages.”

The article also noted that Joseph Cirasuolo, who is the executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and one the most vocal supporters of Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiative, said the results from the Common Core SBAC tests could, “scare the hell out of parents.” He apparently added, people “are talking about this as if it has a level of precision that it does not.”

“The new testing program is still in “the developmental stage”???

“A level of precision that it does not have”????

These two individuals and everyone else involved in the discussions surrounding the Common Core and Common Core testing debacle know perfectly well that the SBAC test is designed to fail 70 percent of the students and that the SBAC test will be used as a significant factor in determining which Connecticut teachers are deemed to be “good’ and which will be deemed “not good.”

Instead of raising these “concerns” at a State Department of Education Working Group, the CEA, AFT and the other Connecticut organization purportedly committed to Connecticut’s students, teachers and public schools – such as CABE and CAPSS – should be demanding that the Common Core be halted, the Common Core Tests eliminated that Connecticut’s teacher evaluation system should be fully de-coupled from the SBAC test or any other standardized tests.

As if all of this wasn’t clear enough, in what is undoubtedly one of the most incredible and shocking comments to come out of the Malloy administration yet, the representative of the State Department of Education told the SDE working group,  “best practice dictates that educators should never make consequential decisions based on a single test score.”

OMG, What the____?????

Malloy, with the support of the Connecticut legislature is the one that MANDATED the expensive and wasteful Common Core SBAC tests be given and MANDATED that the Common Core SBAC test scores be used to evaluate teachers.

As the CEA post adds,

“Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education reportedly already has placed SBAC results on its list of multiple measures that colleges and universities can use to evaluate student readiness and placement. SDE officials also envision scenarios where high schools could include SBAC scores on student transcripts (as reportedly has been done in the past with CAPT scores)…”

The real problem is that the Common Core Standards were developed without the proper participation of educators and experts in child development.

Furthermore, as has been widely reported, some of the Common Core standards are developmentally inappropriate and the foundation of the Common Cores Standards are demanding that students immediately perform at a level that is at least two grade levels above what students have been learning.

The Common Core Test (SBAC) also discriminates against English Language Learners and students who require special education services…not to mention, as noted, that the absurd and warped system is actually designed with a pass/fail rate that will ensure that nearly 7 in 10 students fail.

The real problem with the entire situation lies with the Common Core itself and the way in which the Common Core standardized tests have been designed to undermine the stability of public education in America.

The solution is that the leadership of the two major teacher unions, and all of the others committed to public education, should be retreating from their support of the Common Core and its associated testing scheme.

Yet even now, while the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers raise concerns and call for action, their fundamental position of support for the Common Core remains intact.

The National Education Association’s website reports that the,

“NEA believes the Common Core State Standards have the potential to provide access to a complete and challenging education for all children. Broad range cooperation in developing these voluntary standards provides educators with more manageable curriculum goals and greater opportunities to use their professional judgment in ways that promote student success.”

At the same time, the American Federation of Teachers says,

That if implemented carefully and with the needed supports and resources, these new standards will help improve education for all students.  At last July’s  AFT Convention, “AFT members today passed a resolution at the union’s national convention reaffirming the AFT’s support for the promise and potential of the Common Core State Standards as a way to ensure all children have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century while sharply criticizing the standards’ botched implementation. “

But the Common Core Standards are inappropriate, unfair, and discriminatory.  The Common Core standardized tests are inexorably linked to those Common Core Standards, and until we set aside the Common Core and the Common Core testing, our nation’s children, teachers and our entire system of public education system will remain the primary target for those who seek to destroy public education for their own financial and political gain.

And when it comes to the relationship between the Common Core, Common Core testing and the teacher evaluation systems, those who are responsible for speaking up for our children, our teachers and our schools simply say enough is enough and corporate education reform initiatives need to be dismissed and real action taken to reduce the barriers to academic success – poverty, language barriers, and unmet special education needs to name a few.

Perhaps the leaders of the CEA, AFT, CABE and CAPSS should also read or re-read the commentary piece published last year by Wendy Lecker, one of the state’s leading public education advocates.

Wendy Lecker’s piece entitled, “Solution to failed tests is not more tests,” first appeared in the Stamford Advocate, and she wrote;

Fact: Connecticut’s teacher evaluation plan, because it relies on student standardized test scores, is fundamentally flawed. Student test scores cannot measure a teacher’s contribution to student learning. In fact, the president of the Educational Testing Service recently called evaluation systems based on student test scores “bad science.”

Rather than admit failure, the Malloy administration is trying futilely to “fix” the fatal flaw. Last week, PEAC, the panel charged with developing Connecticut’s teacher evaluation system, working under the direction of Commissioner Stefan Pryor, approved a change which calls for more standardized tests to be included in a teacher’s evaluation.

The commissioner’s “solution” is to add interim tests to a teacher’s rating. Determining what tests will be used, how they will be aligned to the standardized tests, and how all the test scores will be rolled into one “score” for teachers, will likely render this change completely unworkable.

However, there is an even larger issue at play. Will the addition of more tests in a teacher’s evaluation help us measure whether a teacher is effective?

According to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Connecticut’s public schools must prepare children “to participate in democratic institutions, and to prepare them to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state’s economy, or to progress on to higher education.”

Thus, we want our children to acquire the skills and knowledge that will enable them to succeed in college and in life. We want teachers who will help our children develop these skills.

Standardized tests have no bearing on college success. Moreover, although standardized tests are supposed to measure cognitive skills, research from MIT has shown that increasing test scores does not increase cognitive skills.

Even more striking is that cognitive skills, while important, are not the most important skills in determining success either in college or in life after college. Research has shown again and again that non-cognitive skills such as self-discipline, taking responsibility, and listening skills are more critical.

A recent comprehensive study by Northwestern Professor Kirabo Jackson found that children with teachers who help them develop non-cognitive skills have much better outcomes than those who have teachers who may help them raise test scores. Jackson found that every standard deviation increase in non-cognitive skills corresponds to a significant decrease in the drop-out risk and increased rates of high school graduation. By contrast, one standard deviation increase in standardized test scores has a very weak, often non-existent, relationship to these outcomes. Test scores also predict less than two percent of the variability in absences and suspensions, and under ten percent of the variability in on-time grade progression, for example.

Increases in non-cognitive abilities are also strongly correlated with other adult outcomes, such as a lower likelihood of arrest, a higher rate of employment and higher earnings. Increased test scores are not.

In short, focusing on non-cognitive abilities, those not measured by test scores, are more important in predicting success in high school and beyond.

Jackson also found that a teacher’s supposed effect on test scores is not related to how well that teacher can improve non-cognitive skills.

Moreover, a new statement by the American Statistical Association reminds us that ranking teachers based on test scores does not even work for measuring their effect on cognitive skills.

ASA notes that teachers account for 1-14 percent of the variability in student standardized test scores. The majority of variability in test scores results from “system-level conditions”; meaning everything affecting a student outside the teacher’s control: the child’s socio-economic status, parental background, language barriers, medical issues, student mobility, etc. Rating systems cannot eliminate the “noise” caused by these other factors.

ASA further states that test scores at best “predict only performance on the test.” This conclusion confirms Jackson’s results, i.e that tests cannot predict how well a student will succeed in school or life.

In the context of this evidence, what does the PEAC change mean?

By adding more tests of the same skills in the same subjects, PEAC merely added more meaningless “noise.” This addition will not give us any better picture of how well a teacher teaches.

Worse still, adding more tests increases the focus on tests, increases the frequency of testing, and distracts us from considering the skills teachers should be helping children develop. And since Connecticut’s evaluation system completely ignores these non-cognitive skills, they will be de-emphasized in school.

Meaningful evaluations systems can be developed, but relying on faulty measures is simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve better.

YES!  Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve better.

CT Teachers Union against charter schools, except when the vote counts

Less than twelve hours after Governor Dannel Malloy took the stage to declare victory on Election Night 2014, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education met to unanimously endorse a proposal to open eight new charter schools in Connecticut.

A CT Mirror article at the time entitled “State education board wants to open eight new charter schools” reported that while the State of Connecticut faces a $1.4 billion projected budget deficit for next year, “The State Board of Education is asking the state for $11 million to fund eight new charter schools to open over the next two school years…The request, put forward by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and approved unanimously by the state board…”

The CT Mirror added that, “Allan B. Taylor, chairman of the 13-member state panel, said expanding school choice for students makes sense.”

The Hartford Courant covered the story as well noting;

Of the eight new charters proposed to open over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years, two proposals were approved by the board at a lengthy meeting in April amid much testimony for and against new charter schools.

The charters already approved to open in 2015-16 include Stamford Charter School for Excellence and Capital Prep Harbor School in Bridgeport. Those proposals, however, are contingent on the availability of funding.

After funding for Steve Perry’s proposed Bridgeport charter school, along with money for seven others charter schools, won the full support of the State Board of Education, Melodie Peters, the President of the Connecticut Federation of Teachers, submitted a hard-hitting commentary piece to the CT Mirror entitled, “Plan for more charter schools flawed in many ways.”

Peters, one of Malloy’s biggest supporters began her article by saying, “The state education department commissioner’s proposal last week to hand over more public education resources to privately managed charter schools deserves an ‘F’ as both ‘incomplete’ and tone deaf.”

Peters added,

“Now is not the time to ask taxpayers for another $21 million on an experiment whose record of ensuring a quality education for all has yet to be demonstrated.

It has been just six months since the scandal involving the charter management outfit Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE) and the schools it operated in Hartford and Bridgeport made headlines. Recall that the extent of the alleged corruption and nepotism quickly led to a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of FUSE and its affiliated Jumoke schools that today is still ongoing.”

Having told members that Lt., Governor Nancy Wyman would be Malloy’s point person on education in Malloy’s second term, Peters added,

“In August, the Malloy-Wyman Administration rightly responded to the crisis by ordering a thorough review of the department of education’s policies governing charter management companies. The department quickly agreed to changes that echo what parents, educators, and advocates have been urging for years: charters should be held accountable to the same standard as traditional public schools.”

The AFT -CT President went on to blast Pryor’s decision to seek funding for eight more charter school saying, “The state should not green-light more charters or expand their reach without first verifying that education department oversight of charters has actually improved.

Of the various issues associated with President Peters’ “blistering attack” on the decision to approve Pryor’s proposal for eight more charter schools, perhaps the most interesting is that Peters completely and utterly failed to mention that the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden Federation of Teachers President Erin Benham, voted IN FAVOR of the resolution to fund eight new charter schools.

In a political move to reward the AFT-CT for ramming through an endorsement of Dan Malloy, without even granting the other candidates [like myself] the opportunity to fill out a candidate questionnaire, meet with the AFT-CT PAC or address the AFT-CT Board of Directors, Malloy announced on August 21, 2014 that he was taking the unprecedented step of appointing Meriden AFT President Erin Benham to a four year position on the State Board of Education.

As the time, Peters wrote,

“We applaud the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman for selecting Erin Benham to serve on the State Board of Education. They have appointed a committed classroom educator and trusted labor leader with a long, successful record of direct engagement in grassroots efforts to improve schools in Meriden and across Connecticut.

“The SBOE, as well as the state’s education department, will greatly benefit from Erin’s experience in Meriden Public Schools. There, she and her fellow educators have proven that collaboration — not confrontation — is the way to form a productive working partnership with their district’s administration.

“Erin will bring tremendous value to the board with real-world teacher-student, educator-parent and labor-management experience. I have seen firsthand Erin’s passion for her vocation, and I have no doubt she will make a significant contribution to the board’s mission.

“We expect Erin to ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and to play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state’s schools.

“We congratulate Erin on her appointment and look forward to her service on the SBOE throughout her four-year term.”

Two weeks later, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten came to Connecticut to endorse Governor Dannel Malloy for re-election, despite the fact that Malloy was, and is, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for teachers in the poorest school districts in Connecticut, including some of the teachers who worked in Meriden.

And to drive home the special relationship between the AFT and Malloy – and Malloy and the AFT – AFT President Weingarten, AFT-CT President Peters and Malloy started their day with a tour and press conference at a Meriden public school, with none-other-than the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden AFT President Erin Benham.

Yet exactly sixty-one days later, Erin Benham, the teacher who Peters promised would, “ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and [who would] play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state’s schools,” joined Malloy’s other political appointees on the day after the election to vote in favor of diverting millions of dollars to even more privately run, publicly funded charter schools.

In her commentary piece a week after the vote, AFT-CT Peters wrote,

Another unanswered question is why we aren’t investing education resources in community schools that will educate all children, instead of cherry-picking students to boost standardized test scores. An investigation by Reuters in 2013 found charters across the country imposing “significant barriers” that result in “skimming the most motivated, disciplined students and leaving the hardest-to-reach behind….Wouldn’t we all be better served investing our tax dollars in traditional neighborhood schools that do not exclude our special education, ELLs, and children with behavioral disorders?”

And AFT President Peters concluded her commentary piece with the observation, “And until the department can demonstrate that it can, the State Board of Education should deny the outgoing commissioner’s request.”

Over the course of Malloy’s 2014 campaign for re-election, the American Federation for Teachers Federal Political Action Committee donated $10,000 to the Committee Democratic State Central Committee “Federal Account,” the fund that the Malloy campaign used to launder lobbyist, state contractor and political action committee funds into a program to assist the Malloy campaign.

In addition, the American Federation of Teachers Federal Political Action Committee threw in $600,000 to the Democratic Governor’s Association’s $5.7 million Independent Expenditure campaign to support Malloy’s re-election.

But putting aside, for the moment, AFT President Melodie Peters’s anti-charter school editorial of November 17, 2014, when the real vote on the motion to adopt the Malloy administration’s proposal to fund eight more charter schools was taken, it passed the State Board of Education unanimously….with the support of AFT’s representative along with Chairman Allan Taylor, Vice Chair Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Charles Jaskiewicz, Patricia Keavney-Maruca, Maria Mojica and Joseph Vrabely.

That is a lot of teacher’s money for an investment that appears to be ending in disaster.

Some would even call the whole thing yet another Wait, What? moment.

AFT President Randi Weingarten in Farmington today for Malloy campaign rally

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.

Union PR person claims Malloy never tried to repeal collective bargaining

Since raising concerns about the accuracy of the CEA’s “EXAMINE THE FACTS” endorsement piece that was sent out to persuade educators to vote for Governor Malloy, I’ve gotten some pretty harsh emails and comments on my blog and Facebook.

Having now blogged for nearly four years, it is interesting that some people feel that it is appropriate to criticize our opponents when they mislead, falsify or lie, but holding our own to the same standard is identified as being disloyal or worse.

In one comment, a person wrote, “I really wish you’d stay out of CEA business.”

In another, a Democratic official opined, “Why do you just not accept that people are sick of your self serving crap you put out !!!”

Personally, I don’t think challenging a piece of campaign propaganda that the CEA sent out to 70,000 or so active and retired teachers is interfering in the internal affairs of the union. That would be like saying that only Walmart stockholders have the right to criticize the actions of that monster of a company.

I have no doubt that CEA’s leadership is perfectly capable of dealing with the fall-out from its decision to endorse the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers.

What intrigues me more is that Malloy supporters or union allies would write that my “posts look like they are being written… by the Koch Brothers.”

Really?

I’m pretty sure that the Koch Brothers are elated, not condemning Malloy’s corporate education reform industry policies and his massive corporate welfare program that is successfully redistributing money from the middle class to the wealthy elite.

But when all is said and done, the most unique criticism of all came from a union staff person, not with the CEA or AFT, who wrote,

“Malloy never, in any portion of the bill, stripped collective bargaining from teachers. Just because you believe something and repeat it over and over still doesn’t make it a fact or based in reality.”

Now that is one statement that deserves to be challenged.

In fact, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy certainly did propose unilaterally repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest schools in Connecticut.

And to my knowledge, no Connecticut governor – Democrat, Republican or Independent – has ever proposed unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for any group of public employees since public sector collective bargaining began in the 1970s.

Here are the facts:

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 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.

While the impact of Malloy’s proposal impacted fewer public employees than what Governor Scott Walker proposed in Wisconsin, the challenge to public sector workers’ fundamental rights to collectively bargain were no less serious.

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.

The truth is that Malloy did proposed repealing the collective bargaining rights and to this day he has never stated that his proposal was a mistake, inappropriate or wrong.

Apologizing is harder for some than for others, but I believe that no member of a Connecticut union, or anyone else who supports the right to collectively bargain, should vote for Dan Malloy until he publicly states that what he did was wrong and that he would not repeat this type of proposal in a second term.

Are we there yet?  A big weekend for Wait, What? Blogs about the political landscape

And this list doesn’t even include the ones in the pipeline:

Malloy’s commitment to coddle the rich!

In a new interview with the Hartford Business Journal, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy explains why we can’t ask the rich to pay their fair share;

Call it his most stunning, albeit honest, statement about his dedication to coddle the rich and ensure that the wealthy are not required to pay their fair share in taxes. In an interview with the Hartford Business Journal this week, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy reiterated his profound commitment to trickle-down economics and the notion that it is bad public policy to ask the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. Malloy told the Hartford Business Journal;

Maintaining, if not widening, the maximum differential between Connecticut’s taxes and New York and New Jersey’s is very important. I took a lot of heat amongst Democrats when I insisted that we maintain that differential in 2011, and I think it is important to do that. We know that the hedge fund industry in Connecticut has an advantage in Connecticut. Let us keep it. We know high-end earners [in Connecticut] have a tax advantage over New Jersey and New York. Let us keep it. Let us look at those areas that will allow us, particularly on a regional basis, to be a lower tax alternative.

Read the full blog at:  http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/10/04/malloys-commitment-coddle-rich/

 

Gates Foundation and Scholastic Corporation report that teachers love the Common Core!

Turns out teachers – LOVE – the Common Core.  In fact, an incredible seven in ten (68%) public school teachers report that they are “enthusiastic about Common Core implementation in their classrooms,”

Teachers, parents and public school advocates may want to play the YouTube video of Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy song while reading this blog post.

The USA Today headline reads, “Survey: Common Core standards working well.”

In other words, the USA Today and other “main stream media outlets” are telling the Common Core naysayers to sit down and shut up with all this anti-common core mush.

How do we know the Common Core standards are working well?

Because the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the driving force behind the Common Core and its unfair, inappropriate and expensive Common Core Testing Scheme, along with one of the companies that will profit most from the implementation of the Common Core, have a new public opinion survey showing that public school teachers love the Common Core.

Read the full blog at:  http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/10/03/gates-foundation-scholastic-corporation-report-teachers-love-common-core/

CEA and AFT-CT not alone in endorsing anti-teacher, corporate education reform champions

And finally, take heart Connecticut teachers…

Last month, the New Jersey Education Association voted to endorse U.S. Senator Cory Booker for re-election.  Booker, like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, is among the nation’s most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic elected officials.

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, was Mayor Booker’s top aide in Newark, New Jersey before he returned to Connecticut to lead Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative with its anti-tenure, anti-teacher, pro-charter school provisions.

In New Jersey and Connecticut, teacher unions have caved in and handed their support to people who have spent years knocking down and stomping on teachers, parents and our public schools.

You can read the full post at: http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/10/05/cea-aft-ct-alone-endorsing-anti-teacher-corporate-education-reform-champions/

Why Connecticut Teachers SHOULD NOT VOTE for Governor Malloy

Here is a long but important blog.  If you are a teacher, parents or supporter of public education, please take the time to read it.

On Friday night the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Education Association voted, on behalf of their 45,000 members, to endorse Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy.

With that move, the CEA joined the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter in throwing their support and money behind the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest districts.

You can read about the CEA’s vote in the Wait, What? blog post entitled, “In a stunning move, Connecticut Education Association Board of Directors Endorses Malloy.”

That blog has generated more than 141 comments, a Wait, What? record.  Among the comments is an impassioned defense of Malloy by a few of the blog’s readers, including one named Tom,  who I know and respect as a dedicated teacher, union leader and defender of teachers.

It seems that the fundamental argument driving Malloy’s supporters is that the alternative to Malloy (a Foley administration) would be worse.

When it comes to the issue of education, I think reasonable people can disagree on whether Foley, challenged by a Democratic General Assembly, would be worse than a Malloy administration, backed by a Democratic legislature.

Over the past thirty years, I served as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives under a Democratic Governor and a Republican/Independent Governor and worked with a variety of progressive and liberal groups, including unions, as we advocated for policy changes under two different Republican governors.

In each situation, the General Assembly played a very different role in the process, often successfully taking on or co-opting the Republican governor and proving that, with a backbone, the legislative branch of government can have an important and positive impact on public policy.

The role of the Democrats in the legislature was especially evident last week after Republican Tom Foley borrowed heavily from Malloy’s education agenda and introduced his own pro-corporate education reform industry plan for Connecticut.  Within hours, Democratic legislators held a press conference blasting Foley for his outrageous plan.  The irony being that those same legislators voted for many of those same proposals and concepts when they were previously introduced by Governor Malloy.

But before we get to the “Foley would be worse” argument, teachers, parents and public school advocates need to ask the question of whether Dannel “Dan” Malloy does or does not deserves to be re-elected based on his record on public education issues.

The fact is that no Connecticut governor in the last forty years has done as much damage to Connecticut’s public education system than Governor Malloy and that includes a realistic assessment of disgraced Republican Governor John Rowland.

Here are the facts about Dannel Malloy and his education policies.  [And let me add that Malloy, the AFT or the CEA are welcome to provide a substantive response to the following and I will publish it, unedited.)

The good news is that over the past few weeks, education policy has finally become a top tier issue with Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates.

The bad news is that during this period, Malloy has repeatedly pledged to “stay the course” on his destructive education reform initiatives.

Just last week Malloy told the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, “What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out,”  A few weeks earlier, after meeting with the editorial board at the Day newspaper of New London, the newspaper wrote, the governor assured us he will stay the course on education reform if re-elected.”

So what are the initiatives that Malloy promises to “stay the course” on?

#1:  As has been stated over and over again here, and elsewhere, Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.

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

The Malloy camp claims that Malloy has apologized for his anti-tenure position.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What Malloy said was,

“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.’”

The sad truth is that Malloy’s HAS NOT retracted his anti-tenure stance and his effort to “apologize” to teachers only made his anti-tenure position clearer.

 

#2:  Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires that the state’s teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students.  Every major academic study has determined that standardized test scores ARE NOT A VALID MEASURE of teacher performance.  To date, the only substantive change that Malloy was willing to make to his unfair, inappropriate and inaccurate teacher evaluation program was to propose using the average of at least two standardized test scores rather than using just one.  In this case, two wrongs do not make the system any less absurd, unfair or inappropriate.

The truth is that Malloy has not committed to “de-coupling” the teacher evaluation program from the unfair and inappropriate standardized tests.

 

#3:  Dan Malloy knows that Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing Formula is inadequate and unconstitutional.  Malloy even pledged in his 2006 and 2010 campaigns to take a leadership role in developing a new, comprehensive education funding formula that would be designed to reduce the present burden that falls on the backs of local property taxpayers.   As Mayor of Stamford Malloy was even one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, a lawsuit that seeks to throw out the unfair and unconstitutional school funding formula and replace it with one that meets the requirements of Connecticut’s Constitution and would be better for Connecticut’s schools and taxpayers.

Hover, rather than do the right thing, Malloy has spent the last four years trying to get the CCJEF lawsuit dismissed and when that failed, to get it postponed until after this year’s election.

Incredibly, Malloy refuses to promise that, if given a second term, he would settle the CCJEF lawsuit and use the expertise of the CCJEF plaintiffs to develop a constitutionally appropriate school funding formula.

 

#4:  No Connecticut governor, in history, has wasted so much public money on unaccountable, privately-run charter schools.  During his four years in office, Malloy has increased state spending on charter schools by 73.6%, while increasing state aid for Connecticut’s public schools by only a 7.9%.

Making the situation even more unfair, Malloy has provided no meaningful additional support for public schools in Connecticut’s middle-income communities meaning that the burden of local property taxes has become even more unfair for middle-class families.

 

#5:  What is particularly offensive about Malloy’s pro-charter school policies is that Connecticut’s privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools refuse to educate their fair share of non-English speaking students or students with special education needs.  They take public funds but refuse to abide by the laws governing public schools.

In addition, Malloy’s pro-charter school policies are nothing short of corporate welfare for a few select companies.  The charter school chain that has received the most money under Malloy is Achievement First, Inc., the company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.  In addition, Malloy and his commission provided no-bid contracts to the Jumoke/FUSE charter school management company.  Not only has Jumoke/FUSE taken more than $53 million in public funds for their charter school but they were given control and the associated public funding to take over public schools in Hartford and Bridgeport and approved for another charter school in New Haven before the Hartford Courant reported on the criminal background of the company’s CEO and the FBI raised the company’s offices.

The truth is that Malloy has not announced a moratorium on additional charter schools until mechanisms are developed and put in place that will ensure that taxpayer funds are not being misused, wasted or stolen and that charter schools must not discriminate against Latinos, non-English speaking students and students with special educational needs.

 

#6:  Governor Malloy, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy administration have consistently lied to Connecticut parents, teachers and citizens about the Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Standardized Testing scheme.  It is bad enough that Malloy is wasting millions of dollars in scarce taxpayer funds to push the Common Core and its unfair “SBAC” Common Core Test, but it is even worse that Malloy and his administration have been lying and misleading parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.

Connecticut parents have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core standardized testing program.  There is no state or federal law that supersedes parents’ rights to opt their children out of these inappropriate and wasteful tests nor is there any legal action the state or school district can take to punish parents.  Instead of supporting Connecticut’s parents, Malloy and his administration have engaged in scare tactics and used school superintendents and principles to coerce parents into believing the Common Core testing is not option.

Even if Malloy wasn’t committed to implementing the corporate education reform industry agenda, lying and misleading parents is reason enough for voters to refuse to give him a second term in office.

 

#7: Over the past four years, Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Pryor have been engaged in an unprecedented effort to privatize the State Department of Education.  Instead of using the expertise available here in Connecticut, they have wasted tens of millions of public funds on high-priced, less qualified out-of-state consulting companies.  In many cases, these lucrative contracts have been given out on a no-bid basis, violating the spirit and letter of Connecticut law.  In addition, an ongoing effort to demoralize and destroy the professional capacities of Department of Education has been taking place.  For example, as the point-person for Malloy, Pryor has undermined the State Department of Education by eliminating the Leaders in Residence Program, removing three experienced former Connecticut superintendents and four other expert administrators, as well as transferring a number of nationally-recognized experts including one in English as a Second Language, one in Multi-cultural Education and one in School Climate and Bullying.  In their place, these tasks were outsourced to an inexperienced, out-of-state company for nearly $2 million dollars.

 

#8:  While overfunding Connecticut’s charter schools, Malloy and his administration purposely underfunded Connecticut’s successful Magnet School program.  Magnet Schools serve as an important and accountable mechanism for giving students and parents additional choices.  However, rather than provide the funds necessary to maintain Connecticut’s long-standing commitment to Magnet Schools, Malloy purposely left out nearly $50 million in funding for these schools.  The result is that after spending public funds to build and expand Magnet Schools, classrooms are now being left empty.

 

And the list of Governor Malloy’s failure when it comes to public education goes on and on.

Connecticut teachers, as well as, Connecticut’s parents, students and those who support public education have a right to know the truth about Malloy and his record of failure.

The truth is that Dannel Malloy’s own actions have voided his right to continue to serve as governor in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers would have their members, and all voters, believe that Malloy deserves to be re-elected.

On the issue of education … Malloy deserves to be defeated.

And if, on the other hand, Malloy, the CEA and the AFT want to claim that Malloy is the “better of two evils,” then at the very least they have the obligation to tell the truth about Malloy’s record.

Governor Malloy’s failure on education issues is unprecedented. His policies have rightfully earned him the title as the most anti-teacher, anti-public education democratic governor in the nation.

And adding insult to injury, Malloy has made no substantive changes or commitments that he would do a better job if given another four years.

Before endorsing Malloy, the leadership of the CEA and the AFT should have used their positions to force Malloy to retract his support for his anti-public education policies and lay out a new pro-public education agenda for Connecticut.

But in that task they failed, which only makes Malloy’s failure that much clearer.

 

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

*** Please excuse the typos ***