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 ***