CEA Leadership lies to promote inappropriate Malloy endorsement

Earlier today the Connecticut Education Association issued a press entitled, “Teachers Back Malloy.”

The press release begins,

HARTFORD, CT — CEA President Sheila Cohen announced today that the Connecticut Education Association Board of Directors has endorsed Governor Dan Malloy for re-election this November 4th.

Said Cohen, “The CEA leadership and members took great pains to examine the records and positions on education of all the candidates for governor. We looked at their past statements and actions, at their questionnaire responses, and their comments in various forums and debates. We did what teachers do: We examined the facts.”

But in a shocking display of arrogance or stupidity, the CEA leadership immediately resorted to lying in order to persuade Connecticut’s teachers that their decision to endorse the most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic governor in the nation was based on the facts.

In a CT Mirror article today about the endorsement, the CEA’s Executive Director responded to the Wait, What? observation that 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 rights for teachers in the poorest school districts.

The CEA’s top staff person claimed that Malloy had only proposed “modifications, not repeal” of Connecticut’s teacher tenure system.

That statement is nothing short of a lie.

As teachers across Connecticut know, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy did, in fact, propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers as part of his 2012 corporate education reform industry initiative.  Malloy’s plan was to replace tenure with a system of mandated short-term teacher contracts that would have eviscerated the real meaning of tenure and leave every single public school teacher in Connecticut at risk of being fired.  Short-term contracts are not tenure.

However, even more disturbing is the claims made in the “fact sheet” that the CEA Leadership put out with their endorsement press release.

According to Examine the Facts, which every CEA member received, Malloy is the “First governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his term in office…”

The statement is so misleading that it can’t be interpreted as anything other than a lie.

Here is the truth…

In 2007, the Connecticut Education Association proposed borrowing $2 billion to shore up the underfunded teacher pension system.  With the support of Republican Governor Jodi Rell and a Democratic legislature, the concept became law.

The legislation required that, “for each fiscal year in which the bonds are outstanding [up to 30 years], the act automatically appropriates the actuarially required annual state contribution to the Teacher’s Retirement Fund (TRF).”

The reason that Governor Malloy is the, “First governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his term in office” is not because he is committed to teachers but because the legal covenant with Wall Street automatically appropriates the necessary dollars to “fully fund teacher pensions.”

To suggest that Malloy deserves credit for a concept that Governor Rell and the Democrats passed into law in 2007 is disgraceful.

As every retired teacher knows, considering his proposal to undermine health care benefits for retired teachers, Malloy is no friend of teachers or retired teachers.

The “fact sheet” distributed with the CEA’s press release endorsing Malloy contains a variety of other lies and misleading statements, but out of respect for the organization and its history of service to teachers, I’ll wait until tomorrow with the hope that they take the document down and correct the lies that are contained in it.

It is bad enough that the Connecticut Education Association would endorse Governor Dannel Malloy.  It is even worse that the union leadership would lie to their membership in order to persuade teachers that their endorsement made sense.

The time has come for teachers to say —- enough is enough.

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 ***

In a stunning move, Connecticut Education Association Board of Directors Endorses Malloy

NEWS FLASH:  The only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest district has received the endorsement of the Connecticut Education Association’s Board of Directors.

According to multiple sources, the CEA’s Board of Directors reversed the decision the CEA’s Political Action Committee, who had recommended that the state’s largest public employee union make no endorsement in the gubernatorial campaign.

Considering Malloy’s recent and repeated pledge to “stay the course” on his education reform initiatives, one can only assume that  Malloy’s political operatives must have made some “significant promises” since, on the key issues listed below, Malloy has refused to PUBLICLY change his anti-teacher, anti-public education stance.

Why the American Federation of Teachers and Connecticut Education Association would endorse Malloy without demanding that he publicly retreat from his corporate education reform industry stance is breathtaking.

For more than two and a half years, Wait, What? has been a platform for laying out and discussing Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his administration’s unprecedented attack on public education in Connecticut.   Throughout that time Malloy has not made any real or meaningful changes to his policies.  Instead, he has continued to undermine teachers and the teaching profession.  His disdain for the most important profession in the world and the value of  comprehensive public education has been absolute.

The CEA’s endorsement means that the leadership of all of the major public employee unions in Connecticut have thrown their support behind the candidate who has pledged that he will not propose or accept any tax increase during this second term, despite the fact that Connecticut is facing a $4.8 billion budget shortfall over the next three years.While Connecticut’s millionaires continue to celebrate the fact that they have been spared the need to “sacrifice” by being required to pay their fair share in taxes, Malloy’s policies will ensure massive increases in local property taxes for the middle class and widespread cuts in local education budgets.

Considering Malloy’s record of failure includes the following education issues, the decision by the CEA leadership to support Malloy is a tribute to the power of incumbency and the disconnect that exists between union leaders and their membership.

Read through the following list – which covers only a portion of Malloy’s failures when it comes to his positions on public education – and ask yourself….  Has Malloy truly earned the right to claim that he has the support of the members of the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers?

To be a relevant force for good, unions should be a far more powerful force for real change…

Or perhaps we have forgotten the true meaning behind the words;

They came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Malloy’s continuing record of failure includes:

  • Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.
    • To date, 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.
  • Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires 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 rather than teacher performance.
    • To date, Malloy has not committed to “de-coupling” the teacher evaluation program from the unfair and inappropriate standardized tests.
  • When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate (even unconstitutional).  As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.
    • To date, Malloy has not promised to settle the CCJEF lawsuit and develop a constitutionally appropriate school funding formula.
  • As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support.  Connecticut has learned from the Jumoke/FUSE Charter School debacle that charter schools are not held accountable and it took a raid by the FBI to ensure that charter schools are held responsible for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.
    • To date, 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 while tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive Common Core Standardized Testing Program, Malloy and his administration have repeatedly lied and misled parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.
    • To date, Malloy and his administration have FAILED to tell parents that they do have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core standardized testing scheme.

Tom Foley’s bizarre move on Education Policy and its potential impact on the CEA endorsement

In what appears to be an ongoing effort to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, Tom Foley, the Republican candidate for governor, has proposed an education policy that looks eerily similar to Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s corporate education reform initiatives.

Over the past four years Governor Malloy has earned the reputation as the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the nation and remains the only Democratic governor to propose doing away with teacher tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the state’s poorest schools.

However, instead of providing Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates with appropriate policies that would support and strengthen public education, Tom Foley has proposed an education plan that appears to be designed by the very same corporate education reform industry groupies that are behind Malloy’s ill-conceived education initiatives.

In fact, elements of Foley’s plan appear to be a virtual copy of the proposals being pushed by Steven Adamowski, one of Malloy’s top advisors who presently serves as Malloy’s “Special Master” for New London and formerly worked in the same capacity in Windham.

While Foley’s plan is vague and lacks details, the foundation of his education agenda, according to media coverage, would “mandate that parents in struggling schools be allowed to move their students anywhere within their local school systems, with money following the child.”

It is a system that has been tried and failed repeatedly around the country and is a particular favorite of Steven Adamowski, who previously served as superintendent of schools in Hartford before taking that same inappropriate approach with him to New London and Windham.

Tom Foley is quoted as saying,

“What I’m hoping is that when you have in-district public school choice and money follows the child that the marketplace starts to exert pressure on schools to perform better…So, right away, that schools are on notice that if I’m governor, I’m going to try to make sure this gets passed and implemented, so if they should start trying to be better schools right away, to the extent they can.”

The Foley plan would be a disaster for Connecticut, but in what may be one of the biggest ironies of the entire 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Malloy and his legislative supporters have blasted Foley for announcing his plan…despite the fact that Malloy and the Democrats in the General Assembly have supported very similar policies.

In a story entitled, Malloy sees, seizes opportunity in Foley’s school plan, the CT Mirror reported,

“Gov. Dannel P. Malloy moved quickly Thursday to exploit what Democrats say is an ill-considered and impractical proposal by Republican Tom Foley to allow urban parents to pick the local public school of their choice and strip money from failing schools as their children go elsewhere.

Malloy said the education proposals Foley made Wednesday as part of a larger urban agenda show that the Greenwich businessman has no grasp of current education policies and resources, nor does he appreciate how devastating it would be to urban school systems to begin denying funds to schools that need more resources.

“You can’t treat a school like a factory. You don’t sell it. You don’t close it. You have an obligation to make it work,” Malloy said.”

This from the Democratic governor whose “Commissioner’s Network” program has undermined local control, handed public schools over to the disgraced Jumoke/FUSE charter school chain in Hartford and Bridgeport and devastated a number of urban schools by implementing a “money follows the child” system that has left troubled schools without the resources they need to even serve the students that have remained in those schools.

According to the news article, Malloy went on to blast Foley saying,

“It’s a bunch of mush. It’s a mouthful of mush is what it is, except it’s dangerous,” Malloy said of what he called an ill-defined plan. “It’s defeating. It underlies an absolute lack of understanding of how education works in Connecticut. He gets an F for homework. He gets an F for plagiarism. And he gets an F for new ideas.”

Malloy’s quote is truly incredible considering the ideas that Foley is “stealing” come from Malloy, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, and the gaggle of education reform industry supporters that surround Malloy.

As the CT Mirror reports, Malloy and his campaign operatives are hoping that they can use Foley’s blunder on education to persuade the Connecticut Education Association to endorse Malloy tonight when they meet to decide whether to endorse a candidate for governor or make no endorsement in this year’s election.

The fundamental problem with Malloy’s latest strategy is that it would require the CEA leadership to overlook Malloy’s record of failure and destruction when it comes to his own policies on public education.

To endorse Malloy, the CEA would be throwing their members “under the bus” since Malloy’s record includes the following:

  • Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.
    • To date, Malloy has never publically renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.
  • Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires 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 rather than teacher performance.
    • To date, Malloy has not committed to “de-coupling” the teacher evaluation program from the unfair and inappropriate standardized tests.
  • When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate (even unconstitutional).  As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.
    • To date, Malloy has not promised to settle the CCJEF lawsuit and develop a constitutionally appropriate school funding formula.
  • As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support.  Connecticut has learned from the Jumoke/FUSE Charter School debacle that charter schools are not held accountable and it took a raid by the FBI to ensure that charter schools are held responsible for wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.
    • To date, 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 while tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive Common Core Standardized Testing Program, Malloy and his administration have repeatedly lied and misled parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.
    • To date, Malloy and his administration have FAILED to tell parents that they do have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core standardized testing scheme.

Despite Tom Foley’s decision to join Malloy in backing the corporate education reform industry’s agenda, any endorsement of Malloy – prior to him publicly reversing course on the issues listed above – would be an insult to every Connecticut teacher and the tens of thousands of parents and public school advocates who are counting on the Connecticut Education Association to stand up for public education in Connecticut.

You can read more about Foley and Malloy’s antics in the following articles:

CT Mirror:  http://ctmirror.org/malloy-sees-seizes-opportunity-in-foleys-school-plan/ and http://ctmirror.org/foleys-urban-agenda-something-borrowed-something-new/

CT NewsJunkie: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/malloy_stands_his_ground_on_education_policy/ and http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/democratic_lawmakers_criticize_foleys_education_policies/

Courant: Malloy, Unions Criticize Foley’s Education Plan

 

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

CEA Education Forum 2014 – September 13, 2014

The Connecticut Education Association will be holding their forum with the gubernatorial candidates on Saturday, September 13, 2014 with a follow up CEA Political Action Committee meeting scheduled for September 17, 2014.

Having fallen short on the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, I will not be participating, but I do know the CEA endorsement process includes giving candidates a questionnaire and allowing them an opportunity so speak and answer questions, all before the CEA leadership endorses a candidate.  It is certainly an improvement over the AFT-CT’s “candidate endorsement” process.  In their case, they refused to allow candidates to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the PAC committee or even address the executive committee before they endorsed Dannel Malloy, the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the country.  They have since provided him with even more member dues to help pay for his misleading campaign ads.

There are many questions that should be asked of the candidates for governor, but here are a few that will hopefully be asked at Saturday’s forum.

Question #1:  TENURE

Governor Dannel 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 in the lowest performing public schools. 

To date, Mr. Malloy has not renounced his anti-tenure proposal.

In response to Malloy’s remark that public school teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy recently told the audience at the Norwich Bulletin Candidate Debate, “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.’”

Apparently as late as this month, Governor Malloy is saying that his anti-teacher statement wasn’t meant to denigrate teachers but was meant to disparage tenure?

Q:  What is your position on teacher tenure?

Question #2:  TEACHER EVALUATION

Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that academic resources show that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.  On the other hand, there are multiple teacher evaluation programs around the country that do not tie teacher evaluations to unfair, inappropriate and misleading standardized test results.

Q:  Will you commit to decoupling teacher evaluation programs from standardized test scores and replacing the present plan with one that actually ties teacher evaluation to factors that successfully measure teacher performance?

Question #3:  CCJEF SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT

Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate.  In fact, Connecticut’s present school funding formula fails to meet the provisions of Connecticut’s Constitution.  The state’s failure to revamp its school funding system has led to the CCJEV v. Rell school finance lawsuit.  As Mayor of Stamford, Governor Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in this critically important case, but as governor, he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.

Q:  Will you commit to settling the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit and use the CCFEF Coalition’s expertise to fix Connecticut’s broken school funding system.

Question #4:  EXISTING SCHOOL FUNDING

Over the past four years, state funding for privately-run charter schools has increased by 73.6% [from $53 million to $92 million], while Connecticut’s public school districts were provided with a 7.9% increase in support.  Virtually all of the new funding was allocated to the state’s 30 alliance districts (with major strings attached).  The result has been a loss of local control for Connecticut’s poorest towns and no meaningful support for middle-class towns that have become even more reliant on regressive local property taxes.

Q:  Since shifting to a new funding system will take time, as governor, how will you handle school funding during in the short term?

Question #5:  COMMON CORE AND THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME

The Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Testing Scheme has become particularly controversial.  The state, local school districts, teachers, students and parents are being faced with rapidly adopting an extremely expensive, educationally questionable system.

Q:  Can you outline your opinion on the Common Core and Standardized Testing?      

Question #6:  COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION

Commissioner Stefan Pryor has announced that he will be leaving his position at the end of 2014.  Mr. Pryor’s tenure has been steeped in controversy, due in part to his commitment to the corporate education reform agenda, his leadership style and his relationship with charter schools, most directly with Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company that has been the largest single financial beneficiary of state funds to charter schools over the past four years.

Q:  As Governor, what type of person would you appoint as Commissioner of Education and can you give us some names of people you think would be worthy of your consideration?

Question #7:  MANAGING THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Over the past four years, the Department of Education has been restructured.  Commissioner Pryor upended the Department’s “turnaround office” by eliminating the Leaders in Residence Program, removing three experienced former  Connecticut superintendents and four other expert administrators, as well as transfer out 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.  In addition, a series of other no-bid contracts were given to other out-of-state companies to perform tasks in which Connecticut expertise was available.

Q:  As Governor, what would be your vision for the State Department of Education and what is would be your approach to outside contracting?

There are many more questions that should be asked as well, please feel free to add them to the list:

Highlights and Lowlights of the Pelto/Murphy 2014 campaign continue to grow

Kicked off by yesterday’s Wait, Wait? Blog post, the Hartford Courant’s Chris Keating wrote a news update entitled, “Breaking: Pelto Fears He Will Not Reach 7,500 Signatures To Get On Ballot.”

Keating began his article with the following,

In a potential political boost for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto told The Hartford Courant on Saturday that he fears he will not reach the necessary threshold to qualify for the gubernatorial ballot in November.

Pelto has threatened to go to court to gain a place on the gubernatorial ballot against Malloy, Republican Tom Foley, and petitioning candidate Joseph Visconti, but Pelto said in an interview that a potential court fight on disputed signatures might be fruitless if he is not close enough to the threshold.

“It’s not looking good,” Pelto said Saturday. “I am increasingly concerned the situation is starting to look grim. It is clear that we submitted far fewer petitions than I had expected. … I may be wrong. But for the first time, I think we may fall short.”

The news article goes on to explore the issues and challenges surrounding what may be our failed effort to qualify for a position on the November gubernatorial ballot.

You can read the original Wait, What? blog here: http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/08/23/youre-rightyou-just-can-make-sht/

And the Hartford Courant story here:  http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/breaking-pelto-fears-he-will-not-reach-7500-signatures/

As a candidate for governor over the past few months, I’ve been honored and humbled to hear some amazing complements, along with some pretty harsh insults.

I have to say, after striving to serve as an outspoken supporter of Connecticut public school teachers and state employees over the last four years, in addition my pro-collective bargaining, pro-labor, pro-state employee, pro-teacher voting record when I served as a state legislator more than two decades ago; I was deeply offended when the AFL-CIO refused to allow me to address the delegates at their summer endorsing convention and when the President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) refused to allow me to fill out a candidate questionnaire, to have an interview with their political action committee or even address their executive committee before they endorsed Governor Malloy.

I was equally stunned, although more hurt than anything else, when the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association prohibited me from collecting signatures outside of their Summer Leadership Conference earlier this month.  Their claim was that allowing me to collect signatures from CEA members would be perceived as an unfair advantage.

Ironically, during the entire campaign, the CEA was the only public or private organization that prohibited me from collecting signatures at an event.

Although all of these situations were real “eye-openers,” they are “water of the dam” and there is no use “crying over spilt milk.”

Besides, to be honest, they have been replaced by two more remarkable reader comments that appear at the end of the aforementioned Hartford Courant article.

While some of the reader comments add perspective to the story, there is Dan who writes, “Did Malloy and/ or his Demon Cronies Pay him off ???”

Followed by Charles who ponders the hundreds of rejected petition signatures asking, “How many wee undocumented immirants?”

I have to say, regardless of whether we do or do not qualify for a position on the ballot, those two comments, along with many of these other experiences. will make the whole episode truly unforgettable.

Oh and just in case there is any doubt – Ah, Dan, the answer is no.

And Charles, if you can describe to me what an “undocumented immigrant” looks like, I’ll try to remember if we saw 900 of them lining up to illegally sign our petitions.

And to Dan and Charles, I urge you to look up the quote that Pogo provided us many years ago.

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

Democratic State Central Committee’s legacy of using donations to fight pro-public education Democrats

One of the newer Wait, What? readers raised a question in the comment section of the blog this week.  They took offense when one of the blog’s longest standing, and most respected readers, realsaramerica pointed out that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and the State Democrats diverted resources away from beating Republicans and, instead, used the money to try to defeat a slate of pro-public education Democrats… Democrats who had the support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Connecticut Working Families Party.

The new reader, derpdominguez, wrote:

So the great revelation of this campaign is that local Bridgeport politics is backwards and corrupt? Have you been living in this state for the past 40 years? Does it really have anything to do with the state party?

For those who don’t know about last year’s Democratic Primary in Bridgeport for the Board of Education, you can read the earlier Wait, What? posts or here is the abbreviated version;

As many readers know, it seems that every day thousands of Connecticut activists receive emails from top Democratic elected officials and the leadership of the Democratic State Central Committee asking for donations to help bolster the Democrat’s campaign fund.

Most of these emails ask existing or potential donors to “chip” in another $3 or $5.

The emails also inform recipients that ALL OF THE MONEY RAISED will go toward beating Republicans.  In fact, one recent email pledged that the funds raised will, “help us beat the Tea Party Republicans and their multimillion-dollar super PACs.”

However, despite repeated requests for an explanation, neither the Democratic State Central Committee nor Governor Malloy’s political operatives will come clean about their inappropriate involvement in last fall’s Bridgeport Democratic Primary for seats on the Bridgeport Board of Education.

On one side was the pro-charter school, pro-corporate education reform slate that was selected and endorsed by Mayor Bill Finch and his allies on the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.  The endorsed slate was committed to keeping Paul Vallas, the internationally renowned public school privatization czar, on as the head of Bridgeport’s Schools.

On the other side was a slate of pro-education Democrats who were committed to pushing back the corporate education reform industry, dumping Vallas and re-focusing public investments in Bridgeport’s Public Schools.

The challenge slate also had the strong support of the Connecticut Education Association and the Working Families Party.

Although the Democratic Party has consistently claimed that all the money it raises is used to beat Republicans, in an unethical, inappropriate and underhanded move, the Chair of the Democratic State Central Committee, along with the help of Malloy’s campaign operatives, used more than $50,000 in Democratic State Central funds to directly bank-roll the anti-public education slate in Bridgeport against the pro-public education Democratic challenge slate.

The move by the Connecticut’s Democratic State Central Committee to use its funds to beat Democrats in a Democratic primary was unprecedented.

The day before the Bridgeport Democratic Primary, the Democratic State Central Committee transferred $20,000 to the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee to pay for their get-out-the-vote effort and cover the costs incurred by Mayor Finch’s anti-public education slate. One of those expenses was a payment of $3,048.15 to a Portland, Maine direct mail company that produced and sent out a brochure for the anti-public education slate.

Meanwhile, in addition to transferring $20,000 in funds that were supposed to be used for beating Republicans, the Democratic State Central Committee sent its own check to that Portland, Maine company to cover additional direct mail brochures for the anti-public education slate.  Those checks were for 9,471.44 (8/26/13), $3,911.21 (8/29/13) and $4,735.72 (9/10/13).

During the same period, the Democratic State Central also paid Malloy’s political consultants, Global Strategies Group, consulting fees of $7,500 and $5,000.

As an aside, Global Strategies Group was already being paid by “A Better Connecticut PAC” to support the anti-public education slate in the Bridgeport primary.  “A Better Connecticut PAC,” which was set up by ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group that helped fund the record-breaking lobbying campaign behind Malloy’s education reform legislation.  To date, Malloy’s political consultants have collected well in excess of $2.5 million from A Better Connecticut and other corporate education reform advocacy groups.

The real problem is that the Democratic State Central Committee has never come clean about why it spent in excess of $50,000 to beat Bridgeport’s pro-public education Democratic slate, nor have they explained how they managed to circumvent the party rules to use money raised to beat Republicans in a campaign to beat Democrats.

Thankfully, the Bridgeport anti-public education slate lost, Paul Vallas was forced to ride off into the west, and the candidates endorsed and supported by the Working Families Party and the Connecticut Education Association took control of the Bridgeport Board of Education.

So, in short… to the person who wrote, does my potential candidacy have anything to do with Bridgeport, Malloy, the corporate education reform industry and the Democratic state party?

The answer is a resounding …. Yes.

Oh for crying out loud – Here comes Malloy on Teacher Appreciation Week

Dannel “Dan” Malloy holds the title of the most (or 2nd most) anti-teacher Democratic Governor in the nation.  (New York’s Andrew Cuomo keeps trying to push Malloy out of the top spot).

But in a “have you no shame” moment, the politician who said that that all teachers had to do was show up for four years to get tenure and that he doesn’t mind having teachers teach to the test, as the long as the test scores go up, Tweeted a picture of himself holding a “#ThankaTeacher” sign while declaring it Teacher Appreciation Week in Connecticut.

 

Malloy Teacher Appreciation Week

Malloy, whose unfair, inappropriate and faulty teacher evaluation system is causing havoc in Connecticut’s public schools, along with his unending commitment to the Common Core and the absurd Common Core Testing Scheme, proclaimed May 5-9, 2014 as National Teacher Appreciation Week in the State of Connecticut.

Celebrating his commitment to more testing and less learning, Malloy said,

“An educator’s ability to nurture student potential, ignite a love of learning, and encourage critical thinking is an unbelievable gift fundamental to the success of our democracy and our economy,” said Governor Malloy. “I’m envious of teachers’ ability to impact young people and their futures. Providing learning opportunities that level the playing field and give students a leg upis an issue very dear to my heart, one that I have been committed to for most of my career in public service. I am proud of the historic step Connecticut took this month in passing legislation that will expand high-quality early education for thousands of young childrenwho would otherwise enter primary school already behind. As Governor, I will remain committed to supporting teachers who are working hard in classrooms across Connecticut to put our students on a path to success.”

The press release went on to quote Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Malloy’s corporate education reform industry mouthpiece, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor.

And then to add insult to injury…

And to highlight the complete absurdity of Malloy’s proclamation, the Governor further undermines the credibility of the union leadership that represents Connecticut’s public school teachers by including the following breathtakingly stupid quote from Stefan Pryor,

“As we work together towards higher expectations and improved outcomes for our students, we will continue listening to teachers, inviting their ideas and incorporating their feedback as we go. I would like to specifically note that I am very grateful for our partnership with the leaders of the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut and the Connecticut Education Association, who always ensure that teachers’ voices are heard.”

No, you actually can’t make this **** up!

Who could possibly oppose School Governance Councils? Paul Vallas put your hand down!

For one thing, properly utilizing School Governance Councils is the law in Connecticut!

In addition, even Governor Malloy, at least when he was a candidate, supported the creation of School Governance Councils.  In fact, he promised to expand their use.

In support of the federal government’s Race to the Top program, candidate Dan Malloy backed a 2010 Connecticut law saying that it sought to “engage parents in a meaningful way.”

In a response on the website On the Issues, Dan Malloy wrote, “The bill establishes local school governance councils that include parents and help create a sense of community that can make schooling more relevant to kids, and kids more connected to their community.  However, these councils are only required for low-achieving schools.  We should not stop there…  While governance councils are one tool for improving achievement, they are still a top-down approach to decision-making that limit involvement to only a few engaged parents.  My administration will create opportunities for all parents to be involved.”

Apparently the memo concerning his commitment to “create opportunities for all parents to be involved” didn’t make it to the desk of Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools.”

In fact, Paul Vallas’ unwillingness to follow the law and properly include parents, teachers and community leaders in the decision-making process has become so severe that the Connecticut Education Association has taken the unprecedented step of filing a complaint with the State Department of Education.

Although Connecticut law requires that School Governance Councils be utilized in school districts that are facing the greatest challenges, in Bridgeport, Paul Vallas appears either unwilling or unable to meet his obligation to include the community, parents, and teachers in the educational decision-making process.

The complaint against Vallas cites numerous situations in which Vallas violated the law.

In particular, the complaint charges that Vallas failed to provide Bridgeport’s School Governance Councils the opportunity to; (1) to review the fiscal objectives of the draft budget for the school and provide advice before it was submitted, (2) participate, as required, in the hiring process of administrators, (3) work with school administration to develop and approve a school compact, (4) be involved in developing and approving a written parent involvement policy outlining the role of parents in the school, (5) participate in analyzing school achievement data and school needs relative to the improvement plan for the school, (6) assist the principal in making programmatic and operational changes for improving the school’s achievement and the list goes on.

As CEA President, Sheila Cohen explained, “These are just some of the examples of the flagrant disregard Bridgeport Public Schools Superintendent Vallas has shown for School Governance Councils and state law.”

“School Governance Councils have a successful track record of engaging parents, teachers, and community members in important school activities and providing collaborative support to improve student achievement. These opportunities and the benefit of state laws must be afforded members of the Bridgeport school community.”  Cohen Added.

In addition to his pattern of failing to appropriately include School Governance Councils, the CEA’s complaint actually cites a school board meeting at which Vallas said that there were priorities more important than governance councils.

After the CEA issued their complaint, the Hartford Courant wrote that, “Vallas, reached at his office late Tuesday afternoon, said: ‘We are really busy and we don’t have time to deal with this type of nonsense because that’s what it is. No one has reached out more than my team — to parents, the teachers, faith-based organizations, even the non-teachers..’”

Vallas made a similar claim to the CT Post saying, “We are in full compliance,” Vallas said, adding, “I don’t have time for this nonsense.”

How Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, handles the complaint will be interesting to watch since Vallas brags that he came to Connecticut because Pryor asked him to take over the Bridgeport School System.

Pryor’s action will also be closely watched because there has also been widespread discussion that Steven Adamowski, the Department of Education’s Special Master for the Windham and New London School Systems has also failed to properly include School Governance Councils in those two school districts.

You can read more about the issue at: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-teachers-union-complaint-0522-20130521,0,5097870.story and http://www.ctmirror.org/story/union-files-complaint-against-bridgeports-superintendent and http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Union-Vallas-snubbed-governance-councils-4536210.php and http://blogcea.org/2013/05/21/complaint-cites-violations-of-law/