The pro-Common Core Standardized Testing governor throws students, parents and teachers a bone.

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With election day in sight, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, one the of country’s leading corporate education reform supporters, recently issues a press release announcing that he was writing a letter to Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to “explore” reducing the use of the Common Core standardized testing for 11th graders.  (Malloy’s pro-corporate education reform industry initiatives have earned him more than a quarter of a million dollars in campaign donations from the state and national education reformers so far this year).

Pro-public education advocate and Hearst Media Group columnist Wendy Lecker takes on Governor Malloy’s standardized testing ploy in an commentary piece entitled, “Malloy’s empty words about testing

Wendy Lecker writes,

Throughout his administration, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s education policies have been characterized by a disdain for evidence of what helps children learn, and a refusal to listen to those closest to students — parents and teachers. While it has been proven that test-based accountability has done nothing to help learning, and has increased stress in children of all ages, Malloy callously maintained, “I’ll settle for teaching to the test if it means raising test scores.”

Now, weeks before the gubernatorial election, the governor has suddenly declared an interest in the welfare of children — or some children. In a self-congratulatory news release, the governor announced that he wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to begin a “dialogue” about how to reduce one standardized test for 11th graders.

Malloy’s newly discovered concern for over-testing for one grade must be understood against his record on standardized testing. Just two years ago, the Malloy administration rushed through an application for an NCLB “waiver,” which exchanged some of NCLB’s mandates for many other mandates — including massively increasing standardized testing. The waiver obligated the state to administer the Common Core tests, including moving the high school test from 10th to 11th grade, and to use the widely discredited method of including standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.

Recognizing the potential for an explosion in standardized testing, parents, school board members and teachers implored the Malloy administration not to apply for the NCLB waiver until it assessed the impact on our children and the cost to taxpayers. Yet, the Malloy administration ignored these warnings and submitted the application.

A year before the administration of the SBAC field tests statewide, I and others wrote about the lunacy of moving the high school test to 11th grade, a year when most students have a heavy course-load, AP tests, ACTs and SATs. Again, the Malloy administration disregarded the public and charged ahead.

When the statewide SBAC pilot tests were to be administered last year, parents expressed reluctance to state and local officials about subjecting their children to this experiment. Rather than consider their genuine concern, the Malloy administration employed a strategy to intimidate parents. It called for presenting parents with threatening letters and half-truths. Finally, if a parent persisted through the gauntlet of misrepresentations and insisted on opting her child out, the Malloy administration would relent and admit there is no penalty for doing so.

Some parents defied the Malloy administration’s bullying and sat their children out of the field tests. Eleventh graders sat out in the largest numbers. Hence Malloy’s new-found concern for over-testing — for 11th graders only.

Though Malloy professes concern about over-testing 11th graders, in reality he plans to increase testing for everyone. In May, his PEAC commission announced a plan to use multiple standardized tests in teacher evaluations going forward. Not only does this plan double down on the flawed practice of using standardized tests to measure a teacher’s performance, it also vastly increases testing for children. The SBAC interim tests, which the Malloy administration recommends, will likely double the standardized testing that already exists.

Against the reality of his policies, Malloy’s letter to Duncan proves to be nothing more than political posturing.

Contrast Malloy’s empty rhetoric with the actions of Vermont’s state officials. As Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe explained to parents in a letter in August, Vermont chose not to apply for the NCLB waiver because of the voluminous evidence demonstrating that including test scores in teacher evaluations is inaccurate; and the evidence that over-emphasizing standardized tests discourages teaching a rich curriculum.

In this letter, Holcombe explained that Vermont disagrees with federal education policy around standardized testing. She declared that NCLB’s reliance on test scores as the main measure of school quality “does not serve the interest of Vermont schools, nor does it advance our economic or social well-being.” Noting the failure of test-based accountability to narrow learning gaps between poor and affluent children, Holcombe wrote: “We need a different approach that actually works.”

Vermont’s State Board of Education followed with a resolution carefully reviewing the evidence on testing; calling on the federal government to reduce testing mandates and to stop using tests to evaluate teachers; and calling on state and national organizations to broaden educational goals and ensure adequate resources for schools.

The actions of Vermont’s state government remind us that the purpose of education policies is to benefit children. Sadly, Governor Malloy only seems to acknowledge the welfare of children when he is trying to snag votes.

You can read Wendy Lecker’s full commentary piece in the Stamford Advocate at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Lecker-Malloy-s-empty-words-about-testing-5768147.php

Questions that teachers (parents, public school advocates and all voters) should be asking…

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Over the next week, the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association will be deciding whether to follow the lead of the American Federation of Teachers and endorse Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, 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 or whether they will endorse another candidate or whether they should make no endorsement in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Here are some of the issues that Connecticut’s public school teachers should be mulling over;

Issue #1:  As has been noted repeatedly, no other Democratic governor in the nation has proposed doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest and lowest performing public schools.   At a candidate debate earlier this month, Malloy tried to clarify his infamous observation that teachers need only show for four years to get tenure by saying,

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’s comment wasn’t about teachers, “It was about tenure?

If Malloy thought he deserved the support of Connecticut’s teachers, why hasn’t he publicly renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining proposal?

 

Issue #2:  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.  On the other hand, there are multiple teacher evaluation models that do not tie teacher evaluations to unfair, inappropriate and misleading standardized test results.

If Malloy wanted to show he understands the challenges facing teachers and public education why hasn’t he said that, if re-elected, he will decouple the mandated teacher evaluation system from unfair standardized testing?

 

Issue #3:  When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate.  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.

If Malloy believes he deserves the votes of teachers (and parents and taxpayers), why won’t he simply say that if he gets a second term in office he will settle the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit and use the CCFEF Coalition’s expertise to fix Connecticut’s broken school funding system?

 

Issue #4:   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.  Virtually all of the new funding was allocated to the state’s 30 so-called 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.

If Malloy wants teachers, parents and public school advocates to vote for him, why hasn’t he announced that he will institute a moratorium on additional charter schools and devote scarce public resources to where they belong…Connecticut’s real public schools?

 

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

The Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Testing Scheme have become particularly controversial.  Tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive standardized testing program.  In addition, the Malloy administration has repeatedly lied and mislead parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.

If Malloy wants a second term, why hasn’t he ordered his State Department of Education to be honest with parents (and teachers) and tell parents that they DO HAVE A RIGHT TO OPT THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME and why does he continue to support the implementation of the Common Core and its massive Common Core Testing program?

These and many other important education issues will face the individual who is elected in November.

Before endorsing or supporting or voting for any candidate, Connecticut’s public school teachers (and every other Connecticut voter) should ask why Malloy has failed to adequately address these important issues.

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

Malloy’s Fundraising Operation – “Offensive but not illegal”

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As noted earlier this week in Wait, What? post entitled, Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his campaign operation has collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign by directing large campaign contributors to make donations to the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account.  Much of the money has come from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.

Under Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law that passed in 2005, following former governor John Rowland’s conviction, Malloy’s fundraising scheme would have been illegal.

But thanks to changes in the law that were proposed by Malloy and approved by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2013, the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission ruled yesterday that Malloy’s tactics are an “offensive” violation of the law’s “spirit and intent,” but not illegal.

Details of Malloy’s close call with the law can be found in the Hartford Courant’s Panel Condemns NU Exec’s Pro-Malloy Solicitation As ‘Offensive’ – But Finds No Violation and the CT NewsJunkie’s Election Regulators Call NU Solicitation ‘Egregious’.

As CTNewsJunkie explains,

The State Elections Enforcement Commission dismissed a complaint against Northeast Utilities CEO Thomas May Tuesday, but not before offering some harsh criticism of the solicitation the state contractor sent last September to his employees.

“The next gubernatorial election is upon us, and I am asking each of you to join me in financially supporting Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy,” May wrote in his Sept. 27, 2013 email to company managers. The email, which was sent from May’s private gmail account, suggested that donations be made to the Connecticut Democratic State Central’s federal account.

State election law prohibits state contractors from contributing to state party accounts or the campaigns of statewide candidates. Even though the email solicitation mentioned Malloy’s accomplishments at length, the commission was unable to find that May violated state election law because the money went to the party’s federal account.

“The Commission does conclude that the content of the solicitation by Mr. May is both offensive and disturbing and violates the spirit and intent of the Connecticut state contractor ban,” the 5-0 decision to dismiss the complaint reads.

The Hartford Courant adds,

If May had asked his people to donate to the Democratic Party’s account for state political operations, or directly to Malloy or any other candidate for state office, it would have violated the statutory ban on contractors giving money to state campaigns, the commission said.

However, “[b]ecause the contributions…were deposited into the [Democratic Party's] federal account which is generally outside the Commission’s jurisdiction, and not to a state [party] committee,” the commission “lacks the authority…to sanction the conduct,” the commission said in its decision.

The underlying problem with the State Elections Enforcement Commission decision is that everyone associated with the Malloy ploy knew exactly what was going on.

The Hartford Courant quotes an SEEC Commissioner as saying,

“To direct money that on its face was being raised for the support of a statewide candidate” – Malloy – “and deposit that money into a federal account, is an abuse not only of what that federal account is intended for, but clearly seems to be an effort to bypass the workings of the Connecticut finance law,” commission member Stephen T. Penny said.

Twice in the past month, the commission put off a decision in the case after deliberating it behind closed doors. “At first blush the conduct of [May] appeared to be an egregious violation…but after a careful review of state law, we were unable to find any specific violations,” Penny said.

In a blistering attack on the State Elections Enforcement Commission’s ruling, State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney issued a statement saying,

“Clearly, NU’s CEO violated the spirit of our clean election law – a law which was once a model for the country. That historic legislation has become a mockery. Gov. Malloy now has a choice to make. He can keep the money he received from NU officials, or he can return it. If he keeps the money, he will place a cloud on our campaign finance system. If he returns it, he will restore some integrity to the system.”

But of course, the likelihood of Malloy returning the ill-gotten campaign funds is zero because on top of the $50,000 he collected from NU are millions of dollars more from other state contractors, as well as, individuals and companies that have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare program.

While Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform legislation was rigged to keep 3rd party candidates out of the system, it did do an outstanding job limiting the influence of corporate, lobbyist and special interest funds.

That was before Malloy, with the help of the Democratic members of the Connecticut General Assembly, made a mockery of the law adding a series of loopholes designed to allow Malloy to use public and special interest funds to pay for his campaign.

Now, not only are Connecticut taxpayers giving Malloy (and Foley) $6.2 million each, but Malloy and his political operation are inappropriately, but not illegally, taking millions of dollars from those doing business with the state or benefiting directly from Malloy’s state spending strategies.

You can read more about this development at:

CTNewsJunkie:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/election_regulators_call_nu_solicitation_egregious/

Hartford Courant: http://touch.courant.com/#section/2237/article/p2p-81383792/

Tea Party tells Joe Visconti to drop out of the race for governor…

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The Hartford Courant has a story on their blog entitled, Tea Party Ups Call for Joe Visconti to Exit the Governor’s Race,

In a response to such an attack, Joe Visconti is certainly more than capable of deciding, on his own, what is best for the people of Connecticut and the issues that he believes in.  I will just say that I can certainly relate, having also been the victim of the anti-democracy attacks from those claiming to “share” my values.

As the Hartford Courant is reporting,

Tea party activists in Connecticut are reiterating their call for petitioning candidate Joe Visconti to get out of the governor’s race.

“While we admire and respect your efforts, and those of your dedicated volunteers, if you continue in this race, you do so without the support of the majority of tea party, conservative and grassroots groups,” tea party activists wrote in an open letter to Visconti posted on Facebook. The letter was signed by several prominent leaders in the conservative movement in the state including Wallingford attorney Tanya Bachand and Bob MacGuffie, founder of Right Principles.

The Courant adds,

Visconti’s response, posted on his own Facebook page, suggest he isn’t going anywhere. “Sad to see you all sell out to the establishment that you once castigated,” he wrote.

And finally article concludes with,

(Interestingly one of those jumping to Visconti’s defense is Hartford lawyer Ken Krayeske. “[F]rom Tea Party patriots who purport to represent and hold dear constitutional values, like the First Amendment, this is an astonishing, hypocritical statement of values,” Krayeske commented. “And thank you, Mr. Visconti, for enduring despite such unfounded critiques of your candidacy.”)

I want to take the opportunity to echo Attorney Krayeske’s comments and add that it is a sad commentary on the corporatization of America that not only do Democratic and Republican leaders claim to support our democracy and then decry the impact of third parties and third party candidates, but that forces from the so-called “right” and “left” are just as disingenuous.

The fact that “Tea Party Patriots” would urge someone not to stand up, speak out and run for office is as absurd as the “social justice lobbyist” who used a Hartford Courant commentary piece to urge liberals not to sign my petition or the actions of unions like the American Federation of Teachers who would not even allow me to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the AFT endorsing committee or speak to their executive committee before endorsing Governor Malloy, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose eliminating teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest schools districts.

Claiming to “speak for their members” the AFT endorsed Malloy, despite the fact that he remains committed to a teacher evaluation system that includes the use of unfair, inappropriate and absurd standardized test scores when determining whether a teacher is doing a good job or not.

Over the course of the last few months I’ve had the honor of sitting down and talking with Joe Visconti.

Although we come from very different philosophical foundations, and disagree on some fundamentally important issues, there is no question in my mind that he understands what is going on out here in the real world, that he profoundly respects the role of teachers and public education, that he would confront the ongoing effort to destroy the middle class and that he has the honesty and integrity to tell the citizens of Connecticut the truth about the fiscal crisis that we face as a result of the irresponsible policies of the two major political parties.

By urging Joe Visconti to drop out of the race for governor, Connecticut’s Tea Party leaders reveal that they are just as much a part of the problem as the incumbency parties that have shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they are incapable (or unwilling) to do what is right for the citizens of our nation and our state.

Why Malloy’s (and Foley’s) anti-tax pledge is anti-middle class

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In a September 3, 2014 Wait, What? post entitled, Foley and Malloy are just plain wrong on taxes, the blog explained that Malloy and Foley are being fiscally irresponsible with their pledge not to propose raising taxes if they are elected. The article begins with the following;

Although Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is fond of saying that he inherited a $3.7 billion budget deficit when he was sworn into office in January 2011…The candidate who is sworn in as Governor of Connecticut in January 2015 will be facing a combined budget deficit of at least $4.8 billion over the next three years!   YES – You read that number correctly.  Even after taking into consideration increased revenue from an “improving” economy, Connecticut state government will be $4.8 billion SHORT of what it is needed to maintain the present level of services and meet its present statutory obligations.

As a result of Governor Malloy’s irresponsible borrowing policies, the state MUST increase its debt service payments by at least $672 million dollars over the next three years.  The additional mandatory payments for the state employee and teacher pension and healthcare funds will require an additional $620 million.

And that doesn’t even count the minimum increases needed to maintain the most vital state services.

There is absolutely no way to balance Connecticut’s state budget without additional taxes.  The question is not whether we will have tax increases, but who will be providing that additional state revenue.

Furthermore, by pledging not to “raise” taxes at the state level, there will be no meaningful state increase in state aid to municipalities and that will translate into massive increases in local property taxes, as towns face the growing costs of education, public safety and other local services.

While Malloy and Foley can try and claim they won’t raise taxes, by forcing higher local property taxes, the two major party candidates will – in fact – be raising taxes that disproportionately hit middle-income families and small business that are particularly hurt by the way in which Connecticut raises revenue at the local level.

But Malloy and Foley’s “no-tax” pledge is even more unfair than it seems because they are promising to maintain the existing tax system that coddles the rich.

As the non-partisan CT Voices for Children has reported;

  • In Connecticut, wealthy residents pay a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than the rest of us, while families raising children are uniquely hurt by Connecticut’s present tax system.
  • After federal income tax deductions, Connecticut’s wealthiest families pay an average of 5.5% of their income in state and local taxes, while the middle class pay 10.5%, and the poor pay 11% of their income in state and local taxes.
  • In addition, Connecticut is one of only two states that make no adjustment in their income taxes for the cost of raising children.  A family with $60,000 of income with three kids owes the same as the family with $60,000 of income and no kids.  It is a tax policy that is hardly pro-child.

The candidates for governor who have made a “no tax pledge” is not only being fiscally irresponsible, but is sending a loud and clear message to Connecticut’s middle class.   What Malloy and Foley are saying is that not only are they refusing to take responsibility for properly running the state of Connecticut, but they are admitting that they will be leaving Connecticut’s unfair tax structure in place while increasing the burden on local property taxpayers.

As of now, the Democrat and Republican candidates for governor have made a strong case for why they SHOULD NOT BE ELECTED.  Only 3rd Party candidates Joe Visconti (and I) have had the courage and wisdom to admit that the next governor needs to keep all the tools of governance on the table.

It is time for Malloy and Foley to admit their no-tax pledge is bad fiscal policy.

Or worse, while they know that additional taxes will be needed to balance the state budget and reduce the burden on the middle class, they’ve decided to lie rather than tell the truth in an attempt to get elected.

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

Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy has deposited his check for $6.2 million from the State’s Public Finance System.

As a result of Connecticut’s landmark 2005 campaign finance reform bill, in return for raising $250,000 in contributions of under $100, Malloy (and the Republican nominee for governor) have each received $6.2 million in public funds to pay for their gubernatorial campaigns.

The original concept, which passed following the conviction of Governor John Rowland in 2005, was that in return for a multi-million dollar campaign donation from the public, candidates would agree to forgo private funds raised from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees, the wealthy and other special interest.

But that was before Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly torpedoed the most important elements of the law.

Now, in addition to the $6.2 million in public funds, Malloy and his political operatives have collected at least $3.5 million for his campaign into the Democratic State Central Committees “federal” account, much of it from state contractors, lobbyists, political action committees and the wealthy.   The political maneuver was made possible thanks to a proposal Malloy and the Democrats pushed through in 2013.

In addition, a “separate” political action committee called Connecticut Forward, has already raised $2.5 million to run ads in support of Malloy and against his opponent, Tom Foley.  To date, about $1.3 million of Connecticut Forward’s money has come from the Democratic Governors Association, $900,000 from the AFSCME union and $250,000 from the American Federation of Teachers.  In the coming weeks, the Connecticut Forward PAC is expected to raise another $3-$5 million or more in their effort to promote Malloy’s campaign.

So how on earth did we go from having one of the “best” campaign finance reform laws in the nation to a campaign in which Malloy gets $6.2 million in public funds, while accessing another $10 million or more in campaign donations including money from state contractors and others who personally benefit from the governor’s policies.

While a portion of the blame rests with the unprecedented Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court, in which companies were determined to be people for the purposes of campaign finance laws, Connecticut’s present campaign laws, along with their appearance of corruption, rests on the shoulders of Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the Legislature.

A June 1, 2011 Wait, What? post entitled, “Oh…Remember When Democratic Leaders were for Campaign Finance Reform,” observed, “Democrats Complete the Task of Undermining the State’s Public Finance Law.”  And yet the worst was still to come.

As background, back on January 27th, 2010, when then-candidate Dan Malloy spoke out after a Zogby public opinion survey found that 79 percent of Connecticut voters supported public financing and the Citizens’ Elections Program, Malloy said;

“In my view, this poll should serve as proof of just how strongly Connecticut voters feel about campaign finance reform, and as a warning for those candidates who think they can brush aside the Citizens’ Election Program…”

At the time, Malloy was echoing the sentiment of Democratic Party leaders.

Following the passage of Connecticut’s historic campaign finance law, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan wrote;

“Almost 230 years ago, the founding fathers took a huge risk when they signed the Declaration of Independence and set the wheels in motion for the world’s greatest democracy. Today, this historic campaign finance reform legislation reaffirms that this is a government for the people, not special interests. This campaign finance reform bill is our declaration of independence. We can look our constituents in the eye and say we created the strongest campaign laws in the United States.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams’ rhetoric was equally impressive, with an official biography that read,

“Since his election as Senate President, Senator Williams has been a leading advocate for cleaning up government. He authored legislation to reform the State Ethics Commission and supported sweeping changes to the campaign finance system and the state contracting process. With the creation of a publicly funded campaign finance system in 2005, Connecticut now has the strongest reform laws in the nation.”

But when candidate Dan Malloy became Governor Dannel Malloy, the official view and strategy when it came to campaign finance reform changed dramatically.

In Malloy’s first budget, the new governor took aim at the State Elections Enforcement Commission by reducing its funding, its autonomy and its authority.

At the time, State Senator Gayle Slossberg, the only Democrat to vote against Malloy’s plan, was quoted as saying, “I just think that the proposal in front of us undermines the independence and the integrity of the [State Election Enforcement Commission and the other] watchdog agencies,”

But Malloy’s effort to undermine Connecticut’s campaign finance law had just begun.

As the 2013 session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to a close, Malloy and the Democrats passed legislation that allowed candidates to keep the public campaign finance funds while opening the flood gates to tainted campaign contributions.

The bill doubled the amount of money private donors could give to political parties, removed the cap on how much political parties could spend to support candidates participating in the public finance system and created a massive loophole by allowing candidates, in this case Malloy, to better coordinate their activities with political parties and other political action committees.

The anti-campaign finance reform bill did not get a single Republican vote in the State Senate or House of Representatives.  On June 19, 2013 Malloy signed the legislation into law, which in turn, prompted former Governor Jodi Rell to observe;

“After a dark period in our state’s history, Connecticut became a role model for the nation with … our campaign finance reform. How sad that the Democrat governor, Democrat legislators and the Democrat Party are so greedy for campaign cash that they would willingly destroy what we so proudly enacted just a few short years ago.”

At the time, few fully appreciated how the legislation would change the political landscape, but you can read more about the Democrats successful effort to destroy Connecticut’s campaign finance law in the June 2013 CTNewsJunkie article entitled, “Malloy Signs Bill Changing Campaign Finance Reforms of 2005.”

Now, with just weeks to go in the 2014 gubernatorial election, laws have been changed to the point that instead of having $6.2 million, the Malloy campaign effort will probably spend in excess of $16 million to try and get a second term in office.

Of course, thanks in no small part to the same changes in the law, Tom Foley and the Republicans will be spending an equally obscene amount of money.

Finally, as Wait, What? readers know, the entire system is also rigged against third-party candidates.  Meaning in this campaign finance war of mutually assured campaign destruction, they only candidate not double and triple dipping, while still using taxpayer funds is third party candidate Joe Visconti.

So let’s hear it!  Three cheers for campaign finance corruption in Connecticut!

Here is one of the odd things about teachers, unions and democracy

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and eliminating collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest school districts.  His corporate education reform legislation is widely recognized as the most anti-teacher piece of legislation ever introduced by a Democratic governor.

Yet, the American Federation of Teachers (Connecticut chapter) endorsed Malloy without allowing his challengers to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the AFT Political Action Committee or address the AFT Executive Committee.

By comparison, the Connecticut Education Association held a candidate forum today, allowing teacher attendees to cast an “advisory” ballot that the CEA leadership will take into consideration when they decide whom to endorse in the coming weeks.

However, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports, in addition to the $6.2 million that Connecticut taxpayers gave to pay for Governor Malloy’s re-election campaign via Connecticut’s Public Financing Program;

  • The American Federation of Teachers has used union dues to donate $10,000 to Malloy’s campaign via the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee and $250,000 to support Malloy through the new Political Action Committee, Connecticut Forward PAC, which was created by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).  The Democratic Governors Association also donated $1.25 million to the Connecticut Forward PAC.

And who are among the larger donors to the Democratic Governors Association?

  • The National Education Association’s Fund for Children’s Public Education!  The same group has also donated $5,000 in to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee to help with Governor Malloy’s re-election.

The CEA hasn’t even endorsed a candidate and NEA is spending money (donated by teachers to their Political Action Committee) in Connecticut to support the nation’s leading anti-teacher Democratic governor.

It is Ironic, to say the least, that Malloy’s campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from teachers when Malloy has earned the title as the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the nation.

It makes one wonder – doesn’t it?

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

Pelto/Murphy Register as Write-In Candidates for 2014

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

Over the past few weeks more than two hundred people have written to tell us that they will be writing in the names of Jonathan Pelto for Governor and Ebony Murphy for Lt. Governor on November 4, 2014 – Election Day.

Some undoubtedly have made the decision to write in our names because they believe in our candidacy and our message.  Others want a mechanism to send a message to the powerful and the elite that change is in the air and that they will not be getting that person’s vote this year.

Of course, despite the fact that we were all taught that every vote counts, according to the laws of the State of Connecticut, a write in vote DOES NOT COUNT unless the candidate(s) file an official state form.

Section 9-373a of the Connecticut State Statues reads, “Any person desiring to be a write-in candidate for any state, district or municipal office to be filled at any regular election shall register his candidacy with the Secretary of the State on a form prescribed by the secretary.”

If the “prescribed” form is not filed, the vote will not be counted.

As many of us are becoming painfully aware, in the United States, Democracy is a relative term.

It was former President Lyndon Johnson who said something like,

“A person without a vote is a person without protection.”

So with that in mind, we are hereby filing the appropriate form and inviting the voters of Connecticut to write in our names for Governor and Lt. Governor in this year’s critically important election.

Change is in the air.  We may not have been the ones to knock the gates down, but we have – and will continue – to shake the chains that seal the gates shut so that future candidates will be better positioned to knock them down and thereby allow the People to re-take control of their government and their future.

We thank you for allowing us to be part of this historic effort,

Jonathan Pelto and Ebony Murphy

 

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

CEA Education Forum 2014 – September 13, 2014

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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:

Malloy’s Big Lie on Student Financial Aid

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Yesterday, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy traveled around the state to brag about his record and plans “to make higher education more affordable.”  Malloy stopped at various colleges and universities to release his “three-point plan to help families afford a higher education.”

Malloy’s press statement read;

“At a series of events in New Britain, Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford, Governor Malloy outlined a series of proposals to continuing his work to make higher education more affordable for Connecticut families.”

As proof of Governor Malloy’s commitment to helping Connecticut’s college students and their families, Malloy’s PR operation explained, “The Malloy-Wyman Administration has made affordable higher education a priority,” adding “The Malloy-Wyman Administration has already undertaken a number of actions to improve college affordability.”

The move to put a positive spin on Governor Malloy’s record on higher education is an unsettling reminder of just how far some politicians will go to lie and mislead the voters.

Dan Malloy’s record could not be clearer: 

When Malloy became governor in January 2011, the state of Connecticut provided $62.4 million a year in student financial aid grants to Connecticut students with financial need attending Connecticut universities and colleges.

The program was designed to help keep Connecticut’s students in Connecticut rather than have them leave the state to get a college education.

In Malloy’s first year in office, he cut the amount of state funding for grants to $52.1 million.

In his second budget Malloy cut funding for student financial aid to 45.3 million.

The following year he had the Connecticut General Assembly rename Connecticut’s financial aid grant programs so that it would be called the “Governor’s Scholarship Program” and cut the total amount of state money allocated for student aid grants to $42 million, a level of funding  Malloy repeated in this year’s state budget.

At the same time, Governor Dannel Malloy pushed through the deepest cuts in history to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.

By reducing state support for Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, tuition and fees have skyrocketed, as more and more of the burden falls on the backs of Connecticut’s students and their families.

At the very same time, Malloy was making his historic cuts to Connecticut’s universities and colleges, he also CUT funding for student financial aid by 33%.

Since Malloy took office, he has reduced the total amount of state financial aid for Connecticut students attending Connecticut colleges by $69 million.

And now, with about seven weeks to go until the 2014 election for governor, Malloy has the gall to make a series of campaign stops in which his PR operation promises that,

“Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman will add an additional $10 million to the Governor’s Scholarship Program, allowing for thousands more Connecticut residents to afford higher education.”

It would be funny if it wasn’t such a serious commentary about Malloy’s unwillingness to tell the truth about his record, his policies and the fiscal crisis facing Connecticut.

Here we have a campaign promise for more student financial aid from the governor who has slashed student financial aid.

And this from the governor who says he won’t raise taxes, he won’t layoff state employees, he won’t seek union concessions, he won’t reduce vital services AND he will cut taxes…all in front of a backdrop in which his budget strategies have left Connecticut with a projected $1.4 billion budget deficit next year.

Here is the truth about Malloy and Connecticut Student Financial Aid:

Year  State Funding for Student Financial Aid
   
FY 11 (Rell’s last budget) $62.2 Million
FY 12 (Malloy’s first budget) $52.1
FY 13 $45.3
FY 14 $42.0
FY 15 $42.0

 

Of Malloy’s “three point plan,” the other “two points” were equally misleading.  A later Wait, What? blog post will highlight Malloy’s effort to mislead voters on his so-called initiative “Providing Student Loan Interest Relief,” and his equally absurd “Refinancing Student Loans” plan.

In the meantime, you can read more about his spin on higher education in a story written by Keith Phaneuf at:  Malloy urges a 2nd tax cut, this time for those with student debt.

It would appear that the Malloy re-election campaign operation has reached the point where sticking to the truth is no longer of any value whatsoever.

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