Education Reform, Higher Education, Wendy Lecker Corporate Education Reform Industry, Higher Education, Wendy Lecker
While it is obvious that the widespread access to higher educational opportunities is more important than ever, elected officials have been consistently reducing support for our public colleges and universities.
The shocking and disturbing trend has been especially visible here in Connecticut where Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy has pushed through the deepest cuts in Connecticut history for our public institutions of higher education. Students and their families are forced to pay more and get less as the state pulls the rug out from under this vital service.
But Malloy is not alone.
On behalf of the corporate education reform industry, President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is embarking on an expensive, misleading and completely unnecessary rating system that will cost colleges and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars while providing no benefit whatsoever.
On the other hand, the proposal will mean a whole lot of education reform consultants will continue to feed at the public trough.
This past weekend, fellow education advocate Wendy Lecker wrote about this proposal in her Stamford Advocate column entitled, “The consequences of silence.”
Wendy Lecker writes,
When President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan continued and expanded NCLB’s absurd ranking and punishing of public schools based on socio-economic and other inappropriate measures, teachers, parents and public school advocates spoke out. They opposed and continue to oppose shallow ratings that fail to capture the complexities of educating children and that distort the goals of public schools.
As this battle raged, one group that was silent were college officials. That silence had consequences and now these officials are feeling the bite of destructive education policies.
College presidents are up in arms over the Obama administration’s plan to rate colleges and universities, to determine eligibility for federal funds, based on factors such as how many students graduate, how much debt students carry and how much money graduates earn.
One community college leader, alluding to the well-known shortcomings of federal data, feared these ratings would be “garbage in- garbage out.”
Others worry about the one-size-fits-all measure, when colleges have different missions. Moreover, certain criteria reveal more about the ideology of those rating the schools than the quality of the schools themselves. For example, those ranking a school based on its graduates’ earnings value high salaries over professions such as teaching, social work, or other important, but not lucrative, jobs.
Williams College president Adam Falk decried the rating plan as “oversimplified to the point that it actually misleads.”
In a 2011 New Yorker article about U.S. News and World Report’s college ranking system, Malcom Gladwell explored the difficulty of measuring “how well a college manages to inform, inspire, and challenge its students.” He remarked that the proxies used for educational quality “turn out to be flimsy at best.”
As former Obama administration official, Janet Napolitano, now president of the University of California, said last year, “It’s not like — you know, you’re not buying a car or a boat.”
Napolitano overestimated the Obama administration’s regard for a college education. A U.S. Department of Education official recently claimed rating a college is “like rating a blender.”
Inaccurate data, a one-size-fits-all measure, a reductionist view of education — where have I heard all this before? Ah yes, federal and state officials, with the help of billionaires such as Bill Gates and the Walton family, have been inflicting these “reforms” on public schools for more than a decade. And for all that time, those who support a well-rounded K-12 education have been sounding the same alarms now raised by university presidents.
My question is — where have you been, university presidents? As we fight the narrowed curriculum resulting from NCLB and its corollary, the Common Core, which limits a child’s world to an endless series of scripted prompts and canned lessons, why haven’t you spoken out? When the democratic values of our society are being trampled by “reforms” that punish schools serving our neediest children, increase segregation and eliminate democratically elected school boards, where is your outrage? While political leaders define “college ready” as a number on a standardized test, why are you not explaining that college demands so much more than that?
You were likely lucky enough to attend schools that provided a rich and diverse curriculum. So certainly you have read the words of German pastor Martin Neimoller:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The concerted attacks on public education reach beyond local public schools. Our founders maintained that education was the “very essence and foundation of a civilized culture”; crucial to the preservation of our government and our society and “to the encouragement of virtue.” These broad goals have been replaced by the empty notion that our children are the simply means to American economic competitiveness and the false claims that if our schools focus on what can be tested and measured, our economy will succeed. In many respects our children have become the commodity — the raw material from which testing and charter companies profit.
It is high time for university presidents, good government groups and others to join public school advocates in demanding that the democratic purpose of our public schools be restored, lest no one remain when the profit-seekers come for them.
You can read the full commentary piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-The-consequences-of-silence-5517995.php
Arne Duncan, Education Reform, Higher Education, Malloy Arne Duncan, Education Reform, Higher Education, Malloy, Tuition
According to the Hartford Courant, “The governor’s office confirms that Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, will visit Hartford’s University High School on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. Duncan will speak on college accessibility and affordability. According to Duncan’s office the event will include U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and others.”
Considering Duncan et. al. are coming to speak about college affordability, choosing Hartford’s University High School of Science and Engineering, rather than one of Connecticut’s public colleges or universities is an interesting choice.
Considering Governor Malloy has instituted the deepest budget cuts in Connecticut history to the state’s public institutions of higher education, cuts that have led to significant tuition increases, it could be that the Governor’s handlers are worried that they won’t receive a warm welcome.
[Back in the fall of 2010 I attended a University of Connecticut Young Democrats meeting with candidate Dan Malloy in which he took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and promised to put an end to Governor Rell’s approach of shifting costs from the state to students and their families. What a sad commentary that Malloy has done far more to increase college costs for Connecticut's families than Rell ever did].
In any case, Malloy and Duncan are not appearing at one of Connecticut’s public colleges or universities, they are speaking at a Hartford public school.
As so-called education reformers perhaps Malloy and Duncan are more comfortable sticking to the corporate education reform environment that has become Hartford’s School System.
Hartford’s University High School of Science and Engineering is a prime example of a place where the hard work and real achievement of teachers and students have been overshadowed by the political spin that is the centerpiece of the corporate education reform industry.
According to University High School’s most recent STRATEGIC SCHOOL PROFILE filed with the Connecticut State Department of Education the school gets 51 percent of students from 35 towns surrounding Hartford and 49 percent of its students from Hartford.
Of the student population, 30 percent is White, 34 percent African American, 23 percent Hispanic and 13 percent from “other ethnicities.”
Although it is interesting to note that the school claims that only 2.8 percent of its students are English Language Learners (meaning that they are not proficient in the English Language). The number is unbelievably low considering the significant number of students from Hispanic and other ethnic backgrounds.
Furthermore, the school reports that only 7.5 percent of its students need special education services, far fewer than the percentages in Hartford or the 34 sending towns.
And then the numbers become even more suspect.
According to the Strategic School Profile, University High School of Science and Engineering graduated its fourth class with a “100% graduation rate.”
The school adds that “100% of graduating seniors applied to and were accepted into a 2 or 4 year college. 90% of graduates are attending a four-year college or university; 8% are attending two-year colleges; and 2% post graduate year.”
However, the school also states that 185 students qualified as truant meaning that 48% of the entire student body was absent for an extremely extended period of time. Not that truancy necessarily prevents a 100% graduation rate and 100% college attendance rate but the statistic is rather odd.
In addition, another troubling statistic is that only 10.6 percent of the juniors and seniors at Hartford’s University High School were enrolled in college credit courses of any type. Compare that number to Buckley High where 14.6 percent of the juniors and seniors were taking college credit courses.
Of course, both schools do significantly better than Capital Prep where absolutely no students were enrolled in college credit courses.
Over the last few years it has become painfully clear that Secretary Duncan, Governor Malloy and the Obama and Malloy administrations are addicted to policies that are “data driven.”
And playing with the numbers to ensure they match the policy goals is not unheard of.
So, with tuition skyrocketing at Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, increases that are a direct result of Governor Malloy’s budget cuts, it will be very interesting (and entertaining) to hear the spin that will be coming from Duncan and Malloy on Tuesday afternoon.
Board of Regents, Higher Education, Malloy, State Legislature Board of Regents, Higher Education, Malloy, State Legislature
AKA: The ongoing saga known as the Connecticut Board of Regents
Earlier this month, at the request of Governor Malloy’s Chief of Staff, the Chairman of the Board of Regents informed that Board that it would be sending the Governor the names of the three finalists. In that way, the Governor and not the Board would be selecting the next president of the Board of Regents.
Wait, What? readers may recall the two posts entitled “News Flash: What the Hell is going on…Malloy snubs nose at Connecticut law” and “Whoa there…Let’s try telling the truth…”
As the CTMirror reported at the time, the Chairman of the Board of Regent explained that the Board forwarded three names for Governor Malloy to pick from following “a request from the governor’s chief of staff to do so.” The news story quoted Board of Regents Chairman Lewis Robinson as saying, “Which ever one he chooses, we have a fine leader…I think all three are outstanding. I am excited.”
All this despite the fact that the letter and spirit of the law was stunningly clear. The Board of Regents was to conduct interviews, select a candidate and the Governor would technically make the appointment. In that way, the selection process would be done at arm’s-length from the politics of the Capitol.
But alas, despite that clear intent of the law, Governor Malloy and his staff couldn’t help themselves. They wanted to determine which of the three finalists were most likely to recognize their supreme authority.
In response to all of this, the Connecticut General Assembly acted with amazing courage and speed and actually fast-tracked legislation “clarifying” the law by taking away Governor Malloy’s authority to even make the appointment. The new bill put the duty to appoint in the hands of the Board of Regents, tracking the approach that exists with the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees.
When the dust settled, there was no bill signing on this one. No smiling faces crowded around the Governor waiting for their copy of the pen that signed the legislation into law.
Instead, as the Hartford Courant noted in their story, “According to a statement from the governor’s office, Malloy ‘signed legislation he proposed in collaboration with state lawmakers’ and said ‘the change will help the next leader institute a long-term vision that increases stability and academic growth for the students at the state’s colleges and universities.’”
Malloy’s statement went on to read, “’I want to thank the members of the House and the Senate, including the chairs of the Higher Education Committee, for working with my administration on introducing this bill and acting quickly on its passage,’ Malloy said, according to the statement.”
So there you go — it turns out that it was all one big misunderstanding and Governor Malloy was actually the one who wanted the new law that made it clear that it was the Board’s responsibility and not his to make the appointment of the next president of the CSU and Community Colleges system.
Thank goodness that was clarified before the governor was forced to personally choose the next president.
You can read more about this story in the follow CTMirror article: http://ctmirror.org/story/19758/after-controversies-general-assembly-votes-remove-governors-authority-naming-college-pre
Higher Education, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit, UConn Higher Education, Malloy, State Budget, State Debt, State Deficit, UConn
By adding $1.5 billion in new state bonds on top of the remaining $235 million in UConn 2000/21st Century UConn state bonds, Governor Malloy is proposing an impressive plan to invest in “science, technology, engineering and math programs at the University of Connecticut.”
According to the Hartford Courant, “Malloy emphasized that the investment was needed to improve the state’s economy, which some see as stagnating. He predicted that over the next decade the project would attract $270 million in research grants and $527 million in business activity, as well as supporting more than 4,000 permanent jobs.”
“Quite frankly this investment should have been made 10 years ago,” Malloy said. “If it were made 20 years ago, our economy would be stronger today.”
Malloy’s plan would include $450 million for new science and engineering facilities and $770 million in infrastructure improvement, including a major expansion of UConn’s Stamford campus. The plan would also increase the number of undergraduates attending UConn from 17,000 to about 24,000.
While the University of Connecticut and Connecticut’s other public colleges and universities definitely need more operating support, the Governor proposal overlooks three key points.
First, over the past two years, this Governor has implemented the deepest cuts in state history to the University of Connecticut and the state’s other public institutions of higher education. UConn alone has been hit with over $50 million in cuts. It wasn’t that long ago that the state provided about 50 percent of the funds needed to run the University of Connecticut. As a result of the on-going reductions in support, the state’s share of funding for UConn has dropped below 30 percent. These cuts have translated into program reductions and much higher costs to students and parents. In essence, students are already being asked to pay more and get less.
Second, more recognition should be given to the fact that the state has already invested $2.3 billion in the University of Connecticut through the UConn 2000 and 21st Century bonding program. Those funds have allowed UConn to completely overhaul its facilities. Thanks to those funds, UConn has a new chemistry building, a new biology building, a new agricultural biotechnology building, a new marine science facility, two new engineering buildings, new and renovated facilities for math, physics and material sciences, a new pharmacy building and numerous other new specialized labs and classrooms.
While more facilities would certainly be optimal, what UConn desperately needs are funds to staff the new facilities and create the appropriate teaching, research and service programs that were supposed to go into those new facilities.
As most people recognize, borrowing should be used for buildings, not on-going programs.
However, in this case, while Malloy’s plan moves money around, significant amounts of the new bonding would be used to pay for new faculty members; 1,400 scholarships for top students; 50 doctoral fellowships; and 2,000 grants for students and faculty to launch projects.
Finally, Connecticut already faces significant debt and long-term liabilities that must be paid. In fact, these are liabilities that the state MUST pay off in the next couple of decades. Before adding more debt and liabilities to the state’s books, state officials must take far more aggressive action to increase funding to reduce the existing liabilities. The following chart summarizes Connecticut’s existing debt and liabilities.
||Amount of State Debt or State Unfunded Liabilities
|State Pension Fund
|Teacher Pension Fund
|Post Retirement State and Teacher Health Benefits
UConn definitely needs more funding. A more realistic approach to increasing operating funds would have been a better step forward.
You can read more about Malloy’s proposal via the following links: http://www.courant.com/news/breaking/hc-engineering-uconn-0201-20130131,0,4372437.story and http://ctmirror.org/story/18962/21-billion-plan-uconn and http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2013/01/uconn-state-officials-announce-launch-of-next-generation-connecticut-initiative/
Board of Regents, Budget Cuts, Higher Education, Malloy Board of Regents, Higher Education, Malloy
They said it was all about adding faculty for Connecticut’s public colleges. While the number of students had increased dramatically, the number of full-time faculty had declined by 10 percent over the past eight years.
First came Malloy’s merger of the Connecticut State Universities and the Community Colleges. The promise was that the plan would save at least $4.3 million, money that would then be used to hire new faculty.
State Senator Beth Bye, the legislator’s strongest advocate for the merger, echoed Malloy’s claim, writing in a commentary piece that, “One financial benefit of the governor’s proposed overhaul is that an estimated $4.3 million is saved by eliminating duplicative administrative costs…” Senator Bye added that the savings would be used to add faculty.
Then came the tuition increases. The cost for an in-state student attending one of the Connecticut State Universities and living on campus jumped to $19,119.
But Mike Meotti, Governor Malloy’s point person on the merger, and the Executive Vice President of the Board of Regents promised, “This recommended increase will allow our state colleges and universities to hire additional faculty…”
Meanwhile, Governor Malloy’s own spokesman called the increase “fairly modest” and defended the decision to raise tuition during a recession saying that the money would be spent on new faculty.
But today, the Board of Regents announced that the $5.5 million that they pledged to use to hire at least 47 new faculty is being eliminated as a result of Governor Malloy’s recent $14.4 million cut to the new system.
As noted in today’s CTMirror, “A letter from the college system’s chief financial officer instructed college presidents not to move forward with hiring the new positions the appointed Board of Regents for Higher Education approved three months ago.”
And surprise, surprise, the CT Mirror found that “the Malloy administration was not immediately available for comment” on this recent development.
At this point, since Malloy took office last year he has cut state spending on public college and universities by more than 14%, reaffirming his position as the Governor who has made the deepest cuts in the history of Connecticut’s public higher education system.
The result being that, once again, Connecticut students and parents are left paying more and getting less.
The CTMirror story can be found here: http://www.ctmirror.org/story/18367/state-deficit-stalls-promised-new-faculty-positions-higher-ed-shakeup
Higher Education, Malloy Board of Regents, Higher Education, Malloy
With Robert Kennedy’s resignation, will Governor Malloy and the Legislature decide that the Regent-gate crisis is resolved or will they push to ensure that additional people are held accountable for the illegal and inappropriate activities that took place?
Nearly $300,000 in pay raises were “authorized” by Kennedy without the approval of the full Board of Regents, as required under the law.
The Key Issues are;
- Everyone involved was certainly aware of the Malloy-SEBAC state employee agreement which prohibited pay raises for the two years of the biannual budget.
- The Board of Regents’ compensation process is governed by Section 10a-1b of the Connecticut State Statues. It is a new law that was proposed by Governor Malloy, adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor.
- The law is hardly ambiguous. Sec. 10a-1b (b) reads; “The president may employ staff as is deemed necessary, including, but not limited to, temporary assistants and consultants. The board shall establish terms and conditions of employment of its staff, prescribe their duties and fix the compensation of its professional and technical personnel.”
- In addition, on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, the CONNECTICUT BOARD OF REGENTS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION held a five hour retreat at the Connecticut Science Center as part of the board training process. The first item of the morning was, “Discussion – Roles and Responsibilities of the Board of Regents.” Later they discussed the “Fiduciary responsibilities,” the “Decision-making processes within the Board” and “The Board and President’s leadership roles.”
Meanwhile the Board of Regents top executive staff are hardly neophytes.
In addition to Robert Kennedy, there is;
Michael Meotti who serves as the Executive Vice President. He has served as a Commissioner of Higher Education, a CEO of a major non-profit “think-tank” and a State Senator. His raise was $47,800 on top of his initial base salary of $184,424
Elsa Núñez who serves as the Vice President for State Universities. She serves as President of Eastern Connecticut University and has held numerous top level administrative jobs in higher education. Her raise was $48,000 on top of her salary of $299,460
David Levinson who serves as Vice President for Community Colleges. He serves as President of Housatonic Community College and has held other high ranking positions in higher education. His raise was $48,000 on top of his salary of $204,188
And Colleen Flanagan, who served as Governor Malloy’s press secretary for over a year, Director of Communications for the Board of Regents and now serves as the Chief of Staff for the Board of Regents. Her raise was $24,000 on top of her salary of $130,000
Furthermore, the Regent’s Director of Human Relations is one of the two most experienced human relations administrators in Connecticut State Government.
And finally, while the Board of Regents is relatively new, it is made up of members who have significant public and private sector experience. It is inconceivable that some of these board members were not aware that some inappropriate activities were taking place.
The Board of Regent members include;
Lewis J. Robinson, Jr. – Chair Lewis J. Robinson, Jr. is a seasoned attorney with a comprehensive background in business, law and government affairs, as well as charitable organizations.
Yvette Meléndez - Vice Chair – Yvette Meléndez, Vice President of Government and Community Alliances for Hartford Healthcare, has three decades of public policy experience.
Richard J. Balducci – Richard J. Balducci of Deep River is vice president of Doyle, D’Amore and Balducci in Hartford and former Speaker of the House.
Naomi K. Cohen – Naomi K. Cohen has served in numerous educational leadership positions, including House Chair of the General Assembly’s Education Committee.
Lawrence DeNardis – Dr. Lawrence DeNardis is President Emeritus of the University of New Haven and a former United States Congressman from Connecticut.
Nicholas M. Donofrio – Nicholas M. Donofrio led IBM’s technology and innovation strategies from 1997 until his retirement in October 2008.
Matt Fleury – Matt Fleury became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Science Center April 1, 2009, after serving as the Center’s Executive Vice President and COO.
Michael Fraser – Michael Fraser is an undergraduate Political Science student with a minor in History at Western Connecticut State University.
Merle W. Harris – Merle W. Harris has 45 years of educational experience, serving in several positions at institutions of higher education, in Connecticut.
Gary F. Holloway – Gary F. Holloway is a founder of Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, an alternative investment and asset management company. Halloway is, “Managing Member, Principal, and Chairman at Five Mile Capital Partners. He is also the Founder of the firm. Prior to Five Mile, Mr. Holloway spent 15 years at Greenwich Capital Markets/Greenwich NatWest Securities, retiring in 2001 as Chairman of Greenwich Capital. During this period, Greenwich Capital grew from a virtual start-up to one of the premier investment banks in the fields of fixed income securities and structured products.”
Craig Lappen – Craig Lappen is President of 21st Century Financial Advisors in Manchester. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and has an MBA in finance from the University of Connecticut.
René Lerer – René Lerer is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Magellan Health Services, with more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare field. René Lerer, M.D., is, “ chairman and chief executive officer of Magellan Health Services, one of the country’s leading specialty health care management organizations, leveraging clinical excellence, innovation and operational expertise to manage behavioral health, radiology, specialty pharmaceuticals and Medicaid benefits. With revenue of nearly $3 billion in 2011, Magellan is a market leader with broad and deep experience. The company’s customers include health plans, employers and government agencies, serving approximately 33.7 million members in its behavioral health business, 17.1 million in its radiology benefits management segment, and 7 million members in its medical pharmacy management product. In addition, the specialty pharmaceutical segment serves 40 health plans and several pharmaceutical manufacturers and state Medicaid programs. The Company’s Medicaid Administration segment serves 24 states and the District of Columbia.”
Michael E. Pollard – Michael Pollard is co-founder of Optul Global Services, LLC. Also consult for Integrated Technical Systems, Inc.
Alex Tettey Jr. – Alex Tettey Jr. is an undergraduate student pursuing a Liberal Arts and Science degree at Manchester Community College.
Zac Zeitlin – Zac Zeitlin (Westport) is a former partner of Silver Point Capital, where he ran the firm’s Principal Finance business. Zeitlin was a senior partner at Silver Point Capital L.P, “Silver Point Capital is a privately owned hedge fund sponsor. The firm manages hedge funds for its clients. It invests in the public equity, fixed income, and hedging markets of the United States. The firm primarily invests in securities of distressed, large-cap, and Mid-cap companies; bank debts; bonds; and trade claims. It specializes in credit analysis and diversified credit-related investments.”
In addition there are four Ex-Officio members;
Jewel Mullen – In December 2010, Governor Malloy announced his appointment of Dr. Jewel Mullen as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH).
Sharon Palmer – Who has just been appointed Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor
Stefan Pryor – Stefan Pryor was selected by Governor Malloy and the State Board of Education to serve as Education Commissioner in 2011.
Catherine Smith -Catherine Smith is the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).
Higher Education Board of Regents, Higher Education, Malloy
“After taking some time to think about what is in the best interest of our state and this new organization, our colleges and universities, the faculty, staff, presidents and, of course, our students, I have decided to submit my resignation to Board Chairman Lewis J. Robinson this morning,”
Robert Kennedy, Outgoing President of the Board of Regents 10-12-2012
Next Question: Are more resignations coming or do they simply throw this guy under the bus and talk about how cool the weather is and whether there was frost on the pumpkins?
Board of Regents, Human Services, Public Employees, SEBAC Board of Regents, Higher Education, Malloy, Mike Meotti
The latest development in the “Regent-gate” situation was the press conference yesterday afternoon in which the Democratic and Republican leaders of the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee demanded the resignation of Robert Kennedy, the President of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.
Meanwhile Kennedy continued to apologize and claim that he had mistakenly authorized pay raises for 21 members of the Board of Regent’s executive staff, despite the fact that the new law creating the Board of Regent system is absolutely clear that only the full Board has the authority to approve compensation issues.
Governor Malloy, who recruited Mr. Kennedy, also blasted him at various points yesterday, but did not demand that he be fired, nor did he call for his resignation.
The Board of Regents has a previously scheduled board meeting at 2:30 p.m. today where one would expect that issue to be added to the agenda.
While the bi-partisan call was only targeted at Mr. Kennedy, Republican leader John McKinney also demanded the resignation of Michael Meotti, the Executive Vice President for the Board of Regents.
A week ago, the CTMirror broke the news that Meotti had received a $49,000 pay raise this year, despite a prohibition on any pay raises as part of the Malloy-SEBAC state employee agreement.
This week the controversy spread dramatically when it was discovered that a total of 21 employees of the Board of Regents had received pay raises totally about $300,000 a year.
To date, State Representative Roberta Willis is the only Democratic leader to demand that the Board of Regents also, “look at Meotti and his role” in the decision to hand out the raises.
Considering that a number of senior administrators at the Board of Regents are experienced in Connecticut law, it is inconceivable that Mr. Kennedy could have made the decision without the input and advice of his leadership team.
Considering Meotti was a popular former Democratic State Senator and a close ally and friend of both Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman, it’s not surprising that most Democrats would be hesitant to publicly demand the investigation be expanded to include people beyond Mr. Kennedy.
As the Courant article noted, as late as Wednesday night, it appeared that Governor Malloy and the Chairman of the Board of Regents were positioning themselves to accept Kennedy’s apology, but stand by him.
However, the unexpected and particularly strong statements coming from the Higher Education Committee, and the growing recognition that the law related to pay raises for employees of the Board of Regents was very clear, the overall tone on Thursday changed and it has become increasingly clear that Kennedy’s level of support is quickly eroding.
One of the strangest developments, to date, was the attempt by Andrew McDonald; the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, to claim that the decision as to whether Kennedy should stay or go was really out of the Governor’s hands and that Governor Malloy could only recommend the Board of Regents investigate and take action if appropriate.
Apparently Attorney McDonald was not asked or reminded that Governor Malloy did not only recruit Mr. Kennedy, but he appointed 9 of the 15 members of the Board of Regents. In addition, there are five ex-officio members of the Board, all of whom serve as Malloy’s commissioners to various state agencies.
Those who enjoy betting on the odds might do well to put their money on an announcement later today that Mr. Kennedy has decided to resign, so that, “the powers that be,” can focus all of their attention on protecting the other senior employees at the Board of Regents, including Mr. Meotti.
Higher Education, Malloy Board of Regents, Higher Education, Malloy
October 11, 2012
In a move to “re-frame” the discussion, Governor Malloy’s press operation released a statement, earlier today, regarding the Board of Regents.
The press release quoted the Governor as saying, “The developments of the past week at the Board of Regents’ central office have unfortunately overshadowed the accomplishments that have been achieved over the past year as the result of the reforms that were implemented.”
The list of accomplishments the followed included their plans to create 47 new faculty and student support positions and the creation of “three new manufacturing centers.” They deserve credit for both items.
However, they crossed the line between political spin and revisionist history when they added, “In addition, the Board approved a seamless transfer and articulation proposal that will allow students throughout the system to transfer schools much more easily. That proposal languished for close to 30 years. Now it’s happening.”
No one can blame them for trying to shift the focus from the debacle of Regent-gate, but knowingly misrepresenting the facts is particularly offensive.
The truth is that thanks to many Connecticut state legislators and higher education leaders, Connecticut has been consistently making improvements in its higher education transfer and articulation programs for the last three decades.
I can certainly understand why they’d overlook the work that I did in my ten years as a State Representative, but there were many others who spent countless hours working on improving mechanisms to allow student to transfer from Connecticut’s community colleges to Connecticut’s State Universities and the University of Connecticut.
Thanks to Nancy Wyman, who now serves as Malloy’s Lt. Governor, Kevin Sullivan, who now serves as Malloy’s Commissioner of Revenue Services, and other legislators such as State Senator Joan Hartley and State Representative Roberta Willis, successful legislative efforts to improve transfer agreements took place in 1991, 1995 and 2001. All of those bills, along with others, have played a significant role in developing Connecticut’s transfer and articulation policies.
A Columbia University study in 2006 found that, “The Connecticut higher education system has been making major strides toward a more comprehensive system of transfer articulation.”
In particular, Connecticut won accolades for having “career path agreements in business, early childhood education, teacher preparation, allied health, nursing and engineering. They are at the systemic level, not left to arrangements between specific institutions.”
When William Cibes served as the Chancellor of the Connecticut State University System and Mark Herzog served as the Chancellor of the Connecticut Community & Technical Colleges, the two of them led a successful effort to develop unprecedented transfer options between Connecticut’s Community Colleges and the Connecticut’s State Universities.
Those efforts led to a student recruitment program framed by advertising that, “Connecticut State University has formed a transfer compact agreement with all 12 Connecticut Community Colleges which will benefit you if you are planning to enroll at a Connecticut State University after you finish your associate degree. Beginning your college education at any of the Connecticut Community Colleges and then completing your education at CSU makes it easy for you to outline your path to success.”
The particular advantage of that transfer compact was that students participating in the program were guaranteed unconditional admission to one of the Connecticut State Universities upon successful completion of their associate’s degree, although specific academic and professional programs did have additional admission requirements.
Let’s be honest…there is simply no doubt that phrases like, “That proposal languished for close to 30 years,” makes for good political rhetoric.
However, Malloy’s press statement is not only an insult to everyone who worked on this important issue over the past thirty years; the statement is nothing short of a falsehood.
While political spin has become the primary currency of American democracy, when spin crosses the line to outright lying, it needs to be directly confronted.
Today, a bi-partisan group of legislators called for the resignation of Robert Kennedy, the President of the Connecticut Board of Regents.
That would certainly be a good start, but the blame for what has occurred at the Board of Regents rests on the shoulders of a number of other senior executives as well
Malloy’s latest press statement can be found here: http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?Q=512282&A=4010
George Jepsen, Higher Education, Malloy, State Budget Board of Regents, Higher Education, Jepsen, Malloy
Merging the Connecticut State University and the Community Colleges was a disaster in the making. Search Wait, What? for some of the earlier posts on the subject. Most disappointing of all is that the people who allowed it to happen knew better and yet actively helped push through Malloy’s plan.
Now, as a by-product of that mistake, 21 employees of the new Board of Regents have been illegally sharing hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay raises, on top of their excessive salaries.
According to the Hartford Courant, “Under pressure from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Board of Regents President Robert A. Kennedy on Wednesday suspended more than $250,000 worth of salary raises for 21 staff members that he had approved — improperly — over the past 10 months.”
The raises were ILLEGAL…You can’t suspend ILLEGAL RAISES. What you can do is require that the money be repaid and fire the people who failed to follow the law.
According to the Hartford Courant story, the Mr. Kennedy, “also announced that Michael Meotti, the board’s executive vice president who decided this week to forgo his almost $48,000 raise, would also return the additional pay that he has received since the raise took effect on June 29.”
The raises were ILLEGAL. If you illegally receive public funds you do not get to keep it. It is not one of those optional things. Let’s see, should I or shouldn’t I keep the public money I received illegally?
Meanwhile Governor Malloy’s chief attorney, Andrew McDonald, said these actions came after the Governor, “strongly urged them” to take action. McDonald added, “There’s no formal authority by the governor over the board. Our effort was more from a perspective of persuasion than instruction.”
The Governor appointed 9 of the 13 members of the Board of Regents. The Governor personally recruited Robert Kennedy to serve as President of the Board of Regents…
The raises were ILLEGAL. If a state employee acts illegally, the Governor must take action regardless of whether he calls it “perspective of persuasion” or “instruction.”
McDonald also said that the raises “might be illegal, but that would have to be determined by a judge. It’s not incorrect to say unauthorized and improper.”
Wait, Wait, What?
The language of the statute could not be clearer. The law that Malloy proposed, the Legislature adopted and Malloy signed into law says that only the Board of Regents can set the compensation of employees who work for the Board of Regents. The Board did not adopt these raises. It might be illegal? It is improper? Only a judge?
Do they forget we have state auditors? Do they forget the authority (obligation) they have to apply the written law to state activities?
Meanwhile, the CTNewswjunkie’s story includes the news that, “Attorney General George Jepsen said he has not been asked for a formal opinion on the propriety of the raises, but he indicated that they probably were inappropriate.”
Are we on American’s Funniest Home Videos or something?
Last I checked the Attorney General has the authority to simply say…you can’t do it, because it is illegal!
But if necessary, on behalf of the people of Connecticut, please accept this as a “formal” request for a “formal opinion.”
And not to be outdone, Mr. Kennedy, the President of the Board of Regents told reporters, “There was no intent to deceive or mislead, but it’s clear that I could have and should have handled this differently and in the future I will,” Kennedy said.
It is almost as if the President of the Board of Trustees, who makes $340,000 plus an extraordinary compensation page, (and his entire senior staff) are now saying that they failed to follow the law because they unintentionally failed to read the law.
If you read the various news articles, you find additional information, but they all point toward the same conclusions; the taxpayer’s money needs to be returned and people need to be fired.