Superintendents – You will held responsible for misleading parents and students on the SBAC Opt-Out Issue

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Last year Governor Dannel Malloy’s State Department of Education sent out an inappropriate, offense and disrespectful memo to local school superintendents instructing them on how to mislead and hassle parents into falsely believing that they did not have the right to protect their children from the new Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme.

After the memo received media attention here at Wait, What? and elsewhere, the memo disappeared from the State Department of Education’s website (You can find it here: State Department of Education SBAC Memo)

This year Malloy’s Education Department is ducking the issue but it continues to communicate with superintendents through the director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS).

Using last year’s memo and information provided by CAPPS, some Connecticut school superintendents continue to mislead students, parents, teachers and the public about the fundamental right that parents have to opt their children out of the inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Program.

Superintendents who are claiming that parents cannot opt out their children from of the Common Core SBAC test because there is, “No opt out provision in Connecticut law,”  are intentionally overlooking the fact that parents have the fundamental right to remove their children from the Common Core SBAC Testing program and that there is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the government or local school district to punish a child (or parent) who decides to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test.

Superintendents who continue to mislead parents are placing themselves and their local Boards of Education in significant legal jeopardy.

Any attempts to place inappropriate barriers in the way of parents implementing their legal right to opt their children out of the test will be met with swift legal action, including the potential use of lawsuits alleging that superintendents are intentionally violating the constitutionally protected civil rights of parents.

In addition, superintendents who fail to adhere to Connecticut’s Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators (Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies Section 10-145d-400b) will face extremely serious complaints that their behavior violates their legal duty to follow the code associated with their state certification and that disciplinary action is needed against those individuals

As every Connecticut school superintendent knows, according to state regulation, that superintendents and otehr professional school administrators must;

  • Respect the dignity of each family, its culture, customs and beliefs;
  • Promote and maintain appropriate, ongoing and timely written and oral communications with the family;
  • Respond in a timely fashion to families’ concerns;
  • Consider the family’s perspective on issues involving its children;
  • Encourage participation of the family in the educational process; and
  • Foster open communication among the family, staff and administrators

In addition, the code requires that professional school administrator, in full recognition of obligation to the student, shall;

  • Make the well-being of students the value in all decision making and actions;
  • Recognize, respect and uphold the dignity and worth of students as individuals and deal justly and considerately with students

Lying and misleading students and parents is not only immoral and unethical but it is illegal and violates the laws and regulations that guide the conduct of Connecticut’s superintendents.

Connecticut’s superintendents have been put on notice.

Continued efforts to prevent parents from opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Testing Scam will be met with any and all potential legal, administrate and political actions.

When it comes to opting out of the Common Core SBAC Testing, Connecticut superintendents must stop misleading parents and must start helping them achieve their goal of protecting their children from these inappropriate and harmful tests.

Enough is enough!

[Finally, superintendents know the truth – both the former Commissioner of Education and the Chairman of the State Board of Education have made it clear that parents can opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests.]

Education School Deans in CT make national headlines with powerful commentary piece

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Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public education advocate, whose blog gets as many as 800,000 hits a month has highlighted the courageous stand taken by a number of college and university deans at schools of education in Connecticut.

The anti-testing, pro-teacher position these college deans are taking is especially important in light of the fact that Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has been engaged in an effort to force the University of Connecticut to turn its School of Education over to the Corporate Education Reform Industry.  The Malloy administration’s State Department of Education has also been working to undermine some of the schools of education in the Connecticut State University System, especially targeting the program at Southern Connecticut State University.

In a recent Hartford Courant commentary piece, education deans from Connecticut’s independent colleges and universities step forward on behalf of teachers, the teaching profession, teacher preparation and public education in Connecticut.

Covering the news, Diane Ravitch posted a story entitled, “Connecticut: Ed School Deans Call for Common Sense and an End to Teacher-Bashing,”

Diane Ravitch writes;

Kevin G. Basmadjian, Dean of the School of Education at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, wrote a powerful article in the Hartford Courant in collaboration with other deans from across the state.

Connecticut’s students are among the highest on the NAEP, yet its policymakers insist that its schools and teachers are unsuccessful. The politicians want more charter schools and Teach for America.

He writes:

“As a nation and a state, we have clearly failed to address the inequalities that disproportionally impact many urban school districts where kids are poor and segregated. Sadly, for the first time in 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students now come from low-income families. But instead of addressing this crisis, we have demonized teachers for failing to solve problems our government cannot, or will not, solve. Poverty, homelessness and the dangerously high levels of emotional and psychological stress experienced by low-income students — these are the problems many of our nation’s public school teachers face every day.

“Our nation’s obsession with standardized test scores will not solve these problems, and they put our country at great risk intellectually as well as economically. As educational researcher Yong Zhao writes, countries with which we are often compared — such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea — are moving away from a focus on testing in their public schools. Why? Because they have learned from the history of the United States that a great education and nation is one that rewards creativity, originality, imagination and innovation….

“The most recent scapegoat for our nation’s shameful achievement gap is teacher preparation programs, for failing to produce a steady stream of what the U.S. Department of Education abstractly calls “great teachers” to work in our neediest public schools. By blaming teacher preparation programs, the department can yet again divert public attention from the most crucial barrier to achieving educational equality: poverty.

There is a need for more “great teachers” who will commit themselves to our state’s neediest public schools. But achieving this goal will take more than naive slogans or punitive measures levied against teacher preparation programs that do not successfully persuade graduates to teach in these schools. The U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulations for teacher preparation — with its emphasis on standardized test scores — work against this goal because of the overly technical, anti-intellectual portrait of teaching they endorse. We in Connecticut need to make these jobs more attractive to prospective teachers through increased respect, support and autonomy rather than criticism, disdain and surveillance.”

The entire commentary piece authored by the deans can be found here: Stop Blaming Teachers And Relying On Tests.

The authors of the powerful piece are Kevin G. Basmadjian, the dean of the School of Education at Quinnipiac University. Also participating in writing this piece were: James Carl, dean of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education at Sacred Heart University; Allen P. Cook, dean of the School of Education at the University of Bridgeport; Sandy Grande, chair of the Education Department at Connecticut College; Robert D. Hannafin, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions at Fairfield University; Ann Monroe-Baillargeon, dean of the School of Education at the University of Saint Joseph; Nancy S. Niemi, chair and professor in the Education Department at the University of New Haven; and Joan E. Venditto, director of education programs at Albertus Magnus College.

Moales and Charter School Industry go down to crushing defeat in Bridgeport – Again

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Despite the support of Governor Malloy’s political operatives, including Bridgeport Mayor Finch and the ConnCAN/Achievement First Inc. charter school industry, pro-charter school candidate Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. couldn’t even muster enough voters to impact yesterday’s Special Election for a seat in the Connecticut State Senate.

The infamous Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. came in a distant 3rd place in yesterday’s Special Election collecting only 503 votes compared to the winner, Working Families Party candidate and former state senator Ed Gomes, who received 1,504.  The Democratic Party endorsed candidate Richard DeJesus, who Finch initially supported before turning to Moales, garnered 791 voters.

According to the Working Families Party, Ed Gomes becomes the first candidate in the country to win a legislative seat running only on the Working Families Party line.

Kenneth Moales Jr. has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiatives.

Moales was not only a leading champion of education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas but has been a major proponent of Steve Perry’s plan to open a charter school in Bridgeport.

The Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. sits on the Board of Directors for Perry’s charter school and was a lone voice on the Bridgeport Board of Education when the democratically-elected board asked the Malloy administration NOT TO approve Perry’s charter school application.

However, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and his political appointees on the State Board of Education overlooked the position taken by the Bridgeport Board of Education and last spring and approved Perry’s plan to open a privately-owned but publicly-funded charter school in Bridgeport.

Although Governor Malloy’s proposed state budget actually cuts funding for public schools in Connecticut, the governor’s plan adds funding for four new charter schools in the state, including Steve Perry’s charter and one in Bridgeport that will be owned by an out-of-state company.

Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. previously served as Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer and his loss yesterday marks the fourth time in a row that Bridgeport voters rejected Finch and the charter school industry agenda.

Finch is up for re-election this fall and opposition to granting him another term is gaining steam.

More than 90% of English Language Learners “Projected” to Fail Common Core SBAC Test

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The time for outrage is upon us!

The Common Core testing scam must be stopped.

Considering that many of the world’s greatest scientists, authors, actors, teachers and leaders were once English Language Learners one would think the public education system in the United States would be designed to promote and support opportunities for those who need extra help learning the English Language. Moreover you would think education policymakers would be working to find ways to take advantage of the opportunities that having a multilingual population present.

But instead, the Corporate Education Reform Industry and their supporters are pushing a political agenda that actually seeks to isolate and discriminate against the overwhelming majority of students who face any sort of challenge, including those who aren’t yet fluent in the English language.

The fundamental discriminatory nature of the Common Core testing program is yet another example of the insidious and detrimental approach that the corporate elite call “education reform.”

Take for example the situation here in Connecticut.

Faced with a growing revolt against the discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy issued a press release yesterday in defense of the Common Core SBAC test saying,

“Tests are important tools in the teaching and learning toolbox that helps track student progress towards success in college and careers.”

Yes Governor Malloy, tests are important tools, but the Common Core SBAC test is not a mastery test or even a useful tool in the “teaching and learning toolbox.”  Instead it is a computer-based standardized testing system that is specifically designed in such a way as to intentionally define the vast majority of public students as failures.

Among the Common Core SBAC test’s greatest failure is its utter contempt for English Language Learners – students that are not presently proficient in the English language.

Rather than focus on developing the teaching and learning tools to ensure English Language Learners succeed, the Common Core SBAC test is a mechanism to label ELL students, and the educators who teach them, as failures.

The paid spokesperson for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), a corporate-funded advocacy group supporting Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Initiative and the Common Core SBAC test, recently dismissed concerns about the Common Core SBAC testing program during a NBC-CT TV interview by suggesting that those who needed “extra help” taking the test would get it.  His example, students who faced language barriers could have their Common Core SBAC questions asked in Spanish.

Forget the fact that the children in the Hartford Public School System go back to homes that speak 79 different languages…what CCER’s executive director failed to address is that it is the Common Core SBAC test itself that is actually the problem because it is designed in such a way that more than 90% of ELL students will not meet the artificial “goal” level.

This year every Connecticut public school is required to implement the Common Core SBAC test and the pass/fail “cut scores” are based on the results of last year’s 2014 Common Core SBAC field test.

According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s own information, more than 90 percent of the English Language Learners will be labeled as failures.

Rather than discuss whether the test is an appropriate tool or is appropriately calibrated when it comes to passing or failing, the proponents simply say that “it is what it is.”

That, in English, is called discrimination and racism….

And it has no place in the nation’s public schools.

Here are some of the “projected” results for the Common Core SBAC Test

Projected Failure Rate for English Language Learners on English (ELA) Section

4th Grade ELL Students    90.2% WILL FAIL
 6th Grade ELL Students  95.1% WILL FAIL
 8th Grade ELL Students  95.2% WILL FAIL
11TH Grade ELL Students  94.3% WILL FAIL

 

Projected Failure Rate for English Language Learners on Math Section

4th Grade ELL Students    89.1% WILL FAIL
 6th Grade ELL Students  94.8% WILL FAIL 
 8th Grade ELL Students  94.7% WILL FAIL
11TH Grade ELL Students  94.3% WILL FAIL

 

Important Note:  The SBAC Pass/Fail “cut scores” were set in November 2014 and Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, voted in favor of these Pass/Fail rates.  Interestingly, Vermont and New Hampshire abstained on the vote because they didn’t think the way the tests were being scored was fair.

Yesterday’s Wait, What? blog post explained that the Common Core SBAC testing scheme is geared to identify 9 in 10 special education students as failures.  It is equally reprehensible that a massive national standardized testing system would be created in which that more than 90 percent of our nation’s English Language Learners are labeled as failing.

The problem is not our children.

The problem is the immoral and unethical Corporate Education Reform Industry and their political allies like Democratic Governors Dan Malloy and Andrew Cuomo who are undermining the sanctity of a fair and just society.

The hundreds of billions spent on the Common Core testing operation could have made a real difference if it was spent on supporting the quality of education for our nation’s children rather than for creating a discriminatory testing system that undermines their very sense of self and self-worth.

Parents need to opt their children out of the Common Testing debacle before it is too late.

You can find out more about the SBAC cut score system at: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Disaggregated-FieldTestDataFINAL.pdf

Connecticut Education Association says put the focus on student learning, not testing.

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Seven weeks after Governor Dannel Malloy was sworn into a second term and the Connecticut General Assembly began to consider legislation for the 2015 Session, the Connecticut Education Association held a press conference today to proclaim;

Teachers and voters sound the alarm on excessive testing

File this one under – a little late, but better late than never…

With the massive inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scam about to sweep into Connecticut’s public schools, the Connecticut Education Association  held a “major news conference” to discuss:

  • what we want to happen to testing;
  • how we want it to happen; and,
  • what we—together through legislative advocacy—must do to get it done.

The union representing most of Connecticut’s public school teachers said they were going to, “call on the Connecticut General Assembly to reduce the testing burden on students.”

The CEA’s news release can be found at:  CEA news release

The CEA is also releasing a new public opinion poll that “indicates the voting public wants the state legislature to take action to reduce testing.”

The CEA’s leadership is also announcing that, it has,

“[B]een in high-level discussions with decision makers at the U.S. Department of Education to determine how Connecticut can meet onerous federal requirements, while still reducing testing. Sound impossible? It isn’t.”

The teacher’s union is going to air two new television ads about the testing issue which apparently can be seen here – Click here to see the new ads.

And the CEA has, “launched a petition drive to round out our efforts to get positive change. Click here to sign the CEA petition.”

I added my name, hopefully other Wait, What? readers will sign the petition as well.

The CEA press release apparently makes no mention of what, if anything, the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter is doing to stop the students, parents and teachers by fighting the Common Core SBAC testing madness.

The press release also fails to address what the CEA expected since the union leadership had overruled its own endorsement committee and through the union’s support behind Governor Dannel Malloy who has pledged to stay the course on his Corporate Education Reform Industry Agenda.

The AFT donated in excess of $600,000; while the National Education Association gave Malloy’s various campaign accounts a much smaller amount of money.

More on this breaking news as it becomes available.

Unfortunately, the CEA press release also fails to make a strong and definitive statement of support for a parent’s fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core Test.

Nevertheless, it is good news that the leadership of Connecticut’s largest union is taking action to urge the legislature to reduce the amount of standardized testing.

Again, you can find the CEA press release here: http://www.cea.org/issues/press/2015/feb/23/teachers-and-voters-sound-the-alarm-on-excessive-testing.cfm

More on this breaking news as it becomes available.

Teachers across America are fighting for their students – Where the hell are CT’s teacher unions

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Governor Malloy has made it painfully clear – he intends to stay the course on the discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

This from the Governor who said he didn’t mind teachers teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up.

The truth is that Common Core SBAC Test is rigged to ensure that the majority of Connecticut students are deemed failures.

Furthermore, the outrageous and absurd Common Core Test is particularly unfair for children of color, children who aren’t fluent in the English Language and children who require special educations services.

Despite these facts, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education voted to set the pass/fail mark at a level that as many as 7 in 10 students will fail and the State Department of Education continues to instruct local superintendents to mislead parents into believing that they do not have the fundamental right to protect their children by opting them out of this dangerous testing scheme.

But of course, parents have the fundamental right to protect their children and there is absolutely no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or local school districts to punish children whose parents refuse to allow their children to be abused by this Common Core testing system.

In state’s across the nation, public teachers are stepping forward and risking their jobs to say enough is enough and that the massive and inappropriate Common Core Testing Scheme has got to be stopped before it unfairly defines an entire generation of children as failures.

In many cases, teacher unions are taking the lead in speaking out for students, parents and teachers against the Common Core Testing program.

But from the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter these has been no public criticism of Governor Malloy or his reliance on the Common Core Testing scam that seeks to undermine public education in Connecticut and denigrate teachers and the teaching profession.

Instead the leadership of the two teacher unions endorsed Malloy in his re-election campaign and the American Federation of Teachers provided Malloy in excess of $600,000 to fund his campaign.

The time is long past due for the leaders of Connecticut’s teachers unions to join their colleagues in other states and condemn the Common Core Testing system.  The teachers unions need to demand a halt to this year’s testing program and demand that the test results from this unfair test are not used to evaluate the hardworking and dedicated public school teachers of Connecticut.

If the leadership of Connecticut’s teacher unions need some guidance on what to say about the disastrous Common Core Testing is, here are just a few of the many links they should follow;

Chicago Teachers Union joins growing national opposition to deeply flawed Common Core Standards

Resolution to Support the “I Refuse” Movement

Includes New York Associated Teachers of Huntington, Baldwin Teachers Association, Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers, Bellport Teachers Association, Bethpage Congress of Teachers, Brentwood Teachers Association, Brockport Teachers Association, Camden Teachers Association, Central Islip Teachers Association, Clarkstown Teachers Association, Connetquot Teachers Association, Farmingdale Federation of Teachers, Fulton Teachers Association, Hamburg Teachers Association, Hastings Teachers Association, Ichabod Crane Teachers Association, Islip Teachers Association, Kingston Teachers Federation, Lancaster Central Teachers Association, Lakeland Federation of Teachers, Lawrence Teachers’ Association, Levittown Teachers Union, Locust Valley School Employees Association, Lynbrook Teachers Association, Miller Place Teachers Association, MORE Caucus (NYC), New Hartford Teachers Association, New Paltz United Teachers, New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees, New York Mills Teachers’ Association, North Rockland Teachers Association, North Syracuse Education Association, Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers, Plainedge Federation of Teachers, Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers, Port Jefferson Teachers Association, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, Rocky Point Teachers Association, Rome Teachers Association, Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association, Springville Faculty Association, Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association, Teachers Association of Lindenhurst, Troy Teachers Association, Valley Stream Teachers Association, West Babylon Teachers Association, West Canada Valley Teachers Association, West Genesee Teachers’ Association, West Seneca Teachers Association

Portland teachers Oregon union resolution objects to new Smarter Balanced test

Florida Education Association & Palm Beach County Pass Anti-Testing Resolutions

Boston Teachers Union Resolution Against Testing

BAT JOINT RESOLUTION FOR TEST REFUSAL/APPR RESOLUTION

Another effort to stamp out democracy in Bridgeport – What is it with Mayor Finch and the Charter School Industry?

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What is it with Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Connecticut’s Charter School Industry?

We already know these people have a problem with democracy, but here we go again!

First Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and his Corporate Education Reform Industry allies persuaded Governor Malloy’s administration to illegally take over the Bridgeport School System.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ended up intervening and forcing the state of Connecticut to hand Bridgeport’s Schools back to the voters of Bridgeport.

As a result of Malloy’s illegal action, the Supreme Court even had to order a new election to fill the seats on Bridgeport’s democratically elected Board of Education.

But not to let a little thing like the law stand in the way, Bridgeport Mayor Finch and his supporters then tried to jam through a change in Bridgeport’s City Charter that would have completely eliminated a democratically elected Board of Education.

Mayor Finch’s solution was to replace democracy with a board of education appointed by him.

The Charter Revision campaign failed, but not before Finch and his Charter School buddies spent a record breaking amount of money.

Political Action Committees affiliated with the Corporate Education Reform Industry spent over $560,000 trying to convince Bridgeport voters to give up their democratic rights.

Major contributors to the anti-democracy campaign included the Charter School front group Excel Bridgeport ($101,803); Michele Rhee and the charter school advocacy group StudentsFirst ($185,480); Achievement First Bridgeport Chairman Andy Boas’ personal foundation ($14,000); ConnCAN ($14,000); Harbor Yard Sports & Entertainment ($14,442); Pullman & Comely law firm ($7,000); Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($25,000); Achievement First and ConnCAN founder Jonathan Sackler ($50,000); and a who’s who of the Bridgeport’s business community.

After failing to persuade Bridgeport voters to hand their schools over to a non-elected Board of Education, Charter School Team Finch went on to lose both a Democratic Primary and the General Election for the Bridgeport Board of Education.

But apparently Finch and the Charter School elite that have been targeting Bridgeport over the past few years just won’t rest until they actually destroy democracy in Bridgeport

Their next target appears to be Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, an organization that has been around for 45 years and has become a strong and effective voice for Bridgeport’s parents and students.

And an effective voice for parents is apparently just too much democracy and power for the Finch loyalists who are now engaged in an undemocratic strategy to derail this important vehicle for parent involvement in Bridgeport’s schools.

Late last Friday a “special notice” was sent out announcing that the Bridgeport Board of Education would be holding a “Special Meeting” to deal with the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council tomorrow – Monday, February 23, 2015.

The notice for a special meeting comes despite the fact that the Bridgeport Board of Education already has a regular meeting scheduled for 6:30 P.M.

Issuing an updated agenda would have been easy enough, but the pro-charter school, anti-democracy crowd went with the “Special Meeting” tactic.

Why would they want a “Special Meeting” instead of taking up whatever clandestine effort they are going to attempt at the Bridgeport Board of Education’s regular Monday Meeting an hour and a half later?

Because under their rules, the public is not allowed an opportunity to speak to the Board of Education at Special Meetings, whereas at regular meetings public input is allowed.

No really…

While it appears true that we are called the United States of America where the notion of freedom and democracy is supposed to be among our most cherished fundamental and inalienable rights, but when it comes to the Charter School Industry’s agenda and tactics, nothing is sacred.

Apparently “simply” undermining democracy isn’t enough for the charter school advocates.

They are not only engaged in a strategy to undermine Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, but they want to do it in a way that completely and utterly destroys the notion that Bridgeport’s parents even have Freedom of Speech or the right to be heard before their government takes action against them.

Adding further insult to the already absurd farce is that the “Special meeting” is scheduled for 5:00 PM, a time many parents and community members are still working or are busy fulfilling child raising duties and unable to make it to a hastily scheduled Board of Education Meeting.

The agenda for the “Special Meeting” is ominously entitled, “Discussion and Possible Action on District PAC Leadership.”

The agenda item being a not so hidden reference that the Board of Education may take “action” against Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council.

The entire development is just one more disgusting reminder that while we claim to be fighting the enemies of freedom abroad, some of the most serious threats to our American principles can be found right here at home.

If you happen to know Mayor Finch or his Charter School Allies…

Oh, never mind, it is no use talking to them, they simply don’t care about notions like democracy and Freedom of Speech.

And tomorrow they will try to prove that point yet again.

To them, the end always justifies the means and the Corporate Education Reform Industry won’t stop until they truly destroy public education in our country.

Here is to the hope that our fellow citizens in Bridgeport can fight back against the anti-democracy movement that is out to get them.

Malloy budget targets most vulnerable among us

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As we know, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy promised that he would not propose or accept any tax increase if he was elected to a second term  and then went ahead and proposed over $900 million in revenue “enhancements” in his budget address this week.

Malloy also used his re-election campaign to promise that he would maintain funding for local cities and towns and would not cut vital services.

On budget day, in the same document he proposed flat funding Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing education funding formula; he cut about $70 million from a variety of important public education programs that assist local schools as they seek to serve some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children.

And as if all of that wasn’t revolting enough, Malloy reserved his most drastic and draconian cuts for some of the state’s most important social service programs.

In a powerful and MUST READ commentary piece, Sarah Darer Littman lays out the truth about Malloy’s devastating budget plan in her commentary piece at the CTNewsjunkie;

Governor’s Budget Ignores Evidence, Hits Vulnerable (By Sarah Darer Littman)

Last week, after two years of hearing testimony, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued its draft report.

One hundred and thirty pages of the 198-page report relate to mental health issues, and the importance of building “systems of care that actively foster healthy individuals, families and communities,” particularly in light of research showing that “approximately half of young people qualify for some behavioral health diagnosis by the time they reach 18.”

Yet less than a week later, when Gov. Malloy revealed his biennial budget for 2016-2017, it was as if the Commission had produced an expensive paperweight, for all the attention it received from the administration.

According to an analysis by CT Voices for Children,  the “Children’s Budget” – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget, yet over half (54 percent) of the governor’s proposed cuts come from programs affecting children and families.

That’s before we even get to health care and education.

The Sandy Hook report specifically mentioned the importance making it easier for families to obtain mental health services for young people. Yet the budget reduces funding for the Young Adult Services program by $2.7 million (3.3 percent) and reduces funding for school based health centers by $1 million (8.5 percent).

In the Department of Education, the governor plans to eliminate funding for “lower priority or non-statewide programs” by $ 6.2 million. Here we’re talking about programs such as Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership (LEAP); Connecticut PreEngineering Program; Connecticut Writing Project; neighborhood youth centers; Parent Trust; science program for Educational Reform Districts; wrap-around services; Parent Universities; school health coordinator pilot; technical assistance – Regional Cooperation; Bridges to Success; Alternative High School and Adult Reading; and School to Work Opportunities. Not only that,he’s cutting $6.49 million annually for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School components of the Priority School District Grant (i.e. grant program for districts with greatest academic need).

Wrap-around services, longer school days, and enrichment for students, particularly in the more disadvantaged districts, were something Malloy touted when he was selling his education reform package back in 2012. “It’s not as if we don’t know what works,” Malloy said in an article in the New Britain Herald: “wrap-around services, longer school days and longer school years, Saturday enrichment options.”

On top of what Malloy said, there’s over 100 years worth of research on summer learning loss. It disproportionately affects lower-income students whose parents can’t afford to send them to pricey summer camps or other enrichment activities. What’s more, the effects are cumulative, contributing to the achievement gap.

Take the time to read Sarah Darer Littman’s entire commentary piece.

You can find it at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_governors_budget_ignores_evidence_hits_vulnerable/

Is your public school student a “failure” – the Common Core SBAC Test says probably yes!

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IMPORTANT:  Parents, teachers, school administrators, elected officials – PLEASE READ

A growing number of Connecticut parents are beginning to understand that in just a few weeks, the state’s public schools will start giving the new Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test.

But the devastating impact of these tests is yet to be fully understood.

Like all standardized tests, the Common Core SBAC discriminates against students who come from poor households, students who are not fluent in the English language and students who have special education needs.

But worse, unlike the traditional Connecticut Master Test which was more or less designed to determine whether students were learning what was being taught at their grade level in Connecticut, the Common Core SBAC test is rigged to determine that the vast majority of Connecticut students are deemed failures because they are not at “goal” level.

First off, the Common Core SBAC exam fails to test students on what they have been learning in Connecticut.  Instead the Common Core SBAC test is seeking to determine if students have reached a level that is about two grade levels above the present curriculum.

Second, and even more troubling, Governor Malloy’s administration approved Common Core SBAC pass/fail “cut scores” that are intentionally set to ensure that as many as six in ten children fail to meet goal in English and as many as seven in ten fail to reach goal in Math.

To repeat, the Common Core SBAC pass/fail rate is intentionally set to ensure that the vast majority of public school students are deemed failures, and making the situation even more unfair, the Common Core SBAC scheme particularly targets minority students, poor students, children who are not proficient in English and students with disabilities that require special education services.

Although tens of thousands of students participated in last year’s Common Core SBAC “Test of the Test,” Governor Malloy’s administration has refused to release the test results fearing, no doubt, that by informing parents, teachers, elected officials and the public of the results of the unfair Common Core SBAC test, opposition to these inappropriate standardized tests will grow exponentially.

It is unclear exactly what data that they Malloy’s Department of Education has been given by the SBAC organization, but documents available through the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC) reveal that data from last year’s massive testing program were available at least as early as December 22, 2014.

A review of the national results of the SBAC data makes it extremely clear why the Malloy administration would want to cover up and keep the Connecticut SBAC results because they clearly show that the Common Core SBAC test is even more discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate than critics ever imagined.

Here is just a quick snapshot of some of the Common Core SBAC results to date.

#1 Fourth Grade Math Scores

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 66% 36%
Boys 68% 39%
African American 38% 15%
Latino 45% 21%
White 78% 43%
Special Education 36% 13%
ELL/English Language Learners 27% 10%
Free Lunch 41% 22%

 

#2 Fourth Grade Writing/English Language Arts Scores

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 73% 46%
Boys 59% 36%
African American 42% 24%
Latino 44% 25%
White 76% 48%
Special Education 21% 16%
ELL/English Language Learners 27% 10%
Free Lunch 42% 27%

 

#4 Eighth Grade Math Scores

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 67% 32%
Boys 66% 33%
African American 37% 16%
Latino 39% 19%
White 79% 40%
Special Education 28% 8%
ELL/English Language Learners 13% 5%
Free Lunch 36% 20%

 

 

#4 Eight Grade Writing/English Language Arts Scores

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 73% 49%
Boys 58% 34%
African American 40% 23%
Latino 39% 29%
White 76% 49%
Special Education 20% 9%
ELL/English Language Learners 9% 5%
Free Lunch 36% 29%

 

After reviewing this data, parents should take immediate steps to opt their children out of the discriminatory Common Core SBAC test.

And then they should be asking why this data has not been shared with local boards of education and parents.

The time to protect your children from the inappropriate Common Core SBAC testing scam is now!

 

Source of Data

CMT via Connecticut State Department of Education CEDAR

SBAC Field Test Data by Demographic Group, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium 21/22/2014

Dan Malloy’s cut to end all cuts – Bring out your dead (or don’t as the case may be)

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Over the day and half since Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy announced his state budget plan, advocacy groups across the political spectrum have begun to weigh in on the unprecedented list of cuts he has proposed to a broad array of programs and services.

In the coming days and weeks Connecticut residents will learn a lot more about the impact of Governor Malloy’s proposed budget and Connecticut’s General Assembly will have to craft a final budget to vote on and return to the Governor for his signature.

But as the author of Wait, What? let me just take moment to make a personal observation…Perhaps I’ve lost all perspective about what it takes to be a civilized society or maybe I really am nothing but a big spending liberal, but for someone who thought they had seen it all, the following proposed cut in Malloy budget exceeds even my cynical sensibilities or expectations of what to expect from Dan “Dannel” Malloy.

If you look deep, deep inside Governor Malloy’s $40 billion proposed budget you’ll find a cut that ends up leaving one asking….

Really?   Is this how Dan Malloy is seeking to fulfill his duty as Connecticut’s highest ranking elected official?

The budget cut purports save $1.7 million next year and another $1.7 million the year after that.

The language describing the budget cut can be found within the budget of the Department of Social Services and its reads as follow,

  • Reduce Burial Benefit Provided Under the State Administered General Assistance Program

By explanation the text adds,

“DSS provides up to $1,800 for funeral and burial expenses of indigent persons who pass away without ability to pay for the cost of a funeral and burial…This proposal reduces the SAGA burial benefit to $1,000, which is more in line with surrounding states.”

My first response can’t or shouldn’t be printed in a publicly accessible blog.

My second was a feeling of bewilderment that Governor Malloy and his budget director, Ben Barnes, would explain away this cut by saying that the reduced burial benefit of $1,000 is “more in line with surrounding states.”  [Wait, What?]

And my third reaction was to take to the Internet only to discover the following;

A cremation service in New Haven advertises that it will take care of the task for $1,275.  But that of course doesn’t include any flowers, a certified copy of the Death Certificate, a “residential death requiring an extra man,” mailing of ashes within the United States, scattering of ashes, pacemaker removal, notice of death to the newspaper or a private one hour viewing, let alone any burial plot or tomb stone.

Another Connecticut company provides a package for $1,495 but that package “does not include a service or an urn.”  Nor does it cover the costs of disposal of the ashes, the burial plot, tomb stone etc.

While another nearby company promotes a basic package for only $975  which includes, “the removal of remains from place of death, transportation to crematory, cremation container, sanitary care of deceased, storage of remains for mandatory 48 hour waiting period or until cremation can take place.  They state that memorial urns are extra and go for $105 and up.  Price does not include burial plot, tomb stone, etc.

And yet another firm, whose cost is well in excess of $1,000, will actually throw in the obituary for free, but explains that, “We will hold the ashes for up to 10 business days for the family to pick up between Monday – Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 up,” but adds that, “after 10 days, there is a holding fee of $85/month or portion thereof.”

Now, it can certainly be said that restraining extravagant government spending is an important and laudable goal but Dan Malloy’s proposal seems more in line with the legendary Ebeneezer Scrooge was once observed,

“If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Author’s End-note:

I mean really Dan?  A fellow Connecticut citizen falls on hard times an dies and your budget proposal is to cut the allocation for funeral and burial expenses of indigent persons who pass away without ability to pay for the cost of a funeral and burial from $1,800 to $1,000?

All in order to save $1.7 million a year in a two year, $40 billion budget?

This being the 21st Century in the state with the highest per capita income in the United States.

Really?

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