Connecticut has become a striking example of what is truly wrong with the way government and public policy functions in the United States today.
Rather than using the state motto, “Qui transtulit sustinet – He who is transplanted still sustains,” the Constitution State could easily shift to, “Step right up and buy your public policy here.”
And presiding over the entire farce is a governor devoted to coddling the rich, while lying to the people.
Victorious thanks to a campaign in which he repeatedly claimed there was no budget deficit, promised that he wouldn’t raise taxes or cut critical state services, Governor Dannel Malloy is now ducking a budget deficit that is skyrocketing. Malloy’s next step will be to raid the state’s Rainy Day Fund to balance this year’s budget, or worse, he will put the massive deficit on the state’s credit card thereby dumping even more debt on the backs of Connecticut’s overly burdened middle class.
And as for next year, while the state’s fiscal situation deteriorates, Malloy’s proposed state budget includes massive and unacceptable cuts to a wide variety of state services.
Rather than offer up a plan to ensure that services are maintained by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes, Malloy is berating legislators or anyone else who challenges the house of cards he has built.
When it comes to the budget related to public education, Malloy’s proposed budget actually REDUCES spending on public schools by well over $150 million over the next two years, the largest such cut in history.
Yet Malloy has proposed INCREASED spending on charter schools by more than 25 percent.
As if to highlight the modern system of “pay-to-play” policy making, while Malloy turns his back on Connecticut public school students, parents and teachers, the corporate education reform industry is pouring even more money into their unending quests to privatize public education and denigrate teachers.
The corporate funded New York based entity called Families for Excellent Schools has set up yet another “education reform” front group in Connecticut. This one is called “Coalition for Every Child.”
According to the latest reports filed with the Office of State Ethics, this organization has spent over a quarter of a million dollars lobbying in just the past eight days. The pro-Common Core, pro-Charter School group has even hired Malloy’s chief adviser, as well as Malloy’s former press secretary, to run their PR campaign in support of Malloy’s plan to divert even more scarce public dollars to charter schools companies.
Three other corporate education reform industry groups, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN), the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), and Achievement First, Inc. (the charter school management company with strong ties to the Malloy administration,) have spent nearly $100,000 more in recent weeks in a lobbying program designed to persuade legislators that it is good idea for them to cut funding for their own public schools, while increasing the taxpayer subsidy for the privately run charter schools.
What are Malloy’s education reform supporters doing and saying with all their money?
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform is using its money to tell parents that the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test (SBAC) is a good thing even though it will label the majority of children as failures. (See: No, the Common Core SBAC test is not like a blood test.)
Meanwhile, ConnCAN and the rest of the charter school industry are using their hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote Malloy’s disgraceful budget and lobbying to stop the Connecticut legislature from pausing the development of further charter schools in the state.
Following the charter school industry’s success in preventing a charter school moratorium bill from passing the General Assembly’s Education Committee, the co-CEO and president of Achievement First Inc., the Executive Director of ConnCAN and state director for the Northeast Charter School Association all gleefully issued press releases cheering on the fact that the Malloy administration can continue its efforts to expand the number of publicly funded, but privately owned charter schools in the state.
Dacia Toll, co-CEO and president of Achievement First, Inc. the charter school management company that collects the lion’s share of the $100 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds spent on charter schools explained that, “The moratorium on public charter schools would have been a huge step backward.”
A huge step backward for the company’s bottom line that is…
While Malloy’s proposed budget actually INCREASES CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING BY $36 million…
Malloy’s proposed budget cuts tens of millions of dollars to public schools including the following programs;
Reduces funding for the CT Pre-Engineering Program
Reduces Youth Service Bureau programs
Reduces funding for the Parent Trust Fund
Reduces funding for Neighborhood Youth Centers
Reduces funding for Science Program for Educational Reform Districts
Reduces funding for Wrap Around Services
Reduces funding for Parent Universities
Reduces funding for the School Health Coordinator Pilot
Reduces funding for Regional-Technical Cooperation
Reduces funding for Alternative High School and Adult Reading
Reduces funding for Youth Service Bureau Enhancement
Reduces funding for Health Foods Initiative
Reduces funding for School to Work Opportunities
Reduces funding for Commissioner’s Network Schools
Reduces the Priority School District funding for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School
Reduces funding regional interdistrict grant to reduce segregation
Reduces funding for the Leadership, Education, Athletic-Partnership (LEAP)
And the list goes on….and on…
And the Corporate Education Reform Industry is silent on these devastating cuts.
Their plan is simple – more money for charter school companies – cuts to public school programs and higher property taxes for the rest of us.
Connecticut has truly become the land where “step right up, buy your public policy” has become the standard.