Malloy, Teachers Malloy, Teachers
First and foremost, I want to thank the thousands of teachers, parents and public school advocates who have taken the time to read Wait, What? over the past few years.
Your camaraderie and participation in this endeavor has been a primary reason I stuck with the task of trying to educate, persuade and mobilize people to stand up and speak out on behalf of our public education system.
The last three years have been truly extraordinary as we have watched the corporate education reform industry set its money and political muscle on working to undermine Connecticut’s teachers, parents, students and public schools.
As we know all too well, driven by his devotion to the corporate education industry, in February 2012, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy became the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose eliminating tenure for all public school teachers in Connecticut and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.
No other Democratic governor in the country proposed such an anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education initiative.
With Election Day finally upon us, one of the greatest mysteries of our time is why Malloy has been completely and totally unwilling or unable to apologize for his inappropriate, unfair and outrageous attack on Connecticut’s educators.
Over the last few months, Malloy’s supporters have tried every excuse under the Sun to explain away Malloy’s outrageous behavior…but Malloy himself has refused to step up and publicly admit or correct his statements and actions.
In fact, when Malloy tried to clarify his position this fall he actually managed to make it worse.
Asked about his statement that teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy explained,
“I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure…”
Wait, What? the problem is really tenure?
Fair due process for teachers is the problem??
Considering Malloy’s policies, it is fair to say that one of the more bizarre moments of the 2014 campaign was when the New Haven Register reported that, “Randi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, told an enthusiastic group of union members Tuesday that the only way to stop the reach of the conservative Koch brothers and the new restrictions on labor is to re-elect Dannel P. Malloy as governor of Connecticut, and not vote for her friend Jonathan Pelto.
Strange considering Malloy’s anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining proposal was right out of the Koch Brother’s anti-teacher, anti-public education playbook.
Not far behind the AFT leadership’s approach was that of the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association who endorsed Malloy claiming that Malloy was the “First governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his term in office and guarantee full funding in the future.”
However, as we know, Malloy had absolutely no role in ensuring that the Connecticut Teacher Retirement Pension Fund is being fully funded. The credit for that goes to Governor Rell and the members of the 2007 Connecticut General Assembly who guaranteed that the teacher pension fund would be given the proper funds for 25 years starting in 2008.
But the most remarkable development is not that the AFT and CEA would endorse Malloy but that Malloy would make no meaningful effort to pivot back and address the concerns being voiced by Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates.
As if to prove his unwillingness to listen to Connecticut’s public school proponents, Malloy has told two newspaper editorial boards, in recent weeks, that he intends to “stay the course” on his corporate education reform agenda.
And last week, when asked if there was anything he would have done different over the past four years, if he was given the chance, he said there was nothing he would have done differently.
Nothing he would have done differently?
Nothing he would have changed over the last four years?
Putting aside his decision to skip the perfect opportunity to set the record straight on his attitude toward Connecticut teachers, what kind of person says that – given the chance – there is absolutely nothing he would have done differently over a period of four years?
I understand that there are plenty of reasons for someone to cast their vote for Malloy or Foley tomorrow, but as a proud graduate of Connecticut’s public schools and now being a public school parent, I will not support any candidate who so callously denigrates and belittles the people who devote their lives to providing our children with the knowledge and skills they will need to deal with our increasingly complex and difficult world.
Malloy’s approach has not only been an embarrassment but it is a sad commentary on how far some of our Democratic officials have strayed from the most fundamental principles and values of our society.
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In this case, the issue isn’t which major party candidate for governor will do more damage to teachers and public education, but whether the candidates and their supporters are accountable for the rhetoric and claims they make during this campaign season.
The backdrop of the story is that in order to persuade Connecticut’s public schools teachers to overlook Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s three year record of demeaning, denigrating and bashing teachers and the teaching profession, Malloy’s supporters have recently sent out a series of campaign pieces claiming that;
Governor Malloy is the “first governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his first term in office and guarantee full funding in the future.”
The primary problem with the claim is that Malloy had no legal option but too fully fund teacher pensions and furthermore, he deserves absolutely no credit for guaranteeing full funding of the teacher pension system in the future.
The credit for Malloy having successfully made the necessary payments and fully funding the state of Connecticut Teacher Pension Fund actually goes to the Connecticut Education Association, the members of the 2007 General Assembly and Governor Rell.
And while trying to inappropriately take credit for something he did not do, Malloy and his supporters conveniently overlook the fact that, as governor, Malloy has taken dramatic actions that have actually jeopardized the financial stability of the fund that helps pay for health insurance premiums for retired teachers.
As was reported in the October 15, 2014 Wait, What? blog entitled, “Teachers misled with claim that Malloy deserves credit for “fully funding teacher pension,” Governor Malloy had no option but to fully fund teacher pensions. In fact, had Tom Foley been elected in November 2010 instead of Dannel Malloy, he too would have been required to make those same payments.
The reason Malloy or Foley would have been required to fully fund the teacher pension system is a result of a 2007 law that authorized the state of Connecticut to borrow $2.3 million and use those funds to address the historic underfunding of the Connecticut Teacher Pension Fund.
The law not only required the state to make any and all necessary payments for the next 25 years, but that requirement was made iron-clad when the language was added to the bond covenants the accompanied the bonds when they were sold to Wall Street investors.
As previously noted the proposal to safeguard the teacher pension fund was pushed by the Connecticut Education Association, passed by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Rell.
But seven years later, the Malloy political operation has been attempting to mislead teachers into believing that it was none-other-than Malloy who deserved the credit for something that took place before he even became governor.
Today, in a CTMirror article entitled, Fact check: Who really protected teacher pension funding? the truth about this whole controversy is laid out.
As the CTMirror explains,
Since their controversial endorsement of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, leaders of the largest teachers’ union in Connecticut have portrayed the governor as the defender of what teachers worry about most: the future of their pensions.
But while touting Malloy as the first governor to “fully fund” the long-neglected pension system, the leadership message of the Connecticut Education Association doesn’t mention that Malloy had little choice but to do so. His hands effectively were tied by legal guarantees put in place by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the 2007 legislature.
Each of the four budgets Malloy signed during his term does include the full pension contribution recommended by teachers’ pension analysts. Connecticut governors and legislatures have a history of contributing significantly less than the full amount.
That changed, though, in 2007, when lawmakers and Rell adopted a proposal from Treasurer Denise L. Nappier to borrow roughly $2 billion and deposit it into the cash-starved pension fund.
Connecticut promised in the bond covenant – its contract with investors who bought those bonds – to budget the full pension contribution required by analysts for the entire 25-year life of the bonds.
The CT Mirror story should be required reading for every Connecticut teacher and for all of those who follow the politics that surround Connecticut’s State Budget.
The entire CTMirror article can be found at: http://ctmirror.org/fact-check-who-really-protected-teacher-pension-funding/
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In defense of its endorsement of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, the Connecticut Education Association is using its EXAMINE THE FACTS campaign to tell teachers that Malloy, “Supports teachers’ rights to collectively bargain and negotiate contracts, benefits, and working conditions.”
At the same time, most of Connecticut’s other unions are trying to persuade their members that if elected, Republican Tom Foley will follow Wisconsin’s right-wing, anti-union governor and destroy collective bargaining altogether.
But the fact remains that Governor Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose unilaterally eliminating collective bargaining rights for a group of public employees.
In Malloy’s case, as part of his corporate education reform industry initiative, he proposed repealing collectively bargaining rights for public school teachers working in the poorest schools.
Had the Connecticut General Assembly not stripped Malloy’s anti-union provisions, 1,000 – 1,500 public school teachers, in up to 25 schools across Connecticut, would have lost their rights to collective bargain.
In response to Malloy’s proposal, the CEA wrote to its members on March 14, 2012 telling them that Malloy’s Education Bill would have “real and dramatic consequences for teachers.”
Leading the list of negative impacts, the CEA leadership explained that,
“The bill would take away collective bargaining rights from teachers in the lowest performing schools….”
The CEA letter went on to urge teachers to contact their legislators and tell them to “Fix the governor’s bill” and “Restore collective bargaining rights.”
With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Governor Malloy has an obligation to come clean about his position on collective bargaining.
Malloy claims that he supports collective bargaining rights, the leaders of Connecticut’s unions are telling their members that Malloy supports collective bargaining rights…but it is worth repeating, yet again, that Dannel Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose repealing collective bargaining rights for unionized public employees.
To earn the votes of Connecticut’s teachers and other union members, Malloy needs to stand up, explain why he produced such an anti-union proposal and renounce his 2012 effort to repeal collective bargaining rights.
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Meanwhile, why hasn’t Malloy announced that, if re-elected, he will de-couple the state’s teacher evaluation system from the unfair, inappropriate and ineffective standardized testing scheme
Many of Connecticut’s active and retired teachers recently received a “fact” sheet urging them to support Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s bid for re-election.
While the “EXAMINE THE FACTS” document failed to highlight the reality that Governor Malloy actually proposed CUTTING funding for teacher health care, in an attempt to persuade teachers to vote for Malloy, the “fact” sheet claimed that Malloy is the “First governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his term in office and guarantee full funding in the future.”
Let’s be honest – if Governor Malloy had unilaterally taken steps to “fully fund teacher pensions” and “guarantee full funding in the future,” that would have been a powerful reason for teachers to consider voting for him, but the truth is far from what Malloy’s supporters are suggesting.
The state law mandating full funding of teacher pensions, which were made iron-clad through “bond covenants” with Wall Street was adopted in 2007, four years BEFORE Dannel Malloy became governor.
In 2007, after persuasive lobbying by the Connecticut Education Association, Republican Governor Jodi Rell and the Democratic majority in the General Assembly approved a plan to borrow $2 billion to shore up Connecticut’s underfunded teacher pension system.
The legislation required that, “for each fiscal year in which the bonds are outstanding [up to 30 years], the act automatically appropriates the actuarially required annual state contribution to the Teacher’s Retirement Fund (TRF).”
As part of the bond covenants with the Wall Street investors, that state of Connecticut was prohibited from repealing that language.
Yes Virginia, there is a power greater than the democratically-elected government of Connecticut and it is called Wall Street.
The EXAMINE THE FACTS document makes it seem that Governor Malloy made the decision to fully-fund the Teacher Retirement Fund because he was “committed” to teachers.
That is simply not true.
Connecticut State Government made the necessary payments to fully fund the teachers retirement system because it had signed a contract with Wall Street investors in 2007 that required that those payments be made.
We know that the Democrat’s mantra is that Tom Foley is dangerous, despite the fact that he will be dealing with a Democratic General Assembly…But misleading or lying about Malloy’s record is hardly an effective way to persuade teachers to cast their vote for Malloy.
You can read the “fact” sheet here – http://www.cea.org/issues/news/2014/sep/29/pdf/Malloy-Foley-Examine-the-Facts.pdf
Meanwhile, why hasn’t Malloy announced that, if re-elected, he will de-couple the state’s teacher evaluation system from the unfair, inappropriate and ineffective standardized testing scheme.
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As part of its ongoing effort to persuade Connecticut teachers to support Governor Malloy’s bid for re-election, the CEA has sent out information to its members including a “Fact Sheet” called EXAMINE THE FACTS.
In addition, the cover of this month’s CEA Advisor magazine reads;
EXAMINE THE FACTS;
A better direction for students, teachers and public education
A Better direction for education funding, pensions and collective bargaining.
See CEA Flyer – EXAMINE THE FACTS AND CEA Advisor:
The lead article begins,
“Educators are truth tellers. They enlighten. They inform … we like to think our Association plays a similar function for members like you.”
While it is fair to say the Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley’s position on the issue of collective bargaining is extremely troubling and worthy of opposition, it is vitally important that voters been given the truth, especially by those who support a particular candidate.
In this case, the CEA statement on behalf of Governor Malloy is as follows:
MALLOY: Supports teachers’ rights to collectively bargain and negotiate contracts, benefits, and working conditions
Actually that isn’t really the truth:
Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy remains the only incumbent Democratic governor in the United States to have proposed doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest school districts.
His plan was to replace the due process system called tenure with a series of certification contracts that would be renewed if teachers managed to prove their competency using an unfair and inappropriate set of standards.
While it is true that Malloy told a CEA forum last month that he did support teachers’ rights to collectively bargain and negotiate contracts, benefits, and working conditions, Malloy HAS NEVER publicly renounced his 2012 proposal to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers – the single most important working condition for teachers.
In fact, in an earlier candidate debate with Tom Foley, Malloy was asked about his infamous statement that a teacher need only show up for four years to get tenure.
In response Malloy said,
“I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure. … I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”
So while telling the CEA that he supports collective bargaining, Malloy told that public that his idiotic and insulting statement that teachers “need only show up” to get tenure, wasn’t about teachers, it was about tenure.
That is hardly a successful effort on Malloy’s part to say that he believes in the important role of tenure.
But perhaps even more important is Malloy’s failure to publicly retract his effort to repeal collective as part of his Corporate Education Reform Industry proposal in 2012 (Senate Bill 24).
Section 17 of Senate Bill 24 read,
“(F) The provisions of sections 10-153a to 10-153n [Connecticut’s Collective Bargaining law], inclusive, shall not apply to any teacher or administrator who is assigned to a commissioner’s network school…”
The language meant that collective bargaining SHALL NOT APPLY to teachers working at turnaround schools.
Thankfully the outrageous, anti-union, anti-collective bargaining language was stripped out of the bill by the Democratic legislators…just as they would if Tom Foley tried to introduce anti-union, anti-collective bargaining legislation.
As the leadership of the CEA, AFT and other public employee unions continue to campaign for Dannel Malloy, they (or Malloy) still have not faced that fact that:
No Connecticut Governor – Democrat, Republican or Independent – has ever proposed unilaterally repealing collective bargaining for a group of public employees.
The truth is that Dan Malloy proposed unilaterally repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest schools in Connecticut and to this day he has NEVER publicly retracted that proposal or apologized for his union busting effort.
The CEA leadership is absolutely correct that teachers and all voters should EXAMINE THE FACTS.
People may want to vote against Foley for his anti-worker position, but Malloy has a long way to go before he has earned the vote of Connecticut’s teachers or state employees.
The question remains…
If Malloy really wants teachers to support him, why hasn’t he clearly endorsed the concept of teacher tenure and made a public statement that he was wrong to try and eliminate tenure and repeal collective bargaining in his 2012 Corporate Education Reform Industry legislation.
In the coming days we’ll take a look at some of the others issues presented as “facts” in the EXAMINE THE FACTS flyer teachers have been receiving.
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Editorial Note: Many of the mot powerful and informative blog posts over the past three years have come in the form of guest posts from teachers, parents and public school advocates. If you have a commentary piece inside you that you’d like to write down and have posted, just drop me a note – [email protected]
Connecticut Education Association’s Lesser Evilism: Why endorsing Malloy is a losing strategy ( A Guest Post by Jay Poppa)
[For informational purposes only, Jay Poppa is the Vice President of the Bridgeport Education Association; this commentary piece is his own and not associated with his position in the BEA]
On Friday, September 26 the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) Board of Directors fell into the pit of lesser evilism by voting to endorse incumbent Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy for a second term.
CEA leadership ignored the recommendations of the CEA PAC, which was to not endorse any candidate running for Governor, a decision at least two of Connecticut’s largest teacher locals, affiliated Bridgeport (CEA) and unaffiliated Hartford (AFT), already made on their own.
The CEA is now committed to supporting the teacher attacking, pro-corporate education reformer Malloy. What’s more is that this decision highlights the failed strategies of the CEA in thinking that choosing a so-called “lesser evil” will help to protect teachers, students and schools from the greater evil represented by people like Republican candidate Tom Foley. However, Malloy is just as eager to carry out the education reform dictates pushed by the profit hungry corporate education reform industry, and has publicly stated so.
The CEA’s strategy of lesser evilism and their reluctance in calling out their Democratic Party political “friends” over the last few years has hampered the union’s ability to effectively fight for the schools we need. Supporting the Democrats is a political dead-end for any union. In this political climate only organizing a strong rank and file base with deep community ties will effectively combat corporate education reform and the general attack on the working class.
As the late historian Howard Zinn said, what matters most isn’t who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in. If social movements and workers aren’t in motion, making demands on politicians and struggling from below, mainstream politics will be shaped by the pressure from above, by the demands and priorities of the wealthy and the education reform industry they promote.
Over the past year the CEA leadership has made some positive efforts to be more responsive to their membership and move toward an organizing model of unionism. Unfortunately, endorsing Malloy will significantly undermine these efforts by eroding their leadership and the trust of their rank and file activist base and community allies. If the CEA is serious about its efforts to organize the teacher rank and file and their community allies they must retract their endorsement.
When looking at the CEA position it isn’t surprising to find their endorsement of Malloy falls in line with what many of the largest and strongest teacher unions in the country are doing.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) whose historic 2012 strike inspired and energized the US labor movement, voted to endorse Democratic Governor Pat Quinn whose running mate is former Chicago Public School superintendent Paul Vallas. Vallas has been the poster boy for the “shock doctrine” style, pro-charter school, school privatization schemes. He oversaw the wholesale privatization of the New Orleans Public Schools following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in which he turned almost all of the public schools over to charter school operators. He then went on to wreak havoc on the Philadelphia, Haiti and Bridgeport, CT (where he was forced out by a coalition made up of the community and the CEA/BEA) school systems.
Lesser evilism as a strategy has plagued the American labor movement for decades. It has played a part in the ineffective response to the employers offensive on American unions and living standards over the past four decades. It is a strategy that hasn’t helped to overcome union retreat and defeat and has created a steady decline in the unionization rate from a high 1950s high of 35% to 11.3% of the total work force.
One aspect of this employer’s offensive has been the desire to eradicate American unions. After decades of steady attacks by the employers the unionization rate in the private sector is about 6.7%.
Now both Republicans and Democrats have set their sights on destroying public sector unions who make up about 35.3% of this workforce. This attack has been a bipartisan effort aimed mainly at teachers, the largest section of organized labor, but this attack extends to all public sector workers.
The CEA Leadership Bungles SB24
In the winter and spring of 2012 Malloy proposed and helped to get passed his “education reform” bill SB24 that was written by the corporate education reform industry.
Connecticut teachers have been angry at Malloy’s verbal attack on their profession. Malloy’s most infamous quote from his address to the 2012 Connecticut House of Representatives, “Basically, the only thing you have to do is show up for four years (to earn tenure)” is widely remembered for its vitriolic character. Malloy’s willingness to engage in some of the most outwardly heinous aspects of the corporate reform movement such as teacher bashing were only outdone by his actions which have positioned him as one of the most aggressive pro-corporate education reform Governor’s in the country.
The CEA, then led by Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine and President Phil Apruzzese, responded to SB24 in a manner that could only be characterized as top down, bungling and inadequate.
Apruzzese and Levine initially agreed to some of the most hated aspects of SB24 such as the new teachers evaluation that aimed to tie teacher certification to evaluations based heavily on standardized test scores. Apruzzese and Levine unilaterally released their “View From the Classroom” which was the CEA plan for education reform that included some of worst provisions of SB24.
Instead of sharply and aggressively critiquing SB24 which was what was needed to match the support put together by the corporate education reform industry and Malloy, the CEA hugged the line between collaboration and mild criticism effectively making their critiques weaker at a time when they needed to be stronger and sharper.
Current CEA Leadership
The current CEA leadership, under President Sheila Cohen and Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, has stated their desire to and actually has taken some steps to change the course of the CEA to focus more on organizing teachers and community members against education reform. These steps, however, have been slow and often inadequate. In fact, outside of the Summer Leadership Conference organizing workshops and the Bridgeport fight to keep an elected school board, the CEA has publicly continued on the path of compromise.
On some provisions of SB24 the current CEA leadership has quietly accepted or has positioned themselves as good partners in Malloy’s education reform plan.
Even critical participation has been absent in the conversations over the Commissioner’s Network a “turn around,” competitive grant style school funding scheme. In fact the CEA and local affiliates have done little to organize or discuss with the public that these programs seek to lower our expectations as to what we will receive in terms of funding and resources from the state and they also seek to curtail the rights of union members. The CEA could highlight these issues, along with some of the real problems our schools and students face, such as how our schools are underfunded by the state, or that our “underperforming schools” are predominantly in poorer, working class neighborhoods, and neighborhoods of color.
Token Gestures and Defending the Real Evil
Now election season is nearing and Malloy is behind in the polls. He has offered teachers a few token gestures; getting rid of Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and alleviating some of the provisions of the new teacher evaluation plan. Unfortunately for teachers and students most of the damage has been done. Malloy’s SB24 locks in additional state funding for charter schools when our public schools aren’t even adequately funded. It still uses standardized test data to evaluate teacher performance, which will lead to more “teaching to the test.”
In the coming days and weeks we will hear CEA leadership justify their decision in many ways. They will argue that not endorsing Malloy would have been irresponsible because it would allow Foley to get elected or that our allies and fellow union members were counting on us to help keep Foley out. They will tell us that Foley wanted to bring right to work legislation to Connecticut or bring about a “Wisconsin moment” and that supporting Malloy was a “hard choice” for the CEA to make. We will hear that Malloy isn’t what we want but he’s the best we can get. CEA will advise that we hold our noses and vote for Malloy anyway.
While Foley’s “money follows the child” position on education is lunatical and his pension ideas are frightening, the truth is that there is no good choice between the two mainstream parties. However, supporting Malloy will only allow him to continue a rightward slide and attack on public education while saying to us, “Well, at least I’m not Foley.”
The reality is that the words and actions from the CEA leadership show a lack of understanding as to who the forces are behind the corporate education reform project.
Through the 2010 remarks of News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch we can see how the richest 1% of the American ruling class see public education.
“When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching….”
They see it as a massive untapped market for private investment and profits.
The problem isn’t that the Democrats are too weak-willed to fight against the profit driven Murdoch and his ilk. As left-wing writer Doug Henwood clearly wrote about the nature of the Democrats:
“Another recurrent feature of the [“lesser evilism”] genre: a lament over the Democrats’ lack of spine, which is often treated as a curable condition. But in fact, the invertebrate status is a symptom of the party’s fundamental contradiction: it’s a party of business that has to pretend for electoral reasons that it’s not. Related to that, it’s getting harder to say what the party’s core beliefs are. Republicans have a coherent philosophy–loopy and often terrifying, yes, but coherent–which they use to fire up an impassioned base. The Democrats can’t risk getting their base too excited, lest it scare their funders.”
In fact among Malloy’s top two campaign donors are Jonathan Sackler and Mary Corson, his wife. Sackler is the director of Purdue Pharma and a major proponent of charter schools in Connecticut. Of course Sackler and Corson are going to want something for their money.
We have to remember that by supporting politicians like Malloy we are helping to push the Republican Right even further to the right. A position of “no endorsement” could have sent a message to both candidates that their politics are not supported. Instead the CEA’s message to the public and Malloy is, “there is no consequence for your attacks on us, keep it up.”
What’s more is that there is a genuine third-party candidate who is running and who has been a vocal opponent of corporate education reform. Jonathan Pelto, a progressive activist and pro-public education, pro-teacher blogger announced that he would be running for governor over the summer. Unfortunately, he didn’t get enough signatures to get his name on the ballot although he is still running as a write in candidate.
The truly hard choice for the CEA would have been the most sensible. They could have put their money and political support behind Pelto’s campaign. Even if he didn’t win it would have excited thousands of teachers, parents and community activists. It would have spread the message of why corporate education reform is a bad thing and how Malloy is an advocate of it. It would have helped to organize allies together and it could have set the CEA and pro-public education forces up to wage a stronger fight against whoever gets elected Governor.
The Democratic Party has been called “the graveyard of social movements” for a reason, because once you accept the idea that defeating the Republicans is the most important political strategy, it makes sense to prioritize that over everything else. The result is that movements don’t stand up when the attacks come from Democrats, as they already have and will continue to in the future.
Even those in the CEA leadership who understand the importance of organizing but still engage in lesser evilism will continue to postpone organizing efforts and claim that the unions aren’t strong enough yet to pursue a strategy that doesn’t include endorsing bad politicians. This position ultimately allows activists to kick the can down the road to some imaginary future in which we magically have the right level of organizational strength to put forward a real alternative. That magical future will never arrive if we don’t start organizing for it now and on a principled political basis.
When we support the lesser evil, even if we do so reluctantly, we make it harder to fight against the greater evil of education reform. Whoever gets elected will aim to gut the public education system and scapegoat teachers. The battle against this will need to be waged by the rank and file teachers, their allies. Unfortunately, we will be starting from a position in which our leadership just spent money and time defending Malloy, helping to put him back into the Governor’s seat.
If the CEA truly wants to wage the fight necessary to defeat the education reform industrial complex, they will need to rescind their endorsement and truly move completely into an organizing model of unionism. Any other gesture from the CEA will seem disingenuous and conciliatory. If the CEA leadership isn’t willing to change course on its own then it will be up to the hundreds of rank and file teachers that have more recently emerged inside the CEA to put forward the ideas, politics and strategies we need to win.
You can reach Jay Poppa at [email protected]
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A new National Poll on Public Education was released today. The poll was paid for by a Democratic leaning advocacy group and conducted by Harstad Strategic Research – a Colorado-based firm which worked on President Barack Obama’s 2008 election and 2012 re-election.
The poll reports….
Solid majorities back more funding for public schools and teacher pay, and overwhelming majorities rate local public schools and their teachers highly.
- A 61% majority of voters believe that state funding for public schools should be increased – including 79% of Democrats, 57% of Independents and even 45% of Republicans.
- And 56% of voters with an opinion believe pay for public school teachers falls short of what it should be.
- Fully 82% of voters able to rate their local public school teachers rate them as excellent, very good, or good – versus just 8% who rate them as marginal or poor. Among public school parents, 93% rate public school teachers as excellent, very good, or good.
- Speaking of public school parents, 84% give their children’s schools an A (53%) or B (31%) grade. Ten percent offer a C, and 3% say D or F. While there is certainly room for improvement, the median grade would in effect be an A-minus.
When given four broad reasons for why public schools might not be performing better, virtually no one puts the blame on “bad teachers.”
- 40% Lack of parental involvement and support
- 29% Inadequate funding and resources for public schools
- 18% The effects of poverty, hardship and problems kids bring to school
- 3% Bad teachers (including 4% of Republicans and 3% of conservatives)
- 9% Don’t know
The survey tested a dozen statements, asking whether voters agree or disagree with each one. Messages that were supported by at least 2/3rd of Americans were the following.
The survey tested a dozen statements, asking whether voters agree or disagree with each one. Messages that were supported by at least 2/3rd of Americans were the following.
- Neighborhood schools should be our top priority because they educate a huge majority of our kids;
- Teachers should be held accountable by principals, supervisors and parents– not by standardized bubble tests;
- Taxpayer money should pay for children’s education– not for corporate profits, CEO bonuses, or advertising budgets;
- Educators should be teaching critical thinking and problem-solving– not just teaching to the standardized bubble test;
- We must let teachers do what they know best– teach our kids and prepare them for college and careers. Politicians and corporations should get out of the way;
- Everyone has a favorite teacherwho made a real difference in their lives – and we need to support and promote those kinds of classrooms.
More about the poll can be found at: http://www.democratsforpubliceducation.com/news/dems-public-ed-releases-poll-showing-overwhelming-support-public-schools/
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Here is a long but important blog. If you are a teacher, parents or supporter of public education, please take the time to read it.
On Friday night the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Education Association voted, on behalf of their 45,000 members, to endorse Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy.
With that move, the CEA joined the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter in throwing their support and money behind the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest districts.
You can read about the CEA’s vote in the Wait, What? blog post entitled, “In a stunning move, Connecticut Education Association Board of Directors Endorses Malloy.”
That blog has generated more than 141 comments, a Wait, What? record. Among the comments is an impassioned defense of Malloy by a few of the blog’s readers, including one named Tom, who I know and respect as a dedicated teacher, union leader and defender of teachers.
It seems that the fundamental argument driving Malloy’s supporters is that the alternative to Malloy (a Foley administration) would be worse.
When it comes to the issue of education, I think reasonable people can disagree on whether Foley, challenged by a Democratic General Assembly, would be worse than a Malloy administration, backed by a Democratic legislature.
Over the past thirty years, I served as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives under a Democratic Governor and a Republican/Independent Governor and worked with a variety of progressive and liberal groups, including unions, as we advocated for policy changes under two different Republican governors.
In each situation, the General Assembly played a very different role in the process, often successfully taking on or co-opting the Republican governor and proving that, with a backbone, the legislative branch of government can have an important and positive impact on public policy.
The role of the Democrats in the legislature was especially evident last week after Republican Tom Foley borrowed heavily from Malloy’s education agenda and introduced his own pro-corporate education reform industry plan for Connecticut. Within hours, Democratic legislators held a press conference blasting Foley for his outrageous plan. The irony being that those same legislators voted for many of those same proposals and concepts when they were previously introduced by Governor Malloy.
But before we get to the “Foley would be worse” argument, teachers, parents and public school advocates need to ask the question of whether Dannel “Dan” Malloy does or does not deserves to be re-elected based on his record on public education issues.
The fact is that no Connecticut governor in the last forty years has done as much damage to Connecticut’s public education system than Governor Malloy and that includes a realistic assessment of disgraced Republican Governor John Rowland.
Here are the facts about Dannel Malloy and his education policies. [And let me add that Malloy, the AFT or the CEA are welcome to provide a substantive response to the following and I will publish it, unedited.)
The good news is that over the past few weeks, education policy has finally become a top tier issue with Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates.
The bad news is that during this period, Malloy has repeatedly pledged to “stay the course” on his destructive education reform initiatives.
Just last week Malloy told the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, “What we’ve done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out,” A few weeks earlier, after meeting with the editorial board at the Day newspaper of New London, the newspaper wrote, the governor assured us he will stay the course on education reform if re-elected.”
So what are the initiatives that Malloy promises to “stay the course” on?
#1: As has been stated over and over again here, and elsewhere, Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.
The truth is that Malloy has never publicly renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.
The Malloy camp claims that Malloy has apologized for his anti-tenure position. Nothing could be further from the truth. What Malloy said was,
“I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”
The sad truth is that Malloy’s HAS NOT retracted his anti-tenure stance and his effort to “apologize” to teachers only made his anti-tenure position clearer.
#2: Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires that the state’s teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students. Every major academic study has determined that standardized test scores ARE NOT A VALID MEASURE of teacher performance. To date, the only substantive change that Malloy was willing to make to his unfair, inappropriate and inaccurate teacher evaluation program was to propose using the average of at least two standardized test scores rather than using just one. In this case, two wrongs do not make the system any less absurd, unfair or inappropriate.
The truth is that Malloy has not committed to “de-coupling” the teacher evaluation program from the unfair and inappropriate standardized tests.
#3: Dan Malloy knows that Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing Formula is inadequate and unconstitutional. Malloy even pledged in his 2006 and 2010 campaigns to take a leadership role in developing a new, comprehensive education funding formula that would be designed to reduce the present burden that falls on the backs of local property taxpayers. As Mayor of Stamford Malloy was even one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, a lawsuit that seeks to throw out the unfair and unconstitutional school funding formula and replace it with one that meets the requirements of Connecticut’s Constitution and would be better for Connecticut’s schools and taxpayers.
Hover, rather than do the right thing, Malloy has spent the last four years trying to get the CCJEF lawsuit dismissed and when that failed, to get it postponed until after this year’s election.
Incredibly, Malloy refuses to promise that, if given a second term, he would settle the CCJEF lawsuit and use the expertise of the CCJEF plaintiffs to develop a constitutionally appropriate school funding formula.
#4: No Connecticut governor, in history, has wasted so much public money on unaccountable, privately-run charter schools. During his four years in office, Malloy has increased state spending on charter schools by 73.6%, while increasing state aid for Connecticut’s public schools by only a 7.9%.
Making the situation even more unfair, Malloy has provided no meaningful additional support for public schools in Connecticut’s middle-income communities meaning that the burden of local property taxes has become even more unfair for middle-class families.
#5: What is particularly offensive about Malloy’s pro-charter school policies is that Connecticut’s privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools refuse to educate their fair share of non-English speaking students or students with special education needs. They take public funds but refuse to abide by the laws governing public schools.
In addition, Malloy’s pro-charter school policies are nothing short of corporate welfare for a few select companies. The charter school chain that has received the most money under Malloy is Achievement First, Inc., the company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education. In addition, Malloy and his commission provided no-bid contracts to the Jumoke/FUSE charter school management company. Not only has Jumoke/FUSE taken more than $53 million in public funds for their charter school but they were given control and the associated public funding to take over public schools in Hartford and Bridgeport and approved for another charter school in New Haven before the Hartford Courant reported on the criminal background of the company’s CEO and the FBI raised the company’s offices.
The truth is that Malloy has not announced a moratorium on additional charter schools until mechanisms are developed and put in place that will ensure that taxpayer funds are not being misused, wasted or stolen and that charter schools must not discriminate against Latinos, non-English speaking students and students with special educational needs.
#6: Governor Malloy, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy administration have consistently lied to Connecticut parents, teachers and citizens about the Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Standardized Testing scheme. It is bad enough that Malloy is wasting millions of dollars in scarce taxpayer funds to push the Common Core and its unfair “SBAC” Common Core Test, but it is even worse that Malloy and his administration have been lying and misleading parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.
Connecticut parents have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core standardized testing program. There is no state or federal law that supersedes parents’ rights to opt their children out of these inappropriate and wasteful tests nor is there any legal action the state or school district can take to punish parents. Instead of supporting Connecticut’s parents, Malloy and his administration have engaged in scare tactics and used school superintendents and principles to coerce parents into believing the Common Core testing is not option.
Even if Malloy wasn’t committed to implementing the corporate education reform industry agenda, lying and misleading parents is reason enough for voters to refuse to give him a second term in office.
#7: Over the past four years, Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Pryor have been engaged in an unprecedented effort to privatize the State Department of Education. Instead of using the expertise available here in Connecticut, they have wasted tens of millions of public funds on high-priced, less qualified out-of-state consulting companies. In many cases, these lucrative contracts have been given out on a no-bid basis, violating the spirit and letter of Connecticut law. In addition, an ongoing effort to demoralize and destroy the professional capacities of Department of Education has been taking place. For example, as the point-person for Malloy, Pryor has undermined the State Department of Education by eliminating the Leaders in Residence Program, removing three experienced former Connecticut superintendents and four other expert administrators, as well as transferring a number of nationally-recognized experts including one in English as a Second Language, one in Multi-cultural Education and one in School Climate and Bullying. In their place, these tasks were outsourced to an inexperienced, out-of-state company for nearly $2 million dollars.
#8: While overfunding Connecticut’s charter schools, Malloy and his administration purposely underfunded Connecticut’s successful Magnet School program. Magnet Schools serve as an important and accountable mechanism for giving students and parents additional choices. However, rather than provide the funds necessary to maintain Connecticut’s long-standing commitment to Magnet Schools, Malloy purposely left out nearly $50 million in funding for these schools. The result is that after spending public funds to build and expand Magnet Schools, classrooms are now being left empty.
And the list of Governor Malloy’s failure when it comes to public education goes on and on.
Connecticut teachers, as well as, Connecticut’s parents, students and those who support public education have a right to know the truth about Malloy and his record of failure.
The truth is that Dannel Malloy’s own actions have voided his right to continue to serve as governor in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers would have their members, and all voters, believe that Malloy deserves to be re-elected.
On the issue of education … Malloy deserves to be defeated.
And if, on the other hand, Malloy, the CEA and the AFT want to claim that Malloy is the “better of two evils,” then at the very least they have the obligation to tell the truth about Malloy’s record.
Governor Malloy’s failure on education issues is unprecedented. His policies have rightfully earned him the title as the most anti-teacher, anti-public education democratic governor in the nation.
And adding insult to injury, Malloy has made no substantive changes or commitments that he would do a better job if given another four years.
Before endorsing Malloy, the leadership of the CEA and the AFT should have used their positions to force Malloy to retract his support for his anti-public education policies and lay out a new pro-public education agenda for Connecticut.
But in that task they failed, which only makes Malloy’s failure that much clearer.
Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
*** Please excuse the typos ***
Charter Schools, Common Core, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Education Reform, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Teacher Evaluations, Teacher Tenure, Teachers CCJEF v. Rell, Charter Schools, Common Core, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Teacher Evaluation, Teacher Tenure, Teachers
Over the next week, the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association will be deciding whether to follow the lead of the American Federation of Teachers and endorse Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts or whether they will endorse another candidate or whether they should make no endorsement in this year’s gubernatorial election.
Here are some of the issues that Connecticut’s public school teachers should be mulling over;
Issue #1: As has been noted repeatedly, no other Democratic governor in the nation has proposed doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest and lowest performing public schools. At a candidate debate earlier this month, Malloy tried to clarify his infamous observation that teachers need only show for four years to get tenure by saying,
“I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”
Wait, What? … Malloy’s comment wasn’t about teachers, “It was about tenure?
If Malloy thought he deserved the support of Connecticut’s teachers, why hasn’t he publicly renounced his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining proposal?
Issue #2: Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance. On the other hand, there are multiple teacher evaluation models that do not tie teacher evaluations to unfair, inappropriate and misleading standardized test results.
If Malloy wanted to show he understands the challenges facing teachers and public education why hasn’t he said that, if re-elected, he will decouple the mandated teacher evaluation system from unfair standardized testing?
Issue #3: When running for governor in 2006 and 2010, Malloy admitted that Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate. As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, but as governor he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.
If Malloy believes he deserves the votes of teachers (and parents and taxpayers), why won’t he simply say that if he gets a second term in office he will settle the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit and use the CCFEF Coalition’s expertise to fix Connecticut’s broken school funding system?
Issue #4: As Governor, Malloy has increased state funding for privately-run charter schools by 73.6% while providing Connecticut’s public schools with only a 7.9% increase in support. Virtually all of the new funding was allocated to the state’s 30 so-called Alliance Districts (with major strings attached). The result has been a loss of local control for Connecticut’s poorest towns and no meaningful support for middle-class towns that have become even more reliant on regressive local property taxes.
If Malloy wants teachers, parents and public school advocates to vote for him, why hasn’t he announced that he will institute a moratorium on additional charter schools and devote scarce public resources to where they belong…Connecticut’s real public schools?
Issue #5: COMMON CORE AND THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME
The Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Testing Scheme have become particularly controversial. Tens of millions of dollars are being wasted on the massive standardized testing program. In addition, the Malloy administration has repeatedly lied and mislead parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the new tests.
If Malloy wants a second term, why hasn’t he ordered his State Department of Education to be honest with parents (and teachers) and tell parents that they DO HAVE A RIGHT TO OPT THEIR CHILDREN OUT OF THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME and why does he continue to support the implementation of the Common Core and its massive Common Core Testing program?
These and many other important education issues will face the individual who is elected in November.
Before endorsing or supporting or voting for any candidate, Connecticut’s public school teachers (and every other Connecticut voter) should ask why Malloy has failed to adequately address these important issues.
Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto
3rd Party Challenges, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Teacher Tenure, Teachers Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Teacher Tenure, Teachers
UPDATED WITH ADDENDUM
The question for Governor Malloy should have been a simple one;
“Mr. Malloy, you are the only Democratic governor in the United States who has proposed doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the lowest performing (the so called turnaround schools), will you this opportunity to renounce your 2012 tenure proposal and can you tell us exactly what your position is on teacher tenure and collective bargaining?
Sadly (but not surprisingly), the moderator of tonight’s debate, the Norwich Bulletin’s Ray Hackett, DID NOT ask Malloy the pivotal question.
Instead he returned to Malloy’s absurd, insulting and idiotic statement that teachers need only show up for school for four years and they’ll get tenure.
And how did Malloy respond to the question?
The Hartford Courant explains;
“Regarding Malloy’s high-profile remark on teacher tenure in an address in the historic Hall of the House at the state Capitol in Hartford, Malloy said, ‘I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure. … I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”
Democratic Governor Dan Malloy is now saying his statement wasn’t meant to denigrate teachers but was meant to disparage tenure?
As if that is a better position?
Malloy’s explanation, two and a half years later is that “It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure…”
The corporate education reform industry, riding high off a successful anti-teacher tenure lawsuit in California, is targeting the single most important element of academic freedom and working conditions for public school teachers and now the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure is saying that his abusive language about teachers “Wasn’t about them. It was about tenure…”
Is there any Democratic leader in Connecticut or anyone in the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers or the Connecticut Education Association or any other union that will stand up and condemn Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s continuing attack on teacher tenure and public school teachers?
Almost as interesting as Malloy’s decision to reiterate his anti-teacher tenure position is the way in which the media decided to cover Malloy’s quote. Take a “close reading” of the way the media decided to highlight Malloy’s continued verbal assault on teacher tenure.
On Wednesday, Malloy expressed regret at his choice of words, calling it “bad language.”
“It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure,” Malloy said. “I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.”
Hackett also gave Malloy an opportunity to comment on a statement he made in 2012 that infuriated teachers and caused them to rally against his proposal on the steps of the state Capitol.
“I should admit that that was bad language,” Malloy said regarding his remarks. “It wasn’t actually about them, it was about tenure . . . I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying that.”
“I should admit that was bad language,” said Malloy, who was greeted before the debate by rallying unions members, including the president of AFT-Connecticut. “I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.”