Why is Governor Dannel Malloy on a mission to destroy Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical High Schools

Yesterday’s news headlines read:

State education board eyes closing 2 vo-tech schools, other cuts  (CT Mirror 10/5/16)

And

More Layoffs, Vo-Tech School Closures Possible As Malloy’s Budget Office Seeks Spending Cuts (Courant 10/5/16)

The message to Connecticut’s young people was clear and concise.  Think twice before planning to go to one of Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical High Schools.

It was déjà vu all over again!

Governor Dannel Malloy talks a good game about making Connecticut’s children “college and career” ready, but his actions and his budget plans speak louder than words.  In fact, they tell a very different story about his commitment to children and Connecticut’s economy.

In 2011, at the beginning of his first term as governor, Dannel Malloy actually proposed to disband Connecticut’s successful Vo-Tech high school system altogether, this despite the fact that theses schools have provided tens of thousands of Connecticut citizens with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and the workforce.

When students, parents, teachers, the business community and legislators fought back, Malloy eventually retreated and allowed the 18 schools and their nearly 11,000 students to exist.

However, from that day on, a short-sighted and mean-spirited Malloy administration has consistently used the state budget to squeeze the life out of these important and valuable schools, all while the governor claimed he was making education a priority.

A Wait,What? headline from this past May told the story.  Entitled, Malloy and Legislative Democrats target Regional Vo-Tech high schools for devastating cuts, the article reported that the so called “compromise” budget agreement between Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders cut the Vo-Tech High School budget by $7.8 million, dropping the state’s investment in vocational and technical education from $171 million a year to $163 million.  The new budget also empowered Malloy to cut the Vo-Tech high schools even more via layoffs and budget rescissions.

Some Democrats cried big alligator tears about the irresponsible budget but most, nevertheless, voted in favor of the despicable reductions that have already reduced programs and limited opportunities at the Vo-Tech schools.

And now, the Malloy administration is preparing to do even more harm to Connecticut’s Vo-Tech high schools.

In what should be an unbelievable move, Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education have voted to eliminate two Vo-Tech High Schools as part of their budget cutting plan.

The CT Mirror explains;

The State Board of Education Wednesday endorsed a proposal to close two of the state’s vocational technical high schools and end all athletic programs at the remaining ones if the department’s budget is cut by 10 percent in the next fiscal year – an amount the governor’s budget chief has told agencies is likely.

These state-run schools enroll 11,000 students and have steadily been cut over the last several years as state legislators worked to close budget deficits.

Budget proposals serve as a blueprint, effectively highlighting a governor’s priorities and goals.

Let there be no mistake…

Malloy’s unending efforts to destroy Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical system speak volumes.

Students, parents, teachers and taxpayers are on notice, yet again, that Connecticut has a governor who utterly fails to understand or appreciate Connecticut public schools or what is best for Connecticut’s economy and its citizens.

Election Year Politics – Congressional delegation to cut ribbon for Vo-Tech schools that Malloy/Wyman are destroying

Welcome to the sad state of Connecticut politics in 2016.

The headline in of the press release screams out;

COURTNEY, BLUMENTHAL, MURPHY TO HIGHLIGHT ‘MANUFACTURING PIPELINE’ DURING ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION AND JOIN RIBBON CUTTING FOR GRASSO TECH WELDING SHOP

The news advisory goes on explain that “Welcoming remarks” will be provided by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman.

The event, which is taking place this morning at the Grasso Vo-Tech High School, will include a roundtable discussion, followed by a celebratory “ribbon cutting” for the Connecticut Vocational Technical High School’s expanded manufacturing program that seeks to, “train or retrain employees for high-tech manufacturing careers.”

Discussing the importance of job retraining in the 21st Century economy, Congressman Courtney, along with Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, will be basking in the glory of having helped the Connecticut Vo-Tech High School’s Workforce Training Program get a $6 million federal grant last year.

But of course, the problem – which is nicely overlooked in the media announcement- is that Governor Dannel Malloy and his policy partner, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, were successful in their effort to persuade the Democratic-controlled State Senate and State House of Representatives to adopt Malloy’s strategy of instituting the deepest cuts to Connecticut’s Vo-Tech high schools in state history .

Less than a month ago, a Wait, What? post explained, Malloy and Legislative Democrats target Regional Vo-Tech high schools for devastating cuts.

The state budget was finally passed and signed into law by Governor Malloy who slashed another $7.8 million from Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical High School system.  In conjunction with Malloy’s other budget rescissions, holdbacks, layoffs and gimmicks, Connecticut’s vo-tech high schools are reeling from what is in effect a cut of more than $15 million from what would be needed maintain the current level of services.

However, in an election year, successful politicians will find a way to turn a grant of $6 million, followed by a budget cut of $15 million, into a reason to have a ribbon cutting.

Hooray for the Orwellian politics of 2016.

Malloy and Legislative Democrats target Regional Vo-Tech high schools for devastating cuts

Unable to get a budget agreement with Governor Dannel Malloy to the floor of the Connecticut House of Representative and State Senate in time, the Connecticut General Assembly crashed and burned last Wednesday night as the 2016 regular session came to the end.

Although a super-secret budget agreement had been reached between Governor “my way or no way” Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the legislature, various factors, including partisan politics and the political fallout from what is actually contained in the budget, resulted in the postponement of the debate and vote on a new state budget until a special session that will be held soon.

While some of the details about the budget agreement between Malloy and the Democratic legislative leadership have been revealed, much of it remains shrouded in secrecy.

According to budget documents that surfaced last week, the massive list of cuts to state programs and services includes an incredible $7.7 million cut to Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical high schools.

While Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and state legislators across the political spectrum brag about their commitment to preparing Connecticut’s children for the economy of the 21st Century, their actions fall far short of their rhetoric.

The state of Connecticut reports;

The Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) is committed to providing quality and challenging academic and technical programs. Its mission is to ensure that students are successful in the workplace, take advantage of postsecondary educational opportunities, and secure advanced apprenticeship training that prepare them for the 21st century workplace. Therefore, the CTHSS has developed a challenging program of study for each of the 37 technical programs. These areas include: construction, manufacturing, electronics, information technology, culinary arts, health tech, and other service areas.

But the reality is that Malloy’s record, when it comes to support for the Vo-Tech high school system, waivers between benign negligence and an outright effort to completely destroy the successful education program.

At the beginning of his first term as governor, Malloy proposed disbanding the Vo-Tech high school system altogether.  When students, parents, teachers, the business community and legislators fought back, Malloy retreated and allowed the 18 schools and their nearly 11,000 students to exist.

However, the Malloy administration has consistently used the state budget to squeeze these important and valuable schools, a system of highs schools that are successfully helping thousands of students have more successful careers.

At last count, approximately 95 percent of Vo-Tech students graduate and almost half (45 percent) of those graduates go on to pursue higher education opportunities.

Others use their Vo-Tech training in one of the 30 occupational trade programs to enter the workforce with the skills needed to get and keep a job in these difficult economic times.

Yet, as Connecticut’s economy continues to lag, rather than invest in more vocational and technical programs, or at least provide the funds needed to maintain the level of services at the state’s existing schools, the budget that the Democrats are being instructed to support includes a record-breaking budget cut to the Vo-Tech high school system.

The budget the General Assembly passed last June and was signed into law by Governor Malloy provided almost $171 million dollars to fund the costs associated with Connecticut’s Vo-Tech high schools.

Although many, if not most, of the state legislators in Hartford are unaware of the impending disaster, the Malloy/Democratic leadership compromise budget would reduce funding to $163 million – a cut of nearly $8 million.  The new budget would also grant the governor with the power to reduce funding for the Vo-Tech high schools even more through layoffs and budget rescissions.

Once the legislature adopts a new state budget, Democrat and Republic incumbents will turn their time and attention to their re-election campaigns.

When you hear them on the campaign trail saying that they support programs to provide Connecticut’s children with the knowledge and skills to be “college and career” ready … just know …. They are lying.