Where the hell are CT’s union leaders as AFT National President Randi Weingarten supports parents who opt out

According to a breaking story posted by the nation’s leading public education advocate Diane Ravitch,   Randi Weingarten – the national president of the American Federation of Teachers – has announced her strong support for parents who are opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing.

Diane Ravitch reports that Weingarten announced yesterday that, “if she were a parent of children in the public schools… she would opt out too.”

As Diane Ravitch goes on to explain opting out is,

“A clear, unambiguous message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control.

Testing is not teaching.

Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong.

The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools.

Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd “cut scores” (passing mark)… Most children will “fail” …

We are the most over tested nation in the world.”

Ravitch is absolutely right and the list of teacher unions and teacher union leaders who are supporting parents’ right to opt out of the disastrous Common Core testing scheme continues to grow.

But here in Connecticut the silence from the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter remains deafening…

Is kowtowing to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Corporate Education Reform Industry worth so much that these some union leaders will refuse to step forward and defend Connecticut’s parents, students and teachers who understand just how bad the Common Core SBAC test is for our children and our schools?

Malloy’s thin skin and vengeance is legendary but there is simply no excuse for the lack of action on the part of the leadership of Connecticut’s two teacher unions.

Last fall, the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter endorsed Dannel Malloy without even allowing other candidates to fill out a questionnaire, meet with their political endorsing committee or address their executive committee.

The leadership of the Connecticut Education Association went so far as to overrule their own political endorsing committee who had voted that the teachers’ union should make “no endorsement” in the race for governor because Malloy’s policies and actions during his first term were so anti-teacher and anti-public schools.

Yet despite that support, Malloy has continued his anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-charter initiatives.

But it is not too late for Connecticut’s teachers’ unions to make a difference.

All across the country, teacher unions are standing up for their teachers and for the students and parents who make up their communities by supporting the opt-out movement.

In nearby New York the following list of teacher unions have endorsed resolutions supporting the right of parents to opt out of the Common Core testing.

Amityville Teachers’ Association
Associated Teachers of Huntington
Babylon Teachers’ Association
Baldwin Teachers Association
Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers
Bellport Teachers Association
Bethpage Congress of Teachers
Brentwood Teachers Association
Brockport Teachers Association
Camden Teachers Association
Carmel Teachers’ Association
Center Moriches Teachers’ Association
Central Islip Teachers Association
Clarkstown Teachers Association
Commack Teachers Association
Connetquot Teachers Association
Cortland United Teachers
Deer Park Teachers’ Association
East Williston Teachers’ Association
Elwood Teachers Alliance
Farmingdale Federation of Teachers
Freeport Teachers Association
Fulton Teachers Association
Garden City Teachers’ Association
Glen Cove Teachers’ Association
Half Hollow Hills Teachers’ Association
Hamburg Teachers Association
Hauppauge Teachers Association
Hastings Teachers Association
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association
Hicksville Congress of Teachers
Ichabod Crane Teachers Association
Islip Teachers Association
Kingston Teachers Federation
Lancaster Central Teachers Association
Lake Shore Central Teachers’ Association
Lakeland Federation of Teachers
Lawrence Teachers’ Association
Levittown Teachers Union
Lindenhurst Teachers Association
Little Flower Teachers Association
Locust Valley School Employees Association
Lynbrook Teachers Association
Merrick Faculty Association
Middle Country Teachers Association
Middle Island 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 Babylon Teachers’ Organization
North Bellmore Teachers Association
North Merrick Faculty Association
North Rockland Teachers Association
North Shore Schools Federated Employees
North Syracuse Education Association
Oceanside Federation of Teachers
Oneonta Teachers’ Association
Orchard Park Teachers 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
Ramapo Teachers Association
Rocky Point Teachers Association
Rockville Centre Teachers’ Association
Rome Teachers Association
Sauquoit Valley Teachers Association
Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association
Spencerport Teachers Association
Springville Faculty Association
Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association
Three Village Teachers Association
Troy Teachers Association
United Teachers of Harborfields
United Teachers of Northport
United Teachers of Seaford
Valley Stream Teachers Association
Waterville Teachers Association
West Babylon Teachers Association
West Canada Valley Teachers Association
West Genesee Teachers’ Association
West Hempstead Education Association
West Islip Teachers’ Association
West Seneca Teachers Association

Add the New York State United Teachers Association and now the president of the entire AFT union.

Connecticut’s parents and students deserve no less!

CEA and AFT-CT  – Now is the time to stand up and speak out.

CT Teachers Union against charter schools, except when the vote counts

Less than twelve hours after Governor Dannel Malloy took the stage to declare victory on Election Night 2014, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education met to unanimously endorse a proposal to open eight new charter schools in Connecticut.

A CT Mirror article at the time entitled “State education board wants to open eight new charter schools” reported that while the State of Connecticut faces a $1.4 billion projected budget deficit for next year, “The State Board of Education is asking the state for $11 million to fund eight new charter schools to open over the next two school years…The request, put forward by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and approved unanimously by the state board…”

The CT Mirror added that, “Allan B. Taylor, chairman of the 13-member state panel, said expanding school choice for students makes sense.”

The Hartford Courant covered the story as well noting;

Of the eight new charters proposed to open over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years, two proposals were approved by the board at a lengthy meeting in April amid much testimony for and against new charter schools.

The charters already approved to open in 2015-16 include Stamford Charter School for Excellence and Capital Prep Harbor School in Bridgeport. Those proposals, however, are contingent on the availability of funding.

After funding for Steve Perry’s proposed Bridgeport charter school, along with money for seven others charter schools, won the full support of the State Board of Education, Melodie Peters, the President of the Connecticut Federation of Teachers, submitted a hard-hitting commentary piece to the CT Mirror entitled, “Plan for more charter schools flawed in many ways.”

Peters, one of Malloy’s biggest supporters began her article by saying, “The state education department commissioner’s proposal last week to hand over more public education resources to privately managed charter schools deserves an ‘F’ as both ‘incomplete’ and tone deaf.”

Peters added,

“Now is not the time to ask taxpayers for another $21 million on an experiment whose record of ensuring a quality education for all has yet to be demonstrated.

It has been just six months since the scandal involving the charter management outfit Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE) and the schools it operated in Hartford and Bridgeport made headlines. Recall that the extent of the alleged corruption and nepotism quickly led to a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of FUSE and its affiliated Jumoke schools that today is still ongoing.”

Having told members that Lt., Governor Nancy Wyman would be Malloy’s point person on education in Malloy’s second term, Peters added,

“In August, the Malloy-Wyman Administration rightly responded to the crisis by ordering a thorough review of the department of education’s policies governing charter management companies. The department quickly agreed to changes that echo what parents, educators, and advocates have been urging for years: charters should be held accountable to the same standard as traditional public schools.”

The AFT -CT President went on to blast Pryor’s decision to seek funding for eight more charter school saying, “The state should not green-light more charters or expand their reach without first verifying that education department oversight of charters has actually improved.

Of the various issues associated with President Peters’ “blistering attack” on the decision to approve Pryor’s proposal for eight more charter schools, perhaps the most interesting is that Peters completely and utterly failed to mention that the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden Federation of Teachers President Erin Benham, voted IN FAVOR of the resolution to fund eight new charter schools.

In a political move to reward the AFT-CT for ramming through an endorsement of Dan Malloy, without even granting the other candidates [like myself] the opportunity to fill out a candidate questionnaire, meet with the AFT-CT PAC or address the AFT-CT Board of Directors, Malloy announced on August 21, 2014 that he was taking the unprecedented step of appointing Meriden AFT President Erin Benham to a four year position on the State Board of Education.

As the time, Peters wrote,

“We applaud the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman for selecting Erin Benham to serve on the State Board of Education. They have appointed a committed classroom educator and trusted labor leader with a long, successful record of direct engagement in grassroots efforts to improve schools in Meriden and across Connecticut.

“The SBOE, as well as the state’s education department, will greatly benefit from Erin’s experience in Meriden Public Schools. There, she and her fellow educators have proven that collaboration — not confrontation — is the way to form a productive working partnership with their district’s administration.

“Erin will bring tremendous value to the board with real-world teacher-student, educator-parent and labor-management experience. I have seen firsthand Erin’s passion for her vocation, and I have no doubt she will make a significant contribution to the board’s mission.

“We expect Erin to ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and to play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state’s schools.

“We congratulate Erin on her appointment and look forward to her service on the SBOE throughout her four-year term.”

Two weeks later, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten came to Connecticut to endorse Governor Dannel Malloy for re-election, despite the fact that Malloy was, and is, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for teachers in the poorest school districts in Connecticut, including some of the teachers who worked in Meriden.

And to drive home the special relationship between the AFT and Malloy – and Malloy and the AFT – AFT President Weingarten, AFT-CT President Peters and Malloy started their day with a tour and press conference at a Meriden public school, with none-other-than the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden AFT President Erin Benham.

Yet exactly sixty-one days later, Erin Benham, the teacher who Peters promised would, “ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and [who would] play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state’s schools,” joined Malloy’s other political appointees on the day after the election to vote in favor of diverting millions of dollars to even more privately run, publicly funded charter schools.

In her commentary piece a week after the vote, AFT-CT Peters wrote,

Another unanswered question is why we aren’t investing education resources in community schools that will educate all children, instead of cherry-picking students to boost standardized test scores. An investigation by Reuters in 2013 found charters across the country imposing “significant barriers” that result in “skimming the most motivated, disciplined students and leaving the hardest-to-reach behind….Wouldn’t we all be better served investing our tax dollars in traditional neighborhood schools that do not exclude our special education, ELLs, and children with behavioral disorders?”

And AFT President Peters concluded her commentary piece with the observation, “And until the department can demonstrate that it can, the State Board of Education should deny the outgoing commissioner’s request.”

Over the course of Malloy’s 2014 campaign for re-election, the American Federation for Teachers Federal Political Action Committee donated $10,000 to the Committee Democratic State Central Committee “Federal Account,” the fund that the Malloy campaign used to launder lobbyist, state contractor and political action committee funds into a program to assist the Malloy campaign.

In addition, the American Federation of Teachers Federal Political Action Committee threw in $600,000 to the Democratic Governor’s Association’s $5.7 million Independent Expenditure campaign to support Malloy’s re-election.

But putting aside, for the moment, AFT President Melodie Peters’s anti-charter school editorial of November 17, 2014, when the real vote on the motion to adopt the Malloy administration’s proposal to fund eight more charter schools was taken, it passed the State Board of Education unanimously….with the support of AFT’s representative along with Chairman Allan Taylor, Vice Chair Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Charles Jaskiewicz, Patricia Keavney-Maruca, Maria Mojica and Joseph Vrabely.

That is a lot of teacher’s money for an investment that appears to be ending in disaster.

Some would even call the whole thing yet another Wait, What? moment.

AFT President Randi Weingarten in Farmington today for Malloy campaign rally

Update:  After posting this piece, AFT President Weingarten and Malloy spoke at the AFT Get-Out-The-Vote rally and Weingarten tweeted: “@DanMalloyCT has apologized;affirmed pledge to coll barg.”  The media hasn’t reported what Malloy said, does anyone know?

RanRandi to farmingtondi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, is headlining a Malloy Get-Out-The-Vote Rally for Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s re-election effort today in Farmington, Connecticut.

Although a number of public education advocates, including myself, have been critical of Weingarten on some issues, I have tremendous respect for her and the role she has played in the effort to speak up for teachers on numerous occasions including this week’s decision by Time Magazine to run with a cover bashing the nation’s public school educators.

Weingarten, along with the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter and the Connecticut Education Association have endorsed Malloy despite the fact that Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose repealing tenure for all Connecticut public school teachers and unilaterally eliminating collective bargaining rights for a teachers working in the state’s poorest schools.

If Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA were serious about persuading Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates to get out to vote on Election Day and vote for Malloy they would use this opportunity to ensure that Malloy finally renounces his 2012 anti-teacher proposal.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining for a sub-set of public employees:

Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiative was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in a bill entitled “AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS.”  Malloy’s bill was submitted on February 9, 2012 and referred to the Education Committee for a public hearing.

Section 18 of the Senate Bill provided for the creation of what has become known as “Commissioner’s Network Schools.”

Malloy’s proposal was to allow the Commissioner of Education to override local boards of education and take control of Commissioner Network Schools by requiring local or regional boards of education to “enter into a turnaround agreement with the department regarding all aspects of school operation and management, without limitation.”

As part of that agreement, the proposal provided that the Commissioner of Education would have the power to, “Require the implementation of specific operating and working conditions in a commissioner’s network school.”

Since the unilateral control of the operating and working conditions would violate collective bargaining agreements, Malloy’s bill included the following language;

(F) The provisions of sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive, [which are the state’s collective bargaining laws] shall not apply to any teacher or administrator who is assigned to a commissioner’s network school, except (i) that such teacher or administrator shall, for the purposes of ratification of an agreement only, be permitted to vote as a member of the teacher or administrator bargaining unit, as appropriate, for the local or regional board of education in which the commissioner’s network school is located, and (ii) insofar as any such provisions protect any entitlement of such teacher or administrator to benefits or leave accumulated or accrued prior to the teacher or administrator being employed in a commissioner’s network school. The provision of any financial or other incentives, including, but not limited to, compensation or the availability of professional coverage positions, shall not be subject to collective bargaining pursuant to sections 10-153a to 10-153n, inclusive.

Malloy’s proposed language unilaterally repealed teachers’ rights to collectively bargain – if they worked in a Commissioner Network School – and specifically stated that compensation or other professional working conditions – SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

Malloy’s bill was nothing short of a proposal to destroy the collective bargaining rights of teachers (and administrators) in what was supposed to be up to 25 public schools in Connecticut.

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.”

Thankfully, the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly stripped Malloy’s effort to repeal collective bargaining rights before they went on to pass most of the rest of his bad bill.

Malloy’s effort to eliminate tenure for Public School Teaches;

Even the AFT and CEA have admitted that Governor Malloy’s 2012 Corporate Education Reform Industry Initiative sought to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers in Connecticut and replace it with a system of short-term contracts in which continued employment as a teacher would depend, in part, on the test scores teachers’ students got on the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Standardized Tests.

At the time Malloy introduced his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill he famously observed that “teachers need only show up for work” in order to get tenure.

Weingarten and the leadership of the AFT and CEA have consistently told their members that Malloy has apologized for proposing his anti-tenure, anti-teacher bill.

However, that claim is absolutely untrue.

The truth is that Malloy has never publicly renounced his anti-tenure position nor has he admitted that he made a mistake when he originally introduced the proposal.

When the idiotic “all you have to do is show up” statement was raised at a candidate debate earlier this year, here is what Malloy DID say;

 “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 is now claiming that his attack on tenure wasn’t an attack on teachers but, “it was about tenure.”

The sad truth is that Malloy’s HAS NEVER retracted his anti-tenure stance and his effort to “apologize” to teachers has only made his anti-tenure position clearer.

With Randi Weingarten in Connecticut today, the leadership of the AFT and CEA have a unique opportunity to actually force Malloy to stand up, step up and come clean about his 2012 effort to eliminate tenure for all public school teachers and repeal collective bargaining for teachers working in Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

A Malloy statement renouncing his actions on tenure and collective bargaining would be the most effective Get-Out-The-Vote effort Weingarten and the AFT and CEA leadership could make.