Archives for category: Connecticut

Jonathan Pelto notes with alarm that Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy will be the next chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

The respected blog “Academe” reposted Jon ‘s excellent post entitled, The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University.

Jon writes:

“While people across the nation may not know it, in a few months, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy will be taking the helm of the Democratic Governors Association. In that position he will claim to be speaking for the nation’s Democratic governors and be responsible for electing more Democratic governors in the 2016 election cycle.

“Having already pushed through the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, the neoliberal, pro-Corporate Education Reform Industry governor is now engaged in an unprecedented attack on faculty at both Connecticut State University (now under the Connecticut Board of Regents) and the University of Connecticut.

“For the first time in UConn history, the Board of Trustees, which is made up of the governor’s political appointees and donors, have hired an outside, out-of-state, Chris Christie affiliated, anti-union law firm to lead the attack on the UConn AAUP. You can read more about the Malloy administration’s approach at UConn at: New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty. And UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union.”

“And now, as yesterday’s post explains, the Malloy administration dropped a contract proposal on Connecticut State University – AAUP faculty that eliminates a requirement that the institution declare financial exigency before firing tenured and non-tenured faculty and eliminates the requirement that prior to taking that “nuclear option,’ the management first meet with the AAUP chapter to discuss and find alternative solutions to firing tenured faculty. In addition, Malloy’s contract proposal takes the unprecedented step of inserting “Agency Fee” language into the contract itself, even though the matter is well settled and does not appear in any of the other State Employee contracts that cover more than the 45,000 Connecticut unionized state employees.”

Is Dannell Malloy the Scott Walker of the Democratic Party?

Jonathan Pelto has covered the charter school scams and scandals in Connecticut and often pointed out that the charters with the highest scores don’t accept the lowest performing students. That was the original purpose of charters. Ironically, the same cast of characters and hedge fund managers can be found pushing privatization of public schools across the nation.

In this post, Pekto draws attention to an excellent article on this subject by Sarah Darer Littman.

Littman analyzes the Washington state court decision and connects its relevance to Connecticut.

Jonathan writes:

“In her latest piece, Littman challenges Connecticut legislators to pay “close attention to several interesting legal developments on the West Coast, which could have significant implications here in the Nutmeg State.”

Sarah Darer Littman writes,

“The first came Sept. 5, when the state Supreme Court in Washington ruled 6-3 that charter schools don’t qualify as “common” schools under the state’s constitution, and therefore can’t receive public funding intended for traditional public schools.

“Our inquiry is not concerned with the merits or demerits of charter schools,” Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in the majority opinion. “Whether charter schools would enhance our state’s public school system or appropriately address perceived shortcomings of that system are issues for the legislature and the voters. The issue for this court is what are the requirements of the constitution.”

Littman writes:

“Charter schools have always tried to play the public/private issue both ways. The acts of calling themselves “public” when it comes to claiming funds from the public purse, yet immediately claiming to be private entities the minute accountability and FOIA matters are raised, have created several interesting conundrums, as we have observed right here in our own backyard. (See FUSE, ConnCAN)

In the Washington State case this play it both ways strategy finally went pear-shaped:

[The Washington court writes:]

“The words ‘common school’ must measure up to every requirement of the constitution . . . and whenever by any subterfuge it is sought to qualify or enlarge their meaning beyond the intent and spirit of the constitution, the attempt must fail . . . Bryan established the rule that a common school, within the meaning of our constitution, is one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district. The complete control of the schools is a most important feature, for it carries with it the right of the voters, through their chosen agents, to select qualified teachers, with powers to discharge them if they are incompetent.”

Littman writes:

“The court listed all the ways charters fail to meet these qualifications. Namely, they are:

1) “governed by a charter school board,” which is “appointed or selected . . . to manage and operate the charter school.”

2) The charter school board has the power to hire and discharge charter school employees and may contract with nonprofit organizations to manage the charter school.

3) They are “free from many regulations” that govern other schools.

4) Charter schools are “exempt from all school district policies,” as well as “all . . . state statutes and rules applicable to school districts” except those listed in I-1240 section 204(2) and those made applicable in the school’s charter contract.”

Littman writes:

“In other words the Washington state court finally issued a ruling confirming what many of us here in Connecticut have been saying for years: charters are siphoning off taxpayer money from the public school system without sufficient (if any) accountability. Calling them “public schools” is merely convenient political fiction.”

Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker excoriates Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy for favoring privately-managed charter schools over underfunded urban public schools.

Lecker thinks Malloy should be guided by some recent court decisions.

“Charter schools want it both ways. To get taxpayer dollars, they want to call themselves public schools. However, they do not want to educate the same children as public schools, or be subject to the same rules. Courts are beginning to challenge this duplicity. In Texas and Arizona, courts have ruled that charters are not entitled to the same funding as public schools. Now, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are not public schools at all and it is unconstitutional to divert any money intended for public schools to them.

“Central to the Washington court’s decision was the connection between public schools and local democracy. The court noted that local control is the “most important feature” of a public school because it vests in local voters the power, through their elected agents, to run the schools that educate their children.

“Charters in Washington are authorized by state agencies and governed by unelected boards. The court concluded that charter schools are not true public schools because they are “devoid of local control from their inception to their daily operation.”

“This ruling follows another major decision by Washington’s Supreme Court, holding the legislature in contempt for failing to adequately fund its public schools, and fining it $100,000 a day.

“The refusal to fund public schools and simultaneous willingness to divert money to privately run charter schools has parallels to Connecticut.
In January, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will have to defend the state’s failure to fund our public schools as the CCJEF schoolfunding trial he has failed to thwart finally begins.

“While spending millions of taxpayer dollars trying to prevent children in underfunded school districts from having their day in court, the Malloy administration has aggressively expanded privately run charter schools and funded them at levels higher than schools in our poorest districts receive. Charter schools receive $11,000 per pupil annually from the state, while children in Bridgeport public schools, for example, receive less than $9,000 per pupil annually in ECS funding. New Britain Schoolsreceive less than $8,000 per pupil. Connecticut charter schools also tend to serve less needy, therefore less expensive-to-educate, students than their district counterparts.

“Moreover, the state, in violation of its own laws, concentrates charters in a few districts, forcing those financially strapped districts to pay additional millions to the charter schools for special education and transportation.

“The Malloy administration applies a double standard to charters on one hand and underfunded public schools on the other. As I have documented, the State Board of Education routinely reauthorizes charter schools despite their failures, while poor districts are subject to state takeover despite the state acknowledging that the districts’ troubles are financial ( The SBE even blindly handed over tens of millions of dollars to a convicted embezzler/charter operator,Michael Sharpe.”

Meanwhile the Malloy administration does nothing to alleviate segregation in charter schools.

Connecticut, like Washington State, has a strong tradition of local control.

Lecker says the courts will have to step in to protect the children of Connecticut from the neglect and indifference of the Malloy administration.

The state of Connecticut finally released the results of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment.

As expected, most students in Connecticut “failed.”

As I previously explained, the developers of the tests chose a passing mark that was designed to fail most students.

On the federal NAEP, Connecticut is one of the highest scoring states in the nation. Its failure rates were not as bad as in other states. But even so, a majority of students in every grade did not reach “proficient.”

Failure by design.

Time for parents in Connecticut to opt out in 2016.

Jonathan Pelto wonders whatever happened to the Common Core test scores in Connecticut. Why hasn’t Governor Malloy’s administration released them. If the scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment are similar to other states, Connecticut will discover that half or more of its students are “failing.”

Bear in mind that Connecticut is one of the top three states on NAEP. No matter. SBAC and PARCC set their passing scores so high that most kids will fail in most states. Diabolical or insane or incompetent?

The state’s Commissioner of Education blamed classroom teachers for growing public opposition to the tests.

Pelto writes:

“It what may be the most incredible, insulting, outrageous and absurd statement yet from Governor Malloy’s administration about the Common Core SBAC testing program, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education is now blaming teachers for the fact that there is growing opposition to the SBAC testing scam.

“In their warped world where “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” these people have the audacity to blame the victims for the crimes that are of the politicians’ making.

“Forget that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test (SBAC) is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory.

“Forget that the SBAC test is designed to fail the vast majority of Connecticut students.

“Forget that the SBAC test is particularly discriminatory for children who come from poorer backgrounds, those who face English Language barriers and those who require special education services.

“Forget that the SBAC test results are being used to inappropriately “evaluate” teachers

“Forget that state taxpayers have paid well over $50 million for this disastrous test program just over the past two years and local taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars more.

“And forget that the SBAC testing has wasted hundreds of hours of instructional time, time that our children could have been getting the education they actually need and deserve.

“Forgetting all that and proving that Governor Malloy’s administration has lost all contact with reality, the Commissioner of Education is now claiming that the lack of support for the Common Core SBAC tests is the fault of Connecticut’s public school teachers.”

The New York Times reports today that Connecticut has decided to drop the Smarter Balanced Assessment for 11th graders and require all students to take the SAT instead.

Although it is not clear in the article, it appears that students in other grades will still take the Smarter Balanced tests.

Since David Coleman was “architect” of the Common Core and is now President of the College Board, the SAT will be aligned with the Common Core.

This is, of course, a tremendous financial coup for the College Board, which charges for every student who takes the SAT.

But it will also benefit Connecticut students, because the cut score (passing mark) on the SBA is set so high that most students are certain to fail and would not be eligible to graduate from high school. Connecticut has now finessed that problem.

The federal government requires that states assess students in both reading and math once during high school. Because so many Connecticut public school students take the SAT anyway, replacing the existing high school test, given in 11th grade, with the SAT would leave young people with one exam fewer on their roster.

State officials said that while scores had not yet been set on what would count as meeting or exceeding “achievement level,” a particular score on the SAT would not be required to graduate from high school or to rise to the 12th grade. Instead, the test will be used as one of several measures, including grades and attendance, to decide if a student has met the requirements necessary to move on.

Dorie Nolt, a spokeswoman for the federal Education Department, said that several states, including Kentucky, South Carolina and Wisconsin, already use the ACT college admissions exam to fulfill their high school testing requirement.

Jon Pelto is shocked that Democratic legislators in Connecticut are afraid to confront Governor Dannel Malloy. The governor vetoed a bill that would establish qualifications for the State Commissioner of Education.

Despite their overwhelming–almost total–support for the legislation, the legislature refuses to override the Governor’s veto. This leaves the Governor free to hire another inept and politically motivated superintendent who is in the pocket of the super-rich charter industry.

Pelto writes:

“In preparation for the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2015 constitutionally required veto session, Democratic legislative leaders announced yesterday that no votes would be taken on whether to sustain or override the nine bills vetoed by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy during this year’s legislative session.

“The most noteworthy of the bills that the Democrats are unwilling to bring up for a vote is PA 15-176, which was House Bill 6977, AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

“The legislation requires that any person serving as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education have an appropriate education degree and teaching experience.

“The legislation arose in response to Governor Malloy’s decision to name Stefan Pryor, a charter school founder and corporate education reform industry advocate, to be his first commissioner of education, despite the fact that Pryor had no educational experience.

“Stefan Pryor’s performance as Malloy’s Education Commissioner led both Democrats and Republicans to call for legislation requiring future leaders of the state department of education to have the requisite education experience.

“The General Assembly’s Education Committee held a public hearing on House Bill #6977 and went on to pass the legislation by a vote of 32 – 0.

“At no time did Malloy or his administration testify against the bill or publicly announce any opposition to the concept.

“The bill went to pass the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 36 – 0 and the Connecticut House of Representatives by a vote of 138-5.

“In the end, only one Democratic legislator voted against the bill.

“With its passage, HB6977 become Connecticut Public Act 15-176.

“But despite the overwhelming level of support displayed for the bill by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Malloy vetoed the legislation.”

Jonathan Pelto writes that Connecticut has acquired yet another corporate reform group, disguised an nonpartisan and independent.


Pelto writes:


Like some type of gigantic octopus the pro-charter school, pro-common core, pro-SBAC Testing scheme and anti-teacher corporate education reform industry has set up multiple front groups, while dumping more than $7.9 million dollars into their lobbying effort on behalf of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s “education reform” initiatives.


By now you’d think these hedge-fund managers and corporate executives would have created enough different groups in their effort to create the impression that they are more than they seem.


But that’s just not the way it works…


Connecticut’s education policy arena is being honored with the presence of yet another “reform” front group.


And as with their earlier pronouncements, the charter school and education reform industry is claiming that their latest front group is an “independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”


The newest corporate funded education reform group to invade Connecticut’s education policy debate is called the Connecticut School Finance Project and according to its PR:


“Founded in 2015, the nonprofit Connecticut School Finance Project strives to be a trusted, nonpartisan, and independent source of accurate data and information that transcends special interests.”




Transcends special interests?


File under this one under – There is truly no lie that is too big for the charter school industry and its corporate education reform associates.


What makes Pelto so sure that this is just another corporate reform front group?


Well, it may be because the Chief Operating Officer of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, one of the state’s leading advocates for Governor Malloy’s anti-teacher, anti-public school agenda, is the new Director and Founder of the Connecticut School Finance Project.


Don’t be fooled, Pelto warns. The corporate reform industry has a galaxy of organizations with misleading names, but no popular support for their agenda.

Connecticut’s Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed legislation requiring the state education commissioner to have educational experience and qualifications.


He said it encroached on the governor’s authority to name anyone he wanted, regardless of qualifications.


Mayor Bloomberg took that path when he appointed publisher Cathie Black as schools chancellor. She lasted three months.


Will Governor Malloy be comfortable if the pilot of his next flight has no experience? Will he go to a hospital where his surgeons are fresh from college with no training or experience?

Jonathan Pelto writes about this curious conundrum: Connecticut’s charter schools want more public money, but they object to public accountability. Their motto seems to be: give us money and get out of our way. In other states, like Néw York, charter operators have gone to court to block public audits of public funds (“trust us”).

In Connecticut, as Sarah Darer Littman wrote in a column Pelto quotes, charters testify before the Legislature that they should be excused from complying with Freedom of Information requests because it is burdensome. And their spokesman testified that they should not have to complete background tests on employees. They are in a hurry and can’t be expected to wait to find out if their new hires have criminal backgrounds.

Charter schools are special. Rules and regulations and state laws are for public schools, not for charter schools.

Didn’t Leona Helmsley, the billionaire queen of mean, sat that taxes are for the “little people?”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 159,156 other followers