Warning Connecticut – They are coming for your school and your democratic rights!

Reblogged from Wait What? by Jon Pelto. Please read and contact your legislators here in CT. Please email your testimony by 8 am tomorrow…… This is a stealth attack on our children.

WARNING Connecticut – They are coming for your schools and your democratic rights!

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A Breaking News Alert from Jonathan Pelto and Wendy Lecker

When it comes to public education in Connecticut, a new piece of legislation before the Connecticut General Assembly (H.B. 5551) would be the most far-reaching power grab in state history – a direct attack local control of schools, our democracy and Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, local school officials and public school.

The legislation, would enable Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education to takeover individual schools in a district, remove the control of the elected board of education, “suspend laws” and eliminate the role of school governance councils which are the parent’s voice in school “turnaround plans.

The bill is nothing short of an authoritarian maneuver by grossly expanding the Commissioner of Education’s powers under the Commissioner’s Network.  The bill destroy the fundamental role local control because it allows the state to indefinitely take over schools and even entire districts, without a vote of local voters.

The bill removes any time limit on Commissioner’s Network Schools. It removes the cap on how many Commissioner’s Network schools can be taken over by the state.  It removes the right of the local community to appoint their own turnaround committee.  It eliminates the requirement that local parents, through their school governance council are included in the process.

This plan contravenes all the evidence on state takeovers.

State takeovers of schools and districts have been an abject failure across the country.

In Newark and Paterson, New Jersey, where state takeover has been in effect for years, the districts are plagued by fiscal crises, lack of improvement in student outcomes and charges of mismanagement.

A recent report issued by the Center for Popular Democracy found that state takeovers in New Orleans, Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority, and Tennessee’s Achievement School District, have all been plagued by mismanagement, instability and high turnover and hiring of inexperienced teachers, and virtually no student improvement. https://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/National%20Takeover%20Ed%20Report.pdf

In fact, even the federal government has found that states do not have the expertise to successfully turn around low-performing schools.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/most-states-lacked-expertise-to-improve-worst-schools/2015/05/05/0eb82b98-f35f-11e4-bcc4-e8141e5eb0c9_story.html

Connecticut’s track record on taking over schools is anything but stellar. In fact, one of the first Commissioner’s Network school, handed over to Jumoke/FUSE failed miserably under the supposed watchful eye of the Commissioner and State Board of Education.  The charter network admitted it was “winging it,” hiring ex-convicts, mismanaging funds and allowing student test scores to drop precipitously.  Even the current principal, Karen Lott, admitted that the takeover was a failure, with only 13% of Milner’s students scoring proficient in Language Arts and a shocking 7% in Math.  Lott declared that what the school needed was experienced staff, additional resources and community support, particularly wrap-around social services. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Failure-as-a-model-for-Connecticut-6267220.php.

None of these inputs require state takeover. In fact takeovers have been characterized by hiring inexperienced teachers, and disenfranchising the local community.

Where would such an un-American, anti-democracy and anti-local control idea come from?

This bill is virtually a carbon copy of ConnCAN’s proposal for the Commissioner’s Network schools. http://webiva-downton.s3.amazonaws.com/696/7c/c/2766/255496644-ConnCAN-Turnaround-Report.pdf  ConnCAN cherry picked and misrepresented certain “case studies” and, as per usual, passed it off as “research.”

For an example of ConnCAN’s misrepresentation of its case studies, read the truth about Lawrence Massachusetts here. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-collateral-damage-of-a-district-6295743.php

ConnCAN not only wrote a proposal shockingly identical to this bill , the charter lobby also sponsored a “forum” for legislators in 2015 where it invited Ms. Lott of the failed Milner school and others, such as the deputy superintendent of Lawrence to speak to legislators.

However the true examples of following  ConnCAN’s prescription can be found in places like Detroit, where the emergency manager left under a cloud and Detroit’s schools are on the brink of collapse, and in Tennessee where the superintendent, Chris Barbic, resigned, admitting turnaround was  “much harder”  than he thought.

Why would ConnCAN, the charter lobby, push this proposal?

Because state takeovers have been characterized by conversion of public schools into charter schools; schools unaccountable to elected boards, with little duty to report on its finances, yet who receive millions in public funds. Charters also tend to exclude a district’s neediest children, without any accountability for these practices.

This is the second recent example of the Malloy administration ceding governmental tasks to ConnCAN.  As was reported Friday, the Malloy administration allowed ConnCAN to choose at least one candidate for State Board of Education. (link)

Now, ConnCAN is writing legislation to determine the fate of our poorest schools.  ConnCAN is a lobby for charter schools.  The world outside Hartford recognizes ConnCAN as charlatan organization. It has received the Bunkum Award for shoddy research from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.

It is beyond troubling that our education policy is being set by this lobbying front group.

Without any evidence that destroying local control will help students (in fact with most evidence pointing the other way) why would we cede more power to the Commissioner?

Why do we think people who live and work in poor communities do not know what their children and schools need?  As longtime teacher, professor and writer Mike Rose has written,

“We have a long-standing shameful tendency in America to attribute all sorts of pathologies to the poor… We seem willing to accept remedies for the poor that we are not willing to accept for anyone else.”

Our neighbors in our poorest communities know what their children need.  Their teachers and principals and all the dedicated staff in their schools know, too.  In fact, since early February they have been testifying, along with real national experts, in front of Judge Moukawsher in the CCJEF case about what their schools need to improve: smaller classes, more teachers, social workers, prek, wraparound services for kids and families, adequate facilities and more.

As Milner’s principal stated, struggling schools need money, a stable staff and community support. State takeover will not accomplish these goals.

What will?

Providing schools the supports Ms. Lott mentions; supports that have been proven to improve schools. https://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Community-Schools-Layout_e.pdf

How do we provide these resources?

Several recent longitudinal studies prove that school finance reform where states substantially increase funding for struggling schools raises achievement. http://eml.berkeley.edu/~jrothst/workingpapers/LRS_schoolfinance_feb2016.pdf; http://www.nber.org/papers/w20847.

The legislature can truly impact student performance by settling the CCJEF case and enacting real finance reform to fund Connecticut schools adequately.

What the legislature should NOT do is replicate failure. And that is what Raised Bill 5551 will do.

Governor Malloy and his administration are apparently doing the biding of ConnCAN and the rest of the charter industry.

It is the legislature’s duty to act on behalf of the children in this state on behalf of taxpayers, and on behalf of democracy.

Connecticut needs elected officials with integrity and clarity of vision to once and for all, to examine the evidence and protect the interests, not of high-priced lobbyists, but of those children most in need of protection.

For more about how ConnCAN, the charter school industry and the corporate education reformers are corrupting Connecticut politics and policy read – Malloy turns to charter school industry for names to appoint to the CT State Board of Education

The General Assembly’s Education Committee will be holding a public hearing on this outrageous proposed law on Monday, March 7, 2016 starting at 11am in the Legislative Office Building

House Bill 5551:

Testimony can be submitted online via edtestimony@cga.ct.gov

Citizens can also contact the leadership of the Education Committee;

Senate Chair Democrat Gayle Slossberg – http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Slossberg-mailform.php

House Chair Democrat Andrew Fleischmann – Andrew.Fleischmann@cga.ct.gov

Senate Ranking Member Republican Toni Boucher – Toni.Boucher@cga.ct.gov

House Ranking Member Republican Gail Laveielle – gail.lavielle@housegop.ct.gov

Education Committee

Legislative Office Building, Room 3100

Hartford, CT 06106

(860) 240‑0420

To find contact information for your legislators go to: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

save-our-schools

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Poetic Justice’s Concerns About Corruption in CT

I am reblogging Jonathan Pelto’s latest post about how the will of the people has been circumvented here in CT. Please read and share this story.

CT deserves a Commissioner of Education who is also an educator. All states deserve that. What has happened in CT shouldn’t happen in a democracy.  This is a scam. These “reformers” should not be allowed to move from state to state causing disruption, distraction, and destruction. This has to stop. At the very least, they should have a background in education.

This is the least we the people should demand for our children and grandchildren.

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.

And now, in a disturbing and rather pathetic effort to appease Governor Malloy, the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House has announced that, after speaking with the Democratic members of the two chambers, there will be no vote to override or sustain Governor Malloy’s veto.

Instead, the bill will simply die.

To read about the bill go to: Malloy vetoes bill requiring that education commissioner have education experience, for news coverage about the decision not to even vote on Malloy’s veto see: CT Dems shameful display of cowardice on Malloy’s Education Veto (updated) and news coverage  at General Assembly Won’t Override Malloy’s Vetoes (CT Newsjunkie),   Democrats will not attempt to override Malloy vetoes (CT Mirror), No Veto Overrides Planned By Legislature (Hartford Courant)

The Democratic legislators’ lame and unsettling decision to  not even allow a vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto of AN ACT ESTABLISHING QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION (PA 15-176) came as a shock to Connecticut’s two teacher unions (the CEA and AFT-CT) who claimed ownership of the bill and used its passage as some strange indicator that their endorsement of Malloy’s re-election effort was acceptable because he was now being taken to the “wood shed” for his historic abuse of teachers and the teaching profession.

But the underlying issue isn’t about Malloy vs. the teacher unions or about whether Dannel Malloy’s temper and thin skin led him to veto a bill, out of the blue, despite its nearly unanimous support.

The issue really isn’t even about whether state government should or should not require that the commissioner of education have appropriate teaching experience.

The fundamental issue at stake is the result of the decision by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly to prevent a vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto.

The decision by the legislative branch to walk away from its duty to check and balance the executive branch reflects the growing politics of appeasement that has enveloped our political system and it is a situation that should be of concern to everyone across the political spectrum.

The foundation of the United States’ system of government is the inclusion of the system of checks and balances to guard against unwarranted authority.  It is an inherent part of both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Connecticut.

As James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 47,

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

(The Federalist No. 47: The Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Among Its Different Parts January 30, 1788)

In a 2006 Washington Monthly article on the danger of executive power, Bruce Fein wrote about Madison’s concept explaining,

The most conservative principle of the Founding Fathers was distrust of unchecked power. Centuries of experience substantiated that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Men are not angels. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition to avert abuses or tyranny. The Constitution embraced a separation of powers to keep the legislative, executive, and judicial branches in equilibrium. As Edward Gibbon wrote in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: ‘The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.’”

“The principles of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.”

Governor Malloy is wrong to have vetoed the bill requiring that the person responsible for running the state department of education have educational experience.

But the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly have done a far greater disservice by refusing to even vote on Malloy’s veto.  Their unwarranted decision to appease Malloy means that they have handed their constitutionally mandated legislative authority to the executive branch of government.

And that is something every Connecticut citizens should be very concerned about.

Here is the original article from the Wait What blog.

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