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Opt-Out movement rolls across CT - with opt out rates in excess of 50% in a number of high schools

by: ctblogger

Wed May 27, 2015 at 16:35:55 PM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Although most parents of public school students won't appreciate the disastrous impact of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test until the test results arrive at homes this summer, record numbers of parents have stepped up to opt their children out of the inappropriate SBAC testing scheme.

Firm opt out numbers are trickling in from around the state and the number of parents who have refused to have their children abused by the testing process is significant, especially among high school juniors who are particularly at risk of being negatively impacted by the test that is intentionally designed to fail the vast majority of Connecticut students.

Despite a concerted, unethical and immoral effort by Governor Dannel Malloy's administration and some local school superintendents to mislead, harass and punish students in an effort to convince parents not to opt the child or children out of the Common Core SBAC test, thousands of parents and students have refused to be bullied and refused to take the disastrous test.

In towns where school superintendents handled their duties in a professional and appropriate fashion, the number of students opting out has reached massive proportions with some high schools reporting more than 80 percent of their high school juniors did not take the test.  A  number of high schools have seen opt out rates in excess of 50 percent.

Not surprisingly, where superintendents and school principals failed to fulfill their ethical responsibilities, choosing instead to bully and harass students by claiming that they could not graduate if they failed to take the Common Core SBAC test or telling parents that it was illegal to opt out of the SBAC test, the number of students refusing the test was significantly lower.

However, those schools administrators will discover that misleading and even lying to their schools' parents will lead to major repercussions.

Check back here at Wait, What? and watch for media reports about the actual opt out numbers as school districts finalize and report on their Common Core testing activities

Also feel free to report any information you've heard in the comment section or send that information to jonpelto@gmail.com

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Tuesday roundup

by: ctblogger

Tue May 26, 2015 at 09:40:00 AM EDT

Back to work reading material.
  • OIB: "The Mayoral Campaign Really Starts Memorial Day Weekend"
    The late OIB correspondent John Gilmore said mayoral eections do not begin in earnest until Memorial Day. Well here we go, time to take inventory.

    Five Democrats and one Republican are in the most-watched race in the state this election cycle given the dynamics of the personalities.

    Democrats Bill Finch, Joe Ganim, Mary-Jane Foster, Howard Gardner and Charlie Coviello are in the race in what is shaping up as a September 16 primary. Two-time mayoral candidate Enrique Torres announced recently he'll be in the race on the Republican side.

    The Democratic outcome is a difficult race to project because of the various dynamics with the potential for many twists and turns.

  • Danbury's longest serving dishonest mayor is at it again...this time he's telling boldface lies about Gov. Malloy's Second Chance proposal while claiming that modifications to the state's drug policy in urban areas is not a high priority.
    "Republicans shouldn't fall into the trap of letting the governor define what the urban issues are," said Mark Boughton, the longtime GOP mayor of Danbury. "It's a problem, but it's not the No. 1 problem."

    Like a number of Republican mayors and first selectmen, Boughton said he is open to tweaking the law, but questioned Malloy's agenda and the message it sends.

    "Well, if that means the whole city is off limits, then I guess you can't sell drugs in Bridgeport," Boughton said, though Malloy's proposal doesn't apply to drug selling, only simple possession. "I don't want people dealing drugs or even possessing small amounts of drugs near schools. Nobody benefits from that scenario. The governor's trying to score political points for some kind of national profile that he's trying to build."

  • THE DAY: "Questions surround Andrew Maynard's return to the state Senate"
    A Democratic spokesman says state Sen. Andrew Maynard is busy with his duties in Hartford while recovering from a brain injury last summer, but Maynard has missed many of his committee meetings, has co-sponsored just one bill and continues to refuse to be interviewed.

  • CTNJ OP-ED: "Get Health Costs Under Control: Make the Market More Fair"
    We're members of UNITE HERE! Local 217. In our contract negotiations in 2010 our employer told us the cost of our Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan was going up 48 percent. They wanted us to pay a lot more to keep our good health insurance.

    So we got to work. We switched to a non-profit union health and welfare "Taft-Hartley" plan called UNITE HERE Health. But because that plan was based on just our 80 members, costs continued to rise. So in 2011, UNITE HERE Health created a national plan to pool food service workers across the country, and we joined. Switching to the national plan saved our employer money and allowed us to keep our benefits affordable. About 1,000 Connecticut members have joined the plan with thousands more across the country.

    The plan keeps costs down because we work hard at it. The key is our "1, 2, 3" program. Trained leaders from our union sit down with members and talk with them about their health and the cost of our benefits.

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Connecticut Charter Schools are promoting greater racial segregation using taxpayer funds

by: ctblogger

Fri May 22, 2015 at 09:43:50 AM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

As Robert Cotto Jr. writes about the way in which Connecticut charter school companies are pocketing public funds in his latest CTNewjunkie commentary piece entitled, Stunning Charter School take down by Robert Cotto Jr. let's not forgot that the problems with charter schools goes far beyond greed, waste and fraud.

The REAL TRUTH about Connecticut Charter schools and racial segregation;

Forget the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education that ruled that segregation in schools violated the United States Constitution.

Forget the 1996 Connecticut Supreme Court case of Sheff v. O'Neill that ruled that segregation in Connecticut schools violated Connecticut's Constitution.

Forget that as a result of the Sheff v. O'Neill case, Connecticut taxpayers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to reduce racial isolation in public schools.

The REAL TRUTH is that more than $100 million a year in scarce Connecticut funds are being handed over to charter school companies and that according to the most recent reports filed with the Connecticut State Department of Education (2012-2013), every single major charter school in Connecticut is more racially segregated than the school district they are supposed to serve.

The REAL TRUTH is that while Connecticut spends massive amount of money to fulfill its federal and state constitutional mandate of REDUCING segregation, Connecticut charter schools are using public money to actually INCREASE racial segregation in Connecticut!

Just look at the data about the charter schools in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Stamford.

Using public funds, Connecticut charter schools are creating greater racial isolation - something that is nothing short of illegal and unconstitutional.

HARTFORD % of public school students who are non-white

Hartford School District 89%

Jumoke Academy Charter School 100%

Achievement First Inc. Hartford Charter School 100%

Bridgeport % of public school students who are non-white

Bridgeport School District 91%

Achievement First Inc. Bridgeport Charter School 99%

Bridge Academy Charter School 99%

New Beginnings Academy Charter School 99%

New Haven % of public school students who are non-white

New Haven School District 85%

Achievement First Inc. Amistad Charter School 98%

Achievement First Inc. Elm City Charter School 99%

Highville Charter School 99%

Stamford % of public school students who are non-white

Stamford School District 66%

Stamford Academy Charter School 96%

Trail Blazers Charter School 96%

And now Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut's charter school industry want to divert even more public money away from Connecticut's public schools so that they can open up two more charter schools - one in Bridgeport and one in Stamford.

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Monday roundup

by: ctblogger

Mon May 18, 2015 at 09:34:59 AM EDT

The latest:
  • Seems like it didn't take long for the Michelle Bachman of Connecticut to show off her hypocritical colors.
    Connecticut Democrats called House Republican leader Themis Klarides a hypocrite Friday for making an appearance on a nationally syndicated radio show to criticize the governor shortly after she'd suggested he was spending too much time on the national stage.

    "GOP House Leader Themis Klarides' hypocrisy knows no bounds," Leigh Appleby, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said Friday during a conference call. "First she calls on Governor Malloy to resign, even as he's a national leader for progress. Yet, two days later, conducts her own national press tour."

    Appleby's statement was only the latest volley in a public fight between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Klarides. The flap began Wednesday with a comment from Malloy to the CT Post regarding Republican opposition to his proposal to eliminate the enhanced penalties for possession of drugs within so-called drug-free school zones.

    "To treat those folks differently because they live in those communities is patently unfair and if not racist in intent, is racist in its outcome," Malloy told the CT Post Wednesday.

    Outraged by Malloy's insinuation that Republican opposition to his Second Chance Society legislation had racist overtones, Klarides brought the state House of Representatives to a standstill and then marched up to the capitol press room to issue an angry rebuttal.

    Among other things, she said that "[Malloy] should figure out where he is and what he wants to do with his career because if this is about making a national name for himself, he should step down and let Nancy Wyman take over. Because he clearly is not interested in doing the job he was elected to do."

    But just two days later, Klarides agreed to be a guest on the nationally syndicated Laura Ingraham show, providing the Connecticut Democratic Party with an opportunity to call her a hypocrite.

    Maybe someone should tell the laughable Minority Leader that her days at the WWE are over and in politics, being a fake hypocrite can back fire on you.

  • Malloy was right.
    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's well deserves his reputation for playing a hardball style of politics, including utilizing needlessly acerbic language in criticizing opponents. However, he was correct in noting that the current law that results in citizens living in cities receiving longer sentences than those living in suburbia - for the same drug crimes - is "racist in its outcome."


    That's the point the governor was making in arguing for repeal of the law that requires increased penalties for drug possession and sale within 1,500 feet of a school, day-care center or public housing project. The law's intent to keep drugs away from children is meritorious. But the fact is these mandatory stiffer penalties are enforced with no evidence that children were ever the target of the drug activity. In densely populated cities, all or most everyone lives within a school, day-care center or public housing.

    That results in severer punishment for city dwellers. In his statement, Gov. Malloy noted this reality and its implication.

    "Our black and Hispanic population is concentrated in certain communities. To treat those folks differently because they live in those communities is patently unfair and, if not racist in intent, is racist in its outcome," Gov. Malloy.

    Angered at Gov. Malloy for introducing the term "racist" into the debate, Republicans in the House, many of whom oppose the repeal of the drug zone provision, halted business in that chamber for more than five hours Wednesday.

    Sorry, but one of the definitions of racism is "racial prejudice or discrimination" and these laws are prejudicial and discriminatory in their outcome.

  • CT MIRROR: "CT Lawmakers split on defense bill Obama dislikes"
    Connecticut lawmakers were split Friday over a massive defense bill that would authorize billions of dollars for the state's defense industry, but has provoked a veto threat from President Obama for boosting military spending in an account that's out of the reach of a spending cap.

    Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District; Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District; and John Larson, D-1st District; were among a minority of 41 Democrats to vote for the $612 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which was approved 269-151. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, and Jim Himes, D-4th District, voted with most of their party in opposing the legislation.

  • Good news.
    As recently as last winter Connecticut legislators, higher-ups at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, automobile dealers and environmental activists were expecting that this legislative session would help complete the effort begun nearly two years ago to get more residents buying and leasing plug-in electric vehicles as a hedge against climate change and poor air quality.

    The plan had been to add financial incentives to buy or lease electric vehicles - proven successful in other states - to the charging station build-out that now boasts about 350 public chargers in about 175 locations. But in the face of ever-tightening state finances, the idea of using state funds for rebates or allowing sales tax waivers on EVs quickly became non-starters. While there is legislation moving through the General Assembly that contains a number of EV policy measures, it does not contain "cash on the hood" for consumers.

    But the Connecticut Mirror has learned that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is about to unveil an initial financial incentive program for EVs using money from outside the state budget. According to several sources, Malloy will announce that $1 million from the Northeast Utilities/NSTAR merger settlement fund will be made available for rebates for EV purchases and leases.

    Malloy also tapped the fund, more than $400 million when it was announced in 2012, for the EV charging station program. A total of $1 million has gone to that since July 2013, with about $200,000 remaining to be spent. The charging station program provides financing up to $10,000. Those stations must be available to the public 24 hours day, and free for the first three years.

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When it comes to racist intent, GOP State Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor makes the case for Gov. Malloy

by: ctblogger

Thu May 14, 2015 at 13:43:41 PM EDT

UPDATE: The Connecticut Democratic Party released the following statement regarding State Rep. Buck-taylor's offensive remarks.

The Connecticut Democratic Party is calling on State Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor to apologize after she used a sponsored Facebook post last night to misrepresent and spread fear about Governor Malloy's Second Chance Society initiative.

Rep. Buck-Taylor's post is the latest in a string of attacks against the legislation intended to stir up fear. In March, she put out a press release outlining her opposition, in which she implied her support of Connecticut's current "three strikes" and mandatory minimum laws, which disproportionately impact people and communities of color.

"This is a deplorable attempt to blatantly misrepresent the impacts of legislation which will make our communities safer. It's time  for Representative Buck Taylor to stop distorting the truth and apologize for her offensive comment." - Leigh Appleby, Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman.

Also, who paid to sponsor Rep. Buck-Taylor's Facebook post? Was it a blatant political attack paid for at taxpayer expense?

"To treat those folks differently because they live in those communities is patently unfair and if not racist in intent, is racist in its outcome..."

*Gov Malloy on opposition to the elmination of drug-free zones that resulted in the mass incarceration of people who reside in urban communities.

By now, you've read of heard about the latest round of phony outrage from the Michelle Bachman of Connecticut House Minority Leader Themis Klardies regarding remarks from Gov. Dan Malloy in which he CORRECTLY decribed those who support our state's drug-free zone policy as "if not racist in intent, is racist in its outcome."

Well, at least when it comes to streotypical racist rhetoric from the state GOP, yesterday in a sponsored post on Facebook, New Milford State Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor pretty much made the case for the governor.

I guess when it come to inciteful rhetoric from within the State GOP, State Sen. Mike McLachlan has some real competition!

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Wednesday roundup

by: ctblogger

Wed May 13, 2015 at 12:39:55 PM EDT

The latest...
  • "Let us teach!"
    Chanting "Let us teach," about 500 educators from around the state went from their classrooms to a rally at the state Capitol late Tuesday afternoon, urging lawmakers to reduce the number of required standardized tests given to public school students.

    "It's too much," said Joe Jacobs, a teacher at Roosevelt School in Bridgeport, who ran out of fingers counting up how many tests he said his students take each year to satisfy local, state and federal requirements.

    "Eleven, maybe," he said, shaking his head.

    The rally comes as public school students around the state are taking the Smarter Balanced Test, or SBAC, linked to the Common Core State Standards. It is the first time the test counts. It also comes as the Connecticut Education Association pushes for a bill that would create a task force to study excessive testing. It is unclear if the bill will be acted upon.

  • Shame!
    Western Connecticut State University has suspended graduate level programs in health administration, justice administration and teaching, while a planned master of applied behavioral analysis program will be delayed. In addition, 19 positions -- 11 of them faculty positions -- will go unfilled.

    A closed sign could be hung on the door on Saturdays at Norwalk Community College's library and computer labs this fall.

    A dean of students? There won't be one. Nor will there be directors of financial aid and student services.

    Those are some of the ways a $22 million spending gap will be closed this fall across 17 public college campuses that make up the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities. Despite the cuts, tuition will increase by 4.8 percent systemwide in the fall of 2015.

  • It's time to end this policy once and for all.
    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration is lobbying hard to get its Second Chance Society legislation passed, starting with reducing penalties for personal possession of drugs regardless of whether a suspect is arrested in a school zone.

    For the major cities, school zones, which are defined as an area 1,500 feet from a school or day care center, cover almost all of New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport.

    Tough drug laws passed decades ago added a two-year mandatory jail sentence if that possession is within these zones, leading to very high numbers of arrests in the cities, with the vast majority of the charges brought against minorities.

  • Amen!
    Last year, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned some 20 years of Freedom of Information law when it concluded that police departments need only disclose a bare minimum of arrest information (name, address, date, time and charges) pending prosecution. This ruling applies even if other arrest information is not exempt from public disclosure. The Supreme Court majority itself, however, recognized that its tortured reading of the law is in need of legislative clarification.

    House Bill 6750 is now wending its way through the General Assembly. The bill was introduced to reestablish the law that existed prior to the unfortunate Supreme Court decision. The bill passed through the legislative committee dealing with Freedom of Information in good fashion. It was then sent to the Judiciary Committee where, at the urging of the Chief State's Attorney, it was amended to negate the original intent of the bill and, in essence, would codify into law the Supreme Court's ruling.

    As one who has been working in the field of government transparency and accountability for over 40 years, I am not exaggerating one iota when I say that failure to enact House Bill 6750 as originally proposed will be one of the final nails in the coffin of open government in Connecticut. Ironically, Connecticut had been considered one of the enlightened pillars of good government, but unfortunately, of late it has earned a reputation as one that tolerates corruption and governmental misconduct. This is a stain on the entire state and an embarrassment to all of us who call Connecticut home.

  • Only in Bridgeport!
    Joe Ganim's officially in the race for mayor raising money, attending events, building a campaign infrastructure. Thursday night at The German Club on the East Side he's conducting his formal kickoff. Ganim is building support based on relationships and nostalgia, but most electors vote on the future.
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