When Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy addressed a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly ninety days ago to present his proposed state budget, he called for record cuts to Connecticut's public schools while demanding the legislature increase funding for charter schools by more than 25 percent.
While he proposed cutting money for public schools and shifting even more of the costs of public education onto the backs of middle income property taxpayers, Malloy wanted the legislature to give him even more money so that his corporate education reform industry associates could open up two more charter schools in Connecticut.
The Democrats on the Appropriations Committee rejected Malloy's plan.
Although they did increase funding for charters, they shifted most of the money over to help fill some of the cuts the Governor had made to Connecticut's public schools.
But in typical fashion, the thin-skinned governor condemned the Democrats and today joined the corporate funded charter school advocates in blasting the legislators who had the courage to try and reduce the magnitude of Malloy's cuts to Connecticut's public schools.
Rather than recognizing the effort that members of his own party took to help their districts and Connecticut's public school students, Malloy went after them saying, "Let me be very clear, we also have to understand that we are going to have charter schools in Connecticut."
Typical ... In Malloy's world - it is Dannel's way or no way...
Even if it means hurting Connecticut's students, parents, teachers, public schools and taxpayers.
Ken Dixon of the Connecticut Post wrote about today's charter school industry rally noting, "Malloy stars in charter schools rally at Capitol."
Here in Connecticut, like in many other states and cities, our police are also equipped with military-grade weapons. We have had instances of public police brutality like the 2013 video of two officers repeatedly stomping on a man in Bridgeport. Police are treating us like enemy combatants on a battlefield. It sounds crazy but CNN reported that this was literally the case in Ferguson during the protests and violence following the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer.
It is impossible to build trust with a community you have declared the enemy and against whom you are visibly preparing for war. Our police forces are injecting violence into our communities and creating a pressure cooker that will inevitably blow if there is no de-escalation of the police. We are seeing the disastrous consequences of police violence all over the country.
The legislature's Republican leadership has unleashed a "No New Connecticut Taxes" rallying cry in opposition to a Democratic proposal to raise tax revenue by roughly $1.8 billion.
Republican lawmakers are hoping the public will put enough pressure on lawmakers to shelve most, if not all, of the proposed tax increases. The effort includes an online petition and a public hearing set for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 11.
The Republican proposal asks the governor to find $253 million annually in savings his administration was never able to find after it inked a deal with the coalition of state unions four years ago. The $253 million in savings from the so-called "employee suggestion box" and technology improvements was never achieved. The Republican budget suggests the unions should help the administration find those savings.
Malloy told reporters Monday that the Republican directive to find money is not realistic.
"Republicans, you don't get to spend the same amount of money and pretend you're going to pull it out of a hat," he said.
A white suburban police officer's questioning of ESPN analyst Doug Glanville for what was quickly and memorably labeled as "shoveling while black" in his Hartford driveway led the Connecticut House to a pass a bill Tuesday barring police from crossing city lines to enforce local ordinances.
Glanville's encounter in February 2014 with a rookie police officer, who was investigating a complaint about a man accused of harassing an elderly woman, went viral after he wrote a first-person piece for the Atlantic entitled, "I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway."
Before details of the encounter bounced around the web, propelled in part by Glanville's status as a former major league ballplayer whose post-baseball career includes writing for the New York Times and commenting for ESPN, it ripped through the West End.
Glanville's wife immediately sent Ritter an email with the subject line: "Shoveling While Black."
"Doug just got detained by West Hartford Police in front of our house while shoveling our driveway, questioning him about asking to be paid for shoveling," she wrote. "The officer left when Doug told him that it was his house. There were several other people on our street out in front of their houses shoveling snow at the same time. None of them were stopped for questioning. Just wanted to vent to someone whom we know cares and would be equally outraged."
Ritter reacted as she anticipated. He was not alone.
"It ate at me the wrong way," Ritter said. "It ate at our neighborhood the wrong way."
It seemed that a white police officer jumped to the assumption that a black man shoveling snow in the West End was hired help. In his piece in the Atlantic, Glanville described the officer as approaching him without introduction or explanation, "So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people's driveways around here?"
Glanville replied that the home was his, and the officer left. "He offered no apology, just an empty encouragement to enjoy my shoveling," Glanville wrote. "And then he was gone."
Ann Policelli Cronin, a Connecticut educator and fellow public education advocate has posted a number of fantastic commentary pieces here at Wait, What?
It is with excitement and appreciation that I'm honored to announce that Ann has set up blog entitled Real Learning CT and located at: reallearningct.com.
Be sure to subscribe to Ann's Blog or at least make it a regular stop on your Internet travels.
As Ann reports, the purpose of the blog is to change the conversation about education in Connecticut by focusing that conversation on what real learning is and on how we can, as a state, provide all the students in Connecticut's public schools with the kind of education that they need for their future. It is a forum for teachers, administrators, college and university professors, parents, citizens, and students to share with and learn from one another so that together we speak in a strong and effective voice for the welfare of all Connecticut's public school students.
Here is the first post on that blog:
Invitation to Connecticut Educators
There is a lot of conversation about public education going on.
Politicians are talking about the Common Core in regard to federal vs. local control. Billionaires with no understanding of child or adolescent development are mandating what education should look like in every grade from kindergarten through high school graduation. Testing companies are dictating that what is taught is limited to what they know how to test. Entrepreneurs are saying that schools should be enterprises from which they make a profit. Journalists are writing about the worth of standards they have never read. State legislators require students to take tests which determine promotions and graduations although no one has any idea if those tests measure what it takes to be successful in higher education or the workplace. The chief writer of the English language arts standards tells teachers exactly how to teach although he has never taught himself and is shockingly unfamiliar with good pedagogy. Proponents of the standards claim that the standards are evidence-based and internationally benchmarked although they are neither.
All in all, the ongoing conversation is dominated by a combination of those who have not read the standards, those who have never taught, and those who have little or no knowledge of child development, including how children and teenagers learn.
The Common Core and the accompanying tests are not receiving the scrutiny they deserve so implementation marches on. As a result, students do not experience the passion for learning, the engagement with ideas, or the substantive content to which they have a right.
It's time for educators in public schools to reclaim the conversation so that Connecticut's children receive the education they need. In Connecticut, we have innumerable educators who are experts in their academic disciplines and practice effective pedagogy. We have many excellent teachers and administrators who mentor inexperienced teachers and administrators. We have renowned educators in both our public K-12 schools and at our colleges and universities who are experts in child and adolescent development and who know how to shape instruction that fits that development. We have many accomplished administrators who know how to create collaborative school environments in which both students and teachers grow and learn. We have an untold number of teachers in our public schools who know how to inspire students to be critical thinkers, pose pivotal questions, read thoughtfully, communicate effectively, construct individual meaning by interacting with other thinkers, and also gain the skills of learning how to learn. We have countless educators in Connecticut who prepare our children for the future instead of equipping them for the past as Common Core does.
If we educators start talking about what we know, perhaps the public, the politicians, and the journalists will listen and give the Common Core and the accompanying testing the scrutiny they warrant. Our conversation, however, will not deter corporate "reformers" and test makers because their interest is in making a profit off our children, not in the quality of their education.
This blog provides a space for educators to talk to one another and to the public about what real learning is and how excellence can be provided for all of Connecticut's public school students. If we educators share with one another what we know from our teaching, from our research, and from what we have learned from our students, there will be no stopping us, no stopping what we can do for Connecticut's students.
Let's aim big. Let's make real learning available to all Connecticut's students. Let's join with other educators across the nation as two University of Arkansas professors of education, Jason L. Endacott and Christian Z. Goering (read here), rally us together with this summons:
Let's take back the story on education by any nonviolent means necessary... Just when it seems that all of the money and all the of the influence is stacked up against us, we can absolutely recapture our schools for the sake of our children. Stand together and say it: Our children aren't products, aren't numbers, and aren't for sale.
Let's start talking on this blog. I will explore key questions and highlight current issues. I invite you to offer your own posts - posts you write yourself or articles, photos, or videos you find provocative. I urge you to take the surveys and comment on the postings. I especially ask you to submit descriptions of a moment or an activity or a unit of study from your classroom that demonstrates real learning. We will then do more than reclaim the conversation about education. We will shape that conversation. We will elevate that conversation. We will focus that conversation. At last, the conversation will be about what we know best and what students need most: real learning,
Here are some conversation starters:
What is real learning?
How can all of Connecticut's students have real learning opportunities?
What is the content or the substance of the Common Core standards?
How are the Common Core standards related or not related to real learning?
What do we know from research and our experience as teachers about the cognitive development of children and adolescents?
How do we engage students as readers, writers, and thinkers?
How can we, as the state with the largest achievement gap, close that gap?
How can we as a state promote equity?
Do the SBAC tests measure real learning?
What are the students' experiences with SBAC testing?
How do we best prepare students for their future?
Let the conversation begin...
So be sure to Bookmark Ann's new blog at reallearningct.com
One of the most popular members of the US Senate is coming to town...
ELIZABETH WARREN TO HEADLINE JJB DINNER
Hartford, Ct. - The Connecticut Democratic Party today announced that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will be the keynote speaker at this year's Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner.
"Senator Warren is a champion for women, middle class families, and consumers," said Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nick Balletto. "Like Governor Malloy, Senator Warren's victory is proof that Democratic candidates win by staying true to Democratic values. We are thrilled to have her share her vision and experience."
The 67th annual JJB Dinner will be held on June 29th at the Hartford Convention Center. The event is open to media, but credentials will be required.
Elizabeth Warren is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, elected in 2012. She is a member of the Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP); Energy and Natural Resources; and the Special Committee on Aging.
Recognized as one of the nation's top experts on bankruptcy and the financial pressures facing middle class families, Senator Warren is widely credited for the original thinking, political courage, and relentless persistence that led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. President Obama asked her to set up the agency to hold financial institutions accountable and to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Senator Warren served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Her efforts to protect taxpayers, hold Wall Street accountable, and ensure tough oversight of the Bush and Obama Administrations won praise from both sides of the aisle. The Boston Globe named her Bostonian of the Year and TIME magazine called her a "New Sheriff of Wall Street" for her efforts.
Senator Warren was a law professor for more than 30 years, including nearly 20 years as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She taught courses on commercial law, contracts, and bankruptcy and wrote more than a hundred articles and ten books, including three national best-sellers, A Fighting Chance, The Two-Income Trap and All Your Worth.
Senator Warren is a graduate of the University of Houston and Rutgers School of Law. She lives with her husband Bruce Mann in Cambridge and has two children and three grandchildren.
After pleading guilty to mail fraud charges this week, former Connecticut House GOP chief of staff George Gallo is scheduled to be sentenced on July 29. He could face 1-2 years in prison for orchestrating a scheme to steer GOP campaign dollars (mostly taxpayer funds obtained through the Citizens Election Program) to a Florida mailing services company from which he was receiving kickbacks. Gallo pled guilty rather than facing trial against the same assistant US attorney, Christopher Mattei, who led the successful prosecution of John Rowland -- whose last campaign for governor in 2002 was, coincidentally, managed by Gallo.
Prominent GOPers like Gallo's former boss Larry Cafero are taking great pains to dissociate themselves from Gallo and insist that he was acting as a lone wolf. Strictly speaking, that may be true. The problem is that Gallo is the ultimate GOP insider whose connections with the entire Connecticut Republican establishment run broad and deep.
Here is what I wrote at MLN in February 2014 when the investigation of Gallo began:
What is giving Republicans in Hartford insomnia right now is that nobody is better connected to the Connecticut GOP establishment in the last fifteen years than Gallo, who began his political career two decades ago as a New Haven alderman and has risen to become a wise old man in the party. He was executive director of the Connecticut GOP under John Rowland, ran Rowland's campaign in 2002, became state party chairman under Jodi Rell, before becoming Larry Cafero's top staffer in the House and a respected and sought-out adviser to GOP candidates all over the state. Gallo is the ultimate insider, who conceivably knows a lot of things that could send a lot of people to prison.
Readers of this blog may recall that as GOP chairman in 2006, Gallo was an attack dog for Rell's re-election campaign who made vicious accusations against New Haven Mayor John DeStefano's gubernatorial campaign, including trumped-up charges of financial irregularities (somewhat ironic given Gallo's current circumstances). MLN readers may also recall that Gallo is as responsible as anyone else for Joe Lieberman's re-election in 2006. As the state's top Republican operative, Gallo knee-capped Republican senate nominee Alan Schlesinger by saying he should probably get out the race after Schlesinger's gambling addiction was revealed. He undercut Schlesinger by spreading rumors that Schlesinger would be replaced on the ticket by Jack Orchulli. It is extremely unusual for a sitting Republican president NOT to endorse the Republican nominee running for senate, but that is what Gallo convinced the Bush Administration to do. He used his authority to persuade national Republican donors and the NRSC to stay away from Schlesinger completely. The Connecticut GOP's tacit endorsement of Joe Lieberman enabled him to fend off Ned Lamont in the general election. To what extent did Gallo coordinate his actions with the Lieberman campaign? We don't entirely know the answer and probably never will.
The Lieberman-Gallo love affair continued into 2008, when Gallo essentially endorsed Lieberman as John McCain's vice presidential choice, telling right-wing Human Events magazine that he would be "ecstatic" about Lieberman joining the McCain ticket. Now that Gallo is in the doghouse, does Joe Lieberman have any thoughts about his Republican BFF?
If there is a silver lining in Gallo's downfall for the Connecticut GOP, it is the manufacture of new ammunition for their low-intensity war against public financing, which prominent Republicans like Tom Foley have always criticized even while accepting it for their own campaigns. (Since Jodi Rell left office, it has become acceptable again for the GOP to express open contempt for the public financing system that Rell helped to create.) What better illustration is there of the folly of public financing than the fact that it opens the door for taxpayer dollars to be abused by nasty, greedy crooks like GOP insider and Joe Lieberman BFF George Gallo?
One of the General Assembly's two-budget writing committees will vote Monday on their response to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's spending plan.
The Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee will release their budget Monday morning and the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee is expected to match their spending with a tax proposal later this week.
"Every budget document reflects a policy perspective," House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said last week.
He said the spending package that will be released Monday morning will look "very different," than the two-year, $40 billion budget put forward by Malloy in February.
University of Bridgeport vice president Mary-Jane Foster, co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team, is expected to enter the mayor's race today Monday, her second run for the city's top post she lost in a Democratic primary to Mayor Bill Finch in 2011.
Foster plans to file a candidate committee in the Town Clerk's Office to raise funds with a formal declaration in the coming weeks. She will join a field that includes Finch, Board of Education member Howard Gardner and perennial mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello. Former Mayor Joe Ganim, in an exploratory stage, will soon form a candidate committee as well.
Chances are the Republicans' 21st century losing streak will continue in 2016 regardless of their choice as nominee. Actually, they haven't elected a senator since 1982. But it would be refreshing, even inspiring, if the party could pick its best and brightest to articulate its views and not resort to its wealthiest or the candidate most likely to appeal to its extremist base.
Defeating the popular Mr. Blumenthal would prove very difficult, but a decent showing could help a qualified Republican build toward a future run.
The people of the state need a robust two-party system. Instead, when it comes to Senate and congressional races, the Republicans have gone bust.
While Connecticut is inching toward equipping police officers with body cameras and cruisers with dashboard cameras, they won't bring much accountability to police work unless the state's freedom-of-information law is strengthened. For if police video in Connecticut ever captured a murder committed by an officer -- like the murders recently committed by officers in South Carolina and Oklahoma and captured on video that was quickly made public -- the video almost certainly would be suppressed.
In part that's because of the exemption inserted in Connecticut's FOI law last year by the General Assembly and Governor Malloy in response to fears that someone might publish photographs of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012. The exemption allows government agencies to withhold images of murder victims if the "personal privacy of the victim or the victim's surviving family members" might be invaded.