As readers are aware, Governor Dannel Malloy traveled to Washington D.C. yesterday to speak to the right-wing, neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. His speech was entitled, "School reform dos and don'ts: Lessons from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy."
As originally proposed, Malloy's "education reform" initiative was the most anti-teacher, anti-union education reform legislation proposed by any Democratic governor in the nation. Even after the proposal was modified by the Connecticut General Assembly is still held out as a prime example of the corporate education reform industry's obsession with more standardized testing and inappropriate teacher evaluation programs that utilize standardized test results.
What as most noteworthy about the Malloy's speech to the American Enterprise Institute was that while taking full credit for the legislation he tried to re-position himself for the 2014 gubernatorial election by praising teachers rather than playing his traditional role of criticizing and demeaning them.
As the CT Mirror reported yesterday, in his speech to the American Enterprise Institute, "the governor acknowledged that he could have been more delicate when introducing his proposals...'I've probably used the wrong language more than once. I know I have,' he said, routinely pointing out how important teacher buy-in is to the success of the initiative."
Apparently his remarks were supposed to appease teachers who might still be upset that in Malloy's major education speech in 2012, he called for doing away with tenure while saying, "In today's (public education) system, basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours."
Malloy infamously added, later that year, his observation that he didn't mind teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up."
But despite a carefully written script yesterday, Malloy's real personality and opinions couldn't stay hidden for long.
During the question and answer period following Malloy's talk, Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of ConnCAN and co-founder of A Better Connecticut, the corporate education reform lobbying group, tossed Malloy a soft-ball question about the town meetings Malloy held around the state to promote his education reform initiative in 2012.
Readers will recall that A Better Connecticut, ConnCAN and other corporate education industry organizations have spent a record $6 million and counting lobbying in support of Malloy's education reform initiative to date, including more than $2 million in television advertisements thanking Malloy for his "leadership."
In response to a question from ConnCAN's CEO, Malloy talked about how people were mad and how he stood up to the angry teachers and led the way forward for the General Assembly.
Malloy summarized the situation saying he was needed because "folks [were] spending a lot of money to try and defeat an organized effort at school reform...."
It was another great truly another great Dannel Malloy moment.
When teachers, parents and public school advocates came out to public meetings to speak out on behalf of public education, Malloy says that they were part of a group of "folks" who were "spending a lot of money to try and defeat" education reform.
But there he was - speaking at the ultra-right wing American Enterprise Institute and happily taking a question from the paid lobbyist whose organization has led the most expensive lobbying campaign in state history.
Tucked into the safety of a right-wing "think tank," the Malloy we have come to know couldn't resist the opportunity to attack teachers and their unions while accepting the accolades of the corporate education reform industry.
That said, not everyone who watched Malloy's performance came away with the same reaction.
While you can read my take on the Malloy speech by reading the Wait, What? post entitled "Malloy tells right-wing American Enterprise Institute he is the "education governor", you may also want to read what the Connecticut Education Association posted to their blog yesterday.
While both blogs report on Malloy's speech at the American Enterprise Institute, the different interpretations of same event is rather extraordinary.
From the 12/2/2013 CEA Blog: Malloy on Teachers & School Reform
Governor Dannel P. Malloy told a national audience today that teacher concerns about the rapid pace of change in Connecticut public education are real, adding that "we're going to get through it."
The governor called teachers "good, hard-working people." Malloy said, "I probably used the wrong language more than once. I know I have. It's not because I don't appreciate what teachers do."
Malloy's comments came in an interview this afternoon at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
Malloy talked about the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that are being implemented and new CCSS tests-so-called Smarter Balanced Assessments that could be linked to teacher evaluations down the road. According to Malloy, teachers are ready, but that doesn't mean they are not scared. "Far better a carrot than a stick," he said.
Apparently referring to Connecticut's new teacher evaluation system, Malloy said "the vast majority of Connecticut teachers are doing a great job," and they will be recognized for this. Malloy said he's taken steps to make the magnitude of education reform easier on public schools. Connecticut school districts have flexibility on two fronts: administering just one test to students during this school year-the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments or the CMT and CAPT-and giving local school districts the power to decide whether or not to include that test data in teachers' evaluations.
Malloy took questions from an AEI audience, including one about the legislative battle over Connecticut school reform. Referring to his role, he made a number of comments, including that somebody had to be the leader, somebody had to bring the discussion to communities, and that somebody had to emphasize we needed to change direction in public education.
Malloy said "I had to fly in the face of traditional Democratic constituencies." He added that reform cannot be accomplished top down. He called it a combination of leadership, getting buy-in, and staying at it year after year.
State Senator John McKinney would be a formidable Republican challenger even to a much less vulnerable incumbent than Governor Dan Malloy. The Fairfield-Easton-Newtown Republican is an experienced legislator with a track record as a principled moderate and someone willing to stand up to obstructionists in his own party to get things done. McKinney's father Stewart served 16 years as a congressman from Fairfield County, giving Senator McKinney exceptionally strong statewide name recognition for a state legislator. Like his father, the younger McKinney appeals to the socially liberal, fiscally conservative suburbanites that Republicans need to win if they are going to succeed in statewide races in Connecticut, where Obama won election twice by nearly twenty points. In short, McKinney is a sane Republican, and that is precisely why he cannot win the GOP primary.
McKinney's dilemma was on display this week when he endorsed Mark Greenberg, the tea party-backed real estate developer seeking the GOP nomination in the fifth congressional district, where vulnerable first-term Democrat Elizabeth Esty is being heavily targeted by the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Greenberg is a serial loser (he ran and lost in the previous two congressional elections) and his extreme views on social issues clash significantly with McKinney's, but neither of those inconvenient facts got in the way of McKinney's pathetic display of obsequiousness in appearing with Greenberg and giving him an important political blessing from the moderate wing of the party. Still, as Christine Stuart reported in CT News Junkie, when asked if he was endorsing McKinney's bid for governor, Greenberg refused to return the favor, saying only that "any of our gubernatorial candidates is way better than what we have now." Sorry, John -- the tea party doesn't believe in reciprocity, and they're just not that into you.
Even in Connecticut, one of the birthplaces of moderate Republicanism, it is difficult to win a GOP primary when the tea party is not only lukewarm about you (as they were about Tom Foley in 2010), but actively despises you. The gun-obsessed far right never really liked McKinney, but now they loathe him with a passion because of his support for gun control legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre last December. McKinney has been called "traitor, "quisling," and "our Benedict Arnold" by gun rights advocates (as well as many unprintable epithets). "[He] stood on the throat of our forefathers and crushed the breath out of them," Enfield Republican Town Committee chairwoman Mary Ann Turner said about McKinney's vote to approve the gun bill earlier this year. Larry Benedetto of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League said he would even vote for Malloy over McKinney because "If we're going to have a Democrat up there, [he] might as well have a D in front of [his] name instead of an R."
Ironically, perhaps, it is the evolution of Mark Greenberg from fringe to serious candidate that spells doom for his newly minted supporter, John McKinney. Greenberg, who opposes all gun control measures, has been lining up endorsements from Republican officials across the state, many of whom endorsed establishment favorite Andrew Roraback over Greenberg in 2012. Capitalizing on GOP anger about the gun bill and other Malloy policies, and drawing on his own deep pockets, the self-funding Greenberg has developed a commanding head start on any of his potential GOP rivals. The GOP establishment halfheartedly tried to kneecap Greenberg by talking up Dr. William Petit as a potential candidate in the 5th CD, but that effort seems to be going nowhere. Greenberg's embrace by the GOP grassroots, and increasing acceptance by the GOP establishment, is great news for Elizabeth Esty and northwest Connecticut Democrats. Because it represents a right-wing resurgence that is occurring statewide, it also spells serious trouble for a moderate gubernatorial candidate like McKinney.
There is no doubt that conservatives in Connecticut have been energized by Governor Malloy, in particular his handling of the gun control issue. The "enthusiasm gap" will hurt Connecticut Democrats in 2014, an off-year election when Obama won't be on the top of the ballot. But that disadvantage could be more than offset by energized tea partiers nominating candidates in the GOP primaries who are simply too conservative or flat-out insane to win in November.
According to an article published in the CT Mirror and entitled, "Malloy makes no promises to increase school funding further," when speaking to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute yesterday, Governor Malloy was "noncommittal Monday when asked during a forum in Washington, D.C., if he would further increase education funding again next year."
In what has now become typical fashion, Malloy failed to tell the audience the whole truth.
In fact, what little funding Governor Malloy has provided for Connecticut public schools over the past three years has come with such extensive strings that it failed to provide local towns with real or meaningful options.
Even more importantly, Malloy's new unfunded state mandates for far more standardized testing and the warped teacher evaluation program will cost Connecticut communities tens of millions of dollars. Since the state is not reimbursing towns for most of these new costs, Malloy's proposals will actually force most Connecticut towns to increase local property taxes and reduce existing education programs as they divert scarce resources to pay for Malloy's untested and inappropriate programs.
But like so many other things associated with the Malloy tenure, the Malloy administration has refused to provide the public with honest information about its proposals.
As Connecticut taxpayers may recall, Malloy' mantra of "shared sacrifice" was associated with a $1.5 billion tax proposal that included higher income tax rates for everyone EXCEPT those making more than $1 million. However, Malloy's successful effort to coddle the super-rich was never openly discussed by policymakers.
And yesterday, following the standard script, when he was asked about additional school funding Malloy responded with, "I think that it's a little early to tell."
What Governor Malloy failed to do was provide Connecticut voters with an honest assessment of the fiscal disaster that his administration has already created and will become increasingly apparent... especially after the next gubernatorial election.
According to the non-partisan Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis, Malloy's tax and spending programs have created a situation in which Connecticut will face:
A $1.1 billion budget deficit in the fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2015,
A $1.2 billion budget deficit in the fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2016,
And a $1.4 billion budget deficit in the fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2017.
Equally appalling is the fact that even this year's state budget is balanced by using one-time revenues and budget gimmicks that Malloy promised he would not utilize when he was running for governor.
By refusing to lay out the true nature of Connecticut's financial problems, Connecticut citizens won't have the information necessary to engage in an honest and thoughtful discussion about the challenges and issues facing the state.
Yesterday's speech reminds us that the Malloy administration's consistent lack of honesty and transparency will prove to be its most notable legacy.
With the 2014 gubernatorial election on the horizon, Governor Dannel P. Malloy remains true to his never-ending effort to alienate every teacher and public education advocate in Connecticut.
Today he travels to the ultra-right wing American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. to speak on "School Reform."
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is the leading "think-tank" for the neoconservative movement. Their primary areas of interest are "America's culture war, federal spending, education reform, affirmative action, and welfare reform."
More than a dozen American Enterprise Institute leaders were appointed to senior positions in President George W. Bush's administration.
AEI is known for a number of "independent" studies. In 1980, for example, the American Enterprise Institute was paid by the tobacco industry to publish a study entitled "Cost-Benefit Analysis of Regulation: Consumer Products." The report was part of the "global tobacco industry's 1980s Social Costs/Social Values Project" which was used to try and refute the social cost arguments against smoking.
The American Enterprise Institute has also authored a number of studies designed to "cast doubt" on the notion of Global Warming or the role humans play in the creation of climate change.
According to the CT Mirror, Malloy's speech to the right-wing audience will be live-streamed at 1:30 p.m. and will be available later via a video that will be posted on the American Enterprise Institute website.
In the report, Sedensky concludes that Lanza acted alone and says none of the evidence gathered points to the existence of any co-conspirators. He points out that it's not clear which classroom Lanza entered first, but what the report appears to show is that regardless of whether officers had plunged through the doors within seconds of their arrival, most if not all of the damage had already been done.
However, some early encounters between officers and bystanders during the incident led police to believe they could have been dealing with more than one shooter.
According to the report, the first Newtown officer arrived at the scene at 9:39 a.m. - that's about 9 minutes after the shooter began his rampage but only about four minutes after the first 911 call. Within a minute of arriving, a Newtown police officer encountered a man running alongside the building carrying something in his hand.
"From the time the unknown male was encountered by the Newtown police outside of SHES until after the staff and children were evacuated, all responding law enforcement operated under the belief that there may have been more than one shooter and acted accordingly," Sedensky wrote.
The first man turned out to be a parent carrying a cellphone, but until police could determine his identity and reason for being on the scene, he was handcuffed and treated as a suspect.
According to the state police timeline of communications, the officer used his radio to inform a supervisor that he had detained a man, which led to an advisory that a secondary shooter may be involved. The transmission also drew the attention of other Newtown officers who had responded to the scene.
Jackie Barden, whose son, Daniel, was among the first-graders who died that day, had not seen the report Monday afternoon.
"We're not interested in the report. We haven't seen anything," she said.
George Hochsprung, whose wife, Dawn, was the principal at Sandy Hook, said he also hadn't seen the report. Hochsprung said his daughter, Beth, reminded him there was no good time for the report to come out.
"I'm not going to read it. Well, I shouldn't say that. I think my curiosity will get the better of me,'' Hochsprung said Monday. "The public is entitled to the information and what people do with it is their decision. I think most people will look at it in a cursory fashion. Maybe, since it's so close to Thanksgiving, people will be too busy to read it."
Teresa Rousseau, whose daughter, Lauren, was among the six educators who died in the shootings, had not read the report Monday. Rousseau said she didn't attend a meeting last week where family members reviewed the report.
"I don't plan to read it (Monday) and I don't know when I will," Rousseau said, adding that she feels sympathy for Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III, who wrote and released the report.
Gilles Rousseau, Lauren Rousseau's father, said he wasn't surprised with anything in the report, although there were some details he didn't know.
"I glanced at the report. We have been kept up to date for the last 11 months by the state police, who didn't want the members of the families to be shocked by what was in the report," Rousseau said. "They did a very good job, giving us little bits at a time."
A week ago, he saw the report at the family meeting and read the part about his daughter.
"The problem is that for a lot of people, it doesn't give you answers. We all like to have answers to our questions," he said. "It's difficult. Why did he do it? Could the police department have acted differently? I don't torture myself with it. I prefer living and remembering Lauren for who she was."
Cristina Hassinger, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, said there was very little in the report that families hadn't already learned from meetings with investigators in recent months.
"I think people were looking for some big, groundbreaking development, and there isn't one," she said.
Hassinger said her biggest fear with the release of the report is that it will spark "a whole new wave of conspiracy theories."
"Most people had hoped this report would stop them, but they are only going to find a way to twist this information into their own agenda," she said.
It was, as the world has known for almost a year, a horrible, horrible tragedy. Even as the ambulances were arriving on that awful day, it looked like the work of one deeply troubled young man.
Why in the name of heaven did it take more than 11 months to confirm this?
The 48-page summary of the investigation into the massacre of 20 children and six female educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec.14 was made public Monday afternoon. The principal conclusion by Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky was that Adam Lanza acted alone.
The 20-year-old murdered his mother in her bed, then drove to the school, shot his way in and killed 26 people before taking his own life as police were arriving, the report says. But we knew all of this soon after the tragedy. Granted, investigators have to cover all the bases and coordinate the work of different agencies, but there is nothing in this report that justifies making the families, town residents and the state wait for more than 11 months.
It reflects a circle-the-wagons mentality that developed around this case, an effort to drag it out and keep records from public view. Officials are still battling over the release of the 911 calls; what is served by withholding them? How can the public judge the performance of its law enforcement officers without knowing how they responded?
Mayor Bill Finch wrote this on his Facebook page: "Will "fake potholes" slow down traffic in Bridgeport? Maybe we should try this to get speeders to slow down." See here. Apparently it's all an advertising campaign hoax and not a tool for speed control. Oops.
Still, the mayor's receiving some interesting responses on Facebook such as:
May cause drivers to steer into on coming traffic and cause an accident and guess who will be sued! Tax Payers! Dumb idea!
How about we use our vehicle tax dollars to fix the roads. There's already potholes all over Bridgeport. Also, why fix something with fake things when the real solution to fixing things is better. People will eventually find out and speed anyways. Invest the money in radars and have the city police be an example. Time for real improvements for Bridgeport.