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Thursday roundup

by: ctblogger

Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 09:25:15 AM EDT

The latest.

  • What happened to Dan Malloy being the most transparent governor in the history of Connecticut? Hmm....
    Key legislators say a directive restricting what agency heads can tell legislators about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget proposal is hindering lawmakers in doing their jobs and will push more of the budget-writing process behind closed doors.

    "Our job is to negotiate and evaluate and build the best budget possible for the 3.5 million people of Connecticut," said Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, House chair of the Appropriations Committee. "Denying us the ability to do that is denying us our responsibility and our authority as the legislature."


  • The Church lobby's use of fear tactics and spin are at work again at the State Capitol.
    A bill that would have permitted terminally ill patients to seek a doctor's help in ending their lives will likely not win approval this year..

    Advocates said Wednesday the legislature's judiciary committee will not vote on the measure this year. In theory, the proposal could still be raised as an amendment to a related bill on the floor of the House or the Senate, but without the committee's endorsement, most observers believe that is highly unlikely.

    [...]

    "Each year that lawmakers fail to act, prolongs the suffering for thousands of terminally ill Connecticut residents and the people who love them,'' said Tim Appleton, Connecticut campaign director for Compassion & Choices, the leading proponent of the bill.

    "About 7,000 people will die from cancer this year in Connecticut without having this choice, many will endure painful deaths. They should have the choice - to die peacefully, with dignity, and on their terms," he said.


    I guess Danbury's part-time mayor was too busy on Twitter to intervene on a matter that will have a horrific impact on the city's downtown businesses.
    Arena officials have informed the Danbury Whalers -- a team that has led the Federal Hockey League in attendance each of its five seasons -- they are not welcome back next year and have until April 17 to clear out of the facility.

    Eagle Ice Sports, which owns the Danbury Arena, told the Whalers ownership in a letter dated April 3 it will not be renewing their second five-year term that was set to begin with the 2015-16 season.

    [...]

    According to the totals posted on the FHL website, the Whalers drew 49,435 fans over 30 home games at the Danbury Arena this past season, for a league-leading average of 1,647 fans per game. The Whalers have led the league in attendance every year since the league began operation for the 2010-11 season.


  • Smart move...
    The former congressman from southeastern Connecticut doused water on speculation within the GOP that he could challenge U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in 2016.

    In 2010, Simmons was passed in over for his party's nomination, which went to professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon.

    "Our opportunity to win that seat was back in 2010. We blew it," Simmons told Hearst Connecticut Media.


  • ...and another smart move.
    The town may soon head to court against former United States Senate candidate Lee Whitnum now the Board of Selectmen refused a settlement offer.

    A Greenwich resident, Whitnum is suing the town and First Selectman Peter Tesei, claiming her civil rights were violated when a celebration of Israel's independence and a bar mitzvah were held at Town Hall.

    The suit was filed in 2012. Recently, Whitnum had offered to settle it for $11,000 but the Board of Selectmen formally rejected the offer this week after meeting with town counsel.

    Tesei abstained from the vote because he is part of the suit.

    Selectmen Drew Marzullo and John Toner voted against the settlement offer. No additional public comments were made on the suit.

    [...]

    This is not Whitnum's first brush with controversy. In 2008 she challenged U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th, in his first run for office. She lost the Democratic primary to Himes but not before her campaign, which heavily focused on her allegations of Himes being too closely associated with Israel and the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, earned her the condemnation of then Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy.

    Malloy publicly called Whitnum anti-Semitic at a press conference. She later sued him for defamation. That case was ended in 2012 in Malloy's favor. He now has a court order in place protecting him from any lawsuits from her deemed frivolous by a judge. If she were to sue him again, she would first have to show merit.

    Whitnum also came under heavy criticism during her run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, where she lost to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. During a Democratic primary debate, Whitnum claimed Murphy's campaign had been bought off by AIPAC to put Israel's interests first -- and called him a whore.

    Additionally, Whitnum has been accused on multiple occasions of stalking critics and was arrested and charged with trespassing in Darien after she allegedly entered the property of an assisted living facility she had been barred from. Whitnum subsequently has sued Darien claiming she was falsely arrested, one of 12 ongoing lawsuits she has in Connecticut, including the one against Greenwich.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The BIG LIE - What happens if schools don't get 95% to participate in Common Core Testing

by: ctblogger

Tue Apr 07, 2015 at 09:21:48 AM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Yesterday another Connecticut parent received a letter from their school district that claimed, "Both the State Department of Education and local school districts could jeopardize federal funding if we do not abide by the law."

The "law" they are talking about is the notion that schools will lose money if 95% of the students don't take the  Common Core SBAC test.

In Connecticut, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has echoed that very point, as has the leadership of his State Department of Education.  Most Connecticut school superintendents have tried to use that claim to try and dissuade parents from utilizing their fundamental parental rights and opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test.

But these officials, including the governor of the State of Connecticut are absolutely wrong.

These officials either know, or should know, that such a statement is not accurate.

Their reference is to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  However, according to the FairTest, a nationally respected organization working to ensure the development of fairer testing systems, "The penalties apply only to schools receiving Title I funds. Nothing in the law authorizes withholding of federal aid, though up to 20 percent may be required to be diverted to other uses, including tutoring or transporting students to different schools."

Secondly, more than 40 states, including Connecticut, have been given waivers by the Federal Department of Education.  As FairTest explains, "waivers remove NCLB punishments from all but the lowest-scoring ("priority") schools in a state."

And finally and perhaps most importantly FairTest, explains that it is, "not aware of a single school that lost federal Title I funds due to low test-taking rates, including many in New York that had large numbers of opt outs last year."

So Connecticut is not going to lose money and even if there was a requirement that a small portion of federal Title I funds were were diverted to helping individual students most Connecticut towns would not be impacted in any way what-so-ever.

Does Connecticut's Governor Malloy and the array of state and local officials who are saying that schools will lose money really not know what the federal law is or are their intentionally misleading, even lying, as a way to keep parents and the public from knowing the truth.

The actual truth about the 95 percent issue was clearly reported in a recent column by the Washington Post's Valerie Strauss that highlighted the fact that many school administrators continue to mislead parents into thinking that there will dire consequences if parents opt their children out of the unfair inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Testing program.

Strauss used the words of Monty Neill, the executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as  FairTest, to set the record straight about the implications to a school, school district or state for failing to get at least 95 percent of the students to take the Common Core test.

Monty Neill wrote;

Across the nation, tens of thousands of parents opted their children out of standardized tests in 2014, and this year, many more have or will do so. The testing resistance and reform movement is shaking up supporters of the test-and-punish status quo, who are fighting back.

Defenders of excessive and high-stakes testing rely on two major arguments: frequent testing is good for children and schools, and too many refusals will lead to a loss of federal funds for the students' district.

The first claim is increasingly ineffective. Growing numbers of parents recognize that standardized exam overkill does not improve educational quality or equity. On the contrary, it pushes schools into incessant test prep mode and emotionally damages many children. Each week, more and more parents choose to protect their children and schools by refusing the tests. They don't buy the argument that a small reduction in testing volume will solve the problem. Instead, they demand a fundamental overhaul of federal, state and district policies.

With the testing-is-good-for-you argument failing, authorities are turning to threats and bullying, often using the claim that schools will lose federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Title I funds. That threat is not based on any legal language in NCLB or in waivers states have received to avoid sanctions under the federal law. To understand why, consider the following.

The original text of NCLB, under its section on state plans, says that to make "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) a school must test 95 percent of its students. In the improvement section, the law establishes sanctions for not making AYP. The penalties apply only to schools receiving Title I funds. Nothing in the law authorizes withholding of federal aid, though up to 20 percent may be required to be diverted to other uses, including tutoring or transporting students to different schools.

However, AYP requirements are now irrelevant. More than 40 states have been given waivers by the Obama administration from the most onerous NCLB sanctions. While AYP reporting requirements remain, waivers remove NCLB punishments from all but the lowest-scoring ("priority") schools in a state. Thus, schools in waiver states no longer must transport or tutor. As a result, the only federal funding penalties specified in the original NCLB law have been suspended.

In states that do not have waivers, few if any schools report 100 percent of students scoring "proficient," NCLB's current requirement for making AYP. Since that means almost all schools face sanctions, it hardly matters if fewer than 95 percent of the students take the state exam.

FairTest is not aware of a single school that lost federal Title I funds due to low test-taking rates, including many in New York that had large numbers of opt outs last year. However, officials in a number of states still aggressively attack the opt out movement claiming that refusing to take the test puts federal aid at risk. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education  joined the battle by suggesting there is a danger of funding loss and threatening states, districts and schools.

The Department of Education's statements appear deliberately misleading. They confound the law's requirement that states administer a testing system that covers all children with the non-existent requirement that all children take the test. They imply that a state that allows opting out is at risk of violating NCLB, even though seven states (Utah, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and California) already have such provisions and none has lost a penny in federal funding due to these provisions.

Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle recently indicated she expected state superintendents to pressure parents to comply. She added that the Education Department could consider other federal education requirements to use against schools that do not receive Title I. But she also acknowledged the U.S. government does not intend to take funding away from programs that serve children!

Clearly, some government officials are trying to bully parents into submission (see, for example,  Illinois, New Jersey and New York). By muddying the water with inaccurate statements about the intricacies of federal law and waivers, these officials seek to reduce opt-out numbers and buy time for discredited test-and-punish schemes. Overall, however, this tactic is failing as opt-out numbers increase and more parents and students get involved in the resistance movement.

Legislation allowing parents the right to opt their children out of state and district tests is moving ahead in at least 10 states, though none are likely to pass in time to affect this spring's testing season. Activists must continue to educate parents, the media, and officials about false federal funding cut-off claims. As public school stakeholders become more aware of disinformation campaigns, they are likely to grow angrier and more willing to fight the tests.

PS: Local advocates need to check the details of their state's NCLB waiver, if only to combat misinformation. Parents and students must consider potentially real sanctions in those states and districts that require students to pass a test to be promoted to the next grade or graduate. In addition, schools labeled "priority" under waiver provisions do have to meet the 95 percent test participation requirement to escape that category.

FYI:

* The NCLB law is http://www2.ed.gov/policy/else... specific points include:

95% requirement is at Sec. 1111(a)(2)(I)(2)(ii);*
exempt from the sanctions under NCLB is at Sec. 1116(b)(2)(A)(ii).
escalating sanctions are specified at Sec. 1116 for schools (b) and districts (c).

* For a FairTest fact sheet, see http://www.fairtest.org/why-yo...

But the question remains, is Governor Malloy and school officials in Connecticut ignorant of the truth or are they intentionally failing to tell the truth.

And when it comes to overseeing public policy, which is worse?

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Thursday roundup

by: ctblogger

Thu Apr 02, 2015 at 09:17:59 AM EDT

The latest...

  • For those who don't believe that a gender gap in this country no longer exists...
    Nursing may be a traditionally female field, but for men, it's more lucrative.

    The results of a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that on the average, men make $5,000 a year more than women in the nursing field, a fact not lost on U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who met Wednesday with students and staff at the Quinnipiac University School of Nursing.

    "This was a pretty remarkable report," said Murphy, D-Conn., said. "The numbers are pretty remarkable."

    The study ran from 1988 to 2013, and only 7 percent of the nurses were male, according to the report. Yet those male registered nurses made more money than female registered nurses every year of the study, with an overall annual difference of $5,148.

    "This suggests there is still discrimination" between men and women when it comes to salaries, Murphy said, and the numbers are even more disturbing when broken into specialties. In an ambulatory setting, men make an average of $7,600 more than women, and in a hospital setting the difference is $3,800. The greatest disparity is in the field of nurse anesthesiologists, where men make an average of $17,000 more than women, he said.

    "This cannot be explained by anything other than discrimination," Murphy said. "In other words, women work for free up until March every year. It's not just an issue of interest to women, it's an issue for everyone if there is pay discrimination."


  • Comptroller Kevin Lembo signals the warning alarm.
    State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo agreed Wednesday with nonpartisan analysts that the budget deficit is worse than Gov. Dannel P. Malloy administration is projecting.

    But while Lembo also urged the governor and legislature "proceed without delay" to reduce the shortfall, his $172.8 million deficit forecast falls just short of the level that would compel the governor to prepare a deficit-mitigation plan.

    [...]

    The comptroller and nonpartisan analysts also are more pessimistic than the administration about potential state income tax receipts due later this month after the April 15 filing deadline.

    But Lembo also dug in on a problem he has warned the Malloy administration about repeatedly for the past 18 months. The comptroller estimates at least an additional $14.3 million is needed to cover the state's responsibilities.

    As early as October 2013, Lembo's office - which administers the health care benefits for retired state workers and their dependents - warned the governor of a likely surge in costs in the 2014-15 fiscal year, largely because of an anticipated jump in retirements among prison guards.

    Lembo repeated his warnings in March 2014 - when Malloy's budget proposal for 2014-15 didn't cover that projected surge in retirements - and in May, when the legislature and governor adopted a budget without those requested funds.

    "My requested funding level was reduced in the final version of the budget," Lembo wrote to Malloy in his April 1 report. "Had I received the requested funding, no cash shortfall would exist."


  • I guess the "leadership" within the State GOP are too busy to denounce Indiana's anti-gay law or one of their own who thinks that rapes on college campuses make for a great party.
    A contingent from Connecticut will travel to Nashua, N.H., in mid-April for the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit and a chance to have an early say on the GOP choice for 2016.

    Part cattle call and part audition for the New Hampshire presidential primary, which is still nine months away, the two-day conclave will feature appearances by Connecticut Senate race casualty Linda McMahon and embattled state GOP boss Jerry Labriola Jr. The sponsors include the Connecticut GOP, which contributed $500 to its New Hampshire counterpart to set up a table at the event.

    [...]

    The conference fees start at $99 per person and go up to $199 for an all-access pass to the event, which will start with a speech by Donald Trump and end with a dinner keynote by Walker, the governor of Wisconsin and public-sector-union lightning rod.

    [...]

    State Democratic Chairman Nick Balletto accused Republicans of cozying up to right-wingers such as Walker.

    "Connecticut Republicans used to buck the national trend and field sensible, moderate candidates, but that's changed," Balletto said in a statement. "They have turned hard right, toward a national GOP whose top priorities seem to be taking health care from millions of Americans, denying science and controlling women's health care choices."


  • I guess the silly season in Bridgeport started early...
    Former Mayor Joe Ganim, seeking to reclaim the job he lost in 2003 following his conviction on federal corruption charges, is expected to file an exploratory committee on Thursday saying "Real progress for our city can only happen if we improve the quality of life for all the people of Bridgeport in every neighborhood."
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Thursday roundup

by: ctblogger

Thu Apr 02, 2015 at 09:17:56 AM EDT

The latest...
  • For those who don't believe that a gender gap in this country no longer exists...
    Nursing may be a traditionally female field, but for men, it's more lucrative.

    The results of a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that on the average, men make $5,000 a year more than women in the nursing field, a fact not lost on U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who met Wednesday with students and staff at the Quinnipiac University School of Nursing.

    "This was a pretty remarkable report," said Murphy, D-Conn., said. "The numbers are pretty remarkable."

    The study ran from 1988 to 2013, and only 7 percent of the nurses were male, according to the report. Yet those male registered nurses made more money than female registered nurses every year of the study, with an overall annual difference of $5,148.

    "This suggests there is still discrimination" between men and women when it comes to salaries, Murphy said, and the numbers are even more disturbing when broken into specialties. In an ambulatory setting, men make an average of $7,600 more than women, and in a hospital setting the difference is $3,800. The greatest disparity is in the field of nurse anesthesiologists, where men make an average of $17,000 more than women, he said.

    "This cannot be explained by anything other than discrimination," Murphy said. "In other words, women work for free up until March every year. It's not just an issue of interest to women, it's an issue for everyone if there is pay discrimination."


  • Comptroller Kevin Lembo signals the warning alarm.
    State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo agreed Wednesday with nonpartisan analysts that the budget deficit is worse than Gov. Dannel P. Malloy administration is projecting.

    But while Lembo also urged the governor and legislature "proceed without delay" to reduce the shortfall, his $172.8 million deficit forecast falls just short of the level that would compel the governor to prepare a deficit-mitigation plan.

    [...]

    The comptroller and nonpartisan analysts also are more pessimistic than the administration about potential state income tax receipts due later this month after the April 15 filing deadline.

    But Lembo also dug in on a problem he has warned the Malloy administration about repeatedly for the past 18 months. The comptroller estimates at least an additional $14.3 million is needed to cover the state's responsibilities.

    As early as October 2013, Lembo's office - which administers the health care benefits for retired state workers and their dependents - warned the governor of a likely surge in costs in the 2014-15 fiscal year, largely because of an anticipated jump in retirements among prison guards.

    Lembo repeated his warnings in March 2014 - when Malloy's budget proposal for 2014-15 didn't cover that projected surge in retirements - and in May, when the legislature and governor adopted a budget without those requested funds.

    "My requested funding level was reduced in the final version of the budget," Lembo wrote to Malloy in his April 1 report. "Had I received the requested funding, no cash shortfall would exist."


  • I guess the "leadership" within the State GOP are too busy to denounce Indiana's anti-gay law or one of their own who thinks that rapes on college campuses make for a great party.
    A contingent from Connecticut will travel to Nashua, N.H., in mid-April for the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit and a chance to have an early say on the GOP choice for 2016.

    Part cattle call and part audition for the New Hampshire presidential primary, which is still nine months away, the two-day conclave will feature appearances by Connecticut Senate race casualty Linda McMahon and embattled state GOP boss Jerry Labriola Jr. The sponsors include the Connecticut GOP, which contributed $500 to its New Hampshire counterpart to set up a table at the event.

    [...]

    The conference fees start at $99 per person and go up to $199 for an all-access pass to the event, which will start with a speech by Donald Trump and end with a dinner keynote by Walker, the governor of Wisconsin and public-sector-union lightning rod.

    [...]

    State Democratic Chairman Nick Balletto accused Republicans of cozying up to right-wingers such as Walker.

    "Connecticut Republicans used to buck the national trend and field sensible, moderate candidates, but that's changed," Balletto said in a statement. "They have turned hard right, toward a national GOP whose top priorities seem to be taking health care from millions of Americans, denying science and controlling women's health care choices."


  • I guess the silly season in Bridgeport started early...
    Former Mayor Joe Ganim, seeking to reclaim the job he lost in 2003 following his conviction on federal corruption charges, is expected to file an exploratory committee on Thursday saying "Real progress for our city can only happen if we improve the quality of life for all the people of Bridgeport in every neighborhood."
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Their silence speaks volumes

by: ctblogger

Wed Apr 01, 2015 at 12:37:22 PM EDT

In wake of the latest attempt from lunatic fringe to legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation (in the name of God), the Connecticut Democratic Party questions why has the state Republican leadership been silent on this issue?

PRESS RELEASE:

In the aftermath of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's decision to sign the controversial "religious freedom" bill, everyone from multinational corporations, to athletes, to politicians and pundits have made their opinions known about the controversial legislation. Even while controversy has swirled surrounding the so-called "right to discriminate" law, 2016 GOP presidential candidates have heaped praise on Gov. Pence's decision to sign it.

•Jeb Bush told Hugh Hewitt yesterday: "Governor Pence has done the right thing."

•Marco Rubio made his opinion clear on Fox News: "Should someone who provides a professional service be punished by the law because they refuse to provide that professional service to a ceremony that they believe is in violation of their faith?"

But one voice has been missing from the conversation. The Connecticut Republican Party - never known to keep their opinions to themselves - have been remarkably quiet on the issue.

They were even pressed in an email blast by their anti-choice, anti-gay colleagues at the Family Institute of Connecticut...

... crickets.

No, this is not an April Fools joke, but the Connecticut Democrats agree with the FIC.

"I wouldn't typically agree, but on this I second FIC's questions. Where do the Connecticut Republicans stand on right to discriminate? Governor Malloy has stood up for ending discrimination and promoting equality, but Connecticut Republicans have been silent. It's time to make their voice heard," said Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Michael Mandell.


We shouldn't be shocked with the silence from the party of NO given that they still refuse to condemn on one of their own who believes that rapes on college campuses make for a great party!
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

"Outright bigotry"

by: ctblogger

Tue Mar 31, 2015 at 13:03:07 PM EDT

Gov. Ma1lloy takes the gloves off on MSNBC and gives his take on Indiana's anti-gay law.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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