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5 Reasons Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy Should Renounce His Education Policies

On Friday night, the Connecticut Education Association board of directors voted, on behalf of their 45,000 members, to endorse Governor Daniel Malloy.

 

With that move, the CEA joined the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers - Connecticut Chapter in throwing their support and money behind the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest districts.

It seems that the fundamental argument driving Malloy's supporters, at least one of whom I know and respect as a dedicated teacher, union leader and defender of teachers, is that the alternative to Malloy (a Foley administration) would be worse, which is debatable.

Over the past 30 years, I served as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives under a Democratic Governor and a Republican/Independent Governor and worked with a variety of progressive and liberal groups, including unions, as we advocated for policy changes under two different Republican governors.

In each situation, the General Assembly played a very different role in the process, often successfully taking on or co-opting the Republican governor and proving that, with a backbone, the legislative branch of government can have an important and positive impact on public policy.

The role of the Democrats in the legislature was especially evident last week after Republican Tom Foley borrowed heavily from Malloy's education agenda and introduced his own pro-corporate education reform industry plan for Connecticut.  Within hours, Democratic legislators held a press conference blasting Foley for his outrageous plan.  The irony being that those same legislators voted for many of those same proposals and concepts when they were previously introduced by Governor Malloy.

But before we get to the "Foley would be worse" argument, teachers, parents and public school advocates need to ask the question of whether Dannel "Dan" Malloy does or does not deserves to be re-elected based on his record on public education issues. The fact is that no Connecticut governor in the last forty years has done as much damage to Connecticut's public education system than Governor Malloy and that includes a realistic assessment of disgraced Republican Governor John Rowland.

Over the past few weeks, education policy has finally become a top-tier issue with Connecticut's gubernatorial candidates. Malloy has repeatedly pledged to stay the course on his destructive education reform iniatives. Just last week Malloy told the Waterbury Republican-American, "What we've done needs to continue to be implemented and rolled out."

So what are the initiatives that Malloy promises to "stay the course" on? Here are the Top 5:

  • Governor Malloy is the ONLY Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts. Malloy has NOT renounced or retracted that position, saying only, "I should admit that was bad language. It wasn't about them. It was about tenure... I shouldn't have said it. I apologize for saying it."
  • Governor Malloy's education reform initiative requires that the state's teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students.  Every major academic study has determined that standardized test scores ARE NOT A VALID MEASURE of teacher performance.  To date, the only substantive change that Malloy was willing to make to his unfair, inappropriate and inaccurate teacher evaluation program was to propose using the average of at least two standardized test scores rather than using just one.  In this case, two wrongs do not make the system any less absurd, unfair or inappropriate.
  • Governor Malloy knows that Connecticut's Education Cost Sharing Formula is inadequate and unconstitutional.  Malloy even pledged in his 2006 and 2010 campaigns to take a leadership role in developing a new, comprehensive education funding formula that would be designed to reduce the present burden that falls on the backs of local property taxpayers. As Mayor of Stamford, Malloy was even one of the original plaintiffs in the critically important CCJEF v. Rell court case, a lawsuit that seeks to throw out the unfair and unconstitutional school funding formula and replace it with one that meets the requirements of Connecticut's Constitution and would be better for Connecticut's schools and taxpayers. Malloy has spent the last four years trying to get the CCJEF lawsuit dismissed and, when that failed, to get it postponed until after this year's election.
  • No Connecticut governor in history has wasted so much public money on unaccountable, privately-run charter schools.  During his four years in office, Malloy has increased state spending on charter schools by 73.6%, while increasing state aid for Connecticut's public schools by only a 7.9%. Making the situation even more unfair, Malloy has provided no meaningful additional support for public schools in Connecticut's middle-income communities meaning that the burden of local property taxes has become even more unfair for middle-class families.
  • Malloy's pro-charter school policies reward privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools that refuse to educate their fair share of non-English speaking students or students with special education needs.  They take public funds but refuse to abide by the laws governing public schools. His pro-charter school policies are nothing short of corporate welfare for a few select companies.  The charter school chain that has received the most money under Malloy is Achievement First, Inc., the company co-founded by Malloy's Commissioner of Education. In addition, Malloy and his commission provided no-bid contracts to the Jumoke/FUSE charter school management company.  Not only has Jumoke/FUSE taken more than $53 million in public funds for their charter school but they were given control and the associated public funding to take over public schools in Hartford and Bridgeport and approved for another charter school in New Haven before the Hartford Courant reported on the criminal background of the company's CEO and the FBI raised the company's offices.

And the list of Governor Malloy's failure when it comes to public education goes on and on. Connecticut teachers, as well as, Connecticut's parents, students and those who support public education have a right to know the truth about Malloy and his record of failure. The truth is that Dannel Malloy's own actions have voided his right to continue to serve as governor in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers would have their members, and all voters, believe that Malloy deserves to be re-elected. On the issue of education ... Malloy deserves to be defeated. And if, on the other hand, Malloy, the CEA and the AFT want to claim that Malloy is the "better of two evils," then at the very least they have the obligation to tell the truth about Malloy's record.

Governor Malloy's failure on education issues is unprecedented. His policies have rightfully earned him the title as the most anti-teacher, anti-public education democratic governor in the nation.

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