Getting Involved in the 2014 Elections

Opportunities abound for BFT members to get involved in local or state elections.

- a phone bank for Rob Michalik, running for state senate, will happen on Oct 21st at his campaign headquarters from 4:30-7:30 PM

AFT Connecticut Union Phone Bank at AFSCME, New Britain: 10/14 from 4:30-7:30pm and 10/27 from 4:30-7:30pm

-Labor Walk -on 10/18 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM at the Bristol Labor Council office at 61 East Main St, Forrestville

- PRE-DEBATE RALLY, Thursday, October 2ND, 5:30 PM Rally, UCONN, In front of Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized



Tom Foley’s “Market Approach” Vision for Education

Published in the Hartford Courant

Reported by Jenny Wilson

Education became a dominant theme in the governor’s race this week, as Democrats launched an attack against Republican candidate Tom Foley for education proposals they say would slash funding from schools that need it the most.

At the core of Foley’s education plan is in-district school choice and “money follows the child” — two policies that, combined, will result in students leaving low-performing schools and then those schools being stripped of per-pupil funding. Foley has proposed implementing an A-through-F grading system for schools that would allow parents, whom he has described as “the best decision-makers” to choose where they want to send their children.

Malloy’s campaign points to the governor’s investment in low-performing schools and cites figures that show progress in education — like higher test scores and graduation rates, and a narrowing of the achievement gap. At a press conference Wednesday, allies of the governor said Malloy continued to support education, even as federal recovery funding vanished.

Campaigns released dueling television ads about education this week, with Foley promoting his plan and Malloy touting his record. Recent polling shows that despite some bumps this year — both in the areas of charter school management and the rollout of the Common Core State Standards initiative — Malloy still leads in polls on education. A Quinnipiac University survey released earlier this month found that 46 percent of respondents thought Malloy would do a better job on education policy than Foley, compared with 40 percent who said the former U.S. ambassador was better-equipped to handle the issue.

Throughout the campaign, Foley has criticized the governor’s approach to education, and described it at an event earlier this summer as “heavy-handed” and “arrogant,” saying he tried to fix areas where schools were not broken. He defended his education policy proposal at a press conference Wednesday.

“What I’m hoping is … the marketplace starts to exert pressure on schools,” Foley said. “Right away schools are on notice that if I’m governor, I’m going to make sure that this gets passed and implemented — so they should start being better schools right away.”

The Greenwich Republican said he drew on his business experience to formulate his approach to schools, admitting that his policy would result in schools being reconstituted.

“Institutions that aren’t performing lose — that’s kind of the way the private sector works, and it ought to be the way the school works, too.”

Foley said he was not worried about over-migration to high-performing schools because while the grading system was intended to be objective, “a lot of parents won’t agree.” Most parents are inclined to think that the school their children attend is a good school, Foley said.

The Malloy campaign — which has attacked Foley for making business decisions that hurt middle class workers at the Bibb Co. in Georgia, a company Foley owned that later filed for bankruptcy — countered that “you can’t leave our children’s education to the whims of the free market.”

Malloy campaign spokesman Mark Bergman said Foley would “treat public schools and public school teachers just like he treated mills and workers in the private sector — closing them down and putting them out of work when he decides they have failed and are inconvenient for him.”

The Malloy ad released this week praised the governor, saying he “faced the Great Recession as others did not, refusing to cut education and instead taking the hard route, making tough choices so we can invest millions more in our local schools.”

According to the governor’s office, nearly $260 million has been invested in the Alliance district program, which directs investment to Connecticut’s lowest-performing districts. Forty percent of Connecticut students attend school in a low-performing district.

“Tom Foley proposes to slash dollars to schools that need it the most,” said state Rep. Andy Fleischmann, who said the A-through-F grading system would “stigmatize schools and communities while failing to address their challenges.”

Connecticut House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said Democratic policies have proven results. At the press conference, the lawmakers cited this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress test, also known as NAEP, which showed a narrowed achievement gap in 12th grade.

“All of the work that we’ve been doing is starting to bear fruit, and the achievement gap is starting to close… that’s something to be celebrated, not attacked,” Fleischmann said.

But Foley did not hesitate in attacking that claim. He said NAEP measures achievement in 12 categories, and that, because the achievement gap had narrowed in only some of them, “we’re not doing better and we’re not making progress.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

BFT Happy Hour set for October 3!

The BFT will be hosting a Happy Hour at Nuchies on Friday, October 3 from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM. Free food and drinks will be available. Please come and meet up with old friends and colleagues as the 2014-2015 school begins in earnest.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Bristol Labor Walk This Saturday

A walk through Forestville in support of labor has been organized by the Bristol Labor Council. The event starts at 9:00 AM on Saturday, September 6. The walk begins at the Labor Council office located at 61 East Main in Forestville (located directly across the street from O’Brien’s Funeral Home).

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


BFT President’s Letter to Hartford Courant

At convocation today, Mike Wasta referenced a letter written by Dave Hayes. Below is the letter published in the Hartford Courant last week.

Departure Overdue For Unqualified Education Chief

The announcement that state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor will be leaving in the near future may leave education reform advocates in tears, but it is welcome and overdue news for public school teachers and administrators across the state [Aug. 19, Page 1, "Pryor Leaving At Year's End"].

Wrongfully championed as a visionary outsider who would courageously fix perceived education flaws, he exemplified the idea that someone with limited or no actual teaching experience can guide the profession to success. Instead, his legacy will be one of taking the already problematic state Department of Education and making it absolutely dysfunctional, where indecision, dither and delay became the norm, even after his being on the job for more than three years.

Like many reformers, he has padded his resume and will move on, leaving us to pick up the pieces.

David Hayes, Torrington
The writer is president of the Bristol Federation of Teachers.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 25, 2014 in BFT Members


SDE Commissioner Stefan Pryor To Leave Post

Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor won’t stay for second term

By Mary E. O’Leary, New Haven Register
POSTED: 08/18/14, 12:35 PM EDT

Malloy, in a statement, said he learned about Pryor’s intentions Monday from the commissioner, who is actively seeking new professional opportunities.

“Commissioner Pryor has worked hard and well on behalf of Connecticut students,” Malloy said in the statement. “In the three years he’s led the department, we’ve taken tremendous steps forward to improve education, with a particular focus on the districts that have long needed the most help. We needed someone who could act as a change agent, and Stefan fulfilled that role admirably. And we’re seeing strong results. Graduation rates have gone up each of the last four years, national high school tests show that Connecticut students are leading among participating states in reading and math, and that we are making real progress in closing the achievement gap.”

Pryor officially said he would be leaving by the end of Malloy’s first term in January, but others said it could be as soon as a few weeks.

The governor is seeking a second term and is in an election fight with Republican candidate Tom Foley.

The Common Core Standards, which were approved by the state board long before Pryor became commissioner, have proven to be controversial as the state slows down implementation.

Pryor recently was criticized for the board not knowing that the leader of FUSE (Family Urban Schools of Excellence), Michael M. Sharpe, which was overseeing multiple charter schools, had served time for fraud and embezzlement.

Sharpe was fired from his positions, including as leader of the Booker T. Academy in New Haven and the board has expanded background checks at charter schools.

Opponents of charter schools also were skeptical of Pryor’s connection to charter schools, as he helped found and lead Achievement First.

New teacher evaluations, which also are being reworked, were put together under Pryor.

Sheila Cohen, president of the Connecticut Education Association, wished Pryor well, but said the focus of the CEA is on a future “that underscores a thorough examination of the non-proven and unscientific reliance on standardized testing for students and teachers,” a sore point in evaluating teachers and as part of the Common Core.

A coalition of unions, led by AFT-Connecticut, already has asked that education commissioners have at least the experience of a school superintendent, a reference to Pryor, who did not have professional education certification.

Cohen, in her statement, said the CEA wants establishment of “best practices as determined by the practicing and certified professional educator.” She said this is an opportunity to find a replacement “with extensive public education boots-on-the-ground experience.”

Cohen said the CEA, which is the largest education group in the state, has a continuing goal of a high-quality education for all students.

The union president said they look forward to working with someone who “exemplifies a realistic and pragmatic — as well as visionary — voice for teachers, parents and students. Connecticut’s teachers, with their unparalleled classroom perspective and their irreplaceable voice in public education policy making, must be major players in every aspect of the determination of the future of public education.”

A third-party challenger to Malloy, Jonathan Pelto, has concentrated on school reform in his campaign and sees those implemented by Malloy as the “corporatization” of education.

Pelto, in a statement, said Pryor’s leaving is “long overdue,” calling it “great news for Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.”

Pelto feels Pryor and his supporters “have done immeasurable harm to Connecticut’s public education system.” He said Pryor’s departure “is a small step in the right direction” and called Malloy’s support for the reform policies “a political disaster.”

Pryor did have his supporters, among them the Northeast Charter Schools Network, which said Pryor’s departure will be a loss for Connecticut.

“During his tenure, Connecticut became a beacon for public education reform by expanding access to more high quality public charter schools, increasing funding for turning around perennially failing schools and districts, all while creating a climate of greater accountability for student learning,” network Interim President Kyle Rosenkrabs and Connecticut President Jeremiah Grace said in a statement.

It said the work of closing the achievement gap goes on, with 4,200 students on charter school wait lists and “over 65,000 kids trapped in failing schools that will continue to need the state’s leadership.” The network represents some 200 charter schools in New York and Connecticut.

Pryor, in his statement, called his nearly three years in office “fulfilling.”

“It’s been a true honor to serve this governor, the State Board of Education, and the people of Connecticut as Commissioner of Education,” Pryor said in the statement.

“Despite the admittedly long hours and the tremendous challenges, I have enjoyed this job thoroughly. We have accomplished a lot over nearly three years. The work has not always been easy but, start to finish and top to bottom, it has been extraordinarily worthwhile. I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made together. Thanks to the great work of superintendents, principals, teachers, local boards, parents and advocates, we’ve laid the groundwork for Connecticut’s continuing success in providing a high-quality education to all of our young people – regardless of income or zip code,” Pryor’s statement said.

Jennifer Alexander, chief executive officer at the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, or ConnCAN, said supporters of better education opportunities are “losing a champion” with Pryor’s departure.

“With only one in three African American, Hispanic, and low-income students able to read at grade level by the third grade, not enough was being done to prepare students for college and a good career. Commissioner Pryor took decisive action to begin improving those outcomes,” she said in a statement.

Alexander said Pryor worked to get better results in the lowest-performing school, while holding “educators accountable for their job performance and (to) support those educators who deliver for children.”

She said he did that by increasing the number of public school options and raising standards for all children.

Alexander warned those who think that this is the “end of reform.”

“They couldn’t be more wrong. Improving education for our kids is about more than one person, it’s about the thousands of students who deserve a brighter future that starts with a great public education. We urge the next governor to appoint a Commissioner of Education who will continue efforts to improve public education in our state,” she said in the statement.

The CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, which represents education policy experts at the state, said they had their differences with Pryor, but they praised him for his dedication.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


Negotiations for Next Contract Underway!

Today, the BFT negotiation team met to finalize proposals for the successor contract. The team consist of Dave Hayes (Edgewood teacher and BFT President), John Stavens (BEHS teacher and At Large VP), Sandy Adams (Ivy Drive teacher and At Large VP), Mike Reynolds (SSS teacher and At Large VP) Vince Jennetta (NEMS teacher and BFT Secretary), Paul Pinnette (BCHS teacher and BFT Treasurer), Bob Merrick (CHMS teacher and Middle School VP), Kathryn Morales (preschool teacher and Elementary VP), Eric Steinfeld (BEHS teacher and steward), Ray LeCara (BEHS teacher and steward), Dave Lattimer (BEHS teacher and steward), and Dave Luchina (NEMS teacher and steward).

Although the contents of negotiations are kept confidential until over, overall progress will be updated here regularly.

1 Comment

Posted by on August 18, 2014 in BFT Members, Negotiations


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 324 other followers