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.

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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.

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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.

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


Garcia Labor Complaint Dismissed

Today the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations dismissed a complaint against the union filed by High School Vice President Edwin Garcia. The complaint was filed more than a year ago, with several labor board hearings held to hear testimony and consider the complaint.

Here is the complaint submitted by Mr. Garcia in June 2013.

Amended Garcia Labor Complaint

Upon the conclusion of the hearings in the winter of 2014, each side submitted a brief in lieu of a final oral argument.

Brief for BFT

Brief for Garcia

Here is the actual Labor Board decision handed down on July 23, 2014.

Labor Decision 4751



ConnTeach only 2 weeks away!

This is a reminder that this year’s ConnTEACH is happening on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 from 8am-3pm at the Sheraton Hartford South in Rocky Hill, CT. It is sponsored by the PREK-12 & PSRP Council. This conference is open to all AFT CT Teacher & Para Members. Please forward this information to all your teacher and paraprofessional members and encourage them to attend!

 To register, click here or mail in the attached registration form. When registering, please make sure to rank each session’s workshops by preference (1 being your first choice)! That way if a workshop fills up, there is a second workshop already chosen.

 Please note there is a $25 fee that can be mailed to the AFT CT Office prior, or collected at the registration desk the day of the conference. Check can be made payable to AFT Connecticut.

Thank you!

 Anna Cerritelli


35 Marshall Rd.

Rocky Hill, CT 06067


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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


July BOE Meeting – Cafe Fight Continues; Superintendent Contract Extended; New OTL Director

The July 9 BOE meeting, delayed from July 2, was full of developments.

- The BOE voted to continue its legal battle to privatize the cafeteria workers. See article here.

-Superintendent Ellen Solek has had her contract extended through June 30, 2017.

-Pam Brisson has been chosen as the new Director of the Office of Teaching and Learning.

The entire meeting can be viewed online. Go here and click “watch now”

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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in BFT Members


Malloy Announces Plan To Assist With Common Core

Malloy Announces Plan To Assist With Common Core


The Hartford Courant

6:27 PM EDT, June 26, 2014

Calling it the “Connecticut Core Initiative,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced plans Thursday to follow recommendations made by a task force to help implement the new academic standards known as the Common Core State Standards.

“Figuring out the best way to move forward is what the challenge has been,” Malloy said at a news conference at Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School. He said the task force has give us “great advice about how to proceed.”

“This is not an end point, this is just more response in the continuum of discussion, ongoing dialogue to make sure that we’re getting it right and bringing everyone along as we do it,” Malloy said.

That has been a problem for Malloy who established the task force of educators and parents in March because of considerable opposition to the new standards and concerns that teachers had not been adequately prepared for them. In February, a state teachers union leader called the roll-out of the standards “botched” and said teachers needed more time to learn about the new standards.

But on Thursday, Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, and Melodie Peters, president of the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut accompanied Malloy and showed their support for the initiative.

“We look with great enthusiasm and optimism to be to be able to help implement the recommendations that the task force has put forward today,” Waxenberg said.

Peters said the new initiative to implement the Common Core is “a wonderful beginning … because it was inclusive.”

Malloy announced plans to direct $2 million in state education money to fund 1,000 professional training days for teachers and another $2 million toward professional development for teachers, concentrating on English and math.

The new funding will also be used to assist special education teachers and teachers of English as a second language.

And Malloy has asked the state Department of Education to create an advisory committee to award up to $1 million in mini-grants to get additional resources aligned with the Common Core into classrooms and the community. Teachers and parent groups will be able to apply for the grants.

Malloy is also asking the state to provide “back to school kits” to superintendents and school leaders to provide jargon-free communication with parents and the community about the new standards.

In addition, Malloy said $10 million from the capital budget will be used to upgrade school technology needed to support the transition to the new standards.

The new initiatives didn’t stop Malloy’s political opponents, however. Both Jonathan Pelto, a petitioning gubernatorial candidate, and Sen. John McKinney, a Republican candidate for governor, issued statements calling for elimination of the Common Core State Standards in Connecticut.

Copyright © 2014, The Hartford Courant

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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in BFT Members, Common Core/SBAC


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