AFT CT President Sharon Palmer and CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus-Levine appeared on Fox 61 this Sunday, April 1, 2012. Follow this link to the video:

Click on the video “Teachers Union Defend Position on Reform 4/1.” The video lasts 12 minutes.

Here is an OP-ED rejected by the Hartford Courant by Matthew Valenti, President of the Torrington Education Association. It succinctly states why teachers and their unions opposed the original bill.

“Teachers Unions Had Insider Access On Education Bill”, “Lawmakers Cave to Unions on School Reform.” These are recent titles appearing from the editorial staff of the Hartford Courant the past week. Excuse me, editors of the Courant; the unions are comprised of teachers and former teachers, don’t you realize that? Don’t you think that the teachers who are in the trenches every day have the best ideas for what ails the state educationally? Certainly a governor who is insulated from the schools and an education commissioner who never taught couldn’t have solid ideas for improvement. The governor’s ideas in SB 24 were voodoo, smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, deception and trickery. 

Voodoo: They wanted to get rid of teacher tenure to get rid of ineffective teachers. The factis we don’t have a plethora of ineffective teachers in the state. Why punish 99 percent of effective teachers to get rid of the 1% of ineffective ones? I can think of at least one ineffective doctor, lawyer, and even governor in this state. Their real goal was to get veteran teachers out and bring in cheaper labor.. 

Sleight of Hand: Section 18 gave the commissioner power to take over 25 underperforming districts, fire all of the teachers and administrators and bring in new teachers and administrators. Their real goal is privatization; which is being fueled by big business in this state. Some of what was written in section 18 was probably illegal anyway.

Smoke and Mirrors: Malloy and his cronies wanted tougher certification for teachers, while superintendents would have less certification. Right now, if a superintendent does not have proper Connecticut certification, they cannot be hired by a board of education. Furthermore, the bill says that the commissioner can waive this requirement for any person deemed “exceptionally qualified”. My translation and opinion to that is if you are a buddy of the governor or commissioner and a superintendent without certification, you’re in.

Deception: SB 24 would have given Charter Schools 2600 dollars extra per student, and about 150 dollars extra per student for urban public schools. The fact is that the public schools need the money more. This would make the achievement gap even greater!

Trickery: In one section, 28 words were added which would have changed the law to benefit one-person big time. The former Hartford superintendent, Steven Adamowski, was uncertified when he was leading the Hartford School System. This bill would have changed the law so he could have collected 100,000 dollars a year for life from the teacher’s retirement fund, a fund he never could qualify for under present law. This fund is 9 billion dollars in the red and has been called “unsustainable” by Malloy. In addition, Malloy has put forward a bill recently that would raise retired teacher’s health contributions by 350 dollars a year, teachers who are on a fixed income. 

What intelligent person would think that any of the above would help close the achievement gap? That’s easy to answer. Not one intelligent person would. For this bill was not about closing the achievement gap. This bill was about big business getting millions of dollars. That is why the billionaires and millionaires are so interested in seeing it pass. When the public really understands this, they will stop bashing the teachers who are making a financial killing with starting pay at 39,000 dollars. 

My suggestion to the governor would be to go to the schools, not for photo ops and town meetings, but to really see what is going on. And a hearty “thank you” to the legislators for listening to those who serve the public school children every day. We all want reform, but not at the expense of the students and their teachers who positively impact them every day.