Bristol Federation of Teachers

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Tom Foley’s “Market Approach” Vision for Education — September 28, 2014

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.”

AFT Connecticut Endorses Malloy for Re-Election — June 13, 2014

AFT Connecticut Endorses Malloy for Re-Election

Rocky Hill – Elected leaders of the 29,000-strong AFT Connecticut last night voted overwhelmingly to support incumbent statewide elected officials with strong records of respecting workers’ rights on the job. The labor federation’s executive committee voted in favor of formal endorsements of candidates for congress and state constitutional offices that will appear on the November 4 General Election ballot.
The candidates include Connecticut’s current delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives; John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes, and Elizabeth Esty. Also endorsed were Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Attorney General George Jepsen, Treasurer Denise Nappier, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Comptroller Kevin Lembo.
“Our executive committee has spoken,” said Melodie Peters, a retired state senator and president of AFT Connecticut. “Last night’s vote is the final step in our democratic process for considering candidates for statewide office. It follows a long-established policy of providing a voice for our diverse, large membership through their local unions,” she said.
Members of the federation’s legislative and political action committee met last week to discuss the incumbents’ records and consider possible endorsements. They forwarded their recommendations to the executive committee, which includes 26 members of AFT Connecticut affiliated unions and reflects a balanced representation of all constituency groups within the federation.
“We have chosen to support candidates who will act to prevent a ‘Wisconsin moment’ here in Connecticut,” said Stephen McKeever, who was a Middletown High School science teacher for 17 years and now serves as AFT Connecticut’s first vice-president. “We need leaders committed to preserving the rights of all workers to collectively bargain and not gutting union members’ benefits to score political points,” he said.
McKeever’s comments refer to remarks that Connecticut Republican Party-endorsed candidate for governor Tom Foley has made to the press. Foley in June, 2013 told The Courant “I keep talking about ‘when is the Wisconsin moment going to come to Connecticut,'” referring to the 2010 takeover of Wisconsin’s statehouse and legislature. That state’s governor and lawmakers in 2011 rammed through legislation stripping public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights and slashed state funding for public education and local services.
“The stakes are too high to make the wrong choice,” said Jean Morningstar, who recently retired after 27 years of service as a public employee at the UConn Health Center in Farmington and is AFT Connecticut’s second vice-president. “We understand that we need a voice at work and a seat at the table with elected officials to advocate for ourselves, our families, and our communities,” she said.

Governor Dan Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman Receive Support of 29,000-Member Union for Respecting Workers’ Rights

 Hartford, CT – Today, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Connecticut announced its endorsement of Governor Dan Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman for re-election.

 “AFT’s support is a testament to the progress we are making together in education, health care and public services,” said Governor Dan Malloy. “I firmly believe that teachers, health care professionals, and all workers should have the right to collectively bargain — for good wages and benefits, due process and a voice at work. From the picket lines to the Capitol, we’ve stood together to protect workers’ rights and that won’t change. We won’t let Connecticut go down the dangerous path that GOP governors are leading states like Wisconsin down. I want to thank AFT for their support and for their hard work, day in and day out, to move Connecticut forward.”

 “I am grateful to be working with AFT as we protect Connecticut’s working families. Honoring and supporting the voice of organized labor is a big part of how we continue to empower our working families, build our economy and provide our children with the best education possible,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “We have more work to do, but we will continue to support our educators, health care professionals, public service employees, and all Connecticut workers as we continue our state’s progress. I am honored and thankful for AFT Connecticut’s endorsement.”

Teacher Evaluation Changes Imminent; Common Core Under Fire — January 29, 2014

Teacher Evaluation Changes Imminent; Common Core Under Fire

Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut, made the following remarks on the adoption today by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) of recommendations by Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Senate President Donald Williams, and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey to amend the Connecticut Guidelines for Educator Evaluation:
“The governor and legislative leaders have shown they are hearing the voices of educators and parents who have been speaking out for their students and children in our state’s schools. We have been calling for just the sort of course correction recommended yesterday to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC).
“Our political leaders have recognized that teachers, classroom support staff and administrators need greater flexibility in adapting to changes in the way we are now educating our state’s students. As the governor and legislative leaders said in their joint letter:
“‘Too much change all at once impedes teachers’ ability to be effective in their classrooms. Teachers and administrators understandably are feeling burdened and together we must take action to relieve this pressure.’
 
“We couldn’t agree more. And we believe that the options recommended and adopted today by PEAC will empower teachers to be more effective in the classroom and enable administrators to be more efficient in assessing their performance.
“Let’s be clear; we have not been saying ‘no’ to student assessments or teacher evaluations. We have been saying we need a moratorium on high stakes consequences during the transition to a new approach to teaching our children in order to get the implementation right.
“All our students deserve a quality education; their opportunities to learn should not be compromised during this transition. And our teachers need appropriate training, professional development and to be engaged in developing classroom curriculum during this time
“With PEAC’s approval of new flexibility options, our state’s children will be the primary beneficiaries of this course correction.”

 

Governor Malloy recommending changes to teacher evaluations…

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-common-core-push-back-0128-20140128,0,4058443.story

20 minute video news conference of Governor’s announcement on teacher evaluation changes…

http://www.ct-n.com/ctnplayer.asp?odID=9863

An article with reaction from teachers and union leaders…

http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-peac-evals-teachers-0130-20140129,0,5394563.story

Short article with video from CBS affiliate WFSB…

http://www.wfsb.com/story/24575938/teachers-looking-for-more-flexibility-to-postpone-new-evaluation

Short article with video from ABC affiliate WTNH

http://wtnh.com/2014/01/29/announcement-on-education-reform/

Video of Republican legislators calling for halt to Common Core implementation…

http://www.ct-n.com/ctnplayer.asp?odID=9861