by Jon Pelto from Wait What?
Governor Dannel Malloy came out of a closed-door meeting with local elected officials yesterday and put it all the line. The Governor could not have been any clearer then when he told the city and town leaders from Connecticut’s lowest achieving school districts DO NOT COUNT ON THE $40 MILLION IN THE EDUCATION BUDGET!
Malloy’s words were – “They should not be depending on this money…I think this money is very much in the lurch until we have an educational bill that we can agree on.”
In English that means – if I don’t get the bill I want – you don’t get the $40 million dollars aimed at helping educate the poorest children in Connecticut.
It is not complex.
It is not hard to understand.
It is really quite simple.
Dan Malloy is saying – you better get your legislators to cave in and vote for my version of the bill because if they don’t your towns don’t get the money. If your towns don’t get the money, you either don’t provide the education services or you have to raise your local property taxes to meet those costs..
$40 million dollars to help 200,000 kids in return for what I want (or you get nothing).
Anywhere but government and it would be called blackmail and the Feds would have had some of those local officials wired for the upcoming trial.
But here in the United States we call it “American Politics” and it’s all fair and legal.
Following the public announcement of Malloy’s threat, some of the mayors and local leaders spoke to the media and some did not.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, once again, threw his support behind the Governor.
New Britain Mayor Tim O’Brien, who used to be a state legislator, was more diplomatic refusing to say which version he liked better (the Governor’s or the Education Committees), but he did go on to say nice things about the governor’s “leadership.”
And Jim Finley, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the organization that represents most cities and towns at the Capitol, said that they support “an education reform bill closer to the governor’s vision than that reported out of the Education Committee.”
Okay – so let’s be really clear. There are two major sticking points with the bill as it is now written. Malloy wants the local leaders to side with him so the only real question is do they or do they not agree with the Governor’s position.
Item #1 is whether Connecticut should do away with teacher tenure or whether having a comprehensive teacher evaluation system with a simple process to remove bad teachers enough.
Item #2 is whether Connecticut should adopt Malloy’s plan for what he calls his “Commissioner’s network” which is the system that allows the Education Commissioner to take over low performing schools.
If these local leaders like the “Commissioner’s Network” plan they simply need to answer YES OR NO to each of the following elements that are part of the “Commissioner’s Network”
(1) The Commissioner’s Network Plan requires that all the teachers and administrators at a school that is taken over by the Commissioner are fired. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
(2) Towns are then required to find other places for the fired teachers and administrators in their schools systems however the Governor doesn’t provide the towns with any additional funds so the towns must keep a few hundred employees but they will have lost the money to pay them. Local taxpayers will then have to pick up the extra cost. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
(3) If the towns cannot find places and money for the teachers and administrators who have been fired they are still liable for the contract provisions that are in place AND any unemployment consequences for those teachers and administrators. In either case, local taxpayers will have to pay. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
(4) Once the employees are fired, collective bargaining at the schools is banned. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
(5) The Commissioner of Education can then turn the school over to a third-party such as a charter school management company or a private entity. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
(6) The new entity running the school is exempt from state laws limiting consultants so they can hire whomever they want as their consultants without having to go through any bidding process. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
(7) The new entity running the school is also exempt from the state laws requiring competitive bidding for other goods and services. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
(8) And finally, a town cannot cut funding to the network school – even if they have to cut their own school budget – and if they do get additional state funds or raise taxes to fund their remaining schools they MUST provide the Commissioner’s Network school the same proportional increase in funding even though the local board of education doesn’t control the network school nor is the network school unionized. So if the town negotiates an agreement with its unions they have to pay the network school the same money – even though that school doesn’t have a union. Do you support that – YES OR NO?
So let’s start with the first three;
Please simply circle the yes or no answer and post it back here so we can all see where you stand on these issues.
And how about the mayors from the other 28 towns?
Perhaps some readers would be willing to send over these questions to their own mayors (if they live in one of the 30 towns) and ask them to fill out this simple form.
For more background check out these CTNewsunkie and CTMirror stories;