Category Archives: Education

Stefan Pryor Won’t Serve Second Term As Education Chief

by Categorized: Education Date:

StefanPryorStefan Pryor, the controversial state education commissioner, will leave his post and is “actively seeking new professional opportunities,” according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office.

Pryor informed the governor Monday that he will not serve a second term. “Having served for nearly three fulfilling years as commissioner, I have decided to conclude my tenure by the end of this administration’s current term and to pursue new professional opportunities,” Pryor said. “Because I believe it’s important to communicate my decision proactively to the governor and the public, I am doing so now.”

The announcement indicated that Pryor’s move was his own choice. But a prominent Malloy critic said the truth is that Malloy has decided to “send…Pryor packing” — in an election-year attempt to distance the governor from Pryor, and reconcile with public school teachers alienated by both Pryor and the Malloy administration’s education policies.

“It’s a late and overdue political maneuver to try desperately to convince teachers ,parents and public school advocates to vote for him,” said the critic, Jonathan Pelto, an independent candidate for governor who is trying to petition his way onto the November ballot.

Pelto said the move won’t win back any votes for Malloy from disaffected teachers and parents, “because Pryor is but one piece of a broader, anti-public-schools agenda.”

Pryor has become a political liability for Malloy, with the Republican leader in the state Senate — John McKinney — calling for his removal. A champion of charter schools, Pryor was also criticized by some education union officials. That criticism was turned up after a series of embarrassing revelations involving a charter school operator that he had once embraced.

On Monday, Malloy publicly praised Pryor. “Commissioner Pryor has worked hard and well on behalf of Connecticut students. 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.

“It has been a pleasure working with Stefan,” Malloy said. “His energy, intellect, and work ethic are exemplary. I wish him well in his next endeavor, and I want to thank him for his service.”

However, Pelto — whose petition forms are now being examined by election officials to determine if he has the 7,500 signatures from registered voters required to get on the ballot — issued a statement saying:

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s decision to send Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor packing is long overdue, but it is still great news for Connecticut’s  public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

 As a leading proponent of the corporate education reform industry, Stefan Pryor and his team of anti-teacher, pro-standardized testing, privatization zealots have done immeasurable harm to Connecticut’s public education system.

 While Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in so called ‘turnaround schools,” one would hope that he is finally recognizing that his anti-teacher, pro-charter school, pro-Common Core agenda is bad news for Connecticut public schools or, at the very least, a political disaster for him has he aspires to a second term in office.

When it comes to actually supporting Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy’s true intentions remain unknown, but Pryor’s departure is a small step in the right direction.

Professor Lieberman

by Categorized: Education, Joe Lieberman Date:

Napolitano, Mueller Testify At Senate Homeland Security Committee HearingBY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman will teach a course this academic year at Yeshiva University in New York.

Lieberman has been appointed to an endowed teaching chair named for him, and will give three public lectures in addition to teaching one undergraduate course. The university said that the lectures will be on topics “ranging from Judaism to public service and the Middle East.”

Lieberman’s chair was endowed by a gift from two major supporters of the school, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert.

“I am very honored that Yeshiva University is establishing this Chair, deeply grateful that Ira and Ingeborg Rennert are making it possible, and personally surprised that YU and the Rennerts have asked me to be the first occupant of the chair,” Lieberman said in the press release. “I am excited about working with the students at YU to engage and inform their interest in public policy and public service.”

Lieberman spent 24 years representing the state in the U.S. Senate and served in the state Senate for 10 years and as the state attorney general for six years. He sought the vice presidency in 2000, running with Albert A. Gore, and lost after a controversial recount in Florida and a divided ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

STEM Bill Championed By Esty Clears the House

by Categorized: Education, Elizabeth Esty Date:

By Matthew Q. Clarida

A bill co-authored by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5th district) which would increase federal support to teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, passed the House of Representatives on Monday.

The act, which Esty put forth along with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) continues existing STEM support from the federal government, expands some grants to a larger population of eligible teachers, and mandates that computer science education is funded by at least some of the awards.

The current iteration of the bill, if approved by the Senate, will direct money not only to classrooms and teacher training programs but to museums and science centers as well.

“I’m very proud our commonsense bill passed today,” Esty said in a press release from her office. “The STEM Education Act represents a crucial step forward for our students and teachers, and for institutions like the Connecticut Science Center. The support the bill provides will empower us to continue—and expand—our work to advance STEM education throughout our state.”

The bill passed the House with no votes against.

AFT Endorses Malloy/Wyman

by Categorized: Education, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto, Labor, Uncategorized Date:

While some Connecticut educators have expressed sharp criticism of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a union representing tens of thousands of public school teachers has endorsed the incumbent for a second term.

The AFT-Connecticut, a union representing about 29,000 teachers, nurses and support employees, announced its endorsement Friday afternoon. The union is also backing the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation and its constitutional officers, who are also all Democrats.

“We have chosen to support candidates who will act to prevent a ‘Wisconsin moment’ here in Connecticut,” said Stephen McKeever, a former Middletown High School science teacher who is 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.”

Malloy’s vigorous advocacy for reforming the teacher tenure system shortly after taking office, along with his education commissioner’s embrace of charter schools, has drawn the wrath of some educators.

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Malloy Vetoes Bill Banning Chocolate Milk in Schools

by Categorized: Education, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy Tagged: Date:

Gov. Dannel Malloy, saying he likes chocolate milk, announced today that he will veto legislation that would have inadvertently banned chocolate milk from Connecticut school cafeterias.

malloy meetings

“I love chocolate milk,” said Malloy, whose staff emphasized the point Thursday morning by tweeting a photo of the governor drinking some of the brown beverage. He said the added sodium content in chocolate milk wasn’t enough to warrant banning it from school cafeterias.

Nutritionists say chocolate milk bans result in some school kids giving up on any kind of milk with lunch, and that means they may be missing out on key nutrients.

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Pelto Slams Teachers Union for Preliminary Endorsement

by Categorized: Education, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Jonathan Pelto, who is considering a run for governor, criticized the American Federation of Teacher’s Connecticut Legislative and Political Action Committee for recommending that the union endorse Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for reelection.

“I am deeply disturbed that the leadership of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers would deny me, or any other candidate, an opportunity to present our case,” Pelto said in a press release Wednesday. “If there is any organization left in America that should be open, fair and transparent it should be a union that represents teachers.”

Pelto, Malloy’s most vocal and persistent critic on the left, is not currently a candidate for governor, but he has said he is weighing whether to enter the race.

The Legislative and Political Action Committee’s recommendation does not constitute a formal endorsement. According to the AFT’s website, the committee reviews candidate requests for endorsement and make recommendations to the AFT Connecticut Executive Committee, qhich ultimately decides who the union will endorse.

“We are in the middle of an internal membership process and won’t be making any comments to the press,” union spokesman Matt O’Connor said.

Pelto called the committee’s recommendation of Malloy “insulting and inappropriate.”

“The decision to endorse Malloy without an open process is a sad commentary on the state of politics,” he said. “Putting aside the work I’ve done to speak out for teachers and their unions over the past two years, and my lifetime commitment to public education, Governor Malloy has proven himself to be the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the country. There is not a teacher in Connecticut who has forgotten that Malloy proposed ending teacher tenure and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining for teachers in ‘turnaround schools’ when he put forward his education reform initiative.”

 

Early Childhood Bill Moves Toward Shift In Kindergarten Entry Age

by Categorized: Education, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney Date:

Future “ber babies” — children born in October, November and December — will likely have to wait a little longer to enter kindergarten.

Deep within a bill that establishes the Office of Early Childhood and sharply expands the number of preschool slots for needy children is a provision that sets into motion plans to change the kindergarten entrance age. Under current law, children may enroll in kindergarten as long as they turn 5 by Jan. 1. The legislation calls for a plan to shift that date to Oct. 1.

Kindergarten students file into Naubuc School in Glastonbury for the first day of class in August 2013. (Peter Marteka )

Kindergarten students file into Naubuc School in Glastonbury for the first day of class in August 2013. (Peter Marteka )

“Most of us agree that it makes sense for us to move the kindergarten start age,” said Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford and co-chair of the legislature’s education committee. “Right now there’s such a wide band of ages of children in kindergarten that it can make it challenging for the teachers and the pupils.”

The bill, which passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, directs the Office of Early Childhood to devise a plan to change the eligibility date and report back to the legislature by June 30, 2015.

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Capital Prep\’s Perry Does Ad Funded By Michelle Rhee\’s Students First

by Categorized: Charter schools, Education Date:

Tune into WZMX Hot 93.7 in the next few days and you’ll hear Steve Perry, one of the founders of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, give a rapid-fire plug for “quality schools” in Hartford.

“Did you know that thousands of children are on waiting lists for quality schools in Hartford?” asks Perry. “Parents have no choice but to wait as their children remain trapped in failing schools. This is a tragedy. The time is now for city leaders to expand high-quality schools so that all kids can have access and you can come off that waiting list.”

The advertisement, which is funded by Michelle Rhee’s organization, Students First, urges listeners to call a phone number that delivers them to a Students First Connecticut voicemail.

Francisco Castillo, a spokesman for Students First, said the radio ad is part of a “Hartford Can’t Wait” public awareness campaign (that’s hartfordcantwait.org) so parents can stay informed about school board meetings, get phone numbers for Mayor Pedro Segarra and School Board Chairman Matt Poland, and sign a petition demanding more high-quality schools for the city. Those high-quality options, Castillo said, are magnet and charter schools.

Click here to listen to the ad:

 

Perry was selected for the ad, Castillo said, because “It’s clear that he runs one of the best magnet schools in Connecticut … Why not replicate a model that is clearly working for kids?”

Perry tried to do that, but the Hartford board rejected a plan that would have given him oversight of a second city school.

He was sharply criticized for responding to the board\’s decision with a threatening tweet.

Castillo said the incident was “a distraction. I’m not going to engage in what’s been said locally, but what I can say is we at Students First are focused on elevating the voices of parents. He continues to run schools that are pretty successful… He’s a perfect spokesman for this.”

Perry who has proposed a charter school for Bridgeport, ends the ad saying, “I’m ready to open new schools to better serve our community … but we need your help sign. Sign up now at hartfordcantwait.org.\”

 

Gov. Malloy Signs Executive Order Creating Common Core Task Force

by Categorized: Education Date:

Gov. Malloy, after delaying implementation of the Common Core Education Standards, announced Tuesday that he signed an executive order creating a task force to study adoption of the program in Connecticut.

The Educators\’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce will consist of parents, teachers, and administrators. The group is tasked with identifying the shortcomings of the Common Core program implementation and coming up with a set of recommendations to make the process go smoothly.

Malloy\’s budget proposal includes just short of $15 million in training and coaching for educators, money appropriated to facilitate the transition to Common Core. Many – including teachers and Malloy\’s political opponents – have criticized the roll out and called for implementation of Common Core to be halted.

The task force members include 12 teachers, four principals, four superintendents or district curriculum leaders, two parents, two municipal board of education members, and the Chief Academic Officer of the State Department of Education. Erin Wilson, a Hartford Elementary School teacher, and East Hartford Superintendent Nate Quesnel were tapped as co-chairs.