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Tell the Truth!

posted May 2, 2012, 7:01 AM by Ronna Van Veghel

The “Education Reformers” just aren’t capable of telling the truth….but hopefully legislators will!

May 01

jonpeltoAchievement First/ConnCANCharter SchoolsEducationMalloyStefan Pryor2 Comments

Now is the time to call or write your legislators and ask them the truth about Malloy’s “Commissioner’s Network” plan … because if you read what the “Education Reformers” are saying about Section 18 of Governor Malloy’s bill – the provisions dealing with the creation of the “Commissioner’s Network” – you’d wonder what all the fuss is about.

Yesterday, for example, the President of Eastern Connecticut State University said that the “Commissioner’s Network” was simply “a program that would allow the state to assume financial and administrative control of 25 of the state’s lowest performing schools… and provides flexible options at the local level, including the creation of charter schools and incentives for teachers to accept positions in network-designated schools.”

But that actually isn’t what Section 18 does. In fact, it isn’t even close to the truth.

And yet “education reformers” continue their inappropriate strategy of misleading legislators, parents, teachers, local officials and the people of Connecticut about what is an extraordinarily flagrant abuses of power in Malloy’s education bill.

The language creating the “Commissioner’s Network” (previously known as Section 18) is very clear, very concise and, if the bill passes, it will become very much the law in Connecticut.

So what does the language actually do?

It allows Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Education Commissioner, to take over up to 25 local schools this summer.

The local board of education will then have 120 days to agree to the Commissioner’s “turnaround” plan. If they don’t, the Commissioner takes official control of the schools, fires the teachers and administrators, bans collective bargaining and turns the schools over to an unnamed and undefined third parties.

These entities, in turn, would be exempt from Connecticut’s laws limiting the use of outside consultants and the laws requiring competitive bidding.

If Connecticut legislators support Malloy’s “Commissioner’s Network” they are supporting each of the following provisions.

Now is the time to call, email or write to see and see if your legislators support these actions?

Support

Oppose

Once officially designated a “Commissioner’s Network” school all the teachers and administrators at that school are let go.

Staff may re-apply for their positions, but each hire must be approved by the new management entity AND the Commissioner of Education.

Towns are then required to place the remaining staff in any open positions Even if those positions are not standard teaching jobs.

If there are not enough open positions, the present language appears to allow towns to layoff the remaining teachers (Which would be the majority of teachers).

The bill fails to provide the towns with any additional funds to help pay for the extra teachers the towns are mandated to keep.

This means local taxpayers will be forced to pick up the extra cost or major budget cuts will be needed to free up the funds necessary to pay for these transferred employees.

If the towns cannot find vacant positions, the towns are still liable for the contract provisions that are in place AND any unemployment consequences for those teachers and administrators. In either case, the cost to local taxpayers will be significant.

Once the employees are fired, collective bargaining at the schools is banned.

The Commissioner of Education then turns the school over to a third-party such as a charter school management company or a private entity. The bill makes no provision for how that process would work.

The new entity running the school would then be exempt from having to follow the state laws limiting the use of consultants.

The new entity running the Commissioner’s Network school would also be exempt from the state laws requiring competitive bidding for other goods and services.

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 with the same proportional increase in funding even though the local board of education doesn’t control the “Commissioner’s Network” school.

And despite the clear, obvious language of the bill, not a single “education reformer” (including the Governor and the Education Commissioner) has been willing to address the specific elements of this destructive plan.

Instead they just say that it simply provides “flexibility.”

Firing staff, banning collective bargaining, handing over our schools to some corporate entity, exempting that school from the laws limiting the use of consultants and requiring collective bargaining —- that is NOT the type of flexibility we need or want in Connecticut.

No legislator, Democrat or Republican, should vote for any element of the Commissioner’s Network until its supporters explain why each and every provision is appropriate public policy — but they won’t explain it – because none of these elements are appropriate public policy.

Now is the time to stop the Commissioner’s Network – before its too late.

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