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CT Gov Dannel Malloy
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy
(Official photo)
Wesleyan University sociologist Daniel Long explains why it's wrong that teachers are scapegoats in Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy's school reform plans:
Education in Connecticut is a paradox. Though the National Assessment of Educational Progress consistently ranks the state among the highest scoring for student achievement, we also suffer from the highest black/white and poor/non-poor achievement gaps in the country. [...]

If schools were primarily responsible for the achievement gap, we would expect the gap to increase as students progressed through grade school. Yet the gap is almost unchanged from third to eighth grade, as evidenced by results of the 2011 CMTs. The inequalities begin before students enter school.

And Malloy's answer is to focus not on those inequalities but to embrace teaching to the test and charter schools, despite evidence (which Long's op-ed discusses) that both are counter-productive. Malloy is great on so many issues—it's a shame to see him buying into the corporate education agenda.

By contrast, the coalition of unions, government, nonprofits, foundations and businesses fighting to improve education and economic prospects in McDowell, West Virginia (PDF) is beginning several preliminary pieces of the much larger project.

Meanwhile, Michelle Rhee poses with Foster Friess.

And more:

  • The excellent Josh Eidelson reports on the port truck drivers' struggles we've been following in this space.
  • Another from Josh Eidelson, giving us a way to think about President Obama's decision to sign the union-busting FAA bill:
    [T]ry to imagine a Republican president and Republican Senate majority leader signing off on a bill with pro-union language despite thundering objections from most big businesses.  Your imagination may not be good enough to picture that, which tells you everything you need to know about the asymmetry between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to labor.
  • Speaking of excellent writers, Hamilton Nolan says The top 1% must stop insisting they're not right right this instant.
  • As inspections of Apple suppliers begin, Steven Greenhouse reports on questions about whether the Fair Labor Association is actually independent.
  • Indiana unions fight to keep their members from becoming free riders after the passage of the state's new right to work (for less) law.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 04:55 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yeh, it is sickening how even Democrats (12+ / 0-)

    are falling in line with these so-called reform efforts that denigrate teachers.

  •  Education is an area (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, Mostel26, Teachers Advocate

    where many otherwise solid people embrace corporatist nonsense.  The problems here are definitely bipartisan.

    In better news, Eidelson is killing it.

    Laura, have you written about the recent electoral successes for labor and its allies in New Haven? Their reform agenda and change strategy are worthy of more attention than they are getting.

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. @DavidKaib

    by David Kaib on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 06:03:28 PM PST

  •  Sorry to say, but I truly loathe (9+ / 0-)

    Michelle Rhee.  She's a very dangerous woman.  Not unlike the dangerousness that Phyllis Schafly once posed for the country.  She succeeded so well that forty years on women have less control over their bodies than they did back then.  

    Any Democratic politician that listens to Rhee's nonsense isn't fit for public service.

  •  Rhee is to public education what (13+ / 0-)

    John Yoo is to international law.

    •  Tipped and recc'd for sick MFing analogy!!! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Marie, Teachers Advocate

      I bow to your acerbic wit. Excellent. But she is not the first education fraud exposed. Didn't Bush appoint some dude as his education secretary that scammed the test results in Houston by kicking as many low scorers out of the system or keeping them out of school — like the the simspons —so as to not lower the test scores for the school.

      •  Rhee and Yoo are public faces for (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, Teachers Advocate

        anti-social public policies in education and law respectively.  Rhee articulates what the for-profit, private school industry is selling.  Those in league with her include the Gates, Arne Duncan, and a long list of wealthy people with zero experience or expertise in education.  Bush's education guy wasn't that high profile.  Yoo crafted the wording to legalize torture and also had a bunch of heavyweights behind him such as Addington and Bybee.    

  •  He's my guv- (4+ / 0-)

    but I don't like this side of him.  He regularly caves into the 1% who live along the Connecticut Gold Coast.  He was preceded by 2 Republican governors (the corrupt John Roland, and the inept Jodey Rell) who spent 18 years spending and cutting taxes.  Dems are always left with Republican dirty work to clean up.

    The last sound on earth will be the squawk of an optimist.

    by CT yanqui on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 06:45:02 PM PST

  •  Long buries the lede: it's about class and race (4+ / 0-)
    What else can be done? The biggest impact would come from policies that equalize the average socioeconomic status in all schools. Such economic integration can only be achieved by expanding requirements in the 1996 Connecticut Supreme Court case, Sheff v. O'Neill, to address economic integration in addition to racial integration. A politically difficult, but ideal, solution would be to merge adjacent rich and poor school districts in the state. Overall, Malloy's education plan takes us in the wrong direction. That said, if enacted, it might end the Connecticut paradox. We might end up with both low-quality average statewide performance and the largest achievement gap in the nation.

    dangerous voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 06:54:55 PM PST

    •  Throwing money doesn't solve the problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, Teachers Advocate

      When I lived in NJ, Newark schools were getting about $7K per pupil but the schools sucked and never got better.

      I went to grad. school for a teaching degree and spent a good deal of time at many different inner city schools, both public and private, charter and parochial, etc. My observation is that so many of these kids are disadvantaged in some way before they even walk in the school door. That disadvantage could be one thing or many. Some kids were dirt poor, dirty, skinny. Others were in abusive households or lived with someone who had a dependency issue. Other kids were children caught in the middle of a divorce. Some were differently abled and others were not native speakers of English or spoke no English yet.

      Now that is a small portion of some of the problems today's students face. All of these things, especially financial problems, can lead to highly transient school populations in the inner cities. So you are comparing different testing cohorts when you test in grades 4, 8, 10, whatever. OTOH, student populations in wealthy suburban towns tend to be much more stable so essentially you have the same cohort taking the tests in each subsequent grade. THat is one the hidden biases testing advocates frequently ignore or lie about.

      •  I've never seen anyone argue (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Teachers Advocate

        a problem could be solved by throwing money at it. This objection is generally raised when someone says we need to spend more money on something, which is an entirely different claim.

        That said, the claim above is that one good way to address educational inequality would be to end economic segregation in schools.  There is evidence to suggest this is true- Montgomery County in MD had success with this (ending housing segregation too is even better.) Still, I agree that the impact of poverty itself matters, and as a result I'd say serious reform must include that as well.

        Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. @DavidKaib

        by David Kaib on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 09:11:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Caring teachers feed those poor kids (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        using their own money. When it's time for standardized testing, you can bet that many more teachers feed their students, especially now that teachers' pay is being tied to test results.

  •  Dem prez signs anti-union FAA bill? WTF? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, psnyder, Teachers Advocate

    Did Obama campaign on being anti-union?  Maybe I missed that.

    80 % of success is JUST SHOWING UP!

    by Churchill on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 06:57:16 PM PST

  •  I recall when Malloy was hailed by the left (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eleaba, Teachers Advocate

    As one of the most promising new Democratic Governors.  So much for that.  He's looking more and more like another establishment hack.  Outside of Vermont's Shumlin I'm starting to think there are no true progressive Governors.

  •  Oh joy, (4+ / 0-)

    more teachers bashing. I've been a teacher for a long time now and whenever there's been discussion about what needs to be fixed, no one includes teachers in the discussion (at least in my experience). Retirement is looking better every day.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 07:49:20 PM PST

    •  More Teacher Bashing in Arizona (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      Arizona lawmakers want to mandate that teachers can't curse in the classroom or influence how future voters make decisions at the polls.

      In addition, a National Board Certified Teacher is being fired by Gilbert Public Schools under 20 charges for such "unprofessionalism" as  "donated five copies of her book to the library" (Charge #8), "sent the Technology Services Help Desk an email" (Charge #11), and "referred to efforts to monitor her as 'double secret probation.'" (Charge # 15).

      The teacher's real transgression was standing up to racial, homophobic and sexual harassment bullying in her third grade classroom. This teacher also opposed  discrimination against a colleague whose skin color (black) and accent (from her native Cameroon, Africa) suddenly made her unacceptable in this conservative district.  Never mind that the Black African teacher had been teaching in the district for five years, and had an M.Ed. from Arizona State University: she fell prey to teacher tormentors and was manipulated into resigning, a judge found in a ruling that the district discriminated against the teacher from Cameroon.  Apparently, this was an unexpected consequence of a state vendetta (now dropped) aimed at teachers who speak with Hispanic accents:

      Facing a possible civil-rights lawsuit, Arizona has struck an agreement with federal officials to stop monitoring classrooms for mispronounced words and poor grammar from teachers of students still learning the English language.

      Instead, the task of testing teachers' fluency in English will fall to school districts and charter schools as part of federal and state legal requirements.

      The Gilbert school district's retaliation against the National Board Certified Teacher was made crystal clear by the superintendent's threats: Drop your EEOC charge or BE FIRED!  The teacher has been on admin leave since November, fortunately with full pay and benefits.
  •  Be Careful (5+ / 0-)

    Gov. Malloy must very careful when dealing with teachers in his state.  Malloy needs to realize that he is dealing with an educated group of people who vote.  In case he wants to find out what happens when you make teachers mad, he needs to look no further than to former Democratic Georgia Governor Roy Barnes.  

    Barnes was elected in 1998 to no one's surprise because Democrats controlled the state then.  But during his term he blamed teachers for the low performance of Georgia's schools.  In 2002, he lost his re-election bid because he lost the teachers vote.  I know, I was one of them.

    Tread lightly Gov, tread lightly.  

  •  Malloy like other politicians - no clue (4+ / 0-)

    A fellow retired teacher friend commented about the rise in sexual crimes involving teachers just last Friday eve. It hit me like a ton of bricks that one of the  reasons for this happening is that so many school districts across the nation have been hell bent on getting rid of their experienced teachers because of the two for one attraction( for the salary of one old experienced teacher you can pick up two brand new eager teachers right out of college. Anyway, my immediate response to the increase of sex crimes was that the experienced teachers were ones that were not only models for the younger teachers but were also mentors that would give them advise about proper ways to deal with students. Prior to my retirement in '05 a whole new cast was being hired in my school and many of them seemed to have no idea of proper behavior with students. We caught them inviting students to our small office where they were often in a one on one situation (no witnesses or any chance of appealing to anyone about good intentions when a teacher does something so inappropriate).  The experienced teachers know far more than that tidbit about much concerning education, but the politicians see public education and teaching the way Toyota engineers see building cars. No efforts by the present boomer politicians are going to do anything but destroy what was once the best ed system. It definitely won't come back without the parents realizing how important their support is in getting their children to be responsible about their learning. Malloy had some admirable qualities but like the President he doesn't really understand learning.

    •  Budget constraints are an intended feature (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Teachers Advocate

      The Elites knew what they were doing when they spread "Balanced Budget Fever" across the land decades ago. It's a re-occurring "Shock Doctrine" time bomb which goes off whenever local and state revenues fall significantly. The bigger the revenue shortfall, the greater the justification for reducing staffing levels, not just education, but public safety, road maintenance, sanitation, etc.

      The increase in sexual crimes is just an ugly (admittedly very ugly) symptom of this. The really ugly part from my perspective is how in just a few short years, the threshold of "appropriate class size" has grown at least 20% at every grade level. That's going to take DECADES to repair as we are told that "technology" will allow "those really great teachers" to reach many more students, then see that miserably fail to occur as students without sufficient, properly mentored and overseen human contact get isolated, abandoned and preyed upon in every imaginable way.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:29:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Teachers Advocate

      I think the problem of young teachers initiating sexual involvement with students is also related to being overworked and tied to the school. An incident occurred at a school I taught at with a 25 year old male teacher hitting on a freshman girl. This young man taught seven periods a day, coached two varsity sports and had been filled up with idealistic notions about spending every moment with his students in order to prove his dedication.

      When a 25 year old man with normal hormones and desires is told to abandon any pretense of a personal life and devote himself to being with high school kids nearly 24/7.....well, what do people really think is going to happen?

      And ironically, the life of total devotion to school that he had created had earned him nothing but praise from parents and admins prior to the incident. When we decide teaching is a calling rather than a career and encourage young teachers to treat it this way, we're asking for these problems.

    •  Right! There's no subsitute for experience (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      A few years ago, young teachers were assigned experienced mentors. This relationship could give the young teacher insights that would have taken 20 years to acquire on their own.  So much professional knowledge now is lost in the 2-for-1 mindset.  You never hear administrators talking about making decisions "in the best interests of students" unless they're defending a really stupid decision they got called on.

      Hand-in-hand is the current trend of elevating administrators who serve a bare minimum number of years as classroom teachers. Young administrators then tell veteran teachers what to do and when to do it -- and then say it's "in the best interests of the students."

  •  Malloy is a friend of the 1% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teachers Advocate

    Malloy has to cater to the ultra rich anti tax constituents he has on the 'Gold Coast' of lower F airfield county. He has steadfastly not raised taxes on the millionaires in Southport, Weston and Greenwich.

    Connecticut has one of the largest gaps in the nation with wealth disparity- and The Governor has done nothing about it- his solutions follow the same principals of Reaganomics. Trickle Down.

    He gutted the Sustinet health care plan- a true public option- saying the state could not afford it. Connecticut has over 375,000 people with no health insurance- and many more with huge monthly premiums and deductibles. His policies thus far have been a softer version of Scott Walker.

    Until Democrats begin to realize the polices of Reagan -circa early 1980s are now not sustainable - the gap between the rich and poor will grow- making   Malloy another political Dinosaur- unable to adapt to a changing social and economic & environmental (climate change) scenario in the early 21st century.

  •  Wow, no trolls yet (0+ / 0-)

    The anti-teacher trolls and/or dupes will be all over this soon I'm sure. We all know their screen names. I'm curious how long it'll take them to sniff out this article.

  •  Malloy has it in for teachers .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, Teachers Advocate

    especially those in the state-run vocation/technical high school system. My best friend for 40+ years has worked in that system for the last 15 years teaching electronics and was universally admired as a great teacher who could keep the kids interested and motivated. Then a couple of years ago they started walking teachers out of classrooms for ridiculous reasons (he's not respecting me?), he's been moved through 3 other schools after spending 13 successful years at one, he's not allowed to fail kids .. it's insane.

    "Electronic media creates reality" - Meatball Fulton

    by zeke7237 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 05:52:50 AM PST

  •  It's all about the Benjamins my friends (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, Teachers Advocate

    The reason politicians keep supporting teach to the test Michelle Ree style corporate education, this is what happens.

    Because of provisions in NCLB, private tutoring  companies were pocking as much as $2.5 billion. I shit you not!

    Private tutoring companies have jumped to take advantage of the law's "supplemental education services," or SES, provision, which divvies up a pot each year estimated to be as large as $2.5 billion. But though companies produce rosy reports, very few states and districts have any idea whether the tutoring is actually helping students learn. More than two thirds of states told CEP they have a tough time monitoring SES programs for quality and effectiveness, and three said they are "not at all" able to monitor them.

    The flowing federal money paired with very little oversight is "a recipe for disaster," says Jack Jennings, CEP's president.

    "You have people's tax dollars that are going out the door, and nobody knows how much is going out the door, and nobody knows whether it's resulting in any good," Jennings says.

    You have big players like Sylvan, Kaplan, ETS, etc. that have a huge stage in pushing for even more testing.

    At best, this is teaching to the test, ignoring real critical thinking skills necessary to function in the real world, which might be the point...so these private companies reap the benefits of training tomorrow's wage slaves but not too much because the kleptocracy depends on keeping them down.

  •  on FAA bill... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Teachers Advocate

    This was astonishing betrayal by so-called "pro-union" Democrats.

  •  Ok the fact that Michelle Rhee (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, Teachers Advocate

    is in bed with Foster Friess should be the clincher on the fact that she's no moderate. It also doesn't help when movies like "Waiting for Superman" are made which only serve to demonised teachers, and not talk about economics. The film not only doesn't address economics...at all, it looks at only a few families where the children have parents who are devoted to their children getting education. Some families don't have that luxury either because they don't value education or are too poor to invest in it.

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