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CEA Turns Up The Heat With TV Ad

by Christine Stuart | Apr 13, 2012 11:26am
(26) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education

(Updated 12:19 p.m.) Connecticut’s largest teachers’ union launched a new television advertisement Friday criticizing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education bill.

The ad, paid for by the Connecticut Education Association, calls Malloy’s reform bill “a bad science experiment.”

The narrator goes on to say Malloy’s bill includes “Unproven ideas backed by special interests. Taking tax dollars away from our neighborhood schools. It’s sure to explode.”

The ad says that the legislature’s Education Committee, which changed portions of Malloy’s bill on March 26, “is getting it right and moving reform forward.”

The committee bill postponed for one year Malloy’s effort to tie a new teacher evaluation system to tenure.

“With roughly four weeks left in the legislative session, the stakes could not be higher,” CEA President Phil Apruzzese said in a press release. “There are enormous consequences to our children’s future, and decisions will determine the path of educational and economic opportunity in our state.”

Malloy seems to agree the stakes are high but he made it very clear Thursday that he won’t be supporting the bill approved by the legislature’s Education Committee. Malloy told two dozen local elected officials not to count on the $39.5 million in additional education funding for their districts if he can’t reach a compromise with the legislature.

“I think this money is very much in the lurch until we have an educational bill we can agree on,” Malloy said Thursday.

Since March 26, the day the Education Committee voted on its revised bill, Malloy’s administration and the two teachers’ unions haven’t spoken. The unions had been at the table, but Malloy canceled two previously scheduled meetings with union representatives after the committee voted on the revised bill.

The unions and their representatives have been speaking with legislative leaders, who are informally speaking with the governor about how to move forward.

Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said that when teachers hear what is actually in the proposal they’re supportive.

“The problem’s been that the leadership of CEA hasn’t been trying to represent teachers; they’ve been representing themselves,” Occhiogrosso said. “They’ve consistently misinformed their members because they’re afraid if teachers learn what’s actually in the governor’s package, they’ll be supportive.”

Occhiogrosso said it’s ironic because “many of the ideas came from CEA itself.”

“People should read the brochure they put out (A View from the Classroom) — you know, the one in which they said they believe Connecticut should ‘end tenure as we know it’ (page 13), and the one in which they urge the Legislature to pass a bill implementing the evaluation system they themselves agreed to (page 11). For reasons only they understand, the leadership of CEA is defending a status quo that is indefensible to everyone . . . except them,” he concluded.

In the meantime, Mary Loftus Levine, executive director of the CEA, said they will continue to broaden public awareness of Malloy’s “damaging” proposals.

“Too many are unproven and untested — notions that will ultimately hurt, not help, our children to succeed and close the achievement gap,” she said.

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(26) Comments

posted by: Linda12 | April 13, 2012  12:57pm

And to Roy O - you KNOW you are lying - the evaluation FRAMEWORK as designed (and it is not completed -has Pryor responded to the request to continue the meetings - see link below?) were never to be coupled with salary levels, certification and tenure status.

You and Dannell distort and mislead all on your own. 

You like to pick and choose your excerpts and use them against teachers as if we can’t read for ourselves. Just like your boss, you demean and insult our intelligence.

YOU are not to be trusted.

Why don’t you propose that state workers no longer keep their jobs based upon seniority and they should also have a performance evaluation each year that determines their salary, which will fluctuate year to year depending upon the results of the evaluation.

posted by: secret | April 13, 2012  3:47pm

I called him on it at the Ansonia meeting. I called him on it. Unions did not agree to tying tenure to evaluation.

posted by: Jeff Klaus | April 13, 2012  4:39pm


The tone of your question to Roy suggests that you feel that the entire notion of a merit based employment system is ludicrous.  Am I reading that right?

How do you think the vast majority of working people in the state are paid?  Do you think that regular taxpayers get to keep their jobs based on seniority?

posted by: Tom Burns | April 13, 2012  5:12pm

We need to scrap the revised bill—Governor Malloy is unprepared and uninformed to the enth degree—-His 5 soundbites cant hold up to intelligence and he is running scared—-I beg you Gov. Malloy to vetoe this bill as is—-for it is just as bad as the one you started out with Dannel—Next time you see Governor Malloy—ask him how tenure works now-(he has NO idea—also ask him what the evaluation system looks like—(he has no idea) because there isnt one——This whole thing is a joke and smoke and mirrors—there is absolutely no substance to this bill and therefore no substance to any persons that support it—-I am asking every legislator to say NO to this bill (in its supposed watered down form it is an utter joke)lets start over with people who know——-we can still get something REAL going—-not this childish, hurried attempt at making political news at the expense of our kids—I wont allow it——what is Gov. Malloy thinking??? Tom

posted by: Matthew P. Valenti | April 13, 2012  5:59pm

I am running for CEA president from the floor at the RA. I have written many news articles, have appeared on television and radio against Malloy and SB 24. My opponents have not challenged this arrogant bully. Teachers are demoralized by a governor who is trashing the public teaching profession.  He continues to go after teachers and doesn’t know the first thing he is talking about with his unabashed support of his ridiculous bill

posted by: CT Citizen | April 13, 2012  6:14pm

Occhiogrosso’s comments are lies.
There is no other way to state it. I am a CEA member, I attend meetings and I am very active. I know exactly what is going on in education reform, exactly what is in the original and substitute SB 24, exactly what PEAC and CEA agreed or did not agree to, and what my CEA leadership is doing because they represent me, and I represent my teachers. Stating otherwise is as insulting and untrue as the comment that began this debate- that teachers just show up for four years and get tenure. I can speak for the teachers in my district when I say that we are disappointed, frustrated and insulted by the manner in which the governor is pushing education reform. The divides he creates while he lines the pockets of private organizations only shows that teachers will continue to carry more burden, do more with less, still not get the money their struggling students need, and have less rights to boot.
This negative, misleading and down right fictitous debate is helping our kids? I hope legislators listen to teachers. We always fight for what is right for children and education, and we always will, no matter what is thrown at us.

posted by: Speak up | April 13, 2012  6:39pm

let’s hold the charter schools and their leadership to the same high standards…report all the data…take all the kids…

Study Finds Higher Charter School Spending on Administration

That okay with you Jeff K?

posted by: Speak up | April 13, 2012  6:46pm

I sent this request to Malloy - no response yet..probably will never get one.

I would like you to carefully read these two documents.

I don’t think you understand the status of the PEAC evaluation process.

Also, I would like to know if Commissioner Pryor has responded to the second link titled “Important Work Remains Undone”.

Please explain the original purpose of the PEAC Evaluation System, which is still in a framework format as of today, correctly when you speak to parents, teachers, students, politicians, business people, citizens, etc.

Also, the plan to couple teacher evaluations to salaries, certification and tenure status was not in the original design; that continues to be distorted by you, not the CEA.

The Point on PEAC:

Important Works Remains undone:

posted by: Speak up | April 13, 2012  6:48pm

To Jeff K - just disregard the notes from the lowly public school teachers and keep counting the money your family accumulates from the charter school management fees?  Have you heard charter schools spend more on adminstrative costs than instructional costs? 

What is the retention rate at Amistad? 100% graduate you say, but you fail to mention you lose 50% by their senior year. Where do they all go by the way?

posted by: Gloriawea1 | April 13, 2012  6:53pm

Gov. Malloy is trying to drive a wedge between CEA and its members- and it isn’t working. We know what our leaders agreed to as part of PEAC; we aren’t afraid of a framework for evaluation that holds us accountable for our students’ success. But we know that PEAC NEVER discussed tying evaluation,tenure and certification all together which is what the Governor’s original bill did. Evaluation is a local issue; certification is a state function. At every Town Meeting, the Governor kept repeating the misinformation that the unions agreed to this- when he knew they hadn’t. And Mr. O: there is very little in this bill for teachers to like except for addditional funding for early chilhood education. I can’t imagine what teachers you’ve been talking to!

posted by: CONconn | April 13, 2012  7:03pm

Roy Occhiogrosso, thank you for today’s daily dose of misinformation from the state capital.

posted by: TerryW | April 13, 2012  7:15pm

You will not get the full story from Malloy and Occhiogrosso…they are desperately trying to spin. Consider this:

Many are misinformed on the effectiveness of charter schools and the long term ramifications of SB24.

Please take the time to read these reports in order to gain another perspective: “Snapshots of Connecticut Charter School Data” by Bruce D. Baker, “Hired Guns on Astroturf: How to Buy and Sell School Reform” by Joanne Barkan and “The Myth of Charter Schools” by Diane Ravitch.

Breeding a nation of test takers is not going to produce college/career-ready graduates.

I would like to hear proposals for solving the other problems associated with the system’s failings (factors even your best teacher cannot control): poverty, chronic absences, disengaged parents, homelessness, neglected/abused children, drug/alcohol abuse, and defiant/poorly socialized children.

SB 24 is an attempt to apply a business model to public education; this proposal IS a way to reduce labor costs under the pretense of helping children.

ConnCan’s primary mission is to bust unions, get rid of collective bargaining to make it easier for their partner, Achievement First, to take over. They stand to make 10 million in management fees if the original bill passes.

There are so many conflicts of interest. Our commissioner, who needed a waiver to get his new job, Stefan Pryor, started Amistad with his friend Dacia Toll, the CEO of
Achievement First, an organization that started ConnCan. Allan Taylor, the chairman of the State Board of Education, is on the advisory board of ConnCan and guess what? He endorses the original SB24.  Read more here:

The latest spin about reforms in Mass and NJ are not accurate. Great line for a great article…make sure the rhetoric and the data match.

One small provision within SB24 is that teacher performance will be tied to student attendance. Really, now it is our responsibility that they come to school? What exactly are the parents responsible for anymore?

Given all of our societal problems (which are not addressed in SB24), do you actually believe weeding out the small percentage of ineffective of teachers, who earned tenure as determined by an ineffective administrator, will be the deciding factor in narrowing the achievement gap? Or are we once again just the scapegoat for a very complex problem that requires more than just holding teachers accountable.

Imagine if we evaluated and held our politicians accountable and tied their salaries to a level of performance that included: honesty and integrity.

posted by: Miss J | April 13, 2012  7:56pm

As a 15+ year teacher and active member of CEA I have not heard a single public school teacher they support Gov. Malloy’s proposed education reforms.  Who in their right mind really believe that judging a teacher’s effectiveness based on the decisions made by 8 year olds or worse, 16 year olds? 

Over the last few years I have heard elementary, middle, and high school teachers talk about the students in their classroom who have proudly told everyone how they bubbled in decisions and did not read the test questions.  I have also seen students do this and heard them talk about it openly.  The standardized test scores mean little if anything to most students so there are more than we would like to believe who find the tests to be a joke and do not do their best.  The students in my classes who are not learning are not doing so because they choose to not do the classwork or homework.  One of my honors students has openly stated to her class many times that she does not care about her grades.  She is not unique. 

On the topic of tenure, what other profession requires its employees to wait four years before being granted due process before being terminated?  Gov. Malloy does not and does not want to understand what tenure is.  After sitting through his first “Town Hall Meeting” in Hartford, I got the feeling that he believes teachers are not evaluated on a regular basis.  Those of us who teach know that in most districts our performance is scrutinized on a regular basis.  The “small” number of teachers who are fired does not compare to the number of teachers who resign before they are actually terminated. 

Everyone has an opinion n education as everyone has been in some educational setting.  I encourage all legislators to spend a week in a school talking to teachers, of they have time to talk, and seeing what is really going on in our public schools. 

Gov. Malloy spoke in favor of public education and teachers prior to being elected and he has turned his back on both.  Who will suffer the most if any of his proposals are adopted?  The students.

posted by: truth Avenger | April 13, 2012  8:01pm

With respect to MATHEW VALENTI’S POST:Your assertion that your opponents have not challenged Governor Malloy “The Bully” as you call him is revealing on many levels… you actually called your colleagues at CEA “opponents” and accuse them of not challenging the Governor and his bill.  Actually, I have seen Candidate Rossomando (CEA Presidency)building momentum and consensus against the bad parts of this bill in a real nuts-and-bolts way; by inviting Legislators to meet with teachers, by testifying at public hearings, speaking to the media, serving on the PEAC committee with the Education Comissoner and speaking at numerous County council meetings across the state.  Beyond writing letters, and getting in front of media cameras, what have you done in a material and structural way? When have you shown your face at County Council meetings? What have you done beyond being reactionary?  Name calling (“Bully”- “opponents”, etc.”) serves no useful purpose.  Candidate Rossomando, together with her colleagues at CEA have worked fervently, proactively, and effectively to ensure that the Governor’s flawed bill (SB24)receives the scrutiny, evaluation, and rejection it deserves. The division you are sewing -along with the distortions of your “opponents” and Association’s hard work, is counterproductive at a time when unity is most needed.  This is no time for naked, reactionary hostility; you are simply playing into the Governor’s hand. The bill on its merits, is woefully wrong for the children and teachers of this state.  We already have the Governor distorting the record and facts all over the place.  Do we need a candidate for CEA office doing the same?

posted by: Andrew | April 13, 2012  11:25pm

Mr. Occhiogrosso does not understand that CEA members ARE CEA. CEA leadership is simply the voice of the body that is composed of all CEA teacher members. Regarding his quote from page 13 of “A View from the Classroom,” he quoted only part of one sentence on that page. CEA’s recommendations regarding tenure do NOT coincide with those of Mr. Malloy’s.  The Governor, through many of his proposals and some of his comments—and now the comments of Mr. Occhiogrosso as well—has really turned teachers against himself.

posted by: Linda12 | April 14, 2012  6:26am

They lie, they manipulate, they distort, they pander, they insult, they demean because they are desperate. 

And they are the leaders of education reform in our state.

How sad for the kids.

posted by: teacher voice | April 14, 2012  8:49am

I (President Stamford Education Association), along with Stamford educators and community leaders, was at the Norwalk Governor’s Town Hall.  The Governor wanted people to believe, the misleading and false rhetoric from groups such as; Achievement First, Student’s First, CtReform, as accurate to what was in bill SB 24. The reason why teachers in the audience yelled out “that’s not true” was because they have spent an enormous amount of time dissecting the 163 page bill and then the substitute bill. They know what this bill actually does, and is in contradiction to what the Governor touted. The Association made the mistake of trusting Governor Malloy wanted to work collaboratively to find ways to close the achievement gap.  Instead the Governor, at town hall after town hall, continues to inflame teachers by insisting the unions agreed to the bill and that CEA’s “A View from the Classroom” supported the statements he was making. His statements about union agreement and involvement in developing SB 24 are patent lies. The Association supports many education reform initiatives, as we always do. “A View from the Classroom” laid out a framework for addressing the achievement gap. We are an organization that promotes great public schools. We believe that the administrators and teachers in the schools are the best people to bring together to discuss, plan and implement changes to our educational system for the purpose of helping each and every child perform to their fullest potential. The Governor’s bill does none of that.

I was also one of the leaders (Bd. of Education & Bd. of Finance members,SEA, Parent Teacher Organization, etc) from the Governor’s home town of Stamford who publicly came out against the SB 24? Do you realize the political/financial risk Stamford political leaders took to publicly speak out against SB 24? Most of the signers were instrumental in helping elect the Governor in the first place. Their first letter appeared in The CtPost and Stamford Advocate as an op ed:
The group was invited to meet with Commissioner Pryor where questions affecting the fiscal ability and autonomy of Stamford to educate it’s students were asked. The commissioner had no answers.  The group sent a followup letter in opposition again to aspects of the substitute SB 24 bill. Here are excerpts of that letter..

“We understand that you believe that placing Stamford in an alliance district will boost student achievement, but we respectfully disagree. The additional funding that would be available to us falls far short of what we would need to implement some of the suggested methods, i.e., longer school day, longer school year, wraparound services. Our ECS increase is only $61/student so in Stamford’s case it may not be advantageous for us to apply for those funds…. The additional PreK seats in the latest version of the bill is a welcome addition because it will help to mitigate the effects of poverty on student achievement. We are happy to read that the Governor supports this change because research shows it works…. The one thing our students don’t need is more testing because that will continue to reduce the time urgently needed for learning and creativity.  There is a lot of research proving what works to boost student achievement and that is where we would like to focus our efforts.

The 2010 law mandates major changes that we have already begun to implement such as the Common Core Standards, establishing school governance councils, and development of a new teacher evaluation tool. We need time for all this to take hold before we implement something else. Except for PreK and student health centers, there is nothing in the bill that has been proven to sustain higher student achievement.”

I am a PEAC member intimately involved in the process to develop the new evaluation system. The PEAC group collaboratively developed a framework and is now working to develop a state evaluation model for testing implementation in 2012. This work is time consuming, complicated and there is no one size fits all answer. The goal is to develop a model that allows districts to have flexibility to evaluate based on the specific needs and promotes/supports teachers and administrators to grow in their profession. Rushing this process to fulfill an arbitrary date in a Bill undermines the work of this group.

I urge every public school parent, and business leader, to oppose SB 24 as originally written, and to support the legislator’s adjustments in substitute bill 24. The legislator’s made the adjustments not because of union influence as the Governor would lead you to believe, but because, they met with those impacted, they dissected the bill and with informed perspectives, and realized the original bill was flawed.  A bad bill can do more to hurt education than the delay for a good bill.

posted by: Matthew P. Valenti | April 14, 2012  10:07am

With all due respect to Truth Avenger….I don’t know what else to call someone who, if he does not get his own way, will continue to push forward.  I wasn’t the first to call him a bully, and I won’t be the last.  With regard to your claim I am trying to divide the membership, that is just plain fiction.  I have heard from members all over that they are upset with slow responses to this governor.  And, I just will add this, since you picked out one candidate.  Goggle Lori Rossomondo and Google Matthew P. Valenti, and see who has stood up for teachers.

posted by: brutus2011 | April 14, 2012  10:31am


Here is how I see things:

1. Our teacher’s unions,the AFT, the CEA, the NHFT, have worked closely with those who manage our local and state schools.

2. In doing so, our unions have essentially joined the education establishment and have aided in the marginalization of teachers.

3. Privateers and now the governor and his staff have discerned this and have told the unions that the game has changed and this is how things are going to be.

4. Our unions, to their credit sort of, have finally realized that they have been used and are letting the power brokers know that their plans are not going to fly.

5. It is time for us teachers to tell everyone, so-called education reform leaders and our unions, that we require support for our classrooms and our students.

And, you know what, everyone who has been involved with public education, especially in our districts that are deemed to be failing, knows exactly what I am talking about.

Let’s cut the cow-pucky and pass legislation that supports the bottom of the education hierarchy (students and teachers)instead of those above the classroom.

posted by: truth Avenger | April 14, 2012  12:30pm

Mr. Valenti- Look up from your previous post.  You will readily see the breadth and extent of Ms. Rossomando’s knowledge of, and action on the issues with regard to facing down the Governor- SB24, and actively engaging in her role as an education and union leader.  If Google is the metric by which you define leadership and activism, you have a very limited idea of what it takes to lead an organization the size and scope of CEA. You are entitled to run for the office of your choosing, but perhaps you should be more selective in those you choose to find fault with.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | April 14, 2012  1:34pm



Let the parents vote with their feet. Freedom! Democracy! Choice! FreeMarkets!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS | April 14, 2012  4:43pm

Jeff Klaus | April 13, 2012 4:39pm

Do you think that regular taxpayers get to keep their jobs based on seniority?

These workers do.In fact for life.

Should We End Life Tenure for Justices?

Published: April 13, 2012

Bring the Justices Back to Earth


Published: April 9, 2012

posted by: truth Avenger | April 15, 2012  7:39am

To GoatBoyPHD: Problem with your statement is that it is a false choice- a red herring floating in a toxic mix of untested mandates that do anything but give freedom and choice.  In fact, freedom is the loser in the SB24 paradigm that seeks to impose fixes to problems that don’t exist in some cases, and creates new problems that do not advance the ostensible goals of the Bill. Drill a little deeper and you will find a reform movement that is driven largely by monied interests seeking to seize control in a framework that marginalizes teachers,treats students like a test score, and removes choices from local districts that may need additional support, not top-down centralized reform coups. Your cry for “Free Markets!” Sounds much like the rhetoric that was, in part, responsible for the the near-depression and collapse of our markets, the economy, and our ability to readily extract ourselves from the consequences of a runaway free market.  Parents are going to vote with their feet alright - feet that are pointed at legislator’s bottoms when they realize the scope of the flim-flam being perpetuated by the Governor and his silent partners in the guise of school reform. Be careful what you ask for.

posted by: Linda12 | April 15, 2012  7:55am

Jeff K:  educate yourself….state employees do keep their jobs based upon seniority and get bonuses just for coming back each year.

Roy and Dannel, since you want to get rid of seniority for teachers, why don’t you start with your own employees first….you can talk the talk, now walk the walk…

Roy, did you get a bonus?,0,4512626.column

posted by: David T. | April 16, 2012  9:47am

Mr. Occhiogrosso is a master at historical revision and serves Master Malloy well. 

I am a teacher, I read SB24 in its entirety, fully understand its implications, and I reject it.  I met with my state senator and representative, discussed each aspect of the bill in detail, provided classroom examples of how this bill will negatively impact student outcomes, and offered alternatives.  I’m happy to say that many of these alternatives have been embedded in the Education Committee’s alternative bill.  The committee works on education issues full time, unlike the governor who prepares half baked reform ideas, served up by corporate interests salivating over the profits to be made in privatizing education.

We need to trust those who know most about education from the ground up – teachers, the political organizations representing them, and the Education Committee which specialize in creating legislation to promote educational excellence.

posted by: ConcernedVoter | April 16, 2012  7:16pm

The governor and his cronies continue to tell and then swear to each other’s lies.  The town halls were a big joke with such limited information and outright lies told about the bill.