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Democratic Lawmakers Criticize Foley’s Education Policies; Foley Defends Market Approach

by | Sep 24, 2014 12:20pm
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Posted to: Education, Election 2014

Hugh McQuaid photo

House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz and Rep. Andrew Fleischmann

(Updated 2:56 p.m.) Legislative Democrats mocked a set of education policies outlined by Tom Foley, saying the Republican governor candidate has failed to provide substantive proposals.

The lawmakers staged a press conference Wednesday on the steps of the state Capitol to rebut a recent television ad by Foley, the Republican challenger to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. In the ad, Foley says he has a “plan for making every school in Connecticut great.”

“Five bullet points—that’s a postcard. That’s not a plan,” Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, co-chairman of the legislature’s Education Committee, said.

Fleischmann was referencing a section of a general 9-page plan, which Foley released last month. The plan contains less than one page on education ideas, which included grading schools on an A-F basis and giving parents more ability to move their kids from underperforming schools. The section calls for implementing “money follows the child” and establishing new tests for third graders and high schoolers.

The Democratic lawmakers said the outline fails to live up to the claims in Foley’s new ad.

“Tom Foley’s recent ad also says he will ‘make our schools better.’ He might as well say ‘I’m going to make all of your children smarter and above average.’ It’s rhetoric with absolutely no substance,” Fleischmann said.

House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz said the lack of detail in the plan insulted voters and legislators who worked on education reform.

To say ‘Everything is going to be great, A+ school systems’ and then offer five measly points with very little or no substance to them on how that’s going to happen is very insulting,” he said.

Malloy began running his own ad on education this week. The one minute-spot touts Malloy’s decision to increase funding to education even while facing a large budget deficit and a reduction in federal stimulus funds.

At the press conference, Aresimowicz said those investments have seen graduation rates rising in cities like New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport.

“Those are results we should be proud of. Those are what we said the people of Connecticut four years ago that we were going to take positive steps on education,” he said.

Fleischmann was critical of Foley’s support of “money follows the child,” a controversial funding mechanism that shifts money when a child leaves a public school district to attend a charter school. Under the proposal, the district would pay the charter school to educate the child. The state would deduct the money from the town’s Education Cost Sharing grant and send it directly to the charter school.

Public school advocates and teacher unions say the move would take money away from underperforming public schools and create winners and losers among school districts.

“It’s pretty outrageous when you consider that [Foley’s proposal] is one sentence with no explanation of how it would work,” Fleischmann said. “The one time that someone actually tried to put a bill forward on this topic, we ended up with 167 pages that even the proponents could not explain.”

In 2011, the legislature’s Education Committee refused to even give a bill that included the “money follows the child” concept a public hearing.

Christine Stuart photo

Tom Foley on the green in New Britain

At a New Britain press conference Wednesday afternoon, Foley said he would ask local school districts with schools that are not performing to offer in-district school choice. He would combine that with “money follows the child.” Those two things combined means “the marketplace starts to exert pressure on schools to perform better,” he said.

He said underperforming schools should be on notice if he’s elected governor because those are the schools that would receive fewer funds.

“They should start trying to be better schools right away,” Foley said. 

He said if they don’t improve with fewer resources and lose too many students then they’ll be reconstituted.

If the local communities have the ability to reconstitute the school then they should be allowed to do that, Foley said.

“The city should be able to fix these problems on their own with the state funding that’s available,” Foley said. “If they can’t then the state has a duty, an obligation to come in and help.”

Is this the tough love approach to education?

“I don’t see it as tough love. I see it as institutions that aren’t performing lose. Yeah, that’s kind of the way the private sector works and it ought to be the way the schools work.”

So some schools will close as a result of this and other schools will get more resources? “Yeah,” Foley said.

Christine Stuart contributed to this report.

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(12) Archived Comments

posted by: JH_1 | September 24, 2014  12:43pm

This is typical liberal counter attack to anything republicans propose… “where is the detail?”  Man, liberals really stick with the same strategy from top to bottom.


Clearly incumbents always have the upper hand on level of detail since they have access to resources and other details challengers don’t have access to. 


I can’t remember the details from the 2010 CT campaign so I can’t criticize that, but what did Mr. Obama run on in 2008?  Hope and change! In 2012, Osama Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive!  Wow, that substance and detail really blew me away!


When the ACA was passed, no liberals asked for the details of what’s in it.  Per Pelosi, you have to pass it to see what’s in it.


Not advocating Foley’s plan over Malloy’s since I haven’t taken the time to compare the two.  I’m just tired of the same line of attack being used by liberals for everything… “show me the details…” 


Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

posted by: Ed McKeon | September 24, 2014  1:41pm

Foley’s voucher plan is a nightmarish joke, no doubt.  It would destroy public education and foster privatization in another grand charade posing as reform. But the Dems should think twice before letting Fleischmann act as chief critic.  He is a supporter of charter schools, and had to have his hand forced by Republican lawmakers to hold even a single public hearing on the negative effects of Common Core.  I was at the hearing and I can attest that he was arrogant and dismissive of anyone who would critique Pryor, Common Core, or education reform as pushed by his education committee.  He was also a supporter of Sharpe and Jumoke, before he wasn’t.  Frightening that between Foley’s plan and Malloy’s plan, public education doesn’t stand a chance.

posted by: MGKW | September 24, 2014  4:10pm

What a joke… We have defunded education since Reagan with block grants and property taxes and now Tom Foley wants to offer the standard Republican self-fulfilling solution..vouchers…good luck getting that past the state legislature, and the parents and the teachers…the money offered will hardly pay for other private schools. If parents would participate more in the running of their school districts then this would not be an issue. Both my kids are products of a public school education…one is in sports entertainment(ESPN) and other is a lawyer…I cared about my kids education..that was the difference along with a school district population that believed that funding creates opportunities for all.

posted by: CT Jim | September 24, 2014  7:04pm

So JH_1 are you deflecting by using the word liberal? That’s so 2005. You see liberal isn’t a bad word anymore. Now conservative is another story. That is directly associated with extreme mental illness. So is it wrong for a concerned voter to ask for a few details whether they are liberal or not? Obviously you comparing Foley with Pilosi makes no sense at all. She actually has some experience in public policy and the ACA seems to be doing better every day. And why would she need to have details when those on the right were talking about death panels and an IRS takeover of the health care system 6 months before it was written. It’s like most things, it’s the details that will destroy you. He’s been running for governor for 6 years you’d think he’d have volumes of details.

posted by: Commuter | September 24, 2014  10:26pm

@JH_1 - appreciate your candor and qualifying your remarks by saying you haven’t read them, but in the case of Foley’s plan, you’ve no need. It is just the bullet points.

To answer your question, in 2010 Malloy published a detailed public policy statement on his website. The Malloy campaign and its supporters have every right to criticize Foley’s substanceless, bunting and b*llsh*t “proposal.” There is no hypocrisy there.

You’re also mistaken about the ACA, although it has nothing to do with the subject at hand; nor do Obama’s campaigns. There was a long, drawn out period of debate leading up to ACA - as in decades. And the particulars were discussed in great detail.

Aside from all of that, McKinney provides a counter example of a GOP campaign that was pretty specific about what he intended.

The criticism of Foley is valid and well-earned.

posted by: GBear423 | September 25, 2014  6:56am

GBear423

I like the idea that Foley allows the Municipalities to fix the problem first with State funding. I also am old fashioned and would like our State to go to a Public School System only. Administration of any organization funded by tax dollars will have abuses and waste (as seen here in CT w FUSE). Its more cost effective to have one Public School system and within that system develop solutions to address problem schools/communities. The Charter School approach has had success, take what is good and apply it.

CCSS should be removed, our dependence on federal funds actually cost our citizens much more than what we receive. That and the fact that it is designed to inflate the profits of the corporate education industry is distasteful.

posted by: One and Done | September 25, 2014  8:53am

Next Democrats will compare Foley to Adrian Peterson. 

Team Malloy is getting desperate.  By November the average parent will realize what a disaster common core is and this campaign will totally be in the gutter.

posted by: Noteworthy | September 25, 2014  11:08am

Connecticut spends more per kid on education than just about anybody in the whole country. The NY Times wrote several years ago, that if spending were the answer to poor performance and the education gap, Connecticut would have solved its problem long ago. Sadly it has not - and one of the reasons are the very lawmakers at this press conference.

The Democrats did not involve Republicans - they crafted their “reforms” behind closed doors, in secret and consequently, they are lopsided. Spending more money, approving more charter schools, moving schools from local control and responsibility to the governor, spends a lot more but doesn’t enure to the child’s benefit hardly at all. They really want to take credit for embracing the dumbing down of curriculum into common core? Graduation rates are the result of state action? Really? And what’s the quality of education for those who graduate? In a few words, it’s really, really poor. More than 90% of those who go on to college, need remedial help. In short, they are unprepared for college. If they are unprepared for college, those who don’t go, are they prepared for life?

These guys should look in the mirror and hold a press conference not to diminish and denigrate with phrases hatched by a political flunkie - but to apologize for doing such a damn poor job.

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 25, 2014  11:23am

Dmocratic partisan Malloy lawmakers led by Joe Arisimowicz conveniently do not find fault in Gov.
dannel Malloy, the man who has been in the driver’s seat on education, but instead fault a passerby in Tom Foley, who is not responsible for Malloy’s education folly. Besides replacing Malloy, we have tr replace his failed education policies.

posted by: art vandelay | September 25, 2014  12:56pm

art vandelay

I agree schools should compete with each other and money should follow the child.  Representative Fleishmann is so beholding to the Teachers Unions that this would NEVER happen.  Fleishmann also holds every town in this state hostage by not abolishing Minimal Educational Requirements.  In essence what this law states is that once an education budget increases it can NEVER decrease ever. This simply translates to ever higher property taxes.  It’s the prime reason why people who are retired and on fixed incomes cannot afford to stay in their houses.  This mandate needs SERIOUS revisions.

posted by: SocialButterfly | September 25, 2014  2:22pm

Our problem is that education budgets in town and cities keep increasing EVERY YEAR, for the wrong reasons, to pay for union mandated automatic annual pay increases, NOT EDUCATION, with unions keeping a financial strangle-hold on our besieged taxpayers who get their property taxes increased every year whether they have the money or not, so that teachers MUST have an automatic raise.  The UNION DISEASE sent our business and industry abroad resulting is staggering job losses and is now systematically devouring our education system. Unfortunately, our political leadership does not care.

posted by: art vandelay | September 26, 2014  6:30am

art vandelay

@SocialButterfly,
You hit the nail right on the head.  You’re 100% correct.