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Sausage Making Isn’t Pretty, But It Will Get Done

by Christine Stuart | Mar 23, 2012 11:30am
(9) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy remained confident Thursday that once the legislature’s Education Committee finishes making revisions to his 163-page education bill “we will have a very robust educational reform package to act on.“

“Legislation is a lot like making sausage,” Malloy said after a meeting with African-American clergy. “And I’ve made sausage and I never served in the legislature. It’s not pretty, it’s work and it’s getting done.”

The co-chairs of the Education Committee have been working on the bill behind closed doors and have been mum about the changes they will ask the committee to vote on as early as next week.

Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, co-chairman of the committee, said he respects the closed-door nature of the negotiations and hopes others would too. He said he doesn’t plan on saying anything about the changes to the bill until it’s finished.

Earlier this week he said they were “close” but refused to say what areas were under discussion.

Perhaps the most controversial portion of the legislation involves Malloy’s proposal to make teachers earn and certification through new job evaluation process based partially on student performance.

During a meeting with African-American clergy he was urged to focus on student achievement. A handful of people in the room expressed concern about how the public dialogue has been focused on the professional teaching requirements and tenure and not the students.

“There are a number of things that frustrate me, but I can’t allow my frustrations to interfere with what we have to do. And what we have to do is get a robust reform package passed in this legislative session,” Malloy said. “If it doesn’t we’ll be back doing it again.”

In an editorial that ran in the Journal Inquirer this weekend, Malloy said having to choose between student achievement and tenure reform is a false choice.

“Some have suggested over the past few weeks that rather than reforming tenure we should be directing more resources to struggling students. That’s a false choice; I think we should be doing both,” he wrote

Aside from the provisions regarding teacher tenure there are several more distractions offered by the legislation, which have several lawmakers concerned.

First there was the provision to ensure, no matter what happened with a lawsuit challenging the takeover of the Bridgeport Public Schools by the state, that an appointed Board of Education could remain in charge. The attorney representing two of the former Bridgeport Board of Education members was so concerned the legislature would take action earlier this month to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling he held office hours in the Capitol.

It’s unclear if the Bridgeport language will remain in the bill or if the Education Committee will leave it up to the courts to sort the matter out. The court ruled in late February that the replacement of the school board was flawed because it ignored a training provision for the elected members before replacing them with appointed members. As it weaves its way through the court, no election has been scheduled and the appointed board remains.

Then there’s language that allows the Education Commission to offer superintendents a certification waiver and lets them join the state Teachers Retirement System.

Blogger Jonathan Pelto has surmised that the provision would benefit Steven Adamowski, the former superintendent in Hartford who is currently the special master in Windham.

“I don’t think there’s an Adamowski provision,” Malloy said. “If we decide that it’s acceptable to get the best talent from other states to come into our state to be superintendents they should be treated as the talent in the state is being treated.”

“But whether it’s in or not, it’s not the biggest issue about education reform before us I can assure you,” Malloy added.

“Under current statute, only certified education professionals are eligible for a pension,“ state Education Department’s spokesman Mark Linabury said earlier this week. “Anyone who has their certification waived is not eligible for the pension system.“

Adamowski has not earned his certification yet. But any superintendent that currently has it could now be eligible for a pension if the provision stays in the bill.

“As Connecticut moves to attract the best superintendent candidates from across the country, some of whom may not have Connecticut certification, we aim to offer them access to a pension or we will not be competitive with the many other states and districts also recruiting them,” Linabury said.

The teacher unions aren’t enamored with the provision.

“The question is how does this improve the education of children,” Eric Bailey spokesman for AFT Connecticut said. “It doesn’t.”

The legislation includes a number of special provisions for various constituencies. It gives a pass to the Big Picture School in Bloomfield, which has been struggling to meet its diversity requirements under the landmark court decision Sheff v. O’Neill.

The state Department of Education “agreed to continue funding the school at current levels for the upcoming year; however, this requires legislation to allow the continuation in funding,” Linabury said.

Then there’s the issue of funding and which districts will receive more money than others.

There’s a provision in the bill that would give from $3,000 to $6,000 more per student to two towns if they increased the number of out-of-district students.

“The idea here is to incentivize large districts to increase the number of out-of-district students they accept into the district in pursuit of the integration goals of the Sheff decision,” Linabury said.

However, the only two towns that would benefit based on how the language in the bill is written are Hartford and West Hartford.

One legislative fix has already been made to the proposal and that’s to maintain funding for Norwalk Public Schools.

Earlier this week the Norwalk delegation announced that the $72,000 loss in education funding they received under Malloy’s original bill will be restored. According to a press release, the agreement to restore the funding was reached through discussions between Sen. Bob Duff, House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, and Malloy’s administration.

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(9) Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | March 23, 2012  11:48am

The details of this expensive and deeply flawed legislation pretending to be real education reform are being worked out behind closed doors and Rep. Andrew Fleischmann says we should respect that process.

I don’t. It ought to be done in public - you are paid with public dollars; our sky high taxes from every orifice we have fund this process, the massive debt and the sorry results that come from it. It should see the light of day, be openly debated and the perk and pampering allocated to Adamowski and any other superintendent certified or not, ought to be stripped out.

With all due respect to Malloy, or not, I would hardly characterize education reform with the tired, over-used words of “sausage making.” Most sausage, especially the lower end stuff, is made from scraps not fit for the table or the trash. If that’s what you intend to produce, scrap it and start over with real meat, seasoned well and packaged so we can all see what it’s made of instead of dumping it into some murky sause and told to eat it.

posted by: jonpelto | March 23, 2012  1:00pm

Today we see the ultimate example of Governor Malloy’s approach to making public policy.

I have written extensively about a section of Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill that changes Connecticut’s pension law so that Steven Adamowski, the former superintendent in Hartford, who is now the special master in Windham can add to his state-funded pension despite the fact that only people who hold an education certificate can participate in the Teachers Retirement System.

Now, when CTNewsjunkie asked him about this issue, Malloy’s response was “I don’t think there’s an Adamowski provision…If we decide that it’s acceptable to get the best talent from other states to come into our state to be superintendents they should be treated as the talent in the state is being treated.”

FACT:  Section 32 of Senate Bill 24, Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill, adds a sentence to Connecticut State Statute 10-183b (26) which defines who can participate in the Teacher Retirement System.
Starting on 3573 the bill expands who can participate in the Teachers Retirement System with the words “a superintendent employed by a local or regional board of education on or after July 1, 2007, pursuant to subsection (c) of section 10-157, as amended by this act.”

There is one person in Connecticut, in fact there is only one person in the entire United States of America that matches that criteria and that one person is Steven Adamowski. 

In Connecticut you cannot be a superintendent of schools unless you hold a valid certificate. 

In 2007, Steven Adamowski got the legislature to pass a new law that allowed the commissioner of education to waive that requirement. 

That provision of the law is now 10-157 and Connecticut’s commissioner of education used that provision for four years in a row to allow Adamowski to stay working in Hartford.

As superintendent, Adamowski made $225,000 a year plus benefits. 

Now, even though he didn’t have a certificate and even though he made no effort to get a certificate, Governor Malloy’s Administration has added language which would allow this one person to be the ONLY non-certified person in the entire Teachers Retirement System.

There are 45,000 teachers and 9,000 school administrators who followed the rules, took the tests, are certified by the state of Connecticut and are therefore eligible to be in the Teachers Retirement System. 

The Governor’s bill changes the law to allow one person to skip the rules and get a much larger pension.  A pension that could eventually exceed $100,000 a year and Malloy’s answer is “I don’t think there’s an Adamowski provision…”

So, once again we are faced with a dilemma.  Is Dan Malloy simply lying or does he actually not understand what is in the bill that he proposed and – and if not – how is that possible. 

Whether it is this special deal for a big education reform supporter or one of the other equally inappropriate sections of this bill – how is it possible that the governor of Connecticut doesn’t know what is in it.

It is a simple question with profound ramifications.

posted by: justsayin | March 23, 2012  1:07pm

Where to begin…Special deals, back room negotiating the The Dannel “re-phrasing” what he stated earlier about tenure, sounds like sound government to me. What about the kids? This bill is a farce, a few adequate ideas nothing tangible.

posted by: JMC | March 23, 2012  2:05pm

So now Gov. Malloy will bring in out-of-staters who will plug into (i.e. loot) the underfunded CT State Teachers’ Pension and Health Care funds. Is this why he wants retired teachers to contribute more to their Health Care($7.5 million this year)?
Furthermore, the figures showing test score improvements in Hartford now look massaged, as demonstrated by Jonathan Pelto. Adamowski, their architect, thus comes across as a “fire and maneuver artist”, i.e an “expert” who shakes, stirs, churns, and moves upward before results are clear. Is this also going to be the Governor’s playbook on his journey to national political prominence? Can he read his own bill?

posted by: ... | March 23, 2012  2:32pm

...

Ugh Jon, did you really need to copypasta about 2/3 of your latest blog to CTNJ? You’ve hyper-linked it before just fine.

posted by: Linda12 | March 23, 2012  9:09pm

To Steve Jones,

We wouldnt know anythng about the special provision for Adamowski if it wasn’t for Jon Pelto.  What does it matter if he cuts and pastes vs. citing the link?  He did all the research the the work. You didn’t. The newspapers didn’t. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

posted by: brutus2011 | March 23, 2012  10:12pm

brutus2011

I want to see education executives at all levels be required to publish an accounting of exactly where our public funds are allocated.
Perhaps we need an education version of the SEC?
I’m serious—we don’t know where the money is really going.
Its time we find out.

posted by: state_employee | March 24, 2012  9:20am

we know where the money is going.  it is going to malloys elite in high places.  (adamowski) and friends.  he is setting up a system that will funnel money to private corporations at the kids and teachers expense.  two for the price of one teachers.  no job security, no certs needed.  can someone tell me how this will help the kids. 
and thank you to jonathan pelto for uncovering the hidden agendas.  malloy is a snake.

posted by: lkulmann | March 24, 2012  12:05pm

When my mother made sausage, she would use just few ingredients. Every year it tasted better than the last. I guess that comes with practice and consistency and the passion to make it the better every year. If you buy sausage, most brands have fillers and unnecessary ingredients. Now health conscious people are trying to eat healthier and cut out all the fluff.  It’s just healthier for the body systems. IMO cutting out toxins from ANY system will allow it to heal and restore itself to a healthier State.  Looks like Governor Malloy is making sausage with the all non toxic ingredients left in the education system. Mmmm…yummy! I can’t wait to see how it comes out!