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Joseph Ricciotti, a retired educator, asks the question posed in the title: Why are Democrats in Connecticut acting like Republicans?
He cites the advice of two veteran Connecticut teachers who expressed the hope that Governor Dannel Malloy would replace outgoing Commissioner Stefan Pryor with an educator. Imagine! An educator as state commissioner of education!
It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist for Gov. Malloy and President Obama to know that the Democrats across the nation lost in the mid-term elections because they governed like Republicans.
What will it take for Malloy and Obama to understand that teachers are among the Democrats largest constituency and cannot be taken for granted. In simple terms, teachers and parents are disgusted with the privatization movement with its focus on high-stakes testing and teacher evaluations tied to the tests.
It is a well known fact that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has earned the dubious distinction from many teachers and parents as a misguided, non-educator secretary with his agenda of testing, punitive accountability and, most of all, Common Core.
In essence, these principles are Republican principles and Democrats cannot win elections by acting like Republicans. If, for example, Jeb Bush were to be president, Common Core would undoubtedly be his highest priority.
Commissioner Pryor, another non-educator, also shares this vilification in Connecticut as both Pryor and Duncan should be replaced with educators that meet the criteria suggested by the award winning teachers from Ridgefield.
The Connecticut Department of Education under Pryor is now an agency without credibility, driven by special interests, charter school advocates and ideologies that are not based in reality. Pryor and other corporate reformers have discounted the real factors that hold children back: poverty, fear and instability.
Sadly, it is their belief that “bad teachers” are responsible for troubled schools and that the student SBAC tests aligned with Common Core will somehow expose “bad teachers” by partly basing teacher evaluations on student test scores. In essence, these beliefs are systematically destroying confidence in public education and, as a result, Commissioner Pryor has lost the confidence of teachers and parents.
It is time for new leadership and a new direction for public education in Connecticut.