Conn. group fights to end seniority-based layoffs for teachers
Ohanian Comment: I saw the story below in the Boston Globe; it was also sent hout in ASCD's SmartBrief daily mailing, highlighted in category of "Professional Leadership." [Remember, ASCD just received $3 million from the Gates Foundation.] As an Associated Press story, you can expect it to pop up across the country. And be aware of the group behind behind the story: ConnCAN: Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now. One of their stated functions is to get such items into the media. They already feature the Boston Globe item on their website.
ConnCAN says they Fix poverty by fixing schools. And here's how they do it: ConnCAN creates informed citizens with a commitment to common sense education reform through a combination of media work, electronic communications and social networking, publications, on-the-ground community organizing, partnerships with like-minded civic and community groups and events. Then, we make it easy for Connecticut’s growing cadre of education reform advocates to take meaningful and impactful action through our e-advocacy system.
Getting a story placed in the Associated Press is part of their "media work."
NOTE: Casual mention of teachers with "with well-documented ineptitude" is becoming our modern day version of presidential candidate Ronald Reagan's "welfare cheat queen" [who had eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and was collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands]. Currently employed teachers should not feed this teacher ineptitude myth by saying, "Yes, there are bad teachers. . . ." Talk about the good ones.
Note Ron Howard on the Board of Advisors. A committed Democrat, he lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Maybe someone can get to him to get off this board.
ConnCAN Chief Executive Officer
[from ConnCAN website] Alex Johnston is Chief Executive Officer of ConnCAN. As ConnCAN's first employee, Alex launched what is now regarded as one of the nation's leading state-level education reform organizations. In the five years since, he had led ConnCAN's effort to advocate for state policies that will ensure every Connecticut child has access to a great public school. In 2009, ConnCAN achieved three major legislative victories through its 'Mind the Gaps' campaign: overhauling the state's teacher certification rules, opening up stories of longitudinal student achievement data to the public and securing $8 million of funding for the expansion of high-performing public charter schools in the midst of an $8 billion state budget deficit. In 2010, ConnCAN's 'Our Race to the Top' campaign helped secure a new teacher evaluation system that incorporates student achievement growth, the adoption of the Common Core Standards, and a new pathway for certification for talented classroom teachers to become principals.
Before helping to found ConnCAN, Alex Johnston directed operations at the New Haven Housing Authority, working as a member of the management team tasked with turning the agency around from the brink of receivership. A graduate of Harvard University, Alex received a D. Phil. in politics from Oxford's Lincoln College on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he studied the impact of government funding on nonprofit service providers. Alex serves on the state commission charged with developing Connecticut's P-20 data system, is a member of the National Charter School Resource Center Advisory Board, chairs the Policy Innovators in Education Network steering committee, and sits on the New Haven Board of Education.
Directors & Advisors.
Board of Directors
Brian Olson, Chair
* Co-Founder, Viking Global Investors
* Chairman, Civic Builders
* Principal, Carl Marks Management, LLC
* Director, Bridgeport Public Education Fun
* Former Vice President of Finance, Ultimate Software Group
* Former Senior VP, Greenwich Capital Markets
* Former Member, Stamford Board of Representatives
John N. Irwin III
* Managing Director, Brookside International
* President, Achelis and Bodman Foundation
* Treasurer, Wildlife Conservation Society
Michael M. Kassen
* Former Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, Neuberger Berman
* Lubben Capital Management, LLC
Jonathan Sackler, Past Chair
* Founder and Managing Director, North Bay Associates
* Director, Purdue Pharma
* Vice Chairman, Micro Credit Businesses, Inc.
* Founder, Shumway Capital and Shumway Capital Foundation
* Founder, Yannix Management LP
* Vice Chair, Norwalk Children’s Foundation
* Vice Chairman, Maverick Capital Foundation
* Former Principal, Maverick Capital, Ltd.
* Former Partner and Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
* Board of Directors, Outward Bound
* Board of Directors, International Justice Mission
* Former Chairman and CEO, Xerox Corporation
* Former Chairman, Ford Foundation
* Trustee Emeritus of Carnegie-Mellon University
Lorraine M. Aronson
* Former Vice President and CFO, University of Connecticut
* Director, Hartford Education Foundation
* Former Connecticut Deputy Commissioner of Education
Dr. Philip E. Austin
* Former President, University of Connecticut
* Board Member, MetroHartford Regional Economic Alliance
* Member, Governor’s Council on Economic Competitiveness and Technology
* President-Executive Director, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority
* Mayor, Newark, NJ
* Former Senior Fellow, Rutgers School of Public Policy and Planning
* Member, Board of Directors of the Black Alliance for Educational Options
Christopher P. Bruhl
* President and CEO, The Business Council of Fairfield County (SACIA)
* Director, Connecticut Public Broadcasting Corporation
Dr. William J. Cibes, Jr.
* Former Chancellor, Connecticut State University System
* Former Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Connecticut General Assembly
* Former Secretary, Office of Policy and Management
* Co-Chairwoman, Children’s Agency of Norwalk
* Trustee, Norwalk Community College
* Trustee, Critelli Family Foundation
Reverend Lindsay E. Curtis
* Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Norwalk
* Chairman, Norwalk Children’s Foundation
* President, NAACP Norwalk Branch
John M. Danielson
* President and CEO, Chartwell Education Group
* Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Education • Director, Center for Education Reform
Jonathan T. Dawson
* Chairman and CEO, Dawson Capital Management
* Co-Founder, New Beginnings Family Academy
* Director, Bridge Academy
* Former President, Connecticut Charter School Network
Dr. Howard Fuller
* Founder and Chairman, Black Alliance for Educational Options
* Former Superintendent, Milwaukee Public Schools
* Board Member, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
* Director, MassMutual Financial Group
* Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Hartford Public School System
* President and CEO, Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
* Director, Regional Leadership Council
* Founder and Former Chairman, Oak Investment Partners
* Founder and Chairman, Alternative Investment Group, LLC
Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D., M.Ed.
* Co-Chair, Early Childhood Education Cabinet Member, P-16 Council and CT Youth Vision Team
* Former Deputy Commissioner, Departments of Public Health, Mental Retardation and DCF
* Former Director of Health Service, DOC
Dr. Walter Harrison
* President, University of Hartford
* Director, Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges
* Director, The Hartford Consortium for Higher Education
* Co-CEO, The Ashforth Company
* Former Chairman, The Business Council of Southwestern Connecticut (SACIA)
Marc S. Herzog
* Chancellor, Connecticut Community College System
* Member, National Council of State Directors, American Association of Community Colleges
Duane E. Hill
* Founder and Former Partner, TSG Capital Group
* Former Vice President, J.P. Morgan and Co.
* Former Chairman, City of Stamford CT Planning Board
* Vice Chairman, Stamford Achieves
Carlton L. Highsmith
* Founder, President and CEO, Specialized Packing Group
* Director, Quinnipiac University
* National Board of Directors, I Have a Dream Foundation
* Co-Chairman, Imagine Entertainment
* Awarded Best Director, Directors Guild of America, “Apollo 13”
* Awarded an Oscar, Best Director, “A Beautiful Mind”
Catherine Viscardi Johnston
* Partner, Midway Communications, LLC
* Former Executive Vice President, Conde Nast Publications, Inc.
* Co-Founder and Director, Harlem Village Academy and Leadership Village Academy
* Regional President, Webster Bank
* Former Market President, Bank of America
* Former Education Committee Chairman, Regional Leadership Council
* Former member, Governor’s Commission on Education Finance
* Founder and President, The K Group
* Director, Cities In Schools, Norwalk
George Knox III
* Former Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris Companies
* Director and Vice-Chairman, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
* Trustee, African American Experience Foundation
Konrad "Chip" Kruger
* Former Co-President and Co-CEO, Greenwich Capital Markets
* Co-Founder, Five Mile Capital Partners LLC
Dr. Richard C. Levin
* President, Yale University
* Director, Hewlett Foundation
* Chairman, AllLearn, a joint venture of Yale, Oxford, and Stanford universities.
Dr. Julia M. McNamara
* President, Albertus Magnus College
* Chairwoman, Yale New Haven Health Services Corporation
* Director, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
* Partner, O’Connor Davies Munns and Dobbins LLP
* Founder and Former Chairman, SoundWaters
Dr. Cheryl Norton
* President, Southern Connecticut State University
Anthony P. Rescigno
* President, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce
* Executive Director, Regional Leadership Council
* Member of the Board, New Haven Public Education Fund
Dr. Theodore Sergi
* Former Connecticut State Commissioner of Education
* President and CEO, Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration
Reverend Eric B. Smith
* Pastor, Adoni Spiritual Formation Center of New Haven
* President, New Haven Reparations Coalition
* Member of the Board, Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund
* Founder and President, The Connecticut Forum
* Board Chairman, Connecticut Center for School Change
Allan B. Taylor
* Partner, Day Berry and Howard LLP
* Chairman, Connecticut State Board of Education
* Former Councilman, Hartford City Council
Tom Vander Ark
* Managing Director at Revolution Learning
* Former President, X PRIZE Foundation
* Former Executive Director, Gates Education Initiative
* Former Superintendent, of Schools, Federal Way, Washington State
Conn. group fights to end seniority-based layoffs for teachers
by Stephanie Reitz, Associated Press
HARTFORD — Leaders and supporters of a Connecticut group seeking education law changes are pushing lawmakers to stop school districts from using seniority to determine which teachers could face budget-related layoffs.
Leaders and supporters of Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, including the superintendent of Hartford's schools, have criticized "last in, first out" seniority-based layoff policies for years and reiterated their opposition yesterday in a gathering at the state Capitol.
They say this year's state and local budget constraints make layoffs a real threat to talented new teachers, who are first in line for cuts in many districts while seniority shields other teachers even with well-documented ineptitude.
"We've got to find a way to factor in teacher performance to the layoff process, and that's what we're here today calling on the General Assembly to do,’’ School Superintendent Steve Tracy of Derby said Tuesday.
Derby’s Teacher of the Year is among those facing possible layoffs because, despite her skills, she has only three years of seniority, the superintendent said.
However, representatives of the state’s largest teachers union say four-fifths of the districts where they represent educators already have factors beyond seniority to determine layoff decisions.
Those procedures are best set at the local level in collective bargaining rather than by legislative mandate, they said.
“In districts that have negotiated this, it works,’’ said Mary Loftus Levine, policy director for the Connecticut Education Association union. “We think we need a reality check here. What we need are solutions, not scapegoats.’’
Any legislative changes to prohibit seniority-based layoffs in Connecticut would have to be approved by June 8, when the General Assembly adjourns.
A bill died in the Legislature’s Education Committee this spring, so the item could be revived only if the coalition persuades lawmakers to tack on the measure to another active bill.
Coalition chief executive officer Alex Johnston would not say whether specific legislators have promised to push the measure, but said Tuesday that they "wouldn't be here today if we didn't think there was a real chance of passing this."
State law requires school districts to notify nontenured teachers by April 1 if there is a possibility they could be laid off, but in stable budget years, those notices are later rescinded as budgets are settled.
This year, education officials say job cuts are inevitable in some districts because Connecticut's state aid to districts is not increasing and one-time federal stimulus grants for education are running out in many communities.
The Connecticut Education Association says that of the 146 contracts in school districts where they represent teachers, only 26 have seniority as the sole factor in determining layoff order.
But in communities like Hartford, where teachers are represented by a different union, the layoff rules are so strict that if two teachers are hired on the same day and one must later be laid off, the tie is broken by an uncontrollable factor: the last figure of their Social Security number.
"Surely there's other data that we have, objective data we can use, other than a number assigned to people randomly at birth to determine which teachers should stay and which should go," Johnston said.
About 700 public school teaching jobs disappeared last year in Connecticut through retirements, attrition, and layoffs.
It marked the first dip in about a decade, leaving about 52,700 full- and part-time positions on the books statewide.
Hundreds of nontenured teachers received warnings by April 1 that they could be laid off later this year, though final decisions will not be made until after state and local budgets are settled, probably in June.
Stephanie Reitz, Associated Press
INDEX OF OUTRAGES