It is difficult to believe as a life-long educator that the media has yet to ask any of the presidential candidates about their views on K-12 public education. It is a well known fact the public education in Connecticut and across the nation has suffered immensely as an outgrowth of the policies of the George W. Bush administration with its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program. Likewise, public education continued its downward spiral as a result of President Barack Obama’s appointment of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who ushered in the disastrous Race to the Top along with the Common Core State Standards.
So Gov. Dannel “Giveaway” Malloy is offering “incentives” to keep General Electric’s 800 corporate employees here. How nice. This is an affront to all the other businesses in the state that have to keep paying high taxes and get no relief at all from the state. And to top it off, the taxes that all the other companies do pay will be used to provide the incentives to keep GE in the state! I’m sure they will be really happy about that.
Today’s state budget crisis is as structurally deep as the Grand Canyon. I have watched this closely since 1991. It is the result of financial negligence in every budget adopted over two decades. It is insane that our budget has increased 255 percent since 1991. And we haven’t even paid all our bills along the way. To have $65 billion in unfunded liabilities, an amazing three and a half times our annual budget, and an increase of outstanding bonded debt from $9 billion to $21 billion since 1991, is criminal in my mind. And believe me folks, this is just getting started.
There clearly is a renewed interest in Republican ideals, and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s record $2 billion tax hike on Connecticut families will only continue to fuel the public’s pivot to a more responsible government. The challenge for the CT GOP is to figure out how to harness the public’s renewed interest in Republican principles, and convert local successes into statewide victories.
Can you imagine a neighborhood in West Hartford in which two or three of the children on the cul-de-sac attend a charter school, funded with $11,000 per student per year of taxpayer money and promoted as a superior school, while all the other children in the neighborhood attend what is said to be an inferior school also funded by taxpayer money? Can you imagine New Canaan parents sending their children to an elementary school in which 23.78 percent of the children are suspended? The answer to these and many others regarding charter schools is: Of course not.
We should take Gov. Malloy’s use of the phrase “racist in outcome if not intent” — and the Republicans’ disproportionate show of hurt feelings — as an opportunity for an unflinching examination of how our state’s system of town governments perpetuates the legal segregation of an earlier era. Historical factors and policies, many of them explicitly racist, have made Connecticut’s large cities predominantly non-white and predominantly poor, while its suburbs are predominantly white and better off.
This week’s debate over Gov. Dannel Malloy’s plan to reform an outdated drug law with clear racial implications shines a spotlight on discouraging dysfunction within the Connecticut General Assembly. What is surprising, and a bit embarrassing, is the ease with which our legislators apparently can be intimidated from doing the right thing — and their willingness to admit it.