Op-Ed: Congratulations, Governor. Now wise up on education policy

You did it, Gov. Dannel Malloy. Another close one, just as Colin McEnroe predicted last May.

You certainly earned the victory, having headed the state during economically merciless times, in the face of hurricanes and a horrible school shooting. Your critics during the election acted like you had inflicted some kind of disaster on the state, but there never really was a big pile of evidence to that effect.

Op-ed submit bugGiven the benefits of incumbency, name recognition and party resources, by rights you should have won by a much wider margin.

But you know, and a growing number of others know, exactly why competence and incumbency did not pave an easy path to victory. Every parent frustrated by their kids’ Common Core homework assignments, and every teacher who felt their profession vilified by you, was a vote you didn’t get.

What does it matter, given the fact that you have won and are still in charge? Well, think back to 1984, when Ronald Reagan won 49 out of 50 states. If you were a Democrat back then, surely you recall how a drubbing like that could make a defeated opposition feel like it was banished pretty far out in the wilderness.

This is not that kind of victory.

If you believe Jon Pelto, and I do on this sort of thing, your campaign was financed in part by those who are keen on education reform. I and many others believe that their agenda is largely profit driven, and that they forward their program in ways that sometimes skirt the democratic process.

There were times during the campaign, such as when you reminded people that the Common Core had not been your brainchild, when you appeared to understand what a liability the education reform agenda had become. But since you made it past Election Day largely without blinking on the subject, the people of Connecticut can only assume that it is an agenda to which you are committed.

If members of the Connecticut General Assembly are getting an ear full from their own constituents on these issues, you might not find the legislature as cooperative about your education agenda moving forward as it has been in the past. Its members face re-election in only two years, and many more of them may start feeling the way the wind is blowing.

But more importantly, the electorate, the voters, the people, won’t just sit down because you successfully navigated the electoral process. Nor should they, any more than they should just shut up and be happy in the face of Citizens United. The agenda that you have been pursuing and advocating is disruptive in a way that affects schools, families and neighborhoods. It affects children, and if people feel that there is a threat to their children, then it’s Mama Bear time.

As much as I fear your education agenda, I’ve seen you operate often enough to know that you’re none of those bad things that people wrote about you during the election. And I do know what you are – you’re smart. The only thing left is for you to reconcile being smart and acting smart. And hurry up already; the distance between them almost lost you the election.

Congratulations again, Governor Malloy.

 Wayne Jebian, a former Instructor at Capital Community College in Hartford, currently works at Foothill College in Los Altos, CA

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