Category Archives: Opinion

Hodgman Resigns From Hartford School System

Jill Cutler Hodgman, Hartford school system’s chief labor and legal officer, has resigned after agreeing to a separation arrangement, according to The Hartford Courant.

This agreement will keep Hodgman on the school system’s payroll until the end of the school year in June, while being considered on “paid leave” until then.

According to The Hartford Courant, the Hartford school system has “been subject to criticism in the aftermath of a state watchdog report that outlined widespread failures in how Hartford schools have handled allegations of suspected child abuse or neglect — particularly when the potential abusers are school employees.” This statement was made in reference to the Eduardo Genao case, which took place in 2016.

“[Genao] resigned in April 2016 after he was accused of sending sexual text messages to a 13-year-old girl from New York whom he had met at a district event,” according to The Hartford Courant. Genao pleaded not guilty to risk of injury of a minor.

Hodgman is one of Hartford’s highest payed employees, earning an annual salary of $183,846, according to The Hartford Courant. From now until June, Hodgman would have made nearly $50,000 based on her annual salary. Although she is not directly working under this agreement, Hodgman is essentially being paid this large amount to resign in June without complication.

Hodgman is said to be serving as a consultant to the superintendent of Hartford schools, but there are no specific tasks provided in the job description.

Hodgman said in a statement on March 15 that she “had the tremendous honor to work with talented and dedicated professionals in the service of the children and families of Hartford.”

“Though I have accepted a new position and will be stepping away from my role in Hartford, I will continue to assist the district through the transition and beyond,” said Hodgman. “I am grateful for the opportunities that I have been given, and I have great hope for the future of Hartford.”

The question then arises — why did the Hartford school system make this deal with Hodgman in the first place?

The mistakes Hodgman made as chief labor and legal officer during the Genao case were enough for the Hartford school system to have her resign and make an agreement with her as far as salary concerns and benefits.

If the actions Hodgman made while working for the Hartford school system were not enough to fire her, why did the school system find it so important to make a deal with her to resign?

If Hodgman is fired “without cause” by the superintendent, she is entitled to her full pay and benefits, including the district’s health insurance coverage, until Aug. 31.

For Hodgman, leaving the Hartford school system will be difficult, and she will do so with a “heavy heart.”

Connecticut Police Show Little Interest In Body Cameras

by Lorenzo Burgio

As a student who has worked multiple retail, labor and customer service jobs throughout college, it’s baffling when police officers oppose the use of body cameras.

It is difficult to remember a job where security cameras were not running around the clock to make certain that employees did their jobs correctly.

Nearly everyone employed in the labor, retail and customer service fields are constantly being monitored to ensure their jobs are performed correctly; it’s trivial to think this does not apply to armed law enforcement.

It’s not a sufficient argument that “no one want to be monitored on the job,” when everyone is except police officers.

Across the nation, many law enforcement agencies have begun issuing body cameras to officers willing to comply, but there has been an alarming number that oppose the idea.

Coming from someone who has spent the last five and a half years being recorded at multiple jobs, only one reason comes to mind when an officer resists: they are not doing their job correctly.

It’s the only reason that lingers each time it is reported that an officer tried to prevent someone from filming them, or covered their badges from being seen.

An Act Concerning Excessive Use of Force was signed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy last October, to encourage the use of body cameras and use-of-force investigations in the state of Connecticut, but has received little response from state law enforcement.

Earlier this month, The Hartford Courant reported 12 out of the over 100 law enforcement agencies in the state have reached out to the Office of Police and Management regarding the act to receive reimbursement for body cameras; a $15 million program.

More interest in this program needs to be showed by law enforcement across the state, particularly to align with the beliefs of officers and the public.

A Pew Research study showed 93 percent of the public and 66 percent of police favor the use of body cameras to record interactions between officers and the public. About six-in-ten Americans said they would likely be more cooperative with officers if they wore body cameras, while only one-third of police agreed.

The study also showed two-thirds of the public and half of officers believe police are more likely to act appropriately when wearing a body camera.

It appears the actions taken by law enforcement agencies across the state regarding the use of body cameras do not match the beliefs of the public, or the majority of officers.

It is difficult to comprehend how nearly every employee in the retail, administration, labor and customer service industries are constantly monitored, but this does not apply to armed law enforcement, when statistics clearly show the public and many police feel body cameras will help protect and serve.

Letter To The Editor: Teacher furlough days are harmful to helping state budget

Teacher furlough days are harmful to helping state budget

by Drew Michael McWeeney

After speaking with Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark E. Ojakian last month, it is positively sinful that he and Governor Malloy are continuing to support the idea that state teachers in the state should voluntarily use unpaid leave as a kind of “furlough day,” in order to close the budget gap for our state’s economic crisis.

This is fantastic when some people, like Ojakian, get a free car, car insurance, an over $300,000 salary and free vehicle repairs.

Ask a teacher who makes under $90,000 a year, has $500 a month in student loans, pays for their own car and insurance, to take unpaid “days off” – and see what they have to say.

Furlough days do not work for state teachers; classes need to be taught. Students need feedback and help with material that is being taught. Teaching positions are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. generally, but that is only part of a teacher’s workday.

When I become a teacher, would I even dare to furlough the almost countless hours I spend after my students have left school and I am planning for the weeks and months ahead? Would I take a furlough day when my papers are due to journals on tight deadlines? Would I furlough the hours when I sneak out of bed the next day at 5 a.m. to squeeze in another hour or two of work? What about when I have to give up my time on weekends to work on writing IEPs, 504s, behavior modification plans and lesson plans? (Which teachers currently do, and are not paid for.)

Teachers in this state donate hundreds of hours a year beyond what their contract requires, and now CSCU President Ojakian and Governor Malloy want more. They both need to stop calling this situation a “budget crisis.” It has been this way since I entered college four years ago. A crisis cannot be permanent by definition, and the budget cannot be fixed by having all state teachers work for free. They do enough of that already.

I love how some, such as Governor Malloy and President Ojakian, assume that shared sacrifice means simply getting just a little bit more out of those who cannot afford it. Teachers in this state already donate a large portion of their salary to pay for retirement health benefits they might never see. Literally, teachers have to fork over cash twice a month because the state made promises they knew they could never afford.

Not to mention, President Ojakian and Governor Malloy forgot to say how much of their earnings they will give back to the state. How many furlough days for you, Mark Ojakian and Dannel Malloy? Check your privileges, for your salaries are too high for the work you both do.

No wonder why people – especially teachers – want out of Connecticut.

Drew Michael McWeeney, 21, of Wolcott is majoring in early childhood education and music performance and is a teacher candidate at Southern Connecticut State University. His website is www.drewmmcweeney.com.

It’s Arsène Wenger’s Time to Leave

by Dillon Meehan

In the fall of 1996, Arsenal dismissed their manager Bruce Rioch after a series of disputes with board members. Following his departure the board decided to bring in Arsène Wenger, a figure who was relatively unknown by the English media.

It was a rough start, he came in with a focus on sports science and nutrition. Before his tenure, it was standard procedure for players to often drink in the locker room and go out on their off days. Yet Wenger changed all of that.  He banned his players from drinking and junk food, he encouraged them to avoid red meat and replace it with chicken. Apart from diet, he had his players injected with vitamins and use Creatine to recover from games and training.

A year later, he became the first foreign-born manager in the English Premier League to win the “double,” by capturing both Premier League title and the F.A. Cup.

Four seasons later, in 2002 he would repeat history by leading Arsenal to another double. But he wasn’t done; in 2004 Arsenal became the first team since Preston North End 115 years prior to go undefeated throughout an entire season, and the first to do so in a 38-game season.

He had revolutionized the game in eight years; but he had also plateaued.

In 2006 the club finished fourth in the Premier League, a first for Wenger. On top of that, the club blew a lead late in the second half against Barcelona in the Champions League final. At the start of the summer, the club built a new stadium which was supposed to cement Arsenal as one of premier destinations for the top players in the sport, but in reality it was the opposite.

The owner and board elected to choose prioritize financial success over improving the team.  Instead of bringing in players, they began to lose some of their best.  It started with Sol Campbell, Lauren and Rober Pirès in 2006.  A year later Thierry Henry, the clubs best player, left for Barcelona.

That was only the beginning, in 2009 the club started a trend of sending their best players to Manchester City, first with  both Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure in July 2009. Two years later the club sold another two as Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri both left.

The following year in 2012, Robin Van Persie would also leave for Manchester, this time going to United.

Over the past decade, Arsenal have become a shadow of the club they had once been. The club has now lost in Champions League Round of 16 in seven straight seasons. They have repeatedly blown chances to win the Premier League title. The only silverware they have to show are two F.A. Cup titles in 2014 and 2015. But that competition is essentially worthless now, with the majority of clubs using their reserve and youth players to compete in it.

This season has been par for the course for Wenger and his squad. Earlier in the month, they suffered an embarrassing lost 10-2 on aggregate against Bayern Munich. While fans thought it couldn’t get worse Arsenal managed another embarrassing 3-1 against West Brom.

The former perennial title contenders now sit in sixth place tied with Everton.  With Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United all looking to have rebounded from their slow starts it is unlikely that Arsenal will even be able to contend for a Champions League spot, and even worse, finish below their London rivals Tottenham for the first time since the inception of the Premier League.

Arsène Wenger has a choice; either tarnish his legacy as one of the games greatest coaches, or resign. If he stays he will likely see the clubs two best platers Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil leave this summer, further plummeting his squad.

If he reigns he can either take a spot as the club’s Sporting Director, or take a job elsewhere. Following PSG’s embarrassing defeat to Barcelona and their performance in Ligue 1, there is a chance that Unai Emery could be fired or resigned. This would open the door for Wenger to finish his career in an easier league with a much better squad.

There is Little Proof Citizens are a Concern

by Lorenzo Burgio

 

Make America Stupid Again

by Kristina Vakhman

The Trump administration proposed its “America First” budget plan to Congress last week, unveiling alarming cuts to significant educational and scientific institutions.

These slashes were propositioned to offset a $54 billion increase in military spending and other security measures.

If Congress approves the current proposed budget, the Department of Education would suffer a whopping $9 billion decrease in the next fiscal year. 20 of the department’s programs would be defunded or entirely eliminated.

The Environmental Protection Agency would see a $2.6 billion cut and a loss of 3,200 jobs, consequently affecting educational programs centered around environmental protection, such as Advanced Placement Environmental Science in high schools.

Additional government and independent programs and agencies at risk include: the Federal Pell Grant Program, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Art Works, the National Endowment for the Arts, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grants, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program, work study programs, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, NASA’s Office of Education and many more.

For public colleges like Central Connecticut State University, these reductions and eliminations mean less support for low-income students in need of financial aid, as well as a potential increase in tuition.

While these cuts have been presented to “emphasize national security and public safety,” as written in President Donald Trump’s opening message in the plan, there may be a darker reason for why educational, scientific and related programs are major targets in the administration’s radar: Trump and his administration are trying to dumb down the American people.

According to a report done by the Pew Research Center after the 2016 presidential election, voters “without a college degree backed Trump 52 percent to 44 percent” against Clinton.

“Dramatic movement” amongst those with no college degree caused the widest gap between college and non-college voters since “any election dating to 1980,” the report adds.

It is clear that the president benefitted greatly from this demographic. He could potentially benefit from it again, should he run for re-election in 2020.

So, why would Trump want any of its residents to move from it? Why would he want uneducated voters to educate themselves and to potentially form views that differ from his? He would lose a major voting base if there is movement in educational demographics; his best bet to keep that from happening is to suppress policies and programs that provide for these kinds of advancements.

This strategy is similar to what Trump is doing with facts and reputable sources. By undermining the credibility of news organizations, journalists, scientists and professors that present the truth in his actions, our commander-in-chief is keeping his supporters in the dark. Even if this is detrimental to the functioning of society, as people are blindly voting for things that can cause them harm (like the American Health Care Act, or “Trumpcare,” which will increase the cost of health insurance for poor and working-class white Americans — a group that voted for Trump), the president will do it anyway to rally support behind him.

Those who are not properly educated on certain topics will believe whatever comes out of the president’s mouth.

Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, have stated that the president should be the American people’s main source of facts, not the press. By cutting education and science, Trump will be able to assert this role of truth-bearer; with less funding, these programs will have less of a chance to present facts contradicting his words.

His supporters, especially those with little education, will continue to stand behind him. That is why Trump has said he “loves the poorly educated.”

Less education means more voters wearing “pink glasses.” A badly educated population is easy to manipulate. Ask any dictator.

We Need New Jobs in Renewable Energy

by Lorenzo Burgio

The beliefs and actions of the presidential administration regarding climate change are not aligning with those of the citizens.

Yale University recently performed a study that maps out how people view climate change throughout the country. The results show how opinions differ across regions, but overall there are more people who believe in climate change than those who do not.

The study revealed that seven out of 10 registered voters said the U.S. should remain a participant in the international agreement to limit climate change.

It was also found that two-thirds of registered voters want the U.S. to limit green house emissions, even if other countries are not.

Some other key findings were, 70 percent of Americans think global warming will hurt future generations, and 69 percent want stricter limits on carbon dioxide from coal plants.

The recent actions by President Donald Trump have not aligned with the stance of our country. According to the study, more Americans want to combat climate change than not.

Trump aims to increase mining jobs by lifting the Clean Power Plan put forth by Barack Obama in 2015, which requires states to limit the emission of carbon dioxide.

The argument against the Clean Power Plan is the same as when Trump repealed the Obama administration’s Stream Protection Rule, which allegedly left companies stagnant, unable to develop and losing jobs.

“Trump has already rolled back some Obama-era green regulations, including the Stream Protection Rule limiting coal mining waste dumping, and the Waters of the U.S. rule that expands the waterways under federal protection,” according to Reuters.

“An analysis found that the job impact would be minimal: repealing the rule [SPR] will only boost annual mining employment by 124 jobs,” said Vox.

The study showed that 75 percent of Americans want to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 82 percent of adults think more research should be conducted on renewable energy sources, but the presidential administration is doing the opposite by decreasing regulations.

Generating new jobs in areas where employment has decreased is something that needs to be taken seriously; but climate change must be considered as well. The efforts need to be used in a different industry, and not one that contributed to 24.5 percent of greenhouse emissions in 2012, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

However, an alternative approach needs to be taken because climate change should not fall victim when attempting to increase employment.

New jobs in renewable energy should be created in order to combat climate change and decrease employment.

“The renewable energy industry is more labor-intensive, this means that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels,” said the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Solar and wind energy are accessible throughout the entire country, and are sources of energy that should be used.

With the beliefs of the presidential administration not aligning with the majority of the population’s, states will be playing an important roll. They need to fight against attempts to loosen regulations and begin to enforce their own.

Many states have reduced greenhouse gas emission by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. This effort needs to be continued and strengthened to align with the population’s beliefs.

It’s Discrimination

A Virginia male transgender student is seeking to use a school bathroom that associates with his gender identity. However, the Supreme Court has sent his case back to the lower courts, delaying his search for justice.

Gavin Grimm, the 17-year-old student in the middle of the national debate, is wondering what the huge issue is regarding him using the bathroom that aligns with his male identity.

“People expect me to say that using the boys’ bathroom was super magical and just the best time of my life,” Grimm said in an interview with CNN. “But I was just using the bathroom. I went in and left.”

Grimm wanted to feel comfortable using the boys’ bathroom, but he couldn’t feel further from that at this point.

The decision by the Supreme Court to send the case back down means it will go back to a court of appeals. Then likely removing the chance that the Supreme Court will hear it this term.

Initially, the federal appeals court ruled in favor of Grimm, citing the Obama administration’s support of Title IX as it pertains to transgender rights. However, the Trump administration has since revoked the support of this protection.

In an interview with CNN, Grimm’s attorney, Joshua Block, said of the setback, “This is a detour, not the end of the road, and we’ll continue to fight for Gavin and other transgender people to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The issue is not only about Grimm – it is about giving people who are transgender the rights that they deserve without question.

In situations like Grimm’s, policies should play a supportive role in accommodating the needs of transgender individuals. Across the country, there are people just like Grimm that feel insecure after hearing issues like this.

“Last April, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Grimm, who fought a school board policy that denied him access to the boys’ bathroom but allowed him the use of recently constructed single-stall unisex restrooms,” reported CNN.

A person who is transgender should not be restricted from using their bathroom that they feel most comfortable in, or only single-stall unisex restrooms. Limiting where people who are transgender can use the restroom is discriminative and simply unethical.

Discriminatory acts seem to be a reoccurring theme in this country, except the victims are always changing. One would think, limiting a particular demographics access to public restrooms is simply bigotry and should not be tolerated in a democratic society.

The sex a person is classified under should be the defining factor of where an individual should be allowed to use the restroom. All transgender individuals should be allowed to use public accommodations as they see fit for themselves, and no individuals or government power should restrict, limit or have a say in the matter.

The steps back the presidential administration has taken in regards to transgender rights is discriminatory. People who are transgender should be able to feel comfortable with their sex classification at home and in public, and incidents like Grimm’s highlight how the country has regressed.

Claudio Ranieri: From Legend to Scapegoat

By Dillon Meehan

Just 11 months ago, Leicester City were capturing the headlines as the greatest underdog stories in the history of sports.  A perennial mediocre club and Claudio Ranieri, their heavily criticized manager, somehow managed to win in the toughest league in the world.

Their three best players were Jamie Vardy, a 29-year old striker who was playing in amateur leagues just a few seasons prior; Riyad Mahrez, a winger who was forgotten about due to his short stature and small frame; and N’Golo Kante a defensive stalwart who was incredibly undervalued while playing in France’s Ligue 1.

Vardy finished with 24 goals, only one behind leader Harry Kane. Mahrez finished with 17 goals and 10 assists and the PFA Player of the Year. And Kante finished with more tackles at 175 and interceptions at 157 than any other player in the Premier League.

Heading into this season, there was a variety of opinions on how Leicester would finish. Some believed that despite losing their best midfielder, they would still be able to compete for a spot in the top four and a chance to play in Champions League. Others believed that they would return to mediocrity and the club would be relegated by this time next year.

While the season is not over yet, it is looking as though the latter. Until their win on Monday against Liverpool, the club hadn’t won a game since Dec. 26 and had only scored a handful of goals in 2017. It looked as though the team had simply given up and were in  free fall.

Some called for Ranieri to be fired, others wanted the players benched. Unfortunately for Ranieri, it is far easier to blame a manager and replace him than get rid of a club’s best players. On Thursday, Feb. 23, the club announced it had fired Ranieri. The announcement was met with both applause and jeers from fans, pundits and former players. Gary Lineker, the club’s former striker, called the move a “panic decision” and admitted to crying after hearing the news.

Ranieri was given the nickname “the tinkerman” due to his inability keep a consistent squad and often making changes and disrupting chemistry. It was often meant as a slight and it was something that stuck with him his entire career. This season saw Ranieri often make several changes to the teams lineup in hopes of saving the season and his job, but ultimately it was what cost him. While he will go down as the man who managed the greatest underdog story in sports history, he unfairly lost his job.

We Need the Truth

The New York Times ran a television ad for the first time since 2010 during the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony on ABC., firing back at President Donald Trump and emphasizing the importance of a free press. 

During the commercial block, a white screen appeared, with the words “The truth is, our nation is more divided than ever.” As the 30-second advert continued, the words “The truth is” remained on screen, with a variety of different messages following. As voices of reporters grew louder in the background, the advertisement ended with the words, “The truth is more important now more than ever.”

Although the advertisement does not directly call out the 45th president, it is clear by its message and tone that the statements provided target the travel ban and illicit ties to Russia.

In response to the commercial, Trump jumped on his favorite social media platform to share his thoughts. “For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly,” Trump tweeted.

Even as Trump continues to claim The New York Times is failing, the statement appears to be false. In reality, the Times actually added 132,000 paid subscriptions since Election Day, which is ten times the newspaper’s growth during the same period a year earlier.

The commercial was very upfront with its message. There is no footage or images that appear on screen. Instead, all that appears is a simple black text on a white screen. The Times advert is clear, direct and frank.

“The ad’s mission is to tap into national dialogue going on right now about facts and the truth and what that means in today’s world,” according to The New York Times branding executive David Rubin.

“The idea is to be a part of that discussion about what does it mean to find the truth,” said Rubin. “What does that mean in a world of ‘fake news?’ What is the role of journalism and journalists in that process and what is the role of the reader in supporting that journalism?”

The New York Times is one of many news outlets, including CNN, to be banned from a Friday casual press conference with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

It seems the Times is making a point, a very concise one, that says they will find a way to inform the public and decided to make that undeniably clear during one of the largest entertainment shows of the year.

They know how fundamental a free press is to a democracy and agree with Walter Lippmann that “there can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.”