Campaign 2016, Higher Education, Pelto 2016, Student Financial Aid Campaign 2016, Higher Education, Pelto 2016, Student Financial Aid
In Connecticut, and across the country, public universities and colleges have traditionally served as the primary vehicle for ensuring the state’s children get a quality college degree. However, a new study conducted by ProPublica reveals that the dream of a college education has become prohibitively expense for more and more students and their families.
As a result of inadequate public funding, failed student financial aid programs and increasing costs, soaring tuition is making college unaffordable for many.
ProPublica reports that from 2000 to 2014, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at the University of Connecticut rose by more than 66 percent.
However, during that same time period, the median income for Connecticut residents increased only 2 percent. Take out the Wall Street executives who live in lower Fairfield Country and Connecticut’s household income has remained flat for 15 years while tuition and fees at public colleges and universities have skyrocketed.
The rate of increase at the universities of the Connecticut State University System is even higher, with tuition and fees up nearly 75 percent, all while Connecticut’s families struggle to simply make ends meet.
Add in the cost of room, board and textbooks and the cost of attending one of Connecticut’s public institutions of education is getting more out of reach for thousands of Connecticut students.
The long-term impact of unaffordable higher education will be catastrophic
But unfortunately, the response to this crisis by Federal and state officials has been revolting.
Instead of doing more to ensure that college is affordable, the national and state governments have actually been cutting support for public education and student financial aid.
This election is a unique opportunity to send Washington and Hartford a powerful message about the importance of making a college education more accessible and affordable.
Enough is enough!
Instead of expanding barriers to getting a college education, elected officials can and must do more to help Connecticut’s Middle Class and working families send their children to college.
Please join the effort to ensure federal and state officials change their ways.
Your support and vote this November would send a clear and concise message about the importance of putting our nation back on track.
Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Candidate for Congress 2nd Congressional District
To donate to Pelto 2016 go to: Pelto for Congress 2016
Education reformers like to point to Finland as the prime example of how public education should work. The primary problem with their argument is that Finland’s public education system is exactly the opposite of what the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies are proposing.
In Finland, there is no privatization of public education.
In Finland, teachers are respected and honored and are given the responsibility for developing programs that provide every student an opportunity to succeed. Administrators are hired to support their teachers, not limit their ability to teach.
In Finland, there is no massive standardized testing scheme
In Finland, students are provided a comprehensive education, not one restricted to the Common Core and its limited focus on just math and language arts.
In Finland, children are allowed to be children.
To better understand why Finland has the best public education system, one must understand how Finland aggressively reduces the level of child poverty, how it funds and supports its public schools, and how it recognizes the importance of childhood.
The following blog posts from Diane Ravitch provide some of that vital background;
Those Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarten Students in Finland
Pasi Sahlberg: Why There Is No Teach for Finland
Finland: Frequent Recesses Keep Students Focused
What These American Educators Learned in Finland
Teacher Education in Finland
Finland’s “Culture of Trust” and Our Culture of Testing
Lessons from Finland
How Are Teachers in Finland Evaluated?
William Doyle: What Makes Finnish Schools So Successful?
Pasi Sahlberg: Teacher Autonomy Matters More than School Autonomy
Pasi Sahlberg: The Myth that Schools Can Do More with Less
Pasi Sahlberg: Finnish Teachers Are Not “the Best and the Brightest”
Barak Obama, Congress, Education Reform, Every Student Succeeds Act, Standardized Testing Congress, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Every Student Succeeds Act, Obama, Standardized Testing
Call it the American Way!
President Obama and a bi-partisan coalition of Republican and Democratic members of Congress used the Every Child Succeeds Act to mandated that no child go untested each and every year, despite the overwhelming evidence that the Common Core standardized testing scheme is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory, not to mention a waste of hundreds of millions of dollars.
But now, in a yet another blatant effort to be as two-faced as possible, the Obama administration has announced a new $9 million “Enhanced Assessment Instruments Grant program” to assist states in efforts to “reduce the assessment burden.”
Mandate everyone gets tested, then allocate a few dollars to promote alternatives…
The school technology publication called, The Journal, reports that,
“The Enhanced Assessment Instruments Grant program is the next step in the president’s action plan to improve the quality of academic assessments.”
The article adds;
The grant program builds on President Obama’s Testing Action Plan released last year. The plan aims to reform redundant standardized tests that are administered too frequently and fail to effectively measure student outcomes. As the next step in the plan, the Enhanced Assessment Instruments grant program, also called the Enhanced Assessment Grants (EAG) program, offers financial support for states to develop and use more effective assessments.
“The President’s Testing Action Plan encourages thoughtful approaches to assessments that will help to restore the balance on testing in America’s classrooms by reducing unnecessary assessments while promoting equity and innovation,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. in a news release. “This grant competition is the next step as part of that plan, and will help states and districts improve tests to allow for better depiction of student and school progress so that parents, teachers and communities have the vital information they need on academic achievement.”
The press release goes on to inform State education agencies and state education consortiums that;
Applicants that address these program objectives “by producing significant research methodologies products or tools, regarding assessment systems, or assessments,” will be chosen to receive funding for their projects, according to the department’s website.
Applications are available on Aug. 8. Applicants must submit proposals for the EAG competition by Sept. 22 and winners will be announced in January.
Chauk one more up for the greed and deceptiveness of the education testing industry and their corporate education reform allies in and of government.
Ann Cronin, SAT, Standardized Testing Ann Policelli Cronin, SAT, Standardized Testing
Repost from Ann Cronin’s blog…
Big News! It was on the front page of the The Hartford Courant, reported on in all the other state newspapers, and featured on the Connecticut State Department of Education website:
Nearly 66% of 11th graders met the state standards for English and 40% met the state standards for math on the 2016 SAT.
And what does that tell us about what Connecticut has gained from fully funding the SAT for all high school juniors?
It was a waste of taxpayer money.
First of all, it doesn’t tell us anything about who is ready for college. The SAT is based on the Common Core Standards, which Connecticut has taken as its own. The Common Core Standards lack validity and reliability. Common Core Standards were written, without input from educators at the K-12 or college level, by employees of testing companies and companies that analyze standardized test data. They were never field-tested to see if being successful with those standards makes for achievement in college. So we don’t know if we should be happy if students score well because it could be that they succeeded at something that is innocuous at best and inferior education at worst.
We do know that getting a high score on the SAT gives us no information about the students’ ability to ask their own questions, make their own connections, and construct their own meaning as they read, or express their own ideas as they write in a personal voice because the Common Core rejects those skills. And we do know that those are skills needed for college. Therefore, SAT scores don’t tell us if students will be successful in college.
Secondly, this SAT does not allow for comparisons because it is a new test. Scores cannot be compared to the SAT of past years. It has different content and a different way of being scored than past tests. Also, the student population taking the SAT has changed. Previously, 82% of high school juniors took the SAT; in 2016, with the new requirement, 94 % took the test. So with different content, scoring, and test-taking populations, no conclusions about student improvement or decline can be made.
Thirdly, some may say we need the SAT to ascertain how Connecticut is doing as compared to other states, but we have the National Assessment of Educational Progress, considered the Nation’s Report Card, that gives state-by-state reports. NAEP tests students in reading and math and scores them, based on college readiness. There is no charge to the state or local districts. Individual scores are not reported so there is no punishments for students. Best of all, there is no class time sacrificed to prepare for the tests because, during the school year, districts do not know if they are to be tested that year.
Fourthly, the SAT is not the necessity it once was. Increasingly, high school students do not need SAT scores for their college applications. Colleges and universities are realizing the limits of standardized tests as indicators of a prospective student’s academic promise and intellectual strength. Currently, 850 colleges and universities, including 210 in the “top tier”, do not require SAT or ACT scores for admission to bachelor degree programs. The research is clear, and colleges and universities are responding to it: High school grade point average is the predictor of success in college, not standardized tests.
So why does the State of Connecticut mandate that all high school juniors take the SAT?
The only reason left is the one politicians love to herald: To close the achievement gap.
Only those who have never taught students could give that answer. Educators know that there is no way that any set of standards or any standardized test has ever or will ever overcome the damage of poverty and racism. In fact, mandating standardized tests reinforces that damage and tells many impoverished students and students of color that they do not belong in the mainstream. Standardized test scores, including the SAT, are always correlated with the income of students’ parents. With the current 2016 SAT, school districts with higher scores include the affluent towns of Darien, Simsbury, Westport, and Wilton; school districts with lower scores include the cities of Hartford, Waterbury, and Bridgeport with their high rates of poverty. And so it has ever been.
Students with parents who have the time, the energy, the money, and the benefits from their own higher education to enrich the lives of their children and support them in school will always score higher than most students whose parents do not have those advantages. How could it be otherwise?
So mandating the SAT is not even a neutral event; it actually does harm. It limits the curriculum for all students, affluent and poor, and turns the curriculum into test prep. It does added harm to those students most in need because the cost of the tests, test prep materials, and the technology to administer the tests takes financial resources away from addressing their needs propelled by poverty and racism.
There is a path forward. Connecticut must:
- End the Common Core test-and-punish approach. We must recognize that we are foolishly spending millions of dollars on SBAC and the SAT, and it gains nothing for us as a state. The tests reinforce Connecticut’s shame: unconscionable income inequality.
- End the Common Core test-and-punish approach because it denies our children a real education as learners and thinkers that they deserve.
- Use the money now spent on testing to invest in what has been proven to improve student achievement. It is what every teacher knows works: positive relationships with adults in schools. Educators know that having those positive relationships with adults engages students in school, inspires them to want to learn, and gives them the skills to succeed and live productive lives. According to Wendy Lecker, senior attorney at the Education Law Center in Stamford, CT, researchers have identified three ways to foster those adult/student relationships:
- Provide developmentally appropriate preschool in which the emphasis is on play.
- Mandate small class size in grades K-12.
- Reduce the student caseload of guidance counselors.
Let’s put our money where we are sure we can make a difference. It’s time to stop spending money and getting nothing for it. And, worse yet, spending money and getting less than nothing by hurting our most precious resource as a state: our children.
Ann Policelli Cronin is a Connecticut educator, education advocate and education blogger. You can read her writing at: https://reallearningct.com/
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Education Funding, Robert Cotto Jr., Wendy Lecker CCJEF v. Rell, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Robert Cotto Jr., school funding, Wendy Lecker
With the final arguments now completed in the school funding case of CCJEF v. Rell, the judge has five months’ worth of testimony to use when making the critically important decision about whether Connecticut’s school funding formula is unconstitutional.
While the parties will undoubtedly appeal the decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court, this case is the pivotal step to force the state of Connecticut to adopt a state education cost sharing formula that ensures that all Connecticut children have access to a quality education.
Click on the video for a 15 minute wrap up of the key issues of the case by education advocates Wendy Lecker and Robert Cotto Jr.
Additional media coverage can be found at:
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) vs Malloy (and Rell) (Wait, what?)
As Decade-Old Lawsuit Winds Down, Plaintiffs Say Education Is Path to Cure (WNPR)
Lawsuit alleges disparity in school funding (CT Post)
In Closing Arguments, State Acknowledges Challenges But Defends School Financing System (Courant)
CT school funding on trial: 5 key questions facing the judge (CT Mirror)
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Education Funding, Jepsen, Malloy Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], ECS Formula, Jepsen, Malloy, school funding
Eleven years ago, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) brought a suit against the state of Connecticut charging that the state’s school funding formula had been so corrupted that it violated Connecticut’s Constitution by failing to provide cities and towns with sufficient state aid to ensure that every child received a proper public education.
At the time, Dannel Malloy was the Mayor of Stamford and signed onto to lawsuit as a plaintiff, correctly pointing out that students in his community and across the state could not get a proper education as a result of Connecticut’s warped school funding program.
As a candidate for governor Malloy supported the suit and recognized that it was the single most important mechanism for transforming Connecticut’s school funding formula into something that adequately funded schools and treated local property taxpayers more fairly.
But upon being elected governor, Malloy switched his position 180 degrees and has spent the last seven years trying to prevent the critically important lawsuit from coming to trial. When that strategy failed, he wasted precious public dollars, as has Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, working to convince the judicial system that Connecticut’s unfair school funding system is just fine.
For the last five months, a Connecticut judge has been taking testimony on the case. Yesterday the legal team representing students, parents, teachers and public schools gave their closing arguments. Today, the state will make their pitch about why the courts should turn their backs on Connecticut’s school funding crisis, and leave the ECS formula in place.
In a story wrapping up the trial, the CT Mirror wrote;
This question over whether the case, which was filed nearly 11 years ago, should move forward is not a new one. The state’s attorney general has been asking the court for years to strip CCJEF of its standing to sue.
But the attorney representing the plaintiffs rejected those calls Monday.
“I think that it is absolutely undisputed that we have at least one set of plaintiffs that have standing in this case…That ends the discussion,” Joseph Moodhe, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told the judge. He called the debate over standing a “red herring” aimed at avoiding a decision on the quality of the education being offered to students.
As for the fundamental issues of the case, the CT Mirror explained:
What’s an adequate education?
A divided Connecticut Supreme Court six and a half years ago ruled that the state is responsible for ensuring that public schools are of a certain quality, but left it up to a lower court to determine what that standard is and whether it is being met.
“Where do you set the standard? I think that is what has to be considered,” Moukawsher said Monday.
The plaintiffs argued Monday an adequate education is one that prepares students with the opportunity to attend college when they graduate high school.
“Our case is about not having those opportunities because the resources are not there for those children,” said Moodhe. “Ultimately, it comes down to whether the district is getting the appropriate resources to provide for what’s needed to educate their children.”
Throughout the trial, the coalition chose six school districts to highlight problems – Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, New Britain, New London and Windham. All enroll high concentrations of students from low-income families.
“The larger issue is what happens in districts that have large proportions of impoverished adults and students and how that particular dynamic impacts the ability of districts to provide an education to the students they are there to serve,” said Moodhe. “I think the evidence is quite clear that all of these townships are financially distressed; that most of the evidence has indicated that the superintendents have fought to get additional funding and pretty much without exception they have been disappointed… Because these towns are populated by poorer populations, they really don’t have the income in order to finance their schools.”
During his closing arguments, Moodhe asserted that high-poverty districts are not meeting even a minimum threshold for education quality because they cannot hire and retain talented staff.
“Poverty district students are more likely to be taught by less experienced new teachers,” said Moodhe. “Our districts are disadvantaged by districts’ inability to field the best teachers.”
Difficult working conditions, teachers and principals testified throughout the trial, include larger class sizes and high concentrations of high-need students. Educators say they lose waves of their best teachers each year, have trouble hiring replacements, and have too few teachers and other support staff to keep their students from falling further behind.
“They have less compensation and less enviable working conditions,” said Moodhe. “The evidence is quite clear that the teacher situation is a problem.”
But attorneys representing the state have countered that the schools in these districts are overwhelmingly filled with excellent teachers — as evidenced by annual evaluation ratings — and that the state has spent millions in recent years so that students have the staff support they need.
The lengthy article went on to note:
An equal education for all?
There’s no question that the state’s wealthiest communities are spending much more educating their students.
But should the state be responsible for equalizing that disparity?
Neither side is arguing that should happen.
Rather, those suing the state want a funding system that recognizes the extra cost to catch high-need students up with their peers.
While the states primary school funding grant provides 30 percent more money for children from low-income families, experts who testified for the plaintiffs during the trial testified that it costs two to three times as much to educate poor children who often show up for school with major deficiencies.
The state directs the vast majority of its education funding to the poorest and lowest-achieving communities, but the plaintiffs argue it clearly hasn’t been enough to make up for the significant needs these districts face.
Their proof: test results that show about half the students from these districts are multiple grade levels behind in reading and math.
“What you really have to do is give somebody the opportunity to get that adequate education. They may not get there. But you have to give them the tools and the resources,” he said.
When should the court step in?
The State Constitution requires that, “There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The General Assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.”
Missing is language clarifying what level of education is required.
Three of the seven justices on the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the constitution entitles every school-aged child to a “an education suitable to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens able to participate fully in democratic institutions, such as jury service and voting, and to prepare them to progress to institutions of higher education, or to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state’s economy.”
A fourth justice wrote a concurring opinion, agreeing that the constitution guarantees a certain level of educational quality but setting a much lower threshold for what that standard would be.
“The right established under [the constitution] requires only that the legislature establish and maintain a minimally adequate system of free public schools,” Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote. “Consequently, in my view, the plaintiffs will not be able to prevail on their claims unless they are able to establish that what the state has done to discharge its obligations under [the constitution] is so lacking as to be unreasonable by any fair or objective standard.”
In the absence of a clear majority mandate from the high court on what quality threshold the state must meet, Judge Moukawsher on multiple occasions has said he worries about overstepping the court’s proper role.
“I think you should understand by now that I have concerns about the fitness of the court to set a level of education spending beyond a bare minimum,” he told the attorneys Monday.
That concern stems from court decisions seemingly piling up that force the state legislature to spend money on particular priorities. On Monday, the judge specifically pointed out the courts’ involvement in ordering the state to desegregate Hartford schools and to take better care of abused and neglected children in the custody of the state’s child welfare agency.
“If I order so many billions to go to education as a whole, are there going to be billions left to desegregate Hartford Public Schools? So too with respect to the Department of Children and Families,” Moukowsher said. “The court is telling [the legislature] ‘spend this, spend that.’ How do courts do that in a vacuum? How can a court say, ‘Here’s what you’re going to spend’ without even considering that there are other constitutional rights that you impinge on when doing that. And there are a lot more, the mentally ill, prisoners, all of them have constitutional rights. When you order spending over here, you have to recognize that you’re affecting the spending over there.
“It means we have a big problem in courts doing this sort of stuff,” said Moukawsher, a former state legislator who represented Groton. “As much as you might say that courts have done it, I am not willing to do it unless I can believe there’s a way to do it rationally and fairly and a way that does not undermine the whole constitutional structure of the state by having the judiciary interfering so much with the job of the legislature that it cripples the legislature’s ability to do policy decisions.”
But, he acknowledged, there has to be some minimal standard that the court holds the legislature and governor to, otherwise, “You would have an empty constitution.”
Attorneys for the state have been arguing for judicial restraint in this case, but those suing the state maintain that a constitutional right should not be blunted by other obligations the state also must meet.
“The right to an adequate education is an affirmative constitutional obligation,” said Moodhe. “There is a challenge to the legislature for inaction… The legislature should not be given wide deference to meet that affirmative obligation.”
And the CT Mirror summarized the case, asking, “What’s the remedy?”
If the judge determines that the state is not providing students with the education the constitution requires, it could then be up to him to fashion a remedy.
If that’s necessary, the state says it would want him to order the legislature to make this its top priority and fix the problem, as was done in previous education funding and segregation lawsuits.
But the coalition suing the state says the courts should oversee a remedy that directs more money to needy schools.
No matter what Moukawsher decides, both sides have said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court for a final determination.
You can read and comment on the full CT Mirror article at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/08/08/ct-school-funding-on-trial-5-key-questions-facing-the-judge/
Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Education Reform, Malloy, Turnaround Schools Corporate Education Reform Industry, Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Malloy, Turnaround School
Since taking office, Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-teacher, anti-public education initiatives have done tremendous damage to Connecticut public education system. Few governors in the United States have implemented such a short-sighted, mean-spirited and down right stupid approach to education.
Among Malloy’s worst “accomplishments” has been his “school turnaround” program that has undermined the local involvement of students, parents, teachers and public schools.
Not only has the Malloy administration undermined the very people public schools were created to help, his efforts have cut deep into the fabric of Connecticut’s historic system of local control.
latest column, education advocate Wendy Lecker takes on the Malloy administration’s failure school turnaround strategies. In Policy can foster positive relationships for kids, a commentary piece that first appeared in the Stamford Advocate, Wendy Lecker writes;
Current education policy focuses on a failed strategy of school and district “turnarounds;” characterized by staff shake-ups and pedagogical practices that focus narrowly on raising test scores. This reform has been the Malloy Administration’s approach to school “improvement” since 2012. The evidence demonstrates that turnarounds produce at best temporary small increases in test scores, but at the high cost of destabilizing schools and communities in the long run.
While policymakers stubbornly pursue this dead end, they ignore evidence from science and educational practice pointing to methods that result in long-lasting improvements in both academic and life outcomes, especially for at-risk children.
A recent article in the science magazine, Mosaic, described a longitudinal study of children in Hawaii that examined why some at-risk children develop significant problems while others do not. The researchers found that for the one-third of at-risk children who did not develop problems, positive relationships, whether in the context of a community or one adult, were key. Even those who engaged in risky behavior as teens were able to turn their lives around with the help of a personal connection.
One of the researchers observed that resilience, often described as a trait, is instead an adaptive process; one that is helped by relationships.
Education reformers misread resilience as a trait they like to call “grit,” and consequently develop misguided policies such as the recent announcement by the federal government that the National Assessment of Educational Progress will create a standardized test to determine whether children have “grit.”
Understanding resilience the way these scientists have come to understand it would lead to a focus on more successful educational policies. Consistent with what science has discovered, it turns out that school programs and policies that promote the development of relationships are the ones that provide long-term educational and life benefits, especially to disadvantaged children.
It stands to reason that school mechanisms promoting a personal connection improve learning as well as social development. Neuroscientists have found that the brain does not recognize a sharp distinction between cognitive, social and motor functions. Consequently, research has shown that feelings of social isolation impair key cognitive abilities involved in learning.
Though they require substantial initial investments, educational policies that foster relationships save money in the long run.
Developmentally-appropriate preschool, with an emphasis on play, enables children to acquire the skills necessary to form healthy relationships. There is near universal consensus that quality preschool benefits children, increasing the chance of graduation, higher earnings, and decreasing placement in special education, involvement in the criminal justice system and the need for other social services. It also can save society as much as $16 for every dollar spent on preschool, by avoiding the costs of these later interventions.
Small class size, which fosters closer relationships between children and their teachers, has been proven to provide similar benefits, increasing graduation rates and earning potential, and decreasing the likelihood and cost to society of risky behavior. Research also shows that increasing class size has detrimental and costly long-term effects on at-risk children.
Now, new evidence from the Colorado Department of Education shows that increasing guidance counselors in secondary schools saved $20 for every dollar spent. Colorado implemented a grant program enabling 255 high schools across the state to hire more counselors and reduce their student-counselor ratio to a ratio of 216:1; a level below the 250:1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselors Association. As a result, the schools’ drop-out rates decreased, saving the state over $319 million dollars.
The program benefited low-income students of color the most. This result is consistent with research examining why students leave high school. As detailed in an earlier column, many students at-risk of dropping out or who have already left high school are more likely to remain or return if they can develop a relationship with a caring adult. Increasing the number of counselors increases the likelihood that at-risk high school students develop a relationship with such an adult.
Preschool, small class size and counselors are among the educational resources the plaintiffs in Connecticut’s pending school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, seek for Connecticut’s most disadvantaged children. Educational programs and services that foster positive relationships are proven to pay off for society, by preventing more costly social and academic interventions later on; and most importantly for our children, by increasing the chance that they develop into capable and productive adults.
Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.
You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Policy-can-foster-positive-9125538.php
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Dacia Toll, Jonathan Sackler, Malloy Achievement First Inc., Change Course CT, Charter Schools, Charters Care, ConnCAN, Jonathan Sackler, Malloy
The Charter School industry and their corporate education reform allies continue to ramp up their effort to impact the political landscape in Connecticut. Closely associated with Governor Dannel Malloy and his anti-public education policies, the elite behind the education reform and privatization movement are engaged in a broad based effort to control the dialogue and votes in the Connecticut legislature.
As reported yesterday in, Charter School Political Action Committees target Connecticut legislative races, two new corporate funded political action committees (PACS) are have recently been created and are spending money to elect pro-charter school candidates and defeat public school advocates in races for the Connecticut General Assembly.
Change Course CT, a front-group for Democrats for Education Reform, was formed on July 18, 2016.
Charters Care, a new appendage of the Northeast Charter School Network, was formed a few days earlier on July 13, 2016.
Both Democrats for Education Reform and the Northeast Charter School Network are corporate-funded charter school advocacy groups based in New York City and both receive the bulk of their money from the billionaires and millionaires who are trying to privatize public education in the United States.
According to forms filed with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, all the funds collected by Change Course CT come from Education Reform Now Advocacy, a non-profit 501 (c) 4 corporation that is operated in conjunction with New York City based Democrats for Education Reform Now and Education Reform Now.
Signing the official documents on behalf of Change Course CT has been Jenna A. Klaus, who appears to be the daughter of Jeff Klaus and Dacia Toll. Toll is the CEO of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that owns and operates charter schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. In addition to collecting the bulk of the $110 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds paid to charter schools, Achievement First, Inc. earned its infamy from suspending record numbers of kindergarteners in an apparent attempt to push out children who don’t fit the company’s limited definition of appropriate students. Jeff Klaus is a regional president for Webster Bank and can often be found, throughout the day, attacking education advocates and posting pro-charter school comments on various Connecticut media websites.
The Charters Care election documents are being signed by Christopher Harrington, the Connecticut Policy Manager for the Northeast Charter School Network and the PACs money has come from OxyContin’s Jonathan Sackler and from yet another New York based corporate education front group called Real Reform Now.
Not surprisingly, Jonathan Sackler, a Greenwich, Connecticut multi-millionaire is one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest campaign contributors and is on the Board of both the Northeast Charter Schools Network and Achievement First, Inc., as well as, being the founder and board member of ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading pro-charter school lobbying group.
The charter school industry has spent in excess of $9 million lobbying on behalf of Governor Malloy’s charter school and education reform agenda.
In addition they have provided massive amounts of campaign funds to Malloy and other pro-charter school candidates at the federal, state and local level in Connecticut.
Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, DFER, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy
Look out, here they come again…
Outside groups have begun a campaign to persuade voters in New London and Bridgeport to support Democratic candidates committed to diverting even more scarce public funds to privately owned and operated charter schools.
As a result of Governor Malloy’s budget and corporate education reform agenda, while Connecticut public school students, teachers and schools are reeling from their deepest cuts in state history, charter school companies in the state will collect more than $110 million from Connecticut taxpayers, this year.
A massive amount of money considering these entities refuse to educate their fair share of students who face English Language challenges, children who need special education services, and students who have disciplinary issues.
But these schools simply aren’t satisfied with skimming off more than $110 million that should be going to help fund public schools and keep a lid on property taxes. Charter schools want more and now they are trying to buy up candidates who will be loyal to their cause.
A national, pro-charter school, anti-teacher, corporate-funded group called Democrats for Education Reform has formed a new political action committee in Connecticut called Change Course CT.
Another New York based pro-charter group called Northeast Charter Schools Network has formed a second political action committee in Connecticut called Charters Care.
And these two big money groups are coming into Connecticut to add even more fire power to the existing pro-charter, anti-teacher groups that are already trying to influence public policy and elections. ConnCAN, New York based Families for Excellent Schools and their political action committee, Connecticut Forward, are only three of a growing number of groups that are spending millions of dollars to persuade Connecticut legislators and candidates to turn their backs on Connecticut’s real public schools.
According to the CT Mirror’s story entitled, Charter school advocates playing in General Assembly primaries;
Change Course CT, a PAC associated with Democrats for Education Reform, a national group Gov. Dannel P. Malloy addressed during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, has polled voters on two primaries in Bridgeport and one in New London.
“We just want to know what the dynamics of the races are,” said Amy Selib Dowell, the Connecticut director of Democrats for Education Reform.
She declined to say what they are doing with the polling data gathered in three districts: the 39th House, where Rep. Ernest Hewett of New London is challenged by Chris Soto; the 23rd Senate, where Sen. Ed Gomes of Bridgeport is challenged by Dennis Bradley; and the 126th House, where Rep. Charlie L. Stallworth of Bridgeport is challenged by Maria Pereira.
Charters Care is spending their money on “literature and T-shirts promoting Stallworth over Pereira, an outspoken opponent of charter schools, and Rep. Terry Adams of Bridgeport over Dan Dauplaise.”
As noted, these pro-charter groups are closely aligned to Governor Dannel Malloy’s and his anti-public school agenda. The groups have spent more than $9 million lobbying Connecticut public officials since Malloy rolled out his corporate education reform agenda in 2012.
The timing could not be more suspicious.
Malloy may be on his way out, but one of his key life lines for his aspirations in Washington D.C. is the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies.
Or, as the CT Mirror noted;
Malloy, the co-chair of the DNC’s Platform Committee, was a featured speaker at a Democrats for Education Reform event in Philadelphia…”
“Payment” to be collected later…
For additional background on these groups and their antics in Connecticut read the following Wait, What? posts;
Connecticut Charter School Industry spends another half a million dollars on lobbying elected officials
The Bevy of Billionaires undermining public education
Charter School Industry “invests” more than $9 million in Connecticut lobbying
Education reformers and charter school industry are jacking our legislature.