Cuomo to Teachers: Drop Dead (Could just have easily come from Malloy)

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Friend and fellow education blogger Peter Greene posted a powerful piece on his blog over the weekend entitled, Cuomo to Teachers: Drop Dead.  Peter’s commentary piece focused on the recent pronouncements of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo who has pledged to use his second term to destroy public education in New York.

Sadly, Cuomo’s words aren’t very different than Governor Dan Malloy’s actions.  No matter how much Malloy and his supporters spin it, he remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose ending teacher tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in Connecticut’s poorest schools.  While Malloy and his supporters focused on his so-called “apology” for claiming teachers need only show up for four years to get tenure, he never publicly said his anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining position was a mistake.

And in fact, it was less than twelve hours after he declared victory in November, that Malloy’s Education Commissioner and Malloy’s political appointees to the State Board of Education voted to approve 8 more non-unionized charter schools —- at the very same time the Malloy and his administration continue to refuse to provide Connecticut’s public schools with a Constitutionally adequate amount of money.

As you read Peter Greene’s piece on Cuomo, recall Malloy’s unprecedented assault on teachers and the teaching profession and the failure of the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly to derail Malloy’s unfair, inappropriate and counter-productive initiatives on teacher evaluation and the massive expansion of the Common Core Standardized Testing scheme.

Cuomo to Teachers: Drop Dead

If you have not yet seen the letter from Cuomo aid Jim Malatras to ed leaders Tisch and King, you can find a copy right here. If you want to see just how direct and ugly an attack by a governor on his own state’s public education system can be, you should read it. If you are a teacher in New York, you should read it twice.

I’ll hit the highlights, not because the letter’s particularly hard to parse, but because some things are just so ugly, they need to be held up to the light as much and as often as possible.

It opens with the observation that New York’s low success percentages for proficiency on the Big Test are simply “unacceptable” and therefore Cuomo will make sure that the cut scores are set at more acceptable levels as determined by educators and not politicians. Ha! Just kidding. He’s going to pretend that those proficiency numbers represent something other than political gamesmanship by the governor’s office.

Speaking of proficiency, the next paragraph opens with this sentence:

Governor Cuomo believes in public education it can open up unlimited opportunity to our students.

I believe Malatras he is not a careful proofreader. I sympathize. I am the king of speedy mistakes, as my readers can attest. But I’m not on the state payroll, writing documents of record.

Malatras goes on to say that “virtually everyone” thinks the system must be reformed and improved, and I wonder if he’s counting the people who believe that reformation and improvement start with getting Cuomo’s grabby hands off public education’s neck. But no– three guesses where efforts to fix schools must be focused:

Part of the package will be to strengthen one of our most important professions teaching. While some seek to demonize teachers, Governor Cuomo believes the exact opposite wanting to reward excellence in teaching and by recruiting the best and brightest into the profession. 

(Yes, the letter is riddled with mistakes. No further comment). Those damn teachers. those stupid incompetent teachers that Cuomo loves so very much.

Malatras goes on to note that the governor doesn’t have a lot of control over education, and that this represents a wise and rational distribution of power in running a state. Ha! No, kidding again. Cuomo doesn’t have that kind of power, so he’s going to use the budget process to just take it. He’s asking Tisch and King for their input on Cuomo’s ideas as matter of policy (leave the politicking to the legislature). Here are Cuomo’s Twelve Awesome Thoughts, with a bit of translation. You’re welcome.

1) The teacher evaluation system sucks because it’s not failing enough teachers. How can we jigger it so that more teachers are failed by it?

2) It’s too hard to fire bad teachers. Hard work is hard. How can we make it less hard to get rid of the teachers that we’ll be failing more of once we straighten out the evalouation process?

3) How can we make becoming a teacher harder? Because if we make it really hard to become a teacher, then teachers will be better. Can we give them all a competency test? Recruiting best and brightest would be cool.

4) Cuomo would still like to get merit pay up and running, because the fact that it has never worked anywhere doesn’t change his love for how it would reduce payroll costs. Because recruiting teachers (point 3) goes better when you tell them they might get well paid if you feel like paying them more.

5) Could we make the pre-tenure period longer, and could we make their certification temporary so that they have to get re-approved every couple of years. We need to make them stop thinking of teaching as a lifetime career, because that’s how you recruit the best and the brightest.

6) What can we do about schools that suck? Particularly Buffalo, because we would really like to accelerate the hand-over of Buffalo schools to charter operators, who make much better campaign contributions than low-paid teachers.

7) Charters? Charters charters charters. Can we just increase the cap in NYC? A whole lot?

8) Education special interests have resisted using courses delivered by computer. Could we just go ahead and do that anyway? Because one college instructor with a computer = 143 high school teachers we could fire.

9) What about mayoral control? It looked like a great idea in NYC until they elected some bozo who didn’t get the deal with charters until Cuomo had the legislature rough him up a bit. Mayoral control is better than a damn elected board, but mayors are also elected and those damn voters are a pain in my ass.

10) Should we combine some of the 700 school districts in New York? (This might be the only thing on the list that isn’t either evil or stupid. I would make fun of 700 different school districts in New York, but I’m in PA and we aren’t any better).

11) The damn regents are appointed by the legislature. Do you think we should fix that, because having to work with people not under his direct control is a real problem for the governor.

12) We’re about to replace Dr. King. Is there a way to have a transparent process to replace him with someone I pick?

Oddly enough, the Cuomo office has no interest in looking at rampant testing, craptastic canned curriculum, or widely unpopular standards. I would have said that it was hard to blame these not-beloved-by-teachers programs on teachers, but since Rudy Giuliani found a way to blame the death of Eric Garner on teachers, I’m going to accuse Cuomo of slacking on this department.

Several weeks ago Governor Cuomo said that improving education is thwarted by the monopoly of the education bureaucracy. The education bureaucracy’s mission is to sustain the bureaucracy and the status quo and therefore it is often the enemy of change. The result is the current system perpetuates the bureaucracy but, fails our students in many ways.Tackling these questions with bold policy and leadership could truly transform public education and finally have it focus on the student as opposed to the bureaucracy. 

Because having power centered in places that aren’t the governor’s office is just, you know, bad.

In a charming coda, Malatras notes that King might now give even better advice now that he is unshackled from the political demands of his office, because you know that John King– he was always so constrained by his deep concern about public opinion, and his willingness to listen to the public just tied him up. Now as a federal bureaucrat hired outside any sort of approval system, he’ll be free to disregard public opinion entirely. Because A) that’s a good thing and B) it’s not at all how he conducted himself in his New York job.

Man, I just hope all those New York teacher union officials who carried Cuomo’s water throughout the primary season are really enjoying this unfettered direct attack against the profession and the public schools. Tisch and King are supposed to get back to Cuomo with their advice on how best to kick New York’s teachers in the teeth by December 31, so to all my NY teacher neighbors, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays, because 2015 will bring open season on public school teachers in the Empire State.

Here in Connecticut, Malloy’s intentions will become clear in the coming weeks.  Who will he appoint as Commissioner of Education and will he has the members of the State Board of Education to step down so that he can appoint some people who have not sold their souls to the corporate education reform industry.

As Peter Greene says to his NY teacher neighbors, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays, because 2015 will bring open season on public school teachers in the Empire State.”

The same is true here in Connecticut.  CT teachers; if we know anything about Malloy and his inner circle of anti-teacher, anti-public education corporate education reform industry groupies we can safely say – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays, because 2015 will bring open season on public school teachers in the Constitution State.

CEA hires another former Dem. Legislative Leader who helped push through Malloy’s corporate education reform legislation

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In an article entitled, “Former House Speaker lands job at teachers’ union,” The CT Mirror’s Jacqueline Rabe Thomas has confirmed the rumors that, “Christopher G. Donovan, the former speaker of the state House of Representatives, has been hired by the state’s largest teachers’ union — the second former legislative leader to land a job at the Connecticut Education Association this winter.”

Donovan, who is the former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives will be joining former President of the Connecticut State Senate, Don Williams, at the Connecticut Education Association.

Both Donovan and Williams played key roles in helping Governor Malloy pass his ant-teacher, pro-charter school legislation in 2012.

Malloy’s bill not only sought to denigrate and undermine public school teachers and the teaching profession but it mandated the unfair, inappropriate and counter-productive teacher evaluation program that kicks in this year.

According to the CT Mirror story, “Mark Waxenburg, the executive director of the union, said during an interview that Donovan’s background as an organizer for the community college union made him an attractive candidate. The union declined to say how much Donovan would be paid.”

Interestingly, Donovan (and Williams) also supported Malloy’s proposal to combine the Connecticut State Universities and Community College System, a move that is widely credited with severely damaging the 17 public colleges and universities that make up the new Board of Regents System.

The CT Mirror noted that, “Donovan — the house speaker from January 2009 to January 2013 — left the General Assembly after 20 years in office to run for congress in Connecticut 5th district. His campaign crashed after federal authorities indicted two of his highest-ranking campaign officials, among others, on charges that they conspired to hide contributions from businesses hoping to derail legislation.”

In what appears to have been a question about whether their political connections got them the  jobs, the CT Mirror reported that the CEA executive director explained that,  “the former leaders’ qualifications, not their former title in the General Assembly, is what earned them the jobs.”

“We don’t really place any extended value on a person because they served in public office. We look at what they are able to do relative to their history,” Waxenberg told the CT Mirror.

You can read the full CT Mirror story at:  http://ctmirror.org/former-house-speaker-lands-job-at-teachers-union/

Steve Perry Claims Victory – Tweeting – “Not leaving, just expanding.”

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Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers appear poised to subsidize Steve Perry’s private charter school management company thanks to an agreement announced last Friday between Perry and Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools.

Although labeled by Hartford Superintendent as an “informal, non-binding’” agreement, the plan would require the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut to subsidize Steve Perry’s charter school management company [called Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. (CPS)] by paying the salaries of Capital Prep Magnet School Assistant Principal Richard Beganski, [who is slated to serve as “Chief Academic Officer” for Perry’s private company], as well as paying the salaries of seven other Capital Prep Magnet School teachers [all of whom are will be serving key roles in Perry private company].

The lucrative deal for Perry was put together and announced without a vote of the Hartford Board of Education.

In announcing the agreement, “outgoing” Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry wrote,

“I am pleased to announce that together with our superintendent, Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, we have generated a plan that will establish “sister schools” between Capital Prep and our new schools.”

In turn, according to a Hartford Courant article entitled, “Capital Prep’s Steve Perry, Superintendent Work On School Collaboration,” Hartford Superintendent of Schools Beth Schiavino-Narvaez provided the Hartford Board of  Education with a memo explaining that she had developed “’an informal, non-binding’” pact with Perry that would allow Capital Prep and Perry’s new charter schools to “share training among staff, guidance on best practices” and “opportunities for student collaboration on projects and visits.”

Later on Friday, when a Perry supporter Tweeted, “I’m sorry to see you leaving Hartford!” Perry responded;

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
“Not leaving, just expanding.”

As for the parameters of the deal, The Hartford Courant wrote,

“Narvaez said the district would not pay a fee for the goodwill arrangement… [And] Narvaez stressed that Hartford does not cede any power to Perry or his charter group.”

However, what Hartford’s Superintendent failed to address is what appears to be the massive financial subsidy for Perry’s private charter school operation that is hidden inside the “agreement.”

As part of his application to the New York Board of Regents for his proposed Harlem Capital Prep Charter School, Perry wrote;

“CPS [Capital Preparatory Schools Inc. which is Perry’s private charter school management company] is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools.”

“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students.”

According to Perry’s application to open Harlem Capital Prep, his private corporation’s financial plan was based on collecting management fees from all of his schools, including the public school in Hartford.  The Harlem Capital Prep application reads;

“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

The application goes on to note;

“CPS [Perry’s private company] will support Capital Prep Harlem through its oversight of the principal, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and its overall monitoring of fidelity to the Capital Prep model.  CPS will also utilize its two other schools in Bridgeport and Hartford to provide professional development and to share resources. The three schools will act as a ‘boutique’ network in which faculty, staff, parents and students participate in academic and social exchanges.”

According to the application, “MANAGEMENT CPS will launch operations with a core management team representing a mix of deep education experience, business expertise, and political savvy. This ‘hybrid’ team will be crucial to CPS’ success as a high-growth organization in a rapidly changing industry.”

The application states that Stephen D. Perry will serve the charter school management company’s “Head of Schools” and Richard Beganski will serve as CPS’ “Chief Academic Officer.”  Beganski presently serves as Capital Prep’s Assistant Principal.

The New York application states that, “Ten founding group members from Capital Prep came together to launch CPS as the school management organization to lead replication of the Capital Prep model.”  The founding members of the charter management company are then listed, nine of the ten being full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.

The application reports that the CPS “GOVERNANCE” team includes;

Stephen D. Perry, MSW, EdD…

Richard Beganski, MA, has been the Academic Dean of Capital Prep since the school began in 2005. Mr. Beganski has created or co-created most of the original documents that have constituted the structure for Capital Prep…

Scott F. Wojnarowicz, MA has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2005. Mr. Wojnarowicz was the founding member of the Capital Prep Magnet School planning committee. In addition, he was the primary author of the original draft of the Capital Prep Student Expectations manual, co-author of Capital Prep’s Blueprint, and author of Capital Prep’s Physical Education and Wellness Plan…

Kelly Horan, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Science Department since July 2011. Since joining the Capital Prep, Ms. Horan has taken on increasing levels of responsibility in an effort to improve teaching and learning through data-driven instruction…

Scott Kapralos, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2005. Mr. Kapralos was one of the founding members of Capital Prep and has committed most of his career to the development and improvement of the Capital Prep model…

Kitsia Ferguson, MBA, EdD, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the English Department since 2006 and is currently the Head of Capital Prep’s Lower School.

Monique Ethier, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2007.

Lauren Davern, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the History Department since 2007…

Lisa Loomis, has been Head of the English Department at Capital Prep since August 2013 and a teacher at Capital Prep in the English Department since July 2012…

All of these individuals are presently full-time employees of Hartford Public School System.

What is absolutely clear is that according to the documents Perry and his private company provided the New York Board of Regents, control of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School was critical to his plans, not only since he would be collecting a multi-million dollar management fee for running Hartford’s public magnet school but because he would be using Capital Prep to employee the majority of the members of his private company.

By deciding not to turn Capital Prep Magnet School over to Perry and his charter school management company, Hartford put Perry’s financial plan in serious jeopardy.

However, as a result of the Hartford Superintendent’s new “informal, non-binding’” agreement, the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut seem ready to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies to Perry’s operation by paying the salaries of Richard Beganski,( the “Chief Academic Officer” for Perry’s company) and seven other Capital Prep Magnet School teachers, who according to the New York charter school application, will be playing key roles in Perry private company.

Considering the financial issues facing the City of Hartford and the State of Connecticut it is astonishing that the Hartford would agree to divert scarce resources to support Steve Perry’s ambitions to develop a lucrative charter school management company.

Steve Perry announces Capital Prep will have “sister status” with his privately owned charter schools

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When Steve Perry, who serves as the principal of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School Principal and is a full-time Hartford employee, submitted his application to the New York Board of Regents to open a new charter school in Harlem that would be owned and operated by his private charter school management company, Perry not only claimed that he controlled Hartford’s public school but that his business plan included receiving significant income from running Hartford’s Capital Prep.

The New York Board of Regents requires applicants to provide a corporate financial plan to ensure potential charter school operators have the financial resources to maintain their commitments concerning proposed new charter schools.

As part of his application to the New York Board of Regents for the proposed Harlem Capital Prep Charter School, Perry wrote;

“FINANCIAL PLAN – Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

But of course, Perry’s private company has no contract to manage Capital Prep, let alone collect “excess management fees” from the Hartford Board of Education.

According to various sources knowledgeable about Perry’s backroom deals, when Hartford’s superintendent baulked at the notion of handing Capital Prep over to Perry’s private company, Perry proposed that he would “manage” Hartford ‘s Capital Prep for a token $1 a year.

If Perry’s offer was genuine and he intended to forgo the millions in management fees that he originally reported  for running Hartford’s Capital Prep,  then he was in direct violation of the plan he submitted to the New York Board of Regents.

Yet there is no evidence that he ever informed the New York Board of Regents that the financial plan he has submitted with his official application was no longer valid.

Alternatively, the $1 a year offer was nothing but a ruse and Perry still intended to collect millions of dollars from Hartford in the form of management fees and/or salaries for members of his company.  Nine of the ten top members of his private charter school management company are full-time administrators and teachers at Capital Prep Magnet School, making them full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.

Regardless of whether Perry was lying to the New York Board of Regents, earlier this week, Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez issued a letter to “Parents, Guardians and the staff of Capital Preparatory School that Principal Perry would be leaving at the end of the school year and a new Capital Prep principal would be selected utilizing Hartford Board of Education procedures and policies.

However, less than forty-eight hours later, Steve Perry had his own announcement for Capital Prep parents informing them that he and Hartford’s superintendent had developed a plan that, “will establish “sister schools” between Capital Prep and our new schools,” and that Perry himself would be playing a primary role in the selection of Capital Prep Magnet School’s new principal

Perry added in his letter to parents that his strategy “will ensure that students, parents and staff from each of the schools can collaborate for the betterment of all children. Together we will create the professional learning community that so many of us wanted.”

Perry’s announcement is silent on the financial deal between Perry’s private company and the Hartford Board of Education.

However, the charter school application approved by the New York Board of Regents continues to be based on Perry collecting millions of dollars in management fees from all three of “his schools,” which he lists as Hartford’s Capital Prep and his proposed charter schools in Bridgeport and Harlem Charter schools.

While Perry presents the situation as a “done deal,”  it is extremely unclear as to what authority Hartford’s superintendent of schools would have to cut such a deal with Perry and why the Hartford Board of education has not been informed of  Perry agreement with the superintendent nor has the board voted on this vague and  inappropriate scheme.

The one thing that is clear is that Mr. Perry’s sworn application to the New York Board of Regents, an application that the Regents used to approve his plan to open a charter school in Harlem, claims that Perry controls and will continue to control Hartford’s public school.

Perry’s New York application states,

“CPS [Perry’s private charter school management company] is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools.”

“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students.”

“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

Rather than investigate and confront the serious legal and financial issues raised by Mr. Perry’s claims, with this supposed agreement in place the Hartford Superintendent and Board of Education appear to have thrown in their lot with Perry , thus becoming co-conspirators in an effort to walk away from their fiduciary responsibilities to the citizens of Hartford and Connecticut.

Perry embarks on yet another “New Endeavor” while a full-time Hartford employee

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Clearly the six figure income Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry collects from Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers isn’t slowing down his “extra-curricular” activities.

In addition to his lucrative public-speaking business and his private charter school management company, the Hartford Board of Education employee – who misses more than 25% of Hartford school days – has joined television Bishop T.D. Jakes in creating a new “Continuing Education Program.”

According to a press release issued last month, Steve Perry, Bishop T.D. Jakes and businessman Daymond John (of ABC’s Shark Tank) have created a new “continuing education program to help professionals take their careers to the next level.”

According to the news coverage following the press release, Perry is referred to as a Ph.D., which of course he is not.

The media report is that Perry’s new endeavor is in conjunction with the “TD Jakes School of Leadership – Higher Learning for a Higher Purpose,” (See at http://tdjakesleadership.com/.) The website features a picture of Perry and explains that the education program is “powered by Regent University’s Professional and Continuing Education division.”  Regent University, in turn, reports that they are, “one of the nation’s leading academic centers for Christian thought and action, with associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees available worldwide. Our academic standards are high and our programs rigorous, but what sets Regent apart is our mission to prepare capable men and women to excel both in mind and spirit. Our students, faculty and administrators share a calling, founded on biblical principles, to make a significant difference in our world. (http://www.regent.edu/)

When explaining how the new program got started, Capital Prep’s Steve Perry told one publication, A couple years ago, Bishop Jakes and I started talking about working together around the topic of education….Eventually the partnership with Regents came forward and it was an opportunity to take this online learning experience and bring it to our community.”

Perry adds, ““The curriculum is cutting-edge, relevant and innovative, and taught by industry experts…You can take individual classes to refresh your skills or enroll in a series of courses toward earning a certificate.”

The new program’s marketing material adds,The T.D. Jakes School of Leadership was instituted by T.D. Jakes and Regent University’s Professional & Continuing Education division (PCE) to provide world-class educational tools and resources for leaders seeking higher learning opportunities to grow and excel in their professional and personal development…The school fulfills Jakes’ vision to make quality educational tools accessible to those leaders seeking to advance their professional careers. The T.D. Jakes School of Leadership offers fully accredited, industry-focused certificate programs and leadership institutes for professionals, emerging leaders, knowledge workers in transition or retirees desiring to chart the course for the next phase.”

You can read more at;

http://tdjakesleadership.com/; http://www.regent.edu/; http://www.regent.edu/academics/pce/; http://www.blackenterprise.com/career/steve-perry-working-bishop-jakes-leadership-program/ and http://www.blackenterprise.com/career/steve-perry-working-bishop-jakes-leadership-program/

Breaking News – Capital Prep Steve Perry leaving Hartford

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Steve Perry, the man who described himself as the, “most trusted educator in America,” is leaving his post as principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory School in order to pursue his desire to join the charter school industry and expand upon on his plans to develop a charter school management company.

Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez notified parents, guardians and staff of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in a letter writing that Perry, “will be leaving the role of principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School at the close of this school year.”

The Hartford Superintendent added, “As we say thank you to Principal Perry for his service to the Hartford Public Schools, we will engage you in finding the next leader of the school….During this period of transition from one school leader to another, I want to assure you that the district’s relationship with Capital Prep and its support of the school will not change.”

While Perry’s departure is extremely good news for those concerned about his leadership style, his excessive absenteeism and his school’s unwillingness to educate its fair share of non-English speaking students and children who require special education services, Perry’s decision to depart Capital Prep Magnet School leaves numerous outstanding issues un-addressed.

For example, the Hartford Superintendent’s letter only references the news that Steve Perry will be leaving his post.

However, there are eight other full-time Capital Prep administrators and teachers who are listed as founding members of Perry’s charter school operation and are included in Perry’s plans to open up charter schools in Bridgeport and Harlem, New York in the fall of 2015.

According to the official documents filed with the Connecticut and New York State Departments of Education, Perry’s has stated that Capital Prep’s Assistant Principal, Richard Beganski, is a key member of Perry charter school management company and will hold leadership positions at the proposed charter schools.  Obviously, as a full-time employee of Capital Prep, Beganski can’t remain in his present job and thus it can be assumed that Beganski’s resignation will be forthcoming soon.   The situation is equally true for the other seven full-time Hartford Board of Education employees who Perry has listed a part of his company and charter school management operation.

Considering that initial charters were granted based on Perry’s claim to have a team already in place, and that his applications actually listed these individuals as key players, a number of other Capital Prep administrators and employees must be planning to join Perry in the Hartford Public School System.

An even more important, but unresolved issue, is how Perry can even replicate Capital Prep Magnet School in Bridgeport and Harlem when federal copyright laws and Hartford Board of Education policies appear to make it clear that the concepts, materials, curriculum, policies and procedures that Perry has said he will be using in his charter schools actually belong to the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and do not belong to Perry or Perry’s private company as he claimed in his Bridgeport and Harlem charter school proposals.

With pending complaints filed against Perry at the state and local level in Connecticut and New York about these issues, his ability to meet the requirements of the new charter applications appears doubtful.

In addition, Perry also faces a series of lawsuits and legal actions based on his treatment of employees who have since left Capital Prep Magnet School.

And if as if that wasn’t enough, Perry and his eight fellow Capital Prep Magnet School employees must still face the issue of how there were able to spend the last two years working to develop Perry’s charter school company when, in fact, they were employed as full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.  The issue goes beyond the problems associated with what could be criminal copyright infringement to whether these employees improperly spent time or public resources working to provide services that benefited Perry’s private company or, through that company, were designed to provide these nine individuals with present or future earnings.  As some lawyers have noted, a case of “theft of service” could arguably made against these public employees if they were engaged in private work on public time or if their work as public school employees was designed to guarantee them private income at a future date.

Check back for more on this breaking story.

The Corporate Education Reform Industry effort to buy control of Public Education

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The Progressive is the renowned magazine created in 1909 by the Progressive United States Senator, Robert M. La Follette Sr.  The Progressive is known for its investigative reporting, political commentary, cultural coverage, activism, interviews, poetry, and humor. It steadfastly stands against militarism, the concentration of power in corporate hands, and the disenfranchisement of the citizenry.  This is my third article in this magazine about the corporate education reform industry’s effort to undermine America’s public education system.

The Corporate Education Reform Industry effort to buy control of Public Education

This year’s election season provided a series of textbook examples of how corporate education reformers used their personal fortunes to contaminate the democratic process.

Let’s begin with the little state of Rhode Island, where former hedge fund owner and charter school champion, Democrat Gina Raimondo was elected governor with 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race—one in which there was an unprecedented level of campaign spending.

Raimondo, who as Rhode Island’s state treasurer won national acclaim from conservatives for successfully dismantling the state employee pension fund, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors associated with funding the education reform movement and profiting from the charter school industry. Her running mate, Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee, one of the state’s most vocal supporters of charter schools, was elected lieutenant governor with help from many of the same donors.

Over the course of her gubernatorial campaign, Raimondo collected checks from many of the major players in the charter school and “education reform” movement, including donations from billionaires Eli Broad and members of the Walton Family.  (The Broad Foundation and Walton Foundation, along with Gates Foundation, are the primary funders behind the overall education reform movement.)

Another billionaire, former Enron executive John Arnold along with his wife, not only donated directly to Raimondo’s campaign and her political action committee, called Gina PAC, but the couple’s $100,000 check made them the largest donors to the American LeadHERship Council, a Super PAC affiliated with Raimondo. The second largest donor to the Super PAC was Eli Broad with $15,000.

A proponent of doing away with public employee pensions, Arnold also donated as much as $500,000 to an advocacy group called Engage Rhode Island, which spent approximately $740,000 lobbying for Raimondo’s successful assault on public employee pensions. Over the past three years, the John and Laura Arnold Foundation has donated more than $100 million in support of charter schools and entities involved in the corporate education reform industry, including being one of the largest contributors to Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Raimondo’s success in raising funds from the charter school industry includes at least $50,000 from the members of the board of directors of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter chain that recently opened a school in Rhode Island, adding to their existing schools in Connecticut and New York.

Jonathan Sackler, an investment manager and heir to the Purdue Pharma fortune, is not only a founding member of Achievement First, Inc, but a founder of a national charter school advocacy group called 50CAN. One of 50CAN’s related entities, 50CAN Action Fund, dumped $90,000 to run TV commercials to help Raimondo’s running mate win his primary race.

As a result of the Citizens United case and IRS regulations, the 501(c) (4) Foundation 50CAN Action Fund can accept unlimited donations from contributors and can participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as it’s primary activity is “the promotion of social welfare.”

Massive amounts of money flowed to Republican Governors Scott Walker and Rick Snyder helping ensure the education reform effort continues to expand in Wisconsin and Michigan.

In New York and Connecticut, the corporate education reformers strengthened their control of public policy with the reelection of Democrats Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy.

In other states, like Illinois, where both the Democratic and Republican candidates were supporters of school privatization, the big money behind the education reform movement couldn’t lose.

Getting control of governors’ offices wasn’t the only target for the education reformers.  Races for mayor and school board also attracted unprecedented levels of campaign spending.

In Minneapolis, charter school advocate Don Samuels lost his bid to become mayor of Minneapolis in 2013. However, with the help of record amounts of out-of-state campaign contributions, Samuels won a seat on the Minneapolis school board. As in Rhode Island, the 50CAN Action Fund spent significant amounts of money in support of Samuels.

Over the course of the campaign, donors to Samuels and the political action committees supporting him included an impressive list of  out-of-state corporate education reformers, among them: California billionaire, Teach for America board member, and Rocketship Charter School chain investor Arthur Rock, who donated more than $100,000; former New York Mayor and charter school advocate Michael Bloomberg, who contributed $100,000; and California charter school investor Adam Cioth, who added tens of thousands more to the campaign effort.  Even Achievement First’s Jonathan Sackler dropped in $25,000 to help the cause.

While the corporate education reform industry was extraordinarily successful across the nation, it came up short in its largest effort, which was to defeat Tom Torlakson, California’s state superintendent of education, and replace him with Mashall Tuck, a charter school executive and leading charter school advocate.

Torlakson won with 52 percent of the vote, despite the fact that his opponent raised tens of millions of dollars from the leading financial backers of the corporate education reform movement, including Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, and the Walton family.

Much of the corporate education reform industry money for Tuck, the poster child of the charter school industry, was funneled through a political action committee with the ironic name of “Parents and Teachers for Tuck for State Superintendent 2014.” The largest campaign contributions came from Eli Broad ($1,375,000); Julian Robertson of the Robertson Foundation ($1 million); William Bloomfield ($1 million), Doris Fisher of the Donald and Doris Fisher Fund ($950,000), the Walton family ($950,000); Laurie Jobs ($500,000), Michael Bloomberg ($250,000), John Arnold ($250,000), and Arthur Rock ($250,000).

As the dust settles on the 2014 campaign, it still isn’t clear just how much the corporate education reform industry pumped into races at the state and local level, but the total was well into the tens of millions and in a significant number of cases, the infusion of huge amounts of outside spending was instrumental in helping the corporate interests take more control of state and local education policy making process.

It’s likely to stay that way until we either get money out of politics or parents, teachers, and citizens who believe in the value of education expose those who seek to profit from dismantling the country’s public schools.

This article is part of the new December/January issue of The Progressive, which is devoted to the corporate education reform industry’s attack on public education.

The Progressive is so concerned about what is happening to our public schools that they created a whole website, Public School Shakedown, to expose the threat of school privatization and connect pro-public-school activists, nationwide.  Some of the best education writers in the country, who blog for Public School Shakedown, have written incredible articles for the new issue.  You can subscribe to The Progressive at http://progressive.org/ or get a digital subscription right now.

It is an investment well worth making.

The Progressive Save Our Schools el  The Progressive also produced a great new video by Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Mark Fiore: “ProfitShip! Cashing in on Public Schools.”

The short, sharable cartoon is designed to help get the word out about the attack on public education. Read more about it and spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and Twitter!

Remember, if you aren’t already a subscriber to The Progressive, you can get a digital subscription right now and read the whole issue immediately.

The Progressive releases great video on corporate education reform:

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Check out the great new video by Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Mark Fiore: “ProfitShip! Cashing in on Public Schools.”

The Progressive commissioned the short, sharable cartoon to help get the word out about the corporate education reform industry’s attack on public education.

This animated feature on school privatization stars little Timmy, a kindergartner who likes his public school. Timmy gets a confusing lesson in corporate education reform, starting with the right-wing mantra “Public Schools have failed.”

(The Bradley Foundation, a top right-wing think tank, has devoted more than $30 million to label public education as “failing” and promote privatization as the “solution.”)

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore uses his trademark humor to show the absurdity of this argument. Despite poor results, charter chains like Rocketship are replacing real teachers and classes like art, social studies, and gym with a computer-aided test-prep curriculum straight out of science fiction.

Please distribute widely – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opcHQ_v6PuU

Read more at http://www.publicschoolshakedown.org/

 

Courant weighs in –”State Must Curtail Deceptive Borrowing”

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A Wait, What? post last Monday entitled, “The State Budget Gimmick to End all Budget Gimmicks,” followed up on Keith Phaneuf’ CT Mirror story “Is Malloy poised to put much of the budget deficit on CT’s credit card?

The articles outlined Governor Malloy’s inappropriate use of “bond premiums” to use the state’s credit card to cover the State’s operating expenses and hid budget deficits.

In his piece, Phaneuf’s explained,

 “Malloy relied heavily on bond premiums during his first three years in office, using more than $160 million to close budget deficits or to bolster the emergency reserve, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund.  Phaneuf added, “According to records from the treasurer’s office, the state had taken $41 million in bond premiums through the first four months of the fiscal year. The treasurer’s office said the state took another $37.7 million premium this week on $300 million in new bonds. That means more than $78 million has been added to the budget’s debt service line item since the fiscal year began.”

The purpose of the Wait, What? article was to try and put the deceitful fiscal move into plan language.

Now the Hartford Courant has joined the effort to shed light on Malloy’s actions in an editorial entitled, “State Must Curtail Deceptive Borrowing.”  The Courant wisely observers,

Here’s a worthwhile idea that may hinder if not stop the inappropriate use of bond premiums — a form of borrowing — to cover operating expenses in the state budget.

Republican state lawmakers Vincent Candelora and Len Fasano intend to introduce legislation that would require the treasurer to report monthly to the General Assembly on all bond premiums taken and on the interest rates involved.

Regular reporting ought to shine some much-needed sunlight on a practice that can add another layer of deception and expense to state borrowing.

It works this way: The state sometimes when issuing bonds pays a higher interest rate than originally planned in return for a premium. That’s extra money the state might use to cover the cost of issuance (a legitimate use) or to retire high-interest debt or, usually in bad times, to support the state’s operating budget — running the agencies day to day on borrowed money.

Of course, debt service must be paid on the premium, which makes the borrowing expensive.

[…]

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is no stranger to bond premiums. He used more than $160 million to close budget deficits and bolster the rainy day fund during his first three years in office.

Although Mr. Malloy recently found $48 million in spending cuts to partially bridge the $100 million projected budget deficit for the current fiscal year, Republican legislators speculate that he’ll resort to bond premiums to cover the rest.

The Malloy administration hasn’t ruled out the use of premium money.

Mr. Malloy, who has become a prodigious borrower, should resist the temptation. Find more budget reductions. It’s time for discipline.”

When Dan Malloy was running for governor in 2010, he said, “Increasing debt makes responsible budgeting less possible… And, it is simply irresponsible to leave more and more debt for future generations.”

However, despite his campaign pledge, since becoming Governor, Dannel Malloy has been engaged in a excessive borrowing spree that has irresponsibly put more and more debt on the taxpayer’s of the state and our children.

The editorial from the Hartford Courant is spot on and extremely timely.

Open letter to the Hartford Board of Education and Hartford Superintendent of Schools regarding Steve Perry

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To the members of the Hartford Board of Education and Hartford Superintendent of Schools

Re:  The Hartford BOE’s review and action related to Steve Perry ‘s apparent criminal infringement of the Hartford Board of Education’s copyrights. 

As I believe you know, at its meeting on November 17-18, 2014, the New York Board of Regents, upon the recommendation of the New York Commissioner of Education and his staff, approved granting Steve Perry and his private charter school management corporation an initial charter to open the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School in New York City.

The resolution read that, “In New York City, Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School, proposed as a replication of an effective magnet school in Connecticut, will partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem to provide middle- and high-school students with a rigorous, year-round college preparatory curriculum..”

The Board of Regents voted,

“That the Regents find that the proposed charter school: (1) meets the requirements set out in Article 56 of the Education Law, and all other applicable laws, rules and regulations; (2) will operate in an educationally and fiscally sound manner; (3) is likely to improve student learning and achievement and materially further the purposes set out in subdivision two of section twenty-eight hundred fifty of Article 56 of the Education Law; and (4) will have a significant educational benefit to the students expected to attend the charter school, and the Board of Regents therefore approves and issues a charter and provisional charter to the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School for a term of five years in accordance with §2851(2)(p) of the Education Law.

You can find Mr. Perry’s application at: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2014/November2014/1114p12a3.pdf

However, I submit that federal and state law is extremely clear on this matter and that all concepts, materials, curriculum, policies, procedures and any and all documents associated with the Capital Preparatory Magnet School do not belong to Mr. Perry or his private company, but actually belong to the Hartford Board of Education, and therefore, by definition, to the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut.

It is undeniable that the Hartford’s Board of Education’s policies make it clear that all work done by employees, in the course of their official duties, belongs to the Board.

Mr. Perry lacks the legal authority to “replicate” Capital Preparatory Magnet Schools and, as his application to the New York Board of Regents repeatedly states, the concepts, materials, curriculum, policies and procedures that he has proposed using come directly and exclusively from his work as a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education.

Furthermore, his application makes clear that his charter school management company, which includes himself and at least eight other full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education, will benefit financially from using the materials that actually belong to the Hartford Board of Education.  Perry’s newly approved charter grants him the ability to collect a 10 percent annual management fee that will mean millions of dollars being transferred to his company.

The use of copyrighted materials for personal or private gain is a criminal offense under federal law.

While appropriate complaints have been filed with the Hartford Ethics Commission, the Connecticut State Auditors and appropriate officials and agencies in New York State and New York City, the primary fiduciary responsibility to protect the assets of the Hartford Board of Education rests with the Superintendent and the Hartford Board.

I am writing to inquire what process you are using to investigate this matter and whether the issue will be raised and discussed at the Hartford Board of Education meeting on December 16, 2014.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this letter of inquiry.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Pelto

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