A Hundred Thousand Dollar Plus Pension? The Adamowski Pension Controversy Part II

Yup, you read it right:  $100,000+ a year for life.  Chance of winning 1 in 1

It’s called “Education Reform”

Governor Malloy brings his now familiar confrontational style to the Windham High School tonight (3/14/12) as the Great Malloy/Wyman “Education Reform” Road Trip of 2012 rolls in for Town Meeting #5.

With the Legislature’s Education Committee voting on the “Education Reform” bill within the next two weeks you can be sure the Governor will try to keep the debate on the ‘big picture” and stay far away from some of the lesser known provisions tucked into his 163 page piece of legislation.

Windham is also the temporary workplace of “Special Master” Steven Adamowski; Malloy’s pick to oversee the state’s efforts to increase student achievement scores in the Windham School System.

Adamowski, who helped Malloy develop this “Education Reform” package, is also the unnamed beneficiary of a couple of sentences 3,000 lines into Malloy’s “Education Reform bill.  The section in question retroactively changes Connecticut’s teacher pension law to allow Adamowski to collect a large pension from the State’s Teacher Retirement Fund, a pension he would not otherwise qualify for.

See last Monday’s Wait, What? blog for Part I of this incredible story: Pension, Pension, who wants a Pension – Steven Adamowski this is your lucky day.

And now Part II;

In 2006 Steven Adamowski was named Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools.  Last summer he left that position and Malloy’s Department of Education quickly named him Windham’s “Special Master.”

When administrators or teachers come from out-of-state (as Adamowski did in 2006) they are given a one-year nonrenewable certificate to work in a Connecticut school.   However, the individual must take and pass the state’s education certification exam within one year.

Connecticut law is very clear.  Except for that temporary one year certificate, “no teacher, supervisor, administrator, special service staff member or school superintendent shall be employed in any of the schools of any local or regional board of education unless such person possesses an appropriate state certificate, nor shall any such person be entitled to any salary unless such person can produce such certificate dated previous to or the first day of employment.”

So, in order to keep your position and collect your pay check you need to pass that test.

But it turns out that Steven Adamowski never took the required test. [Nor, interestingly, did he seek a waiver from the test which requires an SAT score of at least 1,000 on the older version of the SATs – back then the average score in the US was about 1050]. 

So how did Adamowski remain Hartford’s superintendent when he had no certificate to work in the state?

On the last day of the Connecticut General Assembly 2007 Session an amendment was added to a bill in the House of Representatives at 12:08 in the morning.

That amendment changed the law to read that “the commissioner may grant a waiver of certification to a person who the commissioner deems to be exceptionally qualified for the position of superintendent…”  Later the night, just 30 minutes before the State Senate was to adjourn for the year, that bill (with the Adamowski amendment) passed and was later signed into law.

Using that provision, Adamowski became the only person in Connecticut to be given an annual waiver of certification for each of the next four years.

But it turns out there is a problem.

While the special deal allowed him to remain Hartford’s superintendent, it didn’t exempt him from having to meet the laws related to getting a State Teacher Retirement pension.

Now enter Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill of 2012 (Senate Bill 24).

Section 32 of Malloy’s bill goes back and changes Connecticut’s pension law so that Adamowski can get pension credits for all his years as superintendent even though he never had the certification needed to be in the pension system.

And rest assured this change as a profound impact.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Steven Adamowski served as a teacher and school administrator in number of Connecticut towns but even with that time he doesn’t come close to having the required 35, 25 or 20 years of Connecticut school service needed to get an annual pension check.

In fact, he barely has 10 years of Connecticut service.

Determining a school administrator or teacher’s pension is actually a fairly complex process. It depends on the number of years they worked in Connecticut, the number of years they worked in schools outside of Connecticut but paid to have those years “shifted” to Connecticut’s system and the salary the retiree made in their last three years of work. There is also a “regular retirement” system and an “early retirement” system.

Last spring, the issue of whether Adamowski could get credit for his Hartford position went all the up to Connecticut’s Attorney George Jepsen and on May 16, 2011 Jepsen ruled the Hartford years cannot be counted toward his pension.

So at this point Adamowski hasn’t met the criteria for a State Teacher Retirement pension.

However, if the law is changed, he would qualify almost immediately and if works another five or six years he’ll get a significant pension.

Malloy’s bill gives Adamowski his time as Hartford’s uncertified superintendent.  Add the time he has or could purchase for the years he worked in public schools outside of Connecticut and if his role as “Special Master” counts or they give him another school administrative job he will have a big pile of retirement credits in the next few years.

Combine those with his present “Special Master” salary of $225,000 a year and he could easily be looking at a pension in the range of $100,000 or more a year.  With automatic cost of living adjustments to that pension and a good long healthy retirement, this “small technical change” that is hidden inside Malloy’s “education reform” bill could cost the state millions.

The Malloy Administration may claim Senate Bill 24 is the Great “Education Reform” Act of 2012 but the title of the bill should probably be – “How to Take Care of Your Own – While Messing up Connecticut’s Education System.”

My guess is that we won’t hear much about this section of the bill or many of the other strange provisions that are included in Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill.

  • guest

    Everything about Adamowski and his credentials is shrouded in mystery.  Since he so stringently judges children by standardized tests, and wishes to subject teachers to evaluations based on standardized tests, his test scores should be prominently displayed.  He and his corporate “charter management”  cronies would like to abolish state certification and licensure, the better to allow “temp agencies” and contract workers to insinuate themselves into schools and into the public purse. 
    Isn’t it interesting that after claiming to get a BS at Southern Connecticut State University (then a College) in 1972, and teaching at some undisclosed elementary, he is principal of Union Elementary School in Farmington in 1976–a meteoric rise, while getting an M.A. in Foundations of Education at Trinity College in 1975.  I wonder why Trinity got rid of such Master’s Degree program?  Maybe they can reinstate it, and name it after their successful graduate, Steven Adamowski. 
    None of this explains the accolades Adamowski picks up everywhere for doing so little for Hartford school children (other than his signature rearranging of grades and other sleight-of-hand moves).  That’s “reform”?

  • JM

    Scary that this ‘stuff’ can be hidden in the bill.  As a teacher, I just hope that the fine print is paid attention to.

    Jon – other than legislatures and senators, who do we continue to contact to push a more careful reform???

  • guest

    I think someone needs to re-write that wonderful “School House Rock” episode on “How a Bill is Passed.”  We need to highlight all the moments when special interests are served and individual deals are brokered.
    The Education Reform Bill of just-squeaked-into-office Malloy is so ripe for this treatment.  I mean, it’s a lampoon on all that education should be in a free society as it is.
    And we truly need to change the legislation that allows just about anybody to be Commissioner of Education, and put some meaningful qualifications back into that office (and yes, standardized test scores for each candidate MUST be publicized).  About the only job nowadays with no minimum educational degree, no experience, and no professional standards required is politician–oh, and Special Master (Malloy and Pryor, get those SAT scores and college GPAs out there).

    • jonpelto

      I like that – a new, modern, updated School House Rock – How a bill becomes a law. I’ll start a draft one of these days and post it for additions and revisions

  • guest

    “You just need to show up for four years” quoth Malloy in February, but Adamowski has always left town at around the four year mark….  And now, earning a quarter of a million dollars as Special Master, he doesn’t even have to show up!

  • jonpelto

    At this point – its the Democratic legislators or no one….

  • guest

    Maybe this is why people are so quiet in Windham–in the Special Master Special Legislation for Windham only, it is written that the Special Master can:

    4. require additional training and
    technical assistance for teachers, principals, and central office staff, and
    for parents and guardians of the district’s students;
    Whoa!  Can they really mean that Adamowski can send parents and guardians back for “Re-education”???  Democracy, I tremble for you! 
    Is this even legal?

  • New Haven

    Gov. Malloy spoke last night in New Haven.  When pressed on arbitration, he stated that an arbitrator who “never taught, never was a school administrator, and knows nothing about education” should not be allowed to pass judgment on the evaluations given by certified, trained school administrators.  I wonder why the same logic doesn’t apply to the people make some of the highest-stakes educational decisions in the state?

    • jonpelto

      Now that is pretty funny. So lets get this straight – the guy who is heading up his “Education Reform” plan has “never taught, never was a school administrator” and the guy who is sent out to “fix” the Windham School System isn’t even certified to be an administrator.

      See this is what happens when people who have never taught,never was a school administrator, and knows nothing about education tries to explain his reasoning on education issues.

  • Guest

    Shouldn’t the state ethics commission be investigating this? Will any of these people do jail time for bribery? Where is the justice? Where is the FBI to investigate this theft of public funds?

  • guest

    Just some observations re the forum in Windham last night. First, there were two reporters from the Courant there–Meghan somebody, whose article appears online this morning, and Rick Green. Green spent a lot of time standing right next to where I was sitting. At one point, right after a very courageous Windham HS teacher read a statement regarding wealth inequality, teacher evaluation, corporate involvement in public schools and the ways that Malloy’s “plan” is falling short of dealing with these issues appropriately–at that point, as the teacher was returning to his seat in the audience, Roy O. walked across the auditorium to speak with Green. They looked extremely chummy. Green, along with Meghan, approached the teacher after the forum. Why would Green be interested in interviewing this teacher? He’s not gonna quote him or anything, right? As far as I know, Green’s only function at the Courant is to produce editorials. Am I wrong here? I don’t read Green’s columns religiously, but I’ve only ever seen him producing opinion pieces–never a hypothetically objective news piece. To me, it appeared very much like Green was taking directions from Roy O.

    • Follow the money

       Green already quoted the other teacher, a reading consultant, in his column.

      • guest

        Funny, I don’t see anyone in the article identified as a reading consultant.

        • guest

          I stand corrected–Green does quote those who oppose his viewpoint (or the viewpoint of the Malloy administration)–so that he can then refute them. Looks like Roy O. WAS providing instructions to Green–something along the lines of–“make sure you get some good quotes from that guy so that you can stomp all over his opinions). Rick Green–journalist, or good little Malloy administration puppet?

        • jonpelto

          you made me laugh so loud that once again the dogs came running in to see what the weird sound was…. but hey – Green and Roy O. both say I’m certifiably crazy so what the hell do I know about anything.

  • Djayyoung

    Oh, I hope the legislators read this and thanks the hatchet to the SB24 removing all the Adamowski provisions AND even go a step further to ammend that other law and strike the waiver language. Then there is no way Adamowski can’t get those required additional years. Not to mention, without the waiver, the man is out of a job.

  • Bbdalely58

    Keep the pressure and the heat on people…..We must be the squeaky wheel!!!!
    There’s always seems to be a double standard for the “in” people..
    Take the test, pay for the certification…Do what you expect and demand of others.

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