Don’t Let Any “Education Reform” Compromise Sweep the Illegal Activities and Arrogance Under the Rug
Various Connecticut news outlets are reporting that Governor Malloy is proposing to compromise on his “Education Reform” bill in the hopes of having a “deal” by the end of the weekend.
Finding common group on strengthening Connecticut’s education system is certainly welcome news, but the Connecticut General Assembly has an obligation not too allow a “compromise” to end the efforts to investigate the arrogance, unethical and illegal activities that have surrounded Malloy’s “reform” package.
The latest Connecticut Mirror headline reads Education reform: Malloy offers compromise on tenure, while the Hartford Courant has a story that’s entitled Education Reform Compromise Could Be Close . (click on links to read)
While it remains unclear whether Malloy’s efforts are a genuine effort to move the debate to a reasonable resolution or part of some ploy to sneak in some of the worst aspects of his bill, Legislators need to make sure that any “agreement” is not used to derail the need to understand who engaged in what illegal or inappropriate lobbying activities.
These underlying issues are not about Malloy’s comments that a teacher only needs to show up to get tenure or that he supports “teaching to the test” if it will produce higher test scores.
The problem is that a significant number of organizations and people associated with Malloy’s “education reform” effort appear of have engaged in serious unethical and illegal activities.
Among the most serious issues are
(1) StudentsFirst’s complete disregard for Connecticut’s ethics laws and the fact that Michelle Rhee’s group appear to have engaged in a massive number of ethics violations
(2) A number of Individuals, and at least one organization, appear to have violated Connecticut laws in their efforts to persuade the state of Connecticut to take over Bridgeport’s Schools. Although the state’s effort was itself illegal, concern has been raised about the particular lobbying efforts of a group called Excel Bridgeport and individuals associated with that group including Meghan Lowney (Executive Director of the Zoom Foundation) and Nate Snow (Connecticut State Coordinator for Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter).
(3) The latest reports that Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy Administration purposely sidestepped Connecticut’s competitive bidding requirements to hire out of state consultants to help with the development of Malloy’s proposal are also very serious. The Connecticut Post discovered that Pryor and Malloy’s administration played the pivotal role in getting SERC, a quasi-state agency, to hire two New York consulting firms to help develop Malloy’s proposals. Both groups had apparently worked with Pryor in the past. With no state oversight and no review, state officials were able to hire one of the groups for $193,000 and the other for $65,000.
(4) State officials must also explain how it came to pass that the entity that receives the single greatest financial benefit from Malloy’s “Education Reform” package is Achievement First, the charter school management company that Malloy’s education commissioner helped created and served as a Director for until he resigned that position to become Connecticut’s Education Commissioner. Under Malloy’s bill, Achievement First receives more new money than the entire Hartford or New Haven or Bridgeport school systems.
(5) The are also a number of unanswered questions about why Governor Malloy included language in Senate Bill 24 to give Steven Adamowski, Hartford’s former superintendent of schools and Malloy’s present “Special Master” for Windham’s Schools an extra four years for his state pension even though he didn’t meet the legal criteria to get those years. In addition, it is not clear why or how that same quasi-state agency (SERC) signed a contract with Adamowski that attempts to let him get yet additional pension credits for his Windham work although he still doesn’t have the necessary certification that is required to get pension credits. 45,000 teachers have followed the law when it comes to pensions, as have 9,000 school administrators and yet this one Malloy Administration officials get two different special efforts to give him benefits that he doesn’t qualify for.
(6) And the list of potential illegal or unethical activities goes on and on and on.
As more details about a “potential compromise” become available, that information will be published here at Wait, What?