Don’t Let Any “Education Reform” Compromise Sweep the Illegal Activities and Arrogance Under the Rug

31 Comments

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?

  • guest

    Wow.  How to keep up with this Trojan Horse called Educational Reform!  Great job, Jonathan.
    Windham has already experienced an influx of questionable consultants.  Let’s hope that that will be exposed soon.

    • Mariposa464

       Could you provide a link to the Windham issue? Thanks.

      And Jon ~  you are a Godsent.

      • CONNintheCan

        Start by going to the Windham Public Schools website, click on Board of Ed, and then look at their last meeting’s agenda packet.  You’ll find lots of stuff getting approved–consultants to run School Governance Councils; the Science Center as the “only” provider of professional development for so-called STEM schools (this seems to be a brand name, by the way); new, guaranteed text book packages recommended by the Special Master; EASTConn about to be gifted with the management of the Windham’s new magnet preK-8 school.  This is just for starters.  Many more consultants lurk in the background.  Have your eyes open for the corporate-sponsors-on-white-chargers who will be ponying up funds for the certification of TFA temps.  (I am sure that said corporations will get tax write-offs as they swoop in on the lucrative public schools.)
        I will get the Board of Ed link, it is a treasure trove!  And nary a sign of the man behind the curtain, Steven Adamowski!

        • guest

          http://www.windham.k12.ct.us/boe/minutes.htm

          Some new ideas to fund education reform have just occurred to me–since the students, or are they now “consumers of the education product”, will be wearing uniforms, maybe we could have some nice product placements on their strait-jackets, ur, jerseys.  Wouldn’t Koch Brothers look nice on their backs?  And Bill and Melinda Gates on their fronts?  And Walmart on the rest of their bodies? 
          We could also set up stations so the shiftless parents and relations of our consumers of the education product could sell blood or body organs.  Maybe a kidney could cover a valuable Ivy-league or elite TFA corps member.

  • Arwood91

    Someone should FYI all of the new hires since Commissioner Pryor took office. He has hired a variety of staff members in nonposted position. In fact some of these people work in positions that were created for them. Some of these people are permenant state positions like Emily Byrne.He has also hired people on contract like Ms. Ranjana Reddy. 

    • jonpelto

      Excellent question. Will add it to the list.

      Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

      • Linda174

        There is information posted on an older article of yours
        Jon on Emily B. and two others. I will see if I can find their names.
        One was a male with Yale/lawyer connections. The other was a woman who lost her job because of seniority and she was petitioning the state to end last in first out for teachers.

      • Linda174
        • savage

          Wow, a literacy specialist hired by an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL was unequipped to deal with an elementary classroom? Imagine that.

          • Linda174

            Yes, and evidently she was bitter when they kept the qualified, experienced teacher.

        • guest

          Shana states that high poverty schools “bare” a large percentage of…oh, what does it matter?  They’re *bare* of resources!  and *bare* of ways to get rid of tenured teachers!  All this baring is making me blush.

          • jonpelto

            Oh a late contender for funniest post… Bare none!

            Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

  • Wonderwhy

    Someone should FYI all of the new hires since Commissioner Pryor took office. He has hired a variety of staff members in nonposted position. In fact some of these people work in positions that were created for them. Some of these people are permenant state positions like Emily Byrne.He has also hired people on contract like Ms. Ranjana Reddy. 

  • Linda174
    • savage

      Wow, Goldfarb’s bio sounds pretty similar to Pryor’s:

      Information on Adam Goldfarb:
      http://www.trumanproject.org/p
      Adam Goldfarb is a student at Yale Law School, where he works for a law clinic dedicated to balancing civil liberties and national security after September 11. Before law school, Adam worked on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

      Stefan Pryor:

      Pryor, who is 39, currently serves as deputy mayor of Newark, NJ, in charge of economic and housing development. Before that he served as president of the Lower Mahattan Development Corporation, which planned redevelopment in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

      • Linda174

        I guess the really smart innovators that know how to shake things up all hang out together.

  • sharewhut

    2 words-
    EXECUTIVE ORDER.

    Slip enough exploitable wording into compromise and take advantage after session. I can hear Danny’s closing to the session:
    “I want to thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into this session. I think that we can agree that the main objective, meaningful education reform has been accomplished. Perhaps not to everyone’s liking, but that’s how our great Democracy works. So I don’t see any need to call for a special Summer session. Have a great Summer, good luck in your campaigns, and I’ll see you next year!”
    tic tic tic tic….

  • Linda174

    Here is the latest spin…..reorganization is the new privatization….got that?

    Through mechanisms and policy proposals…..

    “This is about reorganizing government, not privatization,” Pryor said. “I think the term `privatization’ is being misapplied. The governor’s plan is not about privatization. It’s about reforming the public education system through a variety of mechanisms and policy proposals.”

    Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Education-chief-defends-consultant-s-role-3498695.php#ixzz1sdHHSchd

    • guest

      This newly named consultant firm is truly frightening:

      http://www.education-first.com/our-focus

      They are mentioned in the CTPost article linked by Linda174, above.

      All the language in the SB 24 is here, and more:  Achievement gaps, STEM or education in sciences/technology; teacher effectiveness; teacher evaluation; college-ready; etc.  I feel like I’ve found who programmed Steven Adamowski!
      Read the bios of these Education Firsters.  And see who their “clients” are:  the Louisiana School System, governors, etc.

      • jonpelto

        Great work.

        Now we know who to shine the light on.

        Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

      • savage

        Yep, and the founding partner has NO experience in the classroom but rather a background in public policy and strong connections to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Note that number two has no experience in education, either–she has training in law. What a surprise!

        Note the article in the Hartford Courant this morning:

        http://www.courant.com/business/hc-rt-connecticut-deficit-20120420,0,3018188.story

        Wonder how much the hiring of multiple cronies of Stefan Pryor (presumably at $100K-plus salaries) is helping the deficit problem. Got to pass record-breaking tax increases on the general public to fund all of these cushy positions for the cronies. And let’s not forget WAY higher-than-market prices to Aetna for land for the bus to nowhere:

        http://articles.courant.com/2011-05-22/news/hc-op-rennie-busway-hartford-new-brit20110522_1_aetna-employees-busway-spaces

        And the list goes on, and on, and on…

  • CT Teacher

    Malloy wants this wrapped up before everyone’s back from April break.  

  • Linda174

    Read the Courant article:

    http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-education-reform-0421-20120420,0,6381070.story

    This Leeds Global guy, Gyurko, as I read it, was in on the meetings this week with Pryor. The company Ken Dixon detailed as: For months, Leeds Global Partners, a New York-based firm specializing in educational issues as “attractive investment opportunities…..

    So if the union was present they were controlling the outcome and watering down the bill….explain to me why his presence was needed and what his role was during negotiations?

    Also, why can’t Pryor perform these functions? It seems all he does is use SERC as his own private slush fund and hire other people to do his job.

    • jonpelto

      corporate way of doing things?

      Because you have to have more and better suits on your side of the table.?
      Because the number of consultants you hire reflects the size of your ……. Ah ego?

      Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

    • Magister

      If this goes through as planned, schools will become the pedagogical equivalent of Walmart; cheap products, cheap labor, and an eye on maximizing profit. I can’t believe anyone would find the monetizing of education tolerable after all the knavery in the financial world in the past few years.

    • guest

      Slush fund!  you said it.
      Out with Pryor.

  • jonpelto

    Wait? What financial crisis. Banks are happy, wall street is happy…. I know pay more fees than I can count – if that’s not proof we should hand our kids over to these clowns I don’t know what is.

    Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

  • jonpelto

    Added your good point to the list of things to find out. The only problem is these clowns are raising issues faster than we can even begin to get the answers – then again – maybe that is their point.

  • Linda174

    He wants to avoid the teacher rallies on Tuesday and Wednesday. Since he showed up for the 60 student ($10,000 for a bus ride and 60 sandwiches) it would look bad if he didn’t appear at ours. I don’t think he wants to face hundreds if not thousands of teachers….we are providing our own transportation and snacks.  However, I do plan to occupy the Captiol building ladies room at some point.

    • guest

      What I want to know is, are we getting sandwiches???

      • Linda174

        No, but I was hoping for some tomatoes. I don’t think our Dear Leader will show his face. He will rework his  schedule so he is out of town. 

         I would like to thank Andy Fleischmann somehow. I think he has quietly been fighting for us and maybe a few others.

         Malloy is done in my mind….never again.

         I give Pryor THREE years tops. He will need to move on before they can track success or failure to his reign. They always leave in the nick of time and usually to make more money somewhere else and peddle their false hope.  All talk, great buzz words..no substance…Big Hats, No Cattle.