Malloy Not Alone: Last Minute Corporate Contributions from StudentsFirst to Missouri Democratic Legislators pays off

31 Comments

A few readers have complained that it’s been unfair to single out Governor Malloy for his support of “education reform.”  Despite the fact that he proposed the most anti-teacher, anti-union proposal of any Democratic governor in the nation, these apologists claim that there are lots of Democrats supporting Michelle Rhee and the corporate reformers.

Well, these Malloy defenders will be happy to hear that a few days ago a small group of Democratic state legislators joined their Republican colleagues in Missouri to pass a ‘reform” package there that includes outlawing the use of seniority when it comes to teacher contracts.

The bill passed by a vote of 83-78 (one vote more than constitutionally required in Missouri).

Democratic Minority Leader Mike Talboy, one of a group of legislators who had recently received campaign contributions directly from StudentsFirst switched sides providing the “reformers” with the votes necessary to pass the bill.  Not only are corporate contributions allowed in Missouri, but corporations can give unlimited amounts to political campaigns and can do so during the legislative session.

According to published reports from Missouri, “the bill initially did not have the required constitutional majority of 82 votes, but the voting board was held open for nearly fifteen minutes while House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones and other caucus leaders walked the floor, pressuring representatives to change their votes. Eventually, enough votes were changed to pass the bill by a vote of 83-76, one more than the required majority and the board was closed.”  Representative Jones was another one of the legislators to recently receive a campaign contribution from StudentsFirst.

Originally the bill also required that 50 percent of a teacher’s annual evaluation must reflect the standardized test scores of their students.  In Missouri, the mandated link between evaluations and standardized test score was removed prior to the final passage of the legislation, whereas in Connecticut, Malloy’s plan now provides for a 10 district pilot program linking evaluations and test scores before the concept is spread statewide.

Considering test scores are linked to many factors beyond a teacher’s control, such as poverty and language barriers, neither the Malloy Administration nor the Republicans in Missouri have been able to articulate how linking evaluations and test scores will work.

For example, is a 5 percent improvement in a low-income district the same as a 1 percent change in a high income district?

Alternatively, if a teacher with 20 students has four special needs students and four students who aren’t proficient in the English language, is a 2 percent improvement in test scores the same as a 2 percent improvement for a teacher with 22 students of which five have special education needs and two face language barriers?

As we know from their work here in Connecticut, the most effective way reformers improve test scores is by removing the lowest performing students from taking the test at all.

When Windham’s Special Master, Steven Adamowski, was superintendent of schools in Hartford, he won renown for increasing test scores by 4 to 5 percent.  It was only later that researchers discovered that the success in raising test scores was statistically due to the fact he removed 10 percent of Hartford’s lowest performing students from the pool of students who even took the Connecticut Master Tests.  You have to give them an A for ingenuity.

Surprisingly, despite a major report on the maneuver published this year by Connecticut Voices for Children, Governor Malloy overlooked the facts when his “education reform” road show stopped in Windham.  There, Malloy publicly applauded Adamowski’s track record in getting Hartford test scores up.

Meanwhile, none of these issues seem to bother the corporate “reforms” who continue to “invest” in the blossoming education reform industry.

Here in Connecticut “education reformers” spent over a million dollars in the last three months to support Malloy’s “education reform.”  It should come as no surprise that in states like Missouri, where corporations can donate directly to legislators, groups such as StudentsFirst successfully used that strategy, handing out checks in the days immediately leading up to the vote on the reforms they were supporting.

  • Buygoldandprosper

    Cheating is already rampant at the earliest levels by teacers,students and administrators.
    Teachers and kids already spend an inordinate amount of time “prepping” and taking tests. Dan has already given his stamp of approval for this kind of education.I pity the educators of tomorrow who actually want to teach. Perhaps we should just hire proctors and save money on staff.

  • Linda174

    I guess the grass roots thing isn’t working out for Michelle, so she has resorted to bribery and cash payments.  I would suspect not one dollar of her billionaire donations have directly benefited children…you know…books, paper, software, supplies, etc.  

    The sad part is people actually believe this is about improving education.
    She certainly doesn’t mind disparaging teachers as she slithers from state to state, but she certainly wouldn’t offend a supporter with lots of cash. 

    They don’t want to alienate the wealthy donors, even the overweight heavy breathers.  Read the full article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/12/nyregion/bloombergs-charter-school-battle-detailed-in-e-mails.html?hpw

  • Sue
    • guest

      Sue, a great letter.
      This reform business is getting so depressing.  We need to take a stand in Connecitcut. 

  • Sue

     Just downloaded ‘Snakes in
    Suits’ by Robert Hare on my Kindle.

    A snake’s agenda is short
    term and self-serving, and they are hired due to their ability to con
    others that they have a flair for honest and ethical leadership.
    Because they move quickly from job to job they can create a fictional
    history that ‘fulfills the global requirements and expectations of
    the hiring organization’. Their ‘reputation keeps rivals and
    subordinates at a distance, allowing them to use their power to get
    what they want.’

    With good verbal skills
    and the ability to read people they create trust and establish
    credibility. If hired on a level with enough power, they then
    reassign corporate leaders who might have been in positions to
    receive enough communication from their various heads to put the pieces
    together.

    Unfortunately, ‘most
    problematic are “narcissistic, psychopathic managers who exploit
    subordinates while currying favor with superiors….before they fail
    they cost their organizations large sums of money by causing poor
    morale, excessive turnover, and reduced productivity.”

    A great read, and I highly recommend it.

  • jschmidt2

    I have no problem getting rid of seniority and longevity bonuses.

    • AM

      There are no bonuses in education.  You have seniority to keep local school boards from firing efficient veteran teachers because of their experience and high salaries.  I would love to not have a need for this, but reality says otherwise.

      • jschmidt2

         My reference to longevity was to the state unions. School boards could fire efficient veteran teachers but they’d be foolish and the parents, necessary involvement, should clamor for them. However, seniority protects bad teachers who are just marking time. It prevents getting rid of them. The efficient teachers are not the problem. The bad ones are. I don’t know what the happy medium is but seniority in itself is a recipe for mediocrity. One veteran teacher several years ago  in my district, a good one, said to a reporter about the teaching of 1 st graders, “we have a very innovative program here. We’ve been doing it this way for 30 years”. The teachers has since retired. A perfect example of someone who lost their enthusiasm, assuming she had any to begin with.

        • guest

          Why don’t you take your concerns to the medical authorities?  I don’t know about teachers, but after 5 or 10 years, a doctor is just stale.  Let’s get those fresh new ones and have all our medical needs met without the worries of seniority, a “recipe for mediocrity.” 

          • Linda174

            Lets get rid of all the bankers at JP Morgan…they just lost TWO billion. Time to close down the bank, open a turn around bank and staff it with BFA candidates…bankers for america!

            We could use system for all failed institutions….police depts, fire, newspapers, the list is endless.

          • jschmidt2

             private sector already uses it. It’s firing the dead wood. And it is also part of running an efficient and productive operation that grows.

          • Linda174

            Doesn’t seem to be too many around. Is that why there were so many bail outs? Not sure all other systems are efficient and productive….if so we wouldn’t have so many problems. But that sounds good..just not accurate.

          • jschmidt2

             Doctor are continually tested and recertified.

          • Linda174

            Give details. I have dealt with a few ineffective, uncaring doctors. It is difficult for them to lose their licenses…even the recent case of many sexual assaults took quite a while. You shoot back very simple statements that cannot be backed up….teaching is the only profession with dead wood accordng to you. Absolutely not true.

          • jschmidt2

             so enlightened ones (not just Linda), if all our teachers are so good, why are our schools so bad in the major cities, like Hartford and Bridgeport? We keep throwing money at the problem based on the wants on the teachers unions, remember it’s for the children. So why don’t we have the best schools in the world? Al the politicians fault?

          • Linda174

            There are countless reasons that have nothing to do with the teachers. I am not sure you are really looking for a dialogue on this issue.

          • jschmidt2

             The only one I keep hearing from the unions is money. I would agree that DC and Hartford would get out of teaching since they don’t know what they are doing. But I never hear that from the politicians.

          • Linda174

            Adamowski is the big savior. I thought he saved Hartford and now he is saving Willimantic. So if he is so highly regarded then Hartford is all fixed.

            Pryor wanted lots of money. You seem to be stuck on one entity and willing to overlook the money motivated corporate reformers. You have one very narrow view at this point.

          • Repairman632
          • guest

            In states like Connecticut, the professional development is necessary to maintain certification. 

          • guest

            And I’d guess you would not favor the psuedo-certification of Teach for America, nor the 30% non certified teaching staff they allow at charter schools.  It’s like going to an unlicensed doctor.

        • Linda174

          I have seen many ineffective teachers leave. We have very few that stay once they are not successful and the procedure starts to get rid of them. The very few ineffective teachers are not the root of the problems…it is just a easy target for the ignorant reformers who want to pretend they care about kids. A group of seven year old students could figure out pretty quickly that Riccards is a phony and a fraud.

          • jschmidt2

             I have seen a lot of teachers in my district. A few were outstanding. MOst were competent but not great. And about 10% shouldn’t be teaching. Yet they lasted to retirement.

          • Linda174

            Where would you place yourself? Good? Great? Waiting for retirement?

          • jschmidt2

             Well after working 40 years in technology in private industry, some where between good and great, but looking forward to retirement.
            Some bright administrator decided ‘touch math’ a learning disabled tool should be applied to the 3rd graders when my son was there. Well he never could learn math properly after that. THe worst and the best teachers I’ve seen are in math and science. I’ve seen a couple of great history teachers and music teachers. But the great ones account for no more than 10-15%. About the same number who should never be teachers. And I don’t minimize the jobs they do. It is not easy and you have to be cut out for it. It isn’t just for anyone.

          • Linda174

            Not to worry….the good teachers will leave over time. If you care about kids, teaching and learning, you do not want to become a test prep drone.

            Newbies (including TFA’s) will come and go with no intentions of making it a career. The reform movement, despite their spin, wants to deprofessionalize teaching and keep labor costs low. They are willing to blame teachers for everything while also making it a very unappealing profession to pursue.

            I have seen more problems with the “bright administrators” more so than the teachers on the front line everyday. Please don’t judge all teachers based on the experience with your son.

          • jschmidt2

            you’re right.

  • Linda174

    Yes, you only need one teacher for each grade level for each subject. Videotape the lesson in the morning, beam it though the Smartboards and just pay for security guards to stand in the room. Better yet..make all kids stay home for on line learning..save on buses, building costs, heat. Kids can stay in their pajamas all day on the computer. Riccards can be the Wizard who watches behind the curtain..that role seems to suit him.

    • sharewhut

       Why not go all the way- a USB on every kid’s head. Download a lifetime’s education in a few minutes. Upgrade the proprietary educational programming every few years, add patches as needed…. Holy Crap! Now I see why Bill Gates is so ‘invested’ in reform!

      • jonpelto

        Hey that’s two for two! You are on a roll today! Again.

        Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

  • jschmidt2

     jonathan- I could not make the last comment because it would end up in 1 vertical row. It limits our creative ability to fix the problems of the world. My apologies to Linda for not getting back to her. But I still think unions have way to much power in the functioning of schools. But I still haven’t figured this corporate angle except Malloy’s may get a lot of money from ‘privatizing’ education. THat for me is as bad as the unions, maybe worse.