House sticks it to the 99% of public school students who attend public district schools by confirming charter school executive to the State Board of Education

Earlier today, BY A VOICE VOTE SO THAT NO ONE WOULD NEED TO BE ON RECORD, the Connecticut House of Representatives confirmed Governor Malloy’s nomination of Andrea Comer to serve a four-year term on the State Board of Education.

Comer, who works as the Chief Operations Officer for the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school management company, and previously worked for Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s Achievement First, Inc, one of the nation’s largest charter school management companies, will be filling the State Board of Education seat that was most recently held by an official from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.

Late word from some Democratic legislators was that the Malloy administration promised that the next two State Board of Education nominations would be of pro-public education supporters if Democratic legislators looked the other way and voted for the appointment of the charter school executive.

As a member of the State Board of Education, Comer will be in a unique position to directly and indirectly help her employer and the charter school industry continue their ongoing privatization efforts.

FUSE/Jumoke Inc. already collects millions of dollars in state funds distributed by the State Department of Education and has major expansion plans.  Just last year, Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education directed that Hartford’s Milner elementary school be handed over to Jumoke to manage.

The decision to give one of Hartford’s public schools to the Jumoke Academy was not only lucrative for the Jumoke Academy but was even more noteworthy because the Milner elementary school has been one in which half the students come from households that didn’t speak English and fully one in four students weren’t fluent in English.  The Jumoke Academy, by comparison, has never had a single bi-lingual student during its many years of existence and has consistently failed to provide educational services to its fair share of special education students.

The decision to nominate and confirm a high-ranking charter school executive to Connecticut’s education policy board is seen as yet another attack on Connecticut’s school teachers, the teacher unions and the 99% of student who attend public district schools.

  • buygoldandprosper

    She is a person committed to “her community” ,whatever that means almost as though the rest of the kids in the state come in second place. Do kids now come in third behind her old bosses in the charter school mafia?

    Another Dan Malloy disaster.

    Maybe she can get her old boss, Mayor Eddie Perez, some help when he gets out of jail. He would be a great education reformer with his background :
    “Former Hartford, Connecticut mayor and convicted extortionist, Eddie Perez was a member of the Ghetto Brothers when young. In the Connecticut prison system, during the 1990s, the Ghetto Brothers and the Savage Nomads joined together to form Los Solidos (the Solid Ones), which is now one of the most powerful Puerto Rican gangs in the state.”

    • Perhaps her community is women (as she has served on the board of a women’s shelter). Or perhaps it is Hartford, as she has been on the Board of Education and written for the Hartford paper. Or perhaps it is African Americans. Or perhaps it is people of the state. As a former urban public school teacher and administrator whose 3 children all attended & graduated from urban public schools, I’d welcome a person such as this on a state board.

      • Terry Winters

        You will be moving to CT?

      • AmusedInCT

        If Andrea Comer was not currently serving as COO of a charter school management company her background might be seen as an asset – but she and her employer will be directly effected by decisions the CT Board of Education makes and it is clear conflict of interest that should have been prohibited if not for a poorly designed ethics regulation which left out COO on its list of employees of organizations benefiting from taxpayer dollars which only refers to directors or officers (even though COO is clearly an officer) and FUSE does benefit from millions of state tax dollars. So at the end of the day her current job is the reason why she is an inappropriate candidate for the State Board of Education.

      • buygoldandprosper

        Nice try Joe.

        Pull on those heartstrings and hope for the best.

        She was a spokesperson for ex-gangster Eddie Perez who is doing time right now. I want an inclusive appointment, not someone who has a pre-determined agenda. I am color blind in theory but am as disgusted when I hear “our community” said in Darien as when I hear it about the inner city. Wise up Joe. Tout n’est pas politique
        Malloy is to Connecticut as Jacob Zuma is to South Africa!

  • Apartheid First

    Boo and hiss.
    We should demonstrate outside of the corrupt State Board of Education meetings. Any time there is a vote regarding charter schools she and Allan Taylor (and Pryor, if he is a voting member) must recuse themselves.
    I

  • Apartheid First

    What the he**? I don’t believe this slimy excuse about “the next candidate proposed will be pro-public education”–don’t they tell us endlessly, and reporters like Kathleen Megan of the Hartford Courant publicize it endlessly–that charter schools are “public” schools? Is this some not-very-tacit admission that, as we have known all along, charter schools are only public when they take the public’s money–the rest of the time they are in it for themselves.
    I want to know which democrat spread swallowed this bit of nonsense.
    And who voted for Comer?

  • Joe Nathan

    According to this brief note in the Hartford Courant, Ms. Comer also has
    * Been on the local Hartford (district) school board, served as a reporter & copy editor for the newspaper, been a grants manager for the health & human services dept of the City Government.

    http://articles.courant.com/2011-11-21/community/hc-hartford-andrea-comer-1122-20111121_1_legislative-aide-achievement-first-public-information-officer

    According to this article, she also has served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity, a women’s shelter, the board of a local community college foundation.

    http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20121024/MOVERSSHAKERS/121029901/comer-named-hartford-fuses-coo

    Yes, she also has worked with some local charter public schools.

    Sounds like she brings extensive experience to the state board.

    Mr. Pelto – is her experience with Habitat for Humanity, with the Hartford Board of Education, with the newspaper, women’s shelter and community college not relevant?

  • brutus2011

    The only difference between Hartford and and New Haven is that the NH mayor solidified his power over time and keep everything pretty much quiet.

    I know the mayor of Bpt wishes he could have the same kind of power and ability to keep things on the down low.

    We citizens are clueless as to what our elected officials and their appointees are doing.

    We are headed for deep doo-doo.

  • Apartheid First
  • Charlie Puffers

    Isn’t the responsibility of the State Board of Ed to make decisions about public schools. So, if the next two people are going to be pro public schools is this an admission be the governor that Ms. Comer and possibly others are anti-public schools? WTF?

  • Mr. Pelto, is this you? I too worked for McGovern, helped Gary Hart, and was involved in the 1960’s civil rights movements. You sound like you have accomplished a good deal.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/09/13/nyregion/at-32-he-bows-out-a-connecticut-whiz-quits-politics.html

    Seems like Ms. Comer’s background gives her insights that would be valuable.

    • Terry Winters

      Jon,

      The water boy for Duncan/Gates has migrated here. That pail is getting pretty heavy. He is all about “choice”, where they get to choose you. You don’t choose them.

      Joe Nathan’s Center for Change gets their funding from, so beware:

      Funding for the Center has come from Cargill, Gates, Annenberg, Blandin, General Mills, St. Paul, St. Paul Companies, Peters, Minneapolis, TCF, Joyce, Bradley and Rockefeller Foundations, the U.S. Department of Education, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Initiative Funds, Best Buy, Pohlad, and Wallin Foundation.

    • R.L.

      If she spent a week as a substitute in Bulkeley High School and survived, then she might have some useful insight into what is needed as a member of the State Board of Education.

  • Nora

    I am not positive but I think it’s likely inaccurate to say Jumoke never had a single bilingual student. It is more accurate I believe, to say that it did not have English Language Learners, or an extremely small percentage (3%?) of them. i believe they may have had students who were bilingual, but the point that they did not have experience with children who had significantly limited skills in English stands.

  • Non-state actor

    What cowards! If they are going to allow a blatant conflict of interest, they should be on record. C’mon, Jepsen, do your job and put a stop to this questionable appointment!