Defending Public Education: “You may know a person by the company they keep.”

“You may know a person by the company they keep.”

The quote’s profoundness is right up there with an Arabian proverb that goes, “Judge a person by the reputation of their enemies.”

In either case, the phrases prove that much can be said with just a few choice words.

This past weekend, I had the honor of providing the “key-note” address at a conference that took place at Central Connecticut State University entitled “Defending Public Education.”

The conference explored the corporate education reform movement.  As readers of Wait, What? know – there was a lot to discuss!

I’ve been meaning to post a blog about the conference, but a reader sent me a review of the conference published on the pro-corporate education reform blog, CTEducation180.

In this case, I think that reposting their assessment probably gives Wait, What? readers a better and more accurate review of the conference than I could ever write;

Following their post, I’ve copied some background about the CTEducation180 blog which appears to be a blog that is used by ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group.

Anti-reformer gathering puts Pelto in spotlight

This weekend, a teachers union funded and convened an anti-education reform conference, featuring who else but Jonathan Pelto on the list of speakers.

The event was hosted by the Central Connecticut State University Youth for Socialist Action, which describes itself on its Facebook page as “a group of revolutionary minded students and young workers.”

Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

Conference organizers make exactly zero attempts to be evenhanded, academic or honest. The flyer for the event goes off on a paranoia-laced rant about legislators “influenced by the profit motive” and “demonized” public workers.

Who is ponying up the dough for this nonsense? The Hartford Federation of Teachers, among others.

Called “Defending Public Education,” the conference appears to be little more than an anti-education reform rally. It features such panels as “Teachers Are Not the Enemy” and “Organizing Action in Your Community.”

And Jon Pelto headlined.

You might remember Pelto from his continuing series of blog posts attacking the state’s education commissioner, the governor, the schools chiefs from Windham, Hartford and Bridgeport, and many, many other folks who have made improving Connecticut’s schools their life’s work.

It would be nice if people could engage in a real discussion about how to better help Connecticut’s failing schools, and how to better support Connecticut’s students. But with gatherings like these which only engender fear, skew the facts, and prop up hacks like Jon Pelto — funded by our teacher unions — that remains a dream, rather than a reality.

So who is CTEducation180?

CTEducation180 is a blog that was created by public relations consultant Pat Scully, whose own blog is called the “hanging shad.”  It now appears that CTEducation180 has become a communication vehicle for ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy organization created by members of Achievement First, Inc’s Board of Directors.  Achievement First, Inc. being the charter school management company co-founded by Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

The “about” section of the blog reads, “The education reform bill passed last year by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Dannel P. Malloy raises standards for educators, allows immediate action to improve failing schools, increases access to high-quality public school choices, and improves how education dollars are spent.

Unfortunately, bold steps forward on education reform have spawned a vocal chorus of opponents that are willing to say and do anything in order to maintain the status quo and prevent children from attending the high-quality public schools they deserve.”

  • Magister

    “Unfortunately, bold steps forward on education reform have spawned a vocal chorus of opponents that are willing to say and do anything in order to maintain the status quo and prevent children from attending the high-quality public schools they deserve.”

    Um, this test-driven “reform” stuff has been going on for more than a decade with NCLB. That would make it the status quo, yes?

    • Linda174

      Then race to the trough…we are nearing thirteen years of their status quo.

      Read this…who knew Orwell would only be off by 30 years:

      “Arne Duncan has called education in America today ‘the civil rights issue of our time’,” said Jesse Hagopian, a Garfield teacher who helped initiate the school-wide test refusal last fall. “And I agree with him. Only I think his methodology is flawed. Because I know what the actual Civil Rights Movement was built on.”

      Just as a bus boycott helped launch the Civil Right’s Movement, Hagopian hopes that a test boycott will help launch a grassroots education reform movement.

      “Parents, students and teachers need to band together,” he says, “and boycott tests that are designed to rank and sort our children and label them failures rather than provide them educational equity. These tests can’t measure leadership, civic courage, creativity, the things we’re going to need to solve the problems in the world today like endless war, mass incarceration and climate change.”

  • Luther

    Anyone who would have you for a keynote is in good company.

  • Apartheid First

    So, CTeducation180 is ConnCAN?
    Give me a break!
    I didn’t even recognize Sackler. Oh, he was out golfing with Adamowski during this conference? So who did they send, they gal with the fake mustache?

    • Linda174

      I don’t think a rep attended. He made his ASSumpitons by reading the brochure. They do recycle their reformy talking points…not very creative.

  • David Schultz

    distressing. But it WAS a powerful conference, and if there was no response…I’d feel like a “pebble thrower at a fortress.” I’ve quoted your presentation already at least a half dozen times. Especially the slide about “drop out rates” vs. charter schools “enrollment decline.” What I am wondering is if I heard right that you are going to do a post about racial diversity of teaching staff in regular public schools vs. charter schools. I thought I heard that asked. And I, myself am also very curious about this. Clearly teaching staff is just SO unbelievably white — compared to the students who we teach.

  • Bronx

    Darn it!….I knew if i attended the conference last Sunday I would be contributing to the “status quo.”….I feel so dirty right now compared to these education reformers who have made it their “life’s work” to improve education in Connecticut…After all, looking at the track record of guys like Pryor, Vallas, and Adamowski, they’ve stayed in one place for decades trying to get the job done…for the kids of course….btw, where did that large land mammal Patrick Riccards disappear to???? Did he make it his life’s work too??? Or as soon as the ink dried on the new legislation last year he was hustling out and taking his “life’s work” to another state?????

  • Wow, I was at that conference and I seem to recall quite a bit of discussion about how to improve CT’s schools. Since when does not wanting them all to be transformed into privately run charters mean that one wants to “do anything in order to maintain the status quo and prevent children from attending the high-quality public schools they deserve”? Honestly, what bilge.

  • Sue

    The entire blog seems to be a diatribe against Jon P., with an occasional wind tilt against Hugh Bailey. It makes seem reasonable by comparison – but without providing links, research or backup proof for it’s rants.

    It’s quite boring, actually.