Corporate Education Reform Industry spends nearly $4.7 million on Connecticut lobbying, little of it telling the truth.

Pro-public education commentator Wendy Lecker has written another “must read” piece, this time pointing out the fact that corporate education reformers are either unwilling or unable to tell the truth as the spin their political stories to try and convince elected officials and the public to support their “education reform” agenda.

Lecker, like many of us, has heard the latest round of ads that side-step the truth in a politically self-righteous attempt to convince us that we can improve out public education system by handing it over to private corporations and charter schools.

This new $1.5 million advertising campaign by a front organization called, ironically enough, A Better Connecticut, is just one more step in the most expensive lobbying effort in Connecticut history.

Here are the latest numbers;

To date, since Governor Malloy took office, the corporate education reform industry has spent at least $4,650,721.54 on lobbying, breaking all Connecticut records for the most expensive effort in history to buy up Connecticut Public Policy.

The following chart reveals the players in this scheme.

Following the chart is a link to Wendy Lecker’s latest piece in the Stamford Advocate, Bridgeport Post and other Hearst media outlets.

Corporate Education Reform Organization Amount Spent on Lobbying
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN) $1,121,672.17
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc. (ConnAD) $758,969.00
A Better Connecticut $1,490,000.00
Students First/GNEPSA (Michelle Rhee) $876,602.08
Achievement First, Inc. (Dacia Toll/Stefan Pryor) $237,504.22
Connecticut Council for Education Reform  (CCER) $126,559.85
Students for Education Reform (Michelle Rhee) $15,714.22
Connecticut Charter School Association/N.E. Charter School Network $22,000.00
Excel Bridgeport $515.00
Teach For America $1,185.00


Wendy Lecker: Imagining where all that money could have gone

“Proponents of corporate-driven education reforms seem to believe that the notion of telling the truth is a low priority. Take for example the false claims being made by charter school advocates about the size of waiting lists for charter schools.

In as diverse locations as Massachusetts and Chicago, charter lobbyists having been pushing charter school expansion by claiming lengthy waiting lists. In both locations, investigations by journalists at the Boston Globe and WBEZ revealed that the waiting list numbers were grossly exaggerated, often counting the same students multiple times. As a Massachusetts legislator noted, raising the charter cap based on artificial numbers “doesn’t make sense.” Unless, of course, your main goal is charter expansion rather than sound educational policy

Another common theme promoted by charter schools is the questionable claim of amazing success. Recently, Geoffrey Canada of the famed Harlem Children’s Zone gave an online seminar in which he boasted a 100 percent graduation rate at his schools. However, if one looks at HCZ’s attrition rate, the true graduation rate is 64 percent. Many have also noted that Canada kicked out two entire grades of children because of sub-par test scores.

Here in Connecticut, ConnCAN, the charter school lobby, is the prominent peddler of shaky claims and half-truths about charter schools.

Recently, in an effort to promote the expansion of charter schools in Bridgeport, Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of ConnCAN, Inc. declared that nearly 80 percent of charters outperform their host districts. However, data from the State Department of Education reveals that about 90 percent of Connecticut’s charters serve a less needy population than their host districts: fewer poor children, fewer English Language Learners or fewer students with disabilities, with most having a combination of two or three of these categories.

Considering poverty, language barriers and special education needs are the prominent factors influencing standardized test scores, it is not much a feat to have higher test scores with a less challenging population. ConnCAN’s claim is hardly an indication of success or innovation.”

Read the rest of Lecker’s commentary piece here:

  • Castles Burning

    Wendy asks us to “[i]magine the progress we could have made for children if ConnCAN, StudentsFirst and other lobbyists in Connecticut spent their millions of dollars on fighting poverty instead of fighting public education.”
    I love this succinct message as it so clearly shows how misguided their use of these funds has been.

  • Linda174
  • Apartheid First

    Lobbying, having lobbyists/consultants write legislation (remember LEEDS Global? Mass Insight?), distorting the facts, buying off the media–the tools of reformers. If their school reforms were so wonderful, would they need to do this? On the other hand, if the pay-offs are so great, why not do it?

  • Bill Morrison

    While the corporate reformers are currently spending their millions on television commercials to misinform the public, what are our unions doing to fight them, at least in a public relations campaign? Absolutely nothing!
    Folks, we are losing the public relations battle in the war over public education. While we sit and blog, our state-level unions should be organizing us to fight! Our state-level unions should be selling the virtues of what we do for the children of Connecticut! Our state-level unions should be distinctly involved but they are not!
    Therefore, I propose that we EACH write letters to our state-level union presidents to DEMAND ACTION! ARE WE GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE?

  • Sue
  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    4.6 Million thrown at the people of Westport, Fairfield, Ridgefield, Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich so that their schools aren’t destroyed like Bridgeport, Waterbury, New London, Hartford. All this money that Danny Boy and Pryor “need” for their dwindling school budgets and the damn thing is that all the big boys want is to leach our tax dollars out of the public schools into their profits and turn our public schools into “What’s Left Academies”. CT is so far behind the eight ball. Look at what is happening around the country as more and more states and towns are seeing the disastrous results. Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta. Even the New York Times is reporting very mixed results and a lot of political BS.