The power of parents and teachers crush a corporate education reform scheme

It could easily be presented as a modern adaptation of a one of Grimm’s fairy tales.  

The evil corporate education reformers target yet another local elementary school for closure and takeover through a bizarre scheme that would have allowed a public school principal to resign his position as a public servant, become president of his own private company and then take over control of both his old school and the new school.  The principal, who is known across the land for his bullying, sexist, anti-union tirades, appears unwilling to live by the rules that apply to everyone else.

But at the very moment that the children of the land face certain defeat, parents, teachers, the teacher’s union (known as the Hartford Federation of Teachers) and other public education advocates rally together to speak out on behalf of their children, the school, the importance of public education and what is right.

And in a stunning display of representative democracy, some of the community’s elected officials see the light, change their position and join together to save the school and defeat the corporate education reformers and their disastrous plan for domination.

But this time it is not a fairy tale.

It was a real event.

And it played itself out in Hartford, Connecticut at last night’s Hartford Board of Education meeting.

It a breathtaking example of good government, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra  and two of his appointees joined with long-time public education supporters Robert Cotto Jr. and Elizabeth (Brad) Noel to defeat a proposal that would have given Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry a no-bid, unique contract to run both Capital Prep and SAND elementary school.  The vote was reportedly 5 to 4.

As the Hartford Courant’s Vanessa De La Torre reported in an article entitled, “Hartford Magnet School Plans Rejected, SAND Proposal Dropped,”

“After hours of debate, the city board of education late Tuesday rejected two proposed magnet schools and declined to move forward with a controversial plan to turn over management of SAND Elementary School to a nonprofit educational group.

All three proposals were introduced as pieces of the state’s negotiated settlement with plaintiffs in the Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation case for the 2014-15 year. The board’s 5-3 vote will force parties back to the negotiating table.

One specific Sheff plan — one that would have allowed Capital Preparatory Schools Inc. to manage SAND and Capital Preparatory Magnet School — drew scores of supporters and critics to the Rawson School auditorium Tuesday night.

Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry, a public speaker and author who has lambasted teachers’ unions, is listed in state corporation records as president of Capital Preparatory Schools Inc. Perry registered the company in February 2012.”

Neil Berry, the president of the PTO at SAND Elementary was extremely critical of the plan saying, “Our kids are not for sale” and telling the Hartford Board of Education not to hand SAND over to Perry’s “private entity.”

In classic fashion, rather than face the truth or even the notion that democracy has a role in American Society, Steve Perry blasted the Board of Education and the Hartford Mayor claiming that their action was somehow controlled by the local teacher’s union.  Perry told the Courant, “What we’ve done is again forfeited the needs of the children for jobs.”

This after Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced that while he supported the Capital Prep school model, after hearing from the SAND Elementary School families, he didn’t think the plan should be “shoved down their throats.”

The two facts that stand out most from this event is that democracy still has a role in Connecticut and Steve Perry, the bully, can always be counted on to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

The Hartford Courant article does an excellent job describing the events that took place at last night’s Hartford Board of Education meeting.  You can read the entire article here: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-sand-capital-prep-1120-20131119,0,3033953.story

  • Linda174

    Perry told the Courant, “What we’ve done is again forfeited the needs of the children for jobs.”

    Wrong again Perry. The only JOB you’re worried about is YOUR OWN and your EMPIRE.

    We saved the children from an egomaniac who “leads” by dictating since you are unable to inspire.

    Funny how all your speakers had the same talking points, the ones you spew constantly.

    No independent creative thinkers need apply at CP. That’s right, that’s right!

  • David Lynch Topitzer

    Jon, Its time to start changing the lexicon. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “corporate privatizers,” rather than reformers.

    • jonpelto

      Excellent point! will do

    • Luv2Teach

      “Corporate pirates” would be even more accurate.

    • Bilgewater

      After a quick trip to the thesaurus, I like “corporate vandals” or “corporate looters”.

  • educationmatters

    Defeated and Jon and this blog (and com mentors) are solely responsible. Thank you Jon for your time, your efforts and your unwavering dedication to the truth.

  • Guest

    If Perry feels so strongly about private schools – He can MAN up, raise the capital himself, buy the real estate himself, lay out the architectural plans himself, build the school himself, develop the curriculum himself, hire the staff himself, find an executive board himself, and charge the parents whatever the hell he feels like. Sneaky, profiteering, corporate privatizer, slime bag! Perry is simply a thief profiteering off the backs of children, educators, and TAX PAYERS!

    I’m tired of these corporate privatizers trying to steal the very money we put into OUR public schools.

    • jonpelto

      Perfect comment, I’m going to “borrow” your words and do a post on that very point — pull yourself up by your bootstraps and be the corporate entrepreneur you so desperately want be and stop taking and wasting our hard-earned taxpayer dollars

      • educationmatters

        That is an excellent point. If the model and his accomplishments are so fantastic he should have no problem putting together the money. As a matter of fact, if you read his twitter feed he has several groups and organizations in other states that have invited him to do just that. You could grab some of those tweets and ask why he doesn’t just go where he is wanted and they will give him the money and resources to accomplish his goals.

    • Ebony in Hartford

      Steve Perry knows next to nothing about private schools and how they are run. Forcing students to run up stairs? A month without paper for the copy machine? Teachers leaving right and left with little continuity? I’d bet money no one from Miss Porter’s, K-O, Loomis, Choate, Andover or Exeter has ever invited him to their campus.

      I was hired from a local prep school in Hartford and now I work in a NYC prep school. My current head of school knew all about ‘Dr’ Perry when he interviewed me. Real intellectuals can tell Perry is not that deep. Unlike most private school heads, Perry has no teaching experience. Melissa Harris-Perry hasn’t had him on her show in weeks, CNN dropped him followed by his pal Soledad.

      http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/20/a-hero-educator-who-heads-a-private-school-in-manhattan/

  • Gloria A. Brown

    This is Perry’s response to the vote on Twitter:
    The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.

    Very professional! Same old bully…

  • redqueeninila

    Congratulations, Hartford!!!

  • ginger

    What has the performance of this school been? Shouldn’t THAT be the deciding factor – what is best for the KIDS rather than adults political biases? pretty sad that facts aren’t made clear in this article.

    • jonpelto

      ginger, i did a couple of blogs comparing the two schools, but your question is an appropriate one and I’ll update the information and repost.

  • Tom Burns

    To really understand the corporate takeover movement–read “Children of the Core” “The Confessions of a BAD Teacher” and Diane Ravitch’s “The Reign of Error”–these three should be read by every parent, every student, every administrator, every BOE member, every teacher and every legislator—In simple terms you will then understand what is really going on in education–Kudo’s to Hartfords parents and its Union–Tom

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