Hartford, Steve Perry and his threat make the Washington Post

Let the celebration begin!  Connecticut has made national news!

Oh, but wait… it’s not quite the type of news that will bring tourists to the Still Revolutionary state or induce businesses to move to Connecticut.

The story is about Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry and the controversy that has consumed Perry and his bizarre rhetoric and antics.

The media outlet:  The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet, the nation’s leading education blog.

Valerie Strauss begins her article with the Perry’s now familiar tweet;

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.


And the Washington Post reporter then adds;

“That’s not a tweet that any school principal or teacher who I know could publish and keep their job, but for Steve Perry, the out-there founder and principal of the publicCapital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., it was just another day on Twitter.

Perry is a school reformer in the scorched-earth camp of Michelle Rhee, and has a Web site that identifies him as ”America’s Most Trusted Educator” and notes that  his “heart pumps passion and produces positive change,” and that he is “the most talked about innovative educator on the scene today.” He is the author of  the book “Push Has Come To Shove: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve — Even If It Means Picking a Fight.” He is a  traveling partner with Rhee, a vitriolic union-basher, a prolific speech maker  and an even more energetic tweeter (he’s put out more than 31,000). His Web site also says he is a CNN and MSNBC contributor.

The tweet above was one in a fusillade that Perry unleashed after the majority of the Hartford Board of Education on Tuesday rejected a deal, supported by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and the school board’s chairman, Matt Poland, to allow Perry to stop being a public employee and run the public school, along with a second school, through a nonprofit charter management company that he founded and for which he serves as president. The Courant reported that Perry is listed in state corporation records as president of Capital Preparatory Schools Inc., registered in February 2012. The organization is also listed on Guidestar, an online information service specializing in nonprofit organization, as being at the same address in Hartford as Capital Preparatory Magnet School.

Perry originally started Capital Prep as a charter school, but  it became a grade 6-12 magnet school in the traditional public schools system because, he has said, he didn’t have enough resources to do what he wanted as a charter. He adopted a year-round school calendar along with a tough “no excuses” operational approach that some parents heartily support.

Perry’s Web site says: “Capital Prep has sent 100% of its predominantly low-income, minority, first-generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006,” though critics say that characterization shades the fact that the school has a high attrition rate; for example 35 percent of the students in the class of 2011 who entered as freshmen did not reach their senior year, according to a New Jersey teacher who authors a popular blog under the name of Jersey Jazzman and who has been writing extensively about Perry.

Perry is at least as well known for running a school as for making inflammatory statements about things he doesn’t like, especially but not exclusively teachers unions. For example, he said the following this year at a forum hosted by the  Minneapolis Foundation and co-hosted by Minnesota Public Radio, as reported by the Perry-friendly Education Action Group Foundation:

“I know in polite company, you’re not supposed to talk about the unions,” Perry said. “But I will. I know you’re here. I hope you hear me, because I’m tired of you. Every time you fight to keep a failed teacher in a school, you’re killing children, and that’s not cool.

“Every single time you make a job harder to remove someone who is simply not educating, and everybody in the building knows they’re not educating, you’re killing your profession, you’re killing our community and you’re making it harder on yourselves.

“It’s high time we call the roaches out and call them for what they are. I’ve been to too many cities where the excuses pile up, one on top of the other. You know what happens with those excuses? They kill our kids.”

His appearance drew heated criticism and praise, which you can read about here.”

The Washington Post’s Strauss then goes into a detailed review of Capital Prep’s and the fact that Perry’s rhetoric about the success of his schools fails to stand up to the most basic review.  You can read the full details here:  Principal gets mad and tweets: ‘Strap up, there will be head injuries.

And Strauss closes with the observation;

“Meanwhile, Perry keeps sounding off when the mood suits him, as Jonathan Pelto,  a former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives who now provides commentary on politics and public policy at his blog, Wait What?, consistently reports.  Assuming Perry didn’t mean to be taken literally with his “Strap up, there will be head injuries,” nonsense, his comments still beg this question: Why do his bosses allow him to say things that would get just about anybody else fired?”

You can read the full article here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/21/principal-gets-mad-and-tweets-strap-up-there-will-be-head-injuries/

  • educationmatters

    Didn’t the article in the Courant mention that a former teacher is suing the Board of Education over Perry? Shouldn’t they be doing damage control? Doesn’t this just help a lawsuit?

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  • Billy Smidders

    Is the Courant even covering this?? Pathetic that Washington Post finds Perry’s antics as being important enough to print but not the Courant… Hmmm…..

  • jrp1900

    I have been reading Jonathan Pelto’s series on Steve Perry with great interest. Considered in toto, Jonathan’s articles paint a devastating portrait of a man who is clearly out of control. Steve Perry is a reckless, big-mouth megalomaniac. He clearly has delusions of granduer in proudly claiming for himself the ridiculous title of “America’s most trusted educator.” His arrogance is obvious in his bullying and obnoxious ways with unionized teachers and recalcitrant students and his critics–in fact, anyone who does not think that Steve Perry is a demi-god is deserving of the wrath of Steve Perry.

    A friend of mind briefly had children at Capital Prep. From what I was told, the school is run by Perry and his minions in a dictatorial fashion that places it somewhere between an army training camp and a juvenile detention center. Every infraction of the rule is harshly punished. Shaming and humiliating the felonious student is a regular practice. The culture of the school is cult-like, stifling. This is what a “no excuses” philosophy looks like when translated into action.

    And, according to my friend, the school was no great shakes academically. It was all drilling for the test. Part of the explanation for the attrition of students is the will (among Capital Prep functionaries) to drive out those “hopeless” students who would only serve to drag down test scores and besmirch the school’s (undeserved!) reputation for enhancing “student achievement.”

    Perry is insanely bent on securing the golden fleece of corporate school “reform”: a school that can advertise itself as a “90/90/90” school. To this end, he bullies poor minority children in a way that would be totally unacceptable if his charges were middle class and “white.”

    I think Jonathan has amassed enough evidence to show that Steve Perry is unbalanced. He has all the uncompromising ferocity (and then some!) of the utter zealot. He is clearly obsessed with violence–with “fighting the good fight” and “taking on his enemies” and other such nonsense. Even in the title of his “book” he speaks of “picking a fight.” It can hardly come as a surprise that he talks of “strapping up” and promising to mete out “head injuries.” This kind of talk is very disturbing and distasteful. It disturbs because it suggests a person who is unwilling to engage in rational and civil conversation. I take Perry to be more or less saying: “if you disagree with me, or get in the way of my plans, I will blow your f%$#&iing head off!” And this man is an educator and the “principal” of a school??! It is also distasteful for Perry to make use of the language of the streets in a city like Hartford. Many Hartford children are already subject to the tragic human side of “strapping up” and giving out “head injuries.” Many children have lost parents and siblings and relatives and friends to criminal gun-play, And now comes Perry with his “rhetoric,” which seems to glorify the “gangsta” ethos of using a “gat” to get “respect.” Steve Perry may think of himself as “keeping it real” by talking in this fashion. But in fact he only shows himself to be a small-minded and mean-spirited bully who excels at nothing so much as putting his foot in his mouth!

    Of course Steve Perry should be investigated for his outrageous comments. The children of Capital Prep deserve a principal with more common sense, more humility and more compassion.