Malloy administration action raises more ethics questions…

Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, is no stranger to ethics issues.

Pryor and his operatives at the State Department of Education are now engaged in activities that raise even more potential ethics violations.

As reported yesterday in a post entitled, “Pryor schedules Corporate Education Reform Industry Lobby Group for Alliance District Meeting,” Commissioner Pryor has added the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), a corporate funded lobby group, to his operation at the State Department of Education.

School officials and community members from the 30 Connecticut school districts receiving funds through Malloy’s Alliance District program will be meeting this week at the State Department of Education’s “Alliance District Convening Meeting”

At the meeting participants will hear from the Executive Director and the Chief Operating Officer of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), an organization that has spent over $160,000 lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s “education reform” initiative.

According to the meeting agenda, “Districts will also learn about how the CCER can help districts workshop their Year 3 Alliance and Priority School District consolidated applications.”

In addition, along with an out-of-state consultant, “CCER will also discuss their joint collaboration to perform a school district funding analysis for a[n] Alliance District and how they can help your district.”

But CCER is a lobbying entity and Jeffrey Villar, CCER’s Executive Director, is a registered lobbyist.  Their communication with state officials is strictly regulated — or at least it is supposed to be strictly regulated.

Under Connecticut law “a lobbyist is any person who either expends or agrees to expend, or receives or agrees to receive, $2,000 or more in a calendar year to communicate directly or to solicit others to communicate with any public official or their staff in the legislative or executive branch…”

According to the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)’s most recent official lobbying report, Villar only spent $370 worth of his time communicating with the Malloy Administration in November and $740 worth of his time in December.

At Villar’s salary, this amount would only cover a handful of hours, far fewer than Villar and Pryor and his staff would need to concoct this new scheme to allow the corporate lobbying group to provide services to Alliance District school systems.

If Villar and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform spent more time engaged in communicating with Pryor and his staff than they actually reported then they have violated Connecticut law.

In addition, as noted above, this week’s Alliance District Convening Meeting will also feature CCER’s Chief Operating Officer.  However this person isn’t even registered as a lobbyist which could be another ethics violation for both CCER and the individual.

Underlying this latest development is the fact that Commissioner Stefan Pryor has diverted millions of dollars in state funds to out-of-state consultants.

This week’s Alliance District meeting is a shocking reminder that taxpayer funds continue to flow out-of-state when there are plenty of qualified, talented and available education professionals right here in Connecticut.

Adding to that insult is the fact that Pryor is now handing State Department of Education responsibilities and operations over to a corporate education reform industry lobby group that may not even be following Connecticut law.

You can learn more about the Connecticut Council for Education Reform’s political agenda by going to their website:  Their Board of Directors includes:

Steve Simmons, Chairman
Chairman, Simmons/Patriot Media & Communications
Ramani Ayer, Vice-Chairman
Retired Chairman & CEO, The Hartford Insurance Company
Roxanne Coady, Secretary and Treasurer
President & Founder, RJ Julia Booksellers
Marna Borgstrom
President & CEO, Yale New Haven Hospital System
John Crawford
President, Strategem, LLC Lead Director of Board of Directors, Webster Bank
Mitchell Etess
CEO, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority
William Ginsberg
President & CEO, The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven
Kim Jeffery
Chairman, Nestle Waters North America
Ned Lamont
Founder & Chair, Campus TeleVideo
Brian MacLean
President & COO, The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Garrett Moran
President, Year Up
John Rathgeber
President & CEO, Connecticut Business & Industry Association
David Ring
Managing Director, Enterprise Banking, First Niagara
Peter Salovey
President, Yale University
Dudley Williams
Director of Corporate Citizenship & Diversity, GE Asset Management
  • Mary Gallucci

    Don’t forget to check out CCER’s staff: A certain Mr. Sugarman was hired at CCER last summer, after working for years for Our Piece of the Pie which, with little or no competition and with minimal public input, was awarded a contract to run a state charter school (their first school) in Windham, Connecticut for “over-age, under-credited” youth as an alternative high school. Whether such a school is necessary in Eastern Connecticut is a moot point, but it is the case that the state’s Special Master Steven Adamowski eliminated Windham High School’s in-house alternative program.So it looks like the lobbying efforts in favor of charter schools, privatization, and “reform” pay off.

  • HartfordPirates

    How…how is there not a single educator on the board? This strikes as an extremely creepy way for corporations to guarantee worker drones by controlling the education system from pre-k to job. Didn’t we all fight to get out of the company store??