Many of Connecticut’s public schools remaining significantly underfunded but for those looking for a case study about the growing privatization of public education in America need only look as far as Connecticut and the tenure of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.
Call it the Jumoke Academy Charter School Case Study.
First there as was a Charter School called Jumoke Academy.
Like all charter schools in Connecticut, Jumoke Academy refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs. While proponents of charter schools promised they would help reduce racial isolation, Jumoke Academy, like every other urban charter school was actually more racially isolated than the surrounding community.
And then, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and his band of corporate education reform industry allies used Malloy’s new “education reform” law to take over the Milner Elementary School in Hartford and give it to Jumoke Academy using a no-bid management contract. The new entity is called Jumoke at Milner.
Jumoke was given the management contract to run Milner despite the fact that approximately 40 percent of Milner’s students faced English language barriers or went home to households that didn’t use English as their primary language AND JUMOKE HADN’T HAD A NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING STUDENT IN ITS SIX-YEAR HISTORY.
In addition, as a direct result of Jumoke’s policies, the charter school company had virtually no experience with students who required special education services.
But those problems didn’t stop the Malloy administration from handing over control of a public school to a private corporation.
Jumoke immediately got rid of the vast majority of the teachers who were part of the Milner School community.
|Percent of Students not fluent in English||Milner School||Jumoke Academy|
|Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households||Milner School||Jumoke Academy|
|Percent of Students with special education needs||Milner School||Jumoke Academy|
Soon after Malloy’s Commissioner of Education brought in the private company to run Milner Elementary School, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Jumoke Academy , Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. He named himself Chief Executive Officer of Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. as well.
And the following year, despite no data about the level of success at Jumoke at Milner, Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was given a no-bid contract to run the Dunbar School in Bridgeport. The decision to hand over the Dunbar School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was made by Pryor, Bridgeport “Superintendent” Paul Vallas and Kenneth Moales, Jr. who was then serving as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education and had previously served as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.
Moales has been saddled with significant legal and financial troubles and has been facing a foreclosure lawsuit that seeks to take his church and all of its properties and assets including the house in which Moales lives, as well as, his Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes Benz.
Interestingly, soon after the deal went down giving Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.), the Hartford attorney who set up and represents Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) became Moales’ lawyer.
In the meantime, Governor Malloy nominated Andrea Comer, the Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) to serve as a member of the State Board of Education and the General Assembly approved the nomination. Comer promised not to use her position to further the interests of FUSE, the company she serves as its COO.
But Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) is back, yet again.
This week the State Department of Education will start holding hearings on new charter school applications. One application for a new charter school comes from New Haven where the school would be called the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ACADEMY.
But as the application explains in one of its initial footnotes, “FUSE is the management organization hired by BTWA to oversee the daily operations of the Academy. That is, while the schools is called the Booker T. Washington Academy, the public funds will actually flow to the private company known as Jumoke (FUSE Inc.).
As the next footnote goes on to explain, “At the beginning of each school year parents and scholars will receive a handbook that includes behavioral expectations and provides school procedures and policies. All documents labeled Jumoke Academy are attached as a representative model of FUSE drafted documents that will be adapted for the Academy.”
The proponents of this charter school application couldn’t even be bothered to paste the name of the school over the Jumoke Academy name.
What is clear is that FUSE Inc is the charter school management company that Jumoke Academy set up to divert tens of millions of public dollars away from Connecticut’s public schools and into its coffers.
What isn’t so clear is that while Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) suggests that its sole focus is on Connecticut, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) corporate executives have been hard at work ramping up their charter school gravy train well beyond the borders of the state..
With little fanfare and no publicity, late last year, FUSE managed to pick up a lucrative contract to take over Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Dalton Elementary School.
As the Advocate Newspaper of Baton Rouge reported last October,
“Some uninvited guests, including a member of the state education board, were allowed at the last minute Monday morning to sit in on presentations by charter school groups seeking space in public schools in north Baton Rouge, thereby averting a potential fight.
Carolyn Hill, who represents the area as part of the 8th District for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was not happy she had not been invited, calling it “disrespectful.”
“We need people who reside in this area to be at the table,” Hill said.
Leaders of the Recovery School District organized the meetings, originally invitation-only, as that state agency decides which groups will land space in the seven schools RSD runs in north Baton Rouge.
Representatives from three charter management groups gave presentations on their school plans…The three groups that presented Monday were Family Urban Schools of Excellence, of Connecticut…”
Despite their lack of a track record beyond their original charter school and the new no-bid contracts they picked up from the Malloy administration, FUSE Inc. went on to capture one of the contracts from the Louisiana Recovery School District.
The Louisiana Recovery School District is the entity that Paul Vallas ran for six years. And, in the “small-world” department, Paul Vallas, of course, was the key player, along with Stefan Pryor, who decided to hand Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School over to FUSE, Inc.
While the public hearings are yet to be held on the New Haven Booker T. Washington Charter School, knowing their uncanny record of success with Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and the Corporate Education Reform Industry, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) executives must be salivating at the prospect that they will soon be tapping into tens of millions of dollars of additional Connecticut taxpayer funds.