Malloy’s new charter schools – 1st up the Booker T. Washington Charter School in New Haven

13 Comments

Time to review the facts surrounding Malloy’s new charter schools…

Number #1: The Booker T. Washington Charter School.

The Booker T. Washington School may very well be Connecticut’s first foray into using public funds to pay for what appears to be a religiously connected school.  (We’ll pretend for a moment that such a move is not unconstitutional).

According to the charter school application approved by Malloy’s State Board of Education yesterday, there is a rather unseemly and bizarre connection between the Booker T. Washington Charter School, the charter school management company known as Jumoke/FUSE Inc. and the Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The application begins with the statement,

“The Booker T. Washington Academy is the brainchild of Reverend Eldren D. Morrison, Pastor of Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut (“Varick Memorial”)

The Governing Board of Directors for the Booker T. Washington Academy includes the following individuals,

  • Reverend Eldren D. Morrison: Founder of Booker T. Washington Academy, Pastor of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut and New Haven, Community Leader
  • Jesse Phillips: Chief of Staff to Rev. Morrison at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, CT, and Community Economic Advisor)
  • Stacia Morrison: Academic Assistant, Bridgeport Public Schools and First Lady of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut).

And on the next page of the application its states,  “Stacia Morrison is currently a member of the Board of Directors. She intends to apply for a staff position with the Academy and, if hired, will resign from the Board.”

The cost to Connecticut taxpayers to get the Booker T. Washington Charter School up and running over the next five years will exceed $27 million.

In addition, the taxpayers of New Haven will continue to pay for the transportation costs and special education costs of students attending the privately run Booker T. Washington Charter School.

A $27 million dollar public expenditure for the “brainchild” of a church minister and the school’s governing board will include the minister, his assistant and his wife … at least until she gets a  job at the school at which time she will resign her position on the governing board.

Interestingly no one on the State Board of Education even pressed the issue of the association between the school and a church or the notion that the founder’s wife will serve on the Board of Directors until she gets a state-funded job at the school.

For more read Wait, What? Post: Merging Church and State – The Booker T. Washington Charter School

 

The second rather unseemly and bizarre issue is that the new Booker T. Washington Charter School will be run by a charter school management company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc.

Just two years ago there was nothing even called FUSE Inc. and now the charter school management company has a senior corporate officer sitting on the Connecticut State Board of Education, was just approved to run its fourth school in Connecticut and it still had time to take over management of a public school 1,500 miles away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

FUSE Inc. is better known as Jumoke Academy Inc.  Their initial charter school is in Hartford and is called the Jumoke Academy.

Like all charter schools in Connecticut, the Jumoke Academy has refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs.

With the passage of Governor Malloy’s “education reform” law in 2012, Stefan Pryor used his new-found power to take over Hartford’s Milner Elementary School and give it to Jumoke Academy to manage via a no bid contract.

The agreement was struck so quickly that the state and Jumoke didn’t even have a signed contract until well into the new school year.

The deal was particularly strange since the Jumoke Academy had never had a non-English speaking student in its six-year history and yet was given control of Milner Elementary, a school in which approximately 40 percent of students didn’t speak English or went home to households in which English was not the primary language.

A review of the demographics of the two schools made it clear that Jumoke could not possibly have been the best management company to take over the Hartford neighborhood school.

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 25% 0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 39% 0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 11% 4%

 

To facilitate the expansion of his growing charter school company, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. and named himself the new company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Less than a year later, although the State Department of Education had no data about the level of success Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was having at Hartford’s Milner School, Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education gave Jumoke/FUSE, Inc. another no-bid contract, this time to take over the Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport.

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 — the very entity responsible for approving charter school applications and holding charter schools accountable.

And now the State Board of Education approved Jumoke/FUSE Inc.’s application to open the Booker T. Washington Charter School in New Haven.

But as tens of millions of public funds are diverted to this lucky company, the most interesting development of all may well be that while Jumoke/FUSE Inc. claims to be focused on operating schools in Connecticut,  their Booker T. Washington application failed to mention that just a few months ago, Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was able to get a contract from the Louisiana Recovery School District in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take over a school there. [The Louisiana Recovery School District is the state entity that Paul Vallas ran before he made his way to Bridgeport].

Imagine, a charter school management company that has been given two no-bid contracts from the Malloy administration to run public neighborhood schools and still managed to get control of a school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

And although there is no data about how they are doing with their Connecticut schools or what time commitments they have made to their Baton Rouge school, not a single member of Malloy’s State Board of Education asked Jumoke/FUSE Inc. how it was going to have the time to open yet another charter school in Connecticut.

For more read Wait, What? blogs Friends in high places = lots of money! and The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train.

  • buygoldandprosper

    I don’t know if New Haven is as bad as Bridgeport, but D’Addario has a new Escalade on order for Reverand Moales…!

    The bad loans at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit just vanished yesterday.

    Can you give me a HALLELUJAH!?

    No more will the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
    Can you give me an AMEN!?

    • Sleepless in Bridgeport

      Crime does pay

  • buygoldandprosper

    In a perfect world, Danno Malloy will share a bunk with Big-John,but we know the world is far from perfect.

    “Former Connecticut governor John Rowland announced that Thursday’s show was his last and he was leaving the station to take care of some personal issues.”
    One does wonder who would be “on top”, as it were.
    Me? neither one is worth a pack of smokes!

  • Mary Gallucci

    Adamowski has tried to push all kinds of charter schools–single sex, little boys of color, dual language–really, these charter folk will do anything–all that matters is hiving off a percentage of the education district’s budget and diverting it to–*anyone*. If someone came along with a creationist, bigamist, mono-ethnic charter proposal, Adamowski would embrace it, and so would Stefan Pryor and Allan Taylor, Andrea Comer, and the rest of the SBE. Check out one of the charter pushed by Steven Adamowski back in 2000–it took over a decade to close a completely failing school:
    “In 2000, the East End Community Heritage School, a charter school, opened with 186 students and a promise to better educate children with Appalachian roots and keep them in school to graduation.
    In fact, its contract said 85 percent of students would pass Ohio proficiency tests within three years, a rate to rival top suburban schools.
    Steve Adamowski, then superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, the school’s original sponsor, promised skeptics
    it would earn an acceptable state ranking within three years or give families a 180-day notice and close.
    Three years later, it was in Academic Emergency. Its achievement was so low by 2006 that CPS dropped out as sponsor. By 2010 – with 99 students – it was put on a “watch list” by the state.
    Last week, the state named it one of 15 charter schools that must raise its scores or close by 2013.
    How could such poor performance go on for so long?”
    http://www.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20111016/EDIT01/110160362/

    • Mary Gallucci

      “Children with Appalachian roots”–am I the only one who finds such segregation offensive? this whole charter movement reeks of “separate but equal” nostrums–which, even if it were true that separate could ever be equal (it can’t), is unconstitutional–no matter how many delusional people of color go before the SBE and beg for their own exclusion/seclusion (but I must stress that the Moales clan which argued strenuously for more charter schools–they send their children to an exclusive private school that serves a demographic exactly opposite to the one that the Bridgeport charter school will serve–but private schools do not have to follow the constitution).

      • Mary Gallucci

        Well, because it’s a charter, it has not yet been closed (in fact, it is just the type of school Obama and Arne Duncan have decided to throw money at): http://eechschool.org/uploads/report_card_2011-2012.pdf
        so, it’s still failing, but it qualifies for RTTT funds.

        • Charlie Puffers

          For years bare-boned funding for schools most in need of extra resources is considered normal and necessary. Then when a corporate charter person like Pryor arrives on the scene money magically appears to pay CEO’s $350,000 to segregate students who can survive at a charter from those who cannot.

  • topryder1

    You have no problem at all smearing people’s reputation, while not presenting anything but slur and innuendo. You are quite sad as a person.

    • buygoldandprosper

      So you do not like my twisted sense of humor?
      Do you like THE FACT that the good reverend was instrumental in destroying Bridgeport Community Bank with his bad loans?
      “Banking issues” will be a very important part of this Charter School Scam being played out on the citizens of Connecticut.
      I am a person who is very sad…you were close.
      I will give you a hallelujah anyway, brother or sister!

  • buygoldandprosper

    “The Parent Teacher Council of Stamford would like to thank you for signing our petition and we have been astounded by your support. In less than 48 hours of posting the petition, we had 750 signatures and today we have over 900. This is in stark contrast to the petition that the Bronx Charter School for Excellence promoted, which has been circulated for over a month and only has 17 signatures. For our petition, we have signatures from parents, teachers, school administrators, elected officials, business owners, retirees and community leaders.”

  • jrp1900

    Watching the SBOE approve the four charter school applications was a little like watching a drunk driver go over the cliff: you feel sorrow, but you are not in the least bit shocked.
    Once the applications got to that level it was very clear that they were going to be approved. If one of the applicants, such as Michael Sharpe, had just gotten arrested for a class A felony that might have proven a problem, but barring that, there was no way in hell that the foolish Allan Taylor, and his foolish colleagues, were going to pass up the chance to add four more schools to the privatization portfolio.
    The decision to fund the charters is an utter disgrace. It clearly reveals the total moral bankruptcy of the corporate reform movement. Consider the facts. Dr. Steve Perry is a controversial figure, a divisive figure, who has had serious charges laid against him. Did the Bridgeport BOE or the SBOE take a serious look at the accusations leveled at Dr. Perry? Did either board conduct an inquiry into goings-on at Capital Prep magnet school? No they did not. They head all the criticisms and then pretended they hadn’t heard him, which is just the same as saying that the criticisms are completely irrelevant. Dr. Perry must have “his” school and he is going to get it. But if the criticisms of Perry are irrelevant this means that the welfare of children does not really matter. In other words, we don’t have to take into account what actual children experience in Perry’s charge, because what matters is getting schools into private hand. This is a foul and despicable form of politics. The reformers could always go after their charter schools, but the fact that they will give charters to anyone and everyone shows that for them it is not at all about what is best for children. If the world were just, Steve Perry would be fired from Capital Prep and he would not be allowed to come around children; but, of course, the world is far from just, as money, power and racism rule the roost, and so instead of being punished, the fraudulent Perry is actually rewarded!
    Someone might ask how is all this “racist” when the charter schools are being awarded to outfits with significant minority representation ? Well, the racism resides in the fact that almost anyone can claim to be an “educator” of black and brown children just so long as they are prepared to run a private charter school. When it comes to real education, these charter companies are bogus, headed by people who aren’t educators and who don’t know squat about the classroom. On one occasion I was present at a gathering where Michael Sharpe admitted that he had no background in education, but this prevent him going on as though he were W.E.B. Du Bois! The same is true of “Dr.” Steve Perry, a man of very simple ideas. Perry’s brilliance is in greedy self-promotion and in nothing else. But the SBOE gives him another school!
    The Booker T. Washington Charter is also highly problematic. There seems no reason to believe that Rev Morrison and gang are capable educators, but, as I said above, none of that matters. The point is privatization not education.
    Stefan Pryor must be a happy man, but a lot of us are very sad for the children in Connecticut who must bear witness to the continuing destruction of their schools.

    • speaking up

      It’s even worse than at first glance. The Bridgeport BOE voted against the charters. Sauda Baraka, a member of that board, voiced her questioning of Dr. Steve Perry’s qualifications and professionalism.

      (I use the moniker that Dr. Steve Perry has chosen to use in public communications very deliberately. It is my sincere hope that he one day will be held accountable for all that this title represents.)

      You have voiced my deepest concern perfectly, jrp. In this new game of education-monopoly, children’s welfare isn’t even listed anywhere in the rules on the cover of the box. Evidence showing that bullying policies, special education laws, parents’ rights and other child protection mechanisms have been violated and/or ignored because the object of this game is to purchase Baltic Avenue and Connecticut Avenue, put lots of hotels (students) on (in) them and collect a lot of $.

      A decision to approve charter schools without carefully considering the possibility that children’s welfare might not be a top priority in these schools is, indeed, foul and despicable politics. A decision to approve (at least) one charter school that has had numerous complaints filed against it is, at the very least, complicit.

      • jrp1900

        Speaking Up: Yes, thank for correcting me. I forgot that the Bridgeport BOE did actually vote against the Perry charter. Your phrasing “new game of education-monopoly” is right on the money. It’s easy to see that in a few years time, many of these fly-by-night charter schools will be gobbled up by the bigger charter school companies. Because that’s the way capitalism works: big fish eat small fish and the sharks eat everything in sight!