State Board of Education is tone-deaf to needs of the children

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Wendy Lecker, fellow public school advocates and columnist has done it again!

In here latest MUST READ column published in this weekend’s Stamford Advocate and other Hearst media outlets, Wendy shines the light of truth on the Malloy administration’s unrelenting effort to undermine and privatize Connecticut public education system.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his political appointees have pushed their corporate education reform agenda.

While Malloy’s effort has paid off in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to fund his political aspirations, the blood money has come at the cost of our state’s students, teachers, parents and public schools.

As Wendy Lecker writes, the Malloy anti-public education effort was in full-swing this week as the “Connecticut State Board of Education demonstrated how not to make public policy.”

In a piece entitled “State board tone-deaf to needs of the child,” Wendy explains,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s appointed board trampled local control and democracy by ramming through resolutions that completely disregarded the parents, teachers and communities impacted by their decisions.

Last month, Republican legislators forced a public hearing on legislation calling for a moratorium on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards until the state could assess the implementation’s financial and educational impact.

Ninety-five percent of parents submitting testimony favored a moratorium on the Common Core, as did 91 percent of teachers, 95 percent of citizens not identifying as parents or teachers and 87.5 percent of local elected officials.

Unfazed by the outpouring of concern, the State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution demanding the immediate implementation of the Common Core and its tests.

In even more arrogant disregard for Connecticut communities, the board approved four new charter schools: Great Oaks Charter and Capital Harbor Prep Charter in Bridgeport, the Booker T. Washington Charter in New Haven and the Stamford Charter School for Excellence in Stamford.

Wendy Lecker adds,

“…the state will divert $85 million dollars over the next few years to charter schools in Bridgeport that serve only 1,600 children. The new charters would drain more than $13 million more from the public schools.

Bridgeport’s board of education and elected parent’s council passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on all charter schools in their city.

These local officials and citizens explained the duty to serve all children in Bridgeport. They noted the flaws in the charter applications, including the serious questions about the companies’ ability to serve students with disabilities or English Language Learners.

Yet the tone-deaf state board voted to force two more charter schools on Bridgeport.

The State Board of Education’s approval of a new charter school in Stamford was equally appalling.

Stamford’s elected board of education voted to oppose the Stamford charter application.

Stamford parents started a petition to oppose the charter school which garnered more than 800 signatures in 48 hours. The Bronx charter school company had a petition up for a month trying to drum up support for the charter, but could only muster 17 signatures.

At the SBE meeting, Stamford officials and parents were united in explaining that Stamford’s integrated schools have closed the achievement gap by double digits in the last seven years. By contrast, the Bronx charter operator has a large and growing achievement gap in its school and offered nothing new to Stamford. In fact, when asked by Stamford’s superintendent why she chose this city, the Bronx operator was unable to respond.

Despite the evidence, the state board voted to give the charter school company more than $4 million for a school of only 392 students while leaving Stamford’s 16,000 public school students underfunded.

Wendy Lecker concludes her column with,

As Bridgeport resident and former NAACP president Carolyn Nah testified, “all children” does not just mean all children in charter schools — it means all public school students. Something is wrong when political appointees in Hartford favor a handful of students, trampling the decisions of democratically elected representatives and parents who are in our schools every day, working to protect the educational interest of every child.

Please take the time to go read the full column and send it to families and friends by going to: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-State-board-tone-deaf-to-needs-of-the-5378068.php

 

  • Follow the Money

    And the million dollar question is: who is going to stop them? Is it the legislature, who opposed what they did? Or is it the courts? Who is going to stop this state BOE runaway train?

    • brutus2011

      Yep, the million dollar question.

      One thing is for sure, Malloy-Pryor, et al have a education privatization agenda and they are implementing it regardless of whatever …

      Do “we” have the will and resolve to defeat them at the ballot box?

      Then do “we” have the will and resolve to hold our state legislators accountable for their complicity in this?

      • Mary Gallucci

        There was an amazing show of will and resolve at Wednesday’s SBE meeting–by parents, teachers, citizens, who OPPOSE the charter schools. The fact that the SBE and Pryor chose to ignore those voices is a travesty. Even after being told that their takeover of the Bridgeport BoE was illegal, members of the SBE said they would do it again–go against the constitution that they swore to uphold!
        “The state board replaced the Bridgeport board a year ago, but the state Supreme Court ruled in February that the state overstepped its authority. The court ordered the reinstatement of ousted board members and called for special elections for members whose terms have expired. Nevertheless, Jaskiewicz said he had no regrets about the state
        board’s decision. “What we did is we created action. I’d still vote yes to do it.” http://www.excelbridgeport.org/news/ct-mirror-bridgeport-school-reformer-brought-dramatic-transformation/
        I think that this rogue State Board of Education, and its imperious (and impervious to state law) Commissioner, Stefan Pryor, should be removed for repeatedly violating the Constitution of the State of Connecticut AND for ignoring the voices of those they are “appointed” to represent.
        Is there no procedure for us to remove them when they have been shown to hold the laws, statutes, and constitution of this state in contempt?

        • Mary Gallucci

          Note how it is the reformy Excel Bridgeport site that has proudly archived the above-referenced article–flaunting the fact that, even without the law on its side, reformers and charter promoters will still get their way.
          I guess that’s why social studies is one of the first subjects eliminated in “turnaround” schools and charters–constitution? what constitution?

        • brutus2011

          I will try to get a well nuanced answer to your question. I read your issue as; what is the legal procedure, if any, to hold appointed Ct state education officials accountable for violating any Ct statutes and/or the Ct state constitution?

          I do know this off the top of my head: remember the Vallas decision last October or November? The Ct Supreme Court ruled that Vallas’ appointment and certification was a Ct SDE decision and if someone thought it was illegal then the first procedural remedy had to be sought in an administrative hearing ostensibly by the Ct SDE rules.. Therefore, the Court allowed Vallas’ certification by Pryor. So, given that holding, and precedent, it seems as though concerned citizens need to seek a remedy through a grievance process according to the Ct SDE. Of course, this is like going to the foxes guarding the hen house and asking that they review their behavior of eating the chickens they are charged with guarding.

          I will look this up as best I can. Please remember I am only a 2L and not yet an attorney.

          • Mary Gallucci

            Thanks, I remember when there were some exchanges about the Vallas issue, and, while I did not agree with the Supreme court’s narrow reading, I *could* see how they arrived at it, because the legislature had unfortunately given too much latitude to Pryor and the SBE in determining whether the leadership program (even if found on the back of a cereal box) would count.
            But when the court ruled that the SBE had wrongly replaced an elected board with an appointed one, it gave the precise reasons about why this was unconstitutional–Pryor is not allowed to interpret the constitution, nor is Jaskiewicz. The only time that the state board and/or commissioner can dissolve an elected board is if the elected board has been warned and then been given sufficient time to re-train and re-tool–which the then-Bridgeport board had not been allowed to do.
            So it is outrageous for Jaskiewicz and Trefry, to state that they would do the same unconstitutional thing again. But they have proven that they do not adhere to their oath of office for the SBE–they have no interest in what is best for all school children in a district.
            Jonathan did a blog about the SBE traducing the oath: http://jonathanpelto.com/2012/08/10/see-no-evil/

          • Mary Gallucci

            For the record (I think some documents are included): http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Supreme-Court-voids-takeover-of-schools-3367832.php#photo-2560042
            Let’s put on our special “we’re still living in a democracy not a dictatorship” goggles and try to find the ways in which the Commissioner and the SBE have violated the laws of Connecticut, in favor of a bunch of greedy charter school management firms.

          • guest

            CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

            PREAMBLE.

            The People of Connecticut acknowledging with gratitude, the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government; do, in order more effectually to define, secure, and perpetuate the liberties, rights and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors; hereby, after a careful consideration and revision, ordain and establish the following constitution and form of civil government.

            ARTICLE FIRST.
            DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

            That the great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established,

            WE DECLARE:

            SEC. 2. All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit; and they have at all times an undeniable and indefeasible right to alter their form of government in such manner as they may think expedient.

            ARTICLE EIGHTH.
            OF EDUCATION.

            SEC. 1. There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The general assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.

            SEC. 4. The fund, called the SCHOOL FUND, shall remain a perpetual fund, the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated to the support and encouragement of the public schools throughout the state, and for the equal benefit of all the people thereof. The value and amount of said fund shall be ascertained in such manner as the general assembly may prescribe, published, and recorded in the comptroller’s office; and no law shall ever be made, authorizing such fund to be diverted to any other use than the encouragement and support of public schools, among the several school societies, as justice and equity shall require.

          • Mary Gallucci

            Bravo/a! thank you. We do need to correct the nefarious perception that charter schools are public.

          • guest

            I am looking at the first half of the sentence in Article 1, Sec 2 as what has been most clearly violated (given the %’s and #’s for and against the charters at the hearing).

            I see the second half of that sentence as suggesting that remedy/redress is available.

            I imagine that “the perpetual fund” for public schools (in Article 8, Sec 4) is not what is officially being used to fund charters, but there certainly are funds that, if they were not being used to fund charters, would “encourage and support public schools… as justice and equity should require…. for the equal benefit of all the people.”

            Has a law been made to authorize this charter funding? If so, it may not be a constitutional law. If not, why are we abiding by the “non-law’s” authorization of the funding.

          • Mary Gallucci

            http://www.sots.ct.gov/sots/cwp/view.asp?a=3188&q=392288
            A constitutional convention? do we need one to amend the constitution to require that a Commissioner of Education be an educator (duh!); that the SBE: be elected to represent the entire state; have term limits for the SBE (out, out, expired members!); be expelled on contravening the constitution and laws of the state of Connecticut, thumbing one’s nose at such laws and said constitution; be ejected from the SBE for communication with outside corporate interests who wish to obliterate elected boards of ed in poor cities (Zoom foundation; Lowney, and Mandel in cahoots with Allan Taylor); be impeached for ignoring hours of passionate and informed testimony by parents, teachers, and students.

            We can see that many members of the current SBE have multiple infractions–time for a Constitutional Convention and for dusting off the old stocks.

          • guest
          • brutus2011

            Ohk, I first started with our state Constitution and Article Eighth-Of Education has Sec 1 (guaranteeing free public schools) and Sec 4 (reiterating the School Fund) which are enumerated by “Guest” in this commenter’s section. Clearly, public education and its funding are fundamental Ct law. However, the General Assembly has plenary power to write and or change the rules of the game. And due to separation of powers, the judiciary is loathe to even suggest a breach of the line between a democratically elected body’s decisions and the courts. Unless of course a particular law is in direct violation of the fundamental law.
            As far as administrative law or precedent or procedure to question the acts and or decisions of the SDE and its subordinate body, the SBE, I could not find a way to question those administrative decisions within SDE policy. I did find a way to address grievances as to individual rights violations but none on addressing the issue of the SDE or SBE not following fair funding of public schools relative to charters.
            Based on all this, it seems to me that the key is the General Assembly. If enough of its members could or would listen to their constituents then I think laws could be passed or amended to take away some of the provisions that are allowing the privatization agenda to move forward even against a nascent public outcry. In thinking about my own activism, I am mostly motivated by family responsibilities first and law school second with almost no time for anything else. If however someone with deep pockets offered me a 6 figure pro-public schools lobbying position in Hartford, I would do it–money or ability to provide for one’s kids is a powerful incentive which is why Malloy-Pryor, et al are able to act with seeming impunity.
            It does seem to me though that there may be a possibility of a ct state suit that could be brought by an organization situated in ct (such as a Parents Across America Ct chapter or a Bad Ass Teacher Ct chapter or even a local school district such as Madison) that could challenge fair funding under Art 8 Sec 4. Maybe, I am not an attorney. Perhaps Jon could refer this to Wendy Lecker who is an attorney and familiar with education matters here. Sorry if I did not come up with much.

          • jonpelto

            Attorney or not –you’ve nailed the law perfectly!

            The problem is we have elected and appointed officials who are basically saying – I don’t care what the law says, if you don’t like my policies than sue me.

            The CCEJF school funding case is a decade in the and Malloy and Jepsen tried to get the case dismissed after Malloy was an original plaintiff and knows that it is the most important case in the last 40 years.

          • guest

            If this is true, then someone will need to go through the administrative hearing process as a first step.

    • guest

      The legislature does have remedy available. They may or may not use this.
      The courts would have to see a cause of action before them (Someone has to bring a suit).

  • buygoldandprosper

    The pie is only so big and when you give money to charter schools, it has to come from another slice. Dan Malloy is comfortable kicking the can down the road but Connecticut’s pie is shrinking and his gimmicks are not sustainable.
    Revaluation on my property went WAY down but my taxes went up last year.
    Now my taxes will probably go up another five percent this year.
    I know very few people who do not plan to exit this state asap… and the Malloy trickle-down is very much part of the reason. Force locals to “share sacrifice” for the sake of the king and his “visions” that are actually all about his own political goals.
    I do not want Moales and OJ Perry to receive one cent of my tax money. If a charter school is doing well in the Bronx, great! Keep up the good work…in the Bronx!
    Remember! ANYONE BUT MALLOY in the next election!

  • guest

    So glad I can retire in 5 years. Never thought I would want to quit – run away from, – teaching but this is just frigging nuts. It is no longer in my best interest nor my students to stay and continue this charade. Besides, I am starting to develop a severe allergy to bovine excrement which is spreading across Connecticut faster than a California wildfire.

    So I will take my years of experience and hit the road. I will also take along with me my degrees that are all science and education related and future classes will get a newbie or perhaps a TFAer instead. Good luck Connecticut as you unleash that pandora’s box on your kids. Remember, you get what you deserve.

    • Linda174

      Ditto!

  • Guest

    VOTE LINE A on the HFT ballot in the upcoming election of officers and get rid of Johnson and the rest!

  • SayNo2SchoolPrivitzation
  • Jim

    I am mystified by how the legislature is allowing, rather condoning, the unethical and undemocratic activities of our SDE! They approved millions of taxpayer dollars to aid a handful of CT students at the expense of the majority. Moreover, the charter schools that were unanimously approved by the SDE have little to no public and local BOE support in Bridgeport and Stamford where they will be opening up shop. Additionally, many of the charter school administrators that were selected have deep relationships with SDE officials and/or hold public school positions themselves. However, the biggest concern is that there is little to no evidence that what these charters is either better than that currently offered by public schools or worth the hefty price tag. When will this travesty stop? Our SDE is supposed to make decisions to benefit the majority of CT’s children not a handful. How can the SDE support a minority of students by expanding the number of charter schools at the expense of undermining the majority of students in public schools???
    If the legislature doesn’t do anything they should all be voted out when they come up for re-election.
    Jim

    • Mary Gallucci

      Yes, but we must do something about the SBE. They cannot be voted out–they serve what seem to be lengthy terms; or, if you are Allan Taylor, life terms.
      Time for this system to go–the abuses are all too evident.
      And we absolutely need some kind of legislation to ensure that the Commissioner of Education is an educator with experience, not a hack and a flak for the charter companies.

      • Jim

        Yes I totally concur. It boggles my mind how anyone without public school teaching experience would even be considered to be the Commissioner of Education. Moreover, why hasn’t the legislature mandated that Pryor’s Achievement First charter management company be excluded from consideration with respect to opening ANY charter schools in CT? His association with the company presents itself as an obvious conflict of interests.

    • Follow the Money

      And guess what? In the federal “Race to the Top” sham, there’s this little section that excuses charter schools from the reporting of progress that public schools are held to, and crucified over. Tell me how we change THAT.

      • Jim

        There is so much corruption, deceit and general misconduct amongst our elected officials within our state and federal government. Our government is selling education to the highest bidder and as a consequence our children and America’s future are getting shortchanged. How a society treats its youngest and oldest citizens is a measure of its values and ethics. It is therefore clear that America has lost it’s moral compass and sense of civic responsibility to it citizens to ensure the future prosperity for all, not just a few.

  • Mary Gallucci

    So, perusing the Charter school regs of the State of CT, it says:
    Sec. 10-66mm-3. Prohibition of sharing board members
    (a) A charter school shall not share board members with other charter schools in any manner allowing such board members to participate in any offices or activities of the governing board.
    (b) A charter school shall not share board members with any affiliated charter management organization in any manner allowing such board members to participate in the offices or activities of the charter management organization.
    (c) An affiliated charter management organization operating a charter school shall not share board members with other charter schools or affiliated charter management organizations in any manner allowing such members to participate in the offices or activities of the charter school or the charter management organization.
    (Effective December 13, 2011)
    How come when I click on every one of the Jumoke/FUSE schools, they all have the same board of directors? aren’t they different schools? http://fuse180.org/board-of-directors/