A Hartford Courant article entitled, Hartford School Board Asks Education Commissioner To ‘Impose’ Turnaround Plan reveals some of the contradictions and bizarre actions taken by the Malloy administration, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, senior Hartford board of education officials, and corporate education reform industry advocacy groups in Hartford.
The Hartford Courant reports,
“Despite objections from the teachers’ union, the city board of education asked Tuesday night that state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor use his statutory power to impose a “turnaround” plan for Clark School that would include management by an outside group.
Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, contended that Clark teachers and parents were given inadequate information throughout the turnaround process, which she said amounted to “bullying and intimidation” in favor of Friendship.
“Unfortunately, the Hartford BOE just can’t allow the process to proceed as it should,” Johnson said.
Although senior staff in Governor Malloy’ State Department of Education have consistently denied that they had any role in pushing the effort to direct a no-bid contract to Friendship Charter Schools, Inc., the Hartford Courant now reports,
“The state had recommended Friendship, which operates four public schools in Baltimore in addition to its charter schools, to the turnaround committee that has been developing an improvement plan for the prekindergarten-to-eighth-grade-school on Clark Street…”
In the days leading up to last night’s Hartford Board of Education vote, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, his hand-picked board Chairman, Republican Richard Wareing, and the corporate education reform groups, Achieve Hartford!, Hartford Area Rally Together (HART), Hartford Parents University and others tried to claim that the Clark School parents and community unanimously supported the move give the school to Friendship Charter Schools, Inc.
However, no such consensus ever existed.
In order to maintain the fantasy that the Clark School community unanimously selected Friendship Charter Schools, Inc., the Hartford Board of Education had to vote without allowing public input and systematically overlook information such as an email from the co-chair of the School Governance Council and member of the Clark Turnaround Committee who wrote,
“PLEASE VOTE NO TONIGHT,” adding, “our unified voice was to see other [school] models and we refused to have Friendship forced on us.”
And to make the charade complete, the Hartford Courant reported that Commissioner Pryor was up for his part of the whole scam when his spokesperson concluded,
“We’re grateful for the thoughtful dialogue and respect the local process in Hartford,” Donnelly said in a statement. “We will certainly take the views of the Hartford Board of Education, Mayor Segarra, and the Clark school governance council into account as we consider the potential paths forward.”
Respect for the local process?
The truth is that State law requires that the district school turnaround process be driven by parents, teachers and the local community.
In the case of Clark Elementary School, that process was still on-going.
In fact, Clark School parents were supposed to go see schools in New York City last week and in Cincinnati this week, but those trips were suddenly cancelled.
Faced with the potential that their hand-picked private vendor would not be selected by the local community, the Mayor of Hartford, the Hartford Board of Education, corporate education reform industry advocacy groups AND the Malloy Administration conspired to concoct a strategy that effectively eliminated appropriate parent involvement.
Instead of following the law and doing the right thing, Malloy et. al. simply aborted the process and will use a no-bid contract to hand the out-of-state charter school management company a Hartford public school along with millions of dollars in state and local taxpayers’ funds.
The Clark Elementary School process has become a quintessential example of Governor Malloy’s anti-teacher, anti-public school, pro-privatization political agenda.
In this case the winner is a private out-of-state charter schools company, while the losers are the students, parents and teachers of Clark School along with the taxpayers.
You can read the Hartford Courant story here: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-clark-school-0409-20140408,0,3652613.story