Malloy’s public school privatization effort hits Stamford

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Malloy administration gives Bronx charter school chain a green-light to “save” Stamford.

The Malloy administration’s extraordinary efforts to increase the number of charter schools and privatize even more of the state’s public education system took a giant leap forward at the last State Board of Education meeting.

In a farce that included Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, just happening to have a written resolution approving four new charters rather than the promised two, the corporate education reform industry drive to undermine Connecticut’s public schools surged forward.

Malloy’s “hometown” of Stamford was one of the latest victims in the inappropriate and under-handed strategy that has been displayed by Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education.

When it comes to “education reform” the Malloy administration’s watchwords seems to be, “grab the candy before you are thrown out of the shop.”

The following piece was written by Stamford Board of Education members Jackie Heftman and Polly Rauh.  It was first published in last Friday’s Stamford Advocate.

Democracy loses in charter school fight

On April 2, we went to a show trial in Hartford. Actually it was a meeting of the State Board of Education (SBOE). Sitting in the audience and later watching it on CT-N, we were reminded of the trials held in places with authoritarian dictatorships, where the outcome is decided long before the meeting begins.

The resolution that the SBOE was considering was for one more state charter school in New Haven and Bridgeport. The public agenda listed a discussion item of an additional charter school in Stamford and one more for Bridgeport. We were there to speak in opposition to another state charter school in Stamford. The Stamford Board of Education had passed a resolution at its March meeting not supporting the charter school application.

The SBOE approved the two charters in New Haven and Bridgeport, and then Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor magically produced a resolution for approval of another charter school in Bridgeport and Stamford. Both were unanimously approved. Indeed a sad day for democracy in Connecticut.

Some of the things that were put on the record were simply wrong and some were outright lies, and they should not go undisputed. If Stamford is going to be dragged into a fight over a charter school, we should begin with an understanding of the facts.

Pryor was adamant that the funding for charter schools is a separate stream of money and does not take funding away from the traditional public schools. In fact he proudly asserted that more money has been allocated to the Alliance Districts. Alliance Districts are the 30 lowest performing districts in the state. Stamford, New Haven and Bridgeport are Alliance Districts. For Stamford the allocated amount is less than $3 million dollars which is less than 1 percent of our budget. Is he kidding? What is there to be proud of? That money will get eaten up in additional transportation and special education costs for the new charter school.

The money that comes to cities and towns to help fund public schools is based on an Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula which is grossly underfunded to the tune of almost $700 million dollars this year.

[A Wait, What? note to readers:  According to the CCEJF school funding lawsuit and other experts, Connecticut’s school funding formula is actually $1.5 to $2 billion underfunded leaving an unfair and disproportionate burden on local property tax payers and severely limiting resource in many Connecticut school districts].

But there seems to be money to fund state charter schools. Between Fiscal Year 2013 and Fiscal Year 2015, $233 million has been set aside to fund state charter schools. That money could have been added to the ECS stream bringing it closer to what the formula requires.

The second sad occurrence that afternoon was when Charlene Reid, head of the state charter school that wants to open here, told the SBOE that in her meetings with Stamford BOE members over the past couple of months it was suggested that because she was black she was incapable of writing the application. She also said she was accused of being a racist because she wants to open a segregated school and had experienced “micro aggression” during her time in Stamford.

We have neither met Ms. Reid nor been asked to attend a meeting with her and could find only one board member who did meet with her. No one who spoke at the public hearing in Stamford maligned Ms. Reid. Our opposition to the charter school has never been personal. She also said parents were “petrified” to publicly state their support, but when parents had the opportunity to speak at the SBOE meeting, where there is obvious support for charter schools, no one spoke. No one from Stamford said they wanted this option for their children. In fact Stamford Parent Teacher Council members came to the SBOE meeting with more than 700 petition signatures in opposition to the charter school.

Ms. Reid accused unnamed Stamford officials of having no plan to address inequities and only wanting to ignore the problem. That flies in the face of our Alliance District Improvement Plan, approved by the SBOE, which directly addresses the closing of the achievement gap. In fact in the past six years the achievement gap in the Stamford Public Schools has been reduced by 13.5 percent. Ms. Reid says the Bronx Charter School for Excellence has closed the achievement gap for all subgroups. The achievement gap is the difference between the standardized test scores for White students vs. Black and Hispanic students.

Her claim that the gap has been closed at her school is meaningless when there are no white students attending. She can claim that she has boosted the achievement of her students, but she can’t claim she has closed the achievement gap. She also belittled Stamford Superintendent Winifred Hamilton’s commitment to diversity in spite of the fact that our schools are balanced to within 10 percent of the district average, 31 percent of our administrators are minorities and we are constantly working to increase our minority teaching staff. It is obvious that she hasn’t visited any of our schools. Ms. Reid told the SBOE that she is looking forward to a collaborative relationship with SPS and our superintendent! Really?

Ms. Reid acknowledged that her school in the Bronx is 100 percent minority and 85 percent economically disadvantaged and this is the model she would bring to Stamford. If for no other reasons, we oppose this charter school coming to Stamford.

We care about all public school students receiving a high quality education in a diverse setting of students of all colors and socioeconomic backgrounds. All Stamford students deserve no less.

  • buygoldandprosper

    Another local impact to Dan’s poorly planned initiative that will result in local taxes going up, yet again. He was so happy,as mayor, to close schools for real estate development in Stamford and destroy a perfectly good pre-K program so he could fill the vacant Hillandale BOE property that became, basically, full day baby-sitting. Now he wants to screw up on a state-wide level:
    http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/No-easy-answer-for-Stamford-on-universal-preschool-5399798.php

    • henryberry

      You want to keep you eye on real-estate developments. There was an article I read awhile ago explaining that New Jersey’s chronic corruption and crime was rooted in the fact that desirable land for development was drying up and becoming more valuable, thus drawing the usual cast of corrupt and criminal officials and professionals into the real-estate field. It is no coincidence that the criminal organization Pullman and Comley law firm is expanding its activities in the field of real-estate. As I wrote before, where the Pullman and Comley law firm goes, there goes crime and corruption. The chairman of the law firm James T. Shearin is a known criminal responsible for widespread subversion of the Connecticut legal system, resulting in the untimely resignations of two highranking state’s attorneys, among other effects. Pullman and Comley has close ties to Malloy. If you want to understand the crime and corruption of Malloy, as you want to understand the main of the crime and corruption of Christie in New Jersey, you want to understand the activities and the network the Pullman and Comley law firm plays major roles in. For example, as far as I can see, the only explanation for the move of Bridgewater presently in Waterbury to Stamford is as a massive real-estate deal (although the move has run into difficulties lately). If you look at many other of Malloy’s actions and programs from the perspective of hugely profitable real-estate deals, they make sense. They surely don’t make sense as responsible or relevant state politics with politics understood as benefiting the public.

  • buygoldandprosper

    If the Bronx school works so well…why are they heading north without stopping in Westchester? No shortage of needy kids between there and Stamford.
    Could they see easy money over the border?

  • Stop Malloy & Prior

    Why Do People of her ilk always got to play the race card ??
    Charlene Reid is Al s & JJ sr in a dress Using Racial economic exstortion to fill her pockets
    If That’s all she can use to justify her exsistence to run a school, If Just Shows What She is Really made of
    Whoever is choosen to run these schools. It should be made on the merits, Not Race baiters like Charlene Reid

  • thepoorkids

    Off task-off topic- However- BTW The Bridgeport Charter School just posted a LOT of jobs for the coming year. ctreap.org Guess they figure their school will fill right up. Good for them that they they don’t have to hire highly qualified teachers, don’t have to acknowledge teacher unions and can pick, choose, and kick out students as they please….ugggg

  • Castles Burning

    My favorite line from above is: “But there seems to be money to fund state charter schools” as it can serve as a reply or refrain or last word for so many occasions.

    A: “We have used up our supply of paper for this month.”
    B: “But there seems to be money to fund state charter schools”

    C: “I read that Bridgeport does not have updated social studies texts.”
    D: “But there seems to be money to fund TWO state charter schools”

  • Mary Gallucci

    It’s clear that if Malloy is re-elected, he will be sacrificing additional public schools at the altar of the charter school lobby. It’s clear that if Malloy loses re-election, he has a plummy job awaiting in some ed-reform think tank or something of that ilk. Malloy is fearless in his support for charter schools and in his allegiance to Stefan Pryor, even in the face of massive, articulate opposition. Pryor and the State Board of Ed spit at all those parents and citizens who testified against the charter school and then kicked dirt in their eyes.

    I have become used to the disrespect accorded to Windham–and to Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven… These are all districts under stress and they are political footballs in the hands of cynical politicians. But I really thought Stamford would be different.
    Welcome to the world of ed. reform and its corrupt, anti-democratic practices.

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