Corporate Education Reform Industry group starts radio campaign in support of new charter schools

Surprise, surprise… An out-of-State charter school advocacy group has started an advertising campaign to support the Malloy administration’s decision to give Steve Perry his own privately run, but taxpayer funded, charter school in Bridgeport.

According to a reports from the CT Mirror and Hartford Courant, Families for Excellent Schools, Inc., a charter school advocacy group based in New York, has begun a Connecticut radio advertising campaign in support of the Malloy administration’s decision to approve two new charter schools in Bridgeport.

Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. is running the radio spots to defend Commissioner Stefan Pryor and State Board of Education’s underhanded effort to approve the proposed charter schools.  One of the charter schools will be run by the out-of-state Great Oaks charter school chain while the other is Steve Perry’s Capitol Preparatory Harbor school.

The advocacy and lobbying group is also behind the multi-million dollar advertising campaign to undermine New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to make New York City’s public schools a high priority compared to the Bloomberg administration’s approach that diverted tens of millions in public resources away from the public schools and to the city’s privately run charter schools. In New York, the Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. campaign pushed to allow privately run charter schools virtually unlimited and free access to public school space.    

The group’s New York advertising campaign is designed to help New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Like Malloy, Cuomo has received more than $100,000 in campaign donations from charter-school supporters in recent months.

Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. was formed by corporate education reform industry allies in 2011 and has recently expanded into Connecticut. Four of the organization’s five founding board members are Wall Street hedge fund executives.  The group also shares space in New York City with the New York chapter of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, Inc.

As one would expect, the corporate education reform industry has been dumping millions of dollars into Families for Excellent Schools, Inc.

Among its biggest donors is the Walton Family Foundation (the Wal-Mart Family’s Foundation) which has given the charter school group more than $700,000 in start-up funds.  The organization has also received at least $200,000 from the Eli Broad Foundation during that same period.

Here in Connecticut, the Wal-Mart Political Action Committee gave Governor Malloy’s political operation a check for $5,000 and Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad chipped in another $8,000 for Malloy.  

One of the other foundations that have given Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. is none other than the Ray Dalio Family Foundation.

As Forbes Magazine explains, Ray Dalio is the “king of the rich hedge fund industry.”  Forbes adds that Dalio, “lords over the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, Bridgewater Associates, with about $150 billion in assets.”

Ray Dalio is the individual who was paid $2.3 billion last year.

Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates is the company that Governor Dan Malloy rewarded with more than $120 million in Connecticut taxpayer funded tax breaks in return for moving Bridgewater’s “world headquarters” from Westport to Stamford.

In addition to giving money to the charter school advocacy group now running advertisements in Connecticut, Dalio’s foundation is also a major donor to Teach for America.

For public school teachers, parents and advocates it is becoming even clear is that with the 2014 gubernatorial election less than seven months away, Dannel “Dan” Malloy is using every opportunity to show his unending support for expanding charter schools at the expense of Connecticut’s public schools.

You can also read more about this story at CT Mirror:

  • buygoldandprosper

    Old MoneyBags Dalio should lead by example and establish his HQ in the new Steal-Point, in Bridgeport. While I would still object to the corporate welfare the state has offered, I would not be as vocal.

  • Linda174

    And did you hear about CT making strides in Grittology, see here (thanks Peter). And replace John Wayne with Stefan Pryor for True Grit:

  • buygoldandprosper

    Shhhhh! Jon, you reveal too much!

    “Asked how FES is paying for its Connecticut operations, Jeremiah Kittredge, the group’s executive director, said in an interview at the state Capitol Wednesday that the funding stream is not what’s most important”

    • thepoorkids

      When the money keeps rolling out you don’t keep books
      You can tell you’ve done well by the happy grateful looks
      Accountants only slow things down, figures get in the way
      Never been a lady loved as much as Eva Peron (Steven Perry)

  • RJEastHartford

    People do vote against their own interests or fail to prioritize their interests. If “Republican’s” make inroads into the cities under the guise of”opportunity and social mobility” Changes will occur exponentially, starving public school budgets, “jury-rigging” political processes etc. It is happening now, but reasoned argument has little effect because it is a philosophy backed by money, lots of it. Change is coming…

    HTML “Elizabeth Warren wants to kill the neighborhood school” Now what?

    I know parents looking for a change in education as the system in their view has failed them. Governor Malloy, is clumsily responding to some in the inner city and inner ring suburbs but he is responding. Voters in outer ring suburbs have no vested
    stake, as long as their district is not further integrated, will vote for this policy. Democrats do need to have a different education policy, especially for the cities. We all have heard the rhetoric about teacher’s unions, collective power being part of the problem; from the economy to education. People, voters do believe this nonsense and refuse to prioritize their interests and then vote against their interest (union members) I have heard “things cannot get much worse with a Republican.” Look at what is going on all around us; from the political system, business and the economy and now with education. Yes they can and when that happens the fight is lost for a generation.

    • Linda174

      We do not have two parties. We have two brands who report to the corporations and the wealthy. There is no difference in Ed policy between Dems and Republicans except for vouchers. Let it implode faster under Foley or any other candidate. The charter bubble is coming. It’s only a matter of time. At least some Democrats will fight him rather than bending over to get played by Malloy. Many teachers will never ever vote for Dannel or Dan or whatever his new schtick is today. One and done.

      • brutus2011

        One and done, Danny boy.

  • buygoldandprosper

    “Families for Excellent Schools “Bells” (Two opening school-­‐bells begin spot. Music afterward through spot) VOICE OVER: Those two bells are ringing in a new school day. But for hundreds of Bridgeport parents who’ve been struggling to find a good education for their children—they’re ringing in something more important: two new schools. Two new public charter schools are due to open—and hundreds of families who’ve been stuck on waiting lists, will finally have access to a great neighborhood school…. and an amazing chance for our children—to grow and thrive. (Two school bells again) It’s a new day at school. And it’s a new day in Bridgeport. Let’s keep fighting to ensure even brighter ones. PAID FOR BY FAMILIES FOR EXCELLENT SCHOOLS “…
    Fade to Pastor Moales at D’addario Cadillac, eyeing his new ride…

    • Linda174

      One more round of bells, late October to mid November after enrollment numbers are due and student population is calculated. Kids walking out the door to return to their public schools since they weren’t a “good fit”, which is code for: challenging, not good test takers, sped, etc.

      And where does the per pupil expenditure go? Door slams!

    • Mary Gallucci

      Okay, now that I know the score–that ANY trashing of public schools will garner support from our Education Commissar, oops, Commissioner and the State Board of Education, I have registered my own charter school company and will soon be applying to the state for $$$. My company is called “Families United Charter-Knowledge Yearlong Opportunity Urban” Schools–just write out the initials to that one, unionized teachers!
      That was quick! Stefan Pryor has just texted me an okay! Gotta go, suckers.

      • jonpelto

        So great! Comment of the year!

        • Mary Gallucci

          Aw, shucks, I’m honored!

      • Charlie Puffers

        Pryor is looking to hire “boring, imperious, temporary, cute, healthy, employees, straightaway.” Do the initials again and put it all together.

        • Mary Gallucci

          Ha! some are of the male persuasion, though!

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    The system of government today has evolved from Democracy to Scumbaggery. The Dems won because they campaigned on the platform that Republicans are all rednecks in disguise or idiots (and they are). Now the Republicans are going to say that Democrats are also idiots and two faced money grabbers who cater to the poor while padding the pockets of the hedge funders and edushysters (and they are). Is Danny Boy an Irish Rover? When he loses he will be shuffling around looking for chimneys to sweep and driveways to seal, and grandparents to rob.

    • Sleepless in Bridgeport

      Whoops………my dimentia……I meant “Irish Travellers”

      • buygoldandprosper

        The Tinkers have work too hard to steal. Dan has always found easier pickings closer to home in a public funded ride, be it a helicopter, business class, chauffeured (bodyguarded) town car or the good old gas-sucking ST-1 back in Stamford.

  • Guest

    This news and the push for privatization of publc schools in general is the biggest setback in the fight for equality in education in recent history. Shame on America. Its greed and thirst for power at the expense of social justice is a disgrace.

  • Castles Burning
    • JMC

      Very significant post, CB. Thanks. These Privatizers are getting very ugly fast. On the bright side though, the commenters pushing back on them below the article are quite well-informed and feisty!

      • Castles Burning

        Well said and I needed to hear it as the “getting very ugly fast” is so true. But, yes, perhaps we are more ready for them than they imagine. There is much work to be done, seemingly QUICKLY.

  • speaking up

    Is this advertising campaign necessary? Pryor only had authorization (and funding) to approve 2 new charters. It would appear to be the case that the 2 “extra” ones (Dr. Steve Perry’s and the one in Stamford) are not “done deals.”

    Because Pryor approved them, public comment won’t be officially heard anymore, but it looks to me as if, without funding, these 2 schools won’t be able to open/function. They were approved “pending funding.” It would appear as if the legislature (remember Beth Bye – the co-chair of the budget-writing committee – was not amused at the approval of 2 schools without any funding) is able to make it fiscally impossible for them to open.

    From my reading, it looks like the charter in Stamford is only a replication of the Bronx school; it is not a franchise. This means that they will have to come up with $ to open their school. Same deal with Dr. Steve Perry’s Harbor School in Bridgeport. After reading this report of a marketing campaign funded by the “Families for Excellent Schools, Inc.” I find it to be very interesting that the Stamford school is called the “Stamford Charter School for Excellence,” and I find it more than interesting to see that when the application was submitted, there was not even a Board for this school.

    I am a resident of West Hartford and I voted for Beth Bye in the last election. I was glad to see her questioning the move to approve 4 charters. I will continue to watch what happens with this issue, and how Senators act or do not act.

    • JMC

      Yes, funding is definitely an issue. And I think that is why the Charters are again opening the PR sluice gates, and the BS gates. They just suckered Kathleen Megan at the Courant into publishing a free ad for them. They do all this especially at budget time and at election time. Let’s hope our legislators don’t fall for it.