Today’s MUST READ PIECE – Where’s the Accountability? Anyone? By Sarah Darer Littman

Quite simply it is the single best assessment of the issues surrounding the Jumoke/FUSE charter school scandal.

The article, written by Sarah Darer Littman is called, “Where’s the Accountability? Anyone?” and it can be found in its entirety on the CTNewsJunkie website – http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_wheres_the_accountability_anyone/

Read it and ask yourself…. Where is the accountability?

Sarah Darer Littman open with;

Dumping embarrassing news on the eve of a holiday is becoming a habit for the Malloy’s administration — and there’s been plenty of it to ring in the inauguration of his second term.

Late last Friday it was the release of the FUSE/Jumoke investigation report, which revealed financial mismanagement, nepotism, and misuse of public funds by a charter operator lauded by the Malloy administration. But the most disturbing part of this whole affair is that it reveals how millions of our taxpayer dollars are being handed out to private entities with little or no due diligence based on the recommendation of a closed, closely entwined loop of foundations, political allies, and corporate beneficiaries.

What investigating attorney Frederick L. Dorsey left out of his report, perhaps because he was hired by the state Department of Education, is how the department and the state Board of Education and so many others enabled Michael Sharpe in his unethical endeavors.

Take for instance, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who appointed former FUSE Chief Operating Office Andrea Comer to the state Board of Education. Or the state Ethics Commission, which ruled that there was no conflict in having Comer, the chief operating officer of a charter management company benefiting from millions of dollars of public funds, serving on the board that grants them. Then we have our state legislators, who unanimously confirmed Comer to the position. Maybe they were too busy playing solitaire when the vote was taken.

What about Stephen Adamowski, Paul Vallas, and the members of the Bridgeport Board of Education who voted to bring FUSE to Bridgeport as part of the Commissoner’s Network? The Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. said he was “honored” to have Sharpe and FUSE in the district. Moales, of course, has — according to education reform critic Jonathan Pelto — had his own ethical challenges when it came to overbilling the state for daycare slots.

And she then closes with;

Last April, the state Board of Education voted to authorize the Booker T. Washington/FUSE charter school in New Haven. Perhaps they were influenced by glowing letters of recommendation from well-known political figures in the state: New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, former New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, and ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander, to name a few.

With messaging consistency that would make Republican pollster and messaging guru Frank Luntz proud, both Mayors DeStefano and Harp opened with exactly the same phrase: “I enthusiastically support the application for the Booker T. Washington Charter School, here in New Haven, CT. The proposed school will teach our young moral character, self advocacy, and common core standards, in order to impact their success in our diverse global environment.”

Having read Attorney Dorsey’s report on what took place at Jumoke Academy, there are definitely lessons to teach our young, but “moral character” isn’t the one that springs to mind.

Here’s ConnCAN’s Jennifer Alexander: “Two key reasons for my support for the Booker T. Washington [school] is its collaboration with a proven high-quality provider, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE) . . . FUSE has a track record of success.”

That depends on your definition of “success,” doesn’t it? If “success” constitutes feathering your own nest at the expense of taxpayers, behaving unethically, and acting in such a way that even the parents at your own school “have questions about accountability for the financial piece,” as stated in the FUSE Board of Trustees minutes dated Oct. 10, 2013,  I guess FUSE did have that track record.

Listening to these same enablers say that “it’s for the kids” while they fleece the public purse is infuriating. But what really enrages me is knowing that there are so many fine educators in classrooms across this state trying to teach and help children day in and day out while being deprived of basic resources, while politicians are allowing our taxpayer dollars to be siphoned off by crooks.

The commentary piece written by Sarah Darer Littman is, as they say, “on point.”

Go to CT Newsjunkie right now and read the complete article at http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_wheres_the_accountability_anyone/

 

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    So I don’t get it……..No crimes, no punishment here? Rowland, Ganim, Spitzer, Newton, the Waterbury Mayor who dated 10 year olds…….they all go down and Malloy and Pryor get the trip to Disneyland. Come on……..they are not Bill “Teflon” Clinton. Who is going to put these mokes on the hotseat?

    • R.L.

      It certainly won’t be the “teacher’s” unions.

  • jrp1900

    Another name for privatization is “grab and run”–as in grab the loot and run as fast as you can, before the law catches up to you. Wherever privatization has been enacted, grabbing and looting have been part of the process. This was the case when State industries were privatized in post-Communist Russia; and it has been seen all over the world where structural adjustment programs have demanded privatization of public sector services. There can be surprise, then, that privatization of the public schools in the United States continues to attract the irresponsible, the unethical and the outright criminal. One reason common schooling was initially in the non-profit public sector is that education is expensive (if properly funded); and also the goal of raising children is an end in itself and ought not to be subordinated to a third party’s interest in making money off his “investment.” Indeed, the public sector (in housing, healthcare and so on) is the direct outcome of the recognition by capitalists that they cannot always make money off what are essentially “priceless” social goods.
    But now we are living in the era of corporatization, where aggressive money-making anywhere and everywhere is the name of the game. Thus, areas of social life which were once felt to be off limits to the profit motive are slowly but surely being drawn into the logic of the market. Hence, the determined promotion of charter schools. The goal of the charter school movement is NOT to provide children with a better education; it is rather to reduce common schooling to the status of a commodity. This will have effect of dividing and conquering and making people fight for resources that are ever scarcer. And, just as importantly, privatizing schools is war against the teacher’s unions. Teachers need to be de-professionalized and disciplined, so that schools can be run like companies. The McEducation of the testing regimen is just another part of this ongoing degradation of public schools.
    In the early days of privatization, the problem is always how to make it work. People in the public sector are accustomed to operating outside the logic of the market. This heresy must be beaten out of them by fair means or foul. Corporate school reformers thus face the question: How do you transform the vocational model of the school into the corporate model of consumerist education? This is where someone like Michael Sharpe comes in. Nobody knows the answer to the question. It’s apparent that it’s all a matter of trial and error, of cant, and deceit and cynical opportunism. Because nobody really knows what kind of animal is privatized common schooling, it follows that just about anyone is fit to head a charter school. Michael Sharpe is not an educator and yet, as Ms Littman says, he was lauded by political figures in the school reform universe. This means that either Mr. Sharpe was a natural genius, in the sense that he was a brilliant educator while scarcely knowing anything about educational practices; or either he was a consummate fraud and the people who celebrated him didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. We now know that Michael Sharpe is a confidence artist, who was enabled by those who should have known better. It seems likely, then, that the alleged successes of Jumoke Academy are probably dubious.
    If Jumoke was a real and authentic success then I, for one, would be glad. I would like to think that even in the midst of Michael Sharpe’s deceptions, children were still able to get a decent education. But if the children were short-changed in their learning then this really completes the scandal, as there would be no mitigating factors in considering the conduct of Mr Sharpe and the disgraceful complicity of the State Dept of Education, which is (legally) supposed to be the defender of Connecticut schoolchildren in the last resort. Jon Pelto has written that Jumoke’s academic successes are not to be credited at face value. This matters because charter school proponents like Stefan Pryor and Jen Alexander like to roll out Jumoke as an example of a “high performing” charter school, with the aim of softening public resistance to more such schools. The question is: are these folks telling the truth and nothing but the truth?
    On reading Sarah Darer Littman’s piece, one can only come to the conclusion that the “Jumoke miracle” is a well-wrought illusion. Jumoke defenders have too much at stake to admit the lie, so one can expect them to go on parroting all the old claims. If Jumoke collapses it will be a disaster for the Charter school movement. Over the next few months it will be interesting to see how the school reform crowd do their best to stop the patient from dying, when right now, all vital signs spell death. Malloy is going to have out-Malloy himself to get victory out of this impending defeat.

    • Mary Gallucci

      A great column by Sarah Darer Littman and a great comment by jrp. I pity the children and families, however, because they deserve a real education.

    • kuji fukijawa

      OT:
      Hi jrp1900 — Just a quick temporary note to say that I miss reading your commentary since CD shut down its comments section on Jan 3. Please do visit the website, Nation of Change dot org. Your excellent writing and incisive views would be most welcome there! Many old Cders have been conversing there on an old thread, so much in fact that the processing time on that thread is slowed considerably from normal (NofC has been most gracious to us), and many people are beginning to engage this promising young site.
      Cheers.
      All the best, kuji

    • Two Americas

      Glad to find you jrp1900. Thanks for all of the excellent commentary over at the CD free speech zone from which so many good people were recently evicted.