While Connecticut’s state budget approval process is far from over, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee has made some significant changes to Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed state budget including deleting some of Malloy’s $80 million in cuts to public schools and reducing Malloy’s plan to INCREASE charter school funding by more than 25 percent.
While public schools would still face record breaking budget cuts and Connecticut’s privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools would be getting more funding, the legislature’s Appropriations Committee plan actually removes the funding Steve Perry would need to open his proposed Capital Harbor Prep Charter School in Bridgeport. The Committee’s proposal also removed funding for another new charter school that is trying to open in Stamford.
As the Connecticut Post reported earlier today in an article entitled, New budget plan leaves new Bridgeport, Stamford charter schools unfunded,
“The appropriations committee would leave enough in the budget to allow existing charter schools to expand as planned and fill empty seats. But it cuts $7.7 million needed to open [two new charter schools.]”
The final state budget for the next fiscal year won‘t be adopted by the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives until late May or early June, but the Appropriations Committee appears to be taking a strong position that with massive budget cuts education and human services cuts still in place, additional public funds should not be diverted to opening new charter schools in Connecticut at this time.
Of course, Steve Perry’s nasty and threatening reputation precedes him and if his earlier behavior is any indication of what is to come, legislators will undoubtedly be targeted by Perry and his allies.
Back in November 2013, when the Hartford Board of Education balked at handing over two Hartford Public Schools to Perry’s private company to own and operate, Perry famously took to Twitter saying:
“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”
According to the Urban Dictionary, “Strap up” is slang for putting on a concealed pistol and “there will be head injuries” doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination.
If a public school student posted that threat, they’d be arrested, suspended and probably prohibited from ever returning to public school.
If a public teacher said that, they be fired and their certification would be revoked by the State Board of Education.
But Steve Perry, who calls himself “America’s Most Trusted Educator”, refused to apologize or even take responsibility for his threats.
In today’s Connecticut Post story about the Appropriations Committee plan to remove the funding for the new charter schools, the CEO of the Charter School advocacy group ConnCAN had already issued a statement attacking the legislature saying,
“…the budget falls short of the bold investments necessary to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed in the classroom…the Committee’s decision to cut funding proposed by the Governor for two charter schools that have already been approved means that hundreds of children who were promised an opportunity to attend a school of their family’s choice will now be left behind.”
By this afternoon, the state’s newest charter school front group, a group based in New York City and named “Families for Excellent Schools” was also out with a statement supporting Perry’s new school saying,
“They say a budget is a statement of your priorities…We know where the Governor stands – he included funding for both the new schools and seat growth. It’s time for legislators to show that educating our children is a priority by standing up and demanding a great education for every child.”
And half an hour later, Jeremiah Grace, state director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network added:
“The cuts in this budget proposal would directly hurt the thousands of children and families waiting for access to a great charter school. Without funding, those children will continue to languish on waiting lists….When the state reneges on commitments to public charter schools, children are the ones left behind. This budget ignores hundreds of parents in Bridgeport and Stamford who are expecting approved schools to open in the fall.”
Considering that Governor Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education approved the two new charter schools last summer knowing there was no money in the budget to fund the schools and that the State of Connecticut would be facing a $1.6 billion deficit in the next fiscal year, it is unclear what Mr. Grace means when he says that that the state is reneging on its commitment to charter schools.
Even with the Appropriation’s Committee changes, Connecticut’s public schools will get less money with Connecticut’s charter schools getting more even though they educate a minuscule percent of Connecticut’s students.
However, working in Perry’s favor, in addition to the possible benefits from threatening legislators, is the fact that Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest campaign contributor in last year’s gubernatorial election was a leading charter school advocate named Jonathan Sackler and his family.
Sackler and his family not only funneled well over $100,000 into the slush fund that the Malloy operation set up to get around Connecticut’s campaign finance system, but Sackler co-founded ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group and serves as the Board of Directors of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, the group that is falsely claiming that Connecticut was reneging on its commitment to charter schools. Sackler also founded the national charter school advocacy group 50-CAN and sits on a number of other pro-charter school groups, as well as being a founding member of Achievement First, Inc.’s Board of Directors.
As for Families for Excellent Schools, they make it particularly difficult to identify who their funders are or even who serves on their Board of Directors, but as fellow education blogger Mercedes Schneider discovered, the group is a favorite of the Walton Foundation which is the family foundation of the anti-public education owners of the Wal-Mart Corporation. You can read more about Families for Excellent Schools at: An Investigation Into NY’s “Families for Excellent Schools
You can also read more about Steve Perry and his behavior, tactics and priorities via the following Wait, What? posts or simply search for Steve Perry on Wait, What?