Here we go again…
Rather than properly fund Connecticut’s public schools, Governor Malloy has turned his back on the majority of Connecticut’s public schools and local property taxpayers by shifting almost all new state education funding to Connecticut’s so-called Alliance Districts.
Making matters far worse, rather than using the State Department of Education’s expert team of superintendents, principals and policy experts who had been working with Connecticut’s Priority Schools, Malloy’s first Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, laid off and reassigned these experienced Connecticut educators and handed their work over to Mass Insight, Inc., a politically-connected, out-of-state Corporate Education Reform consulting company. Mass Insight then sent in a team of consultants, with little to no education experience, to manage the day to day work associated with the Alliance District and Turnaround Program.
And heading up the overall operation, which has spent more than $300 million in public funds, Commissioner Stefan Pryor recruited a school principal from Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management company that Pryor co-founded.
Lacking the certification necessary to teach or work in a Connecticut school, Morgan Barth had already spent eight years illegally teaching and working at Achievement First, Inc. However, Barth’s claim to fame was that he was a close relative of Richard Barth, the CEO of the massive KIPP Charter School chain who, in turn, is married to Wendy Koop, the founder of Teach for America.
When it comes to actually overseeing Malloy’s Alliance District program, Barth and Mass Insight’s track record has been abysmal, but that didn’t stop Mass Insight from collecting at least $1,957,960 in consulting fees and Barth finding the time to head out to Storrs to get his superintendent’s certification via one of the short-cut training programs at UConn’s NEAG School of Education.
Of course, not surprisingly, when Stefan Pryor bailed to take a job in Rhode Island, Malloy’s new Commissioner of Education, Dianna Wentzell, continued to use Mass Insight to run the Alliance District Program.
But despite the State Department of Education’s record of failure, or perhaps because of their record of mismanagement, Commissioner Wentzell is now blaming the Alliance Districts themselves for problems that have developed with the program, rather than the inexperienced, but highly paid consultants that she and her predecessor hired and coddled.
The Hartford Courant covers the new development in an article entitled, Some Struggling Districts Using State Grant For Unintended Purposes while the CT Mirror’s story is entitled, Schools redirecting money intended for reforms, officials say.
As the Courant reports,
“The board is aware of a couple of examples that have been brought to our attention of extreme misuse as a result of carryover,” Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell said. “This allows us to keep the Alliance District funds focused on the Alliance District plan.”
Keep Alliance District funds focused on the Alliance District Plan?
Considering the way in which the out-of-state consultants coordinated the program, attacking the Alliance Districts is particularly revolting.
And let’s be clear, it’s not like Wentzell and her management team weren’t well aware of the problems associated with the way the Alliance District Program was being run because, as has been clear from the state, those problems started at the top and were a direct result of the policy decisions Pryor and Wentzell made.
The following 17 Wait, What. Blog posts are just a fraction of the reports about the way in which Mass Insight Inc. and the State Department of Education were managing the Alliance District program.
Connecticut legislators take note, before Malloy’s State Department of Education and State Board of Education start attacking Connecticut’s most challenged school districts, they should be required to come clean about myriad of problems that were caused by the way they “managed” the program.
The following are Wait, What? Posts on Connecticut’s Alliance District Program and the way in which Malloy’s own commissioners and consultants mismanaged and undermined the program.