Charter School Industry “invests” more than $9 million in Connecticut lobbying

Since taking office in January 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy has been able to count on the consistent and lucrative support of the charter school industry and their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher corporate education reform allies.

In addition to being one of Malloy’s largest sources of campaign cash during his 2014 re-election campaign, the owners and operators of Connecticut’s charter schools, along with the corporate elite who support Malloy’s “education reform” initiatives have dumped more than $9 million into the lobbying effort to support Malloy’s agenda to undermine public education in Connecticut.

This lobbing frenzy makes the corporate education reform effort the most expensive lobbying campaign in Connecticut history.

Funneling money through a variety of different organizations and front groups, the charter school advocates have been able “transform” public education in Connecticut by promoting Malloy’s plans to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in scarce public funds to privately owned and operated charter schools.

While Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly are instituting unprecedented cuts to public schools, thanks to the  “reformers” lobbying effort, more than $110 million in public dollars will be handed over to charter schools this year alone.

In addition, these groups have spent their millions pushing the Common Core and Common Core testing scheme, a program designed to label a vast number of Connecticut’s children, teachers and schools as failures.

The following chart highlights the Step Right Up, Buy Public Policy organizations that have lobbied on behalf of Malloy’s charter school and anti-public education agenda.

Organization Lobbying Expenses
A Better Connecticut (ConnCAN front group)  $2.3 million
ConnCAN  $1.9 million
Families for Excellent Schools  $1.8 million
GNEPSA (StudentsFirst/Michelle Rhee)  $891,000
CT Council for Education Reform  $349,000
Students for Education Reform  $16,000
Achievement First  $422,000
NE Charter School Network/Charter School Network  $132,000
Bronx Charter School $35,000
CT Business & Industry Assoc. (CBIA)  >$1.2 million
TOTAL $9 Million+

This past legislative session, these charter school and education reform entities spent in excess of $500,000 successfully persuading legislators to cut their own district’s public school funding, at the same time they were sending even more taxpayer money to Connecticut’s charter schools, despite the fact that these private institutions have traditionally refused to educate their fair share of students who need special education services, children who require help learning the English Language or those who have behavioral issues.

More taxpayer money for the private sector, less public funds for public schools.

Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly should be sent packing and replaced with people who will put our children ahead of political and private interests.

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    For Danny’s tombstone:

    “He who knows not, and knows not he knows not is a fool….shun him”

    Stupid idiot Danny Boy went after corporate money to shore up school funding. At what point did he discover that the deep pocket assholes were not going to offer up money like a contribution to a charity. They will though ante up millions to buy favors and curry taxpayer dollars to their corporate endeavors. What could these scadzillion dollars have done if spent on improving schools? How much longer can this state afford Danny and his bobble head doll Wentzell? AFT and CEA……..grow some balls.

  • sweetwater

    And yet, they claim “inequitable funding”. Indeed. Perhaps put that 9 million into PPE instead. Better yet would be to refinance the loans they are carrying with interest and re-negotiate their CMO fees to the “fiscal benefactors” at 1 million on average per year, per school. Time for the People to plant their own lobbyists to work in Hartford all day.

  • Bill Morrison

    Jon,
    My school, The Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School, has been devastated by the budget cuts. Although more students over the past two years have chosen our school as their preference, they have not been assigned here. Indeed, even The Law and Government Academy and the Nursing Academy have received more, although we were the most chosen. As a result, we have lost two Math teachers, one Special Education teacher, three Paraprofessionals, and one ELL teacher (Our student populations in these vital areas of ELL and Spec Ed have increased). yet, the Charter Schools, which seem to be creaming off regular education students, have seen their budgets increase.
    I imagine that its the same everywhere in our state. I have recurring dreams anymore of a movement to impeach the corrupt Shyster Malloy.

  • Jeff Klaus

    Glad you think that choice should be a determinant factor in funding. Maybe you should convert your school to a charter.

    But that wouldn’t be a smart idea after all…because charters get less than half of the public funding that HPS gets. Can’t help it if HBOE decides to spend $ on schools that you don’t think deserve as much funding as yours.

    • Bill Morrison

      Here is an interesting letter posted in Diane Ravitch’s website. It is a must read!

      Edward F. Berger: We Must Recover from the School Choice Movement and Reclaim Our Public Schools
      by dianeravitch

      Edward F. Berger is a retired educator who lives in Arizona and builds community support against privatization of public schools.

      In this post, he explains the failure of charter schools (which he calls “partial schools”).

      This is how the school choice movement went wrong:

      Politicians, ideologues, so-called libertarians, and crooks attracted by profit motives, took over the charter school experiment. They decided, with no educational data to back their decisions, that charter schools, regardless of whether they worked for children or not, whether they served America’s need for an educated populous or not, would become stand-alone schools that could be run with little accountability, certification, or even democratically elected boards. Now, tax money is often used to create private Real Estate empires. Our tax dollars that we pay for children and their education are siphoned off to individuals, corporations, and companies that contract with charters to provide “services.” Is it any wonder that hedge fund operators and the self-appointed reformers see charter schools and outfits like K-12 as income generators? Is it any wonder that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies cannot keep up with the criminal activities of those milking the system? These thefts are criminal even if approved by legislatures. Are you surprised that the largest Charter School operator in America is a Turkish political movement using our tax dollars to bring their people (they call them teachers) into America to support a political agenda in a foreign land?

      Groups motivated by Koch, ALEC, and those with hedge fund mentalities of fraud and greed, have gone against the clear and expressed wishes of the great majority of Americans (exceeding 85%) who support community based, public, comprehensive schools. Let’s be very clear. The great majority of Americans want children exposed to and involved in these areas of learning: Art, music, the sciences, history, civics, theater, health, languages, social studies, reading, writing, critical thinking, physical education, athletics, cooperative experiences, computer sciences, computer literacy, clubs, projects, research… and this is only a partial list of what public comprehensive schools provide. We citizens want the development of self-motivated children, children with ethics and empathy. Children with heart. Constant testing for data does not serve our children.

      Parents, educators, and communities united can push back against the corruption in the charter industry.

    • Bill Morrison

      Jeff,
      You miss the point. Charters are not Public Schools. They are private, for profit corporations that should not be entitled to a penny of public monies. I am not saying that my school deserves more money than another Public School; I am saying that any Public School deserves more than any charter.

  • Jeff Klaus

    Bill – While there are some for-profit charters in the U.S., there are none in Ct. In fact, state law prohibits any public monies to go to for-profit charters in Ct.

    While charters are governed by an unelected, self selecting board, the charter is fully accountable to the State BOE for safety, soundness, and academic performance. Charters also do not charge tuition and conduct blind admission via lottery. I’m not sure what your definition of a public school is, but charters in Ct seem to fit all of the important criteria for inclusion in the club.

    • R.L.

      You’re funny in how you twist. Non-profit does not mean that nobody makes money. Charters are run by private interests with public money. Accountable to the state BOE??? That’s the biggest funny of them all! They can be held accountable, but the state doesn’t want them to be accountable because of all of the campaign money going to those who should make them accountable. See the previous article “Charter School Industry “Invests” More than $9 Million in Connecticut Lobbying” or the following article “Malloy + Dems Slammed with Record Fine for Campaign Violations but Slip Off the Hook”. Accountability is a funny word. It’s kind of like the word law. They are words that mean nothing if you are in a certain corporate class, they are words that only apply to the little people. Also, a blind lottery in itself eliminates many students who have uninvolved or alienated parents which are the very students who need the most help, the ones charters were originally created for before they became an end-around to essentially implementing vouchers. You know the students who would make your test scores and graduation rates such that the school would need to be held “accountable” for the low achievement of their students if they actually served these students.

      • Jeff Klaus

        What’s your solution for improving education in Ct?

        • R.L.

          Connecticut had one of the best education systems in the country until you people got ahold of it. I’ve worked in charter schools, tech schools, rural schools and inner city schools. I’ve worked in full comprehensive high schools and schools that have been broken up into academies. I survived Adamowski! The best high school model is that of a comprehensive high school. You know, like the wealthy suburbs have. These schools are the most efficient and have the most CHOICE available in what a student can take including these things we used to call electives. They have programs for ELL and SPED that are merely given lip service in the academy model and no service in the charter model. You want to improve education in CT? END THE FULL INCLUSION MODEL! Provide more school services and less school buildings. Stop attacking and undermining schools and teachers that are servicing the most troubled students and support them! Acknowledge that it is the level of poverty that is being measured with standardized tests, not the skill or dedication of the teacher. Make it a requirement that ALL administrators having anything to do with administrating schools be required to substitute teach at least five times a year in the most troubled schools in their district or state. You people talk a lot like you know what the problems are and what should be done to fix them. Then you speak with your money and get things done that compound the problems. I’ve never seen a Mr. Klaus in a classroom in my building, yet you talk like you think you know the challenges I face every day with my students. Go into the schools and study them. Maybe then you can gain a legitimate idea about how to fix them. Right now, you are the bad guy!

    • R.L.