According to the latest lobbying reports filed with the Connecticut Ethics Commission, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies spent another $555,000 during this year’s legislative session in their ongoing effort to support Governor Malloy and persuade Connecticut legislators to divert even more public money to the privately owned and operated charter schools in the state.
While Governor Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly instituted the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy and the Democrat’s new budget actually increased the amount of scarce public funds going to the charter schools.
At the same time, the charter school front groups were working with Malloy to fight off efforts to fix Connecticut’s flawed teacher evaluation program.
Malloy and the charter schools are intent on keeping the scores that student receive on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC standardized tests as a prominent factor in determining teacher quality, despite the fact that every major academic study has revealed that individual teachers have an extremely small impact on how individual students do on standardized tests.
Rather than develop a teacher evaluation system based on how well that educator is actually doing, Malloy and the education reformers want to stick with a faulty system that will unfairly judge teachers on factors beyond their control.
Meanwhile, as Wait, What reported earlier this year, the charter school industry and their corporate funded front groups have spent in excess of $9 million on lobbying since Governor Malloy took office in 2011. See: Charter School Industry “invests” more than $9 million in Connecticut lobbying
The latest ethics reports indicate that, once again, the New York based Families for Excellent Schools continue to spend the most on lobbying in Connecticut, having reported an additional $300,000 in lobbying expenditures since the beginning of this year’s legislative session. The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) took the 2nd and 3rd spots on the charter school lobbying chart.
While Families for Excellent Schools and the entire charter school industry continue to expand their lobbying efforts, Neil Vigdor, of the Hearst Media Group, reports that Families for Excellent Schools and other so-called education reformers have set up another Political Action Committee that they will be using to reward and punish candidates who support or oppose their agenda.
In Charter schools step up political action Vigdor reports;
The charter school movement — backstopped by a billionaire club that includes Michael Bloomberg, Paul Tudor Jones and Ray Dalio — wants to put its stamp on the Legislature in Connecticut.
CT Forward, a newly launched nonprofit advocacy group, will survey House and Senate candidates across the state on their support for public charter schools. The litmus test will determine which candidates receive financial and grassroots support from the group’s dues-paying members, who will be made up heavily of parents.
Families for Excellent Schools, which has wrangled with Bridgeport administrators over education reform, is behind the election-year initiative.
For giants of the hedge fund industry such as Jones and Dalio, both Greenwich residents, charter schools have become a favorite cause. Each has contributed to Families for Excellent Schools, which reported $17.6 million in contributions and grants for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, to the IRS. [FES Director] Kittredge’s compensation was $222,297 for that time period, more than Connecticut’s state education commissioner and New York City’s schools chancellor.
A spokesman for Jones declined to comment. Multiple requests for comment were left for Dalio, whose Westport hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, is the largest in the world. Bloomberg has not contributed directly to FES, but has been strongly linked to the charter school movement.
Lobbying legislators, handing out campaign cash…it is all part of the effort to privatize public education in Connecticut and across the country.