“‘Toxic’ Steve Perry should embarrass charter supporters”

Oklahoma educator and education advocate Dr. John Thompson is an award-winning historian and inner-city teacher. He is the author of A Teacher’s Tale: Learning, Loving and Listening to Our Kids.  He recently attended a speech given by charter school owner Steve Perry and wrote about his observations for the website, Nondoc.

Thompson wrote;

Although I’d mostly come to hear perspectives from charter supporters in the crowd, I found myself instead listening, horrified, as keynote speaker Steve Perry, a former charter school principal-turned-showman from Connecticut, shouted non-stop insults during his entire keynote address.

Thompson added;

Perry has a reputation for failing to respect the regulatory rules of the road and is remembered for calling unions “roaches” in 2013. Worse, his charter school, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, would sentence “even the youngest students in the building” to sit at what was known as the Table of Shame as a form of punishment. His current gig is running Sean “P-Diddy” Combs’ 160-student charter, a Harlem magnet school that recruits suburban students.

[…]

At Thursday’s summit, Perry told the audience that charter supporters shouldn’t even talk with people who disagree with them. He also claimed opponents of Oklahoma City’s KIPP expansion are racists. In fact, he said people like me — who display pro-Barack Obama bumper stickers but oppose charter and voucher expansions — are as bad as the worst racists in American history. Perry went on to say that public schools were “designed” to fail in order to maintain Jim Crow and drive the school-to-prison pipeline.

[…]

Perry said virtually nothing about real-world schools. Instead, he shouted memes that were often incomprehensible. He kept likening charters to the consciousness-expanding “red pill” in The Matrix while calling for an all-out assault on public schools and public school educators who were irredeemable because they had taken the “blue pill” of complacent resignation.

Thompson concluded;

I don’t know if local charter leaders were fully aware of whom they were hiring to articulate their message in Oklahoma City. I do hope, however, that they are embarrassed by his toxic speech.

Local charter leaders should distance themselves from Steve Perry and apologize to teachers for his outrageous behavior.

His piece is a “Must Read” on the antics of Steve Perry and those seeking to destroy public education in the United States.  You can find and comment on his piece at:  https://nondoc.com/2017/01/31/steve-perry-charter-supporters/

Connecticut charter schools violate state law with use of uncertified teachers and administrators

As a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-public school agenda, Connecticut taxpayers hand over more than $110 million a year to the state’s charter school industry.  This largess comes despite the fact that Connecticut’s charter schools refuse to accept and educate their fair share of students with special education needs and those who require extra help learning the English language.

Equally appalling is that these privately owned, but publicly funded, schools refuse to follow Connecticut law when it comes to the use of certified teachers and school administrators.

Connecticut State Law is extremely clear.

For public schools, 100% of the teachers, administrators and service staff MUST hold an appropriate certification and authorization for the position in which they are serving.  State certification not only ensures that teachers and school personnel have appropriate training but it also means these individuals have gone through background checks before being allowed to teach children.

State law even mandates that public schools cannot even pay non-certified teachers and administrators.

However, thanks to aggressive lobbying by the charter school industry, charter schools “play” by a very different set of rules.

In charter schools, only 50% of the teachers, administrators and professionals must hold a traditional state certificate such as an initial, provisional or professional educator certificate.

This means that up to 50% may serve under a “temporary authorization” process or have what is deemed a “quick and easy” certification from a charter school preparation program.  In no case are charter schools allowed to use teachers and staff who don’t hold permanent or temporary certification.

Yet despite this enormous flexibility, Connecticut’s charter schools are notorious for still having a significant percentage of their staff “out of compliance” with Connecticut’s statutes and regulations.

This result is that parents of charter school students cannot be sure whether their student’s teachers and administrators are meeting the most basic requirements to be in a classroom and that taxpayers are paying for staff who should not even be hired by the charter schools.

The data on the magnitude of the problem in charter schools can been found at the Connecticut State Department of Education.

According to official reports filed with the State Department of Education, and current as of March 2016, 14 out of 24 (58%) Connecticut charter schools are were violating the law when it comes to ensuring students have properly authorized staff in the building.

It will not come as a surprise to those who follow “education entrepreneur” Steve Perry, that the greatest violator of the law is the Capital Prep Charter school chain.  As of March 2016, 80% of Bridgeport Capital Prep Harbor School’s staff did not have any certification what-so-ever and were therefore in violation of state law.

A number of other charter schools had staffing operations in which at least 30% of the staff were teaching or administrating illegally.  This list included Achievement First Amistad, Achievement First Bridgeport, Achievement First Hartford Academy, Achievement First Elm City, the Stamford Academy and the Stamford Charter School for Excellence.

Other charter schools in which at least 10% of the staff were in violation of Connecticut law included Booker T. Washington Charter School, Brass City Charter School, Highville Charter School, New Beginnings Family Academy charter school and Path Academy Charter School.

Rather than giving Connecticut charter schools even more state money, state officials should be withholding funds until charter schools fulfill their legal duty to their students, parents and the taxpayers of Connecticut.

Charter School Industry Gravy Train Picks Up P. Diddy via Steve “Strap Up” Perry

Quick News Brief – More to Come on this breaking story! 

With billions of dollars in taxpayer funds being diverted from public schools to privately owned and operated charter schools, a motley collection of the nation’s super-wealthy, including sports and music stars, are looking to cash in on the existing bi-partisan political support for the privatization of public education in the United States.

According to recent published reports, the latest to climb on the Charter School Industry Gravy train is rap star, actor, record producer, clothing designer and successful entrepreneur Sean Combs, who has previously gone by the name of P. Diddy, Diddy and Puff Daddy.

In an article entitled, Capital Prep Founder To Oversee Sean “Diddy” Combs’ New Harlem School, the Hartford Courant reports;

“Combs announced Monday that the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School will open in the fall. The school will be overseen by Capital Prep leader Steve Perry, who founded Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford in 2005.

By “partnering” with Steve Perry, who refers to himself as the “Most Trusted Educator in America,” Combs is tying his charter school ownership aspirations to the controversial, anti-union, anti-teacher, media personality who “made” his reputation as a principal of a Hartford magnet school that was and continues to be part of the Hartford Public School System.

Perry gained national notoriety for his school’s harsh disciplinary policies that included the use of the “Table of Shame” to punish children who received demerits and for his ugly public comments about unions, teachers and anyone who opposed his empire building efforts.

As a 2013 Wait, What? post entitled, Hey Steve Perry – Tell us about Capital Prep’s “Table of Shame,” explained;

Located in the cafeteria of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School at 1304 Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut is the “Table of Shame.”

At part of Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry’s “zero-tolerance” policies even the slightest “violations,” such as wearing the wrong colored belt, will result in punishments designed to humiliate and demean students.

For example, it is not uncommon for Capital Prep students to be forced to stand in the cafeteria to eat as punishment for violating the school uniform policy or some equally unimportant “violation.”

And now, more than a half a dozen former and present parents, students and teachers report that Perry and his fellow Capital Prep administrators regularly require children, even the youngest students in the building, to sit at the cafeteria’s “Table of Shame.”

And yes… it is actually referred to as the “Table of Shame.”

Along with the charges of abusive disciplinary practices and questionable financial activities – According to federal and state documents, Steve Perry registered his private charter school management company at the address of the Hartford public school at which he worked – Perry’s unwillingness to provide federally required educational services to children with special needs led to a sweeping investigation and follow-up action.

As a Hartford school administrator, Perry was also unwilling or unable to recruit and retain students who where English Language Learners despite more than 50 percent of Hartford’s students being Latino.

Perry is also fond of attacking unions and teachers, famously calling teacher unions roaches and belittling classroom teachers and the teaching profession.

Of course, as for his anger management problems, when the Hartford Board of Education rejected his proposal to give his private company ownership and control of two Hartford public schools, Perry infamously Tweeted;

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry

“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.”

For more on that piece see Update: “Strap up [my gun], there will be head injuries” (Steve Perry 11/20/13) and the Washington Post’s coverage, Angry principal tweets: ‘Strap up, there will be head injuries’

With this latest public relations claim that this new charter school in Harlem is P. Diddy’s invention, Perry is proving, yet again, that the he and the truth don’t often go hand in hand.

The latest Hartford Courant story adds;

“I want to make getting an A cool,” Perry said Combs told him. To support the effort, Combs initially provided staff and office space. He also helped identify people and institutions to build support for the school.

And he’s played a role as the school has been developed. He conducted the final interview with Jones and has gotten involved in issues as minute as cleaning restrooms.

The school will open in the fall with 80 sixth graders and 80 seventh graders.

Perry said he asked Combs whether he wanted the school named after him. The answer was no. “Call it Capital Prep,” Combs told him, Perry said.

Wait, What? 

Steve Perry is claiming that he asked Diddy whether he wanted his name attached to the new charter school but the rap icon said that he wanted to use the name of Perry’s school instead?

In classic Perry fashion, the nation’s “most trusted educator” is hoping that no one actually checks the record.

As the record proves, it was Perry and his company who submitted the proposal to open a charter school in Harlem and the application was approved, despite a long list of questionable statements that were contained in Perry’s application.

This truth is that this isn’t P. Diddy’s charter school, it is Steve Perry’s charter school that he is now connecting to P. Diddy’s star power.

The application to open the school never mentioned Diddy in any way whatsoever.

As reported back in 2014 by Wait, What? in articles entitled, Self-proclaimed as “America’s Most Trusted Educator,” Steve Perry says he is opening a charter school in NYC? And Perry’s New York City charter school application generates requests for investigations, the truth was clear.

“Earlier this month [November 2014], the New York Board of Regents moved to approve a charter school application from Steve Perry, a principal of a public school in Connecticut who has formed a charter school management company in the hopes of opening up charter schools in the greater New York City region.

Although the Board of Regents’ Education Committee approved the charter school application submitted by Mr. Perry, he does not own the concepts, materials and intellectual property contained in that application.  Instead they belong to the Hartford, Connecticut Board of Education.

At their November meeting, the P-12 Education Committee of the New York Board of Regents, upon the recommendation of Commissioner John B. King, Jr and the staff of the New York State Department of Education, voted to approve the application for the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School.

In the memo to the P-12 Committee, Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. wrote, “The Commissioner and Department staff recommend that the Board of Regents consider, approve and issue initial charters and provisional charters for the following four new charter schools.”  The list included Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School.

As the application read,

CPS is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools. It is our hope that we will manage two schools in Harlem. The first is to be Capital Prep Harlem, 6-12. The second would be a kindergarten to 5th grade school in or near the first in CSD 5

From all the available evidence, it appears that the school P. Diddy is opening this fall is actually the school that the New York Board of Regents approved for Perry but not for Diddy.

Perry is now relying on Sean Combs to fill the seats in the charter school that the New York Board of Regents approved for Perry.

Note that in the application to the New York Board of Regents, Perry also stated that his company owned a school in Hartford, Connecticut but that is an absolute and total lie.  The school in question is not owned by Steve Perry’s charter school management organization but is owned by the residents of Hartford and operated by the Hartford Public Schools System.

As the story continues to develop, it is also worth remembering that while Steve Perry brags about the “famous” people associated with Charter School Board of Directors, those familiar with Perry and his proclivities will remember the issue about Perry’s new charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut – in which Wait, What? wrote:

A Convicted Felon on Steve Perry’s Charter School Governing Council – There should be a law!

Malloy – A Governor intent on undermining public education

Public Education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker had yet another “MUST READ” piece in the Stamford Advocate about Governor Dannel Malloy’s un-paralleled attack on public education and his unending commitment to divert scarce public taxpayer dollars to privately owned, but publicly funded charter school operators.  The strategy may result in more campaign donations for Malloy, but it comes at a terrible price for Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and the state’s taxpayers.

Wendy Lecker’s original piece can be found at:   Governor intent to undermine public education.

Wendy Lecker writes,

Governors, being politicians, spout a lot of rhetoric. However, during budget time, their true priorities emerge. Looking at three real-life situations from this year’s budget season, try to guess who the Democratic governor of Connecticut is.

One governor announced a 2-billion dollar increase in public K-12 funding, a relatively modest increase because it is spread over the next decade; but he publicly acknowledged the need to fund public schools before reforming them. The second, incensed that the legislature would not increase public school K-12 funding to adequate levels, nor adequately fund pre-K, threatened to hold up the budget. The third slashed funding for social programs, gave no increase for public K-12 education, despite a pending lawsuit alleging that the state owes almost 2 billion dollars to its public schools, and threatened to veto the state budget unless the legislature agreed to fund two charter schools in communities that vehemently opposed them.

The first governor is Republican Doug Ducey of Arizona. The second governor is a Democrat,Mark Dayton of Minnesota. The third? You guessed it — Dan Malloy of Connecticut.

Governor Malloy’s tenure has been characterized by denigrating teachers, vigorously opposing adequate funding of public schools and vastly increasing financial support for privately run charter schools which fail to serve the state’s neediest children, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities, have disturbingly harsh disciplinary policies, increase racial isolation, drain public money from needy public schools and have even been implicated in fraud and theft.

Why would Malloy favor these questionable privately run schools over underfunded public schools? One answer lies in an article reported on by the Hartford Courant, piggy-backing off the years of reporting blogger Jonathan Pelto has done on this issue.

The Courant reported that this year, unprecedented amounts of money were spent to push the charter agenda by ConnCAN, the charter lobby; Northeast Charter Network, another charter lobby founded by disgraced Jumoke leader Michael Sharpe and others; and a newer group operating in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts: Families for Excellent Schools (FES).

The Courant further noted that the same millionaires and billionaires who copiously donated to Malloy’s campaigns are also major donors to charters and charter lobbyists. This list includes Greenwich millionaire Jonathan Sackler, the founder of ConnCAN and original board member of the Achievement First charter chain; Greenwich hedge funder Steve Mandel, who funded the players behind the illegal takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education; embattled SAC Capital chief Steven Cohen and his wife; ConnCAN board members Arthur Reimers and Andrew Boas; Andrew Stone, a board member at Success Academy charter chain, a close ally of FES; and ConnCAN donor Marianna McCall. FES even hired two public relations firms that employ Malloy’s recently departed top aides: Roy Occhiogrosso and Andrew Doba.

The web of charter money is so thick it must have blinded Malloy to the needs and wishes of constituents from Stamford and Bridgeport.

The local opposition to these charters, by both local officials and parents, is well-documented. Malloy’s State Board of Education rubber-stamped the charters’ authorization in April 2014, ignoring local opposition and the fact that the legislature had not appropriated the funds for them.

Despite warnings by legislators that these schools might not be funded, the charter operators, Steve Perry for Bridgeport and a Bronx charter operator for Stamford, advertised widely for students in order to pressure the state to fund them.

Stamford and Bridgeport officials and residents opposed any appropriations for these schools they did not want. Bridgeport grassroots activists traveled to Hartford every week to show their opposition. Stamford residents wrote to every legislator imploring each not to fund these schools when public schools were being starved.

On the other side, the Malloy-connected, billionaire-backed charter lobbyists bused in demonstrators from Massachusetts and New York to stage demonstrations in Hartford in support of these two unwanted charters.

Legislators assured Bridgeport and Stamford residents that they were not swayed by the charter lobbying and they would not fund these schools.

But then Malloy threatened to veto the budget unless his pet charters were funded and the legislature caved. They received, as a token consolation prize, an insignificant increase in state school funding.

Connecticut has a governor intent on undermining public education and a spineless legislature that collapses when the governor so much as sneezes. Unless our citizenry elects some leaders with principles, who actually care about our public institutions rather than wealthy donors, things are looking grim for the over 95 percent of Connecticut’s children who attend our public schools.