WARNING Connecticut – They are coming for your schools and your democratic rights!

A Breaking News Alert from Jonathan Pelto and Wendy Lecker

When it comes to public education in Connecticut, a new piece of legislation before the Connecticut General Assembly (H.B. 5551) would be the most far-reaching power grab in state history – a direct attack on local control of schools, our democracy and Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, local school officials and public schools.

The legislation would enable Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education to takeover individual schools in a district, remove the control of the elected board of education, “suspend laws” and eliminate the role of school governance councils which are the parent’s voice in school “turnaround plans.

The bill is nothing short of an authoritarian maneuver by grossly expanding the Commissioner of Education’s powers under the Commissioner’s Network.  The bill destroys the fundamental role of local control because it allows the state to indefinitely take over schools and even entire districts, without a vote of local citizens.

The bill removes any time limit on Commissioner’s Network Schools. It removes the cap on how many Commissioner’s Network schools can be taken over by the state.  It removes the right of the local community to appoint their own turnaround committee.  It eliminates the requirement that local parents, through their school governance council are included in the process.

This plan contravenes all the evidence on state takeovers.

State takeovers of schools and districts have been an abject failure across the country.

In Newark and Paterson New Jersey, where state takeover has been in effect for years, the districts are plagued by fiscal crises, lack of improvement in student outcomes and charges of mismanagement.

A recent report issued by the Center for Popular Democracy found that state takeovers in New Orleans, Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority, and Tennessee’s Achievement School District, have all been plagued by mismanagement, instability and high turnover and hiring of inexperienced teachers, and virtually no student improvement. https://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/National%20Takeover%20Ed%20Report.pdf

In fact, even the federal government has found that states do not have the expertise to successfully turn around low-performing schools.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/most-states-lacked-expertise-to-improve-worst-schools/2015/05/05/0eb82b98-f35f-11e4-bcc4-e8141e5eb0c9_story.html

Connecticut’s track record on taking over schools is anything but stellar. In fact, one of the first Commissioner’s Network schools, handed over to Jumoke/FUSE failed miserably under the supposed watchful eye of the Commissioner and State Board of Education.  The charter network admitted it was “winging it,” hiring ex-convicts, mismanaging funds and allowing student test scores to drop precipitously.  Even the current principal, Karen Lott, admitted that the takeover was a failure, with only 13% of Milner’s students scoring proficient in Language Arts and a shocking 7% in Math.  Lott declared that what the school needed was experienced staff, additional resources and community support, particularly wrap-around social services. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Failure-as-a-model-for-Connecticut-6267220.php.

None of these inputs require state takeover. In fact takeovers have been characterized by hiring inexperienced teachers, and disenfranchising the local community.

Where would such an un-American, anti-democracy and anti-local control idea come from?

This bill is virtually a carbon copy of ConnCAN’s proposal for the Commissioner’s Network schools. http://webiva-downton.s3.amazonaws.com/696/7c/c/2766/255496644-ConnCAN-Turnaround-Report.pdf  ConnCAN cherry picked and misrepresented certain “case studies” and, as per usual, passed it off as “research.”

For an example of ConnCAN’s misrepresentation of its case studies, read the truth about Lawrence Massachusetts here. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-collateral-damage-of-a-district-6295743.php

ConnCAN not only wrote a proposal shockingly identical to this bill , the charter lobby also sponsored a “forum” for legislators in 2015 where it invited Ms. Lott of the failed Milner school and others, such as the deputy superintendent of Lawrence to speak to legislators.

However the true examples of following  ConnCAN’s prescription can be found in places like Detroit, where the emergency manager left under a cloud and Detroit’s schools are on the brink of collapse, and in Tennessee where the superintendent, Chris Barbic, resigned, admitting turnaround was  “much harder”  than he thought.

Why would ConnCAN, the charter lobby, push this proposal?

Because state takeovers have been characterized by conversion of public schools into charter schools; schools unaccountable to elected boards, with little duty to report on its finances, yet they receive millions in public funds. Charters also tend to exclude a district’s neediest children, without any accountability for these practices.

This is the second recent example of the Malloy administration ceding governmental tasks to ConnCAN.  As was reported Friday, the Malloy administration allowed ConnCAN to choose at least one candidate for State Board of Education. (link)

Now, ConnCAN is writing legislation to determine the fate of our poorest schools.  ConnCAN is a lobby for charter schools.  The world outside Hartford recognizes ConnCAN as a charlatan organization. It has received the Bunkum Award for shoddy research from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.

It is beyond troubling that our education policy is being set by this lobbying front group.

Without any evidence that destroying local control will help students (in fact with most evidence pointing the other way) why would we cede more power to the Commissioner?

Why do we think people who live and work in poor communities do not know what their children and schools need?  As longtime teacher, professor and writer Mike Rose has written,

“We have a long-standing shameful tendency in America to attribute all sorts of pathologies to the poor… We seem willing to accept remedies for the poor that we are not willing to accept for anyone else.”

Our neighbors in our poorest communities know what their children need.  Their teachers and principals and all the dedicated staff in their schools know, too.  In fact, since early February they have been testifying, along with real national experts, in front of Judge Moukawsher in the CCJEF case about what their schools need to improve: smaller classes, more teachers, social workers, prek, wraparound services for kids and families, adequate facilities and more.

As Milner’s principal stated, struggling schools need money, a stable staff and community support. State takeover will not accomplish these goals.

What will?

Providing schools the supports Ms. Lott mentions; supports that have been proven to improve schools. https://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Community-Schools-Layout_e.pdf

How do we provide these resources?

Several recent longitudinal studies prove that school finance reform where states substantially increase funding for struggling schools raises achievement. http://eml.berkeley.edu/~jrothst/workingpapers/LRS_schoolfinance_feb2016.pdf; http://www.nber.org/papers/w20847.

The legislature can truly impact student performance by settling the CCJEF case and enacting real finance reform to fund Connecticut schools adequately.

What the legislature should NOT do is replicate failure. And that is what Raised Bill 5551 will do.

Governor Malloy and his administration are apparently doing the bidding of ConnCAN and the rest of the charter school industry.

It is the legislature’s duty to act on behalf of the children in this state, on behalf of taxpayers, and on behalf of democracy.

Connecticut needs elected officials with integrity and clarity of vision, once and for all, to examine the evidence and protect the interests, not of high-priced lobbyists, but of those children most in need of protection.

For more about how ConnCAN, the charter school industry and the corporate education reformers that are corrupting Connecticut politics and policy read – Malloy turns to charter school industry for names to appoint to the CT State Board of Education

The General Assembly’s Education Committee will be holding a public hearing on this outrageous proposed law on Monday, March 7, 2016 starting at 11am in the Legislative Office Building

House Bill 5551:

Testimony can be submitted online via [email protected]

Citizens can also contact the leadership of the Education Committee;

Senate Chair Democrat Gayle Slossberg – http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Slossberg-mailform.php

House Chair Democrat Andrew Fleischmann – [email protected]

Senate Ranking Member Republican Toni Boucher – [email protected]

House Ranking Member Republican Gail Laveielle – [email protected]

Education Committee

Legislative Office Building, Room 3100

Hartford, CT 06106

(860) 240‑0420

To find contact information for your legislators go to: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

Malloy turns to charter school industry for names to appoint to the CT State Board of Education

The Controversy goes well beyond the legal and ethical issues with Malloy’s recent nominee to the State Board of Education.

This week the Connecticut General Assembly is expected to vote on Governor Dannel Malloy’s appointment of Erik Clemons to the State Board of Education, despite what appears to be a major conflict of interest that should be keeping Mr. Clemons off the board that sets policy for Connecticut public schools and is responsible for the oversight of the companies that own and operate Connecticut’s charter schools at a cost of over $100 million a year to Connecticut taxpayers.

Clemons is not only a founding Board Member of the recently opened New Haven Montessori Charter School and served, up until last year, as a Board Member of one of the Achievement First, Inc. charter schools in New Haven, Clemons’s company was given a no-bid contract that was approved and funded by the Connecticut Board of Education, a contract that has already netted Clemons’ company more than $500,000 with a lot more public funds to come.

As a member of the Connecticut Board of Education Erik Clemons will be in a position to financially reward himself, the charter schools he is or has been associated with and his friends and colleagues in the charter school industry.

For Background See:

Company run by Malloy appointee to the State Board of Education collects $517,128 in funds allocated by the State Board of Education

It’s a CONFLICT OF INTEREST to serve on the State Board of Education while collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year via the State Department of Education 

CT legislature’s nomination committee votes 10 to 4 today to confirm Erik Clemons to State Board of Education.

However, the most serious problem with Malloy’s appointment of Clemons goes well beyond the nominee and reaches right into the Governor’s Office.

In a breaking investigative story, fellow education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker lays out the troubling details about the “special relationship” between Malloy and those that own, operate and lobby for charter schools in the state.

In here weekend piece in the Stamford Advocate, Wendy Lecker writes;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 2016-17 education budget bears a striking resemblance to New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s: cutting public education funding while increasing funding to privately run charter schools. This budget proposal not only harms children, by cutting vital programs such as special education services, reading tutors and after-school programs, but, as legislators point out, it hurts local taxpayers since municipalities will be forced to fill in the gaps.

Connecticut charters have a questionable track record. They have been cited for abusive discipline practices, such as suspending 5-year-olds and violating the civil rights of students with disabilities, failing to serve needy populations, such as English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and even financial fraud, mismanagement and self-dealing scandals.

Like Malloy, his State Board of Education (SBE) routinely turns a blind eye to charter misdeeds, authorizing charters without proper investigation, reauthorizing charters when they fail to meet requirements in the law and their charter agreements- even allowing the Jumoke/FUSE charter chain to run a Commissioner’s Network school into the ground under the Board’s “supervision.”

In 2013, Malloy appointed Andrea Comer to the SBE, prompting conflict of interest criticism. Comer was the chief operating officer of the Jumoke/FUSE charter chain which, like all charters, must come before the board for authorization, oversight and funding. In the wake of the Jumoke/FUSE scandal, Comer was forced to resign.

Recent charter school scandals forced Connecticut legislators institute some anemic controls over the state board last year.

One might wonder why Malloy favors charters to the detriment of public schools. As blogger-former legislator Jonathan Pelto has uncovered, Malloy’s biggest contributors are charter founders and supporters.

Recent emails reveal the depth to which Malloy is beholden to the charter industry. In November, Malloy appointed three new members to the SBE. One, Erik Clemons, raised concerns for Pelto, as Clemons is a charter founder and board member, and a vendor with the State Department of Education. His company has received hundreds of thousands of dollars through a no-bid contract as part of the State Department of Education’s Turnaround Plan for New Haven’s Lincoln-Bassett elementary school- a plan that SBE approved and the Department funded. Once again, Malloy nominated someone to the State Board who has clear conflicts of interest.

Contrast this with Nevada, where the vice president of the State Board of Education just resigned to avoid a conflict of interest because she intends to work with a charter organization that might contract with the state.

Pelto submitted a freedom of information request to the governor’s office related to the nomination of Mr. Clemons. The emails he received revealed a shocking fact: Malloy relied on the charter lobby, ConnCAN, to find him appointees to Connecticut’s State Board of Education.

An email from Meg Green, of the governor’s office, to Liam Sweeney, ConnCAN’s head of lobbying, reads:

“Hey Liam, I’m doing outreach to some of the folks you recommended for appointments. Do you have good phone numbers for any of these people?”

The state then redacted the email to only show Clemons’ name. Other emails between ConnCAN and the governor’s office were similarly redacted. Thus, we do not know what else was communicated.

We do know several disturbing facts. Despite the fiasco that was Andrea Comer’s appointment, the governor not only appointed another charter operative to the State Board of Education, but actually let the charter lobby assume a governmental function by naming appointees to the board.

The emails also reveal that the governor knew Clemons’ status as a vendor of the State Department of Education posed a potential conflict of interest problem. In one email, Elizabeth Donohue, Malloy’s Director of Government Affairs, writes Meg Green, regarding Erik Clemons, “if he is vendor of the state that is less good.” Yet Malloy appointed Erik Clemons anyway.

Without any mention that Clemons was handpicked by the charter industry, Malloy presented Clemons to the Legislature, where a confirmation vote will occur within weeks.

Gov. Malloy has consistently refused to adequately fund public schools; a stance he now must defend in the landmark school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, on trial currently in Hartford. At the same time, he has dramatically increased public funding for privately owned charter schools, which only serve 1 percent of Connecticut students, without imposing any accountability. But now, Malloy has gone too far in ceding to the charter lobby the responsibility to appoint members to the state board responsible for regulating the charter schools themselves. This corruption, at the expense of taxpayers and our children, must end.

 

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s article at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Malloy-Christie-on-similar-6870576.php

Incredulous: Watching CT Department of Education officials lecture school administrators on how to mislead parents

Just when I thought I had truly seen everything when it comes to the arrogance, elitism, audacity and contemptuousness of those associated with the corporate funded “Education Reform” effort, I witnessed something even more breathtakingly incredible this past Monday at the Connecticut State Department of Education.

It has taken the week to even begin to be able to put into words what I and a handful of other parents and public school advocates witnessed.  In fact, I wouldn’t have believed it, had I not seen it for myself.

As was initially reported in the Wait, What? blog post entitled, “Malloy-Wyman Administration ramp-up attack on parents who opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco,” a group of targeted Connecticut public school superintendents and principals were ordered to attend a mandatory meeting at the Department of Education to discuss their failure last sprin, to stop enough parents from opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scheme.

Thanks to the anti-local control, authoritarian policies being pushed by Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and their Commissioner of Education, the Connecticut State Department of Education summoned a group of local school administrators to a “roundtable discussion on family and community engagement strategies” on Monday, February 29, 2016 from 3:00 – 4:30 at the State Office Building in Hartford. The session was presented as a mechanism to enhance the communication skills of school administrators so that they could do a better job of ensuring that no more than 4.9 percent of public school parents opt their children out of the Common Cores testing mania.

After claiming that the meeting was actually a workshop, the State Department of Education told numerous parents and members of the public that they could not participate or even attend the “roundtable discussion on family and community engagement strategies.”

The state agency was clear – family and community were not welcome to attend or participate in a discussion about how to promote family and community engagement.

Finally, hours before the meeting was to begin, the State Department of Education reversed course or “clarified” its position saying that the public could come and watch, but would not be allowed to participate.

To call the event a roundtable would be … well more than a bit disingenuous.

There was nothing roundtable-ish about the session.

Instead of discussing parental concerns and how to address them, senior staff from the Department of Education lectured, instructed, talked-down-to and berated the local school administrators for an hour and a half about the need to “improve” communication with parents and their communities, thereby stopping parents from utilizing their legal and inalienable right to opt their children out of the Common Core testing frenzy.

One of the State Department of Education’s recommendations was to co-opt students to serve as ambassadors and promote the benefits of standardized testing.

In another example, SDE staff cheered about a YouTube video of teachers singing about how great the standardized testing opportunity was for students.

But the “pièce de la résistance” occurred as the meeting came to an end and a parent respectfully stood up to address the participants and explain why we oppose the mandated Common Core testing system.

And at that point, all Hell broke loose.

Parents’ rights lawyer Deborah G. Stevenson was among those in the audience watching the proceedings and today issued a statement in response to the events at the State Department of Education on Monday.

The communication leads with the headline – “State Department of Education Refuses to Allow Parents to Talk Immediately after the Close of a Training Session Held to Teach Superintendents How to Communicate Effectively with Parents!” 

Attorney Stevenson explained,

The Connecticut Parents’ Rights Coalition is appalled at the Behavior of the State Department of Education and Demands an Explanation or an Investigation.

As part of Education Commissioner Wentzell’s “leadership strategies”, designed to urge superintendents to “encourage” parents to have their children take the SBAC test rather than to opt out, the Commissioner called in Superintendents from public school districts across the state to the Department’s Hartford headquarters for a “training session” on how effectively to communicate with parents.

Facing reduced participation in the SBAC test, the Commissioner deemed it necessary to give the superintendents more “tools” to persuade parents to allow their children to take the test.

Among the “tools”, the Commissioner informed the Superintendents that if their school district’s participation rate fell below 95%, the district would be subject to dire consequences, including the loss of federal funding and the lowering of the ranking of the district moving it closer to a state takeover.

This, despite the fact that the Commissioner of Education recently acknowledged in testimony before the legislature’s Education Committee that parents do have a Constitutionally protected right to refuse to allow their children to take the test.

Yet, that right is not being respected when the Commissioner threatens parents, schools, and school districts with punishment for exercising that right.

When the Commissioner called the superintendents for more “training” to increase the participation rates, naturally parents were curious to find out about what the “training” consisted and sought to find out.

As Attorney Stevenson reports, truly amazing things happened both before and after the training session.  She added;

  • Parents politely notified the State Department of Education, days in advance that they planned to attend the “training session.”
  • While the Freedom of Information Act (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 1-225 and Sec. 1-200) states that “meetings of all public agencies shall be open to the public”, and defines public agency as “including any committee of, or created by, any such office, subdivision, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official”, and defines “meeting” as “any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency…to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision control, jurisdiction or advisory power”, nonetheless, the State Department of Education attempted to keep the “training session” for superintendents closed to the public, stating it “is not a venue for members of the general public to participate.”
  • Instead, the State Department of Education referred parents elsewhere, telling them that they could “utilize the public comment section during the State Board of Education meeting to voice opinions, ideas and concerns.”
  • The State Department of Education eventually changed its mind about keeping the meeting closed, but notified only one parent of that decision, and did so only five hours before the meeting was to take place. Consequently, only a few parents got that message upon such short notice and were able to attend.
  • Upon arrival at the meeting, those parents were told that they were not allowed to speak at the meeting, and that they were expected to sit quietly and simply observe.

Then later,  as the Deputy Commissioner of Education was announcing that the “roundtable” meeting was over, a parent diplomatically and respectfully stood up, thanked the Department for its presentation and began to explain why parents were understandably concerned about the Common Core SBAC and NEW SAT testing and our accurate concern that that our public schools are being turned into little more than testing factories.

The attempt to address the group seemed especially fitting since during the lecture to local school officials that same Deputy Commissioner instructed the superintendents and principals that they were to ask parents directly why they were refusing to allow their children to take the SBAC test.

However, as the parent began to explain our concerns, the Deputy Commissioner stood up abruptly and abrasively interrupted the speaker calling for an immediate halt raging,

“See, this is why we shouldn’t have let them in.”

It appeared that she or another SDE employee also demanded that security be called.

At that point, the State Department of Education employees and the local officials turned their backs on the parents in the room and, what could only be described as “scurrying,” exited the room as if fire and smoke was about to consume them.

Attorney Steven notes,

“In effect, the parents acted with patience and respect, quietly observed and listened intently throughout the entire meeting until it had concluded.”

The Deputy Commissioner of Education, and the superintendents, on the other hand, after being instructed for an hour and a half on how to effectively communicate with parents, quietly observed and listened only for a matter of seconds to the parent, interrupted her, turned their backs to her, and promptly walked out of the room.”

***

As a witness, I have to say that the whole event was beyond belief.

Having participated and watched government in action at the national, state and local level for more than four decades, I can safely say that I have never, ever, seen an meeting as unbelievably insulting as the “presentation” (PowerPoint and all) that those targeted local school administrators were forced to sit through or the even more incredible way in which public employees responded to a member of the public trying to raise important and legitimate concerns about the very issue that the school officials were summoned to the meeting to discuss.

To be honest, the word incredulous doesn’t even begin to address the sense of shock and dismay as I watched the horrendous and grossly inappropriate behavior of the individuals who are supposed to be working on behalf of public education in Connecticut and who receive generous salaries and benefits courtesy of the taxpayers of Connecticut.

In her letter today, Attorney Stevens understandably asks for an investigation into the abusive and insulting actions taken by these state officials.

I would go one step further, if I was governor of Connecticut, these people who have already been asked to leave and replaced with public servants who recognize the importance of serving the public.

More about the meeting will be forthcoming since we were able to collect both audio and video of the debacle.

You can watch a clip of the Deputy Commissioner’s response to the parent at: https://youtu.be/XA3cX3Z8Qnk

Those who would like to contact Attorney Stevenson, who serves as Counsel for the Connecticut Parents’ Rights Coalition, can reach her at [email protected]firm.com

 

Very Important Warning for Connecticut High School Juniors and their parents

Last spring Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation mandating that the 40,000+ high school juniors who attend Connecticut’s public schools take the New SAT – Tomorrow – March 2, 2016, despite the fact that the NEW SAT has not been publicly released, has not been statistically validated and includes a significant number of questions that are related to content that most high school juniors have not been taught.

Like the Common Core SBAC testing scheme that is being inflicted upon children in grades 3-8, the New SAT has been “aligned to the Common Core” and is intentionally designed to fail a large number of students.

After considering the issues involved, I have opted my daughter out of the New SAT and she will be using tomorrow to learn rather than serve as a guinea pig for the testing industry and the Connecticut State Department of Education.

One thing is extremely clear.

The attempt to force Connecticut’s 11th graders to take the NEW SAT is not about helping students, improving graduation rates or expanding the number of people who go to college.

Instead, the new “mandate” is part of the broader corporate education reform agenda that is successfully diverting scarce public funds away from teacher-student instruction to private companies.

The College Board, the conglomerate that owns the SAT, collects nearly $1 billion a year in revenue and the Malloy administration will be adding to that amount thanks to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contact signed by the State Department of Education.

While dismissing the legitimate concerns that are being raised about the New SAT, a primary argument coming from the Malloy administration and other proponents of the testing mania is that, at the very least, the New SAT is a good “practice exam” for students who plan to take the SAT later this year as part of their college application effort.

Such a strategy, however, could be particularly devastating for students who are trying to get into an institution of higher education that requires applicants to submit all of their SAT test results, rather than just their best scores.

The major national SAT tutoring organization, PrepScholar, notes this serious issue explaining,

If you’re applying to schools that require all scores, you need to be very careful each time you take the SAT, because you will have to send any scores you get, even if they’re low.

Prepscholar adds;

Don’t take the SAT the first time “for practice” to get used to the test. Colleges will see that “practice score.”

Not surprisingly, the Malloy administration has not only tried to stop parents from opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory New SAT, but they have failed to inform students and parents that they CAN CANCEL the score associated with the mandated New SAT if they believe that keeping that score could be detrimental.

According to the College Board;

The SAT Scores can be canceled – and will not become part of the student’s record – if the College Board receives a written, signed request to cancel the score no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on the Wednesday after the test date.

Students and parents can Download and Print the Form via SAT request to cancel test scores form (.pdf/496KB) or they can sent their own letter however it must include the following information to cancel the score:

  • Test date
  • Test center number
  • Name of test you are canceling — either the SAT or SAT Subject Test(s)
  • Name, address, sex, birth date and registration number
  • Signature (required or the cancellation will not be processed)

The Form must then be faxed to 610-290-8978

Or sent overnight delivery to:

SAT Score Cancellation

1425 Lower Ferry Road

Ewing, NJ 08618

The mailing or fax label should read: “Attention: SAT Score Cancellation.”

Again, the written request to cancel the scores must reach the College Board by 11:59 PM EST on the Wednesday after the test.

Students and parents with questions about this issue should contact their school guidance counselor.

And please pass this important information on to other families with 11th graders.

This link is a partial list of colleges and universities that report that if a student has taken the SAT then they must provide the college or university with all of their SAT scores, even the problematic one from March 2, 2016. – http://blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-requiring-all-sat-scores-complete-list

Malloy’s Strategy on Common Core SBAC Test – Look busy and make sh*t up

Governor Dannel Malloy’s press office just issued a “major announcement” concerning the Governor’s position on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test.

No, Malloy and his administration are NOT making the Common Core SBAC testing scheme less unfair.

No, Malloy and his administration are NOT making the Common Core SBAC testing scheme less inappropriate.

No, Malloy and his administration are NOT making the Common Core SBAC testing scheme less discriminatory.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL trying to force students to take a test that is designed to fail a  significant percentage of Connecticut’s children because it includes content that has not been taught.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL using the SBAC tests to label children and inaccurately “rank” the quality of education in Connecticut’s schools and school districts.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL using the SBAC test as part of a massive effort to collect data on children without parent’s understanding or permission.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL using the SBAC test results as an inappropriate criteria in Malloy’s teacher evaluation program.

And Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL CONTINUING their unethical, immoral and illegal effort to bully parents into believing that they do not have the fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the disastrous Common Core SBAC testing scam.

In fact, the mandatory meeting to “instruct” targeted superintendents on how to keep parents from opting their children out of the SBAC tests is still taking place at the State Department of Education on Monday, February 29, 2016 at 4pm

Districts that had higher levels of opt out rates because they were honest with parents about the issue are still being required to submit a “Corrective Action” plan on how those school administrators will ensure parents don’t opt out this year.

The Malloy administration is still going to punish school districts in which more than 5 percent of parents opt their children out by withholding federal funds that are intended to pay for extra services that poor children need.

And the Malloy administration is still pushing their new legislative proposal to repeal local budget flexibility for selected school districts that aren’t able to force 95 percent of parents to allow their children to take the absurd SBAC test

So what is Malloy and his administration doing?

The press release speaks for itself.

Malloy and his Commissioner of Education are announcing that they will  eliminate one section of the Common Core SBAC test, thereby leaving some of the worst sections intact, and then using a whole lot of rhetoric to make sh*t up!

Here is Governor Dannel Malloy’s “major” announcement

GOV. MALLOY AND EDUCATION COMMISSIONER WENTZELL ANNOUNCE NEW STEP TO REDUCE STATE TESTING

New Step to Limit Smarter Balanced Exam Builds on Effort to Help Districts Spend Less Time Testing and More Time Teaching

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell today announced the implementation of a new step that will reduce testing time and expand learning time for more than 200,000 Connecticut children across over 800 schools.  Changes to the application of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), impacting every student in grades three through eight, is as part of a broader effort to help districts spend less time testing students and more time teaching.

Currently in grades three through eight, there are two components of the SBAC exam.  The first is a computer adaptive test – the portion of the assessment done electronically with adaptive questions based on student responses – and the second is a performance task, such as essays.  As part of the new steps to reduce state testing, the performance tasks, which are often duplicative with in-class work, will be eliminated.  The change could increase learning time by up to an hour and forty-five minutes for every grade three through eight student.

The change is intended to increase student learning time, decrease student anxiety, assuage family concerns about testing, and limit over testing.

“We are working as hard as possible to be smart about testing, limit anxiety, and boost learning time.  Tests are important – they help us measure ourselves and pinpoint how to improve.  But where we find duplication, we should act.  We’re going to do just that with this new step,” Governor Malloy said.  “When we know an exam won’t improve our understanding of a student’s standing, and we know it won’t necessarily improve teaching quality, then we should eliminate it so it doesn’t burden our students, teachers, and families.  It’s our goal to be smart about how we test and ensure we find the right balance.  This decision is a step in that direction.”

“By rightsizing the Smarter Balanced Assessment to Connecticut’s needs, we are not only saving time and money, but we are improving the teaching and learning process,” Commissioner Wentzell said.  “Assessments are important tools that help us deliver on our promise to our kids and ensure that we are holding all of our students to high standards.”

SDE has studied the issue extensively and found that the computer only tests remain very reliable without the performance task portion of the grade three through eight English Language Arts exam.

The decision to reduce the length of the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the latest move in SDE’s ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of standardized testing for public school students.  Other initiatives include the

decision announced in the summer to eliminate duplicative testing at the high school level by replacing the Smarter Balanced exam with the SAT for eleventh graders.  This particular change is expected to save Connecticut as much as $1 million dollars in test implementation costs.

Additionally, SDE is working with school districts to gather and share innovative strategies for reducing assessment time.  Last year, the state agency awarded $428,253 to 48 districts as part of the Assessment Reduction grant program.  Districts received awards up to $10,000 each.  The grants aimed to help districts comprehensively analyze their tests to ensure that they reflect district priorities, remain aligned to new state standards, provide maximum value, and are not redundant with other assessments, with the ultimate aim of reducing testing time wherever possible.

Governor Malloy and Commissioner Wentzell made today’s announcement during a visit to Woodside Intermediate School in Cromwell, where they highlighted the district’s effective use of its grant. In Cromwell, utilizing state grants, the district assembled a team to analyze assessments in grades kindergarten through five and were able to reduce duplicative testing by 13 percent.  More importantly, they also strengthened their assessment system for those grades by better aligning assessments to standards.

Under federal law, Connecticut must administer end-of-year tests to all students in grades three to eight and once in high school.  This change does not require Board of Education or legislative approval.

Check back for more details on Governor Malloy’s hollow political gambit on the Common Core SBAC farce.

Malloy-Wyman Administration ramp-up attack on parents who opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco

Updated – Please note the correct location for the meeting to instruct superintendents on how to prevent parents from opting out.  It is not at the LOB, but it is taking place at the Department of Education, State Office Building, 165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT. on Monday, February 29, 2016 from 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Look Out Connecticut!

The forces behind the corporate education reform industry and their effort to turn public schools into little more than testing factories are getting even more mean-spirited and out-of-control.

On Friday afternoon – February 19, 2016 – Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman’s Commissioner of Education wrote to Connecticut school superintendents who failed to follow the Malloy administration’s directive and “allowed” too many parents to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme last spring.

Put aside, for a moment, the reality that there is no federal or state law, regulation or legal policy that prevents a parent from refusing to have their child participate in a standardized testing scam that is intentionally designed to fail a significant number, if not a majority, of all public school students.

Because – when it comes to the “MY WAY OR NO WAY” Malloy administration, nothing is going to stand in the way of their ongoing effort to push forward with their irresponsible standardized testing program, all while undermining a parent’s fundamental and inalienable right to protect their children from the destructive SBAC tests.

Writing on behalf of state government, the head of the Connecticut Department of Education has now informed local school superintendents that they must STOP parents from opting their children out of the SBAC tests or else!

Or Else?

And the “or else” is that the state will punish the students, teachers and taxpayers of any school district in which more than five percent of parents opt their children out of that district’s SBAC testing program.

Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell informed districts with high opt-out rates that school administrators must attend a mandatory meeting at the Legislative Office Building on February 29, 2016 and that those same districts must submit a “Corrective Action Plan” to the Department of Education by March 11, 2016 on how they intend to stop parents from opting out.

The Commissioner begins her latest tirade by dismissing the legitimate concerns that parents, teachers and education experts have raised about the absurd SBAC testing program by opining;

“We understand that your 2014-15 district participation is likely an aberration.”

No Commissioner Wentzell, as a parent who has opted a child out of the testing farce and a resident of a school district that is being targeted for punishment by the State Department of Education, I assure you that our concerns are not an “aberration” in any way whatsoever.

In fact, not only does a parent have a Constitutionally guaranteed and inalienable right to refuse to have their child participate in the standardized testing frenzy, the decision to do so is a thoughtful, appropriate and understandable response after assessing the impact that the Common Core standardized testing mania is having on our students, teachers, public schools and taxpayers.

Then Commissioner Wentzell goes on to tell the targeted superintendents;

However, since participation in 2014-15 was substantially below the standard, please submit a detailed action plan by March 11, 2016 as to the steps the district is taking/will take to more fully engage teachers, students, parents, and the entire school community around the purpose and nature of the state assessment. As stated in our approved plan with the USED, federal funds will be withheld if all participation rates are not at or above 90 percent in 2015-16.

To support you in this endeavor, the Connecticut State Department of Education is hosting a roundtable discussion on family and community engagement strategies on Monday, February 29, 2016 from 3:00 – 4:30 at the State Office Building in Hartford. We ask that you and at least two other individuals from the district office attend this meeting. Please email Mary Anne Butler at [email protected] the names of the attendees so that we may arrange for parking.

We remain confident that your positive efforts will help to ensure that the 95 percent participation rate standard is achieved in 2015-16.

The Malloy administration’s edict is certainly direct, albeit unethical and abusive.

If local school leaders are not successful in stopping parents from utilizing their right to opt their children out of the SBAC testing, the Malloy administration will “withhold” funds from that school district, thereby reducing the amount of money that schools need to provide their students with the education that they deserve, and are entitled to, under the Connecticut Constitution.

Connecticut citizens should take special note of the deceitful way in which the Department of Education fails to reveal just what “funds” they intend to withhold from the “bad” school districts.

According to memos sent to superintendents, but not yet released to the public, Malloy and Wyman’s Education Department will be withholding what are called Title 1 Federal Funds – those are the dollars that come through a fifty year-old federal program that provides states with extra money to help poor children succeed in school.

Yup, you read that right

If local superintendents don’t stop at least 95% of their parents from opting their children out of the inappropriate SBAC testing program, the state of Connecticut will withhold funds intended to provide poor children with the extra support they need to overcome the significant and systemic challenges that they face.

Even in these troubling times, it is a stark commentary on the mindset of our state’s elected officials.

Their policy, strategies and tactics must not go unchallenged.

Malloy, Wyman and every Connecticut state senator and state representative should be required to step forward and defend their actions.

Parents should also consider attending Commissioner Wentzell’s “mandatory meeting” on February 29, 2016 to dispel any notion that elected and appointed officials will not be held accountable for this outrage.

Wentzell’s Mandatory Meeting for Targeted School Districts:

State Office Building – Department of Education

Monday, February 29, 2016

3:00pm – 4:30pm

For more about this issue read;

“My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016.” (Wait, What? Blog 1/28/2016) 

Some CT superintendents continue to violate parents’ civil rights and their own Code of Responsibility  (Wait, What? Blog 2/15/2016) 

LOOK OUT!  If parents opt their children out, the Malloy administration will cut funding for poor children (Wait, What? Blog 2/10/16) 

Other Wait, What? Blog Posts about the SBAC and opt-out issue including articles written by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman, John Bestor and others can be found by searching on Wait, What? 

 

 

 

CT legislature’s nomination committee votes 10 to 4 today to confirm Erik Clemons to State Board of Education.

On a party-line vote, with Democrats backing Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman’s nominee for the State Board of Education, the General Assembly’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee approved by a margin of 10 to 4 to confirm Erik Clemons for a position on the State Board of Education.  Clemons is the individual whose company is collecting in excess of $500,000 thanks to a no-bid contract that was mandated by the State Board of Education and funded through the State Department of Education.

See:

It’s a CONFLICT OF INTEREST to serve on the State Board of Education while collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year via the State Department of Education

Company run by Malloy appointee to the State Board of Education collects $517,128 in funds allocated by the State Board of Education.

There is no word, at this point, as to why the Democrats felt there was no conflict of interest for a member of the State Board of Education and his company to collect money that is allocated and managed by the State Department of Education and its Board.

Erik Clemons is also a major supporter of the charter school industry, having served on the Board of Directors of the Achievement First, Inc. Elm City charter school and as a founding member of the new Elm City Montessori Charter School Board of Directors.

The State Board of Education is responsible for funding and regulating Connecticut’s charter schools.

If the General Assembly follows the committee’s lead, Connecticut’s charter schools will not only have one of their own sitting in that key oversight position, but that person will also be collecting well over $100,000 a year, thanks in part, to the flow of money from the State Department of Education.

The vote tally can be found here- https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/exndata/cv/2016CV-00017-R00EXN-TS.htm

It’s a CONFLICT OF INTEREST to serve on the State Board of Education while collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year via the State Department of Education

The only thing more incredible than Governor Dannel Malloy’s decision to appoint Erik Clemons to the State Board of Education is the fact that Connecticut’s Democratic controlled legislature appears ready to rubber-stamp Malloy’s nominee despite the “Substantial Conflict of Interest” that should prevent him from serving on the Board.

There has been nothing but silence from Connecticut’s elected officials even though one of Governor Malloy’s recent appointees to the State Board of Education runs a company that is collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from the very State Board that Malloy has appointed him too.

In two separate articles Wait, What? has outlined the conflict of interest associated with Malloy’s appointment of Erik Clemons to the Connecticut State Board of Education.

See:

Company run by Malloy appointee to the State Board of Education collects $517,128 in funds allocated by the State Board of Education. (2/16/2016

Malloy gives Charter School Industry another seat on the CT State Board of Education 12/23/2015

The issue is not whether Mr. Clemons is a “good guy” or that despite his close relationship with the Charter School Industry he is willing to work for the benefit of all students, parents, teachers and citizens.

The fact is Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman “signed-off” and appointed an individual who has a  “SUBSTANTIAL” CONFLICT OF INTEREST”  under state law.

According to Connecticut State Statutes;

“A “substantial” conflict of interest exists if a public official … or a business with which he or she is associated will derive a direct monetary gain or suffer a direct monetary loss by virtue of his or her official activity. “

Erik Clemons is the CEO of Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT).  In that capacity his salary and benefits are well in excess of $100,000

On May 7, 2014 the State Board of Education approved a “Turnaround Plan” for the Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School in New Haven.

That plan mandated that the New Haven Board of Education contract with Mr. Clemons and the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) for services at the Lincoln-Bassett School.

The “Turnaround Plan” approved by the State Board of Education failed to provide any mechanism for holding a competitive bid for that work.

Instead, the New Haven Board of Education was required to contract and pay Mr. Clemons’s company with funds that are annually approved and allocated by the State Board of Education.

To date, Mr. Clemons’ company has received two no-bid contracts totaling at least $517,128.

The Turnaround Plan is based on the premise that Mr. Clemons’ company would continue to be given annual contracts into the future.

As a member of the State Board of Education, Mr. Clemons would not only be in a position to vote on contracts that would directly be a benefit to himself and his company, but he would be responsible for overseeing the state agency that is monitoring whether the Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School Turnaround Plan is being properly implemented.

Even abstaining from voting on funding of his own contract isn’t enough to limit what is obviously a significant and on-going substantial conflict of interest.

The truth is that Mr. Clemons should not be a member of the State Board of Education.  Alternatively, if he really wants to serve on the State Board of Education then he must leave his position as CEO of Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT).

Tomorrow – Thursday, February 18, 2016 – The General Assembly’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing and then an immediate vote on Governor Malloy’s appointees to the State Board of Education, including the nomination of Erik Clemons.

Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee

MEETING AGENDA

Thursday, February 18, 2016

11:00 AM IN ROOM 1A

Legislative Office Building

Click to view a list of the names and contact information of the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee

For more background about this issue, read: Company run by Malloy appointee to the State Board of Education collects $517,128 in funds allocated by the State Board of Education.

Last November, Governor Dannel Malloy appointed Erik Clemons of New Haven, along with two other individuals, to the State Board of Education.  See: Gov. Malloy Appoints Three to Serve on the State Board of Education.

As interim appointees, the three immediately became voting members of the State Board of Education, although they must now be confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly.  The legislature’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee will be holding a hearing, followed by an immediate vote, on Mr. Clemons and Malloy’s other appointees to the State Board of Education this Thursday, February 18, 2016.

When making the announcement, Governor Malloy and his press operation conveniently failed to reveal Erik Clemons’ close association with Connecticut’s charter school industry.

Clemons served on the Board of Directors’ of Achievement First Elm City Charter School until 2015.  Following his departure from Achievement First Inc., his company’s Director of Programs at CONNCAT, Genevive Walker, was appointed to serve on that same Achievement First Board.

Clemons is also a founding member and continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the Elm City Montessori Charter Schoola charter school that opened last fall after receiving approval from the State Board of Education. 

Both of these privately owned, but state funded, charter schools receive their operating money through the State Board of Education and the State Board is responsible for overseeing and regulating these and Connecticut’s other charter schools.

Of even greater concern, however, is that when Malloy appointed Erik Clemons to the State Board of Education, the Governor failed to report that Erik Clemons is the president of a nonprofit corporation that is collecting in excess of $500,000 in state funds as a result of a lucrative no-bid contract funded through the State Department of Education.

The incredible story dates back to May 7, 2014 when Governor Malloy’s political appointees to the Connecticut State Board of Education voted to adopt a “Turnaround Plan for the Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School in New Haven.

The plan REQUIRED that the New Haven School System contract with Erik Clemons’ Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT).  As head of ConnCAT, Clemons’ compensation package is well over one hundred thousand dollars a year.

The Turnaround Plan read;

“While Boost! Will continue to deliver community resources to students at Lincoln-Bassestt, the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) shall serve as the schools’s anchor partner for afterschool programing.”

The Turnaround Plan required that the New Haven Public Schools “initiate a performance-based contract with ConnCAT by May 27, 2014.”

As a result of the State Board of Education’s action, the New Haven Board of Education approved Agreement 649-14 with Clemons’  Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) to “provide after-school programming, family and community engagement programs and school environment transformation at Lincoln-Bassett School from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.  The funds to pay for the $302,197.50 contract came from the State Department of Education’s “School Turnaround Program.”

A second contract (Agreement 478-13) between the New Haven Board of Education and ConnCAT, again using State Turnaround Program funds, authorized an additional $214,930.50 to pay for ConnCAT activities form July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

This annual contract is expected to be extended, yet again, in the summer of 2016.

In addition, using the state’s Lincoln-Bassett turnaround funds, the New Haven Board of Education also hired a New Haven architectural firm for $42,224 for “ConnCAT Project Design Services.”

Unfortunately, the only coverage of these issues has been here at Wait, What? in an article co-written with public education advocate Wendy Lecker, Malloy gives Charter School Industry another seat on the CT State Board of Education.

With the General Assembly’s Legislative and Executive Nominations Committee about to decide whether or not to confirm Mr. Clemons to serve on the State Board of Education, one would hope that other media outlets or legislators would step up and investigate the extremely serious conflicts of interest that should be keeping Mr. Clemons from serving on Connecticut’s Board of Education.

Company run by Malloy appointee to the State Board of Education collects $517,128 in funds allocated by the State Board of Education.

Last November, Governor Dannel Malloy appointed Erik Clemons of New Haven, along with two other individuals, to the State Board of Education.  See: Gov. Malloy Appoints Three to Serve on the State Board of Education.

As interim appointees, the three immediately became voting members of the State Board of Education, although they must now be confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly.  The legislature’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee will be holding a hearing, followed by an immediate vote, on Mr. Clemons and Malloy’s other appointees to the State Board of Education this Thursday, February 18, 2016.

When making the announcement, Governor Malloy and his press operation conveniently failed to reveal Erik Clemons’ close association with Connecticut’s charter school industry.

Clemons served on the Board of Directors’ of Achievement First Elm City Charter School until 2015.  Following his departure from Achievement First Inc., his company’s Director of Programs at CONNCAT, Genevive Walker, was appointed to serve on that same Achievement First Board.

Clemons is also a founding member and continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the Elm City Montessori Charter School, a charter school that opened last fall after receiving approval from the State Board of Education. 

Both of these privately owned, but state funded, charter schools receive their operating money through the State Board of Education and the State Board is responsible for overseeing and regulating these and Connecticut’s other charter schools.

Of even greater concern, however, is that when Malloy appointed Erik Clemons to the State Board of Education, the Governor failed to report that Erik Clemons is the president of a nonprofit corporation that is collecting in excess of $500,000 in state funds as a result of a lucrative no-bid contract funded through the State Department of Education.

The incredible story dates back to May 7, 2014 when Governor Malloy’s political appointees to the Connecticut State Board of Education voted to adopt a “Turnaround Plan for the Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School in New Haven.

The plan REQUIRED that the New Haven School System contract with Erik Clemons’ Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT).  As head of ConnCAT, Clemons’ compensation package is well over one hundred thousand dollars a year.

The Turnaround Plan read;

“While Boost! Will continue to deliver community resources to students at Lincoln-Bassestt, the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) shall serve as the schools’s anchor partner for afterschool programing.”

The Turnaround Plan required that the New Haven Public Schools “initiate a performance-based contract with ConnCAT by May 27, 2014.”

As a result of the State Board of Education’s action, the New Haven Board of Education approved Agreement 649-14 with Clemons’  Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) to “provide after-school programming, family and community engagement programs and school environment transformation at Lincoln-Bassett School from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.  The funds to pay for the $302,197.50 contract came from the State Department of Education’s “School Turnaround Program.”

A second contract (Agreement 478-13) between the New Haven Board of Education and ConnCAT, again using State Turnaround Program funds, authorized an additional $214,930.50 to pay for ConnCAT activities form July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

This annual contract is expected to be extended, yet again, in the summer of 2016.

In addition, using the state’s Lincoln-Bassett turnaround funds, the New Haven Board of Education also hired a New Haven architectural firm for $42,224 for “ConnCAT Project Design Services.”

Unfortunately, the only coverage of these issues has been here at Wait, What? in an article co-written with public education advocate Wendy Lecker, Malloy gives Charter School Industry another seat on the CT State Board of Education.

With the General Assembly’s Legislative and Executive Nominations Committee about to decide whether or not to confirm Mr. Clemons to serve on the State Board of Education, one would hope that other media outlets or legislators would step up and investigate the extremely serious conflicts of interest that should be keeping Mr. Clemons from serving on Connecticut’s Board of Education.

LOOK OUT!  If parents opt their children out, the Malloy administration will cut funding for poor children

Wait, What?

Just when it seemed that Governor Dannel Malloy’s arrogance and bullying couldn’t get any worse, Connecticut school officials have been told to instruct parents that they may not opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Consortium Assessment (SBAC) or NEW SAT testing schemes.  The Malloy administration has said that if students aren’t forced to take these tests, local school districts will lose their Title 1 education funding.

Despite the fact that there is no law, regulation or legal policy that prevents parents from opting their children out of the destructive testing mania,  school superintendents and principals have been directed to do everything they can to prevent parents from standing up to protect their children.

The latest example of the Malloy administration’s campaign of intimidation and abuse comes from North Haven, where the superintendent of schools wrote to parents telling them that their children must take the Common Core tests.

Covering the development, the North Haven Citizen newspaper wrote;

Opting out of standardized tests is a popular experience for public school students and many North Haven students did just that when it came time to take the new SBAC test last year.

But North Haven Superintendent of Schools Robert Cronin encouraged parents to direct their children to take the test this year, making it the subject of his December letter to parents.

“In the past we honored opt outs because the test was in its infancy and still being developed. But it is developed now and we’re administering it this year and my job is to carry out state statutes.”

The key statute Cronin is following is the agreement to test 95 percent of students in affiliation with the federal No Child Left Behind law. While there are no state or federal laws that direct a student to take a standardized test, the town may lose state funding if students opt out.

[…]

“Our participation is monitored closely by the state Department of Education,” Cronin said. “There will be consequences for districts that don’t meet the participation rates and we could lose Title I funding that is currently over $300,000.”

North Haven’s Superintendent, Dr. Cronin, is correct about the approach that Governor Malloy’s administration is taking.

In an effort prevent parents from opting their children out of the Common Core tests, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education sent a memo to all school superintendents informing them that their school districts would loss some or all of their Title I money if they did not force 95 percent of their students to take the SBAC and SAT tests.

Title 1 is a federal grant that provides state governments with extra funds to give to local school districts to help pay for programs targeted at helping poor children do better in school.  The funding system was initially passed as part of President Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.

According to the most recent data available, the United States Department of Education adds;

“…more than 56,000 public schools across the country used Title I funds to provide additional academic support and learning opportunities to help low-achieving children master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects. For example, funds support extra instruction in reading and mathematics, as well as special preschool, after-school, and summer programs to extend and reinforce the regular school curriculum.

That same year Title I served more than 21 million children. Of these students, approximately 59 percent were in kindergarten through fifth grade, 21 percent in grades 6-8, 17 percent in grades 9-12…”

Faced with the growing opposition to the Common Core testing scam that unfairly labels children as failures and is to be used to inappropriately assess teachers as part of Malloy’s teacher evaluation system, many parents are rightfully refusing to allow their children to participate in the Common Core testing farce.

In response, Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and their administration are ordering school districts to force students to take the tests or else…

Or else?

Or else Malloy’s Commissioner and his political appointees of the State Board of Education will cut the funding that school districts are required to use for, “additional academic support and learning opportunities to help low-achieving children master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects. For example, their could be cuts to funds that support extra instruction in reading and mathematics, as well as special preschool, after-school, and summer programs to extend and reinforce the regular school curriculum.

It is unbelievable, but true!

Add this one to the growing list of reasons that more and more Americans have lost faith in their government officials…

Meanwhile, as the North Haven Citizen reports, school officials in the North Haven schools will be doing all they can to push students to take the Common Core SBAC and SAT tests.  As one North Haven principal explains;

“We’ll also offer incentives for completing the test, such as classroom awards or extended lunch times. We’re changing the overall environment for the test”

As for me up here in northeastern, Connecticut – “My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016.”

For more on the opt-out issue see the following Wait, What? blog posts;

Common Core testing frenzy leads to taxpayer funded SBAC Test Prep

ALERT – Lobbyists for the “Education Reformers” spend $1.9 million more in Connecticut.

CT Regional School District #7 succumbs to Common Core testing frenzy, throws their children under the bus.

Yet another warning about taking the state “mandated” NEW SAT on March 2, 2016

Malloy and Wyman – Montclair, N.J. public officials respect parents – why won’t you?

Malloy/Wyman moving forward with threats to punish schools districts that respect parents’ “opt-out” rights

ALERT – Malloy/Wyman attack on parents, students, teachers, public schools (and the “out-out” movement) is a national disgrace