New State Reading Test for Teachers vs. Steve Perry and the Testourkids.com Reading Centers

According to the Corporate Education Reform Industry, the way to improve educational outcomes in the United States is to dramatically increase the amount of testing for students and teachers.

As proof, thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform legislation of 2012, Connecticut teacher in Grades K, 1, 2, and 3 will be required to take the Foundations of Reading Test this year and biennially going forward.  The new test is produced by the standardized testing conglomerate Pearson Education Incorporated.

Teachers who have already passed the Foundations of Reading test for certification eligibility are only exempt from completing the “survey” on reading instruction this year.  They will be required to take it next time.

According to the Connecticut State Department of Education, “The results of the survey shall identify strengths and weaknesses in knowledge of reading instruction based on the reading objectives surveyed, and will provide disaggregate and aggregate data at the individual educator, school and district level. The results shall be used to develop student learning objectives (SLOs) and teacher practice goals and will inform professional learning…”

And Connecticut teachers – you need to note – that despite what teachers were told by their union, the Foundation of Reading Tests results WILL NOT BE confidential although they are exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

By comparison, one need only go to Steve Perry’s corporate website to see how the corporate education reformers deal with pesky things like determining the “strengths and weaknesses in knowledge of reading instruction.”

Steve Perry, who now calls himself, “one of the greatest influential figures in education today,” is very busy these days.

Not only is Perry a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education where he holds the position of principal of Capital Prep Magnet School, but he is preparing to open two new charter schools (Bridgeport and Harlem) and is crisscrossing the nation on the “Steve Perry Education Truth Tour.”   Apparently Perry’s mantra on his Education Truth Tour is that, “Teaching is the Greatest Act of Defiance.”

Meanwhile, on a visit to http://www.drsteveperry.org/ you’ll discover an announcement that you have the opportunity to open up your own “Reading Center” via www.testourkids.com.  The announcement even states, “We Finance All Individuals & Organizations.”

And better yet, by heading over to www.TestOurKids.com will reveal the news that you don’t even need to be a teacher to own your own reading center.

Filled with pictures and videos of Steve Perry, the TestOurKids.com website, which is registered to Perry’s publicist, proclaims that the business is dedicated to opening reading centers across the nation!

In fact, for only $25 per month per child and a one-time startup fee of $99.99 you can open up a reading center and you don’t even need to be a teacher!

Not only does TestOurKids.com provide ONLINE READING LESSONS, but ”Hundreds Of Fun – interactive animated leveled books,” a “Diagnostic Online Reading – Assessment,” PLUS, “A Proven Content – a safe environment of your home or office, For Each Student – Comprehensive, supplemental reading instruction, Fun Digital Learning Environment – makes connections possible.”

You can even – Schedule An Online Assessment

If the incredible opportunity via their website isn’t enough to persuade you, check out their Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/TestOurKids1

Scroll down for posts like;

  • Let’s call our public schools what they really are – ‘government’ schools’ 
  • Who’s side are the teacher’s union on, anyway? 
  • Where is the outrage for our children? Black children are being robbed @TestOurKids wants to help; Open Your Own Reading Center —> 
  • Invite Dr. Steve Perry to your area CALL 860.997.6802 
  • Steve Perry can come to your location/church or school CALL 860.997.6802 
  • Enough is Enough; Teach Our Black Children how to Read! Visit testourkids.com 
  • Steve Perry in Buffalo NY talking about education reform for our children! 
  • And a special post at the same time, attacking Buffalo teachers, and observing, “Do people deserve a raise when they’re not doing the job right? Buffalo Kids reading proficiency only 13%… When will it be about the Kids First!” 
  • Education is a BIG WORD…Let’s start FIRST by teaching our kids how to read, getting their education will follow! @TestOurKidscom can help with this first step! 
  • When you have a system that doesn’t focus on learning how to read at an early age then our children will never get a full education! @TestOurKidscom reading centers can help

And while Steve Perry’s face is plastered across all the marketing materials, Perry’s publicist explains that he is actually the leading force behind the effort.

Yusuf Salaam explains that he is,

“Currently a successful and highly sought after publicist representing 5 of the top Educators in the country, I recently closed negotiation deals with my client Dr. Steve Perry and Bishop TD Jakes to promote furthering education in our minority areas. Have coordinated visits to the White House personally from First Lady Michelle Obama to have my client Dr. Marco Clark come celebrate his educational success and student achievement.”

Salaam adds that he,

“[M]anages brand awareness and promotion for an innovative online company TestOurKids.com, which operates as an online reading assessment software and reading lessons for children K-12th grade and assists organizations plus schools open and operate their own reading learning centers all over the US. After reaching a monumentally 300,000 evaluations reading assessments, we expanded our ambitions further and started assisting individuals also build their dreams in helping children in their communities. My management teams has opened facilities in 8 major cities and in conjunction with professionals has begun the process of teaching our children how to READ! “

And to fully appreciate the level of success these private reading centers are having, one need only look as far as Middletown Connecticut where both the Middletown Press and the Middletown Patch reported on testourkids.com early last summer.

For example, in an article entitled, Helping Middletown’s Littlest Readers Achieve, the Middletown Patch reported that, “The students’ reading scores have improved dramatically after participating in the six-month program.”

According to the Patch,

Last year, the Middlesex County Branch of the NAACP and the President Rosa Browne identified an epidemic within the town’s public school literacy scores.

More than half of the Hispanic and African American fourth-graders were reading below the goal level, and the scores only worsened as children got older. With cooperation from Superintendent Dr. Patricia Charles, a group of low performing children in grades Kindergarten through third were taken from MacDonough and Bielefield Middletown Public Schools and were provided an effective pilot program to help eradicate this problem.

[…]

Children were bused to Brain Wiz Reading Center, operated by Yusuf Salaam, a nationally recognized publicist to some of the top educators in the country, in order to increase their reading abilities at the most vulnerable time in their lives. The program is powered by TestOurKids.com, a computerized system that evaluates children’s reading skills, and it is utilized throughout the country, primarily for reading centers and schools that require the extra help

The children 5- to 8-years-old were tested prior to the start of the program and then retested on their last day and the results were overwhelming. All children who completed the course improved sufficiently, and some scored 2 to 3 grade levels higher in their overall reading. These gains were achieved in spite of extreme winter conditions and multiple holiday vacations from December to May. The program ran for an hour-and-a-half each day, Tuesday through Thursday.

 So teachers of Connecticut…

Rather than waste your time taking the Pearson Foundation of Learning Test this year, just follow Steve Perry’s website to the opportunity of opening your own reading center…. no certification or testing needed and apparently some local school districts will even bus their little ones to your location every day….

Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests

FACT #1:

Connecticut parents and guardians have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Standardized Testing Program

FACT #2:

In addition to all myriad of problems associated with the Common Core Standards, including the concerns that some of those expectations are not developmentally appropriate, the Common Core SBAC Standardized Test is literally designed [rigged] to ensure that the vast majority of students are deemed “failures.”

Late last year, the Malloy administration joined with the other members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and voted to define the “proficient levels” on the SBAC tests.  The “Cut Scores” were set at a level where about 38 to 44 percent of  elementary and middle school children will meet the so-called “proficiency mark” in English/Language Arts and only 32 -39 percent will reach that mark in Math.

At the same time, SBAC set the cut score for the 11th grade SBAC Common Core Test so that approximately 41 percent will show “proficiency” in English/Language Arts and 33 percent will do so in Math.

This means that the Common Core SBAC Test is designed in such a way as to deem as many as 6 in 10 – and potentially as many as 7 in 10 – children as failures.

The scoring system is nothing short of child abuse.  (For details read: Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!)

FACT #3:   

While the overall waste of taxpayer money and student instructional time associated with the Common Core SBAC Testing disaster undermines the educational opportunities of every public school student, the testing scheme is particularly discriminatory against children who face English Language barriers, children who have special education needs and children who aren’t “excelling” at one to two grade levels ahead of their classmates.

FACT#4:

The only thing that will stop the Common Core and Common Core Testing scam from completely destroying our system of public education will be if our elected officials stand up and fight back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

For that to happen, parents need to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test and send a loud and powerful message to our elected officials that the time has come to put the word “PUBLIC” back in Public Education.

[More on the legislative effort and legislative heroes in an upcoming post]

Here are the other FACTS Connecticut’s school parents and guardians need to know;

According to Connecticut State law, all public schools must administer the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  This year the Common Core SBAC test will be given to all students in Grades 3 through 8, and those in Grade 11.

However, there is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests.

To repeat:  There is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests AND there is no law that allows the government or local school districts to punish parents or their children if the parent refuses to allow their child or children to participate in the Common Core SBAC testing program.

Last year, a directive issued by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, instructed local school superintendents and principals that Connecticut parents COULD NOT opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC tests and his memo even provided districts with step by step instructions on how to pressure parents into not utilizing their rights to opt their children out of the tests.

According to the CT Mirror, in an interview with John Dankosky, last spring, on WNPR’s public radio show, “Where We Live” Governor Malloy said that, “federal law restricts students from opting out of taking standardized tests, and if the state were to give students that option, it would put the state at risk of losing millions of federal dollars.”

Malloy’s statement was simply untrue.

When the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Commissioner Pryor were finally brought before the General Assembly’s Education Committee on March 12, 1014 to address concerns surrounding the Common Core and Common Core testing system, Commissioner Pryor admitted that,

On an individual level, I don’t believe that there’s any specific provision in law regarding consequences… To my knowledge there are no state provisions that are specific, or no federal provisions that are specific to an individual student.”

The Chairman of the State Board of Education agreed that there was no legal action that the state or school district could take to punish a parent or child who opted out of the Common Core SBAC test.

While a law clarifying that parents can opt their children out would be helpful, and has been introduced into this year’s General Assembly (more on that soon), a parent’s right to opt their children out cannot be denied.

However, in response to Commissioner Pryor’s directive to local school superintendents, the majority of local schools inappropriately informed parents (and teachers) that students could not opt out of the Common Core SBAC tests.

But regardless of the false information and rhetoric coming from the Malloy administration, parents not only have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair testing program, they should strongly consider doing just that as a way to protect their children, Connecticut’s teachers and our state’s historic commitment to local control of public education.

Finally, after speaking with many local school superintendents and reviewing the correspondence that they sent out to teachers and parents last spring, it is clear that Malloy’s Department of Education also tried to scare local officials into believing that any widespread opt-out or  boycott of the Common Core SBAC test would jeopardize funding for the local school district.

Again, the state government used misinformation in their misplaced and ongoing attempt to mislead local superintendents.

The issue in question is called the “95% Rule”

According to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), school districts are required to show, every year, that their tests scores are improving and that 95% of all students have taken the standardized tests.

But according the nationally-respected nonprofit, non-partisan, Fair Test organization,

 “No school or district anywhere in the country has ever been penalized for failing to test enough (95%) of its students.

Even more importantly, at least 41 states, including Connecticut, have been given federal waivers that supersede and preempt those provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead, Connecticut has chosen to go with a system of categorizing schools based on test scores and a number of other criteria.  According to Connecticut law and regulations, Connecticut categorizes its schools as being (1) Turnaround Schools, (2) Review Schools, (3) Transition Schools, (4) Progressing Schools and (5) Excelling Schools.

Turnaround Schools are defined as the 5% of the lowest performing schools and are subject to state intervention, state takeover, and even a state determination to close them and hand them over to a private charter school company. (The disgraced policy of giving Jumoke Academy control of the Milner School in Hartford and the Dunbar School in Bridgeport)

The next category, according to the State Department of Education, are “Review Schools” and this is where the so-called “95% Rule” might come into play….but not the way the Malloy administration has explained.

Review Schools are, “All schools with [Standardized Test] participation rates less than 95 percent, four-year cohort graduation rates below 60 percent, three-year baseline School Performance Indexes (SPIs) below 64…”

There is no financial punishment for being a “Review School.” In fact, there might even be some financial benefit if the state was actually allocated its funds appropriately.  But even more importantly, a school with a graduation rate of 60% or more has successful proven that it is making progress and no state official would have the audacity to define a school as failing simply because its participate rate fell below 95%, but it was successfully meeting all the other criteria for being a “transitioning school” or “progressing school.”

If parents take the time to examine graduate rates for their schools they will quickly see that the so-called “95% Rule,” is nothing more than a red herring.

As parents look around the nation they will discover that Common Core Testing opt-out and boycott efforts are taking place from sea to shining sea.

In New York States, entire school districts are refusing to even offer the test, a number of courageous teachers in various states are actually refusing to give the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Tests and tens of thousands of parents are stepping up to protect their children by opting them out of the tests.

Connecticut parents should certainly consider doing the same.

In the coming weeks, Wait, What? will be posting more information about how to opt your child out of the Common Core test and the issues surrounding the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco.

For now, here are the primary steps are protecting your children:

Submit a letter to your school principal and your child’s teachers indicating that your child will not be taking the test.

Let them know that you are aware that you are not required to keep your child at home during the testing windows and that your child should be provided with appropriate instructional activities while the Common Core Testing is taking place.

Ask them what arrangements they will make for your child during that time.

Also, here is a sample Opt Out letter follows:

Dear Principal _____________,

Thank you for all you do for my child, ___________ (child’s full name), and for our school.

I am writing to respectfully and formally inform you that ________ is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

Please note that this is not a “request” to be excused from the tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

I am aware of Connecticut State Statute 10-14n which mandates that students take a statewide mastery examination. However, as you know, I have the legal right to refuse to allow my child to participate in these tests and neither the state nor the school district has any legal right to punish me or my child for taking this action.

Furthermore, please note that a “refusal” is not the same as “absent” as they are defined differently. As such,   _______ will not be required to participate in any makeup tests.

I will be informing ________ that he/she is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC), and that if he/she is given one he/she is not to work on it in any way.

I would ask that the school please provide him/her with an alternative, instructionally appropriate activity during any and call SBAC related testing.

Please confirm your receipt and understanding of this letter.

Respectfully,

______________________

Parent’s name and contact information

Finally, you can also get more information about these issues from a variety of websites including the following:

United Opt Out: Connecticut Page

Truth in America Opt Out Form

Connecticut Against Common Core (and its Facebook counterpart Stop Common Core in CT )

You and Your Children Cannot Be Punished For Opting Out in Connecticut (Common Core in CT Blog)

Fair Test Memo: “WHY YOU CAN BOYCOTT STANDARDIZED TESTS WITHOUT FEAR OF FEDERAL PENALITES TO YOUR SCHOOL

And here are some of the previous Wait, What? Blogs on the Common Core SBAC Testing Scam

Common Core (SBAC) Results May Provoke Shock, Officials Urge Families to Stay Objective

Another reader speaks truth to power about the Common Core SBAC Test

Beware the Coming Common Core Testing Disaster

Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!

A system that labels children as failures (another MUST READ by Wendy Lecker

Greenwich superintendent joins Commissioner Pryor in misleading parents

An Open Letter to Parents from a Connecticut Parent

How much time and money can Malloy and Pryor Waste on the Common Core Test of a Test

The Malloy Administration’s Big Lie: Parents Can’t Opt Out.

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

Commissioner Pryor’s agency tells superintendents to mislead and lie to parents – and they are

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

State Board of Education is tone-deaf to needs of the children

Wendy Lecker, fellow public school advocates and columnist has done it again!

In here latest MUST READ column published in this weekend’s Stamford Advocate and other Hearst media outlets, Wendy shines the light of truth on the Malloy administration’s unrelenting effort to undermine and privatize Connecticut public education system.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his political appointees have pushed their corporate education reform agenda.

While Malloy’s effort has paid off in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to fund his political aspirations, the blood money has come at the cost of our state’s students, teachers, parents and public schools.

As Wendy Lecker writes, the Malloy anti-public education effort was in full-swing this week as the “Connecticut State Board of Education demonstrated how not to make public policy.”

In a piece entitled “State board tone-deaf to needs of the child,” Wendy explains,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s appointed board trampled local control and democracy by ramming through resolutions that completely disregarded the parents, teachers and communities impacted by their decisions.

Last month, Republican legislators forced a public hearing on legislation calling for a moratorium on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards until the state could assess the implementation’s financial and educational impact.

Ninety-five percent of parents submitting testimony favored a moratorium on the Common Core, as did 91 percent of teachers, 95 percent of citizens not identifying as parents or teachers and 87.5 percent of local elected officials.

Unfazed by the outpouring of concern, the State Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution demanding the immediate implementation of the Common Core and its tests.

In even more arrogant disregard for Connecticut communities, the board approved four new charter schools: Great Oaks Charter and Capital Harbor Prep Charter in Bridgeport, the Booker T. Washington Charter in New Haven and the Stamford Charter School for Excellence in Stamford.

Wendy Lecker adds,

“…the state will divert $85 million dollars over the next few years to charter schools in Bridgeport that serve only 1,600 children. The new charters would drain more than $13 million more from the public schools.

Bridgeport’s board of education and elected parent’s council passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on all charter schools in their city.

These local officials and citizens explained the duty to serve all children in Bridgeport. They noted the flaws in the charter applications, including the serious questions about the companies’ ability to serve students with disabilities or English Language Learners.

Yet the tone-deaf state board voted to force two more charter schools on Bridgeport.

The State Board of Education’s approval of a new charter school in Stamford was equally appalling.

Stamford’s elected board of education voted to oppose the Stamford charter application.

Stamford parents started a petition to oppose the charter school which garnered more than 800 signatures in 48 hours. The Bronx charter school company had a petition up for a month trying to drum up support for the charter, but could only muster 17 signatures.

At the SBE meeting, Stamford officials and parents were united in explaining that Stamford’s integrated schools have closed the achievement gap by double digits in the last seven years. By contrast, the Bronx charter operator has a large and growing achievement gap in its school and offered nothing new to Stamford. In fact, when asked by Stamford’s superintendent why she chose this city, the Bronx operator was unable to respond.

Despite the evidence, the state board voted to give the charter school company more than $4 million for a school of only 392 students while leaving Stamford’s 16,000 public school students underfunded.

Wendy Lecker concludes her column with,

As Bridgeport resident and former NAACP president Carolyn Nah testified, “all children” does not just mean all children in charter schools — it means all public school students. Something is wrong when political appointees in Hartford favor a handful of students, trampling the decisions of democratically elected representatives and parents who are in our schools every day, working to protect the educational interest of every child.

Please take the time to go read the full column and send it to families and friends by going to: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-State-board-tone-deaf-to-needs-of-the-5378068.php

 

The truth is that Capital Prep Steve Perry’s “school performance” comes up short

When it comes to the performance of Capital Prep Magnet School, Steve Perry is known for his rhetoric.  Perry says “his” students do better than students at traditional public schools.  However, by measure after measure, it turns out that his hyperbole is nothing but a lie.

When Steve Perry is introduced at his lucrative fee-to-speak events he is introduced as the principal who has 100 percent of his students go on to college.  Of course, that statistic isn’t true.

In a BET.com interview released today, Perry says:

“I’ll be honest; I think our kids are better. If I showed you where our school is, you would see a liquor store, a closed-down barbershop, a prerequisite sneaker store for the $150 sneakers, a nail salon and a couple of blacked out buildings. For students to walk in five degree weather to Capital Prep and do what we ask them to do… They aren’t regular. They’re not regular at all. They are exceptional!”

The truth is that children are exceptional!

But is Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry doing a BETTER job educating students than other public schools?

The answer is no.

In particular, is he doing a better job educating his primary target population of African American students?

Again, the answer is no.

Late last year, Connecticut State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor rolled out a new database called the “School and District Performance Reports for All Connecticut Schools.”

Stefan Pryor said:

“Our accountability system is designed both to recognize the progress our schools are making and to reveal the challenges where they exist. These reports demonstrate that there are bright spots and best practices as well as areas in need of review and improvement in districts and schools across the state,”

According to the new system:

A School Performance Index (SPI) is the average of all Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) test performance for all subjects tested for all students in the school. A District Performance Index (DPI) is Corresponding average for all students in the district. The SPI/DPI ranges in value from 0 to 100 points. Connecticut’s ultimate target for an SPI/DPI is 88 because in a school/district with an SPI of 88 or above, students will have performed at or above the “goal” level on the majority of tests.

So here is the data: 

In this case, here is the data on the School Performance Index for African American students;

Note that according to the Connecticut State Department of Education’s own data, Capital Prep doesn’t even do as well as the same demographic cohort of students attending the rest of Hartford Public School System. 

District/School 2013 School Performance Index:African American Students  (Index is 0 to 100)
Bloomfield Public Schools 77.5
Windsor Public Schools 68.4
Stamford Public Schools 62.1
New London Public Schools 60.7
Hartford Public Schools 59.7
Meriden Public Schools 59.6
Capital Prep Magnet School 58.3
East Hartford Public Schools 57.2
Windham Public Schools 56.8
New Haven Schools 54.4
Bridgeport Public Schools 51.3
New Britain Public Schools 50.1

Attn: Steve Perry – It’s called the CT Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators

As a certified school administrator in Connecticut you have the legal and moral obligation to uphold this code.  But the record increasingly reveals that Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry and the other administrators at Capital Preparatory Magnet School have consistently failed to meet the most basic elements of this code.

For example, section (b) of the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators explains school administrator’s “RESPONSIBILITY TO THE STUDENT.”

According to the code, “The professional school administrator, in full recognition of obligation to the student, shall… (2) Recognize, respect and uphold the dignity and worth of students as individuals and deal justly and considerately with students;

Humiliating, demeaning and degrading students is not a part of the process of recognizing, respecting and upholding the dignity and worth of students as individuals or dealing justly and considerately with students.

By forcing students to stand while eating lunch, seating them at the “Table of Shame” or forcing them to stand facing the wall are all extreme examples where Steve Perry and other school administrators at Capital Preparatory are failing to fulfill their fundamental obligations as required by Connecticut’s code of professional responsibility for school administrators.

As every school administrator is required to understand, as a result of Connecticut State Law, the Connecticut Department of Education, the Connecticut State Board of Education and the Connecticut General Assembly’s Legislative Review Committee adopted State Regulation number 10-145d-400b.

These regulations are better known as the “Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators.”

According to the preamble to the regulations, “The principles set forth in this code are intended to guide the conduct and assist in the appraisal of conduct for the members of the profession and the public they serve….”

[…]

“The code adheres to the fundamental belief that the student is the foremost reason for the existence of the profession.  Administrators must focus the energies of schools on student learning above all else. In addition, the code recognizes the responsibility of administrators to the public, their colleagues and all staff members to foster high standards for professional educators, provide leadership, encourage diversity in curriculum and staff, and promote a quality educational program. By setting forth a code of professional responsibility for school administrators separate from the code applicable to teachers, there is a recognition of the similar but different responsibilities that the two groups have to the students they serve. Both codes seek to codify standards for the education profession to promote a quality system of education for the students in our state. The additional responsibility an administrator accepts in the performance of his or her duties is reflected in this code.

Once again, Section (b) lays out in clear and concise language a Connecticut school administrator’s “RESPONSIBILITY TO THE STUDENT.”

Subsection (2) of Section (b) of the regulations REQUIRE that “The professional school administrator, in full recognition of obligation to the student, shall…recognize, respect and uphold the dignity and worth of students as individuals and deal justly and considerately with students;”

Mr. Perry, Capital Prep’s other school administrators, parents, students, teachers and members of the community can find this regulation at: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/cert/ethics/code_administrators.pdf.

It is also important that Perry and his associates recognize their obligation to student’s families.

Section (e) of the code lays out that RESPONSIBILITY TO THE STUDENT’S FAMILY.

The section reads: “The professional school administrator, in full recognition of the responsibility to the student’s family, shall: (1) Respect the dignity of each family, its culture, customs and beliefs; (2) Promote and maintain appropriate, ongoing and timely written and oral communications with the family; (3) Respond in a timely fashion to families’ concerns; (4) Consider the family’s perspective on issues involving its children; (5) Encourage participation of the family in the educational process; and (6) Foster open communication among the family, staff and administrators.

It would appear that the Connecticut State Board of Education would rather turn a blind eye on Mr. Perry’s outrageous actions but as a certified school administrator, the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education have the legal, moral and ethical responsibility to investigate Mr. Perry’s conduct and take action to hold him accountable for consistently violating the CT Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators.

Pryor schedules Corporate Education Reform Industry Lobby Group for Alliance District Meeting

And that is just the tip of the iceberg…

Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and his sidekick and aide, former Achievement First principal Morgan Barth, are pushing the ethical envelope ever further while telegraphing where Malloy really stands when it comes to teachers, parents and public education in Connecticut.

While Malloy is touring the state claiming that his goal is to “win back” the respect of teachers, parents and public school advocates, later this week, Commissioner Pryor and SDE Turnaround Director Morgan Barth will be handing the microphone over to the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, a corporate funded lobby group that has spent over $160,000 lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s “education reform” initiative.

The event is this Thursday’s State Department of Education’s “Alliance District Convening Meeting,” a publicly funded event for school officials and community members from the 30 Connecticut school districts receiving funds through Malloy’s Alliance District program.

According to the agenda, Pryor and Barth have scheduled the Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) to, “share best practices and tools for district-wide, long-term strategic planning.”

CCER’s Executive Director, Jeff Villar, who once served as the superintendent of schools in Windsor, left his position there three months ago to become the six-figure executive director and lobbyist for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

Apparently the CCER lobbyist’s presentation will include, “strategies to establish Board of Education goals, develop district indicators of success, and design a process to monitor implementation. Districts will also learn about how the CCER can help districts workshop their Year 3 Alliance and Priority School District consolidated applications.”

REALLY?  How CCER can help districts workshop their Year 3 Alliance and Priority School District consolidated applications??

Beyond the fact that “help districts workshop their applications” is a bizarre concept, what the hell is a registered corporate education reform lobbying group doing instructing school districts on how to work with the State Department of Education?

Has the system become so corrupt that the Department of Education has turned to a corporate lobbying group to help Connecticut’s school districts fill out their applications to the state agency?

The ethical issues surrounding such a move are significant and extremely serious.

But Pryor and Barth’s actions also raise extraordinary political questions.

Over the last two years, some of the most anti-teacher, anti-union and anti-public education rhetoric has come out of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) public relations operation.

Allowing this industry lobbying group the opportunity to speak to all the Alliance District participants without giving equal time to those opposed to the corporate education reform industry’s agenda is unfair, insulting and a clear and concise indicator where Governor Malloy really stands on these issues.

Handing state functions over to CCER is even more stunning.

Malloy famously said teachers need only show up for four years and they get tenure…. The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) has been lobbying, from the beginning, to do away with tenure altogether.

Malloy also added that he didn’t mind having teachers teach to the test as long as test scores go up… The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) has been one of the most outspoken proponents of more standardized testing, the absurd common core testing scheme and pushing the unfair concept of using standardized test scores as part of Malloy’s teacher evaluation program.

Malloy can claim his anti-teacher position has “changed”  or “evolved” but actions speaks far louder than his words.

Putting the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) on this week’s Alliance District Convening Meeting agenda speaks volumes about where the Malloy administration really stands when it comes to teachers, unions and pro-public education advocates.

Oh and it gets worse… much worse…

After CCER’s Executive Director speaks, CCER’s Chief Operating Officer will be joining another out-of-state consultant in a session called, “School Budget Hold’em – Strategic resource use is the name of the game.”

According to the meeting agenda, “School Budget Hold’em is more than a game. It’s an interactive exploration of the thoughtful trade-offs school district leaders must make, especially in challenging budget times. It evolved out of ERS’ [the out of state consulting company’s] experience working with urban districts across the country. Hold’em helps change the conversation from “Where do we cut?” to “How can we best use each dollar to achieve our long term vision for student success?” Experience the game and see how you can use it in your district. Each participating district will get a set of “Hold’em” cards to take back to their district. ERS and CCER will also discuss their joint collaboration to perform a school district funding analysis for a Alliance District and how they can help your district.”

So there you go…

The Malloy administration’s approach to public schools;

(1) Hire out-of-state consultants and (2) hand over State Department of Education responsibilities and operations to a corporate education reform industry lobby group.

Pryor now using out-of-state company to recruit out-of-state school principals

With just over a month left in Mass Insight’s $1 million contract with Stefan Pryor and the Connecticut State Department of Education, the out-of-state company hired to run much of Stefan Pryor’s “turnaround” operation is posting job advertisements to recruit out-of-state school principals to take jobs in Connecticut.

Mass Insight’s move comes despite the fact that Connecticut has hundreds of qualified candidates for school administrator positions, unemployment in the state remains at historic levels and a day doesn’t go by that Governor Malloy isn’t claiming that he is working to create jobs for Connecticut residents.

Even more to the point, the job of hiring a school principal is the exclusive responsibility of the local Board of Education in conjunction with the local school’s parent governance committee.

Neither Mass Insight nor Commissioner Pryor has the authority to hire local school principals.  Bridgeport is the only community where Pryor got special legislation passed that allows him to play a leadership role in picking a local school administrator and that is only for the position of superintendent of schools.

But perhaps the most incredible issue of all is the fact that the contract between Commissioner Pryor and Mass Insight DOESN’T provide Mass Insight with the authority to recruit principals or anyone else for local Connecticut’s local school districts.

But recruiting is exactly what Mass Insight is doing.

According to the on-line recruiting information posted by Mass Insight’s Boston-based human relations director;

“On behalf of the CSDE and Network schools and districts, Mass Insight Education Recruiting is supporting the recruitment of highly skilled and motivated school leaders to be a part of this local and national reform movement.  There are openings in several urban elementary, K-8, middle and high schools identified to begin full implementation as Network schools in Fall 2014. Principal candidates who are available for planning work in Spring 2014 are strongly preferred.”

The announcement adds…

“To apply for this position, please submit your resume and cover letter via the following link:  [email protected] In your cover letter, please indicate which level of school you feel most qualified to lead (elementary, K-8, middle or high school) and whether you have any geographical limitations or preferences.”

Commissioner Pryor’s Education Department: Connecticut experts need not apply

With little or no fanfare, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, has picked Shannon Marimon to serve as the Director for Educator Effectiveness and Professional Learning at the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Shannon Marimon’s job will be to oversee Connecticut’s new Educator Effectiveness and Professional Learning Program.

Although Marimon lacks any meaningful classroom or teaching experience, she is a proven member of the corporate education reform aficionados’ club.

The new position is probably one of the top three or four most important positions in the Connecticut Department of Education.

While Marimon was hired by Pryor and started on August 31, 2013 with a starting salary of $110,145.00.

She was promoted by Pryor to her new Director’s position on November 29, 2013 with a new salary of  $136,141.00

The job was officially posted in June 2013 with a closing date less than 30 days later.

According to the legal job posting, the Minimum Experience and Training Required was for “an earned advanced degree and eleven (11) years of professional experience in the field of education or related areas.”

According to the job posting, it was also required that “At least one (1) year of the professional experience must have been in a managerial capacity in an educational agency, organization, system or school.”

Now, as you watch the bouncing ball, note that although one can’t imagine that Pryor was trying to “doctor” the job posting, the advertisement did include the rather odd addition that, “A 092 Certificate (Intermediate Administrator), or 093 Certificate (Superintendent), Sixth Year Diploma in Educational Leadership, or an Ed.D. (Doctorate in Educational Leadership) may be substituted for one (1) additional year of the General Experience” and “An advanced degree and five (5) years of managerial experience in the oversight of the development or administration of an educational bureau, system, operation, school or service may substitute for the General Experience and the Special Experience.”

So, on the one hand the job posting required an advanced degree and 11 years of professional experience while the fine print apparently lowered the level of experience to an advanced degree and five years of managerial experience in just about anything related to a school or service.

So who was finally selected for this critically important and coveted role?

Shannon Marimon, who has served for just over a year in Pryor’s operation, has now been promoted to the job that that will pay between $117,084 and $149,403 a year plus benefits.

The “only” issue is that Marimon’s professional experience is somewhere between none and three or four years at the most.

In fact, she doesn’t even come close to having the experience that was legally mandated in the job posting.

And perhaps the most important fact of all is that she has no meaningful teaching experience and yet is now serving as the Director for Educator Effectiveness and Professional Learning for the State of Connecticut.

Marimon graduated from the Yale School of Management in 2010.

Before that, in 2007 – 2008, she served as the Assistant Director of Development at the Yale School of Art.

In 2009, Marimon served as a summer intern for the National Park Service were she was based in the Washington DC Commercial Services Program.

From September 2010 – October 2011 Marimon worked for thirteen months for the education reform consulting company called TNTP (The New Teacher Project) in Brooklyn, New York and Ann Arbor Michigan.  Her job was to help “ensure smooth, successful launch of technology, marketing and recruitment campaigns.”

From January 2012 – August 2012, Marimon continued to work for the same education reform consulting group for another eight months, this time working in Knoxville, Tennessee as well as Brooklyn, New York.  In this position she, “Managed alternate-route certification contracts for Milwaukee Public Schools and Arizona statewide initiative,” was “Responsible for the goal-setting and official launch process of all new TNTP Academy contracts, working closely with state and city Departments of Education, including Georgia, Pittsburgh, PA, and Charlotte, NC,” and “Maintained high-level client relationships to ensure investment and support of data-driven work.”

In none of those positions did she spend any significant amount of time teaching in a classroom.

Yet despite her utter lack of experience, Marimon was hired by Connecticut Commissioner Stefan Pryor in August 2012 to serve as an Education Consultant at the Connecticut State Department of Education.

And last month, despite the fact that the job posting sought someone with at least 11 years of relevant experience, Marimon, with her one year of experience in the State Department of Education, was promoted to her new role as the State Department’s Director for Educator Effectiveness and Professional Learning.

The leadership of the Connecticut Public School Superintendents Association may claim all is well in the Land of Oz, but they’d be hard pressed to claim that someone with no teaching experience and virtually no management experience should be in charge of the State of Connecticut new Educator Effectiveness and Professional Learning Program.

Are you telling me that out of 45,000 public school teachers, 8,000 public school administrators and hundreds of world-class education professionals working at Connecticut’s institutions of higher education there was no not a single person better prepared to develop and implement Connecticut’s new Educator Effectiveness system?

News Flash: Connecticut school superintendents take unprecedented action against Commissioner Pryor

The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), a one hundred and six-year-old association made up of the key local school administrators from across Connecticut, is taking the unprecedented step of issuing a formal letter of concern or complaint to Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.

The letter was initially developed by the CAPSS Legislative Committee and will be finalized at a meeting of the organization’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee today.  In preparation for the final step, the input and opinions of member superintendents were collected via the organization’s regional representatives.

Although at least five Connecticut school superintendents have confirmed that they and many of their colleagues were ready to support a vote of no confidence in Commissioner Pryor, the leadership of CAPSS, headed by its Executive Director Joseph Cirasuolo, pushed for a more restrained initial step of sending a statement to Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education.

Issuing a comprehensive and broad-based joint statement outlining the failings of the commissioner and his agency,  let alone a potential vote of no-confidence,  is an extraordinary and unprecedented event and reveals the anger and frustration that Connecticut school superintendents have with Malloy’s choice to lead Connecticut’s State Department of Education.

According to the draft “Statement to the Commissioner,” Connecticut’s top local education leaders are planning to inform Commissioner Pryor that there is, “very deep concern that if the following items are not addressed aggressively and in the immediate future, ENTIRE REFORM AGENDA THAT WAS ENACTED IN 2012 WILL COLLAPSE.”

As noted, the letter to Commissioner Pryor will not be finalized until today’s CAPSS Board of Directors meeting, but considering that the correspondence about this letter has all been done through emails available pursuant to Freedom of Information requests, it will be impossible to hide the level of anger and frustration directed at Pryor and his senior staff.

The present draft statement focuses on three areas where Commissioner Pryor and his leadership team are failing.  Those areas include;

  • The operation of the CSDE
  • The actions of the Commissioner
  • The pace of the reform efforts

In the proposed letter, Connecticut’s school superintendents are charging that Commissioner Pryor’s agency “does not have the capacity both in terms of numbers and talent to effectively lead the reform effort.”

In particular, the superintendents highlight some of the particular failings of Pryor’s operation including;

  • The inability of the CSDE to issue many communications in a timely fashion.
  • Dissemination of information that subsequently has to be revised and/or corrected.
  • The implementation of programs that have to be significantly revised after initial implementation.
  • The setting of unreasonable deadlines that reflect an incomplete planning of reform related initiatives.
  • The cleavage between many of the staff whom the Commissioner inherited and the staff whom he has hired.
  • Insulting and inaccurate presentations made by CSDE contractors.
  • Procedures that are insulting to local district staff.

The school superintendents’ harshest criticism is reserved for Commissioner Pryor himself.  The draft Statement to the Commissioner reports that Pryor has damaged his ability to lead the educational effort in the state due to the following perceptions or observations about the Commissioner approach to his job, problems that include;

  • A greater emphasis on pushing his agenda than on listening to the concerns of local district leaders.
  • Lack of an understanding as to how the major components of the reform effort integrate into a singular coherent effort.
  • Too great a willingness to accommodate the Governor’s political agenda.
  • Unresponsiveness to communications from local district leaders.
  • Lack of sufficient respect for the achievements of public education in CT before he became Commissioner.
  • Insufficient willingness to champion public education to the Governor, the legislature and the general public.

Finally, the draft “Statement to the Commissioner” raises extremely serious concerns about the pace of the reform effort in Connecticut.

In addition to challenging Pryor’s leadership style, actions and policies, the superintendents use their statement to lay out numerous suggestions about what could and should be done to develop a unified approach to improving educational opportunities in the state.

The content and tone of the Statement to the Commissioner and the communication surrounding the development of this document make it very clear that while some school superintendents’ support “reform efforts” and others raises serious concerns about particular elements of the reform agenda, there is broad-based opposition about the way Commissioner Pryor and his leadership team have been operating.

As Wait, What? readers know Commissioner Pryor has been on an unrelenting campaign to remove, undermine and destroy the professional staff and professional capabilities of the Connecticut Department of Education and replace experienced and dedicated professionals with high-cost, out-of-state consultants and staff who have little to no educational experience except for their loyalty to the corporate education reform agenda.

The unprecedented step being taken by Connecticut’s school superintendents is yet another example of how Pryor’s arrogant, “top-down,” “my way or else” style is failing.

Check back later for more details about what steps Connecticut superintendents are taking to stand up and fight for the interests of their school districts, their local boards of education and for the children, parents, teachers and taxpayers of their communities.