Forces behind effort to eliminate democratically elected Bridgeport Board of Education donate to Kenneth Moales Jr.

4 Comments

Let’s hear it for less democracy!

Just days before the voters of Bridgeport overwhelmingly defeated Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s bizarre 2012 proposal to eliminate the democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor, millionaire charter school champion Jonathan Sackler quietly wrote a personal check for $50,000 to help pay for the final set of mailings and advertisements designed to persuade Bridgeport voters to give up their right to vote for those who oversee their City’s public schools.

Now Jonathan Sackler and many of the same pro-charter, anti-public education, pro-corporate elite are pumping money into Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr.’s campaign for State Senate with the goal of helping Moales qualify for a taxpayer-funded state campaign grant that he would use to pay for his campaign in the February 24th 2015 state senate special election.

It won’t come as any surprise to those who have watched the ongoing effort to undermine and denigrate the people of Bridgeport that the very same individuals and groups that worked so hard to take away democracy in Bridgeport and keep Paul Vallas in charge of Bridgeport’s schools are now working overtime to put Moales – a Malloy/Finch ally and disgraced former chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education – into the Connecticut State Senate.

The corporate elite, education reform industry and charter school advocates know that Kenneth Moales Jr. will be a safe vote for their anti-public education agenda, even if it means hurting the people of Bridgeport.

Jonathan Sackler, whose pharmaceutical company makes OxyContin, is a founding member of Achievement First, Inc., the large Charter School Management Company with schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Sacker is also the corporate education reform industry advocate who formed ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group.  Sackler was one of the largest donors to Finch’s anti-democracy effort and now he tops the list for Moales as well.

Another key player for Moales is Andy Boas, the Chairman of the Board for Achievement First – Bridgeport, a member of the ConnCAN Board of Directors and the founder of The Charter Oak Challenge Foundation.  In 2012 Boa was also one of the largest contributors to Finch’s campaign to do away with an elected school board in Bridgeport.

And now Boas and his wife, like Sacker and his wife, have both donated the maximum amount to Moales’ campaign.

In total, more than half a dozen of Moales’ largest campaign contributions have come from members of the Achievement First, Inc. or ConnCAN Boards of Directors.

Yet another major player in Finch’s failed charter revision effort was Excel Bridgeport, Inc. the corporate funded education reform group that lobbied for the illegal state takeover of Bridgeport’s schools and then dumped more than $101,000 to support of Finch’s charter revision effort to do away with a democratically elected board of education.  Excel Bridgeport’s founder, Megan Lowney, who is also one of Malloy’s political appointees, recently gave Moales the maximum donation allowed under law.

Others who helped pay for Finch’s failed anti-democracy campaign and are now stepping up with donations for Moales’ campaign include;

Paul Vallas and his wife (now re-located back to Illinois)

Robert Trefrey

Trefrey is the former President/CEO of Bridgeport Hospital.  Trefrey chaired the illegal board that was handed control of Bridgeport’s schools by Governor Malloy’s administration.  When the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Malloy’s attempt to take over the Bridgeport Schools was illegal, Malloy appointed Trefrey to the State Board of Education’s Committee that oversees the state’s technical high schools.  Bridgeport Hospital gave Finch’s charter revision campaign the maximum allowable donation, even at a time it was laying off staff.  Trefrey has not given Moales the maximum allowable contribution.

Jeremiah Grace

Grace is the Connecticut State Director of the Northeast Charter School Network.  The organization not only lobbies for more charter schools but helps private charter school management companies develop applications to get public funds.

Lee Bollert

Bollert was an education advisor to Mayor Bill Finch and helped create Excel Bridgeport, Inc.

William McCullough

McCullough serves with Moales on the Board of Directors of Steve Perry’s proposed Bridgeport charter school.

Kadisha Coates 

Coates is a charter school advocate, member of Families for Excellent Schools and is the newest member of the Bridgeport Board of Education. Coates and her husband are both donors to Moales.

Liz Torres

Torres is a member of the Great Oaks Charter School Board of Directors.

Joshua Thompson

Thompson is the former Finch aide and Vallas assistant who posted on his on-line resume that he was the Deputy Mayor for Education in Bridgeport, even though he was no such thing. Thomson is now an executive New Leaders Fund, a corporate education reform advocacy group in New York City.  Brandon Clark, who ran on the Finch slate for Board of Education with Moales in 2013 but lost, also works with the New Leaders Fund with Thompson and also recently donated to Moales’ campaign.

Other Moales donors include a number of employees, lobbyists and consultants associated with ConnCAN, Achievement First, Inc. and other charter schools organizations in Hartford, New Haven and out-of state.

In order to get the full taxpayer funded grant of Moales has filed the paperwork to get a state taxpayer funded grant.  In order to get the money he must raise a total of $11,250, of which 225 must come from people living in Bridgeport or Stratford.  Depending on the number of signatures collected, Moales could receive a public grant of up to $71,000

Although Moales submitted the paperwork to get a grant last Friday, a review of his public financing report reveals a variety of problems and suspicious donations that could prevent him from qualifying for the public funding.

Note:  A special thanks to Maria Pereira who also researched Moales’ recent campaign finance report and provided her findings to the “Only in Bridgeport” blog.

When THEY say “personalized learning” it is time to be afraid, very afraid

7 Comments

The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), and the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) are among the most vocal Connecticut champions of the Common Core and the unfair, discriminatory and expensive Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme.

Although the three organizations are funded primarily from local taxpayer funds and are supposed to be advocating for local public schools, all three have spent the last three years lobbying for Governor Malloy’s restrictive, centralized and top-down Corporate Education Reform Industry agenda… An agenda that undermines local control of education, seeks to limit the rights of parents, denigrates teachers and turns Connecticut’s public schools into little more than Common Core testing factories.

In fact, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), perhaps more than any other entity in Connecticut other than the Malloy administration itself, has been promoting the “big lie” that parents cannot opt their children out of the absurd Common Core SBAC tests.

But yesterday, in a moment of supreme – (ah) – irony – representatives of these three entities held a press conference at the Legislative Office Building to announce that the solution to Connecticut’s educational achievement gap is “personalized learning.”

And what pray-tell is “personalized learning?’

Thanks to an article in CTNewsJunkie entitled, “Education Organizations Tout ‘Personalized’ Learning,” we learn that according to the representative of the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), personalized learning is,

“recognizing that all children learn differently and it’s about helping them learn the way they learn best. For example, if a grade schooler is interested in dinosaurs, it’s giving him an assignment related to dinosaurs that allows him to demonstrate his abilities.”

Now who would have ever thought of that idea?????

And the director of the Superintendent’s organization added, “Everybody wants to have the time they need to learn something and everybody wants to be taught in the way that they learn.”

Truer words have never been spoken, but the concept of true personalized learning is about as far from the Common Core and Common Core SBAC testing system as one can get.

And as if to prove the hypocrisy of their commitment to true personalized learning, the “White Paper” the group of Common Core advocates released reiterated their support for Governor Malloy’s inappropriate Teacher Evaluation System, a system that relies on the test results of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core SBAC Test.

Out of one side of their mouths the education reformers claimed they were holding their press conference to promote a more individualized approach to learning, while out of the other side of their mouths they were re-dedicating themselves to a teacher evaluation system that seeks to rank order teachers based on a Common Core SBAC test program that is purposely designed to make sure that 6 in 10 children are deemed failures.

So what exactly is this concept of “personalized learning” that these education reformers are talking about?

Interestingly, not one of the spokespeople at the press conference explained what “personalized learning” really means in today’s world of education reform.

The harsh reality is that “personalized learning” has become a buzzword of the corporate education reformer industry.

About four years ago media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced that he was splitting his massive multi-national corporation into two pieces.

One company would seek to continue to buy up and dominate the world’s mainstream media outlets and the other would focus on what Murdoch famously described as the $500 billion untapped market called America’s Public Education System.

To head the new operation, Murdoch hired Joel Klein, the former NYC Education Chancellor who had done so much damage to New York City’s public schools.

They named their new company Amplify and claimed that it would serve as the foundation for a new education system based on “personalized learning.”

As reported at the time, the new company was developed around the concept of the Amplify tablet, a mini-computer that would provide students from kindergarten through the 12th grade with “personalized learning.”

According to the company’s marketing propaganda Amplify would serve as a “student’s centralized education hub.”

Amplify and its products would not only take the place of textbooks but it would also provide games, simulations, “and even a curated library tailored to each student.”

In an interview with WiredAcademic.com in 2013, Joel Klein laid out the fundamental concepts behind Amplify and their strategy of promoting “personalized learning.”

As the article explained,

“These tablets come pre-loaded with curriculum from Amplify, the education company Klein leads. The company wants every student in every K-12 school to use a tablet. It also provides data services to schools to help them track student progress in coursework.

Many school districts that have the money and will to buy tablets for students are currently buying iPads from Apple or Android devices, which they customize for their students. Amplify says it has created a more education-focused tablet than tech rivals such as Apple or Google are currently offering.

“We work with special development people who work with teachers hand in glove,” Klein said, noting that his company sold 20,000 devices to schools in Guilford County, NC, rolling out a system there this Fall. Amplify has also piloted the tablets with a dozen school districts. “It’s about the software we are putting on there that makes this a really optimal learning platform.”

[…]

At the same time, Murdoch hopes Amplify buoys News Corp.’s journalistic holdings such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post by creating a hybrid news and education business model on par with Pearson PLC, which owns The Financial Times, and The Washington Post Co., which owns education company Kaplan (but recently sold the namesake Washington Post to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos).

Klein says Amplify’s strategy fits in well with the newly launched Common Core education standards that are going into use in more than 40 states. They “enable you to align your curriculum across the country,” he said. “Because we don’t have a legacy publishing business, we can align our curriculum right away with the Common Core. It gives us an advantage.”

We asked him his views on some states such as Indiana that are bucking against the Common Core and whether that could potentially set back his business. “I don’t think it is consequential. Some states might come off the Common Core… There were never 100% that were part of the Common Core (there were 45 state to begin with). Most states that aren’t on the Common Core may still require the curriculum we are building,” he said. “You make some differences for Texas. But the students in Texas will want the good curriculum we are developing.”

Klein’s impact on education reform in New York had ripple effects around the country. He’s helped mold and select several new superintendents in other cities ranging from Baltimore to New Orleans. He’s involved with the Broad Center, funded by L.A. billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, which aims (among its other projects) to train and place reform-minded superintendents in the education sector.

[…]

Amplify acquired its way into the education business, buying up Brooklyn-based education data systems Wireless Generation for $360 million in 2010. It also provided professional development training to teachers. Klein hopes to sell news content and educational curriculum on the tablets and to disrupt the textbook market at the same time, posing a huge risk to other large textbook publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and Pearson, which together have $2.6 billion in annual revenue. “I think the printed textbook should be given a respectful and decent burial,” Klein said, during a recent interview with THE Journal. “I think it should be gone.”

[…]

“It’s not about tech for tech sake,” Klein says, about putting tablets into the hands of every student at every school. “It is about facilitating the learning process. If it doesn’t do that, it is not succeeding. I’ve had teachers in many places who say kids who were not engaged are now engaged and writing on the tablet. It gives them a feeling of responsibility.”

All of this brings us back to The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS).

When they say “personalized learning,” do they mean the “personalized learning” that is being forced upon our children by companies like Amplify, Pearson and the other corporations and corporate executives behind the Corporate Education Reform Industry?

If that is what they are saying, then they need to stand down and back off before they do any more damage to Connecticut’s public schools.

You can read the CTNewsjunkie article about yesterday’s press conference at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/education_organizations_tout_personalized_learning/

Inaugurations – Did you help finance Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reelection campaign?

3 Comments

Today it is Dannel Malloy who is being sworn into a second term as Connecticut’s governor.

Two days ago it was Wisconsin’s conservative, Tea-Bag Party Governor and presidential wannabe Scott Walker.

While there are stark differences between the two, on the issues related to public education, teachers and the corporate education reform industry, Malloy and Walker have shockingly similar platforms.

Like Malloy, Walker spent his first term trying to destroy teacher tenure, eliminate collective bargaining rights for teachers and dramatically expand public funding for charter schools and the overall effort to privatize public education.

The primary difference was the same in Connecticut, thanks to a Democrat-controlled legislature, Malloy’s worst proposals were removed from his “education reform initiative.”  Whereas in Wisconsin, a right-wing, Republican-controlled legislature passed Walker’s proposals and made Wisconsin ground-zero for the corporate education reform effort to destroy teachers, the teaching profession and teacher unions.

Another major similarity between the two individuals is that both candidates relied heavily on the support of special interests to fund their campaign operations.

While the tea-party conservatives lined up for Walker and the unions lined up for Malloy, both candidates collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from major corporations.

Malloy’s corporate support came from political action committees including, Aetna, Alcoa, Alexion, American Medical Response, AQN, AT&T, Bank of America, Boehringer Ingelheim, CBS, Cerner Corporation, Cigna, Comcast, Computer Sciences Corporation, Covanta Energy, Dominion Energy, Enterprise Holding, FoxPAC (Yes, related to the Fox News Corp.), General Dynamics, General Electric, GHC Corporation, Guardian, Hartford Financial, HNTB Holdings, Maximus, Minerals Technologies Inc., National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Northeast Utilities, Pfizer, Pitney Bowes, Praxair, Public Service of New Jersey, Purdue Pharma, Reinsurance Association of America, Safelite, Spectra Energy, Synergy, Nestle Waters, The Phoenix, The Travelers, Walt Disney Productions, Thermo Fischer Scientific, UnitedHealth, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Webster Bank, Wellpoint, Xerox and the list goes on.

During the past gubernatorial campaign, Corporate America also invested in Scott Walker’s campaign, leaving one to ask…

Did your purchases help fund Walker (or Malloy’s) campaigns?

Did you buy a Pepsi, Coca-Cola or Snapple this year?  Do you have a cell phone, use a bank, take medication, buy insurance or purchase any number of other consumer products?

Well you may be among the millions of consumers who helped fund Scott Walker, the darling of the Koch Brothers and the right-wing in the United States.

Despite Walker’s controversial positions and record, Walker collected 53% of the vote in last November’s election, funding his campaign with donations from a plethora of “mainstream” American corporations.

A review of campaign finance records in Wisconsin show dozens of national corporations gave Walker money or provided financial support to organizations engaged in funneling money into Walker’s campaign.

Even the controversies surrounding Walker’s potentially illegal campaign activities didn’t stop major corporations from pumping consumers’ dollars into Walker’s political ambitions.

Walker’s dubious claim to fame is based on a variety of proposals and actions including the following;

  • On raising Wisconsin’s $7.25 minimum wage, Walker said discussing raising the amount had no ‘purpose’ and in October 2014, Walker’s administration wrote, “There is no reasonable cause to believe” that the state’s minimum wage isn’t a living wage.  This despite the fact that 700,000 people in Wisconsin – one in four workers – are earning poverty wages.
  • On the critical issue of reproductive rights, Walker signed sweeping new restrictions on reproductive rights in Wisconsin.  The law requires women, regardless of the patient’s wishes, to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound before they get an abortion, Said Walker, “I don’t have any problem with ultrasound.”
  • To those who say efforts are needed to ensure more American have health insurance; Walker recently explained that denying health coverage to additional low-income Americans helps more people “live the American Dream” because they won’t be “dependent on the American government.”
  • On the issue of “equal pay for women,” Walker successfully pushed to repeal Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Law.  One of Walker’s Senate Republican allies defending the effort by exclaiming, “Money is more important for men.
  • Walker’s attacks on public school and higher education have been unprecedented.  As widely reported, Walker’s cuts to public schools have cost more than 3,400 jobs, including more than 1,900 teachers.
  • And when it comes to promoting democracy, Walker “accomplishments” includes legislation to disenfranchise tens of thousands of young voters, senior citizens and minority voters as a result of his voter suppression and voter ID laws.

But despite Walker’s right-wing political agenda and offensive comments, corporations donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Walker.

The following is a just a partial list.

Corporation Contribution Amount
3M Company PAC $22,000
Abbott Labs Employee PAC $5,500
AT&T Wisconsin PAC $23,000
Centene Corporation PAC (Health Insurance) $21,000
CenturyLinkPAC $12,500
Citigroup Inc. PAC $1,000
Coca-Cola PAC $8,000
Deloitte Political Action Committee $10,000
Dominion Resources Inc. PAC $5,000
Dr Pepper Snapple Group PAC $3,000
Eli Lilly and Company PAC (Pharmaceuticals) $21,000
Enterprise Holdings, Inc. PAC (Car Rental) $14,000
Express Scripts, Inc. PAC $1,000
Federal Express PAC $10,000
General Electric Political Action Committee (GEPAC) $7,000
General Motors Company PAC $8,500
GlaxoSmithKline PAC (Pharmaceuticals) $4,000
Hewlett-Packard Company PAC $10,500
Honeywell International PAC $40,000
Humana Inc. PAC (Health Insurance) $18,000
Johnson & Johnson PAC $3,000
JPMorgan Chase & Co. PAC $3,500
Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. PAC $7,500
Marathon Petroleum Corporation PAC $16,500
Molina Healthcare Inc PAC $2,500
Monsanto Co. PAC $24,000
Motorola Solutions, Inc. PAC $2,000
Murray Energy Corporation PAC $15,000
Northwestern Mutual Life PAC $57,000
PepsiCo Inc PAC $2,000
Pfizer Inc PAC (Pharmaceuticals) $43,250
Sprint Corporation PAC 6500
The Caterpillar Inc. PAC $50,000
US Bancorp PAC $1,000
Valero Energy Corporation PAC $1,000
Walgreens Co. PAC $7,500
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. PAC $15,000
WellPoint, Inc. WELLPAC  (Health Insurance) $27,000
Xcel Energy-WI PAC $12,500
Xerox Corporation Political Action Committee $5,000
Zeneca Inc. PAC (Pharmaceuticals) $8,000

*Donations since 2011 from major U.S. corporations to Friends of Scott Walker, Scott Walker – Rebecca Kleefisch Victory Committee and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

And this list doesn’t even highlight some of Governor Walker’s other corporate donors including $51,000 from the BNSF Railway (RailPAC), $45,000 from the national construction company HNTB Holdings Ltd. PAC, $27,000 from the Koch Brothers and $23,000 from Union Pacific Railway.

Which brings us back to the question; did your consumer spending help fund Walker’s successful re-election effort?

Or for that matter, did your consumer spending fund Malloy’s successful re-election effort.

And finally, what are the following companies doing supporting both Malloy and Walker?

AT&T, Dominion, Enterprise Holdings, General Electric, HTNB Holdings, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, WellPoint, Inc, and Xerox

Malloy tells right-wing American Enterprise Institute he is the “education governor”

14 Comments

As reported earlier today, Governor Malloy traveled to Washington D.C. today to speak to the ultra-right wing American Enterprise Institute.  (see Wait, What? post: Malloy speaks to right-wing American Enterprise Institute in ongoing effort to alienate every teacher and public education advocate).

The purpose of his trip to D.C. was to brag about his Education Reform Initiative, the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education bill introduced by any Democratic governor in the United States.

The American Enterprise Institute introduced Malloy’s speech with the following:

“Since taking office in Connecticut in 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy (D-CT) has made K–12 school reform a centerpiece of his agenda, calling education “the civil rights issue of our time.” To date, the state has passed key legislation surrounding teacher accountability, charter schooling, and turning around underperforming schools. At the same time, Connecticut has one of the nation’s largest academic achievement gaps, and Governor Malloy has faced pushback from teachers unions on his efforts surrounding teacher evaluation.”  – American Enterprise Institute 12/2/2013

Malloy who said teachers need only show up for four years to get tenure

Malloy who said he didn’t mind teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up

Malloy who dramatically expanded the amount of standardized testing

Malloy who pushed through an unfair and inappropriate teacher evaluation program linked to those standardized tests

Malloy who dramatically increased the amount of taxpayer funds diverted to charter schools and private companies.

In fact, when looking at Malloy’s record in support of the corporate education reform industry, the American Enterprise Institute was the perfect place for him to crow about his “successes.”

Who is the American Enterprise Institute?

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan called the American Enterprise Institute “one of the beachheads of the modern conservative movement.”

The Walton Foundation, one of the country’s three biggest funders of the corporate education reform industry is also a major funder of the American Enterprise Institute.  The Walton Foundation has relied on the neoconservative group to back their education reform ideas and the Walmart Company itself.  According to the New York Times, Wal-Mart “has discovered a reliable ally: prominent conservative research groups like the American Enterprise Institute…”

From 1985 through 2005, the American Enterprise Institute received more than $40 million from right-wing foundations.

In addition to their work on behalf of the Tobacco industry in which they sought to downplay the social costs associated with smoking, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has played a major role in the effort to deny Global Warming.

From 2006 to 2010, the American Institute received more than $1.7 million from fossil fuel interests including major funding from the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil.  In return they’ve published numerous studies downplaying the effects of Global Warming

And when it comes to collective bargaining and the right of Americans to join unions, here are just a few headlines from recent American Enterprise Institute publications and speeches;

“Public Unions Must Go…Public unions have been a 50-year mistake.”  – American Enterprise Institute 2/22/2011

“Break up the big… unions!” – American Enterprise Institute 10/19/2012

“Despite wins in last night’s elections, teachers unions are weakening” American Enterprise Institute 11/7/2012

The more you know, the more fitting it is that Governor Malloy went to the American Enterprise Institute to deliver his “education reform” message.

Pass the Salary (cross-posted from EduShyster)

3 Comments

For those still digesting and cleaning up from yesterday’s festivities, here is a fun blog from EduShyster, fellow blogger and public education advocate who calls Massachusetts home.  I recommend everyone sign up for her blog, which can be found at: http://edushyster.com/

Just in time for the holidays, a reform groaner for the groaning board

Reader: if your holidays are anything like mine then you are looking forward to consuming an entire box of Asti Spumante engaging in a vigorous back-and-forth about education policy with your extended family. But with so many great ideas out there for improving our failed and failing public schools, how to settle on just one??? Fortunately our friends at the Teacher Salary Project have done some extensive menu planning for us and have prepared a veritable buffet of topics to discuss at the table. Unfasten your eat belt, reader: it’s time to pass the salary.

Teacher turducken
Shall we begin with a canapé of context? The Teacher Salary Project starts with an idea that everyone in the whole family can get behind: teachers are *rilly* important, especially the excellent ones who are putting kids on a path to 21st century outstandingness. Except that the salaries that teachers are make are anything but excellent which causes excellent teachers to leave and excellent would-be teachers to avoid the profession entirely, depriving 21st century bound kids of their prospective excellence. Sounds great, right? Alas, the Teacher Salary Project fits squarely into a category of holiday fare I’ve come to know and love as *reform turducken*: one reformy idea stuffed into another and into another, all clad in an innocuously glistening exterior.

Raise your tip jar
But how to get your loved ones to talk teacher salary turkey? The Teacher Salary Project has thought of everything, starting with a toast—to teachers and their excellence and to the excellent salaries they should be earning. Then you’ll want to back up your toast with talking points and fact-based research helpfully tailored to compliment whatever political demographic you’ll be breaking bird with this Thanksgiving. Got a table full of conservatives? No problem—give them the great news about the two GOP governors who are leading the way to raise teacher salaries out of the swamp from which they just finished lowering them. Are they still hungry? Toss em a little red meat in the form of this study by Hoover Institute economist Eric Hanushek that found that great teachers increase students’ future earnings. What do you mean, is there more? Of course there’s more—like this McKinsey report on attracting and retaining top grads to a career in teaching.

Tasty tidbits 4 all
Well convincing the red state relatives was easy enough. Now, once you’ve retrieved your back-up wine box from the Subaru it’s time to work your magic on the moderates at the table.

Mention that for a small state to move salary scales to professional levels, it would cost the same as a single day in Afghanistan. Seconds, anyone? How about the news of places that have raised salaries through slashing administrative costs, early retirement packages, or bonds? Or offer up this tasty tidbit from Public Impact that shows states and districts how to raise teacher salaries by 20 to 130 percent with the money they have now.

Wow—that does sound like a tasty tidbit! Good thing the moderate wing of your family is tripped out on tryptophan or somebody might have a pesky question or two, like how does everyone get a bigger piece of pumpkin pie if the pie stays the exact same size? And is that whipped cream extra fluffy or just packed with merit? Perhaps it’s the Asti Spumantewriting but the Joyce and Gates-funded Public Impact and its husband/wife *thought leader* team (who just happen to sit on the board of the Teacher Salary Project) sound awfully familiar.  Why, is it time for another toast already? ¡To the Opportunity Culture! ¡Long may she reign!

Are you going to eat that?
By now you should be picking up on a theme—and it’s not just my, ahem, unhealthy interest in turkey-shaped-cakes. Peel back the Teacher Salary Project’s shiny skin—the documentary film, the involvement of writer Dave Eggers (of whom I’m a big fan)—and the *meat* of the campaign has a familiarly reformy flavor that has little if anything to do with raising teacher salaries. In fact the hater at the table (OK, it’s me) might point out that the entire thrust of our years-long-reform-a-thon is to figure out how to pay the majority of teachers less so as to free up dough for extra *stuffing*: the ever-expanding schmorgasboard of gizmos, test-preppery and achievement gap closure devices that our students so fiercely and urgently need. And don’t forget the gravy. A reformer can’t live by stuffing alone!

Meanwhile – At taxpayer or industry expense? Malloy to Keynote Security Industry Association’s “Government Summit”

4 Comments

At the very moment Governor Malloy’s political operation was weighing the political fallout of his trip to the White House Correspondents Dinner and whether he should “reimburse” People Magazine for $1,000 or so (we still don’t know how much taxpayers shelled out for Malloy’s security detail), the U.S. Security Industry Association was releasing a press release that Malloy would be this year’s “Keynote Speaker” at their Security Industry Association Government Summit next month in Washington, D.C.

According to the Security Industry Association (SIA), the event is the “premier annual public policy conference in the security industry.”

The press release explained that Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy will serve as the keynote speaker and that, “Gov. Malloy’s remarks will precede a panel on school safety on day two of the Summit. Violent events in our nation’s schools have demonstrated that these “soft targets” are not sacred to those seeking to do harm. Understanding there are many factors that can contribute to secure learning environment, this panel will examine those factors as well as the contributions the industry can make to provide safe educational facilities.”

The press release goes on to note that, “The SIA Government Summit provides attendees with unique insights that help them better understand how policy drives business in the security industry. The exclusive nature of the setting allows one-on-one conversations with government decision makers.”

According to the Security Industry Association’s website, they are “the leading trade association for electronic and physical security solution providers. SIA protects and advances its members’ interests by advocating pro-industry policies and legislation at the federal and state levels; creating open industry standards that enable integration; advancing industry professionalism through education and training; opening global market opportunities; and collaboration with other like-minded organizations. As a proud sponsor of ISC Expos and Conferences, and owner of the Securing New Ground Conference, SIA ensures its members have access to top-level buyers and influencers, as well as unparalleled learning and network opportunities.”

Interestingly the press release did not reveal whether Governor Malloy’s trip to Washington D.C. would be paid for by the Security Industry Association or the taxpayers of Connecticut.

It’s about time legislators stopped listening to propaganda and started paying attention to research” (Sarah Darer Littman)

29 Comments

The sentence comes from columnist and fellow education advocate Sarah Darer Littman latest commentary piece in this weekend’s CTNewsjunkie.

The topic:  Education Reform in Connecticut

Compared to what is actually taking place in Hartford and state capitols around the country, she might have begun her piece with the term, “when pigs fly” or “when Hell freezes over” or any number of other adynata. [Turns out the phrase is called an Adynaton, a figure of speech in the form of hyperbole that is taken to such extreme lengths as to suggest a complete impossibility].

Sarah Darer Littman’s piece stands as a beacon of truth compared to the drivel Rae Ann Knopf, the executive director of the corporate driven, Connecticut Council for Education Reform, had published on CTNewsjunkie earlier in the week.  The two pieces should be read in tandem to get the full effect.  Read Knopf’s corporate education reform argument and then Sarah Darer Littman’s piece entitled Legislate Based On Research, Not Hyperbole.

The corporate education reform advocates falsely claim that not only will Malloy’s education reform legislation be good for children and our schools, but the cost of these unfunded mandates will be negligible, when such a statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

As Darer Littman writes,

“One hopes our legislators have been paying attention to the experience of our neighbors in New York as they listen to advocates from the Big Six (ConnCan, CCER, CBIA, CAPSS, CAS, and CABE). According to March report by the New York State School Boards Association and based on an analysis of data from 80 school districts, the districts outside the state’s five largest cities expect to spend an average of $155,355 on the state’s new evaluation system this year.

That’s $54,685 more than the average federal Reach To the Top grant awarded to districts to implement the program.

“Our analysis . . . shows that the cost of this state initiative falls heavily on school districts,” says Executive Director Timothy Kremer of the New York State School Boards Association. “This seriously jeopardizes school districts’ ability to meet other state and federal requirements and properly serve students.”

At a time when Connecticut’s towns and cities already face the potential for significant state aid reductions based on Gov. Dannel P.  Malloy’s proposed budget, is it any wonder that the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities testified in favor of delaying a system that is proving costly and problematic elsewhere?”

Darer Littman then turns her attention to the even more important point that Malloy’s entire teacher evaluation system is a farce and insult to the notion of creating better schools and ensuring that our state’s children are provided with the educational opportunities they need and deserve.

Calling Darer Littman’s piece a “must read” piece is a truly an understatement.

You can find it here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_legislate_based_on_research_not_hyperbole/

ConnCAN signs $200,000 contract with major Connecticut lobby firm

6 Comments

The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN), the charter school advocacy group that was created by the founders of Achievement First, the state’s largest charter school management company, has signed a two-year, $200,000 lobbying contract with Connecticut government relations firm, Gaffney, Bennett and Associates.

In addition, ConnCAN staff will continue to lobby on behalf of Governor Malloy’s education reform initiatives.

Last year, ConnCAN and its sister organization, the Connecticut Coalition for Advocacy Now, Inc. (ConnAD) spent more than $693,000 lobbying for Malloy’s education bill.  Along with Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst and other corporate funded education reform groups, ConnCAN’s lobby levels broke all previous records for legislative lobbying.

In the month of January alone, ConnCAN spent more than $15,000 on its government relations activities.

However, interestingly, the January Client Lobbyist Financial Report that ConnCAN filed with the Office of State Ethics, as required by Chapter 10, Part II of the Connecticut General Statutes, makes absolutely no mention of the public opinion poll that ConnCAN conducted in January and released earlier this week.

The report, which covers the period from January 1 to January 31st, 2013 was filed with the Office of State Ethics on February 11th.

Failure to disclose expenditures for lobbying and expenditures for activities in furtherance of lobbying is a major violation of Connecticut law.

If the poll was shared with legislators or used as part of any communication seeking to persuade others to communicate with legislators then ConnCAN is required to include those expenses on its ethics report.

However, ConnCAN’s January Form ETH-2D failed to provide any information about the recent poll they conducted.

Meanwhile, the lobby firm of Gaffney, Bennett and Associates has been working for ConnCAN or ConnAD since the two organizations were formed about six years ago.

In addition to ConnCAN, Gaffney, Bennett’s clients include, AT&T Wireless, the City of Stamford,  Exxon/Mobil, GE, Hartford Healthcare Corporation, NBC, Pitney Bowes Corp., Procter & Gamble and Quinnipiac University to name a few.

Will someone speak up for Latino students? Corporate reform group overlooks the truth in effort to bolster charter schools.

5 Comments

Will someone speak up for Latino students?

Corporate reform group overlooks the truth in effort to bolster charter schools.  

Rae Ann Knopf, the Executive Director for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform recently took issue with a commentary piece written by Wendy Lecker (recent commentary) that was published in the Stamford Advocate and Connecticut Post and then reposted here at Wait, What?

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) is a business group that was one of the biggest supporters of Governor Malloy’s” Education Reform” proposal.  The organization’s board of directors is made up of a number of corporate executives including the Presidents, CEO or COOs of United Illuminating, First Niagara Bank, The Travelers, Nestle Waters North America, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Retired Chairman & CEO of The Hartford.

In her commentary piece, Wendy Lecker reminded readers that as part of Malloy’s education reform effort, Hartford’s Milner School, a school where 40 percent of the students go home to households where English is not the primary language, was given to a nearby charter school management organization Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), despite the fact that FUSE has never had a non-English speaking student attend their Jumoke Academy schools.

Rather than devote the time and resources to help the Milner School succeed, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education gave the school, the students and millions of taxpayer dollars to a private entity that has no experience teaching bi-lingual students.  Not surprisingly, according to a recent report to the State Department of Education, the Jumoke Academy has failed to take the necessary steps to strengthen its bi-lingual program and the number of students attending the Milner School has dropped.

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform’s Rae Ann Knopf came to the Jumoke Charter School’s defense writing, “Observing that enrollment at Milner, a school partnering with Jumoke Academy, has gone down, Ms. Lecker writes, “we can already see that Jumoke’s Milner is not the same as last year’s Milner.” (see Knopf’s response here)

Knopf adds, “Well, we certainly hope not. Over the last three years at “last year’s Milner”, students scored an average of 32.8 on the School Performance Index (SPI). Put in lay terms, that means most Milner students were not even scoring at the “Basic” level on their CMTs. In contrast, Jumoke students scored a three-year average SPI of 80.1 (which is close to the statewide achievement target of 88). That score indicates that many Jumoke students had “Advanced” and “Goal” CMT scores. As measured by test scores, students at Jumoke were more than twice as successful as students at Milner. There’s nothing unreasonable about the hypothesis that a partnership between Milner and Jumoke should advance student learning at the former Milner School.”

Once again, the education reformers will go to any length, even misrepresent the facts, to defend their school privatization agenda.

Rae Ann Knopf claims, “As measured by test scores, students at Jumoke were more than twice as successful as students at Milner.”

Even the education reformers recognize that the three most powerful factors determining test scores are poverty, language barriers and the number of students who need special education services

So what are the facts?

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy

2010

20%

0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy

2010

39%

0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy

2010

11%

2%

 

Percent of Students qualifying for Free or Reduce Lunch Milner School Jumoke Academy

2010

100%

72%

 

So if the students attending the Milner School are significantly more poor, have far greater language barriers and a far greater number need special education services, is it surprising that test scores are lower at Milner than at Jumoke?

Of course not!

So do you then give the Milner School, its students and its taxpayer funds to a school that doesn’t have any experience with a major portion of the community?

Of course not!   Unless you are part of Governor Malloy’s education reform plan.

And what happens when you transfer all that money to an entity that doesn’t have any experience?

According to the Commissioner’s Network Midyear Operations and Instruction Audit for the Thurman Milner School;

Four months into the year, Jumoke still hadn’t hired a bi-lingual teacher

And “Some teachers described an ELL push-in model and others describe a pull out model, so it is assumed that both approaches are used.  While classroom teachers have had training in instructional strategies to use in teaching ELL students, some report that they could use more training in that area.”

Wait, What??

One in five Jumoke-Milner students are not fluent in English and 40% of the students go home to households that don’t speak English and Jumoke still hasn’t hired a bi-lingual teacher and the teachers report that they DON’T KNOW if the Jumoke Administrators are using a “push-in or pull out” model of teaching English Language Learners?

Not only is CCER’s Executive Director overlooking the facts by defending the Jumoke Academy but the Commissioner’s Network Program and Governor Malloy’s education reform plans are failing to provide the most vital services to the children of the Milner School and especially the schools large Latino population.

If that is what the Connecticut Council for Education Reform considers a success, it is a sad day in Connecticut.

Even on Budget Day – (or especially on Budget Day) – Lobbyist money helps make the world go round…

1 Comment

When Connecticut passed its landmark campaign finance reform legislation, the goal was to remove lobbyist and special interest campaign money from the public policy making process.

But of course, where there is a will, there is a way.

Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee, the PAC affiliated with Governor Malloy has raised over $235,000 in the last 18 months and a nice portion of that money comes from lobbyists who represent a range of clients that will be impacted by Malloy’s budget and policy proposals.

When analyzing the policy initiatives it is often useful to see who has worked to guarantee access to the key decision makers.

The following is list of organizations whose lobbyists have – as the saying goes – ponied up for the Prosperity for Connecticut PAC.

 

Clients whose lobbyists have donated to Malloy’s Prosperity for Connecticut PAC

 

Ability Beyond Disability
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Alliance Energy Corporation
Altria Client Services Inc. and its Affiliates
American Council of Life Insurers
Apple Inc.
ASSA ABLOY Americas
AT&T Connecticut and Affiliates
Auctor Corporation
AVWatch, Inc.
backnine NETWORK
Bank of America Corporation
Bestech Inc. of CT
Bradley Off Airport Association
Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group, Inc.
Can Manufacturers Institute c/o Multistate Associates Inc.
Carpenters Labor Management Program
CGR Medical Development, LLC
Charter Oak Health Center
CIGNA Corporation
Citigroup Management Corp.
Coca-Cola Refreshments, Inc.
Comcast Cable Corp.
Community Health Network of CT
Connecticut Association of Realtors, Inc.
Connecticut Bankers Association
Connecticut Benefit Brokers, a Chapter of NAHU
Connecticut Beverage Coalition, Inc.
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc
Connecticut Construction Industries Association
Connecticut Creditor Bar Association, Inc.
Connecticut Distributors, Inc.
Connecticut Energy Marketers Association
Connecticut Homemaker and Companion Assoc.
Connecticut Film Center
Connecticut Thermal-Renewable Energy Coalition (CT_REC)
Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association
Copart, Inc
Council of States Attorneys
CPV Towantic, LLC
CT Assoc. Health Care Facilities
CT Assoc. Public School Superintendents, Inc.
CT Association for Healthcare at Home
CT Association of Health Plans
CT Association of Prosecutors
CT Attorneys Title Insurance Co.
CT Broadcasters Assoc.
CT Chapter National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
CT Children’s Medical Center
CT Coalition Interior Designers
CT Coalition of Taft Hartley Health Funds
CT Community Action Foundation
CT Community Providers Assoc.
CT Forest & Park Assoc., Inc.
CT Health Association for Mutual Progress, Inc.
CT Hospital Assoc.
CT Humane Society
CT Humanities Council, Inc.
CT Institute Blind
CT Junior Republic Assoc.
CT Main Street Center
CT Mortgage Bankers Assoc.
CT Probate Assembly
CT State Medical Society
CT Water Service, Inc.
CT-NAELA Chapter
Darden Restaurants, Inc.
DIRECTV, Inc.
DISH Network, LLC
Dominion Energy
Eastern CT Health Network/Manchester Memorial Hosp
EmblemHealth
EPMJR, LLC
EquiPower Resources Corp.
Exelon Generation Company LLC
Explore Information Services
Expressway Courier & Freight LLC
Exxon Mobil Global Services
FIG LLC and certain of its affiliates
First Technologies LLC
Forest City Residential
GDF-Suez FirstLight Power
General Electric Company
Governor’s Prevention Partnership
Goodwin College
Greenbelt Management LLC
Grocery Manufacturers of America
Hartford Economic Development Company
Hartford Health Care Corp.
Honda North America, Inc.
Hospital for Special Care
Housing Authority of the City of Stamford
Hybrid Insurance Group
Insurance Assoc. of CT
Iroquois Gas Transmission System
JPMorganChase
Kofkoff Egg Farm
Lakin Tire East, Inc.
Laz Parking
LeadingAge Connecticut
Manufacturing Alliance of CT Inc.
Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods Resort Casino
Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
McDonald’s Corporation
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
Merit Properties, Inc.
MetroHartford Alliance
Metropolitan District Commission
MGM Resorts International Operations, Inc.
Microsoft Corp.
Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority
National Electrical Contractors Assoc/Int’l. Brhd. Elect. Wrkrs
National Shooting Sports Foundation
NBC Universal
Nestlé Waters North America Inc.
New England Convenience Store Assoc.
New England Home Care, Inc.
New Haven Board of Education
Northeast Association of Wholesale Distributors
Northeast Utilities
Norwich Public Utilities
NRG Energy, Inc.
Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators Association of Connecticut
Palace Theater
Pepsico
Pfizer Inc.
Phadia US Inc, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific
Pitney Bowes Corp.
Praxair, Inc.
Procter and Gamble
ProHealth Physicians
Purdue Pharma L.P.
Quinnipiac University
RBS Greenwich Capital
Reed Elsevier Inc.
RESC Alliance
Schnitzer Steel Industries
SCI – CT Funeral Services, Inc.
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
Senior Care Centers of Connecticut
Spectra Energy Transmission
The Connection Fund, Inc.
The Jewish Home for the Elderly
Three 3M Corporation
TicketNetwork
Total Wine & More
Toy Industry Association
Transportation General
Tri-S Environmental Services, Inc.
UIL Holdings Corporation
United Healthcare Services Inc.
United Technologies Corp.
Value Options
Vanguard Health Systems
Verizon Communications
VNA Community Healthcare, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
We Work for Health
Webster Bank
Western Connecticut Health Network
Wheeler Clinic, Inc
Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of CT
Winters Brothers Waste Systems, CT
Workforce Investment Board Alliance
Xerox Corp.
Yale University

 

Older Entries