Even More Corporate Education Reform money flows to Malloy’s political operation

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The latest federal campaign finance reports are in and Governor Malloy’s political operation continues to rake in the cash from those associated with the effort to privatize Connecticut’s public schools and undermine Connecticut’s teachers.

As a result of Connecticut’s campaign finance program, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is on track to collect $6.2 million in public funds to pay for his 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

But thanks to a loop-hole in Connecticut law, the Malloy campaign has already diverted nearly $2.2 million in individual and political action committee donations into an account controlled by the Democratic State Central Committee.  Malloy is rounding up donations to this Democratic account so that his team will have additional money to supplement Malloy’s publicly funded campaign this year.

The campaign finance loop-hole is so large you could drive a truck through it.  As a result, much of the money that Malloy and his team has raised into the separate account is coming from individuals and businesses who have state contracts, as well as, from registered lobbyists, political action committees and special interests that would otherwise be banned from contributing to Malloy’s campaign.

One of the most “generous” sources of money for Malloy’s “off-line” political operation has been the corporate education reform industry.

The latest report filed with the Federal Elections Commission reveals the proponents of Malloy’s “education reform” initiative continue to line up to give the Governor campaign donations.

New contributions in March included,

  • Another $20,000 from Jonathan Sackler and his wife.  Sackler helped Stefan Pryor create Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company.  Sackler also founded ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading charter school advocacy group and 50CAN, a national charter school advocacy organization. 
  • Sackler and his wife have now given $38,000 to the Democratic Party “special” account and another $20,000 to the Connecticut Democrats regular account.  In addition, Sackler hosted a fundraiser that brought in almost $50,000 for the Malloy affiliated Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee. 
  •  $10,000 from Susan Mandel, the spouse of billionaire Steve Mandel.  Mandel is the primary supporter of the Bridgeport charter school advocacy group called Excel Bridgeport, Inc. and serves on the national board of directors of Teach for America.  Mandel and his wife have now contributed $30,000 to the Democratic account that is being used to fund Malloy’s political operation. 

These new contributions to help Malloy come on top of tens of thousands of dollars in additional donations that have been sent by other key players from the corporate education reform industry. For example, Michelle Rhee’s PAC and the Wal-Mart PAC have already sent large donations to boost Malloy’s re-election chances.

You can read about the other donations in the following Wait, What? posts,

Corporate Education Reform Industry pours money into Malloy campaign operation (Feb 2014)

Malloy’s campaign donation haul from corporate education reform industry tops $70k (Dec 2013)

Malloy continues to cash in on Education Reform initiative (Nov. 2013)

Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform (Oct. 2013)

Another MUST READ column – Are Wall Street Values Right for Schools?

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Fellow public school advocate and award-winning columnist Sarah Darer Littman had another “MUST READ” column posted on this past weekend’s CT News junkie website.

Sarah Darer Littman reminded readers that while Governor Malloy and the corporate education reform industry are fond of claiming their reforms are all about the children, the reality is far from that.

Here piece traces the “education reformers” and their on-going effort to bringing Wall Street values to our local public schools.  Her column could also have been entitled, “Beware: Their preoccupation with data is destroying our schools.”

Littman reminds readers that President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recently said,

 “Data is an essential ingredient in the school reform agenda. We need to follow the progress of children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career to see whether they are on-track for success . . . I look forward to the day when we can look a child in the eye at the age of eight or nine or 10 and say, ‘You are on track to succeed in colleges and careers.’ . . . Data systems are a vital ingredient of a statewide reform system . . . Data can help us unleash the power of research to advance reform in every school and classroom in America. Data can help us identify the teachers and principals all across America who are producing miracles in the classroom every day . . . Data can help us identify outdated policies and practices that need to change so our children will succeed in school and in the workforce.”

And she added Bill Gates’ comment that,

“Aligning teaching with the common core — and building common data standards — will help us define excellence, measure progress, test new methods, and compare results. Finally, we will apply the tools of science to school reform.”

But then Littman turned to the real experts, the ones who actually understand that value and role of data.

In this case it was the American Statistical Association, one of the nation’s leading academic experts on the role of data and statistics.  The organization recently blasted the education reformers and their failure to recognize the very real problems associated with their junk science.

All of those who are fighting to save our schools should definitely read Sarah Darer Littman’s latest piece which can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_are_wall_street_values_right_for_schools/

When you read it, you’ll also find that Littman ended her column with a paragraph worth clipping and saving.  She wrote,

Teaching is a collaborative profession, something that the current administration and the billionaires who guide its actions don’t appear to understand. What’s more, as parents we want our children to receive a well-rounded education that prepares them not just to be “college and career ready” but to be life ready — to develop the critical thinking skills, the creativity, the social skills, and the ability to advocate for themselves that they’ll need as citizens in what’s left of our democracy post-Citizens United and McCutcheon. Perhaps that’s what the billionaires are afraid of?

Taxpayer funds continue to flow to out-of-state companies for Malloy’s “education reform” initiative

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Thanks to Governor Malloy and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor you can hear the wild cheering from the corporate education reform industry as millions of dollars in taxpayer funds continue to flow to out-of-state companies so that they can come here to tell Connecticut’s  teachers, administrators and public schools how to implement the Common Core and how to “improve.”

A partial list of Malloy’s Education Reform “winners” include;

LearnZillion Inc.
Cost to taxpayers:       $1,513,500

 

Task:  The Washington D.C. company is being paid $1.5 million by the Malloy administration to “Design and deliver professional learning for the implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCSS).”

BloomBloard Inc.
Cost to taxpayers:  $1,238,000

 

Task:  The California company was paid $1.2 million by the Malloy administration to provide “Strategic Initiatives Related to CT Educator Evaluation and Support system.”  The contract, which was funneled through the Connecticut Association of Schools, was supposed to be completed in 2013.  It is unclear whether the contract was extended.

MassInsight Inc.
Cost to taxpayers: $1.8 million and growing

 

Task:  The Massachusetts company is being paid $1.8 million by the Malloy administration to “Develop the state’s turnaround strategy and improve the most struggling schools.”  The contract was supposed to end on January 31, 2014, but on the day AFTER the contract ended, it was officially extended for another year, while doubling in cost.

And meanwhile, as parents and teachers know, Connecticut’s public schools are being turned into Common Core testing factories where the focus has now become preparing students for this inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test.

But the “less learning, more testing” mantra shouldn’t come as a surprise since it was Governor Malloy himself who said that he didn’t mind having teachers and schools teach to the test as long as test scores went up.

Happy Easter…

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And a belated happy Passover, Holi, Paryusan, Ostara and other spring holidays to all my readers.

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love! Chief Sitting Bull

May the longer days and brighter light bring everyone comfort, warmth and joy.

Today we rest and reflect, tomorrow we will begin anew. For as Khalil Gibran said,

Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.

In the meantime, here is a video that Diane Ravitch posted on her blog, www.dianeravitch.net this morning to remind us that beauty is found in many places;

Father Kelly of Ireland sings Hallelujah:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYKwqj5QViQ

Oh, and since the battle to take back our system of public education from the corporate education reform industry and their allies is always on our minds, lest we forget, it was Plutarch who wrote the following 2,000 years ago,

The very SPRING and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education.

Interestingly, Plutarch also said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”

 

Politicians pushing corporate education reform should be ashamed

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In her latest blog post, Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public education advocate provides us with yet another reminder about why politicians like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy should should be ashamed of what he has done to our public school teachers and our public schools…

Florida Teacher Donates $400 Bonus to NPE to Fight VAM and Ither Failed Reforms!

Kim Cook, a first-grade teacher in Florida, received a bonus of $400. She donated it to the Network for Public Education to fight the failed ideas of corporate reform, which prevail in her state.

She is the second teacher to donate their bonus to NPE to fight fake reforms that demean teachers and distort education. Not long ago, Kevin Strang, an instrumental music teacher from Florida, donated his $800 bonus, awarded because he teaches in a school that was rated A.

On behalf of NPE, we thank Kim and Kevin. We hope other teachers will follow their lead. We pledge to fight for you and to advance the day when non-educators and politicians stop meddling with your work and let you teach.

I asked Kim to tell me why she decided to do this. This was her reply:

“Hi Diane,

“Yes, I donated $400. I am a first grade teacher in Alachua County, Florida. I was inspired by Kevin Strang’s donation last month. I, too, received bonus money, not because I work at an “A” school, but because my school’s grade went from a “D” to a “C.”

“Here’s the catch: I don’t teach at the school that determines my school’s grade. I teach at Irby Elementary School in Alachua, Florida, which only serves grades K-2. My school’s grade is determined by students at the grade 3-5 school up the road.

“I have only been working at Irby Elementary for three years, so I have never met–never even passed in the hall–the fourth and fifth grade students whose FCAT scores determined my school’s grade. Even if I had, I completely disagree with high-stakes testing and tying teachers’ bonuses, salaries, and evaluations to those scores. I am donating my bonus money to NPE because I am fighting the failed policies of education “reformers” in every way that I can. Thank you for providing me an avenue through which to do that!

“Here is some background information on me. I am the Florida teacher that received an unsatisfactory evaluation based on students I had never taught at the same time I was named my school’s teacher of the year. My story made it into Valerie Strauss’ The Answer Sheet.

I am also the lead plaintiff in Florida Education Association/NEA’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of VAM.

With deep appreciation and respect,

Kim Cook

In Florida, as in Connecticut, politicians have tied teacher evaluation programs to standardized test scores and inappropriate and fault assessment schemes.

Take a moment to read the Florida teacher’s story because it is system that is pretty similar to one Governor Malloy pushed through here in Connecticut.  In fact, a strong argument could be made that the Connecticut’s system is even worse.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/12/03/a-value-added-travesty-for-an-award-winning-teacher/

Here’s the crazy story of Kim Cook, a teacher at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school which feeds into Alachua Elementary, for grades 3-5, just down the road in Alachua, Fla. She was recently chosen by the teachers at her school as their Teacher of the Year.

Her plight stems back to last spring when the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 736, which mandates that 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student scores on the state’s standardized tests, a method known as the value-added model, or VAM. It is essentially a formula that supposedly tells how much “value” a teacher has added to a student’s test score. Assessment experts say it is a terrible way to evaluate teachers but it has still been adopted by many states with the support of the Obama administration.

Since Cook’s school only goes through second grade, her school district is using the FCAT scores from the third graders at Alachua Elementary School to determine the VAM score for every teacher at her school.

Alachua Elementary School did not do well in 2011-12 evaluations that just came out; it received a D. Under the VAM model, the state awarded that school — and Cook’s school, by default — 10 points out of 100 for their D.

In this school district, there are three components to teacher evaluations:

1. A lesson study worth 20 percent. In the lesson study, small groups of teachers work together to create an exemplary lesson, observe one of the teachers implement it, critique the teacher’s performance and discuss improvement.

2. Principal appraisal worth 40 percent of overall score.

3. VAM data (scores from the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores for elementary schools) worth 40 percent of the overall score.

Cook received full points on her lesson study: 100 x .20 (20%) = 20 points
Cook received an 88/100 from her former principal: 88/100 x .40  (40%) = 35.2 points
On VAM data — points awarded by the state for the FCAT scores at Alachua Elementary School: 10/100 x .40 (40%) = 4 points

Total points that she received: 59.2 (Unsatisfactory)

This is her second year at Irby Elementary, where she teaches first grade. She never taught a single student who took the FCAT at Alachua Elementary last spring. The same will hold true for this year’s evaluation; 40 percent of her appraisal will be based on the scores of students she has never taught.

The Florida Education Association’s Web site says:

Every teacher will be evaluated using the new evaluation criteria and student learning growth. Veteran teachers must demonstrate Highly Effective or Effective performance; if they are rated unsatisfactory two consecutive or two out of three years, they will be placed on an annual contract then, if there is no improvement, terminated.

Here’s what Cook wrote to me in an e-mail:

I have almost 25 years of experience as a teacher. I JUST got my 2011-2012 evaluation on Friday. There is a real possibility that I will receive an unsatisfactory evaluation for this school year. I may go up to “needs improvement”, but either way, my job is in jeopardy.

Last month, the faculty and staff at my school voted for me as Irby Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year. I am so honored to have been chosen. I work with an amazing group of teachers. They are the most hardworking and talented group of women I have had the privilege to know. Yet every single teacher at my school received an evaluation of “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” because of this insane system that the Republican state legislators and Gov. [Rick] Scott dreamed up at the beckoning of Jeb Bush and ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council]. My colleagues and I deserve better than this.”

Corporate Education Reform Industry pours money into Malloy campaign operation

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Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is the most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic governor in the nation…And to see how appreciative the corporate education reform industry is, one need only look at Malloy’s campaign fundraising program which has already raised more than $100,000 from the anti-public education industry.

As a participant in Connecticut’s public financing system, candidate Malloy is only supposed to rely on the taxpayer dollars that he will receive as a qualified candidate for governor.  But thanks to a gigantic loophole in the law, the Malloy political operation has been raising money for the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee in order to augment the millions in public funds he will get to pay his campaign expenses.

By the end of February 2014, Malloy’s fundraising program had already collected more than $2.4 million into just one of the two accounts managed by the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Not surprisingly, Malloy has turned to the corporate funded pro-charter school, anti-teacher, anti-public education forces to help him raise record amounts of money.

The infamous Democrats for Education Reform, an anti-public education political action committee based in Washington D.C., has already provided Malloy with a check for $5,000.

Jonathan Sackler and his wife have donated a total of $36,000 to Malloy’s operation in just the past six months.  Sackler is the one who helped Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, create and expand Achievement First Inc., the large charter school management company.  Sackler was also a co-founder of the Connecticut charter school advocacy group ConnCAN and went on to create the national charter school advocacy group called 50 CAN.  When Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch tried to eliminate the democratically-elected board of education in that city, he turned to Sackler for a last-minute campaign donation of $50,000 to help pay for what proved to be his failed effort to undermine democracy.

Another nationally-recognized corporate education reform advocate to pour money into Malloy’s campaign is billionaire Stephen Mandel Jr.  Mandel, who was behind the creation of the corporate-funded education reform advocacy group, Excel Bridgeport, Inc., has already written two $10,000 checks for Malloy’s political activities.

Los Angeles, anti-public education billionaire Eli Broad has also gotten in on the act donating $8,000 to Malloy so far in this campaign cycle. Broad’s foundation is one of the three major national foundations funding the corporate education reform effort across the country.

And Sackler isn’t the only member of Achievement First Inc. and ConnCAN’s Board of Directors to have ponied up for Malloy.

To date, board members of these two Connecticut-based education reform groups have donated well in excess of $50,000 to Malloy’s political aspirations and that doesn’t even count another $50,000 that these same people dumped into another political action committee affiliated with Malloy.

So much for campaign contribution limits…and with Election Day still seven months away, we can be sure that Malloy will continue to cash in on his anti-public education agenda.

History Repeats Itself (Guest post by Alyce Roberts, Ed.D)

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One of the primary benefits of having an extraordinary group of readers is that they bring a wealth of knowledge and understanding to the debate. 

A growing number are stepping forward to comment on blog posts or offering up their own guest posts in the on-going effort to educate, persuade and mobilize teachers, parents, public school advocates and others to join us in our battle to push back the corporate education reform industry and take back control of our system of public education.

The following is just such a post.  In it, educator Alyce Roberts helps put the “Debate on National Standards and Standardized Testing in to context.”

History Repeats Itself: Context for the Current Debate on National Standards and Standardized Testing (By Alyce Roberts)

The Achievement Gap

The underachievement of minority adolescents remains one of the most discussed and studied phenomena in education.  According to a NAEP long-term trends report, the literacy achievement gap has been apparent since at least 1971, shortly after data collection began.  Black and Hispanic students in grade 12, on average, have the reading skills of 13-year-old White students.  Half of incoming 9th graders in urban, high-poverty schools read three years or more below grade level.  Without question, minority adolescents’ literacy needs are complex and demand attention.   One reason for the rise in literacy demands is globalization.

A Social/Political Response

The American educational system has a long history of neglecting to meet the needs of many of its students of diverse backgrounds.  Some contend that the primary purpose of school, as a social institution, has never been to provide a quality education to all.  (Until the 20th century, high school was mostly attended by a small number of White middle class and upper-middle class men.) 

Brown decision.  Efforts to bring equity into the education of minorities have not always turned out as anticipated.  The Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, for example, reversed a long-standing policy of separate but equal public schools.  Instead, schools reacted by putting a disproportionately high number of the nation’s minority children in special education.  Others were suspended, expelled, or attended public schools where teachers and the curriculum reflected a Eurocentric perspective.  Later, the social movements in the 1960s and 1970s raised awareness of the multicultural nature of American society.  Yet, despite protests, schools resisted and continued to impose the dominant culture on students, through teachers, curriculum, and daily school routines, showing little regard for differences in language or cultures.  Public schools traditionally have failed to meet the needs of many marginalized low income and minority students.

Neoliberal backlash.  Neoliberalism rose in the mid-twentieth century in an attempt to regain some of the power the ruling class lost to the working class, African Americans, and women during the rise of social democratic liberalism.  Neoliberalism contends that society works when individuals choose within competitive markets (like charter schools).  Further, it contends that social institutions, like schools, should exist to promote economic growth.  In practice, neoliberal policies often result in increased inequality with few provisions for public welfare.  The poor and working classes are often highly regulated, but corporations are only loosely regulated with conditions for accumulating wealth ensured.  For neoliberals, those in society who do not succeed are viewed as having made poor choices, which means society is not at fault and people have only themselves to blame.  Many assert that neoliberal political theory increasingly is influencing education policies.   

We have an educational system of testing and accountability whereby: (a) the curriculum is simplified and narrowed, (b) poorly devised tests lead to huge failure, and (c) students who score low are abandoned or pushed out of school.  Thus, it is not surprising the achievement gap for minority students has not only not narrowed, but, in fact, has grown since NCLB.  One must question whether reforms that emphasize high-stakes tests and accountability actually increase fairness and equality or, instead, use testing and accountability to portray public schools as failing and to push for privatizing education provided through competitive markets.  Evidence suggests that our education system is becoming more, not less unequal.    

Backlash Pedagogy.  Some have termed these neoliberal educational policies “backlash pedagogy,” arguing that it threatens the chances of educational achievement and social equity for large numbers of public school students of diverse backgrounds.  Historically, backlash practices have used race as a way to categorize and marginalize groups within the population.  White privilege and control are maintained through racial subjugation and inequality.  The status quo becomes a baseline for educational reform disguised as color-blindness.  The current educational backlash blames the educational crisis on teachers and on linguistically and culturally diverse and poor children.  Specifically, this backlash not only ignores the historical disparity people of color have experienced in our country; it preserves it.   

Educational policies derive from backlash politics and ideological and institutional structures that legitimize and maintain privilege, access, and control over the society, politics, and economics.  Backlash politics can be deliberate attempts to prevent changes in society or deceptive practices cloaked in the language of progress.  Backlash pedagogy attempts to erase differences that are known to affect learning and makes it more difficult for educators to implement what they know to be effective, culturally responsive practices.  Over the last 20 years, culturally responsive approaches to teaching have been marginalized and, instead, standardized curricula and teaching practices along with standardized testing have been put in place.  These neoliberal reforms are counter to culturally relevant and responsive instruction. 

Equity in Education

The current preoccupation with standardizing curricula and measuring output will have further negative consequences for students of diverse backgrounds who are already seriously cheated by the system.  These standards and assessments put pressure on school districts to standardize and emphasize prescribed content at the expense of other concerns.  Among the consequences of NCLB are a narrowed curriculum, a focus on low-level skills, inappropriate assessment of students with special needs and ELLs, and incentives to exclude low-scoring students to meet test score targets.  

Education should not allow the demands of globalization or the drive for a standardized curriculum and testing to derail efforts in how minority students are taught.  Moreover, education cannot allow the lure of a global society and global citizenship to diminish the need to take care of social justice issues closer to home that, to date, have never been adequately addressed.  It is imperative that schools provide equity in education for all students.  A hundred years ago, Helen Todd, a child- labor inspector in Chicago, wrote, “Would it not be possible to adapt this child . . . less to education, and to adapt education more to the child?”  For our students of diverse backgrounds, it is time we did.

Alyce Roberts, Ed.D has served as an English teacher in the Hartford Public school system for 13 years.    Before that Alyce had a successful career in the insurance field working for four major insurance companies in the Northeast.

Charter Company: We’re from the Bronx, NY and we are here to help

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When it comes to Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the corporate education reform industry, perhaps the most absurd, inappropriate, insulting, and anti-local control privatization scheme is playing itself out in Stamford, Connecticut.

Fellow pro-public education advocate columnist Wendy Lecker lays out the facts about Bronx Charter School for Excellence effort to open a charter school in Stamford and the help they are getting from Commissioner Pryor’s office and Connecticut’s lobbying group dedicated to privatizing Connecticut’s system of public education.

As parents, teachers and pro-public education allies have learned, these ongoing efforts to undermine public education are not coming from some wing-nut Teabag Republican but from Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his band of corporate education reform industry supporters.

This week Wendy Lecker lays out the stunning facts in a Stamford Advocate column entitled, Charter school pitch not about helping community.

Wendy Lecker’s MUST READ piece follows,

Since my column appears in several papers, I was asked, when I started, not to write about Stamford. This week, I am writing about an application by Bronx Charter School for Excellence (BSCE) to open a school in Stamford.

But this is not about Stamford.

If this were about Stamford, BCSE would have taken care to describe Stamford in its application. Instead, it describes a city where, compared to its neighbors Darien, New Canaan, Westport and Greenwich, “racial isolation prevails.” You read that right — the application claims that compared to those predominately wealthy, white towns, Stamford is racially and economically isolated.

Not only is Stamford wonderfully diverse, our community has a proud commitment to integrated schools. For more than 40 years, Stamford has maintained its “10 percent rule,” requiring that our schools reflect the demographics of the community, plus or minus 10 percent. When our schools fall out of balance, we redistrict — a public and sometimes painful process. For our magnet schools, we long ago abandoned a “blind lottery” because we found that a lottery without demographic controls segregates. Decades of research and experience in schools across the nation confirm our experience.

BCSE plans to specifically target our children of color and low-income children and insists on admission by blind lottery. It completely discounts the research and Stamford’s experience, which almost guarantees that this school will be segregated.

But this is not about Stamford.

Stamford strives to serve all its more than 16,000 children — with little help from the state, which owes Stamford’s children millions of dollars in state education aid. Stamford’s school budget is almost 90 percent local money.

BCSE seeks about $4 million in state taxpayer dollars to serve at most 392 children, from pre-K through fifth grade. If this had been about Stamford, someone might have asked what Stamford needs.

But this is not about Stamford.

If this were about Stamford, BSCE would realize that its claim it will “eradicate” our achievement gap is empty. BCSE struggles with a large achievement gap in its own small school, and offers no educational practices that Stamford does not already do. The difference is that Stamford serves all children — not just a handful.

It is no wonder BCSE gets it all wrong. No one in BCSE bothered to learn about Stamford before completing the application. The entire process was conducted without consultation with or even notice to anyone in Stamford.

In November 2013, without informing Stamford, charter school chain founder and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor directed former charter school principal and State Department of Education “turnaround” director Morgan Barth to solicit charter applications targeting Stamford and select other cities.

BCSE prepared its application without contacting the superintendent, mayor or parent groups, and without visiting Stamford public schools. SDE scheduled a local hearing about this application with no notice to Stamford, during Stamford’s school vacation.

When the superintendent received the application, in February, she, the mayor and members of the Board of Education protested SDE’s lack of notice. In response, SDE postponed the hearing by three weeks. Only then did BCSE reach out to Stamford officials.

BCSE also held a well-advertised dinner the Saturday before the hearing. About five people showed up, three of whom were not supporters of the charter application. Had this been about Stamford, BCSE would have understood that Stamford parents are not interested in their version of “choice.”

But this is not about Stamford.

So, BCSE bused in parents, teachers and students from the Bronx to tell the state representatives at a local hearing that Stamford parents “need” this school.

Of the more than 50 people who spoke at the hearing, only one resident of Stamford spoke in favor of the application. A charter lobbyist read a supportive statement from another absent resident. The rest, Stamford parents, Board of Education members, community leaders and the mayor spoke in opposition to the application. The diverse Stamford community explained that this school is not what we need nor want.

But this is not about what Stamford needs or wants. This is about a charter school setting itself up to look good — receiving a hefty sum of state dollars for classes of 16 children, starting in pre-K, so it does not have to submit to state testing until 2018, well after it will be a “done deal.”

This is about ignoring community needs, community experience and community values.

When someone comes here pushing a school that does not reflect our commitment to equity and integration, we know — it is not about Stamford.

You can read column and Wendy Lecker’s other pieces via http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Charter-school-pitch-not-about-helping-5338987.php and by searhing www.stamfordadvocate.com

 

Malloy full steam ahead on Common Core, Common Core Testing and “education reforms”

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Just over a month ago, Governor Malloy took the the microphone to announce his election year effort to persuade teachers, parents and public school advocates to overlook his three years of failed education policies and throw their support behind his re-election aspirations.

In essence, Malloy said, “I hear you and we’ll wait until after I’m re-elected” to proceed with some of our efforts to undermine Connecticut’s public education system.

But proving, yet again, that action speaks louder than words, Malloy has been pushing full steam ahead with some of the worst aspects of  his corporate education reform industry agenda.

A re-cap of Wait, What? posts from the weekend are a shocking reminder that Malloy has the habit of saying one thing and doing another.

Posts to read include,

Malloy Administration: Clark Elementary Parents – You must accept Friendship Charter School or else

Parents, teachers and the community that makes up Hartford’s Clark Elementary School in Hartford are still reeling from the Malloy Administration’s threat that the Clark “Turnaround Committee” must agree to turn their local Hartford neighborhood school over to Washington D.C.’s Friendship Charter School Inc or else they won’t get the funds necessary to improve their school.

But there is much that Clark School parents and the Clark School community have not been told.

This development comes despite a state law that requires an inclusive “turnaround” process in which parents, teachers, school officials and community members are supposed to play the primary role in deciding the future of their local school.

The Malloy Administration’s plan to force the “Clark School Turnaround Plan” to hand the day-to-day operation of the Hartford elementary school over to Friendship Public Charter School Inc. first came to light in a February 10, 2014 Wait, What? article entitled, “NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain (2/10/14).

 

The Brave New World of being ‘College and Career Ready (By Sarah Darer Littman)

One of the oft-stated goals of education reform is to ensure that students are “college and career ready.” Like “excellence,” it’s probably one of the most over-used phrases in the education reform movement.

But as I’ve asked before,  what does this phrase really mean? Do our policy makers even know?

Judging by their actions of late, I’m starting to think they don’t.

On March 18, the window opens for field tests of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the computer-based adaptive test that will go live next year to replace the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT).

SBAC, or the Smarter Balanced Consortium, is one of the two consortiums that states have signed up with to develop new assessment systems for the Common Core State Standards. Funded by a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (which runs out in September of this year), SBAC claims its system “will measure mastery of the Common Core State Standards and provide timely information about student achievement and progress toward college and career readiness.”

But there’s a slight catch. They haven’t yet defined “college and career ready.”

“The Consortium also will establish performance benchmarks that define the level of content and skill mastery that marks students as college- and career-ready. These performance benchmarks will be determined through a deliberative and evidence-based standard-setting process, which will include input from K-12 educators and college and university faculty,” the website says. “Preliminary performance standards will be established in 2014 after student data have been collected through pilot and field testing. Following the Field Test in spring 2014, the Consortium will conduct standard setting for the summative assessments in grades 3-8 and grade 11 in ELA/literacy and mathematics. These performance standards will be validated in July/August 2015 using spring 2015 operational data.”

So basically the people who are pushing Common Core — Mssrs. Gates, Obama, Duncan et al, need our kids to be lab rats for this project, while their kids are safely ensconced in private schools, immune from such pedestrian concerns.

What does being an unpaid test subject for SBAC entail exactly?

Sarah Darer Littman’s entire piece can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/the_brave_new_world_of_being_college_and_career_ready/

 

A crisis of low standards” (By Wendy Lecker)

Not poverty. Not inadequate resources. Not toxic stress. Not segregation. According to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, low standards are the cause of America’s educational disparities.

The solution, he maintains, is national standards, the Common Core State Standards, and the accompanying national tests.

“For far too long,” Duncan declared, “our school systems lied to kids, to families, and to communities.

They said the kids were all right — that they were on track to being successful — when in reality they were not even close.” Duncan claimed states’ low standards made “educators, administrators and especially politicians” look good but did not prepare students for the rigors of college work.

Before the Common Core, according to Duncan, high school success was a “lie” — it certainly did not mean that students were “college ready.”

What a compelling, but false, narrative. A new peer-reviewed longitudinal nationwide study confirmed that the most reliable predictor of cumulative college GPA and college graduation is a student’s high school GPA.

Read the Wendy Lecker’s entire piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-A-crisis-of-low-standards-5298374.php

Who is behind the effort to destroy Hartford’s Clark Elementary School?

Clark Elementary School’s parents, teachers and community have a right to know what is really going on behind the scenes in the ongoing effort to stifle parental involvement and hand Clark over to an out-of-state charter school company.

The corporate education reform industry has targeted Clark, but who exactly is pushing these unfair, discriminatory proposals that seek to take over the school, fire all the teachers and hand control of the school over to those who have no understanding of the community?

It is time to find out,

Pursuant to  the Connecticut Freedom of Information act, the proponents of this Clark takeover need to produce any and all memos, documents, notes, emails and attachments that have been sent, received or produced over the last 60 days and relate to the Clark Elementary School.

If elected and appointed officials won’t do the right thing for the Clark community then at least the community deserves to know the deals that have been cut behind the scenes.

This Freedom of Information request will cover Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Morgan Barth, Pryor “Turnaround Director” and Andrew Ferguson, Pryor and Barth’s point person on the effort to destroy Clark.

In addition FOI requests are being submitted for the same information from Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Hartford Portfolio Director Oliver Barton.

Clark parents should refuse to engage in further discussion until these materials are handed over.

The request for these documents are being submitted today, it will be noteworthy to see if Malloy administration and the City of Hartford fulfill their legal duty and hand over the requested information in a timely fashion.

The two “MUST READ” columns of the weekend

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Fellow pro-pubic education advocates and commentators have done it again – with two more MUST READ pieces.

Sarah Darer Littman with “The Brave New World of being ‘College and Career Ready

and

Wendy Lecker with “A crisis of low standards

Wendy Lecker writes,

Not poverty. Not inadequate resources. Not toxic stress. Not segregation. According to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, low standards are the cause of America’s educational disparities. The solution, he maintains, is national standards, the Common Core State Standards, and the accompanying national tests.

“For far too long,” Duncan declared, “our school systems lied to kids, to families, and to communities. They said the kids were all right — that they were on track to being successful — when in reality they were not even close.” Duncan claimed states’ low standards made “educators, administrators and especially politicians” look good but did not prepare students for the rigors of college work.

Before the Common Core, according to Duncan, high school success was a “lie” — it certainly did not mean that students were “college ready.”

What a compelling, but false, narrative. A new peer-reviewed longitudinal nationwide study confirmed that the most reliable predictor of cumulative college GPA and college graduation is a student’s high school GPA.

Read the Wendy Lecker’s entire piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-A-crisis-of-low-standards-5298374.php

 

Sarah Darer Littman writes;

One of the oft-stated goals of education reform is to ensure that students are “college and career ready.” Like “excellence,” it’s probably one of the most over-used phrases in the education reform movement.

But as I’ve asked before,  what does this phrase really mean? Do our policy makers even know? Judging by their actions of late, I’m starting to think they don’t.

On March 18, the window opens for field tests of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the computer-based adaptive test that will go live next year to replace the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT).

SBAC, or the Smarter Balanced Consortium, is one of the two consortiums that states have signed up with to develop new assessment systems for the Common Core State Standards. Funded by a four-year, $175 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education (which runs out in September of this year), SBAC claims its system “will measure mastery of the Common Core State Standards and provide timely information about student achievement and progress toward college and career readiness.”

But there’s a slight catch. They haven’t yet defined “college and career ready.”

“The Consortium also will establish performance benchmarks that define the level of content and skill mastery that marks students as college- and career-ready. These performance benchmarks will be determined through a deliberative and evidence-based standard-setting process, which will include input from K-12 educators and college and university faculty,” the website says. “Preliminary performance standards will be established in 2014 after student data have been collected through pilot and field testing. Following the Field Test in spring 2014, the Consortium will conduct standard setting for the summative assessments in grades 3-8 and grade 11 in ELA/literacy and mathematics. These performance standards will be validated in July/August 2015 using spring 2015 operational data.”

So basically the people who are pushing Common Core — Mssrs. Gates, Obama, Duncan et al, need our kids to be lab rats for this project, while their kids are safely ensconced in private schools, immune from such pedestrian concerns.

What does being an unpaid test subject for SBAC entail, exactly?

Sarah Darer Littman’s entire piece can be found at:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/the_brave_new_world_of_being_college_and_career_ready/

As Wait, What? readers know, Wendy and Sarah are playing the pivotal role in the battle against the corporate education reform industry and in the on-going effort to re-take control of our public education system.

Please take the time to read these two key commentary pieces.

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