Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Robert Cotto Jr. Achievement First Inc., Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Fuse, Robert Cotto Jr
Show Me The (Charter Management Fee) Money!
Robert Cotto Jr. is one of Connecticut’s leading educate advocates, an elected member of the Hartford Board of Education and part of the Educational Studies program at Trinity College.
In his recent CT Newsjunkie commentary piece entitled, Show Me The (Charter Management Fee) Money! Cotto lays bare the truth about the charter school industry is taking Connecticut’s taxpayers for a ride while diverting scarce public funds from Connecticut’s real public education system.
Robert Cotto writes;
When traditional schools pay their bills to educate kids, they usually don’t have much money, if any, remaining. When charter schools pay their bills, they often have money left over to spend. How much? It depends on the school. For a number of charter schools, roughly 10 percent of all of public dollars meant for educating children in these schools go to pay fees for private companies called “charter management organizations.” That’s a problem.
Connecticut law states that a charter management organization (CMO), “means any entity that a charter school contracts with for educational design, implementation or whole school management services.” These CMOs claim that they are private corporations, not public agencies. Organizations that claim to be CMOs in Connecticut include Achievement First; Capital Preparatory Schools; DOMUS, and Jumoke/FUSE, which is now defunct. It’s often hard to tell the difference between the CMO and the charter schools they manage.
Roughly 10 percent of a charter school’s budget can go toward management fees. For example, the New Haven-based CMO called Achievement First charged Achievement First-Hartford Charter School a $1.14 million management fee in 2013-14. The state provided Achievement First-Hartford charter schools more than $11 million to operate. So about 10 percent of that state funding went to Achievement First the CMO, not the charter school in Hartford, which ended the year with a surplus.
For every $100 dollars the public spends on this charter school, the CMO called Achievement First gets $10 off the top.
Multiply this fee by the four Achievement First charter schools in Connecticut, and Achievement First Inc., the CMO, walks away with about $4.45 million in fees.
Instead of operating schools as public responsibilities, CMOs operate charter schools as moneymaking arrangements, almost like fast-food franchises. Companies like Subway Inc. charge local franchises a fee for services ranging from start-up, food supplies, to signage. This is how Subway makes a profit.
The CMOs could be spending this money on millions of dollars in No. 2 pencils, helping to buy foot-long Subway sandwiches at lobbying events, or paying for student field trips to rally for more charter school money. It’s just unclear.
To fully appreciate how Connecticut’s taxpayers are being ripped off by charter school companies, read Robert Cotto’s entire article at:
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Education Reform, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Michael Sharpe, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Fuse, Jumoke at Milner, Michael Sharpe, Steven Adamowksi, Turnaround School, Wendy Lecker
Education Advocate Wendy Lecker has another column out and it is once again in the “MUST READ” category.
Her latest piece is part one of a multi-series takedown of those who use fiction rather than facts to fancifully present the term “school turnaround” as if it was a magic bullet.
This particular chapter begins with the Can Can Team from ConnCAN who recently performed a dog and pony show for Connecticut state legislators where they crowed about the “success” of various “school turnaround” projects.
Using their traditional corporate education reform rhetoric, rather than facts, the charter school front group performed magic that would have made a “three card Monte” aficionado proud. [Three card Monte being a card trick in which the mark can’t win because trick cards are used.]
The well-documented corporate education reform failures of New Orleans and Philadelphia were incredibly heralded as successes and that was before they got out their shovels and really started throwing IT around.
Here is Wendy Lecker’s latest MUST READ commentary piece, which first appeared in the Stamford Advocate.
Failure as a model for Connecticut (By Wendy Lecker)
A recent large-scale federal study revealed that most states lack expertise to turn around struggling schools and are rarely successful. It’s no wonder. Legislators who write turnaround laws never turn to the experts: educators. Connecticut is no exception. Last month, the General Assembly’s Education Committee held a day-long session on school turnarounds. Instead of relying on education experts, it turned to ConnCan, the charter lobby known for its evidence-free reports that push one agenda: Taking power away from school districts to pave the way for privatization.
ConnCan brought in three examples of turnaround to push the idea that the key to success is handing schools or entire districts over to outside operators.
The most startling choice for a presentation was Hartford’s Milner school. Recall that Milner was one of the first commissioner’s network schools. Milner suffered through a failed turnaround in 2008 under then-Superintendent Steven Adamowski. It also had a persistent and severe lack of resources. Rather than providing Milner the necessary resources, the State Board of Education decided to turn it around again in 2012, handing it over to Michael Sharpe’s FUSE/Jumoke charter chain. FUSE/Jumoke had no experience educating ELL students, which made up a large part of Milner’s population. After the revelations of Sharpe’s criminal record and falsified academic credentials, it came to light that FUSE/Jumoke ran Milner school into the ground, hiring ex-convicts, relatives and “winging” the takeover, as Sharpe admitted — all while supposedly under heightened scrutiny by state officials.
Milner’s principal under this takeover, Karen Lott, told Milner’s story. She admitted that this fall, only 13 percent of Milner’s students scored proficient in ELA and an even more shocking 7 percent were proficient in math. She said although they are in the fourth year of the Commissioner’s Network, she is treating this as the first year. Amazing! No public school would be allowed to fail for three years, then magically erase its poor track record.
She blamed the school’s poor performance on several things. First, there was high staff turnover at the school: 85 percent of teachers now have 0-3 years’ experience teaching. This is mind-boggling, as staff turnover was not only the result of the state takeover but one of its goals. Lott spoke of the need now to “aggressively recruit” veteran teachers. Like the ones Jumoke-Milner pushed out in the first place? She also stated that now she is relying on teacher training and mentoring from Hartford Public Schools.
Lott further explained that under Jumoke there was no curriculum. She is now using the Hartford Public Schools curriculum and assessments.
Lott also emphasized that community supports are necessary for children to achieve. She said families need stable housing and mental health services, parents need job training and the neighborhood needs to be safe and clean. Imagine that — poverty affects learning. If this were a public school educator saying these things, ConnCan would condemn her for using poverty as an excuse.
Lott detailed the steps she was now taking beyond the Hartford curriculum, assessments, training and mentoring. She acknowledged that a centerpiece of her efforts is a large increase in resources. Milner now has a full-time therapeutic clinician and after-school programs. Hartford Public Schools re-opened its budget to provide the school will more computers. Central office also allowed Milner to have two half-days a month, so teachers get additional professional development. Lott also said she now implements Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, a system used by many public schools.
To her credit, Lott seems to be focusing on proven methods of helping students: extra academic and social support for at-risk children, training, mentoring and support for teachers, and adequate school resources. What must be stressed is that none of these ideas are innovative. Nor do any of these resources require takeover by an outside operator. They are tools schools either already use or have been pleading for. The lack of these resources is a basis for Connecticut’s school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell.
Lott contended that what she needed is more time, more resources and more autonomy. Schools need time and resources to improve. The claim for autonomy, however, is puzzling, given she is relying on central office for curriculum, assessments, training, mentoring and special treatment so she can get resources other schools do not have.
Lott’s message is — perhaps unintentionally — the opposite of the one ConnCan is pushing. Schools do not need takeover or turnaround. Just give struggling schools time, support and resources to do what everyone already knows helps kids learn.
You can read and comment on Wendy’s original piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Failure-as-a-model-for-Connecticut-6267220.php
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Educators 4 Excellence, Excel Bridgeport Inc., FaithActs for Education, Families for Excellent Schools, Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Jennifer Alexander, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Public Square Partnerships, Sarah Darer Littman, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Teach for America Capital Prep Charter School, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, FaithActs for Education, Families for Excellent Schools, Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Jennifer Alexander, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Sarah Darer Littman, Steve Perry, TFA, the Coalition for Every Child
Here we go again… Yet another faux education advocacy group appears unwilling or unable to follow Connecticut’s ethics laws.
The number of corporate funded education reform and charter school front groups in Connecticut is popping up faster than the buds appear during a warm spring week and these groups seem virtually incapable of adhering to Connecticut’s ethics and lobbying laws.
You may need to read this post a few times to follow the bouncing ball…
It was just a few weeks ago that CT News Junkie columnist Sarah Darer Littman wrote a scathing column on the ethics problems associated with the New York based corporate education reform industry group called Families for Excellent Schools and its subsidiary, and entity called the Coalition for Every Child.
In the piece entitled, Are Charter Advocacy Groups Skirting CT Ethics Laws?, Darer Littman laid out the facts surrounding the Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child controversy.
The well-financed charter school advocacy group is the organization that is paying for the television ads promoting Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed state budget that makes historic cuts to public education while dramatically increasing funding for charter schools.
The group was also one of the sponsors of this week’s pro-charter school rally at the State Capitol that featured Malloy.
As the Hartford Courant reported, charter school students and parents were bused in to Hartford from as far away as Boston and New York City in an attempt to persuade Connecticut legislators to divert even more money so that Steve Perry could open a charter school in Bridgeport and a Bronx charter school chain could open up a charter school in Stamford.
As Sarah Darer Littman explained, not only had Families for Excellent Schools run into ethics issues in New York, but they were failing to report activities and expenditures here in Connecticut.
Now it looks like another new charter school advocacy group called “FaithActs for Education” is failing to report its lobbying related activities as required under state law – violations that should be met with thousands of dollars in fines.
Although FaithActs for Education was rolled out on February 15, 2015 in a well-scripted press conference featuring Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and a number of Bridgeport ministers, the corporation called FaithActs for Education was actually formed in October 2014.
As the Connecticut Post reported in February, “With the public backing of Mayor Bill Finch, a faith-based education advocacy group, FaithActs for Education, conducted its first meeting on Monday declaring a dedication ‘to improving education for all children in Bridgeport, no matter what type of school they attend.’”
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who participated in the event said,
“We know where we are and where we need to go. FaithActs for Education will help us to become even more of a force to be reckoned with.”
In addition to supporting Governor Malloy’s education reform agenda and Mayor Bill Finch, as he faces a difficult re-election campaign, FaithActs for Education’s immediate work has been to support Steve Perry’s plan to open a publicly funded, but privately owned and operated charter school in Bridgeport.
According to a press release issued by FaithActs for Education, the entity is led by,
- Reverend William McCullough, Pastor, Russell Temple CME Church
- Bishop John P. Diamond, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Faith,
- Reverend Janene Hawkins, Pastor, Walters Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church,
- Reverend Carl McCluster, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church,
- Reverend Cass Shaw, President & CEO, Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport,
- Reverend Jeremy L. Williams, Pastor, West End Tabernacle CME Church.
- In addition, the infamous Reverend Kenneth Moales, Pastor, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is also playing a role with the group.
The organization’s chairman, Reverend McCullough, along with Reverend Moales and Reverend McCluster are all listed as original members of the Governing Council of Steve Perry’s new charter school in Bridgeport and all have been engaged in lobbying the State Board of Education and the General Assembly on Perry’s behalf.
Although we’re led to believe that FaithActs for Education is a homegrown group of religious leaders working to promote educational opportunities for all of Bridgeport’s children, the real story is very different.
According to the incorporation papers filed with the Secretary of the State, FaithActs for Education Inc. was created by Jamilah Prince-Stewart, who now serves as the entity’s Executive Director.
At the time of incorporation she served as the Director of Community Engagement for ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading charter school lobby group. In addition, FaithActs’ Director of Operations and Programs left her position as Special Projects Manager at ConnCAN to join the new advocacy group.
At the February 2015 press conference to roll out FaithActs for Education, both ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander and former ConnCAN CEO Alex Johnson were in attendance.
In addition to their lobbying work with ConnCAN, Alexander and Johnson were the individuals who formed A Better Connecticut, Inc. yet another education reform industry front group that spent more than $2 million on television ads during the year before the last gubernatorial election to “thank” Governor Malloy for his “leadership” on behalf of the corporate education reform agenda.
FaithActs’ initial press conference was orchestrated by the new group’s spokesman, Bob Bellafiore.
As public education advocate Maria Pereira noted at the time, Bellafiore is the founder of Stanhope Partners, an Albany PR firm that works for the charter school industry.
Before setting up his own company, he served as a Vice President of National Heritage Academies, a for-profit charter chain that owns and operates 75 charter schools in nine states, making it the third largest for-profit charter school company in the United States.
Just last year, National Heritage Academies made national news when it was discovered that it was charging one of its’ Brooklyn charter schools $2.3 million in rent per year even though it was leasing the property for much less.
Meanwhile, back in Bridgeport, FaithActs for Education purports to be a, “grassroots organizing nonprofit based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We exist to help faith leaders and their congregations step outside their place of worship to advocate for improved educational opportunities for their own children and the children of Bridgeport.”
The organization’s rhetoric goes on to say that, “created as a 501(c)3 Foundation,” FaithActs receives funding from various foundations and individuals, although, to date, it has failed to reveal which foundations or individuals are underwriting the organization’s lobbying and advocacy activities.
FaithActs for Education also shares an address with Educators 4 Excellence, another corporate funded advocacy group that claims to speak for teachers who are opposed to tenure and other collective bargaining rights. (See Wait, What? Post Educators 4 Excellence – Because teachers NEED their own “Education Reform” front group)
But even if all of that wasn’t indicative enough of the power and inter-relationship of the corporate education reform industry, there is more….
According to the incorporation papers filed with the Secretary of the State’s Office, FaithActs for Education’s agent of service is its Executive Director, Jamilah Prince-Stewart.
However, rather than recording the organization’s actual physical office in Bridgeport for corporate related service issues, the official corporate filing lists the following;
FAITHACTS FOR EDUCATION,
C/O PUBLIC SQUARE PARTNERSHIP,
1730 COMMERCE DRIVE #706 SUITE C,
BRIDGEPORT, CT, 06605
Public Square Partnerships is a relatively new company whose agent of service is none-other-than Nate Snow, the Director of Teach for America’s Connecticut Chapter. Snow also serves as President of Excel Bridgeport Inc., another Bridgeport based charter school advocacy group that had its own run-in with the Connecticut Ethics Commission when it failed to register with the Office of State Ethics despite the fact that it was lobbying state government in favor of Governor Malloy’s illegal takeover of the Bridgeport School System.
Excel Bridgeport, Inc., along with Steve Perry supporter, Reverend Kenneth Moales, were the biggest supporters of education reform guru Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s inappropriately certified superintendent who was forced to leave after two years. Vallas being best known for “charterizing” the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans schools system before being recruited by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, to “save” Bridgeport.
Although based in Bridgeport, Public Square Partnership not only lists TFA Director Nate Snow as its agent, but they use Teach for America’s New Haven office address as their official agent of service.
According to their website, Public Square Partnerships “focuses its investments on innovative change efforts that have attained tangible results for children attending schools in high-need communities or that have the potential to do so for sustainable and scalable impact.”
The company adds, “We partner with education organizations that develop educators, schools, and engage parents and community members in creating high-quality schools.”
Public Square Partnerships further reports that in its first year of operation, the company had contracts to help five schools in Bridgeport and New Haven, three of which were public schools and two were charter schools.
Among its clients, we are told, are the new Booker T. Washington Charter School Academy in New Haven and the Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport.
While Nate Snow serves as the Agent of Service for Public Square Partnerships, the President and CEO of the company is Diane Robinson who has spent the last twenty years working for the massive KIPP Charter School chain and Teacher for America.
The company’s Chief Operating Officer most recently worked as a Deputy Chief Portfolio Officer with the New York City Department of Education and before that was with the Washington DC Public Schools system.
The company’s third employee comes to Connecticut via the large education reform industry consulting firm called Schoolworks.
While more and more of the pieces of the puzzle come into view, the one thing that is absolutely clear is that there are a whole lot of organizations, spending a whole lot of money to further Governor Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-public school and anti-teacher education reform agenda.
Education Reform, Wait What? Bloomberg Philanthropies, Broad Foundation, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Wait, Wait What?, Walton Foundation
Yesterday a number of corporate funded charter school advocacy groups joined Governor Dannel Malloy in support of his plan to dramatically increase charter school funding while making historic cuts to funding for public schools.
For coverage see: The Hartford Courant’s Charter School Lobbying: Where Is Money Coming From? and CT Mirror’s Aggressive charter school campaign descends on the Capitol.
Anyway you look at it, the corporate education reform industry has deep pockets.
Just last September, Peter Cunningham, the former PR guy for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, rolled out a new organization called Education Post.
The cornerstone of the project is a pro-corporate education reform industry blog called The Conversation, its purpose being to counter the work of Diane Ravitch and the more than 230 other pro-public education bloggers around the nation.
The initial grants to get the new pro-common core, pro-charter school, pro-education reform effort off the ground totaled at least $12 million. The money came from the Eli Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation and a generous anonymous donor.
At the time, the president of the Broad Foundation, Richard Reed, explained to the Washington Post that,
“The idea for Education Post originated with his organization but that other philanthropic groups had recognized the need years ago.
‘We had a shared disappointment in the tenor of the debate,’ said Reed, a former chief of staff to Vice President Biden and former chief executive of the Democratic Leadership Council.”
Reed went on to add that the new blog was stepping in to help support the discussion surrounding education policy because,
“Administrators, school leaders and teachers have papers to grade, schools to run, and they don’t have time to get out and talk about this…This is an effort to help spread information about what works both inside the field and outside.”
Howard Wolfson, who served as a co-chief strategist to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and a senior adviser to Ned Lamont’ senate campaign in Connecticut is also an adviser to Bloomberg Philanthropies. Discussing the purpose of the new education reform blog, Wolfson said,
“There hasn’t really been an organization dedicated to sharing the successes of education reform around the country…You have local success, but it isn’t amplified elsewhere. And there is a lot of success. There is also an awful lot of misperception around what ed reform is, and there hasn’t been an organization . . . focused on correcting those misimpressions.”
Here in Connecticut, charter school advocates have, from time to time, raised the questions about who funds Wait, What?
Last year a pro-charter school blogger wrote, “How Much Money Does Jon Pelto Really Make for Attacking School Principals?” The blogger added,
“Who does Jon Pelto think he’s kidding?
When Rick Green over at the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog asked Pelto who pays the bills, the not-precisely-accurate ex-politician’s response was laughable.
“Pelto said he raises about $7,000 annually to pay for his blog,” Green wrote.
Don’t believe it for a second. No fewer than three times a day, seven days a week, Pelto posts haranguing attacks on our governor, education commissioner, school superintendents and principals.
Each one of those posts is hundreds, sometimes thousands of words in length.
And he does it for free? Yeah, excuse me while I have a laughing fit in the corner.
For example, when Pelto was lamely and ineffectually attacking principal and magnet school founder Steve Perry for sending tweets, he decided that Perry’s tweeting had cost the city “well in excess of $10,000.”
How he arrived at that figure, no one knows. But now that he’s made it up, he repeats it as fact every chance he gets.”
Now that it turns out that a blog dedicated to promoting the education reform industry received $12 million in grants just to get going, I can certainly appreciate the Connecticut bloggers disbelief that there are people out here who actually care enough to write about education policy and politics without making hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But the truth is that Wait, What? – like all the individual pro-public education blogs that I know of – receive no funding at all, or, at best, collect small contributions from readers.
Over the past year, Wait, What? has received about $10,000 and, for the record, none of that money came from unions, political action committees or other advocacy groups.
Not that I would turn down contributions from people who like and support the blog and its mission, but truth be told, the anti-common core, anti-common core testing and anti-Governor Malloy posts have apparently made the blog somewhat of a pariah when it comes to the attitude of the national and state teachers’ unions.
Note to self: “If you want to collect donations from teachers’ unions, don’t criticize them and definitely don’t criticize the candidates they support.”
That said, towing the “party line” probably wouldn’t have resulted in a $12 million donation.
In any case, although the notion of making big bucks is very tempting, if readers ever type in the Wait, What? website url and the site is shut down, you still probably won’t find me writing for the education reform industry’s blog — The Conversation — although even a fraction of that $12 million would go a long way toward paying the bills.
And remember, As George Orwell said,
In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Oh and if you do want to contribute to Wait, What? click on the following link;
Connecticut State Department of Education, Education Reform, Foundations of Reading Survey, Malloy, Pearson Education Inc., State Board of Education Connecticut Department of Education, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Foundations of Reading Survey, Pearson Education Inc., State Board of Education
If you are a K-3 teacher who has taken Connecticut’s new Foundations of Reading test you know something has gone very wrong.
The new Foundations of Reading test is made up of 85 multiple choice questions addressing “3 subareas and 9 objectives.” The Connecticut State Department of Education writes that the goal of the test is to measure where K-3 teachers are properly prepared in “(I) Foundations of Reading Development, (2) Development of Reading Comprehension and (3) Reading Assessment and Instruction.
The monstrous Pearson Education Inc. was hired by Governor Malloy’s State Department of Education to design a Connecticut specific test so that the state could measure and determine the capabilities of all Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers.
However, according to a significant number of people who have taken or seen Pearson’s Connecticut “Foundations of Reading” test many of the questions relate to teaching children older than third grade or children who require English Language assistance. If true, this is a perplexing and jarring development considering the state law was only intended to measure the practices directly related to teaching reaching in K-3.
In addition, many of those taking the new K-3 reading test report that the actual “ready survey” is completely different than the practice tests that the State Department of Education had been urging teachers to take in preparation for taking the new exam.
As more and more reports come from teachers who have actually taken the test, the question now arises as to whether the state paid the Pearson Company for a Connecticut specific test, but has been given something completely different.
Since corporate education reform industry groupie Dannel Malloy was elected governor of Connecticut, Pearson Inc. has collected just over $3 million and counting from the taxpayers of the state of Connecticut.
Some of those funds were specifically used to develop and administer Malloy’s new reading exam.
The mandate requiring that teachers take the new exam was part of Malloy’s anti-teacher, anti-public school education reform initiative of 2012.
The law states that teachers in Kindergarten through 3rd grade must “take a survey on reading instruction, developed by the Department of Education.”
Pearson Inc. and its affiliate, the Evaluation Systems Group, was apparently hired by the State Department of Education to modify their Foundations of Reading test to be used in Connecticut.
According to the company, the Foundations of Reading test “assesses proficiency in and depth of understanding of the subject of reading and writing development. The test reflects scientifically based reading research and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards.”
Pearson, of course, is the “global leader in educational publishing, assessment, information, and services and Pearson is committed to innovative print and digital educational materials for pre-kindergarten through professional learning. The resources of Pearson span the breadth and depth of its internationally successful brands, including Addison Wesley, Allyn & Bacon/Merrill, Benjamin Cummings, the Stanford Achievement Test Series, the Wechsler family of assessments, SuccessNet, MyLabs, Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, AGS, PowerSchool, SuccessMaker, TeacherVision, and many others.”
Pearson goes on to brag that it is, “renowned for its student information systems and learning management systems, teacher development programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry through a combination of research, technology, and expertise.”
For state governments, Pearson advertises, ““Our custom evaluation services represent a full range of services for creating and administering teacher certification tests that align 100 percent with the teacher certification requirements and student academic standards of an individual state. Our programs span the country and include such states as Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. We have the people, experience, and technology to tailor our services to a state’s most exacting needs.”
So now the question is —- what exactly did the state of Connecticut get for its money and what are Connecticut K-3 teachers being tested on.
According to the law, the “survey” must “identify strengths and weaknesses of the teachers’ reading instruction, practice and knowledge on an individual, school, and district level.”
While the law states that the “survey” results will not be used as part of a teacher’s “summative performance evaluation rating under the new teacher evaluation program,” the results will be used, “in developing the professional development plans for the individual teacher.”
But if it is true that many of the questions included in the survey don’t actually relate to the work these teachers are doing or aren’t even appropriate for the age group these teachers are educating, then how are local districts supposed to interpret and use the results?
Anyone with information about the test is welcome to post their comments here or send them along to [email protected] where they will be collected, synthesized and posted in a future article.
Common Core, Education Reform, Opt-Out, Standardized Testing, Wendy Lecker Common Core, Corporate Education Reform Industry, opt out, Standardized Testing, Wendy Lecker
Fellow Connecticut educate advocate Wendy Lecker has been one of the most powerful and important voices on behalf of public education and against the corporate education reform industry’s unending assault of public school teachers, public schools and the rights of students and parents. While many policymakers, education administrators and even the organizations responsible for protecting and promoting public education have turned a blind eye or engaged in the politics of appeasement, Wendy Lecker has continued to speak the truth and promote the notion that a just society strengthens not undermines its commitment to a comprehensive public education system.
In her latest piece entitled, Core jeopardizes foundation of learning, and initially published in the Stamford Advocate, Wendy Lecker takes down the claim that the “Common Core” is the “Solution” to the challenges facing the nation’s public schools.
Core jeopardizes foundation of learning (By Wendy Lecker)
This spring, parents and students across the country led a massive movement to refuse Common Core tests to protest over-testing and the changes in education wrought by the new standards. In the face of this revolt, supporters are attempting to salvage the Common Core by claiming that while testing may be a problem, the standards themselves are educationally superior. Moreover, they assert, the standards do not dictate what is to be taught in school. These claims are false: many of the standards are bad for education and demand developmentally inappropriate educational practices in schools.
Recently, experts at the organization Defending the Early Years issued a report focusing on one of these bad standards: the standard calling for kindergartners to “read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Translation: children must learn to read in kindergarten.
This mandate contradicts everything we know about child development and forces kindergarten teachers to engage in damaging practices. Play has been severely reduced or eliminated in favor of direct instruction, worksheets and frequent testing.
As I have written before (The disturbing transformation of kindergarten), the milestones of child development have not changed in a century. While there is a wide range of development at this age, most children in kindergarten are not ready to read. Reading requires understanding that symbols, letters, represent sounds and put together, in words, represent ideas or objects. Kindergartners’ brains cannot comprehend that kind of abstraction. They also typically do not recognize certain shapes and lines that are essential to understanding letters. This “lack” is normal, and it explains why play is essential in kindergarten.
As child development expert Diane Levin of Wheelock College told me, through play, children develop the foundation for reading. When a child builds with blocks or engages in socio-dramatic play, s/he is making a representation of something in a different form — a step toward abstract thought. By painting and drawing, a child begins to understand that two-dimensional lines can represent three dimensional objects — a precursor to comprehending that letters can represent sounds and words can represent objects or ideas. By telling stories or putting on plays, a child understands sequencing. In playing with objects, s/he learns to categorize. These activities are intentionally designed to help children build a strong foundation for the kind of skills required for formal reading instruction later on. Children need to first build this foundation experientially, in the concrete world in which they live, in order for the skills to have meaning for them.
During the above-described play, children may start to recognize letters and words. However, for most children, formal reading instruction at this age is not meaningful or engaging. They may learn to mimic and comply with instructions, but without the necessary foundation, they will not integrate the lessons. In fact, studies show that children who begin formal reading instruction at age seven, having first developed strong oral language skills in a play-based environment, catch up to children who learn to read earlier and have better comprehension skills by middle school.
Emphasizing formal reading instruction in kindergarten has crowded out the play-based, child-directed activities essential to building a strong foundation for successful academic learning. Teaching reading earlier does not give children get a “head start” on academic learning; it is a roadblock.
Losing play-based kindergarten also deprives us of a vital tool to help children’s social and emotional development. The majority of American public school students live in poverty. Brain experts have shown that many of the factors associated with living in poverty cause “toxic stress;” which impairs, among other things, the development of their executive function, making it difficult for children to concentrate, remember and control impulses. This impairment has a lifelong impact, impeding the ability to sustain relationships, cope with stress, make healthy life choices and learn successfully.
Play helps develop executive function, coping mechanisms, and problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills. Through play, children also learn to build social supports with peers — a key to resilience. Eliminating play robs children of an opportunity to develop these skills. Replacing play with developmentally inappropriate, frustrating and meaningless demands heightens children’s stress levels and destroys their trust in the adults charged with their welfare — the exact opposite of the type of environment our most vulnerable children need. It can also make young children hate school from the start.
The Common Core reading standards have forced schools to discard all that we have learned about child development. How many young futures are we willing to sacrifice before we return education policy to those who know something about children?
Education Reform, Teachers Corporate Education Reform Industry, Public Education, Teachers
So it turns out that when you take the time to listen to teachers you actually learn stuff, including how to improve public schools without privatizing and turning them over to the corporate education reform industry.
In this recent commentary piece entitled, Smart solutions for Connecticut public schools, award winning Connecticut public school teachers Jean Jaykus and AnneMarie Surfaro-Boehme provide a teaching moment that all policymakers would do well to stop and read.
Imagine if Connecticut’s elected and appointed officials actually stopped denigrating teachers, the teaching profession and public schools and started listening to teachers and providing the resources necessary to improve educational outcomes, especially for Connecticut children living in poverty, facing English language challenges or requiring special education services.
Smart solutions for Connecticut public schools (By Jean Jaykus and AnneMarie Surfaro-Boehme)
Their piece was first published in the Stamford Advocate;
Common Core National Standards are not outstanding standards. A state like Connecticut, the Constitution State, has an obligation to its taxpayers to answer the questions: Why keep defending Common Core and ignore an outcry from taxpayers, teachers, and students? Why are school boards not questioning this issue? Connecticut needs more than a fix for Common Core. Connecticut needs to take a pedagogical stand and replace Common Core and its SBAC tests with appropriate Connecticut standards and tests written by representatives from all education levels, including teachers, administrators and university professors. Just because the proponents of Common Core claim that it will have benefits and cure educational inequalities, doesn’t mean that it is so.
The damaging side effects and requirements of Common Core standards, teaching, and testing are affecting our schools by destroying creativity and taking away programs with proven good results. Teachers know this and morale is low. How will districts attract excellent teachers? Common Core is dummying down our public schools with overtesting and undereducating. Addressing the achievement gap does not mean bringing down higher-functioning schools to raise the level of lower-functioning schools. It is unfair to blame the schools for the achievement gap, a complex problem that is the result of socio-economic and cultural as well as educational issues. It is unfair to put students on a track based solely on tests, which is not only developmentally inappropriate, but leads to a narrow life path.
Putting all our resources behind Common Core across the state will not change the effects of neighborhood and family culture. The factors that contribute to learning and school success, from the early years on are family, parenting, neighborhood, income, good teaching, extracurricular and community activities, and especially positive role models. We need to create a culture in underperforming districts that values education. Connecticut needs the courage to challenge Common Core and change the direction of state funding to support smart solutions for schools, and promote the academic, behavioral, and emotional success for all our children.
New Connecticut standards and tests are the first step. As these are being formulated and piloted, we need additional steps and new solutions to help move our at-risk students into proficiency, raise student incentives to learn, and help close the achievement gap in our schools.
Mentoring plays a vital role in this journey. Any school willing to focus its efforts on mentoring can increase performance and create a culture of high expectations and support for all students. Start with principal to teacher mentorships. Principals need to be educational leaders, not testing supervisors and managers of technology. Instead of hiring more assistant principals and academic coaches to meet Common Core mandates, get principals back into the classrooms and help teachers enrich instruction, guaranteeing the strongest outcomes for students. In addition, establish teacher to teacher, school to school, and district to district mentorships by using state funding that is aligned to support these partnerships that model best practices. Also set up local business-education partnerships and apprenticeships. Mentoring encourages good connections, builds a strong work ethic, and helps our students work hard and pursue education.
Increase effective Magnet Public Schools across the state, like the 2014 Danbury Elementary Magnet School of the Year. Use state funding for more magnet schools, not charter schools. Magnet schools offer educational opportunities in our cities and towns in the areas like World Languages, STEM, Media, the Arts, and Tech Ed programs. Having a consortium of districts facilitates interdistrict cooperation, allows for smaller class sizes, and a greater diversity of students and talents.
Celebrate creativity in schools, and you instill passion, curiosity, pursuit, and purpose. You capture those teachable moments, a time to enrich the classroom experience and opportunities. When you value time on art, music, theatre, student government, field trips, and athletics, it connects the community to the schools. Student participation in these meaningful activities develops skills like communication, cooperation, time management, organization, problem solving, and leadership.
Establish more pre-school programs. These programs give young children more experiences in language development, play, and school readiness. Use state funds for community parenting education programs that foster strong family relationships, school support, and parent networking.
And it’s time to use our retired teachers. They are a proven asset. Many are available to render services in schools even on a part-time basis. They are well-suited to a variety of public school needs and activities in the total education of our students.
We can have education that excels, helps close the achievement gap, and moves children forward. Instead of treating high-stakes reading and math tests as a one-size fits all single measurement of success, how about celebrating excellence in education for educational growth and opportunity. It is time to stop hiding behind the screen of Common Core and adopt smart solutions for Connecticut schools.
Jean Jaykus taught for the Ridgefield Public Schools for 36 years in grades 3-6. She was Ridgefield’s Teacher of the Year, and won a Connecticut Celebration of Excellence Award for her curriculum project in Science and Technology. AnneMarie Surfaro-Boehme taught in the Ridgefield Public Schools for 34 years. Her teaching career includes the Early Childhood levels kindergarten, first, and second grades. She was Ridgefield’s Teacher of the Year, and won a Connecticut Celebration of Excellence Award, for her curriculum project in “The Arts: Creative and Performing.”
Common Core, Education Reform, John Bestor, No Child Left Behind Act, Race to the Top, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing Common Core, John Bestor, NCLB, RTTT, SBAC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing
Published in today’s CT Mirror, John Bestor’s commentary piece entitled “Connecticut’s lawmakers must see through the ‘edu-profiteers’ and testing mania” is a MUST READ!
John Bestor writes;
I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is, as a public school employee and practicing school psychologist, to have federal legislation written that continues to allow our students to be assessed by an unproven and invalid standardized test process and also enables the charter school industry to take funds allocated for public school students and divert them to their own private business interests.
I object to the testing mandate on many levels.
I can assure you that our elementary school students are tested three times a year on standardized measures in both reading and math as mandated by state legislation; in addition, they are also required in grades 3 through 8 and again in 11th to sit through 7-to-10 hours of further redundant testing in the same subject areas.
At least the testing that takes place three times a year — at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the school year — informs and drives instruction. The 7-to-10 hours of high-stakes Common Core-aligned testing has no other purpose than to serve as a town-by-town scorecard. It neither informs instruction of a student nor assists in planning educational interventions.
Unfortunately, the battle over Common Core-aligned testing has taken on a life of its own. It is strongly advocated by so-called reformers and the business interests that they support. At the same time, it remains highly controversial to professional teachers and educators who fully understand the dangers inherent in “teaching to a test” and also understand that there are multiple ways to evaluate what students are learning and that students are more than a test score.
When Connecticut first adopted the CMT/CAPT as standardized means for monitoring student progress, it was administered to students in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10 and special education students with individual education plans could be opted out by decision of the school’s planning and placement team. This saved these vulnerable learners from the frustration and torment of a test beyond their already carefully-monitored skill levels.
Of course, this more reasoned approach ended with No Child Left Behind. Since NCLB, the pressure for test results has affected learning for students in all communities. Middle-to-high-performing school districts could absorb the intrusion caused by testing more readily than low-performing districts.
These low-performing districts then proceeded to narrow the curriculum and over-emphasize “teach-to-the-test” methodologies in order to prove their effectiveness, even though such strategies were unlikely to motivate their students to learn for the joy of learning.
As a result, more students in low-performing districts were driven away from learning and sadly many discontinued their education well before graduation. As Thomas Scarice, the out-spoken superintendent of the Madison (CT) Public Schools, has repeatedly stated: “We’ve wed ourselves to a high-stakes testing model for well over a decade, and it’s shown to corrode education rather than improve it.”
I also strongly object to the federal government’s continued willingness to provide private businesses access to scarce tax-dollars to fund charter schools that are then allowed to flaunt the rules and regulations that traditional public schools are required to follow.
The track record of charter schools in our state and across the nation reflects a highly contentious image that borders on, at worst, criminality and at best questionable practices, many of which would never be allowed in traditional public schools. The supporters of charter schools have been allowed to prey on parents who are seeking clean, safe, well-supplied facilities and are willing to accept strict disciplinary practices that emphasize military-style punishments while blindly putting their trust in an unsubstantiated promise of future results.
It is unconscionable that states, like ours, are allowed to underfund their local school districts annually while somehow investing significant financial resources into the coffers of private enterprise that will suspend students for numerous, sometimes quite minor, behavioral infractions and may shut their doors suddenly on students when no longer profitable.
I understand that wealthy benefactors and major donors to all political campaigns have supported a “cottage” industry of think tanks, lobbyists, and high-profile media figures posing as experts, but it is the obligation of our U.S. senators to see through this self-serving charade and work to amend and pass federal legislation that will support the majority of public school children and their families.
Many of my colleagues and I have written to alert our two senators of the continued dangers embedded in this re-authorization bill. I also understand that the art of passing legislation involves compromise, but simply replacing one flawed law with one that is similarly flawed is UNACCEPTABLE.
In the current legislative climate, it is too risky to pass laws that fail to address the “core” issues impacting the inequitable distribution of educational opportunities across our state and nation. Having thought considerably about the trade-offs involved in the Every Child Achieves Act as recently passed through the Senate HELP subcommittee, the cons continue to out-weigh the pros enabling edu-profiteers unfettered access to a market that should remain within the public trust.
I can only hope that our Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy will hear the voices of teachers who work directly with children in our classrooms and to those who advocate for our public school students.
Please consider carefully, the insidious role that reform lobbyists, misguided philanthropists, and self-serving business interests have had in shaping and destroying one of our most revered bedrock institutions: the American public school system.
You can read and comment on the piece at – http://ctviewpoints.org/2015/04/24/connecticuts-lawmakers-must-see-through-the-edu-profiteers-and-testing-mania/
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bridgeport, Education Reform, Educators 4 Excellence, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch Bridgeport, Corporate Education Reform Industry, E4E, Educators 4 Excellence, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Stefan Pryor
Some teachers and public school advocates have heard about Educators 4 Excellence, aka E4E. For those that haven’t, you probably will as the organization continues to expand across the country.
Calling themselves Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), they claim to speak for teachers – although most E4E organizers don’t have more than a year or so of teaching experience – and what little actual teaching experience they have is usually the result of a short stint with Teach for America.
But the New York-based Educators 4 Excellence, originally created in 2010 using funds from the Gates Foundation, managed to pull in over $7.4 million from the corporate education reform industry in their first two years of operation.
Among the “teacher advocacy group’s” major funders is Education Reform Now, another corporate funded advocacy group that spends its money promoting charter schools and an end to tenure and “seniority-based layoff.”
In 2010 Education Reform Now ran a rather infamous television commercial in New York State that included a “parent” saying, “Stop listening to the teachers union.”
E4E’s fundraising has reportedly skyrocketed since 2012 allowing them to expand, including into Connecticut.
The Gates Foundation alone dropped another $3,000,695 into E4E’s coffers in July 2013.
Here in Connecticut…
When Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to the microphone on April 17, 2015 to announce that he was dropping the word “interim” from Dianna Wentzell’s title as “interim” Commissioner of Education, Educators 4 Excellence was quick to announce their support for the Common Core and Common Core testing aficionado writing,
“Dr. Roberge-Wentzell…was a critical member of [former Education] Commissioner Pryor’s team, which worked to secure funding for struggling schools where resources are needed most….We look forward to working with her in the years ahead…”
The reference that Wentzell deserved to be appointed Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education because she was a “critical member of Commissioner Pryor’s team,” the co-founder of the Achievement First, Inc. Charter School Management Company, reveals a lot about Educators 4 Excellence’s mission and purpose. Public funding for charter schools skyrocketed as a result of Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s policies over the last three years, with Pryor’s charter school management company receiving the lions’ share of the money.
With co-CEOs each enjoying compensation packages in excess of $150,000, Educators 4 Excellence explains their reason for existence by saying,
“For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table – the voice of classroom teachers. Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, is changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers.”
Educators for Excellence now has chapters in Connecticut, Chicago, Los Angeles and Minnesota and the have pledged to expand even further.
According to their “official” version of events, Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) began,
“As a group of New York teachers who wanted to change the top-down approach to policy-making, which largely alienated teachers like us from crucial decisions that shaped our classrooms and careers.”
Their propaganda fails to explain that their initial funding came in November 2010 when the Gates Foundation funneled $160,000 through Stand for Children, a multi-million dollar corporate education front group to set up “Educators 4 Excellence.”
According to the grant announcement, the Gates Foundation explained that the group was being funded to, “build an authentic, alternate teacher voice.”
Stand for Children is a leading player in the “education reform” movement, with a special focus on moving corporate funds into political campaigns in order to reward candidates who support their cause and punish those who aren’t on the school privatization bandwagon.
Jonah Edelman, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stand for Children, says the organization now has eleven state affiliates (AZ, CO, IL, IN, LA, MA, OK, OR, TN, TX, and WA).
According to Edelman’s biography,
“Jonah’s personal stand for children began during college, when he taught a six year-old bilingual child to read.”
Like a number of his fellow corporate education reform industry elite, Edelman graduated from Yale University (Class of ‘92) and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship.
If that wasn’t enough for the financiers of the education reform frenzy, the Chairperson of Stand for Children’s Board of Directors is Emma Bloomberg, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s daughter.
When Bridgeport Connecticut Mayor Bill Finch engaged in his failed attempt to do away with Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education and replace it with one that he would appoint, a coalition of corporate education reform groups and corporate elite, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg, dropped in enough campaign donations to make it the most expensive charter revision campaign in Connecticut history.
In Connecticut, Educators 4 Excellence use a New York public relations firm, the same PR firm that collected much of the money in the failed Bridgeport campaign and has been used by a number of other education reform groups in Connecticut to engage in advertising in favor of Malloy’s education reform initiative.
A Connecticut E4E press release out last summer by the New York firm opened with, “Teachers, Joined by Bridgeport Superintendent Rabinowitz, Call for Needed, Pro-Student Improvements in Professional Development at E4E Roll-out Event.”
The press release went on to read,
June 11, 2014 (Bridgeport, CT) — Educators 4 Excellence, a national teacher-led organization that seeks to elevate the voices of teachers in education policy discussions, formally launched its new chapter in Connecticut Wednesday with a kick-off event in Bridgeport and a call for sweeping changes to existing professional development. This major policy proposal, written by a team of working Bridgeport public school classroom teachers, proposes a number of changes to this pressing issue. These include increasing the opportunities for teachers to weigh in on and even lead professional development topics and personalizing the experience so that trainings better meet the needs of schools and individuals. The full proposal can be seen HERE.”
The press release adds,
“Over the past several months, a team of nine E4E-CT Bridgeport members has been developing recommendations to improve the quality of their professional development. The recommendations, which they released Wednesday, seek to inject the ideas of actual classroom teachers into the policy changes the Superintendent is currently considering.”
The release conveniently made no mention of E4E’s funders or whether any of the advocacy group’s money was spent developing or lobbying for their “teacher led changes.”
This year Educators 4 Excellence is ramping up their Connecticut presence.
The corporate education reform industry group recently advertised for a Vice President of Regional Operations, which the posting explained may be housed in Connecticut.
According to the advertisement for the job, the Vice President of Regional Operations responsibilities will include, “Designing and leading high level issue based advocacy campaigns.”
To ensure a proper understanding of life as a classroom teacher, the organization lists the preferred qualifications to be a,
“Bachelor’s degree and at least one year of professional experience as a Pre K-12 classroom teacher preferred; some form of teaching, school-based professional experience, student-based professional experience or previous work with educational non-profits.”
The required skills include, “Political savvy and keen interest in/understanding of education policy, the education reform movement broadly, and the power and politics of the education landscape both locally and nationally.
E4E explains the right candidate must also have “Tenacity” and “grit.”
In Connecticut, the organization is also looking for a new Executive Director for Connecticut, whose job will be to oversee Connecticut’s E4E operation.
According to the job post, lobbying legislators will be one of the Executive Director’s responsibilities, along with working to, “Establish E4E-CT as a go to source for the opinions and perspectives of progressive educators on issues that impact Connecticut’s classrooms.”
Again the entity says that, “At least one year of experience serving as a Pre K-12 classroom teacher” is preferred,” as well as the requirement for “Tenacity” and “grit.”
Apparently E4E is also looking for a Managing Director of Outreach in Connecticut.
The job postings don’t explain where the present Executive Director Ranjana Reddy is heading, although after a sting with TFA she headed to Newark, New Jersey to help create Rise Academy charter school, a position she left to attend Yale Law School.
At Yale she proudly reports that she worked for John White, who took over from Paul Vallas in New Orleans and Commissioner Stephen Pryor in Connecticut. Her biography explains that when working for Pryor she, “spearheaded the writing of Connecticut’s No Child Left Behind waiver.”
From charter school founder, to Yale, to writing Connecticut’s NCLB waiver… What a testament to the corporate education reform.
And as the saying goes, all this is just the tip of the iceberg –
Just wait till you hear what else E4E is up to in Connecticut.
You can read more about E4E in Connecticut via the following Wait, What? posts Another faux pro-public education group targets Connecticut (12/18/12) and Teacher-led organization that gives teachers a meaningful voice in policy is expanding in CT! (5/23/13)
Achievement First/ConnCAN, ConnCAN, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Education Funding, Education Reform, Malloy, State Budget, State Debt, State Deficit, Taxes Achievement First Inc., ConnCAN, Connecticut General Assembly, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Education Funding, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy, State Budget, State Debt, State Defict
Connecticut has become a striking example of what is truly wrong with the way government and public policy functions in the United States today.
Rather than using the state motto, “Qui transtulit sustinet – He who is transplanted still sustains,” the Constitution State could easily shift to, “Step right up and buy your public policy here.”
And presiding over the entire farce is a governor devoted to coddling the rich, while lying to the people.
Victorious thanks to a campaign in which he repeatedly claimed there was no budget deficit, promised that he wouldn’t raise taxes or cut critical state services, Governor Dannel Malloy is now ducking a budget deficit that is skyrocketing. Malloy’s next step will be to raid the state’s Rainy Day Fund to balance this year’s budget, or worse, he will put the massive deficit on the state’s credit card thereby dumping even more debt on the backs of Connecticut’s overly burdened middle class.
And as for next year, while the state’s fiscal situation deteriorates, Malloy’s proposed state budget includes massive and unacceptable cuts to a wide variety of state services.
Rather than offer up a plan to ensure that services are maintained by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes, Malloy is berating legislators or anyone else who challenges the house of cards he has built.
When it comes to the budget related to public education, Malloy’s proposed budget actually REDUCES spending on public schools by well over $150 million over the next two years, the largest such cut in history.
Yet Malloy has proposed INCREASED spending on charter schools by more than 25 percent.
As if to highlight the modern system of “pay-to-play” policy making, while Malloy turns his back on Connecticut public school students, parents and teachers, the corporate education reform industry is pouring even more money into their unending quests to privatize public education and denigrate teachers.
The corporate funded New York based entity called Families for Excellent Schools has set up yet another “education reform” front group in Connecticut. This one is called “Coalition for Every Child.”
According to the latest reports filed with the Office of State Ethics, this organization has spent over a quarter of a million dollars lobbying in just the past eight days. The pro-Common Core, pro-Charter School group has even hired Malloy’s chief adviser, as well as Malloy’s former press secretary, to run their PR campaign in support of Malloy’s plan to divert even more scarce public dollars to charter schools companies.
Three other corporate education reform industry groups, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN), the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), and Achievement First, Inc. (the charter school management company with strong ties to the Malloy administration,) have spent nearly $100,000 more in recent weeks in a lobbying program designed to persuade legislators that it is good idea for them to cut funding for their own public schools, while increasing the taxpayer subsidy for the privately run charter schools.
What are Malloy’s education reform supporters doing and saying with all their money?
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform is using its money to tell parents that the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test (SBAC) is a good thing even though it will label the majority of children as failures. (See: No, the Common Core SBAC test is not like a blood test.)
Meanwhile, ConnCAN and the rest of the charter school industry are using their hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote Malloy’s disgraceful budget and lobbying to stop the Connecticut legislature from pausing the development of further charter schools in the state.
Following the charter school industry’s success in preventing a charter school moratorium bill from passing the General Assembly’s Education Committee, the co-CEO and president of Achievement First Inc., the Executive Director of ConnCAN and state director for the Northeast Charter School Association all gleefully issued press releases cheering on the fact that the Malloy administration can continue its efforts to expand the number of publicly funded, but privately owned charter schools in the state.
Dacia Toll, co-CEO and president of Achievement First, Inc. the charter school management company that collects the lion’s share of the $100 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds spent on charter schools explained that, “The moratorium on public charter schools would have been a huge step backward.”
A huge step backward for the company’s bottom line that is…
While Malloy’s proposed budget actually INCREASES CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING BY $36 million…
Malloy’s proposed budget cuts tens of millions of dollars to public schools including the following programs;
Reduces funding for the CT Pre-Engineering Program
Reduces Youth Service Bureau programs
Reduces funding for the Parent Trust Fund
Reduces funding for Neighborhood Youth Centers
Reduces funding for Science Program for Educational Reform Districts
Reduces funding for Wrap Around Services
Reduces funding for Parent Universities
Reduces funding for the School Health Coordinator Pilot
Reduces funding for Regional-Technical Cooperation
Reduces funding for Alternative High School and Adult Reading
Reduces funding for Youth Service Bureau Enhancement
Reduces funding for Health Foods Initiative
Reduces funding for School to Work Opportunities
Reduces funding for Commissioner’s Network Schools
Reduces the Priority School District funding for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School
Reduces funding regional interdistrict grant to reduce segregation
Reduces funding for the Leadership, Education, Athletic-Partnership (LEAP)
And the list goes on….and on…
And the Corporate Education Reform Industry is silent on these devastating cuts.
Their plan is simple – more money for charter school companies – cuts to public school programs and higher property taxes for the rest of us.
Connecticut has truly become the land where “step right up, buy your public policy” has become the standard.