Important Correction and Update – Educators 4 Excellence and UConn’s Neag School of Education.

Yesterday’s Wait What? post entitled, UConn’s Neag School of Education aligns with faux “Educators 4 Excellence” reform group, reported that UConn’s Neag School of Education had co-sponsored a “happy hour” on April 23, 2015 with the corporate funded education reform group that goes by the name of Educators 4 Excellence (E4E).

However, according to E4E and other sources, the Neag School of Education DID NOT co-sponsor the Educators 4 Excellence event at the Wood N Tap in Hartford that day and that the NEAG School is not, in any way, affiliated with Educators 4 Excellence or its activities.

Those knowledgeable about the event explain that the misunderstanding was due to the fact that E4E posted the following to the NEAG School for Education Facebook page;

[email protected] alums/school teachers are working together with Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the creation of policies that shape our classrooms and careers. They are having a happy hour to discuss the organization and to get feedback from current Hartford teachers. Share your feedback at the discussion: Hartford @WoodNTap, 4/23, 5 p.m.”

Apparently the message was not meant to suggest that the Neag School of Education was sponsoring the event but that students and alumni of the Neag School were individually working with Educators 4 Excellence and that anyone associated with the Neag School of Education was invited to join the April 23rd social, which was being sponsored exclusively by E4E

Part of the confusion may be due to the fact that while the Neag School of Education was not working with E4E on their event, it was, at the very same time, working to publicize an event it was co-sponsoring with another corporate funded education reform group called Achieve Hartford!

Achieve Hartford! is the corporate funded education reform group that is has been at the forefront of the effort to expand the number of charter schools in Hartford, while implementing other aspects of the education reform agenda in the Capital city.

Ironically, at the very time that the E4E Happy Hour was about to begin on April 23, the Neag School of Education tweeted.

Neag [email protected] Apr 23

Neag School retweeted Achieve Hartford!

We’d love for you to join us, 4/29, 4 p.m. @kateschimel @eduflack @CBIANews @Ed4Excellence @conncan @CTedreform

However, please note that the tweet had nothing to do with the E4E event but was merely inviting E4E and other corporate education reform groups in Connecticut to participate in the event that the Neag School was co-hosting with Achieve Hartford! a week later.

Achieve Hartford! has been among the most vocal supporters of Steve Perry, the would-be charter school management company operator who is relying on Governor Malloy to force the  Connecticut General Assembly to fund Perry’s plan to open a privately owned, but publicly funded charter school in Bridgeport.

Achieve Hartford! was also an outspoken proponent of the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school enterprise until that charter school chain collapsed amid revelations about the criminal past of its CEO, his lying about his academic credentials and an FBI investigation into the potential misuse of public funds.

Achieve Hartford’s funding comes from a wide variety of individual and corporate sponsors including Connecticut’s leading charter school advocacy group, ConnCAN, as well as from Teach for America.

Apologies for any confusion that was caused by yesterday’s post.

UConn’s Neag School of Education aligns with faux “Educators 4 Excellence” reform group

A couple of weeks ago nearly 500 students were handed diplomas from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.  Most were Connecticut residents and after spending years studying and paying tens of thousands of dollars to get a comprehensive education from a premier teacher preparation program, many are now out looking for teaching jobs in an incredibly difficult job market.

So whatever you do, don’t tell these new UConn graduates that rather than promoting the need for teachers who have acquired the depth of knowledge and skills that comes from attending a true teacher preparation program, their university has aligned itself with a corporate funded education reform front group that is overwhelming made up of teachers who have bypassed all that “teacher prep stuff.”

Although UConn’s Neag School of Education graduation ceremonies were held with great pomp and circumstance, the Neag School’s most profound message to its students and graduates actually came a couple of weeks before graduation day when the Neag School of Education hosted the following;

@NeagSchool alums/school teachers are working together with Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that works to ensure that the voices of classroom teachers are included in the creation of policies that shape our classrooms and careers. They are having a happy hour to discuss the organization and to get feedback from current Hartford teachers. Share your feedback at the discussion: Hartford @WoodNTap, 4/23, 5 p.m.

Neag School and Educators 4 Excellence…

Wait, What?

Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is the corporate funded education reform advocacy group that purports to be “working across the state to provide a more elevated teaching profession and improved student outcomes.”

With chapters in Connecticut, New York, California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Chicago, E4E has collected and spent approximately $20 million over the past three years, money it received from the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation (Walmart) and other major anti-teacher education reform groups.  E4E’s mission is to make it seem like real teachers support the corporate education reform industry’s agenda that includes repealing teaching tenure, eliminating the teacher seniority process and promoting the use of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme.

In fact, E4E is one of the leading organizations behind the push to use the unfair Common Core tests as part of the teacher evaluation system.

And perhaps most incredible of all, Educators 4 Excellence is primarily made up of people who simply sidestepped an undergraduate teacher training programing, choosing instead to grab a quick alternative certification before entering the classroom.

In Connecticut, E4E claims to have five teachers staffing their advocacy operation.

However, not a single one of the E4E “educators” attended an undergraduate teacher training program in Connecticut or in any other state.  Rather than actually take the time to attend a comprehensive teacher training programs these individuals used the five week Teach For America program to get their teaching certificates.

E4E’s operatives in other states followed a similar path.  While a couple picked up a Master’s degree in some education related field, few did the heaving lifting that provides the depth of knowledge that comes with attending a teacher preparation program.

Of the Educators 4 Excellence staff in New York, only two of thirteen bothered to attend an undergraduate teacher training programs.

In Minnesota, the number is zero out of seven.

In Chicago only one of the four E4E staffers attended a teacher training program and in Los Angeles none of the group’s ten staffers attended an undergraduate teacher preparation program.

The E4E message is that “excellence” does not require going to school to become a teacher.

And that is who UConn’s School of Education is joining with…

Yet according to 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings, the Neag School ranks among the top 25 public graduate schools of education in the nation and has three specialty programs ranked in the top 20 nationally: Special Education, Educational Psychology, and Educational Administration & Supervision.

As one of the nation’s “premier education programs,” you’d think UConn would be sending a clear and powerful message that while there is a time and place of alternative routes to certification, students who want to be teachers in the United States should attend a true teacher preparation program in order to get the comprehensive education they will need to succeed in today’s classrooms.

But no, for reasons beyond comprehension, while their own students were busy focused on their studies and taking exams to finish up the semester, UConn’s Neag School of Education was off sponsoring a “happy hour” with a corporate front group whose employees didn’t even bother to attend a teacher preparation program.

For more about E4E and this “work,” check out the following Wait, What? posts;

Educators 4 Excellence – Because teachers NEED their own “Education Reform” front group (4/22/15)

Teacher-led organization that gives teachers a meaningful voice in policy is expanding in CT! (5/23/13)

and Another faux pro-public education group targets Connecticut (12/18/12)

Another Charter School Front Group – More apparent ethics law violations (Re-post)

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.

Educators 4 Excellence – Because teachers NEED their own “Education Reform” front group

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)

Buying Public Policy in CT – Corporate Education Reform Industry spends $6.8+ million and counting

The uncomfortable truth is that Governor Dannel Malloy and key members of the Connecticut General Assembly continue to side with the Corporate Education Reform Industry rather than with Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, public schools and taxpayers.

The most recent indicator of the warped approach being taken by Connecticut’s “political leaders” was the outrageously inappropriate and misleading memo that was sent out this week by Governor Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education.

The Education Commissioner’s directive sought to further harass and scare Connecticut parents into falsely believing that they do not have the right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Program.

See: Malloy’s Education Commissioner seeks to stamp out parental rights on Common Core SBAC Testing opt out

The question that arises over and over again is why Connecticut’s elected and appointed public officials are engaged in their ongoing effort to undermine and privatize public education in Connecticut, denigrate teachers and turn our public schools into little more than taxpayer funded testing factories.

The answer, sadly, is rather simple…

The Corporate Education Reform Industry has spent a record-breaking $6,767,957 plus in support of Governor Malloy’s “education reform” agenda – – – An Agenda that includes forcing the Common Core and the Common Core testing scheme on Connecticut’s public schools while cutting taxpayer support for public education and increasing public funding for privately owned and operated charter schools.

Since Malloy introduced his “Education Reform” agenda, the charter school industry and the corporate funded “education reform” advocacy groups have hired dozens of lobbyists and spent nearly $7 million, or more, to “persuade” Connecticut officials to adopt policies that are diametrically opposed to what is in the best interests of Connecticut students, parents, teachers and public school system.

Corporate funded and affiliated groups like Achievement First, Inc.; A Better Connecticut; Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc.  (ConnCAN); Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy; StudentsFirst/GENEPSA (Michelle Rhee); Families for Excellent Schools Inc.; Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy Inc.; Connecticut Council for Education Reform Inc. (CCER); North East Charter Schools Network ; Bronx Charter School of Excellence; Students for Education Reform; Educators 4 Excellence; Excel Bridgeport, Inc.; Achieve Hartford, Inc. and  their newest front group, the Coalition for Every Child, are pumping more and more money into lobbying and advertising programs.

This year, more than two dozen paid lobbyists are running around the State Capitol and Legislative Office Building working to divert more money to charter schools, while supporting the Common Core SBAC testing scam and other “education reform” agenda items.

According to the latest filings with State Ethics Commission, Corporate Education Reform Industry front groups will spend more than a quarter of a million dollars on lobbying during this legislative session.  These groups are dropping millions more on advertising.

Connecticut’s Parents, teachers, public education supporters and taxpayers deserve better from their elected officials but Governor Malloy has made his position clear.

Malloy has said he is “staying the course” on his “education reform” agenda even if his education policies “aren’t popular.”

But what about state legislators?

Will the members of the State Senate and House of Representatives continue to turn their backs on the people who elected them?

The answer will come in the coming weeks, along with even more spending on lobbying and public relations by the charter school and corporate education reform industries.

The following chart reveals just how much money has been spent to push through Governor Malloy’s anti-public school, anti-teacher and anti-parent agenda.

Corporate Education Reform Organization Amount Spent on Lobbying
   
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. (ConnCAN) $1,731,504
   
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc. (ConnAD) $1,113,587
   
A Better Connecticut $2,326,391
   
Students First/GNEPSA (Michelle Rhee) $911,950
   
Achievement First, Inc. (Dacia Toll/Stefan Pryor) $292,684
   
Connecticut Council for Education Reform  (CCER) $277,987
   
Students for Education Reform (Michelle Rhee) $15,954
   
Connecticut Charter School Association/N.E. Charter School Network $62,900
   
Families for Excellent Schools Inc. and Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy Inc.Note:  Does not count the recent multi-million dollar television advertising campaign that Families for Excellent Schools failed to report, despite state laws requiring full disclosure $35,000
EDUCATION REFORM LOBBYING EXPENDITURES as of 2/1/2015 $6,767,957

Teacher-led organization that gives teachers a meaningful voice in policy is expanding in CT!

Now here is some good news for Connecticut teachers… (For those of you who like irony).

A relatively new organization dedicated to giving YOU (teachers) a voice is expanding in Connecticut.

Just take a look.

They call themselves Educators 4 Excellence.

Their statement of purpose is based on their belief that, “For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table: the voice of classroom teachers.”

So a group of dedicated individuals formed a new, “teacher-led” advocacy organization that “elevates the profession by giving teachers a meaningful voice in the policies that shape our careers and classrooms.”

According to their website, “E4E teachers come together to learn about policy-making. We bridge the gap between those who make and implement policy by sharing our ideas with policy makers and influencers. E4E teachers take action in three different ways—we advocate for more teacher leadership and collaboration at our schools, push for district and state policies that include our ideas and get involved within our union and district to ensure that decisions elevate student achievement and the teaching profession.”

And now Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) is dramatically expanding their operation here in Connecticut where they are hiring a Managing Director of Policy, Connecticut, a Managing Director of Outreach, Connecticut and an Outreach Director, Connecticut.

Of course, those who have heard of E4E know they tend to skip over a few details about their history and their relationships.

Formed as a not-for-profit corporation under Delaware law in 2010, the group went from having a revenue stream of $339,000 in their first year to $1.9 million in their second.  Their rent went from $5,800 to $56,000, you can now find them just off Times Square in New York City and their use of consultants went from 0 to over $200,000.

As explained in a December 2011 Wait, What? blog post, although Educators 4 Excellence is silent on the issue, their primary funding comes from the Gates Foundation and other national education reform groups.  E4E was set up by the corporate education reform trifecta of Education Reform Now (ERN), Education Reform Now Advocacy (ERNA) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).

Interestingly, those same groups were the primary funders behind the multi-million-dollar, anti-teacher, anti-union television advertising campaign that ran during the Chicago teacher’s strike.

Educators 4 Excellence is also headed by…

Wait for it…Two former Teach for America (TFA) recruits.

As a “teacher-led” advocacy group, their stated goals are to end seniority, institute merit pay and replace tenure with what the group calls “earned tenure,” in which teachers who are able to push up standardized test scores are provided with greater job security and financial bonuses.

In addition to their headquarters in New York City, Educators 4 Excellence has already created chapters in Los Angeles and over the past year have been targeting Minnesota and Connecticut.

In their first year, Educators 4 Excellence primarily focused on supporting Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to destroy tenure in the New York City Schools.  They wrote, “We applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to make tenure decisions more meaningful.”    Last year, the group was one of the most vocal supporters of New York’s ill-fated teacher evaluation system.

As noted in last year’s Wait, What? post — and perhaps it is only an uncanny coincidence — but during the major education reform battle in New York, the groups that created Educators 4 Excellence ran television ads that included one parent saying, “Albany’s listening much too much to the teachers union,” while a second parent, looking to the camera, followed up by saying, “Stop listening to the teachers union.”

The company that produced those anti-teacher, anti-union ads was SKD Knickerbocker.

SKD Knickerbocker is the same company the produced the most offensive, anti-teacher ads that were run in support of Governor Malloy’s education reform bill and is the same company that was hired to do ads in Bridgeport in support of Mayor Bill Finch’s effort to eliminate a democratically elected Board of Education and replace it with one appointed by him.

SKD Knickerbocker was also the company created the advertising that used in the two extremely expensive “independent expenditure” campaigns that took place during last year’s Connecticut legislative elections and that sought to elect two candidates that education reform lobbyists thought would be the most supportive of Malloy’s education reform efforts.

Meanwhile, if Connecticut isn’t your state of choice, Educators 4 Excellent are also filling or have recently filled positions for a Founding Executive Director, Minnesota,  Outreach Director, MinnesotaManaging Director of Outreach, New YorkOutreach Director, New YorkOutreach Director, Los Angeles and Managing Director of Policy, Los Angeles.

So, the good news for all you teachers out there that feel our elected officials have turned their backs on the teaching profession, (other than at times of extreme crisis when there are cameras around), don’t worry because E4E will be changing all that.

Another faux pro-public education group targets Connecticut

It started with Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company co-founded by Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

Then came the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), the Connecticut Coalition for Advocacy Now, (ConnAD), Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst (calling itself the Great New England Public School Alliance, GNEPSA) and Students for Education Reform (SFER, an off-shoot of 50-CAN, which, in turn, grew out of ConnCAN)

When Governor Malloy proposed his “education reform” legislation earlier this year, these groups, funded by millionaire and billionaire hedge fund owners, along with the Gates, Walton and Broad Foundations, engaged in the most costly lobbying, advertising and public relations effort in Connecticut history.

Since then, many of the same organizations funded Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s record spending effort to eliminate Bridgeport’s elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the mayor.

Now, with the next session of the Connecticut General Assembly only a few weeks away, comes that news that a group called “Educators 4 Excellence” is opening operations here, as the corporate reformers seek to continue their efforts to privatize and undermine Connecticut’s public education system.

Educators 4 Excellence is a two year-old organization, funded by the Gates Foundation (among others) and set up by the corporate education reform trifecta of Education Reform Now (ERN), Education Reform Now Advocacy (ERNA) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).

Most recently, these groups were among the primary funders behind the multi-million-dollar, anti-teacher, anti-union television advertising campaign that ran during this year’s Chicago teacher’s strike.

This week Educators 4 Excellence announced that it is hiring a “Founding Executive Director” for a new Connecticut chapter.

Educators 4 Excellence is headed by two former Teach for America (TFA) recruits.  Their stated goal is to create, “an elevated, prestigious teaching profession in which educators are leaders both in and outside of their classrooms to drive positive outcomes for students.”

In order to achieve that goal, Educators 4 Excellence campaigns to end seniority, institute merit pay and replace tenure with what the group calls “earned tenure,” in which teachers who are able to push up standardized test scores are provided with greater job security and financial bonuses.

Based in New York City, Educators 4 Excellence has already created chapters in Los Angeles and Minnesota, with Connecticut being their next target.

According to their advertisement, “Reporting directly to the Co-Founders/Co-Chief Executive Officers and serving as a member of E4E’s senior leadership team, the Founding Executive Director, Connecticut will help launch Educators 4 Excellence-Connecticut (E4E-CT). The Founding Executive Director will have strategic and operational responsibility for E4E-CT staff, programs, growth, and execution of its mission to elevate the voices of teachers in Connecticut state and local education policy.”

The organization has been growing quickly, if not in members, at least in resources.  Thanks to unnamed donors, the Educators 4 Excellence budget skyrocketed from $339,000 in 2010 to $1.9 million in 2011.

Or, as Educators 4 Excellence put it, “In just one year, we have grown into a national movement of teachers leading the charge to change our education system.”

Last year the group primarily focused on supporting Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to destroy tenure in the New York City Schools, writing, “We applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to make tenure decisions more meaningful.”    This year, the group has also been one of the most vocal supporters of New York’s new, ill-fated teacher evaluation system.

Wait, What? readers may remember that here in Connecticut, the corporate education reformers ran television ads blasting the teacher unions and suggesting that legislators were modifying Malloy’s proposals in order to sell out to the unions.

Perhaps it is only an uncanny coincidence, but during the recent battle in New York, the Educators 4 Excellence partners, Education Reform Now and Democrats for Education Reform ran television ads that included one parent saying, “Albany’s listening much too much to the teachers union,” and a second parent, looking to the camera and saying, “Stop listening to the teachers union.”

In Connecticut, some of the most offensive, anti-teacher ads that were run in support of Malloy’s education reform bill were paid for by ConnCAN’s sister organization, ConnAD.  Those ads were produced by a company called SKD Knickerbocker.

In the small world department, SKD Knickerbocker is the very same company doing the anti-teacher ads, but in this case they were paid for by Educators 4 Excellence’s allies, Education Reform Now and Democrats for Education Reform.

The connections don’t stop there, but we’ll cover the next piece in a future blog post…