Malloy’s new charter schools – 1st up the Booker T. Washington Charter School in New Haven

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Time to review the facts surrounding Malloy’s new charter schools…

Number #1: The Booker T. Washington Charter School.

The Booker T. Washington School may very well be Connecticut’s first foray into using public funds to pay for what appears to be a religiously connected school.  (We’ll pretend for a moment that such a move is not unconstitutional).

According to the charter school application approved by Malloy’s State Board of Education yesterday, there is a rather unseemly and bizarre connection between the Booker T. Washington Charter School, the charter school management company known as Jumoke/FUSE Inc. and the Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The application begins with the statement,

“The Booker T. Washington Academy is the brainchild of Reverend Eldren D. Morrison, Pastor of Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut (“Varick Memorial”)

The Governing Board of Directors for the Booker T. Washington Academy includes the following individuals,

  • Reverend Eldren D. Morrison: Founder of Booker T. Washington Academy, Pastor of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut and New Haven, Community Leader
  • Jesse Phillips: Chief of Staff to Rev. Morrison at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, CT, and Community Economic Advisor)
  • Stacia Morrison: Academic Assistant, Bridgeport Public Schools and First Lady of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut).

And on the next page of the application its states,  “Stacia Morrison is currently a member of the Board of Directors. She intends to apply for a staff position with the Academy and, if hired, will resign from the Board.”

The cost to Connecticut taxpayers to get the Booker T. Washington Charter School up and running over the next five years will exceed $27 million.

In addition, the taxpayers of New Haven will continue to pay for the transportation costs and special education costs of students attending the privately run Booker T. Washington Charter School.

A $27 million dollar public expenditure for the “brainchild” of a church minister and the school’s governing board will include the minister, his assistant and his wife … at least until she gets a  job at the school at which time she will resign her position on the governing board.

Interestingly no one on the State Board of Education even pressed the issue of the association between the school and a church or the notion that the founder’s wife will serve on the Board of Directors until she gets a state-funded job at the school.

For more read Wait, What? Post: Merging Church and State – The Booker T. Washington Charter School

 

The second rather unseemly and bizarre issue is that the new Booker T. Washington Charter School will be run by a charter school management company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc.

Just two years ago there was nothing even called FUSE Inc. and now the charter school management company has a senior corporate officer sitting on the Connecticut State Board of Education, was just approved to run its fourth school in Connecticut and it still had time to take over management of a public school 1,500 miles away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

FUSE Inc. is better known as Jumoke Academy Inc.  Their initial charter school is in Hartford and is called the Jumoke Academy.

Like all charter schools in Connecticut, the Jumoke Academy has refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs.

With the passage of Governor Malloy’s “education reform” law in 2012, Stefan Pryor used his new-found power to take over Hartford’s Milner Elementary School and give it to Jumoke Academy to manage via a no bid contract.

The agreement was struck so quickly that the state and Jumoke didn’t even have a signed contract until well into the new school year.

The deal was particularly strange since the Jumoke Academy had never had a non-English speaking student in its six-year history and yet was given control of Milner Elementary, a school in which approximately 40 percent of students didn’t speak English or went home to households in which English was not the primary language.

A review of the demographics of the two schools made it clear that Jumoke could not possibly have been the best management company to take over the Hartford neighborhood school.

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 25% 0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 39% 0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 11% 4%

 

To facilitate the expansion of his growing charter school company, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. and named himself the new company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Less than a year later, although the State Department of Education had no data about the level of success Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was having at Hartford’s Milner School, Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education gave Jumoke/FUSE, Inc. another no-bid contract, this time to take over the Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport.

In the meantime, Governor Malloy nominated Andrea Comer, the Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke/FUSE Inc. to serve as a member of the State Board of Education — the very entity responsible for approving charter school applications and holding charter schools accountable.

And now the State Board of Education approved Jumoke/FUSE Inc.’s application to open the Booker T. Washington Charter School in New Haven.

But as tens of millions of public funds are diverted to this lucky company, the most interesting development of all may well be that while Jumoke/FUSE Inc. claims to be focused on operating schools in Connecticut,  their Booker T. Washington application failed to mention that just a few months ago, Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was able to get a contract from the Louisiana Recovery School District in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take over a school there. [The Louisiana Recovery School District is the state entity that Paul Vallas ran before he made his way to Bridgeport].

Imagine, a charter school management company that has been given two no-bid contracts from the Malloy administration to run public neighborhood schools and still managed to get control of a school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

And although there is no data about how they are doing with their Connecticut schools or what time commitments they have made to their Baton Rouge school, not a single member of Malloy’s State Board of Education asked Jumoke/FUSE Inc. how it was going to have the time to open yet another charter school in Connecticut.

For more read Wait, What? blogs Friends in high places = lots of money! and The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train.

Friends in high places = lots of money!

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Listen carefully and you may hear that sound of charter school management company executives rubbing their hands together in anticipation of tomorrow’s Connecticut State Board of Education meeting.

With this year’s gubernatorial election six months away, some might think Governor Malloy would back off  his corporate education reform industry agenda in an effort to convince teachers, parents and public school advocates to reconsider their opposition to his candidacy.

But instead, like children in an unsupervised candy shop, Malloy and his pro-charter school allies are grabbing all they can before his policies lead to his own electoral defeat.

At tomorrow’s State Board of Education meeting, Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education will be pushing his privatization agenda to divert scarce public funds to his charter school friends.

As noted in Wait, What? blog posts over the past two days, in addition to Steve Perry’s Capital Prep Harbor Charter School in Bridgeport and the Bronx/Stamford Charter School for Excellence in Stamford, the State Board of Education will be considering charter school applications for Jumoke Academy’s Booker T. Washington Academy in New Haven and the Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport.

In case you missed the Wait, What? blog post published earlier this month and entitled, “The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train,” the Booker T. Washington Charter School application and the overall expansion of Jumoke Academy and its charter school management company, Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. has become a case study in  how charter schools have hit pay-dirt during Malloy’s tenure as governor.

In the case of Jumoke, their initial charter school was in Hartford and called the Jumoke Academy.

Like all charter schools in Connecticut, the Jumoke Academy has refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs.

With the passage of Governor Malloy’s “education reform” law in 2012, Stefan Pryor used his new-found power to take over Hartford’s Milner Elementary School and give it to Jumoke Academy to manage via a no bid contract.

The agreement was struck so quickly that the state and Jumoke didn’t even have a signed contract until well into the new school year.

The deal was particularly strange since the Jumoke Academy had never had a non-English speaking student in its six-year history and yet was given control of Milner Elementary, a school in which approximately 40 percent of students didn’t speak English or went home to households in which English was not the primary language.

A review of the demographics of the two schools made it clear that Jumoke could not possibly have been the best management company to take over the Hartford neighborhood school.

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 25% 0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 39% 0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 11% 4%
 

To facilitate the expansion of his growing charter school company, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. and named himself the new company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Less than a year later, although the State Department of Education had no data about the level of success Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was having at Hartford’s Milner School, Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education gave Jumoke/FUSE, Inc. another no-bid contract.  This time to take over the Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport.

In the meantime, Governor Malloy nominated Andrea Comer, the Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke/FUSE Inc. to serve as a member of the State Board of Education — the very entity responsible for approving charter school applications and holding charter schools accountable.

And tomorrow, the State Board of Education will vote on whether to approve Jumoke/FUSE Inc.’s application to open the Booker T. Washington Charter School in New Haven.

But as tens of millions of public funds are diverted to this lucky company, the most interesting development of all may well be that while Jumoke/FUSE Inc. claims to be focused on operating schools in Connecticut,  their Booker T. Washington application fails to mention that just a few months ago, Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was able to get a contract from the Louisiana Recovery School District in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take over a school there. [The Louisiana Recovery School District is the state entity that Paul Vallas ran before he made his way to Bridgeport].

Imagine, just two years ago there was nothing even called Jumoke/FUSE Inc. and now the charter school management company has a senior corporate officer sitting on the Connecticut State Board of Education, is trying to get a contract to open its fourth school in Connecticut and it still has the time to take-over a public school 1,500 miles away.

Thanks to Dannel “Dan” Malloy, the corporate education reform industry is alive and well in Connecticut.

The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train

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Many of Connecticut’s public schools remaining significantly underfunded but for those looking for a case study about the growing privatization of public education in America need only look as far as Connecticut and the tenure of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.

Call it the Jumoke Academy Charter School Case Study.

First there as was a Charter School called Jumoke Academy.

Like all charter schools in Connecticut, Jumoke Academy refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs.  While proponents of charter schools promised they would help reduce racial isolation, Jumoke Academy, like every other urban charter school was actually more racially isolated than the surrounding community.

And then, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and his band of corporate education reform industry allies used Malloy’s new “education reform” law to take over the Milner Elementary School in Hartford and give it to Jumoke Academy using a no-bid management contract.  The new entity is called Jumoke at Milner.

Jumoke was given the management contract to run Milner despite the fact that approximately 40 percent of Milner’s students faced English language barriers or went home to households that didn’t  use English as their primary language AND JUMOKE HADN’T HAD A NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING STUDENT IN ITS SIX-YEAR HISTORY.

In addition, as a direct result of Jumoke’s policies, the charter school company had virtually no experience with students who required special education services.

But those problems didn’t stop the Malloy administration from handing over control of a public school to a private corporation.

Jumoke immediately got rid of the vast majority of the teachers who were part of the Milner School community.

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 25% 0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 39% 0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 11% 4%

 

Soon after Malloy’s Commissioner of Education brought in the private company to run Milner Elementary School, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Jumoke Academy , Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc.  He named himself Chief Executive Officer of Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. as well.

And the following year, despite no data about the level of success at Jumoke at Milner, Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was given a no-bid contract to run the Dunbar School in Bridgeport.  The decision to hand over the Dunbar School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was made by Pryor, Bridgeport “Superintendent” Paul Vallas and Kenneth Moales, Jr. who was then serving as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education and had previously served as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.

Moales has been saddled with significant legal and financial troubles and has been facing a foreclosure lawsuit that seeks to take his church and all of its properties and assets including the house in which Moales lives, as well as, his Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes Benz.

Interestingly, soon after the deal went down giving Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.), the Hartford attorney who set up and represents Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) became Moales’ lawyer.

In the meantime, Governor Malloy nominated Andrea Comer, the Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) to serve as a member of the State Board of Education and the General Assembly approved the nomination.  Comer promised not to use her position to further the interests of FUSE, the company she serves as its COO.

But Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) is back, yet again.

This week the State Department of Education will start holding hearings on new charter school applications.  One application for a new charter school comes from New Haven where the school would be called the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ACADEMY.

But as the application explains in one of its initial footnotes, “FUSE is the management organization hired by BTWA to oversee the daily operations of the Academy.  That is, while the schools is called the Booker T. Washington Academy, the public funds will actually flow to the private company known as Jumoke (FUSE Inc.).

As the next footnote goes on to explain, “At the beginning of each school year parents and scholars will receive a handbook that includes behavioral expectations and provides school procedures and policies. All documents labeled Jumoke Academy are attached as a representative model of FUSE drafted documents that will be adapted for the Academy.”

The proponents of this charter school application couldn’t even be bothered to paste the name of the school over the Jumoke Academy name.

What is clear is that FUSE Inc is the charter school management company that Jumoke Academy set up to divert tens of millions of public dollars away from Connecticut’s public schools and into its coffers.

What isn’t so clear is that while Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) suggests that its sole focus is on Connecticut, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) corporate executives have been hard at work ramping up their charter school gravy train well beyond the borders of the state..

With little fanfare and no publicity, late last year, FUSE managed to pick up a lucrative contract to take over Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Dalton Elementary School.

As the Advocate Newspaper of Baton Rouge reported last October,

“Some uninvited guests, including a member of the state education board, were allowed at the last minute Monday morning to sit in on presentations by charter school groups seeking space in public schools in north Baton Rouge, thereby averting a potential fight.

Carolyn Hill, who represents the area as part of the 8th District for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was not happy she had not been invited, calling it “disrespectful.”

“We need people who reside in this area to be at the table,” Hill said.

Leaders of the Recovery School District organized the meetings, originally invitation-only, as that state agency decides which groups will land space in the seven schools RSD runs in north Baton Rouge.

Representatives from three charter management groups gave presentations on their school plans…The three groups that presented Monday were Family Urban Schools of Excellence, of Connecticut…”

Despite their lack of a track record beyond their original charter school and the new no-bid contracts they picked up from the Malloy administration, FUSE Inc. went on to capture one of the contracts from the Louisiana Recovery School District.  

The Louisiana Recovery School District is the entity that Paul Vallas ran for six years.  And, in the “small-world” department, Paul Vallas, of course, was the key player, along with Stefan Pryor, who decided to hand Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School over to FUSE, Inc.

While the public hearings are yet to be held on the New Haven Booker T. Washington Charter School, knowing their uncanny record of success with Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and the Corporate Education Reform Industry, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) executives must be salivating at the prospect that they will soon be tapping into tens of millions of dollars of additional Connecticut taxpayer funds.

Hartford’s Clark School parents, teachers and community fight back!

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The battle to fight off the “Hostile Take-Over” of Hartford’s Clark School is growing.

Last week Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, announced plans that she wants to close Hartford’s Clark School and hand the building over to Achievement First, Inc., the larger charter school management company that already has one school in Hartford but was promised another by Mayor Pedro Segarra and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education.

This week, a Hartford Board of Education sub-committee heard from Superintendent Kishimoto, Achievement First, Inc. and the Clark School’s parents and students.

Despite growing opposition to the plan, Kishimoto is pushing the Hartford Board of Education to vote on her Clark School Closure proposal at its November meeting.

Meanwhile, despite the mounting evidence that Steve Perry’s claims of success at Capital Preparatory Magnet School are fraudulent, Perry and Kishimoto are still moving forward on plans to close another Hartford school and hand it over to Perry.  To date, Perry and Kishimoto have failed to identify what Hartford school they intend to take-over.

Back at John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary and Middle School, Hartford Public School teachers, para-educators, and classroom instruction support staff are joining parents in the fight to stop Kishimoto’s plan to destroy their neighborhood school.

A primary complaint about Kishimoto’s plan is that that not only has the Clark School been making progress in improving its academic performance, but the Superintendent’s actions violate Connecticut’s school governance council law.

Connecticut’s school governance law requires that local School Governance Councils (SGCs) be included in major policy decisions about the school.

But Hartford’s Superintendent completely failed to properly include Clark’s School Governance Council in this “bait and switch” maneuver.

Failure to properly include school governance councils was one of the items that got Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s faux Superintendent of Schools, sued earlier this year.

According to a recent American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter press release, Gloribee Gonzalez, a Clark School Governance Council (SGC) and Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) member explained that “It’s an insult to call our community school ‘failing’…Throwing the word around to justify a hostile take-over is not acceptable. And it dismisses all that we’ve accomplished by working together as a community.”

The press release reports that “Gonzalez’ comments refer to claims by district Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto that Clark was selected for “redesign” as a privately-operated charter due to prolonged failure to make necessary improvements. However, its students are performing above the minimum proficiency threshold permitted to allow targeting a school for “turn-around” under Hartford Board of Education policy. Additionally, Clark has been part of the city’s nationally-recognized Community Schools Initiative since 2011, enabling students and their families to receive “wrap-around services” from neighborhood non-profits.”

In an open letter to Hartford Board of Education members, Clark School Governance Parent Chair Millie Soto added that “We are frustrated and hurt by the disrespectful method and tone in which this ‘plan’ was presented.”

And according to the AFT-CT press release, Kimberly Daly, a Clark School teacher said that, “It feels like someone is trying to stick our community with a ‘scarlet letter…Calling us a ‘failing school’ to allow outsiders to take-over is no way to treat the community we serve. The students and their parents deserve better than that.” Daly is a member of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1018, and the union’s representative at Clark School.

The trauma now facing the students, parents and teachers at Clark School is reflective of a much bigger strategy on the part of the corporate education reform industry to close public schools and hand them over to private entities.

Massive school closure operations are underway in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, approximately 40 percent of all public school students are now being diverted into charter schools.

Here in Connecticut Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor have been using a variety of techniques to expand the reach of corporate charter schools.

In Hartford, the Jumoke Academy charter school was given control of the Milner School while in Bridgeport the Jumoke Academy was given control of the Dunbar School.

In both cases the charter school management company with no experience working with non-English speaking children was given schools with significant numbers of non-English speaking students.

Although charter school companies like Jumoke Academy and Achievement First, Inc. have been unwilling to take their fair share of students who face language barriers and children who have special education needs, Malloy and Pryor have been diverting millions of dollars away from public schools to finance charter school operations.

As the following two tables indicate, the Clark School situation would be one of the most egregious examples of this practice to date.  In fact, to even suggest that Achievement First, Inc. should take the place of the Clark School is an incredible insult, especially to the Latino community and to parents whose children need additional special education services.

The number of students coming from households where English is not the primary language.

Year Clark School Achievement First
2011-2012 26% 8%
2010-2011 26% 5%
2009-2010 26% 5%

 

The percentage of students requiring special education services.

Year Clark School Achievement First
2011-2012 18% 7%
2010-2011 16% 8%
2009-2010 14% 8%

 

Real Hartford Blog examines “bait and switch” with Clark School and Achievement First Inc.

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Despite significant public opposition to another Achievement First, Inc. school in Hartford, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland and a majority of the Hartford Board of Education voted to give Achievement First, Inc. a second Hartford school — but they did so without identifying where the new Achievement First, Inc. school would be.

The new Achievement First schools was part of a broader strategy on the part of the Hartford political leadership and the corporate education reformers to close existing neighborhood schools in Hartford and give the properties to charter school companies.  (A similar strategy has been used in Chicago and Philadelphia to destroy their public school systems).

Last week Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto announced that she was targeting the Clark School for closure and proposing that the space be given over to Achievement First, Inc.

Of course, Achievement First, Inc. is the larger charter school management company that was co-founded by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

Now the Real Hartford Blog highlights the fact that this move appears to be a true “bait and switch” maneuver since the implication all along was that the new Achievement First, Inc. school would be in Hartford’s South-end and not the North-end where Clark school is located.

Hartford’s North-end is already dominated by charter schools, with Achievement First, Jumoke Academy, the new Jumoke Academy at Milner and the charter like Capital Prep.

Although corporate education reformers love to talk about providing students with “school choice,” this latest effort to put another Achievement First, Inc. school in the North-end would mean that the children of Clark any remaining public school children would be provided “choice,” as long as their “choice” was a charter school.

You can read more of the details here in the Real Hartford Blog which is published at: http://www.realhartford.org/

Achievement First Proposed for South Side Now Eyeing a North End Neighborhood School

By Kerri Provost, October 27, 2013

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto — whose employment in this capacity with the Hartford Public Schools is over at the end of this school year and who has had her request to no longer be evaluated by the Board of Education granted — has angered a number of parents at the Clark School in the city’s North East neighborhood with the proposal that this preK-8 school be phased out and replaced by an Achievement First charter school.

Just a few blocks away on Vine Street, the Milner School, which had been shut down, redesigned, and re-opened previously, was given over to a different charter school management company in 2012. That time around, the same urgency was placed on the decision, though in that case, Kishimoto had missed the deadline for proposing school redesign. She missed it by five months. In the end, the Board of Education did not enforce the rules of the process, which besides contributing to the rocky start of Jumoke Academy at Milner, essentially disenfranchised parents. The school choice system in Hartford gives parents the sense of being able to choose where their children go to school, but when they select a school, only to have that school transformed after the fact, that choices is thrown away. This along with the continued practice of having more appointed than elected members on the Board of Education makes one wonder if the average Hartford resident is trusted to make decisions that impact their lives and children’s lives.

On Wednesday morning, Kishimoto met with the current principal of the Clark School, along with its School Governance Council to tell them she planned to begin the redesign process on this school.

On Thursday, members of the Board of Education were informed of this proposal via email.

Then, on Friday, there was a meeting for the Clark SGC and community, which was attended by David Medina, the Director of External Communications for the Hartford Public Schools. By those in attendance, children were reported to be teary-eyed over the news. Parents were not having it. Not even one bit.

Proposed Phases

If this proposal goes anywhere, the changes at Clark would begin in the 2014-2015 school year, with the fifth grade being operated by Achievement First, while other grade levels at Clark remain under Clark. In the 2015-2016 school year, Achievement First would additionally operate kindergarten, first, and sixth grade; in 2016-2017 the charter school would take over Clark’s second and seventh grade and the public school would close. She does not indicate what happens to the school’s third or eighth graders, but CRT would continue its work with the preschool segment at Clark School.

Though this time line for a phase-in gives everyone some time to adjust to these changes, the general decision to redesign with less than one year’s notice seems insufficient for the development of a well-thought-out plan.

Urgency?

One wonders where the urgency comes from if the community itself is not calling for this change.

In August, we learned that there was a push for Achievement First to open another school in Hartford.

At the time it was unclear if this would be in a new building entirely, or if this would be shared with another school. By what was said at the Board of Education meeting at the end of August, there was no indication this Achievement First school would be located anywhere except in the city’s south end. Schools reported to be looked at included Burns (195 Putnam), Burr (400 Wethersfield), and MD Fox (470 Maple). State Representatives Ed Vargas and Minnie Gonzalez both attended that meeting and spoke against the creation of a new Achievement First school; Gonzalez said that if the BOE thinks about touching Burns, she would go door-to-door in her district to activate voters.

Now, after Achievement First has received its approval from the Board of Education, it has set its sights on the city’s north end, on the Clark School.

Test Scores

The CMT scores from this school, while not outstanding, do not raise red flags either.

In reading, 37.5% of the school’s third graders tested at/above proficiency in 2013. Compare this to 11.1% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 15.9% at Burns; 49.1% at MD Fox; 17.9% at Wish; 49.3% at Burr.  Additionally, the average in this area for the Hartford Public Schools was 51.6%.

In writing, 65.8% of Clark’s third graders were at/above proficiency in 2013. Compare this to 20.6% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 31.4% at Burns; 62.3% at MD Fox; 42.9% at Wish; 67.9% at Burr. The average in Hartford for 2013 was 68.1%.

For 2013 math scores, 50% of Clark’s third graders were at/above proficiency. Compare this to 10% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 22.7% at Burns; 31% at Wish; 62.7% at Burr. The average for the Hartford Public Schools was 59.5%.

Next

It’s reported that the superintendent will be meeting with parents at the Clark School on Monday, October 28th.

There is a special meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday, October 29th to discuss both the site for Achievement First Academy II and the “replication” of Capital Prep Magnet School’s model, also controversial, in a workshop session. This meeting begins at 4:30pm in the MHIS Conference Room at plaza level, 260 Constitution Plaza.

A Board of Education workshop will take place on November 6th — one day after the Board of Education election — to further discuss proposed new school/redesign models. This will be held at Jumoke at Milner Academy, 104 Vine Street.

The next regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for November 19th.

http://www.realhartford.org/2013/10/27/achievement-first-proposed-for-south-side-now-eyeing-a-north-end-neighborhood-school/

The State Department of Education’s NetStat to the rescue!

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When in doubt, purchase a new data management system, give it a name that has nothing to do with education, hire more consultants and then hold as many meetings and “training sessions” as possible.

All paid for, or course, by the generous taxpayers of Connecticut (while school districts across the state go without adequate funding).

Here in Connecticut, the corporate education reform industry has become a caricature of itself.

This very afternoon, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth, his uncertified “Division Director of the Turnaround Office,” will be hosting the first “NetStat” meeting of the year with representatives of Pryor’s 11 Commissioner’s Network Schools.

The State Department of Education’s delegation will include the cadre of out-of-state consultants that arrived with the $1 million contract with the politically connected Mass Insight Company.

At last word, even Governor Malloy is planning to make an appearance at today’s meeting.

At today’s NetStat meeting, Pryor and Barth’s goal is to spotlight “the schools with ‘best-in-class’ results” which is more than a bit odd considering that half the schools have only been members of the Commissioner’s Network for one year and the other half just became Commissioner’s Network schools this past month.

But as Morgan Barth, the former teacher who couldn’t bother to become certified wrote in a recent memo, “We’ll hear many stories at NetStat including one from a dynamic duo – Karen Lott and Marilyn Taylor – respectively the principals of Milner and Dunbar. In visiting both schools I was impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate.”

Impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate?

Apparently Barth remains a big fan of the no excuses, no talking, march in a single line, hands at your sides, detention for wearing the wrong colored belt or not keeping your eyes on the teacher school climate approach.

And what a surprise that the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. (Stefan Pryor) and the former principal of an Achievement First, Inc. school (Morgan Barth) are bringing together schools from around the state so that they can “learn” about best practices from two privatized, “no excuses” schools that have been taken over by the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school chain.

It must be especially convenient since the COO of FUSE/Jumoke is a member of the State Board of Education, thanks to Governor Malloy, and she will probably be in attendance thanks to her role as that company’s leading voice in their expansion efforts.

Why not just be a bit more transparent and entitle the workshop; The Malloy Administration’s dedication to privatizing public education in Connecticut.

According to a copy of today’s agenda that was posted on the web, “Attendees will receive data packets for their schools, containing current and historic data for a universal set of leading and lagging indicators used to measure school turnaround.”

They’ll then spend that day analyzing the data using a “3-step data protocol” while “The Turnaround Office will present an 8-step change management process used to drive organizational effectiveness and improvement.”

The Bottom Line?

“School teams will learn more about the vision for and expansion of the Commissioner’s Network during the upcoming school year.”

Meanwhile, we are one hundred days into the school year and the same “Turnaround Office” has still failed to process all of the Year Two Alliance District Grants leaving at least a dozen school districts without the money they were promised by Governor Malloy and the General Assembly to help “turnaround” their schools this year.

And one of the towns left twisting in the wind?

Winchester, Connecticut.

The very community that reported this week that it might have to close its schools due to a lack of funds.

But no worries…

With the first NetStat meeting of the year being held, solving Connecticut’s school funding problem can’t be far behind.

Child Abuse in the form of the “No Excuses” education model

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The new Jumoke Academy at Dunbar (AKA The Paul Dunbar School, A FUSE Family Urban Schools of Excellence) recently posted job announcements that it was looking for four new teachers.

Putting aside why Jumoke, the charter school management company that was hired to take over and run the Dunbar elementary school is looking for four new teachers, over a month into the new school year, the job posting announces that the charter school company wants educators who will “sweat the small stuff” and are committed to “embracing the challenges facing urban schools with a mantra of ‘No Excuses’ and a willingness to do ‘Whatever it takes.’”

In this case, the phrase “sweat the small stuff” is a euphemism that explains that anyone unwilling to implement Jumoke’s “get tough, ”No Excuses” education model need not apply.

The “No Excuses” approach to education has become a rallying cry for the corporate education reform industry.

Many parents, teachers and proponents of schools, education and learning might mistakenly think the term “no excuses” describes the obligation society, government, schools and parents have to ensuring that every child in America gets a quality education.

But the term “No Excuses” is really a placeholder for a militaristic, highly disciplined, autocratic system in which children are forced to understand that discipline, conformity and following rules is the fundamental cornerstone that leads to academic achievement.

The adherents of the “No Excuse” model believe that the best route to creating safe, healthy and productive school environments is to ensure that children don’t deviate from the rules and that the price of non-compliance is punishments that are so disproportionate that the children  learn to comply or leave the school for good.

The fact that we are dealing with children or that the United States is constitutionally bound to the principle of individualism rather than fascism or collectivism is nothing more than a concept to be overlooked.

Most “No Excuses” schools actually lose more than half their students along the way.

At the Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools, CEO Eva Moskowitz has created a system in which, “New students are initiated at ‘kindergarten boot camp,’ where they get drilled for two weeks on how to behave in the “zero noise” corridors (straight lines, mouths shut, arms at one’s sides).”

Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company that was co-founded by Stefan Pryor and owns and operates charter schools in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island utilizes the draconian techniques of excessive school suspensions and a “re-orientation” room.

As we learned earlier is year, “The incidence of suspension of kindergartners and first graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy last year was an estimated nine times the rate in Hartford public schools.

Put another way, an estimated 11.7 percent of kindergartners and first-graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy were suspended last year an average of 5.4 times each. In the Hartford public school system, 3.3 percent of kindergartners and first-graders were suspended an average of 2.1 times.”

At the time, Achievement First’s Dean of School Culture told the Hartford Courant that they instituted, “a very high bar for the conduct of our students and that’s because we’ve made a promise to our scholars and our families that we are going to prepare them for college.”

It figures it would take someone with the title of “dean of school culture” to come up with a phrase that brings together kindergartners, a high bar of conduct and preparing them for college.

At these “No Excuses” schools, the strategies to force conformity follow the children all the way through their primary and secondary education.  At Achievement First’s Hartford high school, “Rolling one’s eyes at a teacher will get a freshman sent to the school’s Reorientation Room where…’they get the extra culture they need.’”

As parents and children at Bridgeport’s “new” Dunbar School will come to find out, the discipline policies at the schools run by FUSE/Jumoke are similar in scope to those used by Achievement First, Inc.  Jumoke also relies on the suspensions and a “reorientation” room, although at Jumoke it apparently goes by a different name.

Even the most casual observer will recognize that the “No Excuses” education model drifts into the realm of what reasonable people would call child abuse.

Perhaps the most disturbing point of all is that while people like Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, Paul Vallas and Steven Adamowski tout the “No Excuses” model, not one of them would ever suggest that such a model be used in Connecticut’s suburban communities.

It is quite a commentary that here we are in the 21st century and  we’ve got “mainstream” political leaders who promote policies that are essentially child abuse….as long as those policies only apply to children who are attending urban schools that serve our minority and poor students.

Shocker as State Board of Education decides to reverse itself and follow at least one law

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While Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, continues to dismiss his legal obligations as they relate to the certification requirements for Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools, the State Board of Education did a 180 degree flip, last week, when they voted to add Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Stefan Pryor’s “Commissioner’s Network” “turnaround” program.

Pryor and the State Board returned, once again, to one of their favorite charter school management companies by handing the local Bridgeport public school over to Hartford’s Family Urban Schools of Excellence, the company that runs Jumoke Academy Charter School in Hartford.

It was just last summer that Pryor and his education reform and privatization team gave Hartford’s Milner Elementary school over to the FUSE/Jumoke Academy.

But last year they also allowed FUSE/Jumoke to insert an illegal provision that prevented any new students from transferring into the “new” Jumoke Academy at Milner after October 1st.

This provision was clearly illegal since Malloy’s education reform law states that “”(c) Any not-for-profit educational management organization that is assigned the management, administration or governance of a school participating in the commissioner’s network of schools shall continue the enrollment policies and practices of such school that were in effect prior to such participation in the commissioner’s network of schools.”

Real public schools aren’t allowed to restrict access to public school students by placing an artificial date after which no child may transfer into the school.  But despite the law, Commissioner Pryor allowed Jumoke to add just such a provision.

But this time, the State Board of Education miraculously decided to follow the law.  As the Connecticut Post noted in a recent article, “One change made in the draft plan by the state board was to remove a sentence that would have barred new students from enrolling in the school after Oct. 1. Enrollment would be open beyond that date.”

What makes Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education’s action so interesting is that we now have the situation that while following the law was deemed important in the recent decision with the Dunbar School; Hartford’s students are still suffering from the illegal policy at the Jumoke Academy at Milner.

In fact, Hartford Board of Education members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel have been so concerned about the enrollment date violation at Milner that they submitted a resolution to the full Board of Education asking that the Jumoke enrollment policy be changed.  However, rather than protect the interests of their city’s children, the Hartford Board of Education, which is controlled by Mayor Pedro Segarra, tabled the motion, thereby allowing the unfair and illegal policy to remain in place.

Why Hartford’s Mayor, Superintendent of Schools and the majority on the school board would allow their own city’s children to be treated so unfairly is a sad commentary about politicians putting their relationship with Jumoke above the constituents, and in this case, the law.

Now that the State Board of Education has reversed course and decided to actually adhere to the legal requirements, it will be interesting to see if the Mayor and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education decide to implement the change that was demanded by Board members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel

Meanwhile, over in Windham, the infamous “operations plan” for the new Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy STILL READS that, “Enrollment will end on September 30th of the school year…Mid -year transfers will not be permitted to protect the enculturation of students and allow for beginning of the school year expectation to be learned by each student. This also holds the integrity of the lottery process intact.”

Malloy visits Jumoke at Milner: Says don’t confuse me with the facts:

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According to the Hartford Courant’s Vanessa De La Torre, Governor Malloy joined former Hartford Mayor Thirman Milner yesterday in the library of Jumoke Academy at Milner to celebrate the success of Malloy’s “education reform” proposals.

Milner explained, “You walk in the school, you can see the difference.”

And Malloy was all too happy to take credit for the changes claiming that it was the privatization effort of his administration that accounted for the changes.

But of course, the truth is far from that.

In fact, neither Malloy nor Milner admitted that the changes aren’t due to the fact that the local elementary school was handed over, last year, to a private charter management organization but is directly attributable to the fact that the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford are finally making a real financial investment to support the school.

Malloy and Jumoke Academy’s CEO, Michael Sharpe, would have us believe that it is the $345,000 annual contract to hire the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school management company that is responsible for “turning around” the Milner School…

However, the facts reveal a very different truth;

First, it wasn’t until AFTER the Milner School was added to the “Commissioner’s Network” and turned over to Jumoke that the state added well over $1 million in additional operating funds for the school and the City of Hartford provided more than $2 million in new funds to fix up the school. (Insiders report that while some of the funds have been used for cosmetic changes, the school continues to have a fairly significant rodent issue.)

Second, despite the fact that Malloy’s education reform law required that turnaround schools maintain the same entrance requirements; Jumoke was allowed to introduce a provision that prevents students from transferring into school after October 1st.  This change significantly reduces the number of more transient students coming into the school, students who often arrive with a variety of educational and language challenges during the school year.

Third, an audit conducted by the State Department of Education in December revealed that Jumoke at Milner still hadn’t filled a vital bi-lingual position and that teachers were unaware or confused about whether the school’s English language development program was based in “pushing into” the classroom or “pulling” children out of the classroom for the extra help they needed

Fourth, while Jumoke CEO Sharpe told Malloy that student attendance was up and only 15 have left Jumoke at Milner to date, Sharpe failed to admit that while the school is getting significantly more resources, the total population is down significantly since last year.

And finally, as parents at Milner know, there have been significant communication problems at Jumoke Academy at Milner including a disastrous lock-down drill in which students were marched into the gym and cafeteria rather than required to stay in their rooms behind locked doors.  As one parent on the scene put it, children were told to sit on the side of the gym, “in front of the inside gym windows, in plain sight.”  The drill left parents and children shaken and extremely worried about whether the Jumoke Administrators were capable of handling a real emergency.

So while Malloy and Jumoke congratulate themselves about their education reform achievements, parents in every other Hartford school would do well to remember, smaller class sizes, having a teacher and an instructional assistant in every classroom and providing more support services is not a result of Malloy’s education reform efforts but a result of Malloy, the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford actually stepping forward and providing the resources necessary to make appropriate changes —- changes that should be being made at every Hartford School if only elected officials would address the broader issue inadequate funding for Connecticut’s schools.

You can find the Courant’s account of the meeting here:  http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-malloy-education-0515-20130514,0,4682765.story

Meanwhile, deal surfaces to give Bridgeport elementary school to Jumoke’s charter school management company

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Re-post:

Fresh off Malloy’s “victory” of getting the Chief Operating Officer of FUSE/Jumoke Academy on to the State Board of Education, the Malloy Administration, Mayor Bill Finch and “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas, have apparently concocted a deal to hand Bridgeport’s Paul Lawrence Dunbar Elementary School over to Hartford’s Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE)/Jumoke Academy to run.

FUSE/Jumoke Academy is best known for its complete failure to provide educational opportunities to children who go home to households that don’t speak English or children who need special education services.

In fact, since Jumoke Academy opened its doors in Hartford, it has failed to admit ANY non-English speaking students or ANY students from non-English speaking households.  In addition, less than 4 percent of Jumoke Academy’s students receive special education services.

All this despite the fact that the Jumoke Academy is located in Hartford; a city in which more than 1 in 4 students aren’t fluent in English, where more than 4 in 10 go home to households where English is not the primary language and where more than 1 in 10 require some type of special education services.

As a result of this new deal, FUSE/Jumoke will be given control of the Dunbar School where, according to the State Department of Education’s School Profile Database, at least 18 percent of the students go home to households where English is not the primary language and about 12 percent of the students receive special education services.  Thus Team Vallas is proposing to turn a Bridgeport school over to a company that has absolutely no meaningful experience with two of the most important populations that attend Dunbar.

The Bridgeport deal would mirror the one in Hartford where FUSE/Jumoke Academy was given Hartford’s Milner School under a deal between Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and the Hartford Public School System.

Speaking for Team Vallas about the Dunbar deal, Bridgeport’s chief operating officer, Sandra Kase, explained to the Connecticut Post that, “Jumoke rose to the top of a short list of turnaround models — the others included Classical Studies Academy, a local magnet school, and the Interdistrict Six-to-Six Magnet School in Bridgeport — because it was ready, willing and able to start this fall.”

However, it is unclear whether Vallas et. al. bothered to follow the requirements of the Commissioner’s Network planning process which includes extensive parent and public involvement before any plan can be submitted to the State Board of Education for approval. More

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