The Malloy Administration’s Big Lie: Parents Can’t Opt Out.

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Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and his band of corporate education industry reforms continue their crusade to persuade Connecticut parents that they don’t have the right to opt out their children from the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test.

Pryor claims that federal and state laws trump parental rights.

He is lying…

And he knows it…

But neither Governor Malloy, Attorney General Jepsen nor the General Assembly will stand up for Connecticut’s parents.

And the majority of public school superintendents are carrying Pryor’s water rather than doing what is right for Connecticut’s parents, students and teachers.

Just up the road in Massachusetts, local boards of education are fighting back against a similar campaign of deceit.

As Diane Ravitch reported today,

“The school committee of Tantasqua, Massachusetts, voted to permit parents to opt their children out of the PARCC tests.  [There are actually two versions of the Common Core Test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) and PARCC]. [Per a reader, Tantasqua, Massachusetts. It is a school district within the town of Boylston].

In doing so, Tantasqua joins the school committees of Worcester and Norfolk, which reached the same decision.

The state department of education has opposed opting out, but the school committees are not following orders.

The Tantasqua vote was close, 8-7, and the deciding vote was cast by the chair of the committee, Michael J. Valanzola.

He said:

“It reaches the point of exhaustion, relative to the mandates from the state. Every time you turn around, there are new requirements on our school district but no money to back them up,” Mr. Valanzola said after the meeting. “And, for me, this sends a message that we are tired of the mandates and, ultimately, we are a School Choice district that believes in choice. Choice should rest with the parents and their right to be engaged in the process.” 

On Feb. 11, the Norfolk School Committee sent the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a letter saying it would let parents decide for their children whether they will participate in the PARCC test. On March 6, the Worcester School Committee agreed to send a letter to the state similar to Norfolk’s. 

Here at Wait,What? we have asked the question repeatedly.

Is there no one in authority that has the courage and conviction to stand up against the outrageous, inappropriate and illegal dictates of the Malloy Administration?

Is there truly no one who will say enough is enough?

For more background read some of the earlier Wait, What? posts:

Pryor: Enough! Read the statute and back off the lie that students must take the common core test

 

Malloy, Pryor, Superintendents – Stop lying about the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field!

 

Who on earth would require HS juniors to take the Common Core Field Test in the spring?

Would one of the top four leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly please stand up?

 

If Malloy won’t stop Pryor’s lies, then Attorney General Jepsen must do the job

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Connecticut parents have a right to opt their children out of the standardized tests!

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, knows that is the truth but has chosen to engage in a strategy to intimidate and mislead Connecticut’s parents of public school students.

Governor Malloy must immediately put an end to this travesty or Attorney General George Jepsen should step in and perform that task.

Last December, Stefan Pryor sent out a memo to superintendents explaining how they were to intimidate parents into thinking that they did not have the right to opt their children out of the inappropriate and unfair standardized testing program.

The memo noted that Connecticut State Statute 10-14n reads,: “Each student enrolled…in  any public school shall annually take a statewide mastery examination,” but the memo also admitted that there were no provisions in the law to punish a parent or their child if a parents decided that they did not want their student to take the standardized tests.

The memo concluded;  

[IF] “Parent writes back to the district a letter explaining that they have read and understood the district’s letter, but insist that the child not be tested.”

[THEN] “In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing)…”

Furthermore, Pryor and his legal team have to recognize that the because the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test is nothing but a test of a test it doesn’t even qualify as a “Mastery Test” under the provisions of 10-14n and the Commissioner has absolutely no legal authority to force parents to make children take the test of a test.

Following yesterday’s post entitled, “Stefan Pryor says his rules trump parental rights.” a reader commented:

Background: There is no opt-out language in state or federal law governing assessment. Sec.10-14n of the Connecticut Education Laws states that “Each student enrolled…in any public school shall annually take a statewide mastery examination.”

Then…

In terms of the reporting of results from the SB-FT, please note the following:

Connecticut’s Field Test Flexibility waives the CSDE and local districts from the requirement of providing individual student reports regarding achievement on the SB-FT to parents, teachers, and principals.

But wait, how can this be when the law requires that according to Sec. 10-14n of the Connecticut Education Laws that…

[(e) Student] (d) The scores on each component of the [state-wide tenth grade] mastery examination for each tenth or eleventh grade student may be included on the permanent record and transcript of each such student who takes such examination. [provided, for a] For each tenth or eleventh grade student who meets or exceeds the statewide mastery goal level on any component of the [state-wide tenth grade] mastery examination, a certification of having met or exceeded such goal level shall be made on the permanent record and the transcript of each such student and such student shall be issued a certificate of mastery for such component. Each tenth or eleventh grade student who fails to meet the mastery goal level on each component of said mastery examination may annually take or retake each such component at its regular administration until such student scores at or above each such state-wide mastery goal level or such student graduates or reaches age twenty-one.

So does this mean they have to score the assessments even though the commissioner says they don’t? I’m confused, which part of the law are we supposed to follow? Oh wait, there won’t be any reports. I’m good with that, but there damn well better be an indication on my daughter’s transcript and permanent record as to whether or not my daughter met mastery on this “statewide mastery examination” as the law requires.

Commissioner Pryor, answer me this one simple question. Is this (the SBAC), or is this not the the “official statewide mastery examination”?

The Wait, What? reader makes the point better than I ever could.

Pryor and his corporate education reform industry allies are making a mockery of Connecticut law and are engaged in a disgusting campaign to that is designed to intimidate and mislead Connecticut parents.

Unfortunately, as we’ve learned the hard way, Governor Malloy is unwilling to put the interests of parents and students above his efforts to undermine teachers and public schools.

Malloy’s failure to act means the burden shifts to Attorney General George Jepsen to protect the rights of parents and their children.

If he refuses to act unilaterally, Connecticut allows one of the four top leaders in the Connecticut General Assembly to request a legal opinion from Jepsen.  [Connecticut General Statute 3-125 authorizes the Attorney General to issue formal opinions to leaders of the General Assembly and the heads of any state agency, state board or commission].

Senate President Don Williams, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney or House Minority Leader Larry Cafero are in in a unique position to stand up and demand the truth now that it has become clear that that Governor and Commissioner of Education are failing to properly implement Connecticut law.

Link to Pryor’s new memo:  Pryor’s March memo

Link to Pryor’s earlier memo:  Pryor’s December memo

Mass Insight contract “magically extended” on its last day. Cost to taxpayers: $800,000

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Mass Insight Contract “magically extended” on its last day.  Cost to taxpayers: $800,000

The cornerstone of Governor Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative is the concept of “turnaround schools” and the creation of the “Commissioner’s Network.”  Both strategies are part of Malloy’s broader effort to allow private entities to run public schools.

The task of implementing those outrageous policies rests with Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and two members of his personal staff, Adam Goldfarb (Chief of Staff) and Morgan Barth (Director of the Office of School Turnaround).

Morgan Barth is the former Achievement First employee who illegally taught and worked in Achievement First schools for six years.

Last year, as part of their ongoing effort to undermine local control and privatize public education in Connecticut, Commissioner Pryor let go or re-assigned the extremely experienced team of State Department of Education experts who had been helping towns work through the challenges of educating students in Connecticut’s largest and poorest districts.

Pryor let go the four Leaders in Residence and three superintendents, each of whom had direct experience working with administrators and teachers in urban classrooms and school districts where the majority of students face the challenges of poverty, language barriers or special education needs.

Pryor also re-assigned the State Department of Education’s experts on bullying and improving school climates, multi-cultural education and bilingual and English language learning programs.

Instead of utilizing Connecticut experts, Pryor retained an out-of-state, politically-connected company called Mass Insight for nearly $1 million. 

To service the contract with Pryor, Mass Insight sent in a handful of inexperienced, out-of-state consultants.  In the first four months of the contract, Mass Insight replaced nearly every one of these out-of-state consultants with another inexperienced, out-of-state consultant.  In some cases the consultants lasted no more than a few weeks in the job. 

But as a group, Mass Insight’s consultants, with Morgan Barth at the helm, managed to alienate superintendents, principals and local boards of education in many of Connecticut’s thirty Alliance Districts.

The contract with Mass Insight was scheduled to end on January 31, 2014.

But with no public notice and no public participation, Stefan Pryor and the State Department of Education, along with the help of Malloy’s Budget Director and Attorney General George Jepsen’s Office quietly approved an $800,000 contract extension that is said to have gone into effect on JANUARY 31, 2014.

The last-minute $800,000 contract extension will allow Stefan Pryor, Morgan Barth and Mass Insight to continue to wreak havoc on Connecticut’s poorest public schools.

Hidden from public view, Stefan Pryor requested and obtained approval from Malloy’s Budget Chief and the Office of Policy and Management to extend Mass Insight’s contract and pay the out-of-state company the extra $800,000 on January 24, 2014.

According to documents related to the matter, the Mass Insight contract extension was finalized and sent to the company on January 30, 2014.

Under state law, as a check and balance on excessive agency actions, contract extensions of this nature require a sign off from the Office of the Attorney General.   

In this case, the Mass Insight contract was apparently forwarded to the Attorney General’s office on January 31, 2014. 

While it is unclear exactly when the Attorney General’s Office acted, it did approve the contract and Commissioner Pryor and the State Department of Education reported that they planned to have the contract amendment “fully executed by the end of business January 31, 2014.”

While it is beyond insulting to see the Malloy administration dump experienced Connecticut residents so it can out-source jobs to out-of-state consultants, it is even more absurd that Commissioner Pryor would seek to extend this contract and further undermine Connecticut’s poorest school districts. 

NEWS FLASH: Kids win, Malloy/Jepsen lose as judge rules school funding trial to begin this summer

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In a stunning defeat of Governor Malloy’s political strategy to push off CCEJF v. Rell school funding debate until after the 2014 gubernatorial election, a superior court judge ruled today that the trial will begin as scheduled.

The trial date for the CCEJF .v Rell was scheduled to begin July 2014 beck in December 2011, but since then Governor Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy administration wasted thousands of hours, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to have the critical case dismissed.

And when that strategy failed, Malloy and Jepsen had the unmitigated gall to try and delay the trial for fifteen months until after the 2014 gubernatorial.

But in a move that proves some members of the judicial branch of government still believe in fulfilling their constitutionally sworn duties, Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay rejected the state’s effort and ordered the trail to begin as scheduled this summer.

In response the attorney’s representing Attorney General Jepsen and Governor Malloy said that the plaintiffs should expect the trail to do for months.

An easy threat to make considering the state’s attorneys are paid for by the Connecticut taxpayers while the people bringing the lawsuit on behalf of Connecticut’s school children are trying to put the case together with limited resources and donated legal assistance.

How Malloy and his administration have handled the CCEFJ v. Rell school funding case should be one of the most important voting issues of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

For those who don’t know that much about the case, here is the Wait, What? article that was posted yesterday.

Whatever you do, don’t mention school funding and the school funding lawsuit!

The Malloy administration will be back in a Connecticut courtroom tomorrow, January 16, 2014, in their unending effort to destroy, derail or delay the court case known as Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell.

CCJEF v. Rell is not only the most important school funding lawsuit in Connecticut history, it is safe to say that it is one of the most significant cases since Connecticut’s State Constitution was updated and adopted in 1965.

The case, which was filed in 2005, has already been to the Connecticut’s Supreme Court where the state’s highest court ruled that Connecticut’s State Constitution requires the state to provide every child will a quality public education.

When the Supreme Court reached its decision, it sent the case back to the trial court to determine what actions the state of Connecticut must take to fulfill that Constitutional responsibility.

Although Governor Dannel Malloy, when he was Mayor Dan Malloy, was an original plaintiff in the case and campaigned for governor on a platform of resolving the case, upon being sworn as Governor Malloy he did a “180” on the issue and with the help of Attorney General George Jepsen has been trying to get to the case dismissed.

But late last year a Connecticut Judge threw out every motion Malloy and Jepsen had submitted and ordered that the full court trial on the case begin on July 1, 2014.

But July 1, 2014 is in the middle of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign and the last thing that Governor Malloy wants in the news is coverage of his failed education policies.

So Malloy and Jepsen have taken the incredible step of trying to get the case “delayed” until after the election.

You can read more about the CCEJF case in the following Wait, What? posts.

The CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Case: The incredible transformation of Malloy and Jepsen

As the CT Mirror reported in a recent article entitled, “State seeks to delay education-funding trial until after election,” The state is asking that the trial over whether Connecticut is spending enough money on education be pushed back until after the gubernatorial election in the fall.”

Attorney General Jepsen, with Malloy’s help and support, has submitted a motion to delay the trial until October 2015.

According to their brief, the Malloy administration is arguing, “The stakes in this case are enormous…When the stakes are this high, the defendants, on behalf of the taxpayers in Connecticut, are entitled to know and understand the plaintiffs’ case, not as it existed four or more years ago, but as it will actually be presented at trial.”

This comes from the people who were responsible for delaying the case in the first place.

As the CT Mirror reports, Malloy and Jepsen want the case delayed until after the election because, “the plaintiffs -– a group of mayors, parents and leaders of teachers’ unions — need to update their complaint and experts’ reports to reflect the current educational landscape, which warrants delaying the trial.”

In response, as the CT Mirror explains;

“‘Defendants are responsible for delay,’” attorney Helen V. Cantwell writes on behalf of the plaintiffs. “’The interests of justice would be better served by a scheduling order that preserves the July 1, 2014 trial date.’”

Cantwell points out that their experts can testify about the current condition of the educational funding structure at trial, that the State Department of Education continues to reject their requests for information so they can prepare for trial, and that the state has blown through several deadlines for reporting their expert witnesses.”

The article concludes with a prepared statement from Attorney General George Jepsen’s office which reads;

“Of primary concern, the plaintiffs rely on expert witnesses whose opinions are based on the educational and funding system as it was years in the past. The state is entitled to know before trial what those experts think of the current state of education and the impacts on it of the Governor’s comprehensive education reforms. We have no interest in delaying this case for delay’s sake, but we do insist that the state’s taxpayers are entitled to receive a fair hearing.”

The CCEJF v. Rell case, perhaps more than any other issue that has developed during Malloy’s tenure, highlights Malloy’s approach to politics and policy.

And meanwhile, the children of Connecticut be damned.

Whatever you do, don’t mention school funding and the school funding lawsuit!

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The Malloy administration will be back in a Connecticut courtroom tomorrow, January 16, 2014, in their unending effort to destroy, derail or delay the court case known as Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell.

CCJEF v. Rell is not only the most important school funding lawsuit in Connecticut history, it is safe to say that it is one of the most significant cases since Connecticut’s State Constitution was updated and adopted in 1965.

The case, which was filed in 2005, has already been to the Connecticut’s Supreme Court where the state’s highest court ruled that Connecticut’s State Constitution requires the state to provide every child will a quality public education.

When the Supreme Court reached its decision, it sent the case back to the trial court to determine what actions the state of Connecticut must take to fulfil that Constitutional responsibility.

Although Governor Dannel Malloy, when he was Mayor Dan Malloy, was an original plaintiff in the case and campaigned for governor on a platform of resolving the case, upon being sworn as Governor Malloy he did a “180” on the issue and with the help of Attorney General George Jepsen has been trying to get to the case dismissed.

But late last year a Connecticut Judge threw out every motion Malloy and Jepsen had submitted and ordered that the full court trial on the case begin on July 1, 2014.

But July 1, 2014 is in the middle of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign and the last thing that Governor Malloy wants in the news is coverage of his failed education policies.

So Malloy and Jepsen have taken the incredible step of trying to get the case “delayed” until after the election.

You can read more about the CCEJF case in the following Wait, What? posts.

The CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Case: The incredible transformation of Malloy and Jepsen

As the CT Mirror reported in a recent article entitled, “State seeks to delay education-funding trial until after election,” The state is asking that the trial over whether Connecticut is spending enough money on education be pushed back until after the gubernatorial election in the fall.”

Attorney General Jepsen, with Malloy’s help and support, has submitted a motion to delay the trial until October 2015.

According to their brief, the Malloy administration is arguing, “The stakes in this case are enormous…When the stakes are this high, the defendants, on behalf of the taxpayers in Connecticut, are entitled to know and understand the plaintiffs’ case, not as it existed four or more years ago, but as it will actually be presented at trial.”

This comes from the people who were responsible for delaying the case in the first place.

As the CT Mirror reports, Malloy and Jepsen want the case delayed until after the election because, “the plaintiffs -– a group of mayors, parents and leaders of teachers’ unions — need to update their complaint and experts’ reports to reflect the current educational landscape, which warrants delaying the trial.”

In response, as the CT Mirror explains;

“‘Defendants are responsible for delay,’” attorney Helen V. Cantwell writes on behalf of the plaintiffs. “’The interests of justice would be better served by a scheduling order that preserves the July 1, 2014 trial date.’”

Cantwell points out that their experts can testify about the current condition of the educational funding structure at trial, that the State Department of Education continues to reject their requests for information so they can prepare for trial, and that the state has blown through several deadlines for reporting their expert witnesses.”

The article concludes with a prepared statement from Attorney General George Jepsen’s office which reads;

“Of primary concern, the plaintiffs rely on expert witnesses whose opinions are based on the educational and funding system as it was years in the past. The state is entitled to know before trial what those experts think of the current state of education and the impacts on it of the Governor’s comprehensive education reforms. We have no interest in delaying this case for delay’s sake, but we do insist that the state’s taxpayers are entitled to receive a fair hearing.”

The CCEJF v. Rell case, perhaps more than any other issue that has developed during Malloy’s tenure, highlights Malloy’s approach to politics and policy.

And meanwhile, the children of Connecticut be damned.

You can read the CT Mirror story here:  http://www.ctmirror.org/story/2014/01/08/state-seeks-delay-education-funding-trial-until-after-election

Jepsen, Malloy and playing politics with the law…

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Call it naïve, but some would claim that while politics is political, America’s legal system is supposed to be above or separate from the day-to-day world of politics.

But as we Americans we are learning, our legal system is, in fact, extremely political and appears to becoming more political by the day.

At the federal level, politics surrounded cases like the Bush-Gore election or Obamacare.  Both are prime examples of how politics can influence or even trump legal proceedings.

The sad case of the politicization of the legal system is becoming even clearer here in Connecticut.

In the case of CCEJF v. Rell, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the Connecticut Constitution requires that the state properly fund a public education system that provides every child with an adequate education and determined that Connecticut’s present education funding formula is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court ordered that the CCEJF case be returned to the Superior Court so that the lower court could determine the meaning of adequacy and identify actions the state must take to properly fund its public schools.

Although Governor Malloy and Attorney General Jepson endorsed the CCEJF case as candidates and committed to resolving the CCEJF case and improving the school funding formula, the first thing Jepsen and Malloy did was file a motion asking the Court to remove the concept of early childhood education from the court’s definition of education.

But of course, we all know that early childhood education is one of the most vital elements in the effort to improve education achievement.

As if that wasn’t outrageous and insulting enough, more recently Jepsen and Malloy moved to have the entire CCEJF case dismissed by the courts and moved to have the CCEJF coalition removed as the case’s plaintiff.

This past week the Superior Court dismissed Jepson and Malloy’s attempt to end the case and ordered the full trail to begin on July 1, 2014.

Another example of the Malloy administration’s politics before policy approach was visible in how they handled the case of Lopez v. Vallas.  In that case Jepsen and Malloy used public funds to come to the defense of Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, when Pryor decided that while the law required that Paul Vallas could only stay on as the head of Bridgeport’s school system if he completed a school leadership program at a Connecticut institution of higher education, Pryor would allow Vallas to stay if he only took a three-credit independent study class instead.

And now we have yet another example of playing politics with a case.

The situation developed yesterday in conjunction with the case of SEBAC V. Rell.

Back in 2001, in a fit of rage and political maneuvering, Governor John Rowland laid off 2,800 unionized state employees.

A three-judge panel unanimously ruled that Rowland and Marc Ryan, his secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, had violated the law because the layoffs were only targeted toward union members.  Rowland’s action was so egregious that the court actually ruled that Rowland and Ryan should be held personally liable for the impact of their action.

As he court explained at the time, the “Defendants [Rowland and Ryan] have not shown why the state’s fiscal health required firing only union members, rather than implementing membership-neutral layoffs.”

The court went on to say that the firings “were ordered as a means of trying to compel the plaintiff unions to agree to the concessions demanded…As plaintiffs have shown that defendants fired employees based on their union membership without narrowly tailoring the terminations to a vital government interest, plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment on their First Amendment targeting claims.”

In essence, the court ruled that Rowland’s decision to fire only union members was illegal because it was nothing more than an effort to silence and punish the union and its members,

Since the decision in the SEBAC v. Rowland was handed down when Malloy was governor, the Malloy administration had the choice of working to settle the case or appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  The chance of the Supreme Court taking the case was extremely unlikely.

The appropriate solution was simple and straight-forward.  Sit down and negotiate a settlement.

But the politics superseded the policy and Attorney General Jepsen, with Malloy’s support, announced that they were going to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Then yesterday, Jepsen, once again with Malloy’s approval, said he is withdrawing his petition asking the United States Supreme Court to review the case and would sit down with the unions to settle the case.

As reported by CT Newsjunkie, when asked why he was withdrawing the petition for review, Jepsen said “This is the time of maximum leverage…If the petition for review was denied three or four months from now, the state would be sitting across the negotiating table from an “emboldened adversary who’s holding most of the cards.”

An “emboldened adversary who’s holding most of the cards?”

Governor Rowland broke the law by firing 2,800 state employees.  Rowland, not the state employees was the adversary.

Malloy and Jepsen could have sat down and negotiated a settlement at any time.

Instead they decided to play politics with the case, initially saying they’d appeal to the Supreme Court and now backing off that stance.

And now they say they want to settle to prevent the state employees and their unions from becoming an “emboldened advisory who’s holding most of the cards.”

Once again, elected officials seem committed to placing the value of the politics above doing the right thing for the state.

Jepsen and Malloy should never have allowed this case to drag on.

Like the CCJEF v. Rell public school funding law suit, Connecticut’s elected officials should make doing the right thing their top priority and leave the politics for another time.

Enough is enough.  Instead of scapegoating Connecticut’s public schools students or state employees, Jepsen and Malloy should roll up their sleeves, stop playing politics and settle the CCJEF case and settle the Rowland case.

You can read more about the SEBAC v. Rowland case at:

CT Newsjunkie:  State Withdraws Request For Review of Labor Case Dating Back to Rowland Administration

CT Mirror: Risking second guessing, Jepsen opens negotiations in union case against Rowland

Courant:  Jepsen Won’t Appeal Union Victory In Layoff Case

 

Updated: Malloy, Pryor and Jepsen get slapped down by Court on education case

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A Connecticut Superior Court judge has rejected the state’s request to throw out a lawsuit charging that Connecticut has failed to provide enough money to its poorest school districts and that Connecticut must revise its school funding formula because it is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit known as CCJEF v. Rell was brought by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a coalition of municipalities, boards of education, unions and other groups.  In a statement CCJEF called the court’s most recent action a “a major win” for public school children, adding, “The opinion sets the stage for students of Connecticut to finally get their day in court, nine years after the case was initially filed.”

The case has already been before the Connecticut Supreme Court which ruled three years ago that Connecticut’s school funding formula is unconstitutional and sent the case back to the superior to conduct a full trial and determine what the state must do in order to meet its constitutional duty to provide Connecticut students with an “adequate” education.

With this latest ruling a full trial should finally begin on July 1, 2014.

Not only is the case extremely important because it will force the state to re-do its school funding system, but the lawsuit has significant political ramifications.

Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in the case court aimed at forcing the State of Connecticut to implement an adequate school funding formula.

Candidate Dan Malloy campaigned on a promise to settle the case and help Connecticut’s local property taxpayers by requiring the state to provide more funds for local schools

But Governor Dannel Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen switched their positions after getting elected and have been working hard to have the case dismissed.

They want the case eliminated despite, as noted above, the fact that the Connecticut Supreme Court has determined that Connecticut’s system of funding its schools is unconstitutional and it was the Supreme Court that sent the case back to the superior court for a full trial on the issue.

But even then Malloy and Jepsen have been trying to prevent the trial that the Connecticut Supreme Court demanded.

As the CT Mirror reported;

“When asking that the case be dismissed, the state’s top attorneys argued earlier this year that such a trial would be premature. The state’s education commissioner told the court that the education reforms that became law in 2012 needed a few years to roll out before the changes they made would be realized.

But the attorneys for the plaintiffs called the reforms championed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy “trivial.” Those reforms to date include the state intervening in 11 low-performing schools, launching new teacher evaluations based on student performance and the state providing more money to struggling districts.”

Now Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay has thrown out Malloy and Jepsen’s motion to dismiss the case and ordered the trail to go forward.

Judge Dubay wrote, “The extent to which these reforms impact the adequacy of the state’s education system in the context of constitutional standards, however, remains unascertainable at this stage.”

Judge Dubay added, “The plaintiffs should be given an opportunity to prove the allegations set forth in the complaint, specifically that the education system remains unconstitutional in spite of the 2012 reforms.”

The defeat for Malloy and Jepsen is a stunning development considering the two incumbents were trying to get the case dismissed or at least postponed until after the next election cycle.

Now, rather than being able hide from their about-face on the critical issue of school funding, Governor Malloy and Attorney General Jepsen will be facing a court trial on Malloy’s failure to deal with Connecticut’s unconstitutional school funding system right in the middle of the election.

More about the developing story can be found at the CT Mirror:  http://www.ctmirror.org/story/2013/12/05/trial-guaranteed-ct-school-funding-and-reforms,  CT Post: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Judge-won-t-dismiss-education-funding-lawsuit-5039666.php, Courant: http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-school-lawsuit-1206-20131205,0,7241082.story

Connecticut Democratic Leaders stand by as the soul of Sheff v. O’Neill hangs in the balance

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In an article entitled Hartford Schools To Consider New Management For SAND School, the Hartford Courant has just confirmed that the Hartford “board of education will consider three new school plans proposed as part of Sheff v. O’Neill negotiations, including a state request to have SAND Elementary School managed by a nonprofit educational organization.”

The Courant adds, “That group, Capital Preparatory Schools Inc., is led by Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry. Under the proposal, which is set for a board vote Tuesday night, Perry’s organization would manage both SAND and Capital Prep schools beginning in the 2014-15 school year.”

If true, the move would serve as the nail in the coffin of the historic Sheff case, a lawsuit that like the great case of Brown vs. Board of Education gave rise to the belief that in the United States of America, separate educational institutions are not only inherently unconstitutional, but also un-American.

The notion that Capital Preparatory Magnet School and its Principal Steve Perry should be associated with reducing racial isolation is absurd.

Capital Prep and Steve Perry have shown a complete and utter inability to provide equal educational opportunities for Latino children, children who are not fluent in English and children who need extra help due to their special education requirements.

To hand the children and parents of SAND Elementary school to a new company owned and operated by Steve Perry not only makes a mockery of Connecticut law but undermines the fundamental goals of the Sheff v. O’Neill case.

The fact that this outrage could occur under a Democratic Governor, a Democratic Lt. Governor, a Democratic Attorney General and a Democratic General Assembly says volumes about the Democratic Party’s failure to live up to the true meaning of its historic mandate.

It is virtually inconceivable that Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and Attorney General George Jepsen would negotiate a Sheff settlement that was so damaging to the fundamental premise behind Sheff.

Greater racial isolation, discrimination against Latinos and disregard for those who require special education services is hardly what one associates with the legacy of the Democratic Party.

If Connecticut’s leading elected and appointed officials have signed off on this so- called “Sheff Agreement” then they have forfeited their rights to serve as representatives of the Democratic Party and its values.

As the Courant reports, the Hartford Board of Education’s approval would, “endorse those magnet programs and allow Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with Perry’s group to manage SAND and Capital Prep. Current students could stay at SAND, which would remain a Hartford public school but have outside management.

“Perry’s group” being a private company that Steve Perry formed out of his home in 2012 and then moved its address to Capital Prep, a public school building while he submitted the paperwork to become a “non-profit” charter school management company under the federal IRS code.  The charter school management company status would allow Perry to utilize federal tax credit laws to duck certain federal tax requirements.

The Courant story goes on to explain that Perry, who has called teachers roaches, condemned unions and last Friday told an audience in New Jersey that traditional schools had become overly “feminized” to the Courant that, “SAND employees would still be union members but would work under unique labor rules created for the school.”

But separate of Perry’s bullying, anti-teacher, anti-union, sexist approach and commentary is an even more serious failure to fulfill the intent of the Sheff v. O’Neill lawsuit.

Connecticut’s Democratic leaders have less than twenty-four hours to step in an explain the facts or Mayor Pedro Segarra and the Hartford Board of Education appear poised to finally destroy the lawsuit that was supposed to have been used to ensure greater equality and justice in our state.

News Flash: Our Democracy at risk as Kishimoto/Poland set up “quick vote” to give Steve Perry sweetheart deal (updated)

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Post updated:  Please note the wording of Tuesday’s Board of Education Agenda (a portion of text was missing when first posted)

STEP ONE:  Perry sets up his own company:  http://www.concord-sots.ct.gov/CONCORD/online?sn=PublicInquiry&eid=9740

STEP TWO: Perry moves company address to a Capital Prep, a Hartford Public School and registers it as a charter school management company for purposes of the federal tax code: http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/43-4669846/capital-preparatory-schools-incorporated.aspx

STEP THREE:  Board of Education Agenda – READ HIGHLIGHTED LANGUAGE

 

B. Executive Session (Pending litigation: Sheff v. O’Neill)

7. Approval to Implement Anticipated Sheff Agreement (Dr. Kishimoto and Chairman Poland)

“That the Hartford Board of Education approves the conversion of the High School, Inc. to a Sheff magnet school starting with the 9th grade in 2014-2015 with expansion to grade 12 by 2017-2018; approves the creation of a new Partnership Magnet School with Capital Community College, the Capital Community College Senior Academy; authorizes the Superintendent to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with Capital Community College regarding the creation of such new school; approves the creation of SAND as a Lighthouse School Design, with a non-profit management organization, Capital Prepatory Schools (”CPS”), managing both SAND (“Capital Prepatory School II”) and Capital Prepatory Magnet School; and authorizes the Superintendent to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with CPS regarding its role in managing the schools on behalf of, and in conjunction, with the Hartford Public Schools.”

If the Hartford Board of Education doesn’t stop this impending disaster, Steve Perry will be allowed to set up his own company and be given Capital Prep and Sand Elementary schools to run.

The move will make a mockery of the historic Sheff desegregation lawsuit and the tens of millions in public funds that have been spent to implement the Sheff settlement initiatives.

On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, the Hartford Board of Education will hold a meeting at 5:30pm at the Sarah J. Rawson School at 260 Holcomb St., Hartford, Connecticut.

The good news is that due to the parent and teacher uprising, Superintendent Kishimoto and Hartford Mayor Segarra have pulled their plan to close Clark School and hand it over to Achievement First, Inc. However, NOTE that the Board is not withdrawing the decision to allow Achievement First, Inc. to have another school in Hartford; they will just find a different location.

Meanwhile, in what may be one of the most brazen moves in Connecticut education policy, Kishimoto, Segarra and Board Chairman Matt Poland appear to be lining up a far more sinister and destructive plan that will allow Steve Perry to make millions while destroying the intent of the famous Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation lawsuit.

Just over a year ago, Capital Prep’s Principal Steven Perry, known for his bullying and inability to tell the truth about his school’s performance, set up a private company called CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS INCORPORATED. He is the company’s only officer and while he first registered his company at his home in Middletown, he has since moved its official corporate address to Capital Prep, a public school owned by the City of Hartford.

The audacity to register a private company at a public school is incredible enough, but his propensity to put his private consulting ahead of the interests of his taxpayer-funded responsibilities as a public employee makes the move even more incredible.

According to documents presented to the Hartford Board of Education, his purported goal was to set up a private charter school management company and then have the City of Hartford give Capital Prep to his company to manage. In that way he would have “greater” freedom to run his school outside of the laws, regulations and guidelines of a public school while he still collected the guaranteed revenue that comes with having more than 500 public school children attending his school.

The Board of Education never acted on his original plan but he and his allies inside Hartford City government and the Malloy administration appear to have concocted a far more offensive strategy.

With no public hearing, no public input and a hurry up and vote strategy, the Hartford Board of Education is considering a vote at their upcoming Tuesday meeting to “approves the creation of SAND [elementary school] as a Lighthouse School Design, with a non-profit management organization, Capital Prepatory Schools (”CPS”), managing both SAND (“Capital Prepatory School II”) and Capital Prepatory Magnet School; and authorizes the Superintendent to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding [which would effectively be a no-bid contract] with CPS regarding its role in managing the schools on behalf of, and in conjunction, with the Hartford Public Schools.”

The action would allow Perry to shift from being paid as a Hartford Public School principal to the President of his own company where he could effectively set his own salary and hire a “management team” outside of the laws governing public education.

As indicated by the Hartford Board of Education’s agenda, that was only released Friday, Superintendent Kishimoto and Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland will brief the Hartford School Board behind closed doors, in secret, on Tuesday during an Executive Session and will then immediately vote on an extraordinarily broad, complex proposal affecting a series of school including the takeover of Sand School and the original Capital Prep Magnet school by the new private corporation called CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS INCORPORATED, which is the entity owned and operated by Steve Perry.

The Hartford Board of Education Agenda Reads:

B. Executive Session (Pending litigation: Sheff v. O’Neill)

7. Approval to Implement Anticipated Sheff Agreement (Dr. Kishimoto and Chairman Poland)

That the Hartford Board of Education approves the conversion of the High School, Inc. to a Sheff magnet school starting with the 9th grade in 2014-2015 with expansion to grade 12 by 2017-2018; approves the creation of a new Partnership Magnet School with Capital Community College, the Capital Community College Senior Academy; authorizes the Superintendent to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with Capital Community College regarding the creation of such new school; approves the creation of SAND as a Lighthouse School Design, with a non-profit management organization, Capital Prepatory Schools (”CPS”), managing both SAND (“Capital Prepatory School II”) and Capital Prepatory Magnet School; and authorizes the Superintendent to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with CPS regarding its role in managing the schools on behalf of, and in conjunction, with the Hartford Public Schools.

By hiding the Capital Prep maneuver and the takeover of Sand School in a so-called “Sheff v. O’Neill” deal, Kishimoto, Mayor Segarra, Board Chairman Poland and the entire Board would prevent any meaningful review of the issues or public participation.

Unlike the situation at Clark School, where parents, teachers and the community had an opportunity to be heard and seen, thereby forcing the politicians to take the community’s concerns into consideration, the game-plan for Capital Prep and Sand School is designed to prevent public awareness or participation.

Equally appalling is Kishimoto and Poland’s claim that the effort to close Sand School and give it to Capital Prep or allow Perry to set up a lucrative private company to run Capital Prep is somehow required by the Sheff v. O’Neill lawsuit.

The historic Sheff lawsuit is against the State of Connecticut and the State has an obligation to negotiate a new implementation plan to reduce racial isolation in Hartford. It is unclear at this time whether the plan on the agenda has been approved by the State or the plaintiffs, or if it is a negotiating strategy to get the Hartford Board of Education to vote on this inappropriate plan as a way to force the State and the plaintiff’s to accept this unholy agreement.

Not only do Governor Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen have the lead responsibility for resolving Sheff issues but any agreement would need the approval of the State Board of Education and the Connecticut General Assembly.

For the Hartford Board to act now is inappropriate, outrageous and may very well be illegal.

The children of Hartford and the Hartford region, as well as the Connecticut taxpayers, deserve better.

And, equally important, Connecticut’s effort to reduce racial isolation in our urban schools deserves better too.

For Christina Kishimoto to suggest that the “bizarre game to line Steve Perry’s pockets and give him control of another Hartford public school is part of the Sheff solution is so insulting that it is inconceivable that Mayor Segarra and Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland would even consider participating in such a charade.

Tuesday’s Hartford Board of Education agenda may appear to be relatively simple, but no one should fool themselves, what Kishimoto et. al are trying to do would make Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting the most notorious in modern history.

Like in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, a vote to approve the Capital Prep plan would be a move to privatize a whole portion of the Hartford Public Schools in one fell swoop under the guise of trying to meet Sheff integration goals.

The notion is beyond belief and it is incredible that such an action would be contemplated when Connecticut has a Democratic Governor, Democratic Lieutenant Governor, Democratic Attorney General and a Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

Last year, the Mayor of Bridgeport, along with the corporate education reform industry spent a record amount of money to try to convince Bridgeport voters to give up their democratic rights and do away with a democratically-elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the mayor.

What Kishimoto is proposing for next Tuesday, apparently with the support of Mayor Segarra and Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland could be considered far worse.

If Kishimoto’s plan is approved, a mayoral-appointed Board would be handing control of two or more schools to a private company run by a profiteering, unaccountable, and controversial principal

If there was ever a moment to stand up to the excessive power of authority, that moment has arrived in Hartford.

Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman. Attorney General Jepsen, Democratic Legislators, Hartford Mayor Segarra, members of the Hartford Board of Education… history will record how you handle the Steve Perry power grab.

And it will record whose side you decide to take…

Will you side with Steve Perry or the students, parents, teachers and taxpayer of Hartford and Connecticut?

SURPRISE: Connecticut Supreme Court rules Commissioner Pryor had a right to waive Vallas’ need for certification…

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As if there was any remaining doubt about how our justice system really works…

According to the ruling just released by the Connecticut Supreme Court, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor DID NOT exceed his authority when he decided to waive Paul Vallas’ need for certification to be superintendent of schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Supreme Court decided that Pryor could waive Vallas’ certification requirement despite the fact that Vallas only took a three credit independent study course instead of a school leadership program as mandated by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Malloy.

The Supreme Court justices reversed the lower court judge claiming that a “quo warranto” motion to remove Vallas was not appropriate in this situation.

Just as importantly, the Supreme Court opinion was  that the determination as to whether Vallas did or did not complete a School Leadership Program, “was a licensing decision squarely committed to the state board and the commissioner by the legislature, and the plaintiffs failed to avail themselves of appropriate avenues to raise this challenge to the defendant’s qualifications in the appropriate administrative forum.”

Meaning that rather than sue Vallas, former Judge Carmen Lopez and all of us who believed Pryor was wrong to have waived Vallas’ certification should have gone to the State Board of Education and asked them not to do what they did.

The ruling is a powerful message to the 45,000 certified teachers and 8,000 certified administrators who worked so hard and spent so much money to get their certification.

Instead of wasting your time trying to get an education and meeting the legal requirements needed to become certified in Connecticut, teachers and administrators should simply have gone to Governor Malloy and asked him to introduce special legislation to grant you certification at the discretion of the Commissioner of Education.

Then, when you failed to even do the minimum amount of worked outlined in that special legislation, you could have gone to Stefan Pryor and State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor and asked them to simply waive your need for certification all together.

You can read the Supreme Court ruling here:  http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROcr/CR310/310CR4.pdf

ah….Good thing we are a nation of laws and not of men…

Or as Al Pacino observes towards the close of the movie “Justice for All,”

“That man is guilty! That man, there, that man is a slime! he is a *slime*! If he’s allowed to go free, then something really wrong is goin’ on here!

Judge Rayford: Mr. Kirkland you are out of order!

Arthur Kirkland: You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order! That man, that sick, crazy, depraved man, raped and beat that woman there, and he’d like to do it again! He *told* me so! It’s just a show! It’s a show! It’s “Let’s Make A Deal”! “Let’s Make A Deal”! Hey Frank, you wanna “Make A Deal”? I got an insane judge who likes to beat the shit out of women! Whaddya wanna gimme Frank, 3 weeks probation?

Arthur Kirkland: [to Judge Fleming] You, you sonofabitch, you! You’re supposed to *stand* for somethin’! You’re supposed to protect people! But instead you rape and murder them!

[dragged out of court by bailiffs]

Arthur Kirkland: You killed McCullough! You killed him! Hold it! Hold it! I just completed my opening statement!”

 

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