A Better Connecticut Education Reform Lobbying Group, Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Corporate Welfare, Doug McCurry and Dacia Toll, Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Hartford, Jonathan Sackler, Malloy, Matt Poland, Mayor Bill Finch, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Teach for America Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Teach for America
There will be 210 fewer job openings in the Hartford School System for Connecticut residents thanks to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland and their allies on the Hartford Board of Education.
While hundreds of qualified, certified Connecticut teachers are unemployed and hundreds of additional Connecticut residents will be seeking teaching jobs after graduating from Connecticut institutions of higher education and completely comprehensive teacher training programs, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra led his political appointees in a 6-2 vote to give Teach for America another three-year contract with the City of Hartford.. In exchange for the $650,000 finder’s fee, Teach for America will send 210 new recruits to teach in Hartford Schools.
Mayor Segarra appoints the majority of members to the Hartford Board of Education. All of his appointees, including out-going Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, voted in favor of the TFA contract.
In this case the actual deciding vote came from the Hartford Board of Education’s one elected Republican who, “coincidently,” was “elected” chairman of the Hartford Board of Education last night as Segarra’s choice for the position.
Only Working Families Party member Robert Cotto and Michael Brescia, a former Buckley High School teacher, voted against the TFA contract.
Although the TFA recruits only get five weeks of training, they are paid the same salary and given the same benefits as teachers who already hold teacher certification in Connecticut and who have gone through a full college-level teacher training program.
The Hartford Courant update on the vote is below, but for background purposes,
According to Forbes Magazine, as of 2012, Teach for America collects in excess of $318 million a year to enlist recent college graduates to teach in low-income communities throughout the United States.
Wendy Kopp is the Founder and Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors. Until recently she was Co-CEO of Teach For America. Now, in addition to being the Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors, Kopp serves as Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Teach For All, a new TFA spin-off company that is trying to recreate TFA in the global marketplace.
Connecticut billionaire Steven Mandel Jr. is the Treasurer of Teach For America’s Board of Directors. Mandel is not only a major campaign contributor to Governor Malloy but has donated tens of millions to support the corporate education reform industry. Mandel played a pivotal role in the creation of Excel Bridgeport Inc. and the related ongoing effort to privatize public education in Bridgeport.
In addition to her TFA work, Wendy Kopp is married to Richard Barth, Jr. Barth serves as the CEO of the KIPP charter school chain. KIPP is one of the biggest players in the corporate education reform industry with 141 charter schools in 20 states.
Interestingly, Morgan Barth, who illegally taught and served as an administrator at Achievement First, Inc. for six years before becoming Commissioner Pryor’s “Turnaround Director” is a close relative of Barth and Kopp.
Of course, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor is the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. Achievement First Inc. is the charter school management company with schools in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island. Achievement First Inc. has also been the charter school company that has received the most financial benefit from Malloy and Pryor’s pro-charter school policies.
Not long ago Achievement First, Inc. added Elisa Villanueva Beard to their Board of Directors. Elisa Villanueva Beard is a long time TFA senior executive and became TFA’s Co-CEO when Kopp left to become CEO of that new TFA spin off company.
Jonathan Sackler, a leading corporate education reform advocate in Connecticut and another major Malloy donor has been part of the Achievement First Inc. Board of Directors since it was co-founded by Stefan Pryor. Sacker also formed ConnCAN and ConnAD, which is now called A Better Connecticut.
ConnCAN, ConnAD and A Better Connecticut led the record-breaking $6 million dollar lobbying effort in support of Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” initiative. These groups, along with Steve Mandel and Excel Bridgeport Inc., played the key role in support of Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to eliminate an elected board of education in Bridgeport. They also pumped a significant amount of money into Fich’s failed effort to elect Bridgeport Board of Education candidates who would support Paul Vallas. (They failed Vallas leaves his post in Bridgeport this coming Friday). Finch is a leading supporter of Achievement First’s Bridgeport Charter School and is lobbying on behalf of Capital Prep Steve Perry’s attempt to use his own private company to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
Jonathan Sackler also created 50CAN, a company dedicated to spreading the ConnCAN model across the country. Sackler formed 50CAN and serves on its Board of Directors. 50CAN’s Board includes Dacia Toll who not only co-founded Achievement First Inc. with Stefan Pryor, but presently serves as Co-CEO & President of Achievement First, Inc.
Another 50CAN Board Member is none-other-than KIPP Charter School’s Richard Barth Jr. That being the same Richard Barth Jr. who is Wendy Kopp’s husband and Morgan Barth’s relative.
Meanwhile, back in Hartford, the Hartford Courant explains,
“The board voted 6-2 to approve a three-year, $650,940 contract extension between the city schools and Teach For America, a proposal that drew critics and supporters of TFA who addressed the board for more than an hour during public comments.
Teach For America recruits and trains recent college graduates who pledge to teach for at least two years in mostly low-income public schools across the country. The agreement calls for Hartford to pay Teach For America about $3,000 per recruit, with up to 60 TFA hires in 2014-15, up to 70 in 2015-16 and as many as 80 in 2016-17.
Since 2007, the first year of Hartford’s partnership with Teach For America, the district has hired 1,477 new teachers, 14 percent of whom are TFA recruits, said Jennifer Allen, the school system’s chief talent officer.
Rather than graduating from a traditional teacher preparation college, TFA recruits complete five weeks of training and become certified through the state’s Alternate Route to Certification program, administrators said. They also receive ongoing professional development through TFA that Allen called “a remarkable model for supporting new teachers.”
While several Hartford students spoke in support of their TFA teachers, many of the critics Monday, including Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, described the contract as paying a “headhunters fee” and argued that the money should be spent on improving school programs. Board member Robert Cotto Jr., who voted against the extension, also criticized the retention rate.
Among the 22 TFA hires in 2007, three remain in the school system. And of the 31 TFA teachers in the 2011-12 year, 13 still teach in Hartford schools, district data show.
Those numbers reveal that only 13 percent of the 2007 TFA recruits are still teaching in Hartford after six years and 58 percent of the 2011 TFA recruits have already bailed.
Of course, the contract states that TFA keeps its $3,000 per recruit even if the teacher quits during the first week of school.
Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Bill Finch, Teach for America Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Seg, Teach for America
Appointed by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland serves as a member of the Hartford Board of Education. While he will remain on the Board, Poland is stepping down as Chairman tonight and Segarra’s appointees will elect the one Republican on the Board to become the Chairman.
Matt Poland also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Hartford Library. Poland became the Hartford Public Library’s Deputy Administrator in June 2008. He became interim Director in December 2008 and by October 2009 he had acquired the title of Chief Executive Officer. This was the first time that such a title had been used since the library opened in 1893.
As a public servant, whether on the Hartford Board of Education or as an employee of the Hartford Public Library, Poland’s primary job is to serve the public.
It is for that reason his email attack on citizens who contacted him is all the more bizarre.
As noted in previous Wait, What? blog posts, the Hartford Board of Education will be voting on a $650,000 Teach for America contract tonight. Over the past few weeks a number of citizens have written to members of the Hartford Board of Education urging them to vote no. Some citizens wrote following an informative email they received from the American Federation of Teachers (see below).
On Saturday night, after receiving a number of emails, Matt Poland went into an email tirade and sent out this response.
Collecting the names of the people who had written to him, Poland sent out a blast email that was cc’d to all the people who wrote. His email read,
“I have just received 13 e-mails from this group on the above-referenced topic in which each of you have presented yourselves as Hartford residents, while only 6 are actually residents and taxpayers in the City (please see the list of locations below). Let me begin by saying that this demonstrates a lack of good judgement on the part of those writers who misrepresented themselves.
Since this is a form letter, it is clear that there is an organizing entity behind this effort. I will tell you what I intend to do when one of you tell me who you represent.
East Hartford (2)
If there was a “Hall of Fame” to highlight the arrogance and sense of entitlement that permeates American politics, politicians and political appointees, Poland’s missive could certainly be a stand-alone exhibit.
It would certainly be inappropriate for a non-Hartford resident to say they lived in Hartford. As members of the Hartford Board of Education, Poland and the others certainly have a primary duty to Hartford students, parents, teachers and residents.
However for Poland to dismiss the concerns of the people who wrote to him is beyond insulting.
Here are some important facts:
As a result of the Open Choice program, Hartford schools accept children from the entire region.
Even more to the point, only about 23 percent of Hartford’s $415 million school budget is funded by Hartford taxpayers. Connecticut taxpayers pick up about 67 percent of Hartford’s school budget and the federal government pays for most of the last 10 percent.
From the available evidence, it certainly doesn’t appear that any person was trying to “trick” Poland into believing they were Hartford residents, but more to the point, as a public official Poland has a duty to be open-minded enough that voices – even those outside of Hartford – are heard.
The individuals who wrote the emails to Poland were apparently persuaded to write after reading the following email sent out by the American Federation of Teachers,
Hartford’s Board of Education is expected to vote Monday night on whether to renew a recruiting contract with Teach for America (TFA) worth nearly three quarters of a million dollars.
Is this really the best use of the city’s limited education resources?
Handing $651,000.00 to TFA over three years as a “finders-fee” for an additional 210 recruits for the district raises additional questions:
Why spend tax dollars on a human resources function when parents are crying out for improvements to their neighborhood schools?
Why outsource recruiting to TFA instead of partnering with our state’s public colleges and universities?
Why import TFA recruits from outside the state when there is no shortage of credentialed teachers right here in Connecticut?
Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”
The growing “Hartford Rising” movement has been saying school officials need to listen to parents, communities, and educators before making decisions that impact students and their opportunity to learn. Join them in urging the board vote “NO” to this costly contract.
President, AFT Connecticut
First Vice-President, AFT Connecticut
Second Vice-President, AFT Connecticut
President, Hartford Federation of Teachers Local 1018
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221
P.S. Click here for a brief story on the board’s planned vote and the growing movement to “resist TFA” in local schools across the nation.
And when you, “Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside ‘head hunters,’” you get this,
Hartford BOE: Make Better Choices than Finder’s Fees
Hartford school officials are about to decide on renewing a three-year, $651,000.00 contract with Teach for America (TFA) for an additional 210 recruits for the district. We are urging members living in Hartford to contact the Board of Education before their February 24 meeting and urge they make better choices with scarce education resources.
Join the Hartford Rising! movement in urging the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”
In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.
Please look up and use your full nine-digit zip for the best results. Please enter your zip/postal code
Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor, Teach for America Hartford, Malloy, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor, Teach for America
Last week’s Hartford Board of Education meeting has been re-scheduled for tonight.
At tonight’s meeting, the Hartford Board of Education, led by Mayor Pedro Segarra, is expected to throw an additional $650,940 at Teach for America.
Despite the fact that there are hundreds of unemployed and underemployed Connecticut residents who are certified teachers and hundreds of other Connecticut residents who have recently graduated or will be graduating from Connecticut’s public and independent colleges with teaching degrees, Hartford’s Mayor Segarra will likely give Teach for America a $650,000 “finders-fee” to bring in up to 210, mostly out-of-state, recruits to take teaching positions in Hartford public school classrooms.
The action being taken by these Hartford leaders is an extraordinary and disturbing statement about their fundamental lack of commitment to Connecticut citizens.
Instead of providing jobs for people here at home, these “leaders” will use scarce Connecticut taxpayer dollars to hire an out-of-state, nonprofit company who will bypass qualified Connecticut residents, recruit primarily out-of-state people, give them five weeks of training and then place them in a Hartford classroom where they will receive the same salary and benefits as a Connecticut resident who have gone through one of our college’s teacher training programs.
This vote isn’t about whether Teach for America is a good program, it is about how Connecticut’s elected and appointed officials are using public funds.
In her memo to the Hartford Board of Education,Hartford Superintendent Kishimoto writes,
“Teach for America recruits teachers from the top colleges and universities across the country. Each teacher, corps member, commits to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions across the United States. Teach for America’s mission is to recruit, select, train and support outstanding recent college graduates to serve as highly qualified and effective teachers in urban schools.”
TFA may be a great program, at least for its corps members. With a mere five weeks of training, TFA recruits are paid the same rate as Hartford’s fully trained beginning teachers and the federal government allows the TFA recruits to write-off their federal student loans for each year they teach.
However, as noted in an earlier blog, 136,500 Connecticut residents remain unemployed including many trained teachers who already hold Connecticut teacher certificates.
Furthermore, as a direct result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s policies, there are about 8,200 FEWER jobs in state and local government since he took office. Those jobs disappeared as a result of targeted budget cuts to various government programs, including education at the state and local level.
In addition, hundreds of new Connecticut residents have graduated over the past couple of years or will be graduating from the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and other Connecticut colleges and universities after completing four and five-year teacher preparation programs.
These students and their families have spent tens of thousands of dollars to prepare for a teaching career in Connecticut.
But rather than give unemployed teachers and the fully-trained recent graduates an opportunity to get a job in Connecticut’s capital city and contribute to the well-being of their home state, the Hartford Board of Education appears ready to throw away another $650,000 on Teach for America’s fees to recruit non-Connecticut residents.
Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Windham, New London and other cities have already paid out millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to Teach for America so that they can recruit and place inexperienced teachers in our state’s urban classrooms.
The fact that Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Pryor haven’t stepped in to put Connecticut citizens first is even more outrageous.
Once again, we are left to ask, are there any elected or appointed state or municipal officials who will stand up for Connecticut’s families?
You can contact Hartford Board of Education members by using the following links;
Our Board of Education members include:
Matthew K. Poland, Chairman
Robert Cotto, Jr., Secretary
Honorable Mayor Pedro Segarra, Board Member
Jose Colón-Rivas, Board Member
Richard F. Wareing, Board Member
Beth A. Taylor, Ph, D., Board Member
Craig Stallings, Board Member
Michael Brescia, Board Member
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Hartford, Kenneth Moales, Mayor Bill Finch, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Bridgeport, Capital Prep Charter School, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Hartford, Kenneth Moales Jr., Mayor Bill Finch, Steve Perry
Steve Perry calls himself American’s most trusted educator.
While Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers pay him a full-time salary and benefits to serve as the principal of the Hartford School System’s Capital Prep Magnet School, Perry skips about 20% of the school days so that he can travel the country giving speeches for hire.
When Perry does show up for work he spends an inordinate amount of his time promoting his speaking business through media interviews and his obsessive use of Twitter while on public time.
Most recently, Perry has been busy pushing a plan to use his private company to open up a charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Local support for his plan comes from corporate education reform industry ally Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Finch’s campaign treasurer, Kenneth Moales. Moales tried and failed to get his own charter school last year, but has used his position on the Bridgeport Board of Education to push the charter school agenda.
Just this past Thursday, Steve Perry was out-of-state giving a speech and holding a book signing session at Winston Salem State University.
The Thursday before Perry was the keynote speaker at a conference at Kent State University in Ohio.
For that one, Perry was introduced at an author, principal and CNN education contributor.
The description went on to say that, “Perry is the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., which has been cited by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top schools in the country. Capital Prep has sent 100 percent of its predominantly low-income, minority, first-generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.”
But of course, that statement is patently untrue.
Capital Prep HAS NOT sent 100% of its graduates to four year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.
Today Perry is northern Virginia to give the keynote address at the annual VABHMA Gala Reception.
And this time Perry’s bio has been expanded to proclaim that he is not only an educator and author, but that he is also a therapist.
The event biography leads with the following:
Dr. Steve Perry’s heart pumps passion and produces positive change. Featured in CNN’s Black in America series, Dr. Perry is the most talked about innovative educator on the scene today.
Perry is the founder and principal of what U.S. News and World Report has cited as one of the top schools in the country, Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Capital Prep has sent 100% of its predominantly low-income, minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.
100% of Capital Prep’s graduates have gone to four year colleges?
Despite the fact that falsifying and padding one’s resume has downed a number of politicians over the years, some individuals apparently continue to believe that they don’t have to live by the same standards, rules and laws that apply to the rest of us.
Bridgeport, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Teach for America, Windham Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Teach for America, TFA, Windham
There is a lot in corporate education “reform” that astonishes, but perhaps nothing is so astonishing as the strategic deployment of TFA. It’s counter-intuitive that untrained recent graduates will fare better in the classroom than seasoned teachers. And the reason that this notion feels counter-intuitive is quite simple: its contrary to common sense and cool reason. With rare exceptions, there is no way at all that a person with 5 weeks training can take commanding control of the classroom and lead the students with equanimity.
I have known young people who went into TFA, and while I thought highly of them as individuals, I did not think that they were prepared to do a better job of teaching than someone with professional training. There is a reason we have EDUCATION PROGRAMS. Yesterday, we took teaching seriously: we saw it as a profession, a vocation, which makes great demands on its practitioners. We understood that it was no small thing to get up in front of children and then ask them to follow you. But today we–meaning “they”!!–have completely trivialized teaching. They have decided that teaching is just like brushing your teeth or driving your car: just about anyone can do it!
TFA is insidious for a number of reasons. It’s an integral part of the corporate plan to de-professionalize teachers and to bring them under strict management control. Professionalism is anathema to the corporate types because professionals have too much workplace autonomy. We can’t have that in our brave new schools of “accountability.” Professionals typically form unions. And this is the real value of TFA for the “reformers”: it allows management to go around union contracts by using “contract labor”–i.e., the TFA cohort. And it will always be true that people on short term contracts are more vulnerable, more pliable and less invested in their place of employment. In short, TFA gives management a considerable degree of “flexibility.”
And TFA is not the best option for students. As Jon Pelto says, there are many unemployed teachers in Connecticut. If Hartford BOE has money to spend, it should spend it on real teachers for the benefit of the children. TFA is not only part of union busting, it is also, sad to say, an engine for increasing the ghettoization of the ghetto. When TFA went to New Orleans, thousands of public school teachers were laid off, many of them people of color, whose middle class jobs were crucial for the stability of certain neighborhoods. When these people lost their jobs, the impact on their communities must have been terrible. I’m sure the same thing will happen in Hartford, albeit on a much smaller scale. But Hartford needs every good job that it currently has, as the city’s economy is anything but promising.
Superintendent Kishimoto (in league with Stefan Pryor) is wreaking havoc on Hartford’s future. She is taking from the needy to give to those who are already glutted. TFA is a rich organization, backed by powerful wealthy people; it does not need a penny of public money. If they want to send “brilliant young people” to the poorest school districts, let them pay for it!
One hopes that some of the young people recruited to TFA will wake up and see the light. I understand that many have good intentions, but they have to realize that they are being used. I told one person I know who was in TFA that she should immediately disabuse herself of the idea that she was going to “save poor kids in the ghetto.” What could she know as someone who grew up with wealth what it is was like to live in a distressed community like Hartford? TFA encourages their “bright young things” to think of themselves as “game changers.” In my view, this is little else than an incitement to willful innocence or disgusting arrogance. And what is more, when the TFA “teacher” has a hard time of it and is forced to revise her “idealism,” it is easy to see that she might become bitter and cynical–hardly the attitudes you want in a leader of children…
I always say if TFA is so great then send them to the wealthy districts like Avon and Farmington, and the veteran teachers in those communities can come and teach in places like Hartford and Windham. Of course, I am well aware this would never happen!
Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Steve Perry
As Wait, Wait? has investigated the allegations associated with Capital Prep Steve Perry and the potential violations of federal and state laws and Hartford regulations and policies at Capital Prep, readers have become accustomed to the constant comments and attacks from Steve Perry or one or more of his supporters.
Over the past few months close to 150 comments have been posted by an individual or individuals associated with Steve Perry. Many of these comments have been posted during school hours.
The person or persons commenting have used pseudonyms like Reality Ed, Hartfordtruth, just saying, Wait? what…, reality, uhart, Really, to tell the truth, really concerned, concerned, 2 days?, dogs?, FOI, Just saying and other fake names.
While most have been sent from a computer with the IP Address 188.8.131.52, the individual or individuals have used a number of different computers to send their messages.
Reality Ed, along with Hartford Truth, have been one of the most regular pseudonyms used
Reality Ed has used a computer with the IP Address (184.108.40.206) nineteen times. This IP Address uses Comcast Internet Service. This computer is also the favorite of the person who uses the pseudonym Hartford Truth.
Reality Ed has also used IP Address (220.127.116.11) four times. This IP Address is an ATT Wireless Service. (Coincidently Perry has a blackberry with ATT that he used in repeated secret communications with Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor).
Reality Ed has used IP Address (18.104.22.168) three times. This IP Address uses a different ATT Wireless Service.
Reality Ed has used also used a computer with the IP Address (22.214.171.124) on one occasion. This IP Address is located at a Hartford Public School.
And Reality Ed has used the IP Address (126.96.36.199) at least two times. This IP Address is also located at a Hartford Public School
This morning, at 7:34 am, Reality Ed returned to hurl an insult at another Wait, What? Reader. This time Reality ED once again used the same Hartford Public School IP Address of 188.8.131.52. (You can see the information below).
Superintendent Kishimoto needs to stop covering up for Steven Perry and conduct a proper investigation and take disciplinary against Perry and others who are violating Board of Education policies and potentially state laws.
If Kishimoto fails to act, the police need to step in and take over the task she is legally responsible to do.
For those who don’t know the background, here are some of the Wait, What? posts to read;
Is Hartford forgoing its ethics policy for Capital Prep Steve Perry?
Capital Prep “Table of Shame” Steve Perry on the notion of “Professional Responsibility to Students.”
No one is above the law, not even Capital Prep Steve Perry (a re-cap)
Principal Steve Perry, you just don’t get it – it’s the double standard that is so offensive!
A look at Steve Perry’s record of absenteeism and use of social media to bully others
Hey Steve Perry – Tell us about Capital Prep’s “Table of Shame”
NEWS FLASH: Steve Perry’s use of private email account will not shield public’s right to know
Hartford, Steve Perry and his threat make the Washington Post
Update: “Strap up [my gun], there will be head injuries” (Steve Perry 11/20/13)
|184.108.40.206 – Geo Information
|| US, United States
||Hartford, CT 06106
||Hartford Public Schools
||State of Connecticut
||AS22742 State of Connecticut
||7427.33 km (4615.13 miles)
Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Friendship Public Charter Schools Inc., Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Christina Kishimoto, Friendship Charter Schools Inc., Hartford, Stefan Pryor
Sources close to Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor report that the Charter School loving Commissioner of Education has committed to give Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Friendship Charter Schools Inc., a major charter school management company based in Washington, D.C.
Malloy’s Commissioner of Education recently announced that he has “accepted” Hartford’s Clark Elementary School into the Connecticut State Department of Education’s “Commissioner’s Network.”
Although the law requires an inclusive “turnaround” process that is supposed to include local parents, teachers, school officials and community members, multiple sources, including one close to Stefan Pryor, report that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education has already decided that the final “Clark School Turnaround Plan” MUST be to hand the day-to-day operation of the Hartford elementary school over to Friendship Public Charter School Inc.
The Friendship Public Charter School chain is made up of six charter schools in Washington D.C. and another four schools that the company runs in Baltimore, Maryland.
Donald Hense, who is the Founder and Chairman of Friendship Public Charter Schools Inc., is a long time charter school advocate. In 2011, Hense was an inductee into “the National Charter Schools Hall of Fame” at the annual meeting of the National Charter Schools Conference.
According to Internal Revenue Service reports filed in 2011, Friendship Charter School Inc. provided Hense with a compensation package of approximately $300,000.
In that year, the company had revenues of $71 million and expenditures of about $67 million. Of its revenue, $60 million came from tuition fees paid by the city governments of Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland and another $9 million came from other government grants.
Like many charter school management companies, the Friendship Charter Schools Board of Directors is made up of corporate education reform industry executives and their allies.
The Friendship Charter School Inc. Board includes Gregory Prince (President, Educational Services Associates), Carol Thompson Cole (President & CEO, Venture Philanthropy Partners), Deborah McGriff (Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund), Chris Whittle (an education entrepreneur who founded the ill-fated Edison Schools and now serves as the chief executive officer of Avenues: The World School, “a planned international system of independent pre-K-12 schools) and Kevin P. Chavous (CEO of the Chavous Group, an education reform consulting and public relations group).
The President of Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) not only serves on the Board of Friendship Schools, but the education reform investment company has also played a major role in funding Friendship Schools and its aggressive expansion plans. Venture Philanthropy Partners also invests in a variety of other charter school management companies including KIPP. KIPP owns and operates a chain of 141 charter schools in 20 states.
Friendship Schools is also closely associated with the NewSchools Venture Fund, a corporate funded financial investment company that is “committed to transforming public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs.”
In the “small world” department, one the NewSchools Venture Fund Board members includes none-other-than Jonathan Sackler, who played a vital role in the creation of Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s Achievement First charter school management company and is responsible for the creation of ConnCAN and 50 CAN. Sackler and his wife are two of Governor Malloy’s biggest campaign contributors having donated the maximum allowable amount of $10,000 each.
Assuming Malloy’s Commissioner of Education is successful in forcing Hartford to turn Clark Elementary School over to the Friendship Public Charter School Inc.; Hartford will be home to yet another “no excuses” school that is widely known for its harsh disciplinary policies.
One of the Friendship Public Charter Schools made the news in 2012 when a Washington D.C. television station ran the story entitled, “Teacher at Friendship Public Charter School Accused of Taping Visually Impaired Student To Chair; Teacher has been placed on administrative leave.”
According to the media report;
“A teacher at Friendship Public Charter School has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly taping a nine-year-old visually impaired student to a chair.
The alleged incident happened Wednesday afternoon during an after school tutoring program at the Friendship Blow Pierce Junior Academy Campus in Northeast.
Christian Washington, a fourth grade student, says he asked his teacher if he could get up, and when he did for a second time, the teacher first threatened to tape him to his chair, and then did. Washington says he was wrapped with the tape several times around his chest and his legs. He says he was embarrassed.
“She was laughing. Everybody in the class was laughing at me,” Washington says…
No doubt about it, the Malloy/Pryor “we know best” strategy of privatization of our public schools continues to be the cornerstone of Malloy’s education reform policies.
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Bridgeport, Capital Prep Charter School, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Steve Perry
Even a cursory review of the facts reveal that Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry is violating Hartford Board of Education policies, and potentially state laws, due to his chronic absenteeism, his inappropriate use of social media and the fact that he spends an inordinate amount of his work day promoting his profitable public speaking business.
But the most serious breach of ethics, Hartford Board of Education policies and potentially state laws arise from the charter school application that CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS INCORPORATED recently filed with Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Department of Education.
Steve Perry’s application is to open a new charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut that would be called the Capital Prep Harbor School.
According to the documents filed with the State Department of Education, the applicant is;
Dr. Stephen Perry, Head of Schools
Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc.
1304 Main St.
Hartford CT 06103
Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. is a corporation filed in the state of Connecticut. According to the incorporation papers filed with Connecticut’s Secretary of the State, Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. was created on Feb 16, 2012 and is domiciled at 40 Middlefield Street in Middletown, Connecticut. Steven Perry is recorded as the President of Capital Preparatory Schools Incorporated and that address is also Perry’s residence.
At the same time, according to the documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Capital Preparatory Schools Incorporated is actually located at 1304 Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut.
But of course, 1304 Main Street in Hartford is the where Capital Preparatory Magnet School is located and Capital Preparatory Magnet School is owned and operated by the Hartford Board of Education.
So according to the Internal Revenue Service, Steve Perry is using a Hartford Board of Education school as the address for one of his private corporations.
His application to open a new charter school in Bridgeport reiterates that point since it lists the official address for the application as: Dr. Stephen Perry, Head of Schools, Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. 1304 Main St. Hartford CT 06103
The policies of the Hartford Board of Education limit outside employment for its employees. Hartford BOE Policy # 4138 reads:
Non-School EmploymentPersonnel of the schools may receive compensation for activities outside of the compensated work time as long as these activities do not interfere with the proper discharge of their assigned duties, do not constitute a conflict of interest, or do not cause poor public relations within the community. It is expected that any outside activity should be carried on in a business-like and ethical manner.
All employees shall notify the superintendent of outside activities that may interfere with the performance of normal duties.
If an outside activity occurs during compensated work time and the superintendent permits the employee to participate, any compensation given the employee shall be remitted to the district.
Since Steve Perry is openly running a private business out of a public school, the first question for the Hartford Board of Education and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is whether Perry properly notified them that he was running his private company out of their facility and whether Kishimoto and the Board signed off on those activities.
The second question for the Hartford Board of Education and Superintendent Kishimoto is whether or not the work associated with Perry’s private company interferes “with the proper discharge” of his assigned duties.
And the third question is whether the Hartford Board of Education is being properly compensated by Perry since the policy clearly states, “If an outside activity occurs during compensated work time and the superintendent permits the employee to participate, any compensation given the employee shall be remitted to the district.”
Making the situation even more incredible is that we now learn that the Hartford Board of Education’s “Perry Problem” goes far beyond Perry.
According to Perry’s Bridgeport charter school application, the Founding Members of the new charter school include a number of Capital Prep Magnet School administrators and teachers, all of whom are Hartford Board of Education employees;
Richard Berganski Jr. (Vice Principal)
Scott Wojnarowicz (Math teacher)
Kelly Horan (Science teacher)
Scott Kapralos (Math teacher and SPJ)
Kitsia Ferguson (Head, Lower School)
Monique Ethier (Math teacher)
Lauren Davern (History teacher and SPJ)
Lisa Loomis (English Teacher)
Is it possible that Superintendent Kishimoto and the Hartford Board of Education has really signed off on the fact that Perry and his entire management team are engaged in running a private business out of a public school?
And if the 600 page Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. application to form a charter school in Bridgeport wasn’t proof enough that significant work is being done through Perry’s private company, the application added,
“The Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN) has also teamed with the founding members as a consultant on the preparation of this charter schools application.”
The Northeast Charter Schools Network is a registered lobbying entity in the state of Connecticut and NECSN and its immediate predecessor the Connecticut Charter School Network were part of the $6 million coordinated campaign to support Governor Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative.
As the Northeast Charter Schools Network brags on their website;
“Our experienced advocacy staff understands that despite tremendous promise and performance, charter schools are under constant attack. NECSN’s team has been successful on many fronts, bringing significant victories to the charter school movement despite tough budget cycles…”
In addition the Northeast Charter Schools Network reports that, “…member schools have access to Elevate Charter Schools…Elevate provides: charterGO, a charter start program for new school applicants; charterSHIELD, an audit and compliance program featuring a continuous improvement plan that is based on an in-depth review and alignment of a school’s charter to its academic program and authorizer requirements; and, charterRENEW, a program designed to walk schools through preparation for charter renewal.”
As “Head of Schools,” for Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. Steve Perry is clearly investing significant amounts of money and time building his private company.
As the charter school application clearly reflects, that effort includes the Vice Principal of Capital Prep and more than half a dozen other Hartford Board of Education employees.
The question now isn’t whether Steve Perry is running a private company out of a public school, the question, yet again, is whether anyone in authority will step forward to ensure the Steve Perry and is fellow operatives are forced to follow the laws, rules and policies that everyone else must follow.
Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Christina Kishimoto, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Steve Perry
At tonight’s Hartford Board of Education meeting, the outgoing Chairman of the Hartford Board of Education, Matt Poland, used a procedural maneuver to prevent Hartford parents and other concerned citizens from addressing the Board about Capital Magnet School Principal Steve Perry prior to the Board’s scheduled executive session on Perry.
Claiming that citizens could only address “action items” on the agenda and that the Board’s executive session wasn’t an “action item,” Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s hand-picked chairman effectively prevent citizens from discussing their concerns about Perry.
Hats off to Mayor Segarra, Chairman Poland and Superintendent Kishimoto for effectively destroying the right of the citizens of Hartford and Connecticut from addressing their representatives.
Their actions speak volumes about the unholy power of the corporate education reform industry and its disciples.
Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Hartford, Steve Perry
The Hartford Board of Education will meet behind closed doors during tonight’s meeting to discuss Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry. Rather than attend to his duties as a Hartford public school principal, Perry has missed 20 percent of the school days this year as he gallivants around the country giving speeches for hire. If he were a student he’d be classified as a truant.
When Perry manages to make it to school he spends an inordinate amount of his time blasting out Tweets from his Twitter Account. Among his Tweets last year was one that included a threat against his political opponents that would have gotten a student, teacher or another school administrator arrested, suspended or fired.
Meanwhile, recent news coverage reveals that despite being a full-time, year-round Hartford Board of Education employee, pulling down a hefty six-figure income, Perry has formed a charter school management company and has submitted a proposal to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
Perry’s Bridgeport proposal now goes before Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor. Late last year Pryor and his senior staff played a key role in the failed attempt to convince the Hartford Board of Education to turn Capital Prep Magnet School and another Hartford elementary school over to Perry’s private company along with $15 million a year in state funds.
Underlying the whole situation is Perry’s domineering management style which has been described as nothing short of a model of how bullying destroys a workplace.
So far this year, Steve Perry has lost seven teachers.
Perry’s scorched earth management style, including using his Twitter account to bully teachers, has persuaded a number of former teachers to come forward to shares heitr experience at Capital Prep.
Here is one of the most powerful and disturbing exposés to date:
What happened at Capital Prep?
“If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a nonworking cat.” Douglas Adams
To understand something, it can help to hear the journey it took to get to the point of the problem. For those of you that have a moment, I’ve prepared a personal history of my experience and qualifications. If you just want the gist of what is happening at Capital Prep, skip over and head to the next section.
Teaching is a family vocation and one I was not looking to pursue. I was more interested in business management and didn’t think of teaching as a viable career; low pay, long hours, high demands and little if any recognition. Just the satisfaction of working with students, which didn’t pay bills. After several years in the business world, however, I wasn’t feeling any satisfaction, just plenty of frustration.
There was a Masters/Certification program that stood out from others that I had casually looked at. It was a Constructivist program, a theory of learning that relies on the learner’s participation more than the teachers.
It is best summed up:
A traditional classroom would teach a student to bake bread by providing them with directions, pre-measured ingredients and an oven. The completed loaf of bread would be compared to a bread rubric and given a score.
Constructivists would provide the oven and a discussion of ingredients and then allow the students to create a loaf of bread. There would be a number of failures, some successes, and a lot of evidence to discuss. The group would determine what ingredients had what effect on the baking and, together, create multiple recipes for different loaves of bread.
As a high school dropout (I completed only my freshman year) this style of education appealed to me. If I had it in any school I attended I would have been more engaged. I made it a point to utilize it in any way that I could.
My student teaching assignment was in a semi-private school in New Haven that offered full scholarships to disadvantaged children. My mentor teacher wrote a stunning letter of recommendation (Letter of recommendation here) and I moved on to teach my first year in Bridgeport. I was overwhelmed by the needs of the kids. Urban education is not for the neophyte. With good recommendations and references I moved to Branford and began teaching there. I received several commendations including one for creating a tech team and program for the middle school (Letter of recommendation here).
But teaching at that point was still a low paying job. I was earning extra money working in the summer teaching adults computer skills. I was asked to do this for staff and to assist them with working computers and software into their lesson plans.
A software vendor who was in the school training staff on the same day I was teaching a group noticed how effective I was doing and approached me with an offer. On her recommendation I took a job with a software company to do the same for them throughout the United States. The money was nearly double what I was making as a teacher and the travel and incentives were just amazing.
After a year I began to miss the classroom and the impact I had on children. Not wanting to return to teaching and the low pay I decided to go to law school with the intent on becoming an advocate for children. While in law school DCF hired me as a social worker.
I worked as a DCF social worker until after I passed the bar exam. As with education, juvenile law attorneys are not well paid. This seems to be a theme in Connecticut for professionals that work with our most precious resource.
I took a position with a civil rights organization as a trainer, working with staff, attorneys and the public and then moved to a position with the Connecticut Bar Association, coordinating CLE training and assisting attorneys with their presentations. I also helped design a program with Charter Oak College for paralegals, taught college courses in two different bachelors programs, and wrote curriculum for educational companies.
When the state began paying enough to support a professional, I opened a law firm and transitioned from representing children through Lawyers for Children America pro bono to a full time contract with the state.
For four years I represented parents and children who were caught up in the child protection system. I helped clients fill out Section 8 forms, apply for benefits, contact distant relatives, drove them to appointments and, most importantly, fought for their rights to be a family.
The state eliminated the department that was paying juvenile attorneys and, ½ way through my MBA, I began to work with corporate clients and ended up working full time with a for-profit education company doing their compliance work.
It was while working for the company that I came back into contact with schools and students and realized how much I missed the environment. I reached out to UConn Neag school of education and talked to them about their various programs. I reached out to two Superintendents of schools to ask about the program and talk to them about career paths in school leadership. I applied for the UCAPP program and was fortunate enough to be accepted as one of 12 in the group. I took summer classes while working full time and had to write a letter to the UConn graduate program explaining how I was going to juggle two graduate programs. To me it was worth it – I wanted to be back in education.
In addition to personal motivation, it was the culmination of 20 years of experience along with a Masters in Education, a JD and an MBA. A Sixth Year would be the prefect preparatory cap.
While I was completing my summer courses, the company for which I was working suffered some financial issues and had to do some layoffs. I received a glowing letter of recommendation (letter here) and had a decision to make. I could continue the year on unemployment and some side work while I was in the program and hope that I might be able to get an administration job after a year (the program is two years). I could go back to practicing law, but it would mean developing a firm that could provide an income that I would then need to close it in order to take a leadership position. With this in mind I started to apply for teaching positions.
I was hired as a creative writing teacher at Capital Prep to teach Pre-K to 7th grade. I was excited about the social justice theme. I had worked for a civil rights organization, had just closed a law firm that focused on social and constitutional rights, and felt it was particularly appropriate given the urban climate. In addition the chance to work in creative writing without having to deal with common core objectives (or so I was told) gave me the chance to give students a creative outlet for writing.
I am only certified for K-6th so I would be teaching two grades for which I am not certified. This is not unusual at CP and is something that the union is well aware of. As I came to find, the union is well aware of what is going on in the school but cannot step forward to do anything unless a teacher files a grievance. But, given Perry’s union philosophy, that could pretty much end a teaching career.
You see, once a teacher is fired, they have to admit that on every application they submit to any system going forward. A school system is highly unlikely to take a chance on a teacher who was terminated, especially when they are getting 300 applications for every open position. They are looking for reasons to turn people down and “terminated mid-year” is a pretty easy one.
Non-tenured teachers live with the stress that at any moment, a school leader can end their job and, unless the teacher decides that they never want to teach again, there is little they can do to fight it. So they accept the opportunity to resign and go on their way. Perry is well aware of this and exercises total control of the building and teachers through bullying and intimidation.
More odd than the nightmarish hostile work environment is the lack of basic materials in the school. I requested the language arts curriculum, specifically the writing curriculum, so that I could align the creative writing lesson plans to the current writing assignments. It doesn’t exist. Despite the fact that the lower school has been around for several years, the teachers for the most part are new and at no point were they brought together to create a uniform curriculum for any of the subject areas.
That’s not all that the school was missing. They were directed to create a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) program and, after starting it, were asked to provide basic documents and plans. When they could not (despite being in existence for over 7 years) they were removed from the program until such time that they could develop these basic documents. This was inexcusable, but not the only discrepancy that existed either in required paperwork or plans.
The best example of how little academics means in the school is that they have no budget for books in the library – they had donated books, but they were stacked into the shape of a Christmas tree seven feet high because the children could not check the books out. And it was a good thing – I found a copy of 50 Shades of Grey among the titles – but they had brand new football uniforms and equipment for the football team.
If I was isolated in the school without contacts I might have thought that this was just the way Hartford schools are run.
But as part of my Sixth Year program I was interning with the former Assistant Superintendent for Hartford Magnet Schools and Perry’s former boss. I was also running into ex-Hartford leadership employees, such as Desi Nesmith, former Principal at SAND school and administrator of the year and Dr. Howard Thiery, Superintendent of Schools for District 17 and a former Hartford Principal. These three professionals, as well as other contacts, gave me a clearer idea of what was happening in Hartford and, by reflection, specifically Capital Prep.
I began to notice that I was being singled out for treatment by administration at Capital Prep. In speaking to other teachers, I found out that many of the issues I was encountering, such as observations, videotaping of me during duties, denying me the opportunity for professional development, and other issues were mine alone. Multiple times I was told by other professionals that I was being singled out, targeted, and on a few occasions that it was because of my race and gender.
That wasn’t difficult to believe. When I was hired there were two male elementary teachers. One left (not an unusual occurrence at Capital Prep given that the school purportedly has the highest turnover rate in Hartford, if not the state) and was replaced by a female teacher. That meant that of the 16 classroom teachers on staff, only one was male. And he is an assistant football coach, so by reputation untouchable.
Football is everything at Capital Prep. To the point where players can get away with bullying, intimidation, and horseplay beyond what one could accept. The school is rife with stories, told in disbelieving tones, by teachers who witness events but don’t know what to do about it. One player at the end of the 12-13 school year actually set off fireworks near some kindergarten children. He was not disciplined and was back in school for the following year.
But it is not just the teachers who are bullied and intimidated. Teachers are encouraged to run students up and down stairs if they misbehave, or run them out on the field to exhaustion. I did not witness this, but overheard teachers telling other teachers about doing it and was offered it as a suggestion for dealing with behavior problems. Flabbergasted, I asked what they would do if a student, in their shiny and slippery dress shoes, turned an ankle or slipped and fell down a flight of stairs. This was met with stony silence.
Administrators have put students in the hall outside their offices holding books out at shoulder height to embarrass and humiliate them while causing pain from the weight. These sorts of punishments are not seen as unusual and are overlooked by staff as if it is not an unusual occurrence.
I struggled with the harsh punishment and discipline tone of the school. I mentioned it to other school leadership who seemed to be more bewildered than anything else, wondering why they would engage in this type of punishment when the focus was supposed to be on positive student behaviors. But at no point did anyone react as if it was especially troubling or illegal that it was happening. It seems that urban schools have a different standard. If any of what I saw were to occur in a suburban school or community there would be an investigation. In Hartford, it’s just seen as business as usual.
The continuous unacceptable negative treatment targeted at me culminated in an evaluation that was specifically designed to fail me. The overall average score I received on the evaluation indicated educational malpractice. In the words of a SEED trainer “To get that score, you would have to call a kid “stupid” to their face in class in response to a question. The score is that bad.”
In their zealous pursuit to demean and belittle me had they just scored me on the low average I would not have given a second thought about it. I was out of the elementary classroom for a while, I was responsible for 9 grades of material, I was dealing with student ages that I had some, but not a lot of, experience with. I agreed that I had room to grow and was actively working with teachers at other schools (remember, the bulk of teachers at CP are new) to grow my skills. But scoring me at a level of educational malpractice just revealed what administration was really up to.
Because of the evaluation score I had no choice but to withdraw from the UCAPP sixth year program. It not only meant the end of my career as a teacher, but as an administrator as well. This was especially distressing since I had planned to pursue my career in the area where I was most passionate – urban education.
But that wasn’t my greatest concern. The information I was slowly gathering on what the children were exposed to within the school was incomplete. I filed a DCF-136 form as a mandated reporter due to the stories I was hearing about the risk that children are put in from bullying and physical discipline, as well as the needless pain of the corporal punishment I had witnessed. I then filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint with the Hartford BOE alleging discriminatory practices and hostile work environment. I was told I would hear from the BoE investigator. Four days later, after no word from the BoE, I filed a formal complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
I sent an email to the HR person at Capital Prep who would be responsible for an EEO complaint. The email exchange is (emails here and here). Three hours later, Perry sent an email to the BoE requesting that I be terminated. (email here) A packet supporting the termination was not prepared until the following Tuesday. I followed up my CHRO complaint with complaints of retaliation to CHRO and the Attorney General’s office.
After a few weeks Hartford contacted me to offer the traditional “resign or be fired choice.” I refused to resign, hoping that it was a bluff and that they were really not going to retaliate against someone filing something as serious as a 136 or a CHRO complaint. At that point I did not know that they had already planned on terminating me on October 25 but had post-dated the termination letter.
Since that point I have had to file complaints with the Department of Labor (they did not send a final paycheck), the Attorney General’s office (retaliation for firing after filing a DCF 136 form), CHRO (retaliation for filing a CHRO complaint), and FOIA (refusal to turn over documents on FOI request). The Hartford Board of Education seems to have taken a hostile position against me despite the fact that I am the victim of discrimination. Without investigation, Hartford Corporate Counsel has refused efforts on my part to reach out to talk with them about the situation.
So it is not just Perry – it is Hartford who knowingly gives him permission to behave as he does. Perry is not the problem – to root it out would require following the path up through administration to the top. But that is not going to happen.
It is clear to me now some of the many ways that we fail our urban children. What’s soul saddening is that the people who can actually do something about it stand silently by while profiteers mine them for all they are worth out of self-interest.
You can find this blog post at: http://itsenoughto.blogspot.com/2014/02/what-happened-at-capital-prep.html