Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Hartford, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Christina Kishimoto, Clark School, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
The battle to fight off the “Hostile Take-Over” of Hartford’s Clark School is growing.
Last week Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, announced plans that she wants to close Hartford’s Clark School and hand the building over to Achievement First, Inc., the larger charter school management company that already has one school in Hartford but was promised another by Mayor Pedro Segarra and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education.
This week, a Hartford Board of Education sub-committee heard from Superintendent Kishimoto, Achievement First, Inc. and the Clark School’s parents and students.
Despite growing opposition to the plan, Kishimoto is pushing the Hartford Board of Education to vote on her Clark School Closure proposal at its November meeting.
Meanwhile, despite the mounting evidence that Steve Perry’s claims of success at Capital Preparatory Magnet School are fraudulent, Perry and Kishimoto are still moving forward on plans to close another Hartford school and hand it over to Perry. To date, Perry and Kishimoto have failed to identify what Hartford school they intend to take-over.
Back at John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary and Middle School, Hartford Public School teachers, para-educators, and classroom instruction support staff are joining parents in the fight to stop Kishimoto’s plan to destroy their neighborhood school.
A primary complaint about Kishimoto’s plan is that that not only has the Clark School been making progress in improving its academic performance, but the Superintendent’s actions violate Connecticut’s school governance council law.
Connecticut’s school governance law requires that local School Governance Councils (SGCs) be included in major policy decisions about the school.
But Hartford’s Superintendent completely failed to properly include Clark’s School Governance Council in this “bait and switch” maneuver.
Failure to properly include school governance councils was one of the items that got Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s faux Superintendent of Schools, sued earlier this year.
According to a recent American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter press release, Gloribee Gonzalez, a Clark School Governance Council (SGC) and Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) member explained that “It’s an insult to call our community school ‘failing’…Throwing the word around to justify a hostile take-over is not acceptable. And it dismisses all that we’ve accomplished by working together as a community.”
The press release reports that “Gonzalez’ comments refer to claims by district Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto that Clark was selected for “redesign” as a privately-operated charter due to prolonged failure to make necessary improvements. However, its students are performing above the minimum proficiency threshold permitted to allow targeting a school for “turn-around” under Hartford Board of Education policy. Additionally, Clark has been part of the city’s nationally-recognized Community Schools Initiative since 2011, enabling students and their families to receive “wrap-around services” from neighborhood non-profits.”
In an open letter to Hartford Board of Education members, Clark School Governance Parent Chair Millie Soto added that “We are frustrated and hurt by the disrespectful method and tone in which this ‘plan’ was presented.”
And according to the AFT-CT press release, Kimberly Daly, a Clark School teacher said that, “It feels like someone is trying to stick our community with a ‘scarlet letter…Calling us a ‘failing school’ to allow outsiders to take-over is no way to treat the community we serve. The students and their parents deserve better than that.” Daly is a member of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1018, and the union’s representative at Clark School.
The trauma now facing the students, parents and teachers at Clark School is reflective of a much bigger strategy on the part of the corporate education reform industry to close public schools and hand them over to private entities.
Massive school closure operations are underway in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, approximately 40 percent of all public school students are now being diverted into charter schools.
Here in Connecticut Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor have been using a variety of techniques to expand the reach of corporate charter schools.
In Hartford, the Jumoke Academy charter school was given control of the Milner School while in Bridgeport the Jumoke Academy was given control of the Dunbar School.
In both cases the charter school management company with no experience working with non-English speaking children was given schools with significant numbers of non-English speaking students.
Although charter school companies like Jumoke Academy and Achievement First, Inc. have been unwilling to take their fair share of students who face language barriers and children who have special education needs, Malloy and Pryor have been diverting millions of dollars away from public schools to finance charter school operations.
As the following two tables indicate, the Clark School situation would be one of the most egregious examples of this practice to date. In fact, to even suggest that Achievement First, Inc. should take the place of the Clark School is an incredible insult, especially to the Latino community and to parents whose children need additional special education services.
The number of students coming from households where English is not the primary language.
The percentage of students requiring special education services.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Hartford, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra
Despite significant public opposition to another Achievement First, Inc. school in Hartford, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland and a majority of the Hartford Board of Education voted to give Achievement First, Inc. a second Hartford school — but they did so without identifying where the new Achievement First, Inc. school would be.
The new Achievement First schools was part of a broader strategy on the part of the Hartford political leadership and the corporate education reformers to close existing neighborhood schools in Hartford and give the properties to charter school companies. (A similar strategy has been used in Chicago and Philadelphia to destroy their public school systems).
Last week Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto announced that she was targeting the Clark School for closure and proposing that the space be given over to Achievement First, Inc.
Of course, Achievement First, Inc. is the larger charter school management company that was co-founded by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
Now the Real Hartford Blog highlights the fact that this move appears to be a true “bait and switch” maneuver since the implication all along was that the new Achievement First, Inc. school would be in Hartford’s South-end and not the North-end where Clark school is located.
Hartford’s North-end is already dominated by charter schools, with Achievement First, Jumoke Academy, the new Jumoke Academy at Milner and the charter like Capital Prep.
Although corporate education reformers love to talk about providing students with “school choice,” this latest effort to put another Achievement First, Inc. school in the North-end would mean that the children of Clark any remaining public school children would be provided “choice,” as long as their “choice” was a charter school.
You can read more of the details here in the Real Hartford Blog which is published at: http://www.realhartford.org/
Achievement First Proposed for South Side Now Eyeing a North End Neighborhood School
By Kerri Provost, October 27, 2013
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto — whose employment in this capacity with the Hartford Public Schools is over at the end of this school year and who has had her request to no longer be evaluated by the Board of Education granted — has angered a number of parents at the Clark School in the city’s North East neighborhood with the proposal that this preK-8 school be phased out and replaced by an Achievement First charter school.
Just a few blocks away on Vine Street, the Milner School, which had been shut down, redesigned, and re-opened previously, was given over to a different charter school management company in 2012. That time around, the same urgency was placed on the decision, though in that case, Kishimoto had missed the deadline for proposing school redesign. She missed it by five months. In the end, the Board of Education did not enforce the rules of the process, which besides contributing to the rocky start of Jumoke Academy at Milner, essentially disenfranchised parents. The school choice system in Hartford gives parents the sense of being able to choose where their children go to school, but when they select a school, only to have that school transformed after the fact, that choices is thrown away. This along with the continued practice of having more appointed than elected members on the Board of Education makes one wonder if the average Hartford resident is trusted to make decisions that impact their lives and children’s lives.
On Wednesday morning, Kishimoto met with the current principal of the Clark School, along with its School Governance Council to tell them she planned to begin the redesign process on this school.
On Thursday, members of the Board of Education were informed of this proposal via email.
Then, on Friday, there was a meeting for the Clark SGC and community, which was attended by David Medina, the Director of External Communications for the Hartford Public Schools. By those in attendance, children were reported to be teary-eyed over the news. Parents were not having it. Not even one bit.
If this proposal goes anywhere, the changes at Clark would begin in the 2014-2015 school year, with the fifth grade being operated by Achievement First, while other grade levels at Clark remain under Clark. In the 2015-2016 school year, Achievement First would additionally operate kindergarten, first, and sixth grade; in 2016-2017 the charter school would take over Clark’s second and seventh grade and the public school would close. She does not indicate what happens to the school’s third or eighth graders, but CRT would continue its work with the preschool segment at Clark School.
Though this time line for a phase-in gives everyone some time to adjust to these changes, the general decision to redesign with less than one year’s notice seems insufficient for the development of a well-thought-out plan.
One wonders where the urgency comes from if the community itself is not calling for this change.
In August, we learned that there was a push for Achievement First to open another school in Hartford.
At the time it was unclear if this would be in a new building entirely, or if this would be shared with another school. By what was said at the Board of Education meeting at the end of August, there was no indication this Achievement First school would be located anywhere except in the city’s south end. Schools reported to be looked at included Burns (195 Putnam), Burr (400 Wethersfield), and MD Fox (470 Maple). State Representatives Ed Vargas and Minnie Gonzalez both attended that meeting and spoke against the creation of a new Achievement First school; Gonzalez said that if the BOE thinks about touching Burns, she would go door-to-door in her district to activate voters.
Now, after Achievement First has received its approval from the Board of Education, it has set its sights on the city’s north end, on the Clark School.
The CMT scores from this school, while not outstanding, do not raise red flags either.
In reading, 37.5% of the school’s third graders tested at/above proficiency in 2013. Compare this to 11.1% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 15.9% at Burns; 49.1% at MD Fox; 17.9% at Wish; 49.3% at Burr. Additionally, the average in this area for the Hartford Public Schools was 51.6%.
In writing, 65.8% of Clark’s third graders were at/above proficiency in 2013. Compare this to 20.6% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 31.4% at Burns; 62.3% at MD Fox; 42.9% at Wish; 67.9% at Burr. The average in Hartford for 2013 was 68.1%.
For 2013 math scores, 50% of Clark’s third graders were at/above proficiency. Compare this to 10% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 22.7% at Burns; 31% at Wish; 62.7% at Burr. The average for the Hartford Public Schools was 59.5%.
It’s reported that the superintendent will be meeting with parents at the Clark School on Monday, October 28th.
There is a special meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday, October 29th to discuss both the site for Achievement First Academy II and the “replication” of Capital Prep Magnet School’s model, also controversial, in a workshop session. This meeting begins at 4:30pm in the MHIS Conference Room at plaza level, 260 Constitution Plaza.
A Board of Education workshop will take place on November 6th — one day after the Board of Education election — to further discuss proposed new school/redesign models. This will be held at Jumoke at Milner Academy, 104 Vine Street.
The next regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for November 19th.
Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Morgan Barth, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Commissioner Network, Fuse, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor
When in doubt, purchase a new data management system, give it a name that has nothing to do with education, hire more consultants and then hold as many meetings and “training sessions” as possible.
All paid for, or course, by the generous taxpayers of Connecticut (while school districts across the state go without adequate funding).
Here in Connecticut, the corporate education reform industry has become a caricature of itself.
This very afternoon, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth, his uncertified “Division Director of the Turnaround Office,” will be hosting the first “NetStat” meeting of the year with representatives of Pryor’s 11 Commissioner’s Network Schools.
The State Department of Education’s delegation will include the cadre of out-of-state consultants that arrived with the $1 million contract with the politically connected Mass Insight Company.
At last word, even Governor Malloy is planning to make an appearance at today’s meeting.
At today’s NetStat meeting, Pryor and Barth’s goal is to spotlight “the schools with ‘best-in-class’ results” which is more than a bit odd considering that half the schools have only been members of the Commissioner’s Network for one year and the other half just became Commissioner’s Network schools this past month.
But as Morgan Barth, the former teacher who couldn’t bother to become certified wrote in a recent memo, “We’ll hear many stories at NetStat including one from a dynamic duo – Karen Lott and Marilyn Taylor – respectively the principals of Milner and Dunbar. In visiting both schools I was impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate.”
Impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate?
Apparently Barth remains a big fan of the no excuses, no talking, march in a single line, hands at your sides, detention for wearing the wrong colored belt or not keeping your eyes on the teacher school climate approach.
And what a surprise that the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. (Stefan Pryor) and the former principal of an Achievement First, Inc. school (Morgan Barth) are bringing together schools from around the state so that they can “learn” about best practices from two privatized, “no excuses” schools that have been taken over by the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school chain.
It must be especially convenient since the COO of FUSE/Jumoke is a member of the State Board of Education, thanks to Governor Malloy, and she will probably be in attendance thanks to her role as that company’s leading voice in their expansion efforts.
Why not just be a bit more transparent and entitle the workshop; The Malloy Administration’s dedication to privatizing public education in Connecticut.
According to a copy of today’s agenda that was posted on the web, “Attendees will receive data packets for their schools, containing current and historic data for a universal set of leading and lagging indicators used to measure school turnaround.”
They’ll then spend that day analyzing the data using a “3-step data protocol” while “The Turnaround Office will present an 8-step change management process used to drive organizational effectiveness and improvement.”
The Bottom Line?
“School teams will learn more about the vision for and expansion of the Commissioner’s Network during the upcoming school year.”
Meanwhile, we are one hundred days into the school year and the same “Turnaround Office” has still failed to process all of the Year Two Alliance District Grants leaving at least a dozen school districts without the money they were promised by Governor Malloy and the General Assembly to help “turnaround” their schools this year.
And one of the towns left twisting in the wind?
The very community that reported this week that it might have to close its schools due to a lack of funds.
But no worries…
With the first NetStat meeting of the year being held, solving Connecticut’s school funding problem can’t be far behind.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Achievement First, Fuse, Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools, Jumoke, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski
The new Jumoke Academy at Dunbar (AKA The Paul Dunbar School, A FUSE Family Urban Schools of Excellence) recently posted job announcements that it was looking for four new teachers.
Putting aside why Jumoke, the charter school management company that was hired to take over and run the Dunbar elementary school is looking for four new teachers, over a month into the new school year, the job posting announces that the charter school company wants educators who will “sweat the small stuff” and are committed to “embracing the challenges facing urban schools with a mantra of ‘No Excuses’ and a willingness to do ‘Whatever it takes.’”
In this case, the phrase “sweat the small stuff” is a euphemism that explains that anyone unwilling to implement Jumoke’s “get tough, ”No Excuses” education model need not apply.
The “No Excuses” approach to education has become a rallying cry for the corporate education reform industry.
Many parents, teachers and proponents of schools, education and learning might mistakenly think the term “no excuses” describes the obligation society, government, schools and parents have to ensuring that every child in America gets a quality education.
But the term “No Excuses” is really a placeholder for a militaristic, highly disciplined, autocratic system in which children are forced to understand that discipline, conformity and following rules is the fundamental cornerstone that leads to academic achievement.
The adherents of the “No Excuse” model believe that the best route to creating safe, healthy and productive school environments is to ensure that children don’t deviate from the rules and that the price of non-compliance is punishments that are so disproportionate that the children learn to comply or leave the school for good.
The fact that we are dealing with children or that the United States is constitutionally bound to the principle of individualism rather than fascism or collectivism is nothing more than a concept to be overlooked.
Most “No Excuses” schools actually lose more than half their students along the way.
At the Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools, CEO Eva Moskowitz has created a system in which, “New students are initiated at ‘kindergarten boot camp,’ where they get drilled for two weeks on how to behave in the “zero noise” corridors (straight lines, mouths shut, arms at one’s sides).”
Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company that was co-founded by Stefan Pryor and owns and operates charter schools in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island utilizes the draconian techniques of excessive school suspensions and a “re-orientation” room.
As we learned earlier is year, “The incidence of suspension of kindergartners and first graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy last year was an estimated nine times the rate in Hartford public schools.
Put another way, an estimated 11.7 percent of kindergartners and first-graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy were suspended last year an average of 5.4 times each. In the Hartford public school system, 3.3 percent of kindergartners and first-graders were suspended an average of 2.1 times.”
At the time, Achievement First’s Dean of School Culture told the Hartford Courant that they instituted, “a very high bar for the conduct of our students and that’s because we’ve made a promise to our scholars and our families that we are going to prepare them for college.”
It figures it would take someone with the title of “dean of school culture” to come up with a phrase that brings together kindergartners, a high bar of conduct and preparing them for college.
At these “No Excuses” schools, the strategies to force conformity follow the children all the way through their primary and secondary education. At Achievement First’s Hartford high school, “Rolling one’s eyes at a teacher will get a freshman sent to the school’s Reorientation Room where…’they get the extra culture they need.’”
As parents and children at Bridgeport’s “new” Dunbar School will come to find out, the discipline policies at the schools run by FUSE/Jumoke are similar in scope to those used by Achievement First, Inc. Jumoke also relies on the suspensions and a “reorientation” room, although at Jumoke it apparently goes by a different name.
Even the most casual observer will recognize that the “No Excuses” education model drifts into the realm of what reasonable people would call child abuse.
Perhaps the most disturbing point of all is that while people like Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, Paul Vallas and Steven Adamowski tout the “No Excuses” model, not one of them would ever suggest that such a model be used in Connecticut’s suburban communities.
It is quite a commentary that here we are in the 21st century and we’ve got “mainstream” political leaders who promote policies that are essentially child abuse….as long as those policies only apply to children who are attending urban schools that serve our minority and poor students.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Jonathan Kantrowitz, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Special Education Achievement First, Charter Schools, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Special Education
Most charter schools are failing to take their fair share of students who require special education services
You can always count on Connecticut resident, fellow blogger and public education advocate, Jonathan Kantrowitz, to explore the important issues with a sophisticated, fact-based approach.
In a new blog post entitled, “Why the Gap? Special Education and New York City Charter Schools,” Jonathan Kantrowitz examines data coming out of New York City about the failure of charter schools to take and keep students who need special education services.
This study, from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, uses NYC data to analyze the factors driving the gap in special education enrollment between charter and traditional public schools. Among the findings:
- Students with disabilities are less likely to apply to charter schools in kindergarten than are regular enrollment students. This is the primary driver of the gap in special education enrollments.
- The gap grows as students progress through elementary grades, largely because charter schools are less likely than district schools to place students in special education—and less likely to keep them there.
- The gap also grows as students transfer between charter and district schools. Between kindergarten and third grade, greater proportions of regular education students enter charter schools, compared to students with special needs.
- There is great mobility among special education students, whether they attend a charter or traditional public school. Close to a third of students in special education leave their school by the fourth year of attendance, whether they are enrolled in charters or traditional public schools.
Given the complex factors revealed by the study, the report cautions against simplistic policy solutions like quotas and enrollment targets. Instead, policy attention might be more usefully spent identifying and replicating effective academic or behavioral interventions that allow schools to declassify students with mild disabilities, and investigating why parents of students with special needs are not choosing charters early on.
You can read his full blog post here: http://educationresearchreport.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-gap-special-education-and-new-york.html
What is clear is that many charter schools want to claim the mantle of being public schools, but the majority fail to take their fair share of students who need special education services, just as they fail to take their fair share of students who need extra help when it comes to learning the English language.
There are undoubtedly charter schools that understand the fundamental role of public schools and do make a real effort to provide educational opportunities to the full range of students, but those charter schools are outliers compared to the vast majority of their colleagues.
As another New York City study found;
“…[NYC] charter schools enroll a smaller percentage of special education students than do district schools. But more importantly, charter schools do not enroll the same kind of special ed students as the district schools. While special education enrollment in charters grew over the last year, the special ed students who attend charters have much lower levels of disability than their special ed counterparts at neighboring district schools.
Practically none of the 57 charters we reviewed enroll “self-contained” students, the highest category of need, who must be taught in separate classrooms with one teacher for every 6 or 12 students. Very few enroll “collaborative team teaching” students, who are educated in mixed classrooms with two teachers, one a specialist. These two higher-need categories of special education students by and large attend district schools. Students who require the less-intensive “related services,” such as speech or physical therapy, are by far the most prevalent special education type in the charters. ”
Similar observations have been made in Connecticut.
Even at the most basic level, most Connecticut Charter Schools consistently fail to educate their fair share of students who need special education services
Here is the latest available data on students needing special education services in selected district schools in Connecticut versus selected charter schools in Connecticut
||% Special Education
|Hartford Public Schools
|AF – Hartford Academy
|New Haven Public Schools
|AF – Amistad
|AF – Elm City*
|Bridgeport Public Schools
|Park City Prep
(*) 2010-2011 report not on file, data is 2009-2010
While charter school funding is the fastest growing area of Governor Malloy’s education budget, the evidence is clear that Connecticut’s charter schools are consistently failing to provide educational opportunities to special education students and students who need extra help with the English language.
Bullying, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wait What?, Windham
Despite the fact that many people were away or busy with Labor Day activities, more than 3,400 visitors stopped by Wait, What? to read or weigh in on the latest posts.
In case you missed it, weekend posts included;
As if the term “Special Master” wasn’t bad enough, the fact that Steven Adamowski’s insulting, arrogant and undemocratic style is moving Windham Schools in the wrong direction makes the whole situation truly offensive.
“While I am teaching, I want to see you in ready position…Being in ready position to learn means feet flat on the floor, hands folded on the desk and eyes on me.” – A new fifth grade teacher at the new Jumoke Academy at Dunbar School.
The recent suicide of a Greenwich student is a sad reminder of the failed priorities and lack of leadership coming out of Malloy’s State Department of Education.
Connecticut state law required Commissioner Pryor to issue its report on Bullying and Safe School Climate Plans no later than February 2012…
But Commissioner Pryor issued his report 14 months late, in April 2013, after his failure to follow Connecticut law was reported on here at Wait, What?
State law also mandated that the report include recommendations for reducing school bullying and improving school safety. In fact, the law actually reads that the Commissioner and the State Department of Education provide recommendations “… regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.”
When Commissioner Pryor’s report finally came out, IT FAILED TO MAKE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS for reducing bullying or improving school safety.
Bridgeport, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
“While I am teaching, I want to see you in ready position…Being in ready position to learn means feet flat on the floor, hands folded on the desk and eyes on me.” – A new fifth grade teacher at the new Jumoke Academy at Dunbar School.
First came the Jumoke Academy, a Hartford based, discipline oriented charter school that over its history failed to take a single bilingual or non-English speaking student since it opened, despite the fact that one in five Hartford student’s aren’t fluent in English and nearly 50% of all students come from households that don’t speak English.
So Governor Malloy, Commissioner Stefan Pryor, the State Board of Education and the Hartford Board of Education gave Hartford’s Milner School, a predominantly Latino local public elementary school, to Jumoke Academy to manage.
This year, with no evidence that Jumoke has the skill to manage other public schools, Governor Malloy, Commissioner Stefan Pryor, the State Board of Education, Paul Vallas and the Bridgeport Board of Education gave Bridgeport’s local Dunbar elementary school to Jumoke Academy to manage.
Jumoke Academy immediately brought a number of new teachers, many from Teach for America. As the Connecticut Post reported, “In the week before school opened all teachers and academic assistants at Dunbar went through a training program to learn the Jumoke brand of climate and culture.”
The Connecticut Post article featured one new Teach For America recruit who will be teaching firth grade at the Jumoke Academy at Dunbar this year. Rather than go through a traditional teacher training program, Konigsberg graduated from Bucknell University and joined Teach for America.
“Our school is going to be wonderful,” she told the Connecticut Post.
The first time teacher and TFA recruit explained to the nine year olds that they must always be in the “ready position,” adding, “Being in ready position to learn means feet flat on the floor, hands folded on the desk and eyes on me.”
You can read the full CT Post article at: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/The-first-day-in-a-school-s-turnaround-4772269.php
Bridgeport, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Bridgeport, Dunbar School, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski
Tag this one “Slam, Dunk, Checkmate.”
Here is Connecticut public education advocate Wendy Lecker’s latest commentary piece in the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media outlets. It is another “must read” article in the ongoing battle to reveal the truth about the education reform industry.
“To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality.” – George Orwell, 1984
Orwell’s definition of “doublethink” explains Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education reform strategy. His playbook consists of starving our neediest children of educational basics, while claiming he is “helping” them prepare for the 21st century.
Here is an example of how it works.
1. Tell deliberate lies: Ridicule public education advocates as “defenders of the status quo” who want money thrown at stale ideas, even though those ideas are backed by solid evidence.
The evidence is clear that income inequality is a major factor in educational inequality. Children living in poverty experience prolonged stress that affects their brain development in the regions associated with learning. There is a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and standardized test scores. As proven by Stanford’s Sean Reardon, the widening of the achievement gap results from additional opportunities affluent parents provide their children out of the K-12 environment: high-quality pre-K, tutoring, and after-school and summer enrichment. Reardon demonstrated that the test score disparity between low-income and high-income children is not the result of schools.
Ensuring equality of educational opportunity requires efforts in and out of school. The critical goal for our neediest children is to mitigate the impact of poverty on their ability to learn. Thus, measures such as high quality pre-K and small class size are essential, because they are proven to develop the skills that enable children to function better in school and later in life. Children also must be exposed to a rich curriculum, and the type of learning that allows children the freedom to think and work creatively. In order to replicate the benefits affluent parents afford their children, our schools must be able to provide the enriched environments that develop well-rounded students. Yet advocates who request these effective resources are accused of making excuses for bad schools.
2. Forget any fact deemed inconvenient: When public school districts ask for proven measures to help their children, reject them as not “innovative.”
In under-funded Windham, the middle school established a school turnaround committee under the Commissioner’s Network legislation. Teachers, parents and community members devised a strategy to help their large population of English-language learners, based on solid educational research and the committee’s experience with Windham’s children. A key feature was reducing class size, lowering the student-teacher ratio. Though this community plan was responsive to Windham’s specific needs, state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor resisted it because did not include choice; Pryor’s preferred “model.” Choice has never been proven to raise achievement. Pryor did not detail what was objectionable about the community plan, nor did he any provide research supporting his “model.” Instead, violating the Commissioner’s Network law, he sent in Windham’s special master, Steven Adamowski, who had no legal role in the turnaround, to force a revision of the community’s plan.
3. Draw it back from oblivion for just so long as needed: When a privately run charter school adopts the exact same measures public schools wanted but you rejected, now call it “innovation” and throw money at the charter.
Bridgeport is perennially plagued by an insufficient supply of teachers; thus, instructional assistants are essential. Yet it has been reported that Bridgeport’s “reformer” superintendent Paul Vallas drastically reduced instructional assistants. Apparently, they did not fit with Vallas’ “reforms,” which included handing Dunbar Elementary School over to the privately run Jumoke/FUSE charter chain. Dunbar, like all other Bridgeport schools, has been chronically underfunded. In fact, the state owes Bridgeport schools at least $7,500 per student. Prior to the takeover, Dunbar never received its fair share of funding, despite its needy population.
But then the district handed Dunbar over to the “innovative” charter company. Jumoke’s “innovation”? Provide an instructional assistant in each classroom to lower the student-teacher ratio. Pryor resisted this measure when it was proposed by Windham’s community; Vallas virtually eliminated assistants in Bridgeport public schools. But when Jumoke charter calls a low student-teacher ratio a part of its “model,” these reformers celebrate it and fork over more than a million extra dollars.
By rationing necessary educational resources to a chosen few while starving the majority of our neediest, Connecticut’s leaders widen the state’s educational opportunity gap. All the while, in true Orwellian fashion, they proclaim themselves heroes of equality.
You can find the full piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Our-Orwellian-education-policy-4762059.php
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While Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, continues to dismiss his legal obligations as they relate to the certification requirements for Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools, the State Board of Education did a 180 degree flip, last week, when they voted to add Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Stefan Pryor’s “Commissioner’s Network” “turnaround” program.
Pryor and the State Board returned, once again, to one of their favorite charter school management companies by handing the local Bridgeport public school over to Hartford’s Family Urban Schools of Excellence, the company that runs Jumoke Academy Charter School in Hartford.
It was just last summer that Pryor and his education reform and privatization team gave Hartford’s Milner Elementary school over to the FUSE/Jumoke Academy.
But last year they also allowed FUSE/Jumoke to insert an illegal provision that prevented any new students from transferring into the “new” Jumoke Academy at Milner after October 1st.
This provision was clearly illegal since Malloy’s education reform law states that “”(c) Any not-for-profit educational management organization that is assigned the management, administration or governance of a school participating in the commissioner’s network of schools shall continue the enrollment policies and practices of such school that were in effect prior to such participation in the commissioner’s network of schools.”
Real public schools aren’t allowed to restrict access to public school students by placing an artificial date after which no child may transfer into the school. But despite the law, Commissioner Pryor allowed Jumoke to add just such a provision.
But this time, the State Board of Education miraculously decided to follow the law. As the Connecticut Post noted in a recent article, “One change made in the draft plan by the state board was to remove a sentence that would have barred new students from enrolling in the school after Oct. 1. Enrollment would be open beyond that date.”
What makes Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education’s action so interesting is that we now have the situation that while following the law was deemed important in the recent decision with the Dunbar School; Hartford’s students are still suffering from the illegal policy at the Jumoke Academy at Milner.
In fact, Hartford Board of Education members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel have been so concerned about the enrollment date violation at Milner that they submitted a resolution to the full Board of Education asking that the Jumoke enrollment policy be changed. However, rather than protect the interests of their city’s children, the Hartford Board of Education, which is controlled by Mayor Pedro Segarra, tabled the motion, thereby allowing the unfair and illegal policy to remain in place.
Why Hartford’s Mayor, Superintendent of Schools and the majority on the school board would allow their own city’s children to be treated so unfairly is a sad commentary about politicians putting their relationship with Jumoke above the constituents, and in this case, the law.
Now that the State Board of Education has reversed course and decided to actually adhere to the legal requirements, it will be interesting to see if the Mayor and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education decide to implement the change that was demanded by Board members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel
Meanwhile, over in Windham, the infamous “operations plan” for the new Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy STILL READS that, “Enrollment will end on September 30th of the school year…Mid -year transfers will not be permitted to protect the enculturation of students and allow for beginning of the school year expectation to be learned by each student. This also holds the integrity of the lottery process intact.”
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According to the Hartford Courant’s Vanessa De La Torre, Governor Malloy joined former Hartford Mayor Thirman Milner yesterday in the library of Jumoke Academy at Milner to celebrate the success of Malloy’s “education reform” proposals.
Milner explained, “You walk in the school, you can see the difference.”
And Malloy was all too happy to take credit for the changes claiming that it was the privatization effort of his administration that accounted for the changes.
But of course, the truth is far from that.
In fact, neither Malloy nor Milner admitted that the changes aren’t due to the fact that the local elementary school was handed over, last year, to a private charter management organization but is directly attributable to the fact that the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford are finally making a real financial investment to support the school.
Malloy and Jumoke Academy’s CEO, Michael Sharpe, would have us believe that it is the $345,000 annual contract to hire the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school management company that is responsible for “turning around” the Milner School…
However, the facts reveal a very different truth;
First, it wasn’t until AFTER the Milner School was added to the “Commissioner’s Network” and turned over to Jumoke that the state added well over $1 million in additional operating funds for the school and the City of Hartford provided more than $2 million in new funds to fix up the school. (Insiders report that while some of the funds have been used for cosmetic changes, the school continues to have a fairly significant rodent issue.)
Second, despite the fact that Malloy’s education reform law required that turnaround schools maintain the same entrance requirements; Jumoke was allowed to introduce a provision that prevents students from transferring into school after October 1st. This change significantly reduces the number of more transient students coming into the school, students who often arrive with a variety of educational and language challenges during the school year.
Third, an audit conducted by the State Department of Education in December revealed that Jumoke at Milner still hadn’t filled a vital bi-lingual position and that teachers were unaware or confused about whether the school’s English language development program was based in “pushing into” the classroom or “pulling” children out of the classroom for the extra help they needed
Fourth, while Jumoke CEO Sharpe told Malloy that student attendance was up and only 15 have left Jumoke at Milner to date, Sharpe failed to admit that while the school is getting significantly more resources, the total population is down significantly since last year.
And finally, as parents at Milner know, there have been significant communication problems at Jumoke Academy at Milner including a disastrous lock-down drill in which students were marched into the gym and cafeteria rather than required to stay in their rooms behind locked doors. As one parent on the scene put it, children were told to sit on the side of the gym, “in front of the inside gym windows, in plain sight.” The drill left parents and children shaken and extremely worried about whether the Jumoke Administrators were capable of handling a real emergency.
So while Malloy and Jumoke congratulate themselves about their education reform achievements, parents in every other Hartford school would do well to remember, smaller class sizes, having a teacher and an instructional assistant in every classroom and providing more support services is not a result of Malloy’s education reform efforts but a result of Malloy, the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford actually stepping forward and providing the resources necessary to make appropriate changes —- changes that should be being made at every Hartford School if only elected officials would address the broader issue inadequate funding for Connecticut’s schools.
You can find the Courant’s account of the meeting here: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-malloy-education-0515-20130514,0,4682765.story