Charter Schools, Common Core, General Assembly, Larry Cafero, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Teacher Evaluations Common Core, Larry Cafero, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
Many parents, teachers, public school advocates and taxpayers are asking whether the Connecticut General Assembly will hold a real public hearing on the Common Core , the Common Core testing fiasco, and the flawed teacher evaluation system?
The answer is … yeah, sort of, maybe… it depends on what you call a real public hearing.
When Governor Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-charter school ,corporate education reform industry bill of any Democratic governor in the nation, the Connecticut General Assembly blindly jumped on the train.
With Malloy’s signature, Senate Bill 458 became Public Act 12-116 and Malloy, his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and their allies were off and running in their effort to undermine public education in Connecticut.
Malloy’s “education reform” bill is the driving force behind the Common Core testing scheme and the unfair and inappropriate teacher evaluation system — a legislative package that passed the Connecticut House of Representatives 149-0.
Not a single legislator, Democratic or Republican was willing to stand up for the students, parents, teachers or public schools in Connecticut.
The vote in the State Senate was 28-7. Of the 13 Republicans who voted, seven voted with the Governor and the Democrats and six voted against the bill.
For two years, teachers and public school advocates have been warning elected and appointed officials about the impending disaster that will be caused by the rollout of the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and the teacher evaluation program.
But Connecticut’s “see no evil, hear no evil” elected officials remained silent.
That was until this year when, thanks to the outcry from teachers and parents, elected officials starting waking up.
The strategy being displayed by the Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders remained one dedicated to staying the course.
On the other hand, Republicans realized they had a great political opportunity on their hands and despite the fact that most of them voted for Malloy’s “education reforms,” they called for a public hearing on the Common Core and introduced bills to slow the process down.
Led by House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, the Republicans used a petitioning process to force the Democrats to hold a public hearing on the Common Core, the outrageous testing and the unfair teacher evaluation system.
As the Connecticut Newsjunkie story reported on February 26, 2014 in an article entitled, “GOP Use Parliamentary Rule To Get Public Hearing On Common Core,” the Connecticut General Assembly’s House Republicans used a rarely utilized technique to force a public hearing on some bills related to the implementation of the Common Core.
The CT Newsjunkie wrote,
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero appeared behind the podium and made his own announcement. Cafero said House Republicans had used a legislative petition process to force the Education Committee to hold a public hearing on two bills, including one to impose a moratorium on the implementation of Common Core.
Cafero said the chairs of the Education Committee had indicated they did not plan to hold any public hearings this year on bills pertaining to the Common Core and instead had opted to have an informational hearing on the subject. He said Republicans collected enough signatures from lawmakers to force a public hearing on the bills under legislative rules.
“We have circulated a petition which has been signed by 51 House Republican members which was filed moments ago with the House Clerk office which will force a public hearing on the two bills in question,” he said.
Cafero said lawmakers “have heard horror story after horror story about the inability for boards of education, teachers to prepare themselves” for the Common Core implementation. The other bill would codify changes made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration last month to delay the implementation of elements of the state’s teacher guidelines.
“Those two bills now, by Joint Rule 11, will be having a public hearing. The scheduling of that hearing will be up to the chairs, but the issue as to whether or not there will be a public hearing is no longer an issue,” he said.
Cafero said it was “unacceptable” to have no public hearing on an issue impacting parents, students, and teachers.
The legislative rule that Cafero used is called the “PETITION FOR PREPARATION OF BILLS OR RESOLUTIONS.”
According to the rule, if a petition is signed by at least fifty-one members of the House or at least twelve members of the Senate, a committee “shall hold a public hearing on the bill.”
But the chairs of the committee still have the power to schedule the timing of that public hearing.
In this case that means that the Democratic leaders could hold the public hearing during the day when most parents and teachers would be unable to attend.
If the Democrats were serious about providing Connecticut citizens with the right to be heard on this critical issue they would hold a hearing in the late afternoon and evening.
To date, the Democrats have yet to announce their plans about the public hearing that the Republicans have forced to be held.
In some ways, equally important is the reality that all the petition process requires is a public hearing.
The Education Committee doesn’t even have to discuss or vote on the bill following the public hearing. In fact, Democrats on the committee could prevent a vote from even being taken on the Republican bills..
There is a petition process for forcing the committee to vote, but that requires a full majority in the House or Senate to sign yet another petition.
Considering Malloy and his corporate education reform advocates don’t want the Common Core testing and teacher evaluation issues to even be discussed in public, it will take a lot to convince Democratic rank and file legislators that they should put their constituents ahead of Malloy’s politics.
Common Core, Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Common Core, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
The development and implementation of the Common Core and its related Common Core testing scam is one of the most important issues facing American public education.
The Common Core was developed in relative secrecy and forced upon the states by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Some of the people who developed the Common Core Standards were even required to sign documents swearing not to speak about the process.
The vehicle used to pull off this education disaster was the National Governors Association and a series of other organizations that were paid by the corporate education reform industry, along with hundreds of millions of taxpayer funds, that were funneled to private consulting companies to “develop” the standards and tests, while pushing their own profit-making efforts to sell more computers, new software, textbooks, and consulting opportunities.
After all, it was media mogul Rupert Murdoch who said that the America’s K-12 public education system was an $500 billion untapped market.
And support for the growing corporate education reform industry came from Democrats and Republicans alike.
In Connecticut, for example, it was Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy who introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-charter school education reform bill of any Democratic governor in the nation. The bill not only passed, but it passed with overwhelming support from both Democratic and Republican legislators.
But after two years, when teacher’s concerns were finally being heard and more and more parents were speaking up, legislative attention returned to this vital issue.
The Democratic leadership decided to hold a sham “informational session” made up of pro-Common Core advocates. In response, the Republicans, finally seeing the political advantage in speaking up, used a little utilized parliamentary procedure to force a traditional public hearing on some of their bills related to slowing down the implementation of the Common Core.
The Democrat’s farce hearing took place on Friday, February 28th.
The two most amazing developments were the lack of media coverage and the Malloy administration’s ability to keep their heads in the sand in the face of the disastrous impact of their policies.
For those who want to feel that emotion that allows one to laugh and cry at the same time you can watch the recording of the hearing by going to CT-N’s video on demand entitled, “Education Committee Informational Forum on Common Core State Standards.”
Warning: The level of misleading statements and lies is enough to cause dangerous increases in blood pressure.
But equally disturbing is that the sham hearing received such limited media coverage. In fact, most of Connecticut’s media outlets simply failed to cover it all together thereby leaving Connecticut citizens uniformed about the way in which the Malloy administration and the Democrats are trying to duck this important issue.
The best coverage of the hearing can be found in the Connecticut Post which wrote,
HARTFORD — Defenders of moving ahead with the Common Core learning standards spent four hours Friday explaining the controversial learning program and the test that goes with it before the Legislature’s Education Committee.
The invitation-only forum came after Republicans have forced public hearings on the matter. Those hearings have not yet to be scheduled.
Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, joined by Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped draft the standards, told the committee and a large audience that the road to fully implement Common Core in all classrooms may be a rocky one, but the state is headed in the right direction.
[Note: Pryor is a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers.]
The CT Post story includes Commissioner Pryor who said,
“Our youngsters are arriving at college unprepared for college. That is a problem,” he said. “We must aim for higher standards … Common Core goes about the teaching and learning process in the right way.”
[Note: Connecticut's schools are incredibly successful. As a result of poverty, language barriers and insufficient support for students who have special education needs, Connecticut has a significant achievement gap between suburban and urban schools that must be addressed, but to suggest that "our youngsters are arriving at college unprepared" is the statement of a liar or a fool.]
The CT Post highlighted the rhetoric coming from the Council of Chief State School Officers and other groups that are being paid to sell the Common Core and the Common Core testing adding,
Minnich, who has been traveling the country in defense of the standards — Thursday he was in Missouri — said none of the 45 states that have signed onto the standards were forced to do so, and 73 percent of teachers support a more challenging curriculum.
“It is surprising to me that it is controversial,” he said.
The new standards, adopted in Connecticut in 2010 and now being fully implemented across the state, teach reading and math in a deeper way and in a different order than in the past. Most districts in the state have agreed to try out the new test that goes along with the standards this spring instead of the traditional Connecticut Mastery Test.
Results of the new test won’t “count”; still many are fearful that students, teachers and schools have not had enough time and training in the new system and will be labeled as failures when students perform poorly on the test. They also said time was being wasted.
Pryor said the “test of the test” is required under federal law. He also argued that the standards are not a curriculum and do not dictate what needs to be taught in the classroom.
“But how flexible is Common Core if there is a test tied to it?” state Rep. Noreen Kokoruda, R-Madison, asked.
Minnich said the standards merely say, for instance, that third-graders will learn about multiplication and division and gain an understanding of fractions. How that is taught is up to the teacher.
Minnich maintained states ARE not under pressure to adopt the standards.
States that didn’t adopt the standards could not win federal Race to the Top dollars, Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, pointed out.
Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, questioned the fairness of expecting students taught one way for so long to adjust in one year to a new set of standards.
Meanwhile, Rep. Gail Lavielle, also R-Wilton, wondered who decided the new standards are higher than what was already in place.
Minnich said national experts vetted the standards, and there are early indications in Kentucky and Tennessee, which have been using Common Core the longest, that student achievement is going in the right direction.
Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown, said it is not the new, higher standards that bother him, but the way they have been implemented. He characterized the rollout as “crummy.”
The state now has a new website, training efforts and a committee to work on ironing out the problems, Pryor said.
From start to finish the Malloy administration’s arrogant, top-down approach on education reform has been a disaster. Malloy has failed on many fronts, but Stefan Pryor and his side-kicks like Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowski and Morgan Barth are on track to ensure Malloy is unelectable.
One would think that after two years of being told about the damage they are doing they’d change course. But when it comes to issues like this, Malloy and his inner circle are tone deaf….or worse.
You can read the complete CT Post article at: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Common-Core-standards-defended-5277595.php
Board of Regents, Connecticut General Assembly, Education Reform, Malloy Board of Regents, Connecticut General Assembly, Malloy
No really…. A Connecticut law passed in 2012 made it illegal for Connecticut public colleges to provide non-credit remedial courses starting in 2014.
Long time Wait, What? readers may remember the discussion on the blog.
Led by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly, Connecticut adopted a corporate education reform initiatives aimed at ensuring that all students were “college and career ready,” while at the same time passed legislation that prohibits public colleges and universities from providing non-credit remedial courses.
Among other things, it was sold as a way to reduce the state budget.
The irony, of course, goes without saying.
The same individuals who were willing undermine Connecticut’s public education system by pushing the Common Core, the Common Core testing frenzy and the unfair teacher evaluation system all in an effort to prepare children for college were reducing the budgets for Connecticut’s public colleges and universities by record amounts.
But by prohibiting public colleges from providing courses for students who needed extra help, Malloy et. al. could simply remove a significant cost those colleges were facing.
The issues has remained in the background until now, when students, their families and the public are finally learning about this incredibly bad policy.
As the New Haven Register recently wrote,
About 10,000 incoming freshmen at state colleges enroll in no-credit remedial courses across the state every year. This year, that number will drop to zero.
The courses will no longer be offered at state colleges once Public Act 12-40 goes into effect this fall semester.
Signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2012, the act requires colleges to abandon lower-level, no-credit remedial courses and embed support into entry-level courses or a college-readiness program.
High school graduates who do not place into entry-level courses by way of adequate SAT scores or college entry exams will be out of luck.
The urgency of the act going into effect this year has sparked strong reactions from state legislators, community colleges and high school educators.
Strong reaction from state legislators?
Who by the way passed the bill, after heavy lobbying from the Malloy administration and over the objections of the House Chair of the Education Committee who made it very clear what the ramifications of the legislation would be.
Instead of taking the non-credit remedial courses, students are expected to turn to local public schools and community based adult education programs. The original argument was that this would save the state and students money.
But due to an insufficient number of programs, many students who were college bound will be discovering college, even Connecticut’s community colleges, are beyond reach.
Welcome to the Malloy Administration’s definition of college and career ready.
And the problems will be evident across the state of Connecticut.
As the New Haven Register goes on to report,
“At Northwestern Community College in Winsted, Dean of Academic and Student Affairs Patricia Bouffard said she anticipates there will be students who fall below the level of remediation community colleges can now offer. Based on test scores from fall 2013, about 15 percent of entering students at NCC would not have been eligible for remedial courses if the requirements were already in place.”
While Northwestern serves a significantly smaller population than Gateway [Community College in New Haven] — about 1,700 students — Bouffard said about the same percentage of students fall into the developmental level.”
The college is in the process of developing appropriate programs in reaction to the legislation but doesn’t yet have a partnership with nearby high schools. Bouffard said the college is in the second run of an 11-week, college-math proficiency program offered to students who are below the remedial course.
The program is computer-based with faculty in attendance. Bouffard said English is a little more difficult in terms of developing a computer-based program.
Opponents of the corporate education reform industry will recognize the pattern. Set standards that limit a cohort of students and then buy more technology and software to deal with the problem.
In Connecticut, this policy will mean that some of the students who need the most hands-on help will be provided programs that require them to “learn” what they need to know by sitting in front of a computer.
The New Haven Register article quotes State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, who was just elected to the Connecticut State Senate in a Special Election.
Holder-Winfield’s comments represent the thinking of many legislators who voted in favor of the original proposal. The New Haven Register story explains that Holder-Winfield said that we was not, “’a fan of doing away with remedial courses’ but understood the logic behind it: ‘Many of our young people who go to college don’t graduate within the four to six years that we would think is normal.”
The New Haven Register reports that “Holder-Winfield understood that the bill would be rolled out and then legislators would determine if they were doing what was needed. Now, he said he isn’t sure it worked the way it was intended to work.” He concluded, ”I’m a fan of taking another look at what we have done and maybe pulling back off it. I don’t think that that was the solution.”
There are legislative proposals to modify Malloy’s plan to end non-credit remedial courses at Connecticut’s public colleges.
Check back for updates.
You can also read the New Haven Register article here: http://www.nhregister.com/social-affairs/20140222/concern-grows-as-connecticut-colleges-to-drop-no-credit-remedial-courses
Corporate Welfare, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy Corporate Welfare, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy
A pathological liar someone who, “is an abnormally habitual liar.” Some call it a disease, some call it a condition, and some just call it the typical behavior of far too many politicians.
As noted in a Wait, What? post yesterday entitled, “Malloy/UTC Scam – the biggest lie yet,” Governor Malloy and the CEO of United Technologies announced a deal in which the state of Connecticut will forgo $400 million dollars in tax revenues. UTC will commitment to a $500 million investment in Connecticut, but UTC reserves the right to lay off up to 1,400 more employees… on top of 600 Sikorsky workers the laid off this year.
At the press conference Governor Malloy said:
“The [UTC] agreement, which requires legislation, does not require any borrowing or payments by the State of Connecticut.” Governor Dannel Malloy (2/26/2014).
The state of Connecticut doesn’t borrow the money or make payments to UTC because the agreement allows UTC to REDUCE their tax payments to Connecticut by $400 million.
United Technologies is one of the most profitable companies in the world.
Thanks to Connecticut’s system of tax credits and breaks, UTC is already allowed to reduce their tax payment to Connecticut by up to 70%.
This means that when it comes to UTC’s corporate liability to Connecticut, it presently only pays Connecticut 30 cents on the dollar.
Malloy’s plan would give UTC another $400 million tax break.
And although it was hidden inside the agreement, Governor Malloy never explained that while UTC will lose some of these benefits if it lays off more workers, United Technology can lay off up to 1,400 more workers – on top of the 600 laid off this week – before they lose out completely on Malloy’s corporate welfare reform giveaway
Regardless of whether you are a Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated, liberal, conservative, moderate, pro-union or anti-union, every single Connecticut voter and taxpayer should be demanding that the Connecticut General Assembly defeat this Malloy/UTC scam.
Watch for more coverage of this breaking issue in coming days.
For the best media coverage to date, check out CT Mirror story from yesterday: http://ctmirror.org/malloy-seeks-tax-relief-to-trigger-500m-expansion-for-utcs/
Corporate Welfare, Economic Development, Malloy Corporate Welfare, Economic Development, Malloy
If you are going to read one Wait, What? post this year —- this is the one to read:
“The [UTC] agreement, which requires legislation, does not require any borrowing or payments by the State of Connecticut.” Governor Dannel Malloy (2/26/2014).
It is safe to say that Governor Dannel Malloy, who often has trouble telling the whole truth, has never uttered a statement as misleading as his remark about the cost that the Malloy/United Technologies Corporation deal will have on Connecticut’s taxpayers.
Dannel Malloy has been Connecticut’s Governor for just over three years. Of all the financially irresponsible, absurd and counter-productive economic policies Malloy has proposed none are as outrageous, inappropriate or fiscally misleading as the farce that he has cooked up with UTC.
As more and more details about the Malloy/UTC deal come out, reporters, legislators, and the public will become increasingly aware of just how fiscally irresponsible this deal is for the taxpayers of Connecticut.
Here is the truth that has yet to be fully revealed,
The day AFTER Sikorsky, a UTC subsidiary, announced that it would be laying off 600 manufacturing workers in Connecticut, Governor Malloy and UTC‘s CEO announced that the incredibly successful, multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporation would make a $500 million investment in its research, training and corporate facilities in Connecticut, “in exchange for $400 million in tax relief over the next two decades.”
First, Sikorsky 600 workers will still be unemployed.
And second, Malloy’s statement that the deal “does not require any borrowing or payments by the State of Connecticut,” to UTC is so misleading as to be nothing short of an outright lie.
As reported by Keith Phaneuf in CT Mirror,
“Like many large corporations, UTC qualifies for various credits to reduce its corporate income tax bill. But regardless of how much in total credit values it has amassed, it cannot reduce its annual tax liability by more than 70 percent.”
This means that large Connecticut corporations can use various tax credits to drop their tax obligation to the state of Connecticut by up to 70 percent – that is – by maximizing the Connecticut Tax Code, UTC and other major companies only pay 30 percent of what they would otherwise be paying to the state.
Malloy’s proposal is to allow UTC to take unused tax credits to reduce their tax obligation ever further – well above the 70 percent level. In this case, UTC would reduce their tax payments to the state of Connecticut by an additional $400 million.
As Wait, What? readers know, according to the independent office of Fiscal Analysis, Connecticut faces budget deficits of at least $1 billion dollars year in each of the three years following this year’s election. Malloy has used budget gimmicks and pushed off obligations in order to make it appear the state has a surplus this year even though the cost will be huge deficits in upcoming years.
While the state of Connecticut will not be “borrowing $400 million” to give to UTC to underwrite their $500 million investment, Malloy’s plan is arguably even worse because the deal means UTC will be paying $400 LESS in state taxes.
The tax cuts for UTC mean $400 million less in tax revenue which means $400 million more in program cuts and/or $400 million more in tax increases for Connecticut’s middle class and small business taxpayers.
To put that cut in to perspective, Governor Malloy takes great pride in saying he has increased funding for Connecticut’s poorest school districts. Altogether, the thirty so-called Alliance Districts, have received about $30 million a year to help all of those students and schools.
And yet, Malloy is allowing one of the most successful corporations in the world to reduce it tax payments to the state by $400 million.
And while Malloy says the “investment” will lead to 1,500 new jobs, reading the agreement reveals that UTC can actually lay off even more Connecticut workers and still collect the corporate welfare that Malloy is pushing on them.
As Keith Phaneuf also reports in the CT Mirror, UTC “currently employs about 4,900 engineers and 14,100 individuals in total in East Hartford, with a gross payroll topping $1.53 billion.”
According to the agreement, UTC could actually drop its engineering workforce to 4,350 and its total employment to 12,450 before it loses all the benefits of this taxpayer give-away.
To repeat, UTC Sikorsky has already laid off 600 workers and UTC could lay off another 1,650 workers before it forfeits this deal.
Governor Malloy’s economic development plan has been fundamentally based on a strategy of corporate welfare. The Malloy/UTC deal not only continues that failed policy bur takes it to an unprecedented level of irresponsibility.
If that isn’t bad enough, what happens when other large corporations come forward and say they want to be able to use their “stranded” tax credits as well?
Using Malloy’s UTC agreement as a model, Connecticut’s biggest and most profitable companies would be able to cut their tax payments by $2.5 billion, there by destroying Connecticut State Government.
It is just a matter of time before Connecticut voters realize just how badly they have been ripped off by the Malloy/UTC farce of a deal.
Unfortunately some media outlets still haven’t caught on to what is included in this Malloy/UTC deal. Here are some of the stories so far.
CT Mirror: http://ctmirror.org/malloy-seeks-tax-relief-to-trigger-500m-expansion-for-utc/
CT Newsjunkie: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/state_uses_stranded_tax_credits_to_help_pratt_whitney_sikorsky/
CT Post: http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/UTC-deal-keeps-jobs-in-state-5271800.php
Waterbury Republican: http://www.rep-am.com/news/local/787344.txt
NBC Connecticut: http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/utc-united-technologies-pratt-whitney-sikorsky-malloy-247310861.html
Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
Some public school superintendents and principals are using Commissioner Pryor’s instructions to mislead, lie and intimidate parents into thinking they can’t opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test.
Other public school superintendents and principals are sending letters telling parents what a great opportunity taking the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test will be because they will be helping develop a more effective Common Core test for future students.
And yet other public school superintendent are dealing with the issue in a professional, responsible and humanitarian way and allowing parents to opt out their children from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test March Madness. In some cases children will be allowed to go to the library or cafeteria. In other local schools, administrators are taking the rather strange step of telling the parents that their children must sit in the class or computer lab but can read a book while other students take the test. (Still haven’t figured out whether that is meant as a punishment to the students whose parents have opted them out or to the student’s whose parents didn’t step forward and opt their children out of this charade of a standardized test).
But after receiving dozens of letters from parents who have shared their school districts’ letters to parents, the winner for the most bizarre and inappropriate response to date comes from the Town of Bethel.
In a letter dated February 2014, school administrators sent out a letter that begins:
Dear Parent or Guardian:
Bethel High School is one of many in the country participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test this March. Students in Grade 11 will take the online assessment in mathematics and English language arts/literacy. The assessment is untimed, participation is confidential, and your child’s grades will not be affected.
By participating in the field test, your child will be influencing the development of future Smarter Balanced assessments used in our schools and throughout the nation. Students will be able to try out new, online testing software and innovative question types that will be very similar on future Smarter Balanced assessments. Unless we are able to field test students, we will not know what assessment items and performance tasks work well and what must be changed in the future development of the test. From these field test results, Smarter Balanced will set preliminary achievement standards, and those are important to all of us—students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Therefore, every child’s participation is critical.
And then comes the most incredible statement of all,
For actively participating in both portions of the field test (mathematics/English language arts), students will receive 10 hours of community service and they will be eligible for exemption from their final exam in English and/or Math if they receive a B average (83) or higher in that class during Semester Two.
So if parents allow their students to be guinea pigs for the Corporate Education Reform Industry they will be able to get out of some of their community service responsibilities and will exempt from having to take the tests that actually measure what they are supposed to be learning in English and Math. (except, of course, for those student who are struggling in which case they will still be forced to take the “real” tests in additional to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test of a Test).
The entire Common Core and Common Core Smarter Balanced Testing scheme has been sold as a vehicle to ensure public school students graduate college or workplace ready.
The message to Bethel’s students and parents is that if you agree to be a test subject for the Common Core test of a test, you can reduce your community service responsibilities and skip the tests colleges actually use to determine if you are college ready.
As we seem to be saying more and more here at Wait, What? You just can’t make this sh*t up.
Barth Keck, Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Barth Keck, Common Core, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
Earlier this week, Connecticut educator and CT Newsjunkie columnist Barth Keck published another important column about the problems associated with the Common Core and the utter failure in the way it is being implemented.
The Common Core fiasco was begun with President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” and continued under Barak Obama’s “Race to the Top.” It has consistently had strong bi-partisan support from the “incumbent party” of Democratic and Republican elected and appointed officials. The overall effort to create this monstrosity was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with hundreds of millions more coming from taxpayers via the federal and state governments.
In this week’s column, Barth Keck writes,
As we place more and more emphasis on computerized algorithms and Big Data to help us make Big Decisions, one question lingers: Where does common sense fit in?
The Hartford Courant’s Kathleen Megan recently reported that “new research shows that high school grades — not standardized tests — area much better predictor of college performance” for current high school juniors.
William C. Hiss, the principal investigator of the study, explains that good grades come from “long-term discipline, attention to detail, and doing your homework” — precisely the qualities needed for success in college.
As one of my colleagues quipped after reading Megan’s article, “I am completely surprised . . . said no teacher, ever.”
Put another way, isn’t this simply old-fashioned common sense?
Maybe so, but the current craving for more standardized testing in public education indicates a definitive lack of common sense.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 initiated this frenzy by requiring annual tests of all students in grades 3 through 8, and once in high school. Individual states were left to choose how to test their students.
By 2010, the future of standardized testing in schools became more complex through President Obama’s “Race to the Top” program in concert with the new Common Core State Standards.
“These new tests will be an absolute game-changer in public education,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the time. “They’ll be better, smarter assessments — the kind of tests our teachers want and our students need.”
Indeed, these “better, smarter assessments” are not your run-of-the-mill “bubble tests.” Instead, they are “adaptive tests” that automatically change as a test taker provides answers.
“Computer-adaptive assessments,” explains an Education Week article, “rely on complex algorithms to feed students questions targeted to their individual skill levels based on their prior responses. The more questions a student gets right, the harder the subsequent questions will be.”
Scheduled for official implementation by 2015, these adaptive tests sound much more individualized than the traditional standardized assessments. What could be so bad about that?
Ask the folks in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. Their initial foray last year into these new tests was hardly reassuring.
“Thousands of students experienced slow loading times of test questions, students were closed out of testing in mid-answer, and some were unable to log in to the tests,” according to another Education Week piece. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of tests may be invalidated.”
Moreover, one school official in Oklahoma termed the testing problems as “absolutely horrible, in terms of kids being anxious. It was heartbreaking to watch them. Some of them were almost in tears.”
Thankfully, states have another year to get the situation straightened out. In Connecticut, students this spring will be taking a field test — a “test of the test” — to help work out the kinks.
“The Field Test is a trial run of the assessment system that helps ensure the assessments are valid, reliable, and fair for all students,” according to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the organization behind Common Core-aligned tests in 22 states.
“It also gives teachers and schools a chance to gauge their readiness in advance of the first operational assessment in spring 2015. Students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 — along with a small sample of students in grades 9 and 10 — will participate in the Field Test.”
For my school, that means three weeks of testing this spring — one each for 9th, 10th, and 11th graders — the results of which will be shared with neither the students nor the school. This spring’s test, after all, is testing the test, not the students.
College-bound juniors, no doubt, are thankful that their scores will count when they take the SAT around the same time they serve as guinea pigs for SBAC. You remember the SAT? It’s that other standardized test which research shows is a poor indicator of college performance.
Perhaps by next year, the algorithmically-enriched SBAC test will tell us if kids are — as the Common Core people would say — “college- and career-ready.”
Makes perfect sense to me — just not common sense.
You can read this column and Barth Keck’s other pieces at CT Newsjunkie
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, 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, Corporate Welfare, Ethics, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Sarah Darer Littman Bridgeport, Connecticut Politics, Corporate Welfare, Ethics, Mayor Bill Finch, Sarah Darer Littman
As measured by the number of college graduates Connecticut is among the most educated states in the nation. As measured by per capital income Connecticut is wealthiest state in country, and if we were our own country we’d be one of the wealthiest and best educated countries in the world.
And yet there is a sickness that is increasingly evident in Connecticut politics. It takes the form of elected and appointed officials who display a level of arrogance, greed, entitlement, and what appears to be an growing level of outright corruption…in both political parties.
In Sarah Darer Littman’s latest MUST READ column entitled “The Environmental Racism of Bridgeport’s Carnival of Corruption” in this weekend’s CT Newsjunkie, Sarah Darer Littman shines the bright light of truth on a complex deal in which Bridgeport ’s political and corporate leaders are conspiring to move Bridgeport’s Harding High School on to a severely polluted superfund site in order to make room for Bridgeport Hospital’s expansion plans.
The political wheeling and dealing stretches from Bridgeport to Hartford and back again.
By the time their effort is over, the cost to Connecticut taxpayers will exceed $100 million or more, and that doesn’t even begin to count the cost to Bridgeport’s public school students, teachers and parents who are but pawns in the deceit that has become the hallmark of Connecticut’s political environment.
Sarah Darer Littman introduces her piece with the following,
If the window of government transparency in Connecticut has become foggy lately, in Bridgeport it’s turned into a funhouse mirror.
The latest to come from Mayor Bill Finch’s Carnival of Corruption was a vote Thursday evening to proceed with phase one of a deal to build a new Harding High School on 17.2 acres of a 78-acre brownfield site on Boston Avenue, currently owned by General Electric. This would enable Finch and his allies to sell the current Harding High site to Bridgeport Hospital.
According to federal law, a brownfield site refers to “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”
The aforementioned brownfield site is, according to a piece in the CT Post, “contaminated with lead, arsenic, petroleum hydrocarbons and volatile compounds.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers helpful information about School Siting Guidelines, and why they are so important:
“Children, particularly younger children, are uniquely at risk from environmental hazards. They eat, drink and breathe more in proportion to their body size than adults. In addition, environmental contaminants may affect children disproportionately because their immune, respiratory and other systems are not fully developed, and their growing organs are more easily harmed. This means they are more at risk for exposure to harmful chemicals found outside where they play and in the environment where they spend most of their time — school and home.”
As might be expected, parents and those representing the community have concerns — especially since most of the process for this deal (like so much of what goes on in Bridgeport) has taken place behind closed doors. Indeed, in the minutes from the Bridgeport School Building Committee meeting on January 3, 2013, Finch Deputy Chief of Staff Ruben Felipe reports that GE asked the administration to keep their conversations confidential. Thus both the sunlight and the community were kept out. Helping to keep things under wraps was the fact that the School Building Committee failed to file their statutory notices with the town clerk’s office until February 2014, evidenced by this email from Frances Ortiz, assistant City Clerk.
There’s been some gob smacking chicanery involved, because, let’s face it, this wouldn’t be Bridgeport if there weren’t.
A petition to the City of Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission was filed in the name of the City of Bridgeport Board of Education (File 13-74). It was signed on Dec. 3, 2013, by John Eberle of Stantec Consulting Services and on Dec. 18, 2013, by Marian Whiteman, executive counsel for Transactions & Brownfields at General Electric.
On Jan. 13, 2014, Sauda Baraka, chair of the Bridgeport Board of Education (in whose name the Planning Petition was apparently being made) wrote to Melville T. Riley, Jr, the acting chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, asking that the item not go forward with a public hearing for the application because the education board hadn’t voted to approve a site plan nor a special permit concerning that property. In what is a reflection of the incredibly sad state of affairs in Mayor Bill Finch’s Bridgeport, she was forced to ask the Planning Commission for copies of any application filed on the behalf of the Board of Education. How ridiculous is it that an elected Board of Education should have to ask another city body for copies of planning applications being filed in its name?
Probably as a result of Baraka’s letter, the planning application was withdrawn from the Jan. 13 meeting.
But by Jan. 16, the Finch administration was able to work magic with fairy dust — or White Out — and Lo! The exact same application with the exact same signatures (on the original you can see the correction fluid) and now guess what? It reads “City of Bridgeport School Building Committee”! Suggested new campaign slogan for Bill Finch: “If you can’t beat ‘em, erase them!”
And Sarah Darer Littman’s column goes on from there with some of the most disturbing elements of the story yet to come.
You can read her whole column at via the following link,
As you read the piece ask yourself, is this Connecticut our citizens deserve?