Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Common Core, Education Reform, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Teacher Evaluations Charter Schools, Common Core, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Malloy, SBAC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Teacher Evaluation
With great fanfare and self-congratulations, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration recently released the results of last springs’ Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests. Their claim is that the Governor’s anti-teacher, anti-public education, pro-charter school agenda is succeeding.
The SBAC test is succeeding?
The Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme is the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory national testing system that the Malloy administration instituted and are now being used to evaluate and label students, teachers and public schools.
As if to give the charade some credibility, Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and their team call it Connecticut’s “Next Generation Accountability System.”
However, the testing and evaluation system is a farce that fails to properly measure how students, teachers and schools are really doing, nor does it properly evaluate the impacts that are associated with poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs.
To showcase the extraordinary problems with Malloy’s testing scheme, the following chart highlights the results from two of Malloy’s favorite charter schools, the Achievement First Hartford charter school and the Achievement First New Haven charter school, which is called Amistad Academy.
Percent of students reaching “proficiency” in Math as measured by the 2015 SBAC tests;
|Achievement First Inc. Hartford
|Achievement First Inc. New Haven – Amistad Academy
Here are the core results;
- Approximately 60% of students in both charter schools were labeled “proficient” in MATH in grade 3.
- The percent deemed “proficient” dropped by about 10 points in Grade 4.
- The percent “proficient” dived in Grade 5, with only 1 in 6 students deemed “proficient” in Hartford and only 1 in 3 at the “proficient” level in New Haven.
- The number reaching a “proficient” level remained extremely low at Achievement First Hartford in grades 6, 7 and 8.
- While the percent of students labeled proficient in at Achievement First New Haven was slightly better than its sister school in Hartford, less than 50% percent of Amistad Academy’s 6th, 7th and 8th grade students were deemed to be “proficient.”
According to Malloy’s policies, these SBAC results allow us to determine how students are doing, whether teachers are performing adequately and whether any individual school should be labeled a great school, a good school, a school that is doing fairly well or a failing school.
So, according to Malloy, which of the following statements are true;
- As measured by the SBAC proficiency number, while students at these two Achievement First schools are doing “okay” in grade 3, the two schools are falling short in Grades 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
- The results indicate that Achievement First Inc. has apparently hired talented teachers in grade 3, but the results prove that teachers in grade 4-8 are simply not equipped or capable to do their job. Grade 5 teachers are particularly weak, but the data indicates that Achievement First’s teachers should be evaluated as ineffective and the charter school chain should remove and replace all teachers other than those teaching in grade 3.
- Achievement First, Inc. proclaims that their students do much better on standardized tests, however, the SBAC results reveal that they are failing and should be labeled as failing schools.
According to Connecticut policymakers, all three statements are true, but of course, the truth is much more complex and the test results provide no meaningful guidance on what is actually going on in the classrooms.
Perhaps most disturbing of all is that these results provide no useful information about the impact of poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs
One question rises to the top.
What if the students and teachers are not the problem? What if the problem is that the testing scam really is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory and that the entire situation is made worse by Malloy’s absurd “Next Generation” Accountability system?
Common Core, Connecticut General Assembly, Malloy, SAT, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test Common Core, Connecticut General Assembly, Malloy, SAT, SBAC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test
Residents of CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH, the heads of the Department of Education of your states have failed to protect the best interests of your students and your families, opting instead to protect their own interests and the interests of the College Board.
– Former College Board (SAT) executive
A major and devastating controversy is crashing into the “NEW” SAT and thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly, Connecticut’s high school students are caught up in the growing disaster.
A leak of thousands of SAT questions, a stunning expose by Reuters News about myriad of problems associated with the standardized testing scheme, an FBI raid and now a broadside posted by a former SAT executive is focusing attention on the absurd use of the “NEW” SAT to evaluate Connecticut’s public school students, teachers and schools.
The harsh reality is that Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly should never have mandated the use of the “NEW,” Common Core-aligned SAT as Connecticut’s 11th grade mastery test.
For background on the initial mistake see Wait, What? posts;
More on CT’s disastrous move to force all high school juniors to take the “NEW” SAT;
Once again Connecticut elected officials are wrong to mandate the SAT for all 11th graders;
My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016”;
Criticism of the NEW SAT grows as Connecticut’s 11th grades are told they MUST take it on March 2nd,
As well as, The lies in the new SAT (by Wendy Lecker); Connecticut school psychologist John Bestor on the NEW SAT and opting-out; REQUIRING THE SAT GETS CONNECTICUT LESS THAN NOTHING (By Ann Cronin)
Now, as a result of the most recent allegations, Malloy, his political appointees on the State Board of Education, his department of Education and the Connecticut General Assembly should immediately suspend the use of the SAT to evaluate students, teachers and public schools and should further demand that an independent investigation into the SAT and its lack of validity be conducted.
Unfortunately, mainstream media coverage of the breaking developments surrounding the “NEW” SAT have been scarce following the in-depth investigation conducted by Reuters (See links to the Reuters stories below).
What is clear is that the Reuters’ articles serve as an astonishing and shocking expose about how privatization and greed have turned the SAT into an utter farce, especially in states like Connecticut that decided to use the “NEW” SAT as a “tool” to label children, evaluate teachers and rank public schools.
The whole issue took an even more incredible twist this past weekend when Manuel Alfaro, a former College Board executive posted an open letter about the problems with the new SAT stating,
Residents of CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH, the heads of the Department of Education of your states have failed to protect the best interests of your students and your families, opting instead to protect their own interests and the interests of the College Board.
In his broadside, Manuel Alfaro adds;
Residents of CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH, the heads of the Department of Education of your states have failed to protect the best interests of your students and your families, opting instead to protect their own interests and the interests of the College Board.
As these officials are elected (or appointed by an elected official), you can demand their immediate resignation or you can vote to replace them immediately to ensure that the department of Education in your state is headed by an individual willing to put the interests of your students and your family first.
In the paragraphs that follow, I will describe how the current heads of the Department of Education have failed you and why they lack the judgment (and common sense) to protect the best interests of your children.
On May 7, 2016, I wrote a letter to the heads of the Department of Education in CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH to let them know that the College Board has committed global fraud against their states and the federal government. In that letter, I offered to meet with their legal teams to expose the fraud. Instead of meeting with me (or asking me for additional information), they approached the College Board about my statements and allegations. According to a Reuter’s story, published on Friday August 26, 2016, here is what some of the states had to say about my statements and allegations:
A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, Bill DiSessa, said the state “checked with the College Board” and decided not to look into Alfaro’s claims. Jeremy Meyer of the Colorado Department of Education said the state discussed Alfaro’s email with the College Board and was “satisfied with the response we received.”
Kelly Donnelly, spokesperson for the Connecticut State Department of Education, said the state considered Alfaro’s email to be “replete with hyperbole, but scant on actual facts. We did not take further action.” Donnelly said the state hadn’t reviewed Alfaro’s detailed posts on LinkedIn.
Although I have not seen any of the explanations the College Board may have provided, I can assure you that none included the following critical fact: The College Board, ETS, and the Content Advisory Committee did not have time to review all the items prior to pretesting, as the College Board has repeatedly claimed they do.
If the heads of the Department of Education of your state knew anything about test development, they would have noticed that something about the College Board’s explanation didn’t add up and would have requested copies of the records of the face-to-face committee meetings, which the College Board must keep in order to comply with the Standards of Educational and Psychological Testing. Most importantly, the College Board needs to provide these records to the federal government as evidence for peer review of the assessment programs for these states.
The heads of the Department of Education of your states clearly lack the critical reasoning skills (and the common sense) and basic knowledge of test development required to make good decisions on behalf of the millions of children in their care. This reason alone is enough to demand their immediate resignation.
The College Board saved approximately 17 million dollars by taking shortcuts in the development of a product that affects the lives of millions of students every year. This is how the College Board can afford to offer the SAT to states for about $12 per student.
As a result of Governor Malloy’s directive, the Connecticut General Assembly adopted legislation last year mandating the use of the new SAT and this past March Connecticut’s high school juniors were told they “must” take the SAT and that it would be used to evaluate them, their teachers and their schools.
It was wrong for Malloy to back the new SAT.
It was wrong for the legislature to mandate its use.
And now Connecticut’s elected officials have an obligation to take immediate action to undo the damage they have caused.
For additional background, here are the Reuter’s articles reporting on their investigation:
Part 1: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/college-sat-one/ (As SAT was hit by security breaches, College Board went ahead with tests that had leaked)
Part 2: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/college-sat-two/ (How Asian test-prep companies swiftly exposed the brand-new SAT)
Part 3: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/college-cheating-iowa/ (How an industry helps Chinese students cheat their way into and through U.S. colleges)
Part 4: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/college-cheating-act/ (Students and teachers detail pervasive cheating in a program owned by test giant ACT)
Part 5: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/college-sat-security/ (‘Massive’ breach exposes hundreds of questions for upcoming SAT exams)
Follow up – Exclusive: FBI raids home of ex-College Board official in probe of SAT leak – http://www.reuters.com/article/us-college-sat-fbi-idUSKCN112009?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Social
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Education Funding, Jepsen, Malloy Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], ECS Formula, Jepsen, Malloy, school funding
Eleven years ago, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) brought a suit against the state of Connecticut charging that the state’s school funding formula had been so corrupted that it violated Connecticut’s Constitution by failing to provide cities and towns with sufficient state aid to ensure that every child received a proper public education.
At the time, Dannel Malloy was the Mayor of Stamford and signed onto to lawsuit as a plaintiff, correctly pointing out that students in his community and across the state could not get a proper education as a result of Connecticut’s warped school funding program.
As a candidate for governor Malloy supported the suit and recognized that it was the single most important mechanism for transforming Connecticut’s school funding formula into something that adequately funded schools and treated local property taxpayers more fairly.
But upon being elected governor, Malloy switched his position 180 degrees and has spent the last seven years trying to prevent the critically important lawsuit from coming to trial. When that strategy failed, he wasted precious public dollars, as has Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, working to convince the judicial system that Connecticut’s unfair school funding system is just fine.
For the last five months, a Connecticut judge has been taking testimony on the case. Yesterday the legal team representing students, parents, teachers and public schools gave their closing arguments. Today, the state will make their pitch about why the courts should turn their backs on Connecticut’s school funding crisis, and leave the ECS formula in place.
In a story wrapping up the trial, the CT Mirror wrote;
This question over whether the case, which was filed nearly 11 years ago, should move forward is not a new one. The state’s attorney general has been asking the court for years to strip CCJEF of its standing to sue.
But the attorney representing the plaintiffs rejected those calls Monday.
“I think that it is absolutely undisputed that we have at least one set of plaintiffs that have standing in this case…That ends the discussion,” Joseph Moodhe, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told the judge. He called the debate over standing a “red herring” aimed at avoiding a decision on the quality of the education being offered to students.
As for the fundamental issues of the case, the CT Mirror explained:
What’s an adequate education?
A divided Connecticut Supreme Court six and a half years ago ruled that the state is responsible for ensuring that public schools are of a certain quality, but left it up to a lower court to determine what that standard is and whether it is being met.
“Where do you set the standard? I think that is what has to be considered,” Moukawsher said Monday.
The plaintiffs argued Monday an adequate education is one that prepares students with the opportunity to attend college when they graduate high school.
“Our case is about not having those opportunities because the resources are not there for those children,” said Moodhe. “Ultimately, it comes down to whether the district is getting the appropriate resources to provide for what’s needed to educate their children.”
Throughout the trial, the coalition chose six school districts to highlight problems – Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, New Britain, New London and Windham. All enroll high concentrations of students from low-income families.
“The larger issue is what happens in districts that have large proportions of impoverished adults and students and how that particular dynamic impacts the ability of districts to provide an education to the students they are there to serve,” said Moodhe. “I think the evidence is quite clear that all of these townships are financially distressed; that most of the evidence has indicated that the superintendents have fought to get additional funding and pretty much without exception they have been disappointed… Because these towns are populated by poorer populations, they really don’t have the income in order to finance their schools.”
During his closing arguments, Moodhe asserted that high-poverty districts are not meeting even a minimum threshold for education quality because they cannot hire and retain talented staff.
“Poverty district students are more likely to be taught by less experienced new teachers,” said Moodhe. “Our districts are disadvantaged by districts’ inability to field the best teachers.”
Difficult working conditions, teachers and principals testified throughout the trial, include larger class sizes and high concentrations of high-need students. Educators say they lose waves of their best teachers each year, have trouble hiring replacements, and have too few teachers and other support staff to keep their students from falling further behind.
“They have less compensation and less enviable working conditions,” said Moodhe. “The evidence is quite clear that the teacher situation is a problem.”
But attorneys representing the state have countered that the schools in these districts are overwhelmingly filled with excellent teachers — as evidenced by annual evaluation ratings — and that the state has spent millions in recent years so that students have the staff support they need.
The lengthy article went on to note:
An equal education for all?
There’s no question that the state’s wealthiest communities are spending much more educating their students.
But should the state be responsible for equalizing that disparity?
Neither side is arguing that should happen.
Rather, those suing the state want a funding system that recognizes the extra cost to catch high-need students up with their peers.
While the states primary school funding grant provides 30 percent more money for children from low-income families, experts who testified for the plaintiffs during the trial testified that it costs two to three times as much to educate poor children who often show up for school with major deficiencies.
The state directs the vast majority of its education funding to the poorest and lowest-achieving communities, but the plaintiffs argue it clearly hasn’t been enough to make up for the significant needs these districts face.
Their proof: test results that show about half the students from these districts are multiple grade levels behind in reading and math.
“What you really have to do is give somebody the opportunity to get that adequate education. They may not get there. But you have to give them the tools and the resources,” he said.
When should the court step in?
The State Constitution requires that, “There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The General Assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.”
Missing is language clarifying what level of education is required.
Three of the seven justices on the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the constitution entitles every school-aged child to a “an education suitable to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens able to participate fully in democratic institutions, such as jury service and voting, and to prepare them to progress to institutions of higher education, or to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state’s economy.”
A fourth justice wrote a concurring opinion, agreeing that the constitution guarantees a certain level of educational quality but setting a much lower threshold for what that standard would be.
“The right established under [the constitution] requires only that the legislature establish and maintain a minimally adequate system of free public schools,” Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote. “Consequently, in my view, the plaintiffs will not be able to prevail on their claims unless they are able to establish that what the state has done to discharge its obligations under [the constitution] is so lacking as to be unreasonable by any fair or objective standard.”
In the absence of a clear majority mandate from the high court on what quality threshold the state must meet, Judge Moukawsher on multiple occasions has said he worries about overstepping the court’s proper role.
“I think you should understand by now that I have concerns about the fitness of the court to set a level of education spending beyond a bare minimum,” he told the attorneys Monday.
That concern stems from court decisions seemingly piling up that force the state legislature to spend money on particular priorities. On Monday, the judge specifically pointed out the courts’ involvement in ordering the state to desegregate Hartford schools and to take better care of abused and neglected children in the custody of the state’s child welfare agency.
“If I order so many billions to go to education as a whole, are there going to be billions left to desegregate Hartford Public Schools? So too with respect to the Department of Children and Families,” Moukowsher said. “The court is telling [the legislature] ‘spend this, spend that.’ How do courts do that in a vacuum? How can a court say, ‘Here’s what you’re going to spend’ without even considering that there are other constitutional rights that you impinge on when doing that. And there are a lot more, the mentally ill, prisoners, all of them have constitutional rights. When you order spending over here, you have to recognize that you’re affecting the spending over there.
“It means we have a big problem in courts doing this sort of stuff,” said Moukawsher, a former state legislator who represented Groton. “As much as you might say that courts have done it, I am not willing to do it unless I can believe there’s a way to do it rationally and fairly and a way that does not undermine the whole constitutional structure of the state by having the judiciary interfering so much with the job of the legislature that it cripples the legislature’s ability to do policy decisions.”
But, he acknowledged, there has to be some minimal standard that the court holds the legislature and governor to, otherwise, “You would have an empty constitution.”
Attorneys for the state have been arguing for judicial restraint in this case, but those suing the state maintain that a constitutional right should not be blunted by other obligations the state also must meet.
“The right to an adequate education is an affirmative constitutional obligation,” said Moodhe. “There is a challenge to the legislature for inaction… The legislature should not be given wide deference to meet that affirmative obligation.”
And the CT Mirror summarized the case, asking, “What’s the remedy?”
If the judge determines that the state is not providing students with the education the constitution requires, it could then be up to him to fashion a remedy.
If that’s necessary, the state says it would want him to order the legislature to make this its top priority and fix the problem, as was done in previous education funding and segregation lawsuits.
But the coalition suing the state says the courts should oversee a remedy that directs more money to needy schools.
No matter what Moukawsher decides, both sides have said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court for a final determination.
You can read and comment on the full CT Mirror article at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/08/08/ct-school-funding-on-trial-5-key-questions-facing-the-judge/
Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Education Reform, Malloy, Turnaround Schools Corporate Education Reform Industry, Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Malloy, Turnaround School
Since taking office, Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-teacher, anti-public education initiatives have done tremendous damage to Connecticut public education system. Few governors in the United States have implemented such a short-sighted, mean-spirited and down right stupid approach to education.
Among Malloy’s worst “accomplishments” has been his “school turnaround” program that has undermined the local involvement of students, parents, teachers and public schools.
Not only has the Malloy administration undermined the very people public schools were created to help, his efforts have cut deep into the fabric of Connecticut’s historic system of local control.
latest column, education advocate Wendy Lecker takes on the Malloy administration’s failure school turnaround strategies. In Policy can foster positive relationships for kids, a commentary piece that first appeared in the Stamford Advocate, Wendy Lecker writes;
Current education policy focuses on a failed strategy of school and district “turnarounds;” characterized by staff shake-ups and pedagogical practices that focus narrowly on raising test scores. This reform has been the Malloy Administration’s approach to school “improvement” since 2012. The evidence demonstrates that turnarounds produce at best temporary small increases in test scores, but at the high cost of destabilizing schools and communities in the long run.
While policymakers stubbornly pursue this dead end, they ignore evidence from science and educational practice pointing to methods that result in long-lasting improvements in both academic and life outcomes, especially for at-risk children.
A recent article in the science magazine, Mosaic, described a longitudinal study of children in Hawaii that examined why some at-risk children develop significant problems while others do not. The researchers found that for the one-third of at-risk children who did not develop problems, positive relationships, whether in the context of a community or one adult, were key. Even those who engaged in risky behavior as teens were able to turn their lives around with the help of a personal connection.
One of the researchers observed that resilience, often described as a trait, is instead an adaptive process; one that is helped by relationships.
Education reformers misread resilience as a trait they like to call “grit,” and consequently develop misguided policies such as the recent announcement by the federal government that the National Assessment of Educational Progress will create a standardized test to determine whether children have “grit.”
Understanding resilience the way these scientists have come to understand it would lead to a focus on more successful educational policies. Consistent with what science has discovered, it turns out that school programs and policies that promote the development of relationships are the ones that provide long-term educational and life benefits, especially to disadvantaged children.
It stands to reason that school mechanisms promoting a personal connection improve learning as well as social development. Neuroscientists have found that the brain does not recognize a sharp distinction between cognitive, social and motor functions. Consequently, research has shown that feelings of social isolation impair key cognitive abilities involved in learning.
Though they require substantial initial investments, educational policies that foster relationships save money in the long run.
Developmentally-appropriate preschool, with an emphasis on play, enables children to acquire the skills necessary to form healthy relationships. There is near universal consensus that quality preschool benefits children, increasing the chance of graduation, higher earnings, and decreasing placement in special education, involvement in the criminal justice system and the need for other social services. It also can save society as much as $16 for every dollar spent on preschool, by avoiding the costs of these later interventions.
Small class size, which fosters closer relationships between children and their teachers, has been proven to provide similar benefits, increasing graduation rates and earning potential, and decreasing the likelihood and cost to society of risky behavior. Research also shows that increasing class size has detrimental and costly long-term effects on at-risk children.
Now, new evidence from the Colorado Department of Education shows that increasing guidance counselors in secondary schools saved $20 for every dollar spent. Colorado implemented a grant program enabling 255 high schools across the state to hire more counselors and reduce their student-counselor ratio to a ratio of 216:1; a level below the 250:1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselors Association. As a result, the schools’ drop-out rates decreased, saving the state over $319 million dollars.
The program benefited low-income students of color the most. This result is consistent with research examining why students leave high school. As detailed in an earlier column, many students at-risk of dropping out or who have already left high school are more likely to remain or return if they can develop a relationship with a caring adult. Increasing the number of counselors increases the likelihood that at-risk high school students develop a relationship with such an adult.
Preschool, small class size and counselors are among the educational resources the plaintiffs in Connecticut’s pending school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, seek for Connecticut’s most disadvantaged children. Educational programs and services that foster positive relationships are proven to pay off for society, by preventing more costly social and academic interventions later on; and most importantly for our children, by increasing the chance that they develop into capable and productive adults.
Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.
You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Policy-can-foster-positive-9125538.php
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Dacia Toll, Jonathan Sackler, Malloy Achievement First Inc., Change Course CT, Charter Schools, Charters Care, ConnCAN, Jonathan Sackler, Malloy
The Charter School industry and their corporate education reform allies continue to ramp up their effort to impact the political landscape in Connecticut. Closely associated with Governor Dannel Malloy and his anti-public education policies, the elite behind the education reform and privatization movement are engaged in a broad based effort to control the dialogue and votes in the Connecticut legislature.
As reported yesterday in, Charter School Political Action Committees target Connecticut legislative races, two new corporate funded political action committees (PACS) are have recently been created and are spending money to elect pro-charter school candidates and defeat public school advocates in races for the Connecticut General Assembly.
Change Course CT, a front-group for Democrats for Education Reform, was formed on July 18, 2016.
Charters Care, a new appendage of the Northeast Charter School Network, was formed a few days earlier on July 13, 2016.
Both Democrats for Education Reform and the Northeast Charter School Network are corporate-funded charter school advocacy groups based in New York City and both receive the bulk of their money from the billionaires and millionaires who are trying to privatize public education in the United States.
According to forms filed with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, all the funds collected by Change Course CT come from Education Reform Now Advocacy, a non-profit 501 (c) 4 corporation that is operated in conjunction with New York City based Democrats for Education Reform Now and Education Reform Now.
Signing the official documents on behalf of Change Course CT has been Jenna A. Klaus, who appears to be the daughter of Jeff Klaus and Dacia Toll. Toll is the CEO of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that owns and operates charter schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. In addition to collecting the bulk of the $110 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds paid to charter schools, Achievement First, Inc. earned its infamy from suspending record numbers of kindergarteners in an apparent attempt to push out children who don’t fit the company’s limited definition of appropriate students. Jeff Klaus is a regional president for Webster Bank and can often be found, throughout the day, attacking education advocates and posting pro-charter school comments on various Connecticut media websites.
The Charters Care election documents are being signed by Christopher Harrington, the Connecticut Policy Manager for the Northeast Charter School Network and the PACs money has come from OxyContin’s Jonathan Sackler and from yet another New York based corporate education front group called Real Reform Now.
Not surprisingly, Jonathan Sackler, a Greenwich, Connecticut multi-millionaire is one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest campaign contributors and is on the Board of both the Northeast Charter Schools Network and Achievement First, Inc., as well as, being the founder and board member of ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading pro-charter school lobbying group.
The charter school industry has spent in excess of $9 million lobbying on behalf of Governor Malloy’s charter school and education reform agenda.
In addition they have provided massive amounts of campaign funds to Malloy and other pro-charter school candidates at the federal, state and local level in Connecticut.
Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, DFER, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy
Look out, here they come again…
Outside groups have begun a campaign to persuade voters in New London and Bridgeport to support Democratic candidates committed to diverting even more scarce public funds to privately owned and operated charter schools.
As a result of Governor Malloy’s budget and corporate education reform agenda, while Connecticut public school students, teachers and schools are reeling from their deepest cuts in state history, charter school companies in the state will collect more than $110 million from Connecticut taxpayers, this year.
A massive amount of money considering these entities refuse to educate their fair share of students who face English Language challenges, children who need special education services, and students who have disciplinary issues.
But these schools simply aren’t satisfied with skimming off more than $110 million that should be going to help fund public schools and keep a lid on property taxes. Charter schools want more and now they are trying to buy up candidates who will be loyal to their cause.
A national, pro-charter school, anti-teacher, corporate-funded group called Democrats for Education Reform has formed a new political action committee in Connecticut called Change Course CT.
Another New York based pro-charter group called Northeast Charter Schools Network has formed a second political action committee in Connecticut called Charters Care.
And these two big money groups are coming into Connecticut to add even more fire power to the existing pro-charter, anti-teacher groups that are already trying to influence public policy and elections. ConnCAN, New York based Families for Excellent Schools and their political action committee, Connecticut Forward, are only three of a growing number of groups that are spending millions of dollars to persuade Connecticut legislators and candidates to turn their backs on Connecticut’s real public schools.
According to the CT Mirror’s story entitled, Charter school advocates playing in General Assembly primaries;
Change Course CT, a PAC associated with Democrats for Education Reform, a national group Gov. Dannel P. Malloy addressed during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, has polled voters on two primaries in Bridgeport and one in New London.
“We just want to know what the dynamics of the races are,” said Amy Selib Dowell, the Connecticut director of Democrats for Education Reform.
She declined to say what they are doing with the polling data gathered in three districts: the 39th House, where Rep. Ernest Hewett of New London is challenged by Chris Soto; the 23rd Senate, where Sen. Ed Gomes of Bridgeport is challenged by Dennis Bradley; and the 126th House, where Rep. Charlie L. Stallworth of Bridgeport is challenged by Maria Pereira.
Charters Care is spending their money on “literature and T-shirts promoting Stallworth over Pereira, an outspoken opponent of charter schools, and Rep. Terry Adams of Bridgeport over Dan Dauplaise.”
As noted, these pro-charter groups are closely aligned to Governor Dannel Malloy’s and his anti-public school agenda. The groups have spent more than $9 million lobbying Connecticut public officials since Malloy rolled out his corporate education reform agenda in 2012.
The timing could not be more suspicious.
Malloy may be on his way out, but one of his key life lines for his aspirations in Washington D.C. is the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies.
Or, as the CT Mirror noted;
Malloy, the co-chair of the DNC’s Platform Committee, was a featured speaker at a Democrats for Education Reform event in Philadelphia…”
“Payment” to be collected later…
For additional background on these groups and their antics in Connecticut read the following Wait, What? posts;
Connecticut Charter School Industry spends another half a million dollars on lobbying elected officials
The Bevy of Billionaires undermining public education
Charter School Industry “invests” more than $9 million in Connecticut lobbying
Education reformers and charter school industry are jacking our legislature.
Malloy, Wyman Malloy, Wyman
With the Hartford Courant reporting, Three Top Malloy Aides To Step Down Before Next Legislative Session, the question now becomes — Is the 1st Wait, What? post of 2016 coming true?
2016 New Year’s prediction – Governor Dannel Malloy will resign in the next 385 days. (Wait, What? 1/1/2016)
As the newly crowned head of the Democratic Governors Association, Dannel Malloy will spend 2016 crisscrossing the United States to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidates and his preferred presidential contender, Hillary Clinton. Malloy’s recent campaign trips have already taken him to New Hampshire, Florida and Iowa.
Should Hillary Clinton become President of the United States, Malloy will be able to find a safe landing place in Washington D.C. following the January 20, 2017 Inauguration.
However, should the call to “serve” at the national level elude him, observers can still expect Governor Dannel Malloy to bail as Connecticut’s Chief Elected Official at some point in the next 385 days.
Leading the list of reasons Malloy will seek greener pastures is the harsh reality that the person sitting in the Governor’s chair in 2017 will be facing a massive two-year state budget hole of at least $3.6 billion dollar for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
Malloy is fond of claiming that he inherited a state budget deficit in excess of $3 billion from Governor Jodi Rell. Six years later, Connecticut’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis projects that Connecticut will face a budget shortfall of $1.7 billion in FY18, $1.9 billion in FY19 and a stunning $2.2 billion budget crisis in FY20,
The fact is that the man who said he’d put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order has cobbled together a series of gimmick ridden state budgets that will require Connecticut’s elected officials to confront at budget problem that will be nearly $8 billion over the three years following this year’s election cycle.
Telling the truth about Connecticut’s fiscal problems have never been one of Malloy’s strong points.
Running for Governor in 2010, Dan Malloy famously laid out his fiscal strategy in an October 26, 2010 WVIT TV Channel 30 debate when he said,
“I want to be very clear: We’re not raising taxes. That’s the last thing we will do.”
Of course, upon taking office in 2011, Malloy led the effort to adopt a new state budget that increased taxes by upwards toward $2 billion, instituted major spending cuts to a variety of critically important state programs and services and produced some labor concessions after he sought to blame state employees for Connecticut’s fiscal problems.
The only group spared from Malloy’s vision of shared sacrifice was Connecticut’s wealthiest.
Malloy’s tax plan pumped up the income tax rate on the state’s middle-income families while coddling the rich. As Malloy explained before a joint session of the legislature, he didn’t want to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share because he didn’t want to “punish” success.
When Dannel Malloy returned to the campaign trail four year later to seek a second term in office his strategy was based on doubling down on the effort to mislead Connecticut’s voters about the state’s fiscal situation.
As the 2014 gubernatorial campaign unfolded, Malloy stuck religiously to his political talking-points claiming;
- “We won’t have deficits. We don’t have deficits.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – Feb 4, 2014
- “We really don’t have a deficit.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – August 4, 2014
- “There won’t be a deficit. And there won’t be tax increases, because I’m taking that pledge when I couldn’t take it before, because this is a budget I own.” Malloy – NBC Connecticut – Sep. 30, 2014
- “I don’t believe there will be a budget deficit and I pledge that there won’t be one. I also pledge that there will not be a tax increase.” Malloy. – FOX CT – Sep. 30, 2014
Malloy’s “Read My Lips” moment came crashing down only days after he won re-election in November 2014 when his administration was forced to admit that Connecticut’s was facing a growing budget deficit, although at the time he tried to maintain his “no tax” rhetoric telling the CT Mirror,
“State government will live within its means, and we will not raise taxes.” – Malloy – CT Mirror – November 24, 2014
However, even that claim was as empty as his early campaign promises.
The 2015 session of the Connecticut General Assembly came to end with Governor Dannel “No-Tax-Increase” Malloy signing into law a new state budget that contained;
“$1.8 billion in additional tax revenue, over the biennium, including the elimination or postponement of $480 million in tax cuts that, during the campaign, Malloy had promised voters would take effect following his re-election. (CT Mirror)
Malloy’s new budget also made significant cuts to a range of vital services and programs. Hardest hit were Connecticut’s hospitals, services for those challenged by developmental and other disabilities and Connecticut’s public universities and colleges.
And was this new state budget actually balanced as Malloy claimed?
Not a chance.
As Connecticut citizens soon discovered, within weeks of signing that “balanced” budget, the Malloy administration was forced to admit that a large budget deficit was opening up for this year and next.
In response, Malloy announced budget cuts, called the Connecticut General Assembly into Special Session to adopt more budget cuts and earlier this week, when media coverage was at its lowest point for the year, the Malloy administration announced yet another round of budget cuts.
The latest being some of the most draconian budget cuts to date.
As one advocate for those with disabilities noted earlier this year, “More than 2,100 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities have been seeking residential services – such as a spot in a group home – but have not received them because of a lack of funding.”
In response to that shocking assessment, Malloy’s budget chief announced this past Wednesday that Governor Malloy had ordered even deeper cuts to Community Residential Services, Employment Opportunities and Day Services for those facing developmental challenges.
At the same time, other vulnerable populations were hit with devastating cuts including early childhood programs, child care services, school readiness, Temporary Assistance to Families – TANF, Grants for Mental Health Services, Young Adult Services mental health services and programs for the homeless.
The candidate who once claimed to be a social liberal and a fiscal conservative has proven that he is neither.
If Connecticut’s annual budget problems don’t speak loudly enough, as a result of Malloy’s spending spree with Connecticut’s state credit card, including more than $1 billion dollars for his corporate welfare giveaway programs, Connecticut’s debt service payments will increase by $61.1 million in FY17, $62.3 million in FY18, $64.8 million in FY19 and $67.6 million in FY20.
Malloy’s irresponsible borrowing will mean that vital services will go unfunded while scarce public funds are syphoned off to pay for the state’s credit card frenzy.
And perhaps worst of all, the most serious fiscal problems facing Connecticut remain unaddressed.
Connecticut’s long term fiscal problems go well beyond the record breaking $22.8 billion in outstanding state debt.
The unfunded State Employee Retirement System (SERS) is short $14.9 billion; the Teachers’ Retirement System is short $10.8 billion, Connecticut’s State Employee Post Employment Health and Life costs will require an additional $19.5 billion and the Teachers’ Post Employment Health costs will need an extra $2.4 billion and that doesn’t even count the remaining obligation associated with actually shift Connecticut to a budget system that meets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Something Malloy promised he would do in his first year in office.)
Adding salt to the wound, Malloy most substantive proposal to address Connecticut’s unfunded State Pension debacle fell apart before it even got out of the starting gate. As the CT Mirror reported, S&P warns Malloy’s pension plan could cause bond rating cut
“…Wall Street rating agency warned it might lower Connecticut’s bond rating – pushing up interest costs on capital projects – if the state adopts Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan to restructure contributions to the employee pension fund.
Standard & Poor’s also wrote in its recent bond outlook pension system is a key “indicator of budget stress” that — along with a largely unfunded retiree health care system — raises the prospect of more state tax hikes in years to come.
“In our opinion, the pension proposal would represent a significant deferral of unfunded pension liabilities after fiscal 2018,” the S&P report states. “And if implemented in a way that led us to conclude that actuarial unfunded pension liabilities were likely to grow substantially over time, could prompt us to lower the state (general obligation bond) rating one notch.”
Of course, then there is also Malloy’s big plans for a massive road and bridge rebuilding program that he proposed this year, while, at the same time, refusing to identify how we should actually pay for the transportation infrastructure renewal plan.
Again, the CT Mirror points out the problem recently reporting that,
“Connecticut’s transportation program could be in deficit by mid-2018, according to nonpartisan analysts.”
The writing is on the wall for all to see.
Having failed to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, failing to adequately fund Connecticut’s public schools, pushing through the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education and failing to provide for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens has caught up with Dannel Malloy
The full impact of Dannel Malloy’s failed policies will come into full force when the Connecticut General Assembly reconvenes in January 2017, just two months after this November’s Presidential, Congressional and Legislative elections.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when Malloy hands the baton of leadership over to his dutiful and loyal partner, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, before the next state budget plan must be presented for legislative action.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bronx Charter School for Excellence, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Education Reform, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy, Northeast Charter Schools Network Achievement First Inc., CCER, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy, Northeast Charter Schools Network
According to the latest lobbying reports filed with the Connecticut Ethics Commission, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies spent another $555,000 during this year’s legislative session in their ongoing effort to support Governor Malloy and persuade Connecticut legislators to divert even more public money to the privately owned and operated charter schools in the state.
While Governor Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly instituted the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy and the Democrat’s new budget actually increased the amount of scarce public funds going to the charter schools.
At the same time, the charter school front groups were working with Malloy to fight off efforts to fix Connecticut’s flawed teacher evaluation program.
Malloy and the charter schools are intent on keeping the scores that student receive on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC standardized tests as a prominent factor in determining teacher quality, despite the fact that every major academic study has revealed that individual teachers have an extremely small impact on how individual students do on standardized tests.
Rather than develop a teacher evaluation system based on how well that educator is actually doing, Malloy and the education reformers want to stick with a faulty system that will unfairly judge teachers on factors beyond their control.
Meanwhile, as Wait, What reported earlier this year, the charter school industry and their corporate funded front groups have spent in excess of $9 million on lobbying since Governor Malloy took office in 2011. See: Charter School Industry “invests” more than $9 million in Connecticut lobbying
The latest ethics reports indicate that, once again, the New York based Families for Excellent Schools continue to spend the most on lobbying in Connecticut, having reported an additional $300,000 in lobbying expenditures since the beginning of this year’s legislative session. The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) took the 2nd and 3rd spots on the charter school lobbying chart.
While Families for Excellent Schools and the entire charter school industry continue to expand their lobbying efforts, Neil Vigdor, of the Hearst Media Group, reports that Families for Excellent Schools and other so-called education reformers have set up another Political Action Committee that they will be using to reward and punish candidates who support or oppose their agenda.
In Charter schools step up political action Vigdor reports;
The charter school movement — backstopped by a billionaire club that includes Michael Bloomberg, Paul Tudor Jones and Ray Dalio — wants to put its stamp on the Legislature in Connecticut.
CT Forward, a newly launched nonprofit advocacy group, will survey House and Senate candidates across the state on their support for public charter schools. The litmus test will determine which candidates receive financial and grassroots support from the group’s dues-paying members, who will be made up heavily of parents.
Families for Excellent Schools, which has wrangled with Bridgeport administrators over education reform, is behind the election-year initiative.
For giants of the hedge fund industry such as Jones and Dalio, both Greenwich residents, charter schools have become a favorite cause. Each has contributed to Families for Excellent Schools, which reported $17.6 million in contributions and grants for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, to the IRS. [FES Director] Kittredge’s compensation was $222,297 for that time period, more than Connecticut’s state education commissioner and New York City’s schools chancellor.
A spokesman for Jones declined to comment. Multiple requests for comment were left for Dalio, whose Westport hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, is the largest in the world. Bloomberg has not contributed directly to FES, but has been strongly linked to the charter school movement.
Lobbying legislators, handing out campaign cash…it is all part of the effort to privatize public education in Connecticut and across the country.
Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, Republican Legislators Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, Republican Legislators
The CT Mirror headline reads; Fate of legislature’s investigative arm hangs on budget battle.
As background, in 1992 I served as the House Chairman of the Connecticut General Assembly Program Review and Investigation Committee. In many respects it is one of the most important committees in the legislative branch of government. The bi-partisan committee and its professional staff are tasked with providing the legislature with the ability to review and investigate administrative agencies, programs and policies and the committee serves as a unique mechanism to counter the power of the Governor and his control over all state activities.
But as a result of their disastrous budget agreement, Malloy and Democratic leaders took a major step toward undermining, even destroying, this important vehicle of transparency.
As the CT Mirror explains;
The fate of the legislature’s chief investigative arm probably will be determined in the next few weeks as top leaders decide whether to impose a cut that would chop the nonpartisan agency in half.
Meanwhile, the House’s longest-serving current member, Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, insists House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey’s office assured her the planned reduction to the Program Review and Investigation Committee staff would be significantly muted — in exchange for her support for the new state budget.
But the speaker, who is retiring after this year, said last week his office never made that pledge. And while he said he would try, nonetheless, to ease the fiscal pain, it is doubtful that several of the 12 positions in the investigative office won’t be eliminated.
In the short term, undermining the Program Review and Investigation Committee would derail important legislative reviews including studies into the State’s school desegregation programs; long-term care services; substance abuse prevention services and the state’s handling of discrimination complaints.
But the far more serious issue is that by decimating the Program Review Committee’s staffing and mission, the legislature would be taking another giant leap backwards in its duty to monitor and investigate the actions of the administrative branch of government.
But less executive branch oversight and less independence for the state’s clean government agencies appears to be one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s prime objectives. Unfortunately Democratic leaders have done little to subdue Malloy’s unprecedented attack on open and honest government.
As for the Program Review and Investigations Committee, according to the CT Mirror’s latest coverage,
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature struggled to eliminate a nearly $1 billion hole in the 2016-17 fiscal year without raising taxes. And the $19.76 billion budget they enacted funds most departments and agencies below the level originally promised for that fiscal year.
When Sharkey and Looney announced a tentative budget agreement with the Malloy administration during the waning hours of the regular legislative session in early May, one of the cuts they announced was $750,000 to be achieved by eliminating half of the program review office’s 12 jobs.
Both Sharkey and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said they highly value program review’s work.
But they also felt the legislative branch’s portion of the budget — albeit a small one — should sacrifice in the same way the rest of state government was.
However, rather than cut out more of the top heavy political operation within the House and Senate Democratic and Republican caucuses, the legislative leaders, apparently with Republican leadership support, are seeking to preserve the money spent of guaranteeing the power of incumbency and achieving the savings incorporated in the new state budget by going after the Program Review and Investigations Committee.
You can read the complete CT Mirror article at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/07/11/fate-of-legislatures-investigative-arm-hangs-on-budget-battle/
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The truth is that UConn needs a lot more than transparency – its needs a new President, new top administrators, a new Board of Trustees and a new Governor.
In a CT Newsjunkie column last week, education advocate Sarah Darer Littman highlighted the UConn management’s fiscally irresponsible, tone-deaf and elitist leadership style, an approach in which the President receives raises and bonuses and hands out large pay raises to her top staff, all while the state’s “flagship” university faces one record budget cut after another.
Perhaps more than any other area of state government, Governor Dannel Malloy’s disdain for doing the right thing has been on full display at Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.
Claiming to be concerned about Connecticut’s economy, Malloy’s state budget policies have undercut college and career educational opportunities by dramatically reducing state support, which in turn, has led to much higher tuition and fees, all while reducing the level of programing at UConn and the state’s other colleges and universities.
Yet at the very same time, with Malloy serving as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the Board and UConn President have increased the already outrageously high salaries of top administrators at the University.
It is, as Sarah Darer Littman wrote, a “let them eat cake” moment.
As Littman explains in her Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn commentary piece,
Connecticut’s political parties might be increasingly polarized, but there’s one issue upon which they finally reached unanimous agreement: UConn President Susan Herbst has had a “let them eat cake” moment and her Board of Trustees is utterly tone deaf.
Jump into the DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor and set the date for February 24, 2015, when President Herbst testified about how cuts to the university’s block grant would have dire impacts on the quality of education at the university:
“A reduction to the appropriation in that amount would without question have a devastating impact on every aspect of university operations, faculty teaching and research, and student success . . . The greatest consequences of this would be the effect it would have on our students, our academic programs, and the role UConn must play in the state’s future, economic and otherwise. It would be a giant step backward. To address the gap this would create, our cost savings and revenue options will include: strategic workforce reductions and, to the extent permitted by collective bargaining obligations, unpaid furlough days for all employees including management and unionized workers, reductions to student financial aid, closing academic departments and programs including in Storrs and the regional campuses and ending certain degree programs.”
As of February, 30 faculty members had been laid off, according to Michael Bailey, Executive Director of the UConn chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors). It’s happening across the country — tenured professor positions are being filled by less expensive adjuncts for whom the university isn’t required to pay benefits.
“Approximately 50 percent of the faculty is off the tenure track with adjuncts accounting for 25 percent of those. There has been about a 10 percent increase in adjunct faculty use in the Fall semesters since 2010,” according to Bailey.
Yet despite this, at a time of massive state budget deficits and statewide layoffs, President Herbst and the Board of Trustees have chosen — because let’s be clear, it’s a choice — to go forward with massive pay increases to a few non-union administrators on the basis that “everyone else is doing it.” One can’t help but think of that oft-heard parental reprimand, “If all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you do that, too?”
“The university does not run itself,” President Herbst reminded Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Senate Chair of the Higher Education Committee, in a letter responding to their questions. “We strongly believe in hiring high quality employees in order to fulfill UConn’s potential and ensure that we are as good as we can be as an institution. There are undeniably costs to that including the pay for the four people that prompted your letter, out of a workforce of more than 9,000.”
“I believe a contract is a contract and people should abide by contracts,” Board of Trustees chair Larry McHugh told the Hartford Courant.
What’s interesting — and revealing — is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s position. He was stridently adamant that labor unions reduce their contractual benefits in light of the new fiscal situation
Those who care about the state’s fiscal survival, let alone the future of the University of Connecticut, would do well to read Littman’s piece which can be found at:
The logical conclusion after reading it is that Connecticut AND UConn are in need of new leadership….
For more on UConn and its problems, read;
Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn
Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter? (Part I)
ALERT: Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%
Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU
UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union