Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Educators 4 Excellence, Excel Bridgeport Inc., FaithActs for Education, Families for Excellent Schools, Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Jennifer Alexander, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Public Square Partnerships, Sarah Darer Littman, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Teach for America Capital Prep Charter School, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, FaithActs for Education, Families for Excellent Schools, Jamilah Prince-Stewart, Jennifer Alexander, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Sarah Darer Littman, Steve Perry, TFA, the Coalition for Every Child
Here we go again… Yet another faux education advocacy group appears unwilling or unable to follow Connecticut’s ethics laws.
The number of corporate funded education reform and charter school front groups in Connecticut is popping up faster than the buds appear during a warm spring week and these groups seem virtually incapable of adhering to Connecticut’s ethics and lobbying laws.
You may need to read this post a few times to follow the bouncing ball…
It was just a few weeks ago that CT News Junkie columnist Sarah Darer Littman wrote a scathing column on the ethics problems associated with the New York based corporate education reform industry group called Families for Excellent Schools and its subsidiary, and entity called the Coalition for Every Child.
In the piece entitled, Are Charter Advocacy Groups Skirting CT Ethics Laws?, Darer Littman laid out the facts surrounding the Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child controversy.
The well-financed charter school advocacy group is the organization that is paying for the television ads promoting Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed state budget that makes historic cuts to public education while dramatically increasing funding for charter schools.
The group was also one of the sponsors of this week’s pro-charter school rally at the State Capitol that featured Malloy.
As the Hartford Courant reported, charter school students and parents were bused in to Hartford from as far away as Boston and New York City in an attempt to persuade Connecticut legislators to divert even more money so that Steve Perry could open a charter school in Bridgeport and a Bronx charter school chain could open up a charter school in Stamford.
As Sarah Darer Littman explained, not only had Families for Excellent Schools run into ethics issues in New York, but they were failing to report activities and expenditures here in Connecticut.
Now it looks like another new charter school advocacy group called “FaithActs for Education” is failing to report its lobbying related activities as required under state law – violations that should be met with thousands of dollars in fines.
Although FaithActs for Education was rolled out on February 15, 2015 in a well-scripted press conference featuring Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and a number of Bridgeport ministers, the corporation called FaithActs for Education was actually formed in October 2014.
As the Connecticut Post reported in February, “With the public backing of Mayor Bill Finch, a faith-based education advocacy group, FaithActs for Education, conducted its first meeting on Monday declaring a dedication ‘to improving education for all children in Bridgeport, no matter what type of school they attend.’”
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who participated in the event said,
“We know where we are and where we need to go. FaithActs for Education will help us to become even more of a force to be reckoned with.”
In addition to supporting Governor Malloy’s education reform agenda and Mayor Bill Finch, as he faces a difficult re-election campaign, FaithActs for Education’s immediate work has been to support Steve Perry’s plan to open a publicly funded, but privately owned and operated charter school in Bridgeport.
According to a press release issued by FaithActs for Education, the entity is led by,
- Reverend William McCullough, Pastor, Russell Temple CME Church
- Bishop John P. Diamond, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Faith,
- Reverend Janene Hawkins, Pastor, Walters Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church,
- Reverend Carl McCluster, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church,
- Reverend Cass Shaw, President & CEO, Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport,
- Reverend Jeremy L. Williams, Pastor, West End Tabernacle CME Church.
- In addition, the infamous Reverend Kenneth Moales, Pastor, Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is also playing a role with the group.
The organization’s chairman, Reverend McCullough, along with Reverend Moales and Reverend McCluster are all listed as original members of the Governing Council of Steve Perry’s new charter school in Bridgeport and all have been engaged in lobbying the State Board of Education and the General Assembly on Perry’s behalf.
Although we’re led to believe that FaithActs for Education is a homegrown group of religious leaders working to promote educational opportunities for all of Bridgeport’s children, the real story is very different.
According to the incorporation papers filed with the Secretary of the State, FaithActs for Education Inc. was created by Jamilah Prince-Stewart, who now serves as the entity’s Executive Director.
At the time of incorporation she served as the Director of Community Engagement for ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading charter school lobby group. In addition, FaithActs’ Director of Operations and Programs left her position as Special Projects Manager at ConnCAN to join the new advocacy group.
At the February 2015 press conference to roll out FaithActs for Education, both ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander and former ConnCAN CEO Alex Johnson were in attendance.
In addition to their lobbying work with ConnCAN, Alexander and Johnson were the individuals who formed A Better Connecticut, Inc. yet another education reform industry front group that spent more than $2 million on television ads during the year before the last gubernatorial election to “thank” Governor Malloy for his “leadership” on behalf of the corporate education reform agenda.
FaithActs’ initial press conference was orchestrated by the new group’s spokesman, Bob Bellafiore.
As public education advocate Maria Pereira noted at the time, Bellafiore is the founder of Stanhope Partners, an Albany PR firm that works for the charter school industry.
Before setting up his own company, he served as a Vice President of National Heritage Academies, a for-profit charter chain that owns and operates 75 charter schools in nine states, making it the third largest for-profit charter school company in the United States.
Just last year, National Heritage Academies made national news when it was discovered that it was charging one of its’ Brooklyn charter schools $2.3 million in rent per year even though it was leasing the property for much less.
Meanwhile, back in Bridgeport, FaithActs for Education purports to be a, “grassroots organizing nonprofit based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We exist to help faith leaders and their congregations step outside their place of worship to advocate for improved educational opportunities for their own children and the children of Bridgeport.”
The organization’s rhetoric goes on to say that, “created as a 501(c)3 Foundation,” FaithActs receives funding from various foundations and individuals, although, to date, it has failed to reveal which foundations or individuals are underwriting the organization’s lobbying and advocacy activities.
FaithActs for Education also shares an address with Educators 4 Excellence, another corporate funded advocacy group that claims to speak for teachers who are opposed to tenure and other collective bargaining rights. (See Wait, What? Post Educators 4 Excellence – Because teachers NEED their own “Education Reform” front group)
But even if all of that wasn’t indicative enough of the power and inter-relationship of the corporate education reform industry, there is more….
According to the incorporation papers filed with the Secretary of the State’s Office, FaithActs for Education’s agent of service is its Executive Director, Jamilah Prince-Stewart.
However, rather than recording the organization’s actual physical office in Bridgeport for corporate related service issues, the official corporate filing lists the following;
FAITHACTS FOR EDUCATION,
C/O PUBLIC SQUARE PARTNERSHIP,
1730 COMMERCE DRIVE #706 SUITE C,
BRIDGEPORT, CT, 06605
Public Square Partnerships is a relatively new company whose agent of service is none-other-than Nate Snow, the Director of Teach for America’s Connecticut Chapter. Snow also serves as President of Excel Bridgeport Inc., another Bridgeport based charter school advocacy group that had its own run-in with the Connecticut Ethics Commission when it failed to register with the Office of State Ethics despite the fact that it was lobbying state government in favor of Governor Malloy’s illegal takeover of the Bridgeport School System.
Excel Bridgeport, Inc., along with Steve Perry supporter, Reverend Kenneth Moales, were the biggest supporters of education reform guru Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s inappropriately certified superintendent who was forced to leave after two years. Vallas being best known for “charterizing” the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans schools system before being recruited by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, to “save” Bridgeport.
Although based in Bridgeport, Public Square Partnership not only lists TFA Director Nate Snow as its agent, but they use Teach for America’s New Haven office address as their official agent of service.
According to their website, Public Square Partnerships “focuses its investments on innovative change efforts that have attained tangible results for children attending schools in high-need communities or that have the potential to do so for sustainable and scalable impact.”
The company adds, “We partner with education organizations that develop educators, schools, and engage parents and community members in creating high-quality schools.”
Public Square Partnerships further reports that in its first year of operation, the company had contracts to help five schools in Bridgeport and New Haven, three of which were public schools and two were charter schools.
Among its clients, we are told, are the new Booker T. Washington Charter School Academy in New Haven and the Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport.
While Nate Snow serves as the Agent of Service for Public Square Partnerships, the President and CEO of the company is Diane Robinson who has spent the last twenty years working for the massive KIPP Charter School chain and Teacher for America.
The company’s Chief Operating Officer most recently worked as a Deputy Chief Portfolio Officer with the New York City Department of Education and before that was with the Washington DC Public Schools system.
The company’s third employee comes to Connecticut via the large education reform industry consulting firm called Schoolworks.
While more and more of the pieces of the puzzle come into view, the one thing that is absolutely clear is that there are a whole lot of organizations, spending a whole lot of money to further Governor Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-public school and anti-teacher education reform agenda.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bridgeport, Education Reform, Educators 4 Excellence, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch Bridgeport, Corporate Education Reform Industry, E4E, Educators 4 Excellence, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Stefan Pryor
Some teachers and public school advocates have heard about Educators 4 Excellence, aka E4E. For those that haven’t, you probably will as the organization continues to expand across the country.
Calling themselves Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), they claim to speak for teachers – although most E4E organizers don’t have more than a year or so of teaching experience – and what little actual teaching experience they have is usually the result of a short stint with Teach for America.
But the New York-based Educators 4 Excellence, originally created in 2010 using funds from the Gates Foundation, managed to pull in over $7.4 million from the corporate education reform industry in their first two years of operation.
Among the “teacher advocacy group’s” major funders is Education Reform Now, another corporate funded advocacy group that spends its money promoting charter schools and an end to tenure and “seniority-based layoff.”
In 2010 Education Reform Now ran a rather infamous television commercial in New York State that included a “parent” saying, “Stop listening to the teachers union.”
E4E’s fundraising has reportedly skyrocketed since 2012 allowing them to expand, including into Connecticut.
The Gates Foundation alone dropped another $3,000,695 into E4E’s coffers in July 2013.
Here in Connecticut…
When Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to the microphone on April 17, 2015 to announce that he was dropping the word “interim” from Dianna Wentzell’s title as “interim” Commissioner of Education, Educators 4 Excellence was quick to announce their support for the Common Core and Common Core testing aficionado writing,
“Dr. Roberge-Wentzell…was a critical member of [former Education] Commissioner Pryor’s team, which worked to secure funding for struggling schools where resources are needed most….We look forward to working with her in the years ahead…”
The reference that Wentzell deserved to be appointed Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education because she was a “critical member of Commissioner Pryor’s team,” the co-founder of the Achievement First, Inc. Charter School Management Company, reveals a lot about Educators 4 Excellence’s mission and purpose. Public funding for charter schools skyrocketed as a result of Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s policies over the last three years, with Pryor’s charter school management company receiving the lions’ share of the money.
With co-CEOs each enjoying compensation packages in excess of $150,000, Educators 4 Excellence explains their reason for existence by saying,
“For far too long, education policy has been created without a critical voice at the table – the voice of classroom teachers. Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, is changing this dynamic by placing the voices of teachers at the forefront of the conversations that shape our classrooms and careers.”
Educators for Excellence now has chapters in Connecticut, Chicago, Los Angeles and Minnesota and the have pledged to expand even further.
According to their “official” version of events, Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) began,
“As a group of New York teachers who wanted to change the top-down approach to policy-making, which largely alienated teachers like us from crucial decisions that shaped our classrooms and careers.”
Their propaganda fails to explain that their initial funding came in November 2010 when the Gates Foundation funneled $160,000 through Stand for Children, a multi-million dollar corporate education front group to set up “Educators 4 Excellence.”
According to the grant announcement, the Gates Foundation explained that the group was being funded to, “build an authentic, alternate teacher voice.”
Stand for Children is a leading player in the “education reform” movement, with a special focus on moving corporate funds into political campaigns in order to reward candidates who support their cause and punish those who aren’t on the school privatization bandwagon.
Jonah Edelman, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stand for Children, says the organization now has eleven state affiliates (AZ, CO, IL, IN, LA, MA, OK, OR, TN, TX, and WA).
According to Edelman’s biography,
“Jonah’s personal stand for children began during college, when he taught a six year-old bilingual child to read.”
Like a number of his fellow corporate education reform industry elite, Edelman graduated from Yale University (Class of ‘92) and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship.
If that wasn’t enough for the financiers of the education reform frenzy, the Chairperson of Stand for Children’s Board of Directors is Emma Bloomberg, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s daughter.
When Bridgeport Connecticut Mayor Bill Finch engaged in his failed attempt to do away with Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education and replace it with one that he would appoint, a coalition of corporate education reform groups and corporate elite, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg, dropped in enough campaign donations to make it the most expensive charter revision campaign in Connecticut history.
In Connecticut, Educators 4 Excellence use a New York public relations firm, the same PR firm that collected much of the money in the failed Bridgeport campaign and has been used by a number of other education reform groups in Connecticut to engage in advertising in favor of Malloy’s education reform initiative.
A Connecticut E4E press release out last summer by the New York firm opened with, “Teachers, Joined by Bridgeport Superintendent Rabinowitz, Call for Needed, Pro-Student Improvements in Professional Development at E4E Roll-out Event.”
The press release went on to read,
June 11, 2014 (Bridgeport, CT) — Educators 4 Excellence, a national teacher-led organization that seeks to elevate the voices of teachers in education policy discussions, formally launched its new chapter in Connecticut Wednesday with a kick-off event in Bridgeport and a call for sweeping changes to existing professional development. This major policy proposal, written by a team of working Bridgeport public school classroom teachers, proposes a number of changes to this pressing issue. These include increasing the opportunities for teachers to weigh in on and even lead professional development topics and personalizing the experience so that trainings better meet the needs of schools and individuals. The full proposal can be seen HERE.”
The press release adds,
“Over the past several months, a team of nine E4E-CT Bridgeport members has been developing recommendations to improve the quality of their professional development. The recommendations, which they released Wednesday, seek to inject the ideas of actual classroom teachers into the policy changes the Superintendent is currently considering.”
The release conveniently made no mention of E4E’s funders or whether any of the advocacy group’s money was spent developing or lobbying for their “teacher led changes.”
This year Educators 4 Excellence is ramping up their Connecticut presence.
The corporate education reform industry group recently advertised for a Vice President of Regional Operations, which the posting explained may be housed in Connecticut.
According to the advertisement for the job, the Vice President of Regional Operations responsibilities will include, “Designing and leading high level issue based advocacy campaigns.”
To ensure a proper understanding of life as a classroom teacher, the organization lists the preferred qualifications to be a,
“Bachelor’s degree and at least one year of professional experience as a Pre K-12 classroom teacher preferred; some form of teaching, school-based professional experience, student-based professional experience or previous work with educational non-profits.”
The required skills include, “Political savvy and keen interest in/understanding of education policy, the education reform movement broadly, and the power and politics of the education landscape both locally and nationally.
E4E explains the right candidate must also have “Tenacity” and “grit.”
In Connecticut, the organization is also looking for a new Executive Director for Connecticut, whose job will be to oversee Connecticut’s E4E operation.
According to the job post, lobbying legislators will be one of the Executive Director’s responsibilities, along with working to, “Establish E4E-CT as a go to source for the opinions and perspectives of progressive educators on issues that impact Connecticut’s classrooms.”
Again the entity says that, “At least one year of experience serving as a Pre K-12 classroom teacher” is preferred,” as well as the requirement for “Tenacity” and “grit.”
Apparently E4E is also looking for a Managing Director of Outreach in Connecticut.
The job postings don’t explain where the present Executive Director Ranjana Reddy is heading, although after a sting with TFA she headed to Newark, New Jersey to help create Rise Academy charter school, a position she left to attend Yale Law School.
At Yale she proudly reports that she worked for John White, who took over from Paul Vallas in New Orleans and Commissioner Stephen Pryor in Connecticut. Her biography explains that when working for Pryor she, “spearheaded the writing of Connecticut’s No Child Left Behind waiver.”
From charter school founder, to Yale, to writing Connecticut’s NCLB waiver… What a testament to the corporate education reform.
And as the saying goes, all this is just the tip of the iceberg –
Just wait till you hear what else E4E is up to in Connecticut.
You can read more about E4E in Connecticut via the following Wait, What? posts Another faux pro-public education group targets Connecticut (12/18/12) and Teacher-led organization that gives teachers a meaningful voice in policy is expanding in CT! (5/23/13)
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Connecticut State Department of Education, Malloy, Maria Pereira, Mayor Bill Finch, State Board of Education Bridgeport, Capital Prep Charter School, Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Malloy, Maria Pereira, Mayor Bill Finch, State Board of Education, Steve Perry
Maria Pereira is a former member of the Bridgeport Board of Education, a leading advocate for Bridgeport Public Schools and served as one of the key plaintiffs in the successful lawsuit in which the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Governor Malloy’s takeover of the Bridgeport School System was illegal.
A year ago, almost to the day, a group of Bridgeport citizens, including Maria Pereira, attended the State Board of Education meeting to request Governor Dannel Malloy’s political appointees REJECT applications by two more charter school companies to open privately run, but publicly funded facilities in Bridgeport. The Bridgeport Board of Education was so opposed to the charter school plans that it voted against the proposals and the Bridgeport Board of Education’s chairwoman was among those speaking against state approve for the charter school companies. Among the issues discussed was the state law aimed at prohibiting the saturation of charter schools in a particular community.
But in another assault on the role of local control and historic value of local communities running their own school system, Governor Malloy’s State Board of Education approved both applications, including the controversial plan put forward by Steve Perry.
One year later, this commentary piece examines that charter school issues in more detail. It first appeared in the CT Mirror at: http://ctviewpoints.org/2015/03/30/bridgeport-public-schools-losing-big-money-to-charters/
Bridgeport public schools losing big money to charters by Maria Pereira
As a graduate of the Bridgeport Public Schools, a parent of a recent graduate of the school system, a former Bridgeport Board of Education member, and an active unpaid advocate for the public schools in my hometown, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the recent editorial “CEA rhetoric not helping kids, public schools are” by Jeremiah Grace.
He is the Connecticut state director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network which was co-founded by the disgraced Michael Sharpe from the now-defunct Family for Urban Schools of Excellence.
Full disclosure: I have never been a member of any union; and, I have never been compensated for my advocacy work on behalf of true public education.
Mr. Grace’s claim that the CEA’s “rhetoric” is “false, dishonest and insulting to parents” would be funny if it weren’t so incorrect. After all, isn’t it these millionaire-, billionaire-, Wall Street-backed charter school organizations that run ads depicting Connecticut school students as “trapped in failing schools” and advertise that “40,000 children are falling through the cracks?” [One of these ads appears at the bottom of this commentary — Ed.]
I think most of us would not only describe that as “rhetoric,” but also as deliberate “propaganda.”
Mr. Grace tries to discredit a recent CEA statewide poll because 78 percent of the participants were white; therefore, according to him, the poll was “marginalizing” the opinions of minorities. The latest available U.S. census on Connecticut classifies 81.6 percent of our state population as “white alone.”
I would like Mr. Grace to share with us how many of the millionaires and billionaires that invest and/or founded the 22 Connecticut charter schools are “minorities?” One must ask who is really treating minorities like “puppets,” as Grace characterizes it.
I attended and provided testimony at the March 19 Education Committee hearing in Hartford. At 11:00 p.m., with testimony continuing late into the night, I took a moment to count how many charter school lobbyists, paid staff and charter school-compensated advocates were still in the room. Of the 27 I counted, I noted that just 4, or 15 percent, were minorities. Therefore 85 percent of those present were white.
In his willful distortion of the facts, Mr. Grace states that when a child leaves the public schools to enroll in a charter school, the district gets to keep that child’s state Education Cost Sharing allocation and “distribute most of that surplus among their other schools.”
A close examination of the findings of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Taskforce indicates that the Bridgeport Public Schools is the most underfunded district in Connecticut — to the tune of approximately $43 million each year. Even worse, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding has found that the state underfunds the Bridgeport Public Schools by $5,446 per student or approximately $119 million each year.
Meanwhile, each year our state spends $11,000 per charter-school student and $8,600 per Bridgeport Public School student. What “surplus” is Mr. Grace possibly referring to? What credibility does he hope to establish with the people of Bridgeport and of our state? How uneducated does he think we are?
The chief financial officer for the Bridgeport Public Schools, a highly experienced and educated Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Barnard in mathematics and education, conducted an in-depth analysis of how much real money the charter schools in Bridgeport will siphon away from the Bridgeport Public Schools budget. In addition, she provided an in-depth analysis of the loss of federal Title I funding that follows children who enroll in a charter school located in Bridgeport.
In total, the CFO forecast that the charter schools operating in our city, including the sixth charter school planned to open this fall, all told will siphon away over $26 million dollars from our school system over the next five years —already the most underfunded school district in Connecticut.
Although Bridgeport is allowed to seek state reimbursement for all transportation costs associated with the charter schools in the city, in all the years it has applied for such, in fact, the Bridgeport Public Schools has never received a single dollar of reimbursement for this. Although $20 million dollars of this money will be counted in the Bridgeport Public School’s state Education Cost Sharing grant, not a dime will go to the academic or socio-emotional needs of a single Bridgeport Public Schools student.
Highly compensated charter school advocates such as Mr. Grace consistently perpetuate the “waiting list” myth. Last year 6,000 children applied to gain entry to our Bridgeport magnet schools. Only 1,200 gained admission through a blind, randomized lottery; 4,800 students were placed on a “waiting list.
In this accounting, each student is counted only once. In contrast, charter school proponents often double or triple count, claiming that there are 3,600 students on waiting lists in Connecticut. If a child applies to three different charter schools, the charter school lobbyists count one student three times for their waiting-list story. That leaves us with an important question for our legislators: If there are 3,600 or perhaps more likely 1,200 students in the entire state waiting to enter a charter school, why should that be more important than the fact that there are truly 4,800 individual students on one waiting list for a magnet school in Bridgeport? Shouldn’t the state focus its limited resources on magnet school options? After all, in Bridgeport, every single magnet school outperforms every charter school.
In closing, Mr. Grace claims that the CEA’s statements were “patently false” and that they were choosing to “ignore the facts.” In fact, as it pertains to Bridgeport and its public schools, the “patently false” statements were made entirely by Mr. Grace, not the CEA.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Achievement First Inc., Bridgeport, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Steve Perry
Despite the support of Governor Malloy’s political operatives, including Bridgeport Mayor Finch and the ConnCAN/Achievement First Inc. charter school industry, pro-charter school candidate Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. couldn’t even muster enough voters to impact yesterday’s Special Election for a seat in the Connecticut State Senate.
The infamous Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. came in a distant 3rd place in yesterday’s Special Election collecting only 503 votes compared to the winner, Working Families Party candidate and former state senator Ed Gomes, who received 1,504. The Democratic Party endorsed candidate Richard DeJesus, who Finch initially supported before turning to Moales, garnered 791 voters.
According to the Working Families Party, Ed Gomes becomes the first candidate in the country to win a legislative seat running only on the Working Families Party line.
Kenneth Moales Jr. has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiatives.
Moales was not only a leading champion of education reformer extraordinaire Paul Vallas but has been a major proponent of Steve Perry’s plan to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
The Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. sits on the Board of Directors for Perry’s charter school and was a lone voice on the Bridgeport Board of Education when the democratically-elected board asked the Malloy administration NOT TO approve Perry’s charter school application.
However, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and his political appointees on the State Board of Education overlooked the position taken by the Bridgeport Board of Education and last spring and approved Perry’s plan to open a privately-owned but publicly-funded charter school in Bridgeport.
Although Governor Malloy’s proposed state budget actually cuts funding for public schools in Connecticut, the governor’s plan adds funding for four new charter schools in the state, including Steve Perry’s charter and one in Bridgeport that will be owned by an out-of-state company.
Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. previously served as Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer and his loss yesterday marks the fourth time in a row that Bridgeport voters rejected Finch and the charter school industry agenda.
Finch is up for re-election this fall and opposition to granting him another term is gaining steam.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch Achievement First Inc., Bridgeport, Bridgeport Board of Education, ConnCAN, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch
What is it with Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Connecticut’s Charter School Industry?
We already know these people have a problem with democracy, but here we go again!
First Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and his Corporate Education Reform Industry allies persuaded Governor Malloy’s administration to illegally take over the Bridgeport School System.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ended up intervening and forcing the state of Connecticut to hand Bridgeport’s Schools back to the voters of Bridgeport.
As a result of Malloy’s illegal action, the Supreme Court even had to order a new election to fill the seats on Bridgeport’s democratically elected Board of Education.
But not to let a little thing like the law stand in the way, Bridgeport Mayor Finch and his supporters then tried to jam through a change in Bridgeport’s City Charter that would have completely eliminated a democratically elected Board of Education.
Mayor Finch’s solution was to replace democracy with a board of education appointed by him.
The Charter Revision campaign failed, but not before Finch and his Charter School buddies spent a record breaking amount of money.
Political Action Committees affiliated with the Corporate Education Reform Industry spent over $560,000 trying to convince Bridgeport voters to give up their democratic rights.
Major contributors to the anti-democracy campaign included the Charter School front group Excel Bridgeport ($101,803); Michele Rhee and the charter school advocacy group StudentsFirst ($185,480); Achievement First Bridgeport Chairman Andy Boas’ personal foundation ($14,000); ConnCAN ($14,000); Harbor Yard Sports & Entertainment ($14,442); Pullman & Comely law firm ($7,000); Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($25,000); Achievement First and ConnCAN founder Jonathan Sackler ($50,000); and a who’s who of the Bridgeport’s business community.
After failing to persuade Bridgeport voters to hand their schools over to a non-elected Board of Education, Charter School Team Finch went on to lose both a Democratic Primary and the General Election for the Bridgeport Board of Education.
But apparently Finch and the Charter School elite that have been targeting Bridgeport over the past few years just won’t rest until they actually destroy democracy in Bridgeport
Their next target appears to be Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, an organization that has been around for 45 years and has become a strong and effective voice for Bridgeport’s parents and students.
And an effective voice for parents is apparently just too much democracy and power for the Finch loyalists who are now engaged in an undemocratic strategy to derail this important vehicle for parent involvement in Bridgeport’s schools.
Late last Friday a “special notice” was sent out announcing that the Bridgeport Board of Education would be holding a “Special Meeting” to deal with the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council tomorrow – Monday, February 23, 2015.
The notice for a special meeting comes despite the fact that the Bridgeport Board of Education already has a regular meeting scheduled for 6:30 P.M.
Issuing an updated agenda would have been easy enough, but the pro-charter school, anti-democracy crowd went with the “Special Meeting” tactic.
Why would they want a “Special Meeting” instead of taking up whatever clandestine effort they are going to attempt at the Bridgeport Board of Education’s regular Monday Meeting an hour and a half later?
Because under their rules, the public is not allowed an opportunity to speak to the Board of Education at Special Meetings, whereas at regular meetings public input is allowed.
While it appears true that we are called the United States of America where the notion of freedom and democracy is supposed to be among our most cherished fundamental and inalienable rights, but when it comes to the Charter School Industry’s agenda and tactics, nothing is sacred.
Apparently “simply” undermining democracy isn’t enough for the charter school advocates.
They are not only engaged in a strategy to undermine Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, but they want to do it in a way that completely and utterly destroys the notion that Bridgeport’s parents even have Freedom of Speech or the right to be heard before their government takes action against them.
Adding further insult to the already absurd farce is that the “Special meeting” is scheduled for 5:00 PM, a time many parents and community members are still working or are busy fulfilling child raising duties and unable to make it to a hastily scheduled Board of Education Meeting.
The agenda for the “Special Meeting” is ominously entitled, “Discussion and Possible Action on District PAC Leadership.”
The agenda item being a not so hidden reference that the Board of Education may take “action” against Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council.
The entire development is just one more disgusting reminder that while we claim to be fighting the enemies of freedom abroad, some of the most serious threats to our American principles can be found right here at home.
If you happen to know Mayor Finch or his Charter School Allies…
Oh, never mind, it is no use talking to them, they simply don’t care about notions like democracy and Freedom of Speech.
And tomorrow they will try to prove that point yet again.
To them, the end always justifies the means and the Corporate Education Reform Industry won’t stop until they truly destroy public education in our country.
Here is to the hope that our fellow citizens in Bridgeport can fight back against the anti-democracy movement that is out to get them.
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Mayor Bill Finch Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales Jr., Mayor Bill
This coming Tuesday, Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. is hoping that the voters of the 23rd State Senate District will come out and make him Connecticut’s newest State Senator in the Special Election.
However among the various clouds that hang over his head is the unanswered question of what happened to all the missing money.
Reverend Moales brags that he is a millionaire.
And maybe he is.
The member (and former chairman) of the Bridgeport Board of Education sends his children to some of the most elite and expensive private schools in Connecticut; Fairfield College Preparatory School, Fairfield Country Day School and Ridgefield Academy.
Together, the tuition for those three schools exceeds $90,000 a year.
At that rate, putting three, let alone four, kids through private school until college would cost in excess of $3.2 million.
But at the same time Moales hasn’t been paying his bills.
For example, he hasn’t been paying Foundation Capital Resources, the mortgage company that provided him with more than $7.3 million to build his Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.
Moales owes another $225,000 to Bridgeport’s now defunct The Community Bank and as much as $500,000 or more to a variety of vendors, as well as, to the City of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut for back taxes.
Moales’ other troubles include being caught twice in the last few years driving two different unregistered automobiles that are “owned” by his Church, a Cadillac Escalade and a Mercedes Benz.
According to court records, Kenneth Moales borrowed more than $7 million from Foundation Capital Resources promising in return to build a multifaceted Cathedral and community center.
However what is sitting at 689 Union Avenue and called the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is but a portion of what he promised to build according to the original mortgage documents and the present building has never been valued at more than $4.8 million. It is presently assessed at only $3.4 million.
Moales once told the Connecticut Post that he was a pastor and a businessman, with degrees in both accounting and religion. He said he also runs a financial consulting business.
Moales added, “Our church is very strong financially, we have seen an increase in our membership and a 40 percent increase in our revenue.”
A millionaire, who is head of a financially strong church that has enjoyed a 40 percent increase in revenue, wants voters to support him in Tuesday’s Special State Senate Election.
There is still time for the Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. to step forward and explain what happened to all the missing money and why he thinks it is appropriate to brag about his millions while he fails to pay his bills or follow the laws that apply to everyone else in our state.
Perhaps one of the local media outlets in Bridgeport would provide Mr. Moales with an opportunity to tell the truth about his financial affairs before Election Day.
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch
Although the Bridgeport political operation connected with Governor Malloy and Mayor Bill Finch orchestrated the nomination of State Representative Richard DeJesus to run in the February 24th Special Election for the vacant State Senate seat in Bridgeport, the Mayor and his team are in the process of shifting sides and will now be focusing their collective efforts to elect the Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. to the Connecticut State Senate.
On Friday Mayor Bill Finch urged the nominee, Richard DeJesus, to drop out of the state Senate race.
In addition to DeJesus, who is the Democratic nominee in the race, the other major contenders are former State Senator Edwin Gomes, who is the Working Families Party candidate and former Board of Education Chairman Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. who is Finch’s former campaign treasurer.
Apparently Finch’s most recent political maneuver is due to the establishment’s growing concern that DeJesus has been damaged by the news that he owes at least $139,433 in personal property taxes and at least $35,700 in back child support.
But the Malloy/Finch operation was already covering their bets over the last few weeks, with Finch’s chief of staff and other key Finch allies providing donations to Moales so that he could qualify for a taxpayer funded campaign finance grant.
A review of Moales campaign finance report reveals that he has the full support of Connecticut’s Charter School Industry and many of the individuals and organizations that paid for the record-breaking lobbying campaign behind Malloy’s education reform agenda and Mayor Finch’s failed charter revision effort to do away with a democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the mayor.
Over the past three years, Kenneth Moales Jr. has been one of the most outspoken supporters of Malloy’s corporate educate reform efforts. Moales was also the head cheerleader for Paul Vallas and Moales serves on the Board of Directors for Steve Perry’s proposed charter school in Bridgeport.
In fact, while the Bridgeport Board of Education was taking the unprecedented step of asking Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and State Board of Education to reject Steve Perry’s application to open a charter school in Bridgeport, saying it was contrary to educational goals of the City of Bridgeport, Moales was busy supporting the application, all while serving on Perry’s charter school board.
The notion that it is DeJesus’ financial troubles that has scared off Finch and company is rather absurd considering the far more serious financial, legal and ethical problems surrounding Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr.
Although Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. claims to be a millionaire, he has been fighting off a series of lawsuits since 2011 for defaulting on about $8 million in loans that he took out to build his Bridgeport Church and renovate a home owned by his mother.
In September 2012, Reverend Moales caused a car accident in New Haven that injured the driver of the other car. At the time of the accident Moales with driving an unregistered Mercedes Benz owned by his church.
A year later, in September 2013, an arrest warrant was issued for Reverend Moales for failure to appear for a ticket he had received for speeding and driving another unregistered vehicle, this time a Cadillac Escalade which was also owned by his church.
In response to a CT Post article about the arrest, Moales took to Twitter proclaiming,
“CT POST NEEDS readers! I must stay focused, Ignore the Critics & Solve The Real Problems! We are doing a good work & WE WILL NOT COME DOWN!!!”
Moales also owes more than $10,000 in local property taxes and allegedly owes back payroll taxes to the State of Connecticut as well.
Three daycare centers owned by the Moales family and that rent space from Moales’ church was caught double-billing for state funded daycare slots last year and forced to pay back approximately $70,000 in ill-gotten gains
The Moales family daycare centers also put dozens of children in rooms that didn’t meet fire code and didn’t have the required permits including a certificate of occupancy for the building itself.
And the list goes on…
But as incredible as it seems, Kenneth Moales Jr’s pattern of financial, legal and ethical neglect haven’t stopped Connecticut’s charter school industry from funding his campaign…A campaign that apparently now has the support of Mayor Bill Finch and the forces loyal to Governor Malloy.
You can find out more about this developing story at the Only in Bridgeport Blog – http://onlyinbridgeport.com/wordpress/icky-for-ricky-dejesus-says-hell-resign-city-council-seat-finch-tells-him-to-drop-state-senate-bid/ and the CT Post at http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/DeJesus-has-campaign-cash-but-also-troubles-6080248.php
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Corporate Viewpoint, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Families for Excellent Schools, Great Oaks Charter School, Jonathan Sackler, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Maria Pereira, Mayor Bill Finch, Meghan Lowney, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, ConnCAN, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Families for Excellent Schools, Jonathan Sackler, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Maria Pereira, Mayor Bill Finch, Meghan Lowney
Let’s hear it for less democracy!
Just days before the voters of Bridgeport overwhelmingly defeated Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s bizarre 2012 proposal to eliminate the democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor, millionaire charter school champion Jonathan Sackler quietly wrote a personal check for $50,000 to help pay for the final set of mailings and advertisements designed to persuade Bridgeport voters to give up their right to vote for those who oversee their City’s public schools.
Now Jonathan Sackler and many of the same pro-charter, anti-public education, pro-corporate elite are pumping money into Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr.’s campaign for State Senate with the goal of helping Moales qualify for a taxpayer-funded state campaign grant that he would use to pay for his campaign in the February 24th 2015 state senate special election.
It won’t come as any surprise to those who have watched the ongoing effort to undermine and denigrate the people of Bridgeport that the very same individuals and groups that worked so hard to take away democracy in Bridgeport and keep Paul Vallas in charge of Bridgeport’s schools are now working overtime to put Moales – a Malloy/Finch ally and disgraced former chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education – into the Connecticut State Senate.
The corporate elite, education reform industry and charter school advocates know that Kenneth Moales Jr. will be a safe vote for their anti-public education agenda, even if it means hurting the people of Bridgeport.
Jonathan Sackler, whose pharmaceutical company makes OxyContin, is a founding member of Achievement First, Inc., the large Charter School Management Company with schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Sacker is also the corporate education reform industry advocate who formed ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group. Sackler was one of the largest donors to Finch’s anti-democracy effort and now he tops the list for Moales as well.
Another key player for Moales is Andy Boas, the Chairman of the Board for Achievement First – Bridgeport, a member of the ConnCAN Board of Directors and the founder of The Charter Oak Challenge Foundation. In 2012 Boa was also one of the largest contributors to Finch’s campaign to do away with an elected school board in Bridgeport.
And now Boas and his wife, like Sacker and his wife, have both donated the maximum amount to Moales’ campaign.
In total, more than half a dozen of Moales’ largest campaign contributions have come from members of the Achievement First, Inc. or ConnCAN Boards of Directors.
Yet another major player in Finch’s failed charter revision effort was Excel Bridgeport, Inc. the corporate funded education reform group that lobbied for the illegal state takeover of Bridgeport’s schools and then dumped more than $101,000 to support of Finch’s charter revision effort to do away with a democratically elected board of education. Excel Bridgeport’s founder, Megan Lowney, who is also one of Malloy’s political appointees, recently gave Moales the maximum donation allowed under law.
Others who helped pay for Finch’s failed anti-democracy campaign and are now stepping up with donations for Moales’ campaign include;
Paul Vallas and his wife (now re-located back to Illinois)
Trefrey is the former President/CEO of Bridgeport Hospital. Trefrey chaired the illegal board that was handed control of Bridgeport’s schools by Governor Malloy’s administration. When the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Malloy’s attempt to take over the Bridgeport Schools was illegal, Malloy appointed Trefrey to the State Board of Education’s Committee that oversees the state’s technical high schools. Bridgeport Hospital gave Finch’s charter revision campaign the maximum allowable donation, even at a time it was laying off staff. Trefrey has not given Moales the maximum allowable contribution.
Grace is the Connecticut State Director of the Northeast Charter School Network. The organization not only lobbies for more charter schools but helps private charter school management companies develop applications to get public funds.
Bollert was an education advisor to Mayor Bill Finch and helped create Excel Bridgeport, Inc.
McCullough serves with Moales on the Board of Directors of Steve Perry’s proposed Bridgeport charter school.
Coates is a charter school advocate, member of Families for Excellent Schools and is the newest member of the Bridgeport Board of Education. Coates and her husband are both donors to Moales.
Torres is a member of the Great Oaks Charter School Board of Directors.
Thompson is the former Finch aide and Vallas assistant who posted on his on-line resume that he was the Deputy Mayor for Education in Bridgeport, even though he was no such thing. Thomson is now an executive New Leaders Fund, a corporate education reform advocacy group in New York City. Brandon Clark, who ran on the Finch slate for Board of Education with Moales in 2013 but lost, also works with the New Leaders Fund with Thompson and also recently donated to Moales’ campaign.
Other Moales donors include a number of employees, lobbyists and consultants associated with ConnCAN, Achievement First, Inc. and other charter schools organizations in Hartford, New Haven and out-of state.
In order to get the full taxpayer funded grant of Moales has filed the paperwork to get a state taxpayer funded grant. In order to get the money he must raise a total of $11,250, of which 225 must come from people living in Bridgeport or Stratford. Depending on the number of signatures collected, Moales could receive a public grant of up to $71,000
Although Moales submitted the paperwork to get a grant last Friday, a review of his public financing report reveals a variety of problems and suspicious donations that could prevent him from qualifying for the public funding.
Note: A special thanks to Maria Pereira who also researched Moales’ recent campaign finance report and provided her findings to the “Only in Bridgeport” blog.
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The Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. wants to represent Bridgeport in the Connecticut State Senate. As a key ally of Governor Dannel Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Moales is counting on the Democratic machine to help him get elected in the February 24, 2015 Special Election.
And Malloy, who remains committed to pushing his corporate education reform industry agenda, could certainly use another pro-charter school supporter in the State Senate.
But Kenneth Moales Jr. actions continue to speak louder than his words.
As Moales as shown over and over again, he is a man who simply refuses to take responsibility for his actions.
Not long ago, Kenneth Moales was arrested for failure to appear in court on a charge that he was driving an unregistered automobile owned by Moales’ church. (See: Kenneth H. Moales… You are wanted by the Connecticut State Police (Literally) 10/21/13, Bridgeport’s Kenneth H. Moales Jr. served with arrest warrant 10/22/13, Kenneth Moales Jr. arrested… 10/23/13)
And now comes yet another stunning example of Moales’ inability or unwillingness to follow the law or act responsibly
In September 2012, Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. was driving one of the Mercedes Benz owned by his church along Dixwell Avenue in New Haven. When attempting to make an illegal U-turn without signaling or giving the right of way to traffic, Moales caused a car accident.
The victim of the accident eventually filed a lawsuit (Case #NNH-CV14-6050018-S) against Moales and his church for the damage and harm that resulted from Moales’ action.
The accident report produced by the New Have police department placed the blame squarely on Moales noting;
“Upon investigation I found operator #1 [Kenneth Moales Jr.] at fault for the accident. He was given a verbal warning for 14-243(e), Failure of driver making a left turn to grant rights to way to oncoming traffic, 14-12a Operating an unregistered motor vehicle.” (Police Case # 12-47695)
But rather than face up to his responsibility for causing the accident, the Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. tried lamely to have the lawsuit dismissed by claiming that he was not properly served with the writ, summons and complaint because it was sent to his mother’s house and not his.
In his sworn affidavit signed on November 11, 2014, Kenneth Moales Jr. claimed that he was “not personally served with a write, summons or complaint.” With that claim in hand, his lawyer moved to have the case dismissed on November 21, 2014.
But the unsettling fact is that neither Moales or his attorney revealed to the Connecticut Court that the certified letters containing the information were, in fact, accepted on August 19, 2014 by someone who printed and signed the name Kenneth Moales Jr. or that the secretary of the Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love, Inc. received and signed a companion certified letter on the very same day.
Instead of stepping up and facing the charges against him, Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr actually filed a sworn statement claiming, “that that Court lacks personal jurisdiction over him as service of process was insufficient in that he was not personally served with the write, summons and complaint…”
When copies of the signed certified return forms were filed with the Court by the State Marshal, the lawsuit was allowed to go forward.
However just this week the accident victim was forced to seek an extension of time to respond to all of the interrogatories and request for production that Moales and his lawyer dumped on the accident victim once the case was allowed to proceed.
The Democratic Machine has already intervened to prevent former State Senator Ed Gomes from getting the Democratic nomination in Bridgeport’s Special Election. The question now is how far Malloy, Finch and others will go to help put the Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. in the Connecticut State Senate.
Any support that Malloy, Finch or others, including Connecticut’s charter school and corporate education reform advocates provide to Moales will be quite a commentary.
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On July 17, 2013, when faced with a set of foreclosure proceedings against his church, The Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love, totaling at least $8 million, the Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr., a key ally of Governor Dannel Malloy, Campaign Treasurer for Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education, blithely dismissed the information telling the Connecticut Post,,
“My dad left me a millionaire, I’m fine, we’re fine, we don’t have any financial problems…we are having a banking issue.”
Eighteen months later, Kenneth Moales, Jr is now running in a special election in Bridgeport to fill a vacant seat in the Connecticut State Senate and his financial problems have continued to grow.
The latest news arrived via the “Only in Bridgeport” blog which reported, “Moales’ Daycare Facility Owes $10,000 in Back Taxes. [Also see: In the news again – Steve Perry’s point man in Bridgeport – The Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr.]
The day care centers owned by Moales’ family already owed back taxes in the summer of 2013, but the number has grown, despite the fact that the daycare centers have collected in excess of $5 million in taxpayer funds from the State of Connecticut.
In addition to the back taxes, various loans that Moales took out to build his church and renovate his mother’s house remain unpaid. Foundation Capital Resources, a company that lends money primarily to churches is owed at least $7.3 million dollars and there is still the unpaid loan to the now defunct Community Bank of Bridgeport. A number of vendors have also filed suit against Moales and his church claiming that they were not paid for work that they completed.
Kenneth Moales’ church owns 10 properties in Bridgeport including church buildings, some of which house his three daycare centers, and homes, including the house that Moales resides in.
When asked by the Connecticut Post in July 2013 about why Moales and the church had defaulted on their loans and failed to pay vendors, Moales retorted,
“Our church is very strong financially,” he said. “We have seen an increase in our membership (now more than 1,000) and a 40 percent increase in our revenue. I’m sure no other church in the city can say that.”
A defiant Moales told the Connecticut Post, “Our church will not lose a mailbox — never mind a piece of property in Bridgeport.”
And while families across Bridgeport and Connecticut continue to struggle financially with many losing their homes as a result of the Great Recession, Kenneth Moales Jr. seems to be blessed with the political cover to do as he likes.
And what Moales wants now is a seat in the Connecticut State Senate where he can continue his work on behalf of the charter school industry and the corporate education reform movement, all despite the fact that he sent his children to expensive private schools.
With the special election only twenty days away, be sure to check back for more about this “interesting” race for office. You can also find more at the Only in Bridgeport Blog and the Connecticut Post.