Ethics, Poverty Ethics, Poverty
As so many religions celebrate this season of renewal and rebirth, it would seem that some among us have forgotten the core teachings and guidance of the Wise. Whether those words come from the Holy Books or the Holy Visionaries, they follow a common theme;
“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” – Proverbs 22: v 9
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi
“The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbor beside him is hungry.” - Prophet Muhammad
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.” – Lao Tzu
Yet according to a recent article in the Atlantic magazine, the wealthiest are often the stingiest. In fact, you could call them miserly when it comes to paying their fair share in taxes and even more miserly when it comes to their level of generosity.
The article explains, “In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income. The relative generosity of lower-income Americans is accentuated by the fact that, unlike middle-class and wealthy donors, most of them cannot take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, because they do not itemize deductions on their income-tax returns.”
Or as Paul Piff, a professor at the University of California – Berkeley wrote in a New York Magazine article, “The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people…more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”
The Atlantic Magazine will leave you shaking your head as it reveals that the truth that surrounds us;
“Wealth affects not only how much money is given but to whom it is given. The poor tend to give to religious organizations and social-service charities, while the wealthy prefer to support colleges and universities, arts organizations, and museums. Of the 50 largest individual gifts to public charities in 2012, 34 went to educational institutions, the vast majority of them colleges and universities, like Harvard, Columbia, and Berkeley, that cater to the nation’s and the world’s elite. Museums and arts organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art received nine of these major gifts, with the remaining donations spread among medical facilities and fashionable charities like the Central Park Conservancy. Not a single one of them went to a social-service organization or to a charity that principally serves the poor and the dispossessed.”
Furthermore, the Atlantic writes, “More gifts in this group went to elite prep schools than to any of our nation’s largest social-service organizations, including United Way, the Salvation Army, and Feeding America (which got, among them, zero).”
The full article can be found at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/why-the-rich-dont-give/309254/
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Poverty, Special Education, Stefan Pryor Achievement First, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
Bruce Baker is a professor at Rutgers’ Graduate School of Education at Rutgers. He is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on school financing. He has written extensively on the subject, including serving as a lead author of the definitive graduate text book called Financing Education Systems. He is also the author of a blog called School Finance 101.
A couple of days ago Baker posted a “MUST READ” article on his blog that drives home one of the most important points Wait, What? readers have been learning about over the past year.
Charter schools cream off the students. They cream off students because they are trying to get the “right students” so that can “produce higher standardized test scores” so they can continue to mislead government, foundations and wealthy donors to give them money.
Then, when their test scores come out, they completely fail to explain that those scores are not a product of the quality of the education these schools provide, but are a direct result of selective, discriminatory enrollment policies they have and their increasingly well-known system of forcing out (often called migrating out) those students that won’t produce the results they want.
While Baker’s latest blog looks at charter schools in multiple states, the Connecticut data he presents makes the strongest case yet for the intentional fraud being perpetrated on Connecticut’s public schools, our students, teachers, state government and taxpayers.
You can read Backer’s full article here (see link), but the key Connecticut findings are as follows;
Using data from the State Department of Education and the NCES Common Core, Baker summed the “total number of public & charter school enrolled children by City (school location in CCD) and the total numbers of free lunch, ELL and special education enrolled children.”
Here is a chart highlighting the data – and once again – the data makes the situation absolutely clear.
We know the greatest predictors of standardized test score performance are poverty, language barriers and special education needs. We also know that in case after case after case after case, Connecticut’s charter school educate children that are less poor, have far less language barriers and need fewer special education services.
CLICK ON THE CHART TO OPEN IN NEW WINDOW SO YOU CAN GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN TEXT AND CHART:
In fact, Connecticut’s charter schools are particularly brutal on locking out students who are not fluent in English – which are usually the children who come from homes where English is not the primary language.
If Charter schools educate children who are less poor, have fewer language barriers and few special education needs, they will, by default, end up with high standardized test scores.
So what has Governor Malloy, Education Commission Pryor, the Connecticut Board of Education and the Connecticut General Assembly done?
They have given more funds to those that are discriminating while making things worse for the schools that are actually trying to what every child deserves under the Connecticut Constitution – a few, high quality, public education.
As Dr. Bruce Baker puts it, “In a heterogeneous urban schooling environment, the more individual schools or groups of schools engage in behavior that cream skims off children who are less poor, less fewer language barriers, far less likely to have a disability to begin with, and unlikely at all to have a severe disability, the higher the concentration of these children left behind in district schools.(see for example:http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/effects-of-charter-enrollment-on-newark-district-enrollment/).
Baker goes on to speak the absolute truth when he said, “…with independent charter expansion, districts lose the ability to even try to manage the balance. Sadly, what may initially have been conceived of as a symbiotic relationship between charter and district schools is increasingly becoming parasitic!
In a “competitive marketplace” of schooling within a geographic space, under this incentive structure, the goal is to be that school which most effectively cream skims – without regard for who you are leaving behind for district schools or other charters to serve – while best concealing the cream-skimming – and while ensuring lack of financial transparency for making legitimate resource comparisons.”
Baker calls the impact the “Collateral Damage of the Parasitic Chartering Model” and writes, “In previous posts I showed how the population cream-skimming effect necessarily leads to an increasingly disadvantaged student population left behind in district schools. High need, urban districts that are hosts to increasing shares of cream-skimming charters become increasingly disadvantaged over time in terms of the students they must serve.”
Baker’s post goes into far greater detail.
He uses the data to explain and highlight the problem.
It is an issue Wait, What? readers know well.
And if the policies are left unchanged, it will be the legacy that haunts Governor Malloy and those who support the discriminatory policies that are undermining our schools and destroying our public education system.
Read the full post here: http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/from-portfolios-to-parasites-the-unfortunate-path-of-u-s-charter-school-policy/
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Magnet Schools, Poverty, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Discrimination, Steven Adamowski, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
As noted in previous Wait, What? posts, Windham, Connecticut’s Board of Education is building the Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy. Seventy percent of the students at the new K-8 STEM magnet school are scheduled to come from Windham and thirty percent from adjoining towns.
Over the past few days we’ve been on a mission to track down the source and meaning of a clause in the Magnet School’s Operating Agreement that says, “New students entering beyond grade 3 must be reading at grade level.”
The staff at the State Department of Education refused repeated requests to explain the source and meaning of that language. Then, the staff at the Windham Schools refused to explain the source and meaning of that language.
Finally, in response to a letter I sent yesterday to a wide variety of Windham education officials, the Chairman of the Windham Board of Education took the time to provide an answer to my question.
While I appreciate his willingness to respond to my request for public information, his answer highlights a situation that is even worse than I had originally imagined.
Connecticut’s education laws and policies state that, “No student may be denied enrollment because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, genetics, age, religion or any other basis.”
In addition, the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that Article eighth, § 1 of the State Constitution guarantees all students an adequate education. As a plurality of the justices explained in the state’s most important education case, the state of Connecticut must provide “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 progress to institutions of higher education, or to attain productive employment and otherwise contribute to the state’s economy.”
However, the response I received from the Chairman of the Windham Board of Education makes clear that the sign outside the Windham STEM Magnet will say, in essence, “The poor, minorities, non-English speaking students and students who need special education services need not apply.
How has this outrage come to pass?
The Windham Board Chairman’s letter explained that the language I quoted – New students entering beyond grade 3 must be reading at grade level” – only applies to students who transfer into the STEM Magnet School after the 2nd Grade.
He wrote, “It does not apply to ANY student applying to enroll in initial classes during the startup period nor to students applying to pre-school or kindergarden once the school is fully enrolled.”
The Chairman added, “Once the school is fully enrolled, the only new students will be the annual entering pre-K class and children who transfer into openings that result from students who leave the district or choose to transfer to another school. Students who transfer into grades 4 to 8 will be expected to meet the required STEM standard; however, no admitted student will be dismissed from the school because they are not reading at grade level by the end of grade three or thereafter. Instead, resources will be directed as required to assist students to achieve and maintain reading at grade level.”
So as long as a parent with a child entering Pre-Kindergarten know that their child wants to attend a Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Magnet School, they will not have to prove that their child can read at grade level and will be provided support services if they have reading issues later in their school career.
In addition, if openings exist, children attending kindergarten or first through third grades can transfer into the school or move into the community and attend the school without proving they are at grade level.
However, after third grade the public school WILL NOT ALLOW any child to transfer into the program who doesn’t read at grade level.
Apparently, the reason this policy is in place is because someone has decided that reading at grade level is necessary to be successful at a Science, Technology, and Engineering & Math (STEM) Magnet School.
But of course, reading at grade level is a result of a wide variety of factors that don’t have anything to do with intelligence or future ability.
As with test scores, poverty, a lack of fluency in English and special education needs are the greatest predictors of test scores and those same factors correlate with the likelihood that a child may not be reading at grade level by the 3rd grade.
These factors, and others, are not related to intelligence or an ability to succeed and to imply that they do is ridiculous and disgusting.
But one thing we definitely know and that is that study after study reveals that those reading below grade level are overwhelmingly students who are poor, Black, Latino or those who have special education needs.
The people who inserted this language into the new Windham STEM operating agreement can say what they want, but a policy that prohibits children from transferring into this public school if they are not reading at grade level is defacto discrimination against the poor, minorities, those who aren’t fluent in English and those who need special education services.
As the Connecticut Supreme Court wrote in the Sheff decision, “Racial and ethnic segregation has a pervasive and invidious impact on schools, whether the segregation results from intentional conduct or from unorchestrated demographic factors.”
Whether intentional or not, the policy about the 3rd grade reading requirement at the Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy forces a discriminatory outcome and has no place in the public education system of Connecticut.
More than 73 percent of Windham’s students receive free or subsidized lunches. 70 percent of Windham’s students are minorities, 35 percent of Windham’s students go home to households in which English is not the spoken language, 25 percent of the students are not fluent in English and 16 percent of students need special education services.
If the Windham STEM Magnet’s discriminatory policies are allowed to stand, the vast majority of Windham students will be prevented from attending the Magnet unless they happen to get in early enough to sidestep what amounts to an unfair and discriminatory regulation.
The impact of this policy is equally upsetting for parents in neighboring towns who might want to make use of this new STEM Magnet School.
The policy ramification is clear. No matter how interested you and your child may be in attending a Science, Technology, Engineering & Math program, they will be prohibited from transferring into the Windham STEM Magnet, even if there is room, if they aren’t reading at grade level.
They can get the support services they need, as long as they stay in their home district school, and give up their desire to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering or Math.
In Connecticut, interdistrict magnet schools receive special funding BECAUSE they are supposed to “reduce, eliminate or prevent the racial, ethnic or economic isolation of public school students while offering a high-quality curriculum that supports educational improvement.”
The Windham STEM Magnet has begun to recruit students for next fall, and yet a discriminatory, outrageous, insulting and disgusting policy has been put in place.
The policy must be removed – immediately – and the question of who was behind this inappropriate effort must be investigated and appropriate action taken to ensure that the person or persons are not in a position to develop more policies of this nature.
The burden to act rests on the Governor, the State Department of Education, the State Board of Education, Windham’s Special Master and the Windham Board of Education.
If they refuse to take any action, a lawsuit should be filed against these entities and their members to force the repeal of this discriminatory and outrageous policy.
Budget Cuts, Malloy, Poverty, State Budget, State Deficit Budget cuts, Budget Deficit, Malloy, Poverty, State Budget
Following last week’s State of the State address, Wait, What? wrote Connecticut – The State of the State: But what about poverty?
The post pointed out the that ten years ago, Connecticut state government passed legislation creating a commission on poverty and pledged to cut the rate of poverty in Connecticut by 50 percent over the next decade. However, ten years later, the rate of poverty in Connecticut has not gone down, in fact, it has gone up significantly.
Now CTNewsjunkie has a story about a new report about Connecticut’s working poor.
Jim Horan, the executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services, is quoted in the article and the underlying report indicating that, “Twenty-one percent of Connecticut’s working families are now low-income, increasing from 16 percent in just the past five years.”
Horan goes on to say, “Connecticut needs to invest in human infrastructure. We need to make sure our citizens can work hard and earn a wage that sustains housing and health care and lets them provide for their children. More action is needed now to ensure that all families in our state can build a secure future.”
As with other studies that have been released recently, this new report also reiterates that income inequity is growing dramatically in the United States with the gap between the top and the bottom growing, as well as the gap between the top and the middle class.
According to this study, in 2011, the top 20 percent earned 10.1 times the total income earned by the bottom 20 percent. That number is up from 9.5 times in 2007.
Or, as the report states, “the top 20 percent took home 48 percent of all income while those in the bottom 20 percent received less than 5 percent of the economic pie.”
And as readers of Wait, What know, the income gap in Connecticut has increased faster than in any other state in the nation.
Connecticut is the second largest in the nation behind only New York.
You can read the CTNewsjunkie story here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/new_report_finds_poverty_is_on_the_rise/ and the new report here: http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Winter-2012_2013-WPFP-Data-Brief.pdf
Malloy, Poverty, State Budget Malloy, Poverty, State Budget, State of the State
“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Gandhi
Earlier today, Governor Malloy stood before a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly and gave a moving State of the State speech, much of it focused on the unimaginable violence that occurred in Newtown.
His remarks reminded everyone who heard or read the speech that the horror and tragedy of that day stole something precious, not only from the families who lost loved ones, but from each and every one of us who make up the community called Connecticut. It was comforting to hear that our elected officials recognize the importance of working even harder to make our communities better and safer places for our citizens and especially our children.
The Governor also used his speech to lay out his list of perceived accomplishments and his goals for the upcoming legislative session. Among the items he highlighted were his Administration’s economic development efforts, including his First Five corporate welfare program, his Small Business Express Program and his most recent Innovation Ecosystem effort, a program to support businesses seeking to play a greater role in the new Green Economy.
According to the Governor, “By investing in growth industries like bioscience and digital media, by recruiting companies like Jackson Laboratory and NBC Sports, and by standing with our small businesses and start-ups, we’re taking steps to make sure that Connecticut leads the way.”
You can read Governor Malloy’s complete speech here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/text_of_gov._dannel_p._malloys_2013_state_of_the_state_address/
It is no surprise that Governor Malloy’s 2013 State of the State Speech raised the issue of economic development. Like governors across the nation, creating an environment that promotes the creation of good, well-paying job is a priority. In fact, a state where more than 177,000 Connecticut workers remain unemployed, and tens of thousands more find themselves underemployed, finding ways to attract and create jobs is at the very top of everyone’s list.
But as is so often the case, there is a key economic sector that went unmentioned.
Connecticut doesn’t just need jobs that come with high salaries and good benefits; it needs to identify and implement strategies and tactics that will create jobs for the vast array of people who need work.
Over the last few years, tens of thousands of Connecticut families have been forced to the edge of economic catastrophe, and far too many found themselves going over the edge.
As lower income workers already knew, it is often only a small step from losing your job to living in poverty.
And living in poverty is something many Connecticut residents already know all too well.
As measured by per capita income, Connecticut is the wealthiest state in the nation. If we were our own nation, we’d be one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
We also know, though, that there is more than one Connecticut.
According to data collected in 2011, the per-capita income in New Canaan is $101,000. That is – on average – every man, woman and child in New Canaan collects over $100,000 a year in income.
Darien’s per capita income is over $95,000; while Greenwich, Weston and Westport all enjoy per capita income rates of over $90,000.
Compare that to Hartford, with its per capita income of $16,000 or Bridgeport with a per capita income of $18,000. In fact, New Britain, New Haven and Windham all have per capita income levels of less than $20,000 and Waterbury is pretty close to that threshold.
And poverty leads to a myriad of problems such as lower academic achievement and more serious health problems.
As of 2011, 10.9% of our state’s residents, more than 375,000 people, lived below the national poverty level.
Even perhaps even more disturbing, more than 100,000 Connecticut children, 15 percent of all children in our state, were living in households in the lowest of economic conditions.
And the term, lowest of economic conditions, is not an overstatement – because for a single-parent household with one child, the definition of what constitutes poverty under the federal definition is a household whose income is less than $15,500. With two children, the level is $18,100.
And most shocking of all, the number of Connecticut residents living in poverty has been increasing dramatically over the past ten years, despite the State Government’s pledge to do something about the rate of poverty in Connecticut.
In 2004, Connecticut adopted Public Act 04-238, An Act Concerning Child Poverty. The new law established the Child Poverty Council and instructed the new entity to recommend “strategies to reduce child poverty in the State of Connecticut by fifty percent (50%) within ten years.”
As we approach that ten-year mark, we must recognize our state’s complete and utter inability to achieve that goal.
While 10.9 percent of Connecticut residents live in poverty today, that number is up from 7.3 percent just ten years ago.
And the 15 percent of children living in poverty today is up from 10 percent a decade ago.
Instead of cutting child poverty by 50 percent, the last ten years has seen child poverty in Connecticut GROW 50 percent over the past decade!
In Hartford, an unprecedented 48 percent of all children are living below the federal poverty level. In New Haven the number of children in poverty has reached 41 percent and in Bridgeport the number is 40 percent.
For many politicians, talking about poverty is not politically beneficial. In fact, some aren’t even comfortable talking about the issue at all.
But the problem of poverty in Connecticut is very real and it is getting worse.
President Franklin Roosevelt said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
As the Governor and legislature prepare to tackle the financial challenges associated with this year’s remaining budget deficit and the projected $1 billion shortfall in next year’s state budget, they must remember President Roosevelt’s words.
The truth is, vital services are more essential than ever and true economic development and job creation is more than simply trying to persuade large, successful corporations to come or stay in Connecticut.
Adult education, literacy and job training must go hand in hand with new, more aggressive efforts that shift the use of our scarce resources away from helping companies that don’t need the help to helping create jobs for whom a living wage will change the trajectory of an entire family.
Despite the fact that the word poverty wasn’t mentioned at the State Capitol today, our elected officials must use this legislative session to do more to confront the horror of poverty in our state.
Bridgeport, Connecticut State Government, Hartford, Malloy, New Haven, Poverty, State Budget
You want a campaign issue for the 2012 election? Here is one…
A recent report by Connecticut Voices for Child, the state’s premier research and child advocacy organization, revealed that the number of Connecticut residents living below the Federal Poverty Level has increased from 10.1 percent in 2010 to 10.9 percent in 2011.
Connecticut is the wealthiest state in the country. If we were our own country, we would be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet about 375,000 Connecticut residents, more than 1 in 10 live in abject poverty.
The extent of poverty is even greater among Connecticut’s children, and the situation is getting worse at a faster pace.
As of 2011, 118,809 Connecticut children, under the age of 18, lived in households with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level. That is a breathtaking 14.9 percent of all children.
And we aren’t talking about people who simply don’t have that much money. We are talking about children and families that are among the poorest in the entire nation. The Federal Poverty Level for a two-parent household, with two children, is $22,811 a year.
The most shocking fact of all is that the rate of poverty in Connecticut is getting significantly worse.
A decade ago, in 2001, 7.3 percent of Connecticut’s residents lived below the poverty line. That was about 242,000 people. Ten years later, in 2011, the number of residents living in poverty has increased to almost 378,000. That means the poverty rate in Connecticut has jumped from 7.9 percent to 10.9 percent.
The numbers are even more disturbing and disgusting when it comes to what has happened to our state’s children. In 2001, about 82,000 or 10.2 percent of Connecticut’s children lived in households below the poverty line.
In 2011, that number had increased to almost 119,000, a stunning 14.9 percent of all children.
The number of children living in poverty in some of Connecticut’s cities rival that of some developing nations;
In Hartford, 47.9 percent of the children now grow up in households trying to make it on an income that places them below the federal poverty level.
In New Haven the child poverty rate is 41.4%, Bridgeport (39.9%), New Britain (35.7%), and Waterbury (34.5%). Danbury (17.9%) and Stamford (17.5%)
In 2004, the Connecticut General Assembly, and Connecticut’s Governor, created the Connecticut Child Poverty Council. Our state became the first state in the nation to set a goal of reducing poverty in half by 2014.
At the time, with just over 10 of Connecticut’s children living in poverty, the state pledged to reduce the child poverty rate to 5% by 2014.
However instead of cutting that rate in half, as of now, we have seen an increase of over 50 percent.
Next time you hear an elected official or a candidate talk about their record of accomplishments or their plan for the future, ask them explain how they rationalize the fact that child poverty is skyrocketing in our state and demand that they explain, in detail, what they will actually do to save Connecticut’s poorest and most vulnerable children.
For the CT Voices report, go to: http://www.ctvoices.org/sites/default/files/econ12censuspovertyacs.pdf
Economic Development, Economy, Poverty Economic Development, Economy
One of yesterday’s Wait, What? Blog posts dealt with the reality that, here in Connecticut, we taxpayers are giving the world’s largest hedge fund, $115 million dollars to stay and expand in Connecticut. The public subsidy will cost us about $150,000 for each of the 800 jobs they are scheduled to create over the next ten years.
Meanwhile, as a member of the dwindling middle class, it will cost me, after the available public subsidies, about $160,000 to pay for my child to get an undergraduate degree in her chosen field.
We are witnessing modern capitalism in which taxpayers are giving money to a company that paid its CEO $3.9 billion last year while a person making an income at about the state average builds up a debt that drag me down for the rest of my life.
And we are told that things are getting better.
Things might very well be getting better, but that misses the point.
Today, Connecticut Voices has released a report that drives the point home in way that everyone, across the political spectrum will be able to understand.
Entitled, The State of Working Connecticut 2012: Employment, Jobs and Wages in the Wake of the Great Recession,” the report reveals that “the wage gap between the wealthy and others has grown over the recent economic recession and recovery, with the highest wage workers enjoying wage growth four times that of median wage workers, while wages stagnated for low wage workers…”
The report examines the period from 2006 – 2011 and key findings include:
- “The gap between Connecticut’s wealthy residents and everyone else has continued to widen. Connecticut’s median wage grew by only 2.4 percent (after adjusting for inflation) over the lowest paid workers actually saw their wages fall by 0.2 percent.
- “Connecticut’s higher paying manufacturing jobs are disappearing and being replaced by lower paying jobs in healthcare, hotels, and restaurants.” 14 percent of Connecticut manufacturing were lost between 2006 and 2011, while healthcare and social service sector jobs grew by 11 percent.“ The Problem: Healthcare and Social service jobs pay “78 percent of the statewide average weekly wage,” meaning those that are getting jobs are getting them in fields that won’t allow those workers to even reach Connecticut’s existing middle ground.
- “Connecticut’s Black and Hispanic workers have not experienced an economic recovery.”
- “Connecticut’s youngest workers are most likely to be unemployed, but Connecticut’s oldest workers are most likely to face long-term unemployment.” As of 2011, almost in one in five younger workers were officially unemployed. Meanwhile, of the unemployed workers 55 or over, a shocking six in every ten have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. Losing a job when you are 55 or over is becoming a death sentence when it comes to ever finding work again.
This study should be mandatory reading for every legislative candidate seeking office. In fact, perhaps some Wait, What? readers could print off the executive summary or full report, send it to your local legislative candidates and ask, no demand that they provide the voters with some substantive response.
The Executive Summary is here: http://www.ctvoices.org/sites/default/files/econ12sowctes.pdf
The Full Report is here: http://www.ctvoices.org/sites/default/files/econ12sowctfull.pdf
Charter Schools, Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Poverty, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan, Steven Adamowski
According to the most recent Connecticut mastery tests, “only 13.3 percent of Milner fifth-graders tested proficient in reading, compared to the 75 percent state average.”
People call that a failing school.
In fact, consider Hartford’s Milner School a poster child. Failing to act is what the “Corporate Education Reformers” call defending the status quo. However, instituting landmark “education reforms” lead to real change.
As Hartford Courant story made the whole issue clear. As the reporter noted;
“After years of baloney from education reformers in Hartford, something simple and revolutionary is unfolding. Administrators are closing schools that fail…”
The article went on to report that the superintendent of schools has made it clear that “schools that don’t cut it, that haven’t cut it for years” will close.
The superintendent, as the reporter noted, held up the Milner School as a prime example of the change that had arrived. Close Milner and reopen it with new teachers and new administrators.
Quoting Christina Kishimoto, the reporter drove the key point home;
“Our first and foremost goal is to get a significant increase in student achievement…”these schools have to be successful in year one so we can start building community trust. We are going to focus on assuring families that we will have their kids reading on grade level.”
Real “Education Reform” had finally arrived and the Courant reporter ended his article with a simple, but profound observation. He wrote “Imagine that. Schools that must teach children to read — or else.”
The reporter who wrote the story was Rick Green and the story ran 1,380 days ago on August 15, 2008
At the time, Steven Adamowski was the Superintendent of Schools and Christina’s Kishimoto, Adamowski’s protégée and future successor, was the Assistant Superintendent of Schools.
Now here we are; four years have come and gone since the profound “educational reforms” that transformed the Milner School and that 13.3 percent statistic about Milner’s fifth-graders and their ability to score at a proficient level in reading comes from the 2011 Connecticut Mastery Test.
Four years later and what do we have.
Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, proposing that the Hartford close the Milner Core Knowledge Academy because, as she put it, Milner is a “failing school.”
A month ago, Kishimoto’s plan was to close Milner and then reopen it “as a school affiliated with the high-achieving Jumoke Academy”.
Close the school; dump the administrators, get rid of the teachers and give the building to a charter school company so that it can open up a new school for the city’s children.
Before Paul Vallas arrived in Bridgeport, he used that technique in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans (school systems that were decimated by Vallas’ approach). Steven Adamowski played the same game in Hartford before moving on to become the “Special Master” in Windham.
And after “reforming” Milner once, Hartford’s superintendent was digging out the game plan again.
Of course, we now know that since Kishimoto first announced her plan, Connecticut passed an “Education Reform” bill and the Milner/Jumoke maneuver has suddenly became the shining example of how Malloy’s “Commissioner’s Network” can transfer Connecticut’s education system and solve the state’s achievement gap.
While the Department of Education played a little game of duck and weave over the past couple of weeks, Kishimoto announced that the Milner School will definitely be one of the state’s first targets and revealed that she and the CEO of the Jumoke Academy had already been summoned to Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s office, where they were told that the Malloy Administration was going to use the Milner/Jumoke switch as part of their new “turnaround program.”
Backed by the knowledge that the Milner Core Knowledge Academy will, in fact, be part of the Commissioner’s Network, the Hartford Board of Education has even created a committee to work with the state on implementing the school’s upcoming transition to, what the CEO of the Jumoke Academy has called “The Jumoke Academy at Milner.”
The Milner School, where more than 40 percent of its students go home to households that don’t use English as their primary language, will be turned over to a charter school company that has no non-English speaking students and absolutely no history, what so ever, in running English as a Second Language or English Language Learner programs.
Now that is what you call “corporate education reform.”
Oh and the Hartford Courant? They did mention Milner’s earlier history. Their article the day before yesterday included the line, “Milner underwent a redesign in 2008 but has yet to achieve notable gains on the Connecticut Mastery Test.”
While poverty and language barriers continue to be the greatest factors influencing educational outcomes, the education reformers from the Governor’s Office and the Commissioner’s Office, on down, continue to tell us that if we just close schools, dump the administrators and teachers and open them back up under new names and new management, all will be well.
For earlier stories take a look at Hartford Courant’s http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-school-board-0516-20120515,0,1092099.story, http://articles.courant.com/2012-05-30/community/hc-hartford-milner-jumoke-0531-20120530_1_low-performing-schools-school-board-superintendent-christina-kishimoto and the 2008 article at http://www.hartfordinfo.org/issues/documents/education/htfd_courant_081508.asp
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Democratic Legislators, Education Reform, Malloy, Poverty, Stefan Pryor Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
“Getting outside our comfort level, particularly in communities where we need to go the extra mile, is difficult.” Dan Malloy 4/10/12 Norwalk Education Town Hall Meeting.
Governor Dan Malloy used that quote to reiterate why the state should terminate tenure, shift to a teacher evaluation system that relies more heavily on standardized test scores and create something called the “Commissioner’s Network” in which the state would take over 25 schools, fire the teachers, ban collective bargaining and turn the schools over to a third-party.
The message – yet again – is my way or nothing.
Okay Governor, just for the heck of it, what if we actually talk about going the extra mile and confronting our traditional “comfort level” by confronting some of the real issues;
Issue Number #1:
Language barriers impact educational outcomes and standardized test scores and Connecticut’s system is step up to fail.
As we know, in addition to poverty, language barriers are the greatest factor in predicting the outcome of standardized tests.
In Hartford 52% of the students are listed as Hispanic and 43% of all Hartford students go home to households in which English is not the primary language or in many cases even spoken.
Compare that to Farmington in which 4% of the students are listed as Hispanic.
The following is a chart that shows the difference in standardized test scores for fifth grade students who speak English and those that don’t. The statistic listed is the higher standard of those who are at goal.
State-Wide Reading Scores in 2010:
5th graders who speak English: 64.1% are at goal for reading
5th graders who don’t speak English 7.6% are at goal for reading
State-Wide Science Scores in 2010:
5th graders who speak English: 62.1% are at goal for science
5th graders who don’t speak English 9.5% are at goal for science
Students who don’t speak English (listed as ELL students) are primarily taught in English with secondary help when it comes to developing their English language skills.
These students are then required to take the Connecticut standardized tests in English.
AND - All ELL students (regardless of their language ability) must take the math and science portions of the CMT/CAPT in English.
[There is a small group of ELL student who are exempt from taking the reading and writing portions of the CMT or CAPT. ELL Students are exempt if they have enrolled for the first time in a U.S. school and have attended school for fewer than 12 calendar months].
So if you have been in school for more than one year or are not enrolling for the first time you must take the CMTs.
The test results are not hard to understand and yet policymakers and the “education reformers” condemn the teachers, schools and districts for the low CMT scores.
Condemn the teachers, schools and districts for the low CMT Scores!
Is there extra money in your “Education Reform” package for putting trained Instructional Assistants into every classroom that has ELL students so these children can get the extra help they need to learn? – NO
Is there a pilot program to teach ELL students science and math in their native languages and then use a language appropriate test to determine their comprehension? – NO
Is there an incentive program – not to get people to teach in urban schools – but to attract and train teachers so they are better able to teach these subject in English and Spanish? – NO
In all of his speeches and at all of these town meetings has the Governor consistently (or ever) explained these numbers so that the public could understand that his “Education Reform” bill DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the problem of language barriers? - No
If “Education Reform” was really about preparing Connecticut’s urban children to succeed in a 21st Century world it would look very, very different from what the “Education Reformers” have put forward.
Corporate Viewpoint, Malloy, Poverty Education Reform, Malloy
Four “Must Read” Commentary Pieces on Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill and one that reiterates why the initial four are so correct.
Last week I wrote a column marking what I called “the most bizarre development yet in Governor Malloy’s push for “Education Reform.” My observations followed the Connecticut Council for Education Reform’s claim that “We cannot continue to blame the current state of education in Connecticut on poverty.” Although it comes as no surprise that Connecticut’s biggest CEOs are nothing more than sycophants, their level of ignorance or willingness to lie is beyond anything I could have imagined. You can read my initial piece at Wait, What?
Now, three of the most articulate and knowledgeable commentators that I know, along with a new columnist, have all written their own commentary pieces responding to the corporate community’s – the “world is flat” – mentality.
I urge you to take the time to read each of these amazing pieces.
Following them is the latest piece from the Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. I’ll probably respond to her commentary in due time, but it really speaks for itself and may not need any response at all.
The following are from Dianne Kaplan DeVries, Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and the author of a blog called the “New Monastic Individuals”. Following that is the latest from the corporate lobby group CCER.
Dianne Kaplan DeVries: Poverty Matters, And So Does Money 4/5/12
This week marks a new low in the disinformation campaign launched in support of Governor Malloy’s proposed school reform legislation, Senate Bill 24. Both poverty and money are at the core of the distortions.
Do those who oppose the governor’s original plan and instead support the “severely diluted” substitute language passed by the Education Committee “blame the current state of education in Connecticut on poverty”? That’s what the Connecticut Council on Education Reform claims. They make clear that either one believes in education reform and therefore necessarily supports SB 24 in toto, or one supports the status quo and attributes abysmal student performance and failing school districts to poverty. The issue is black and white, it’s an either/or.
Fortunately, Governor Malloy has not yet boxed himself into such an absurd and untenable corner, despite the goading by CCER and a few allied organizations. Although his statewide marathon of appearances has proven less than fun when addressing crowds of individuals who seek to improve his reform proposals, he’s repeatedly acknowledged how imperative it is for this state’s future that the ravages of poverty be overcome within our public schools and that policies and state funding mechanisms be devised to ensure equal educational opportunity for all children. He neither denies nor ignores poverty.
Just what do the “1%” who lead CCER know about poverty? Apparently not much. They are clearly not abreast of the research on poverty and its effects on student achievement. Nor have they looked objectively at decades of state investments in school improvement and related policy changes within the two neighboring states they erroneously claim are evidence that poverty doesn’t matter. Getting really tough on teachers and school takeover policies, supposedly, are all that matter.
For the rest of this piece go to: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_poverty_matters_and_so_does_money/
Wendy Lecker: Blame poverty for achievement gap — no joke 4/5/12
To “save man from the morass of propaganda” is the purpose of education, according to Martin Luther King Jr. In that spirit, I counsel my children to take statistics at some point in their schooling, since the misuse of statistics is a chief weapon of propagandists.
Take, for example, the latest message from a wealthy business group called “The Connecticut Council for Education Reform,” that is lobbying on behalf of Governor Malloy’s education bill. In what some thought was an April Fool’s joke, they declared last week that “poverty is not to blame” for the achievement gap in Connecticut.
Despite decades of unequivocal evidence supporting the relationship between poverty and achievement, they try to “prove” the opposite by cherry-picking the statistic that fourth-graders in Massachusetts and New Jersey who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch scored higher on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) than similarly situated fourth-graders in Connecticut.
They claim the higher scores in Massachusetts and New Jersey result from linking teacher evaluation to student test scores, “tiered intervention” (progressively stronger state control) in schools and giving the education commissioner unprecedented power to take over schools, so we better rush to put those reforms back into Connecticut’s education bill, SB24.
For the rest of this piece go to: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Blame-poverty-for-achievement-gap-3464619.php#ixzz1rMrC7hcj
Sarah Darer Littman : Poverty Does Matter In Achievement Gap Debate 4/6/12
Earlier this week, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, issued a gobsmackingly disingenous blog post claiming that “poverty is not to blame” for the achievement gap.
“What actions have our neighboring states taken to address their achievement gaps that Connecticut hasn’t? Put bluntly, they have adopted education reform policies very similar to the ones proposed in Governor Malloy’s original education reform bill,” it wrote.
To put it mildly, CCER omitted important, salient facts.
Massachusetts’ success started with the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993(MERA), a sweeping bill of reform that was prompted by a court decision McDuffy vs. Robertson. (The case originated in 1978 as Webby vs Dukakis). The plaintiffs in McDuffy – all from economically disadvantaged districts- asserted that the state’s school financing system “effectively [denied] them the opportunity to receive an adequate education in the public schools in their communities”.
One of the key reforms in MERA, that CCER conveniently neglected to mention, was that it established a “Foundation Budget” for all districts; in other words the minimum budget required to “adequately educate” all of the students in that district. Chapter 70 state aid is intended to make up the difference between the district’s required contribution and the Foundation Budget.
Dianne Kaplan deVries wrote about this in detail. But just to make the point even more clear, the NEAP scores over the last 10 years by National School Lunch Eligibility for the three states quoted by CCER, (NJ, MA, and CT) bear out Dianne’s points that poverty does matter and it’s not “an excuse.” The scores for MA and NJ were increasing, and the achievement gap closing even before the “new reform era.”
For the rest of this piece go to: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_poverty_matters_in_achievement_gap_debate/
New Monastic Individuals 4/6/12
“…there is no sin but ignorance.” — Christopher Marlowe, “Jew of Malta” (c. 1589) “This is the only country in the world that worries about what it is. The rest of them know what they are. No one ever needs to go searching for the heart of Norway. Or looks for the soul of Mozambique. They know what they are.” –Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Do any parents in urban school districts ever wonder why they don’t read in the newspapers about a rush of educational reformers salvaging the suburban school districts? Do they wonder why they don’t read of suburban schools ridding themselves of tenure and teacher unions, the so-called great pariahs of educational achievement and advancement? Do they wonder why the education reformers love them and their dysfunctional cities so much?
In all the publicity they get from the failed educational leadership in their cities about the wonders of educational reform through charter schools, do they ever get a cost effective and educational advancement accounting of charter schools’ national success ratio? Those taxpayers might want to take a look at those results.
These “reformers” are actually The Education Jackals. They attack only the weak, dying and destitute systems and shred them to bare bones. The fact is that the charter school wizards are quick-in/quick-out jackals who serve the interests of the corporations they serve, like Achievement First or Students First, whose only purpose is to raid the taxpayer education funds and spread their screed of wonders to come. They do not care about or follow through on their shortcomings. When they fail (as they do regularly), they simply start up again, somewhere else under a different name.
For the rest of this piece go to: http://rcsnmi.blogspot.com/2012/04/jackals.html
Rae Ann Knopf
Executive Director, Connecticut Council on Education Reform
Poverty Doesn’t Have To Equal Destiny 4/6/12
It’s important to clarify a point made earlier this week by the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER). CCER understands and appreciates all of the challenges that poverty presents to our state’s educators. We know that there are great teachers and great school leaders across the state who are tirelessly working to improve the lives of children in poverty, but the statistics tell us that we have to do more because we are not meeting the needs of all of our state’s children. We appreciate everyone’s efforts, but we need to do more because we know that education is the key to career success and economic self-sufficiency.
If you are looking for evidence to show the effects of poverty can be overcome by good teaching, it is not hard to find. There are reams of data to show a difference can be made in the achievement levels of children who start out behind because they live in poverty. Teachers play the central role in accomplishing this.
This is why we started this work, to put into practice ways to help teachers and principals to accomplish this on a more regular basis. For the more than 1 in 5 Connecticut students who don’t graduate high school or the 2 in 5 who don’t if they live in poverty; continuing these efforts is essential. For the rest of us, failure to change this equation creates dramatic consequences for our state. Students who drop out of high school in Connecticut can expect to make an average of $19,000 a year during their most productive years – between the ages of 25 and 34, and cost the state $518,000 in lost revenues and expenses. These statistics can be changed. I know they can because I have lived them.
For the rest of this piece go to: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_poverty_doesnt_have_to_equal_destiny/