Achievement First/ConnCAN, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker Achievement First, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker
Wendy Lecker, the pro-public education advocate and fellow columnist hits it out of the park; again, with a new commentary piece in Stamford Advocate entitled “The consistently wrong path to better Schools.
Improving education achievement in our major cities must be a top priority for all of Connecticut’s citizens. Access to higher quality public schools is a fundamental American right, and is even guaranteed by Connecticut’s Constitution. In addition, in the near future, 40% of Connecticut’s entire workforce will be coming from our state’s poorer, urban, Priority School Districts. Our state’s economic future depends on providing all of our young people with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. Finally, the price tag for creating quality schools is not cheap. Connecticut’s schools are already underfunded and yet Connecticut taxpayers are paying about 80% of the entire educational expenses in cities like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.
Education is both the economic and civil rights issue of our time.
Governor Malloy, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, Bridgeport “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas, “Special Master,” Steven Adamowski and the corporate education reformers claim to have the solution – simply hand our public schools over to private corporations.
The approach being perpetrated by these corporate reformers couldn’t be more wrong and Wendy Lecker’s latest column dives that point home.
Wendy Lecker writes;
“Most people who board the wrong train headed to the wrong destination get off and look for the right train.
But not the educational leadership of Hartford.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, a protégé of the controversial “reformer” Steven Adamowski, has climbed on the wrong train despite the obvious signs that it will take Hartford in the wrong direction.
In her state of the schools address, Kishimoto highlighted a study conducted for her by University of Connecticut researchers. The study measured, by neighborhood, factors that inhibit the ability to learn, such as child poverty, the percentage of adults without high school or college degrees, crime, health, housing and neighborhood stability, and community assets such as preschool and after-school programs.
Fifty years of research have established that these out-of-school influences account for the majority of differences in student achievement.
In a recent New York Times article, Stanford University’s Sean Reardon summarized his research demonstrating that income inequality is the prime factor in educational disparities. As Professor Reardon noted, schools do not “produce much of the disparity in test scores between high- and low-income students.”
Reardon’s research revealed that the achievement gap between high-income and low-income students has widened in the past three decades largely because income inequality has increased, affluent students arrive to kindergarten better prepared than poor students, and affluent parents spend more on enrichment and tutoring.
Our best chance to reduce academic disparities, then, is to work to reduce economic inequities.
To the extent schools can help, we must give them the capacity to counteract the forces that hinder learning. That means a sufficient number of social workers, school psychologists, health centers, extra academic help and support for children and families, as well as a rich and varied curriculum.
However, rather than address the factors that prevent Hartford’s neediest children from learning, Hartford Superintendent Kishimoto seems intent on taking us in completely the wrong direction, ignoring the evidence she herself requested.
First on Kishimoto’s agenda is expanding the Achievement First charter franchise in Hartford. Achievement First, Inc., already operates a charter school in Hartford and is notorious for failing to serve Hartford’s neediest children. In a city where 43 percent of students come from non-English-speaking homes, only 4.8 percent of Achievement First’s students come from non-English-speaking homes. In Hartford, 18 percent of students are not fluent in English; at Achievement First, 4.8 percent. Thirteen percent of Hartford’s students have disabilities compared with 7.5 percent at Achievement First. Moreover, Achievement First has a 25 percent attrition rate.
Achievement First, a state charter school, is funded directly by the state and is not part of Hartford’s school district. However, Hartford Public Schools must pay for special education services and transportation for Hartford children attending the school. On top of this requirement, Hartford public schools paid $1.5 million dollars for capital improvements on Achievement First’s school building, which the charter uses for free. Additionally, Hartford and Achievement First entered into an agreement whereby the district pays more money to the charter company. This coming year, the district is scheduled to pay Achievement First over $3.2 million.”
Wendy’s assessment the approach being implemented by Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is harsh but 100% accurate.
Take the time to read the whole column at the Stamford Advocate at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-consistently-wrong-path-to-4487142.php#ixzz2SQUbtfw3
Budget Cuts, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Office of State Ethics, Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Stevan Adamowski, Teach for America
Yup, the Connecticut Director of Teach for America has submitted an application to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
Nate Snow arrived in Bridgeport in 2007 as a new TFA recruit.
Today he serves as the Executive Director for the Connecticut Chapter of Teach for America and President of the Board of Directors of Excel Bridgeport, Inc., a corporate funded education reform organization that he co-founded with Meghan Lowney, an aide to billionaire, hedge fund owner Steven Mandel.
Excel Bridgeport serves as the primary advocacy group supporting Governor Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch and “Superintendent of Schools” Paul Vallas’ education reform policies.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, Snow joined TFA and taught for two years in Bridgeport. He then joined TFA’s fundraising operation and then made an unsuccessful bid as a Republican candidate for the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Snow and Vallas recently signed a three-year contract between the Bridgeport Board of Education and Teach for America for $777,000, although the contract was never provided to the Board for their review and approval. Team Vallas is claiming he has the authority to sign the contract without Board involvement.
And meanwhile, despite having no experience in school administration, Snow is the lead name on a charter school application that is pending before Paul Vallas and the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Snow’s proposal is to create a Montessori Charter School for children between the ages of three and thirteen.
As to Snow’s connection to TFA and Excel Bridgeport, a recent CT Post article reported that “The charter school idea, he said, is his own.”
According to their proposal, “Whittier’s Montessori program is inspired by the design and implementation of Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School (AFMMS), a high-performing public Montessori school in Hartford, Connecticut. Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School has distinguished itself by meeting high standards of student achievement through a meticulous, fully implemented Montessori program.”
Stephen Adamowski, who according to emails acquired through a Freedom of Information request, worked with Snow around Malloy’s education reform bill, was a strong proponent of Hartford’s Montessori school and now, as Malloy’s Special Master for Windham and New London has been working hard to get Windham to switch one of its elementary schools over to a Montessori school.
In the new Montessori charter school application, the proponents explain how they developed the plan saying, “Prior to preparing for this submission, none of the founders had worked with a Montessori school, but they knew that it was a good brand with an excellent reputation. Starting with a visit to the acclaimed Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School in Hartford, then undertaking conversations with parents who have children in private Montessori school in Fairfield County, and ending with informal consultations with Montessori leaders from around the country, the Founding members became convinced that Montessori should be an option for all children in Bridgeport. Nate Snow contacted the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS), located in Hartford, for further information on what was necessary to start a public Montessori school. These discussions led to an eventual contract with NCMPS to assist in school design and to aid in writing the charter application.”
The charter school proposal aims to start with 69 students next fall and reach 209 students in its fifth year. Their budget calls for expending $1.7 million in year one and at least $3.8 million in year five.
While state charter schools get their money primarily from a state grant, Snow and his colleagues are trying to open a “local” charter school, meaning the funds would come mostly from Bridgeport’s school budget, with an extra $3,000 per student coming from a new state “local charter grant” that was part of Malloy’s education reform law. Malloy’s education reform law also included a series of $500,000 “start-up grants” that charter schools could get from the state. Snow and company are counting on getting one of those grants, as well.
In addition, the cost of transportation and special education costs would be paid for by the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Bridgeport is already well into the 60 day local charter review process. The application, if approved, would then go to Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the state Board of Education.
As to the various players behind the proposal, Wait What? readers may recall that starting in January 2011, Meghan Lowney, Nate Snow and Excel Bridgeport worked to persuade the Connecticut State Board of Education to take over the Bridgeport School System. Over the course of the six months leading up to the State Board of Education’s illegal takeover, Lowney, Snow and Excel Bridgeport engaged in numerous communications with state officials.
Despite their ongoing lobbying, both before and during the illegal takeover and throughout the effort to persuade legislators to support Malloy’s education reform bill, neither Lowney, Snow nor Excel Bridgeport registered to lobby with the Connecticut Office of State Ethics, as required by law.
More than two weeks after the end of the 2012 Legislative session, Excel Bridgeport finally filed the required papers, listing Jorge Cabrera as the organization’s lead lobbyist.
Excel Bridgeport, a group initially called the Bridgeport Partnership for School Success, Inc., was created in December 2010 and then changed its name to Excel Bridgeport Inc. in September 2011.
According to its incorporation papers, Meghan Lowney, the Executive Director of the Zoom Foundation, (the personal foundation of Fairfield County billionaire Stephen Mandel), was registered as Excel Bridgeport, Inc.’s founding president and Nathan Snow, the Executive Director of Connecticut’s Teach for America Chapter served as the organization’s founding vice president.
Snow then took over the role as Excel’s president. A board was also created made up of Jonathan Hayes (Executive, Meetinghouse Productions), Joel Green (Partner, Green & Gross, PC), Robert Francis (Executive Director, RYASAP), Carl Horton, Jr. (Consultant, Accenture), Scott Hughes (City Librarian, Bridgeport Public Library), Meghan Lowney (Executive Director, ZOOM Foundation) and Joseph McGee (Vice President, Fairfield County Business Council). Like Snow, Francis, the Executive Director of RYASAP, also has a contract with the Bridgeport Board of Education.
As of now, Lowney and Snow have still not registered to lobby despite their ongoing efforts to influence public policy.
Meanwhile, faced with inadequate state resources, and Mayor Finch’s need to come up with $3.2 million more just to meet the state’s minimum local expenditure law, it will be interesting to see if Paul Vallas, the Bridgeport Board of Education and Commissioner Stefan Pryor divert dollars to their colleague Nate Snow and his proposal for a new Montessori charter school.
Bridgeport, Education Reform, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker, Windham Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker
Fellow pro-public education advocate and columnist hits the mark, yet again, with her column in this past weekend’s CT Post, Stamford Advocate and other Hearst Media Group outlets. Her piece is entitled, No need to break the law — just have it changed for you.
In the piece, Wendy writes, “The education “reform” movement has been rocked recently by revelations that its biggest stars are more concerned with the appearance of success than whether children actually learn.”
With that she outlines the two major scandals involving cheating on standardized tests that have been in the news.
But the core of her column is about the approach the corporate education reformers are taking here in Connecticut.
“Not to be outdone, we Nutmeggers have employed our Yankee ingenuity to game the system, as well. While superintendent of Hartford, Steven Adamowski boasted major increases in test scores — a result, he claimed, of his reform methods, including school closures, school choice and merit pay. However, as revealed by Hartford Board of Education member Robert Cotto, the gains in test scores in Hartford during that period can largely be explained by the district’s exclusion of a significant percentage of students with disabilities from the regular test and having them take a modified assessment that did not count in Hartford’s test scores. As Cotto described, it Hartford engaged in “addition by subtraction.” Neat!
Connecticut’s Legislature and state Board of Education can be crafty, too, and it’s all legal. Connecticut law provides that school administrators be certified, to ensure that our schools and school districts are led by individuals with the knowledge and experience to properly oversee the education of our children. All of Connecticut’s permanent superintendents are certified to be superintendents — except one: Paul Vallas, superintendent of Bridgeport schools, serving approximately 20,000 students. To remedy this problem, Governor Malloy wrote a law enabling Vallas to be certified if he completed an educational leadership course approved by the state board of education. But then, another problem arose: the state Board of Education did not approve any course and Bridgeport already hired Vallas permanently.
Not to worry! UConn quickly devised a course it claimed was just like what all other superintendents must pass. As Jonathan Pelto has pointed out, though, a regular superintendent candidate must have 15 credits beyond a master’s degree; go through a rigorous application process that requires a full faculty review of one’s application; complete an additional 15 credits of course work in the program; and pay approximately $30,000 in tuition and fees. UConn’s program, hastily approved by the state Board of Education, only requires Vallas to enroll in a three-credit, one semester independent study course at a cost of about $4,000. More legal cheating!”
Wendy ends with a reminder to our children writing, “So, kids, if you want to grow up to change the world like these star reformers, you don’t need to learn anything of substance (don’t worry, with standardized tests in every grade and subject, soon you won’t be learning anything of substance, anyway). But don’t break the law! Simply ally yourselves with those who make the laws and they will bend and twist them to make your dreams of greatness come true!”
The column is well worth the read and you can find the complete column here: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-No-need-to-break-the-law-just-4448335.php#ixzz2RCIUZ79S
Freedom of Information, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Freedom of Information, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
Just when you think you’ve seen it all…
Steven Adamowski, Hartford’s former superintendent of schools, is in his second year as the Malloy Administration’s Special Master. His responsibilities include “overseeing” the Windham and New London School systems on behalf of the Connecticut State Department of Education.
Adamowski’s $225,000, plus benefits, “no-bid” contract was run through the State Education Resource Center (SERC) in order to avoid Connecticut’s bidding laws. Although he is a consultant to SERC, he reports to Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education. As a state (or state-related) consultant, he must abide by Connecticut’s Freedom of Information and ethics laws.
Over the past two years, it has become increasingly clear that Mr. Adamowski’s approach to “governance” is heavy-handed, arguably abusive and far from the open and honest public service that should be the hallmark of public servants and those funded with taxpayer dollars.
A new and stunning example of Adamowski’s approach has come to light.
As Wait, What? readers know, controversy has surrounded The Charles Barrows STEM Academy, a Windham-based magnet school that is planning to open in the fall of 2013.
The school is governed by the Windham Board of Education, but as a magnet school, it must also follow a variety of Connecticut Department of Education laws and regulations.
As part of an ongoing effort to identify the issues and problems surrounding the proposed Windham STEM academy, I have made multiple inquiries to Connecticut and Windham officials.
This week, when the Connecticut State Department of Education finally turned over documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information request that I had filed, the package included a rather interesting directive delivered from Special Master Adamowski to Windham municipal staff.
On Wednesday, February 6, 2013 I wrote an email to a number of Windham municipal employees requesting certain information pertaining to Town of Windham documents about the Barrows STEM Magnet Academy.
As part of the Freedom of Information package released by the State Department of Education was my email to Windham officials, along with a cover email that read;
“Per Dr. Adamowski’s instructions I am forwarding on all communications received from Jonathan Pelto. Please see below for the latest…”
My email to Windham was not addressed to Mr. Adamowski and was seeking information that was produced by and the property of the Town of Windham.
The notion that a state employee, or more particularly, a state consultant, would have the audacity to instruct municipal employees to forward communications from a certain individual to a state agency is rather shocking.
Considering that most communications with state or local government entities are public documents, the abuse is not the fact that information was shared but that anyone associated with the state would believe that they had the legal, moral or ethical authority, or even the right, to instruct a municipal employee on how they must handle a request for information from a Connecticut citizen.
Special Master Adamowski’s directive is clearly an abuse of power. It is not only bizarre behavior but a violation of ethical standards for Adamowski to instruct municipal employees to forward communications that were not meant for him to the office of a state commissioner.
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Stefan Pryor, Steven A, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
After dragging their feet for nearly three months, the Connecticut State Department of Education has finally responded to a Freedom of Information request by releasing a series of documents and emails related to the Charles Barrows STEM Academy that is scheduled to open in Windham this coming fall.
Despite multiple claims to the contrary, the documentation that has finally been provided reveals that the Operations Plan on file with the State Department of Education and linked to the Barrows STEM Magnet Academy website is neither the final version of the Operations Plan or a version of the Operations Plan that has been approved by the Windham Board of Education..
According to emails provided in response to the Freedom of Information request, on February 5, 2013, Gabriel Ramos, a Broad Foundation Fellow who is assisting Special Master Adamowski, forwarded a document entitled the “STEM Windham Public Schools Operation Plan Final 6-16-2012” to the State Department of Education’s Communication Office. The document purports to be the final Barrows STEM Academy Operations Plan.
In fact, Special Master Adamowski and senior Windham Education Officials have been claiming for months, that this document is the “official” Operations Plan for the new school and that it has been used to guide the recruitment and selection process for the new school.
However, the document, which is dated May 2012 and has an internal Microsoft date stamp of 6/20/12, is missing more than sixty text changes that were provided to the Board of Education or approved by the Board of Education in November, 2012.
Interestingly, while the document on file with the State Department of Education is missing dozens of text changes, the offensive language limiting transfers into the school, unless a child is reading at or above grade level, has mysteriously been removed from this “final” copy.
However, Board of Education members were given a copy of the Operations Plan that while also marked May 2012, has a revised Microsoft date stamp of February 11, 2013, eight months after the version that was filed with the State Department of Education.
This later document highlights the 60 plus text changes to the Operations Plan, BUT STILL CONTAINS THE OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE LIMITING TRANSFERS TO THOSE WHO ARE READING AT OR ABOVE GRADE LEVEL.
The fact that Special Master Adamowski and senior Windham Officials have been misrepresenting an old copy of the Operations Plan as being the final version is troubling enough, but the materials released as part of the Freedom of Information request raise a far more serious problem.
In an email dated February 6, 2013, an expert with the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Bureau of Choice Program reviewed the Barrows STEM Academy Operations Plan and wrote an email raising some significant and serious concerns about the Operations Agreement.
This State Department of Education email about problems with the plan came AFTER Gabrielle Ramos provided what she claimed to be the “final” copy of the plan.
While the information released as a result of the Freedom of Information request failed to explain how these later concerns were resolved, they make it very clear that the “final” version of the Windham STEM Academy Operations Plan needed further work before it would meet the State’s rules and regulations.
Now that this additional information has finally been released, it is painfully clear that the Windham Board of Education has not taken the steps necessary to draft and file an appropriate Operations Plan for the new school.
The lack of a duly approved Barrows STEM Academy Operations Plan places the STEM Magnet School program, as well as students and parents from Windham and adjoining towns in an untenable position.
The school lottery for Windham students has already been delayed and the selection process for students from area towns remains unclear.
Any action to select students without an approved plan would serve as a legal nightmare for Windham and any town participating in the program.
Let’s hope this latest news will finally convince the Windham Board of Education and superintendents from EASTCONN towns to demand that Adamowski and senior Windham education officials start telling the truth and produce an appropriate Operations Plan for the new school.
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
Adamowski even says it will be voted on by the Windham Board of Education…
At the Windham Board of Education meeting last night, April 11, 2013, Special Master Stephen Adamowski finally addressed the issue of the Operations Plan for the Charles H. Barrows Stem Academy
It would be difficult, if not impossible, for Wait, What? readers not to know the story surrounding the infamous Windham STEM Academy Operations Plan.
Under Connecticut law, a magnet school must have an approved Operations Plan on file with the State Department of Education.
Apparently, Special Master Adamowski has managed to have multiple versions of an Operations Plan filed. The only problem is not one of them was (a) accurate or (b) approved.
Think of it this way;
Take the movie Ground Hog Day and merge it was an old episode of the Keystone Cops.
Cast in the starring role, Connecticut’s own $225,000 a year education reformer and Special Master, Steven Adamowski.
And you have the setting for a block buster (or at least a Buster Keaton), George Orwell meets Franz Kafka story of intrigue, misrepresentation, bold face lying, along with more than a dash of outright negligence.
The story began with the development of an Operations Plan for the new Windham STEM Academy Magnet by members of the Commissioner Pryor/Special Master Adamowski Team.
Among its provisions was as requirement that no child could transfer into the new STEM Academy, above the third grade, unless they were reading at grade level.
Following meetings and discussions, the Windham Board of Education was provided with a revised copy of the Operations Plan that was conveniently marked “approved” on the cover, despite the fact that it now appears that no vote was ever taken to actually “approve” the plan.
However, the offensive language that would serve to openly discriminate against non-English speaking students and students who needed special education services was still part of the “approved”, Operations Agreement.
When concerns about the discriminatory language was raised in a Wait, What? post, the Windham School Board was told that the “approved” Operations Plan that they had was not, in fact, the official Operations Plan and that the official Operations Plan was already on file with the State Department (and available on the STEM Academy website). And that furthermore, the discriminatory language had been removed from that version of the Operations Plan that was on file with the State Department.
Unfortunately, since the State Department of Education failed to provide a copy of the Operations Plan, despite a series of Freedom of Information requests, it was hard to determine exactly which version of the “truth” was, in fact, “the truth.”
That said, thanks to an observant state employee at the State Department of Education who did manage to get a look at the Operations Plan, it was determined that the version on file with the State Department of Education was definitely not the “official plan,” but was an earlier version of the plan, with the only late change being that someone removed the offending language but left untouched all of the other changes that had already been made in later versions.
Despite all of that, Adamowski and Windham officials continued to claim that the Operations Plan on file was the actual Operations Plan.
But then last night, Adamowski changed strategies and announced during his official presentation that the STEM Academy Magnet Operations Plan was being “revised” and “clarified” and will then be “re-submitted” to the State Department of Education.
Adamowski also announced that the Windham Board of Education would have to “approve” the Operations Plan before it could be finalized.
Meanwhile, the lottery for seats in the new STEM Academy, that was supposed to be held in March, was been delayed until April 23rd. The problem, we are told, was associated with the failure to mail appropriate notifications in a timely manner and not the fact that the school doesn’t even have an official Operations Plan on record.
Once the lottery is held for the Windham students who want to attend the STEM Academy, the follow up lottery can then be held for students from neighboring towns who applied for the remaining seats.
If at some point in the future, a real, “official” copy of the STEM Academy Operations Plan becomes available, you’ll be able to find a link here. (will hold this blank space till then _____________________________ )
And until then, I’m sure the Special Master will be more than willing to explain what the official version of the Operations Plan says.
For those who want to recount the earlier details, here are a few links:
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Steven Adamowski, Windham Steven Adamowski, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
March 22, 2013
An Open Letter to Superintendents in towns surrounding Windham, Connecticut
As a superintendent of schools from one of the potential sending towns to Windham’s new STEM Magnet school, I’m sure you are aware of some of the very serious concerns that have been raised about the management of Windham’s new magnet school.
I’ve written about some of these issues on my blog, Wait, What?
As leaders responsible for the education of your local students, you should be alarmed to learn that Windham’s Special Master, Steven Adamowski, still hasn’t filed an officially approved Operations Plan with the state Department of Education for the new Magnet School. In addition, the application that has been used for the Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy includes some inappropriate questions that will serve to dissuade certain key populations from even applying for the lottery to get into the STEM Academy.
As originally presented last summer, the proposed Operations Plan for the Barrows STEM Magnet School prohibited children from transferring into the school if they weren’t reading at grade level. This language violated the spirit and law underlying Connecticut Magnet School programs and would have especially discriminated against children who face language barriers including those who need ESL services and children who utilize special education services.
When the issue was raised, Windham’s senior school administrators claimed that the offensive language was not in the Operations Plan that had been filed with the state which was available on the Barrows STEM Magnet School website.
Instead, they claimed that the copy that was being distributed and was available on the Board of Education’s Agenda and Minutes webpage was an older copy of the Operations Plan. The claim was an odd one considering the so-called “older copy” had a newer date, was the very document that was given out to Windham Board of Education members, included language modifications that were marked as changes by the Board and was stamped “approved.”
Further complicating the matter is the fact that the Operations Plan filed with the state Department of Education was never approved by the Windham Board of Education, as required, nor did it include the changes that had been approved by Windham’s Board of Education.
As an aside, the changes that were approved by the Board of Education DID NOT remove the prohibition on transfers, so how that language disappeared from the document that is “on-file” with the state remains a mystery.
Even more troubling is the fact that the Operations Plan filed with the state and available via the Barrows STEM Magnet Schools website includes the wrong dates for the opening of the school and in one section claims that 70 percent of the students will come from Windham, while it has an adjacent chart indicating that 66 percent of the students will come from Windham. Another section also mentions the 66 percent figure despite the fact that the actual section applying to the demographics of the facility sticks to the 70 percent number. More
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Education Reform, Steven Adamowski, Windham Steven Adamowski, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
You can keep Governor Malloy’s “Special Master”, Steven Adamowski, and Windham’s school administrators on the list of entities and individuals who seem unable or unwilling to follow the state’s laws and regulations.
With the lottery to select students for Windham‘s new Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy Magnet School about to take place, Adamowski and the Windham School System STILL HAVEN’T filed a legally-approved Operations Plan with the State Department of Education and the application form that they have been using inappropriately requests that students provide their social security number. It is a technique the effectively reduces the number of immigrants and poor who might apply for a seat in the new school.
As Wait, What? readers will recall, when concerns were raised about the fact that the Operations Plan for Windham’s new Barrows STEM Magnet School prohibited children from transferring into the school if they weren’t reading at grade level, Windham school administrators claimed that the offending language was not part of the approved Operations Plan filed with the state. Instead they claimed that the copy being read was an older copy of the Operations Plan, even though that “older copy” was the exact document that was given to the members of the Windham Board of Education and marked “approved.”
Further complicating the matter was that, upon investigation, it turned out that the Operations Plan filed with the state was neither approved by the Windham Board of Education, as required, nor did it include a variety of language changes that were approved by Windham’s Board of Education. (As an aside, the changes approved by the Board of Education DID NOT remove the prohibition on transfers, so how that language disappeared from the document is a “mystery.”)
Throughout this debate, neither Windham’s “Special Master” Adamowski nor Windham’s Superintendent have managed to explain how an unapproved Operations Plan was filed with the State or what they are going to do about actually filing the appropriate plan.
However, at a recent meeting, Windham’s Superintendent announced that the plan that had been given to the Windham Board of Education and recorded as “approved” was not actually approved and therefore wasn’t the plan to follow.
This revelation apparently leaves the school with no officially-approved Operations Plan, despite the fact that applications by Windham students were due no later than March 1, 2013 and the lottery to select Windham students (who will make up 75 percent of the student body) will take place before the end of the month. Applications for the remaining 25 percent of the students, meaning students from surrounding communities, are due by March 29, 2013.
In addition, despite repeated Freedom of Information requests, the State has not provided its copy of the faulty Operations Plan nor has it released the communication between the state, Adamowski and other Windham administrators that were part of the Freedom of Information request.
That said, state education regulations do require an approved copy of the Operations Plan be filed with the State, but neither Adamowski nor the school administrators have provided the Windham Board of Education with a final copy or scheduled the necessary vote.
Meanwhile, in violation of federal law, the application being used to sign up students for the new STEM Magnet includes a request for the child’s social security number.
According to the law, “When a federal, state, or local government agency asks an individual to disclose his or her Social Security number, the Privacy Act requires the agency to inform the person of the following: the statutory or other authority for requesting the information; whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary; what uses will be made of the information; and the consequences, if any, of failure to provide the information.”
However, no such notice is provided.
You can see the application here: http://www.windham.k12.ct.us/downloads/schools/chbsa/STEMApplication2013_14.pdf
So, Special Master Adamowski, et. al. are about to conduct a lottery for a new magnet school, but have failed to submit an approved Operations Plan and have an application that fails to meet the requirements of the federal Privacy Act.
And in the end, who knows whether any of this is intentional or unintentional? But what we can be sure of is – if you don’t have an approved Operations Plan there is no way to determine if they are actually following the rules and if you ask for information that you know that many immigrants and non-English speaking families don’t have, you effectively reduce the likelihood that those families will submit applications allowing them to even make it to the lottery process.
Quite frankly, it’s an outrage and the people of Windham and eastern Connecticut deserve better.
Education Reform, Malloy, New London, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, UConn, Windham Education Reform, Malloy, New London, SERC, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, UConn, Windham
If there is one thing you can say about Connecticut “education reformers” like Paul Vallas and Steven Adamowski it is that they sure do know how to double and triple down on making money.
Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent, Paul Vallas, wouldn’t sign a $234,000 annual contract unless it allowed him to maintain his private consulting company, the Vallas Group. The same held true for the three top staff people that he brought in to help him run Bridgeport’s Schools. Despite making about $200,000 each, Vallas required that they be allowed to do outside consulting, including work in other states for his own company.
Meanwhile, Steven Adamowski’s $225,000 a year no-bid contract to serve as “Special Master” of the Windham and New London school systems apparently isn’t enough to keep him busy. As a result of a recent Freedom of Information request, it turns out that he is collecting extra public funds as a consultant to the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.
Last year, the Department of Educational Leadership at UConn’s Neag School of Education paid Adamowski to “provide a series of guest lectures on urban school leadership and reform… participate in the redesign of the Executive Leadership Program…” and consult on some other matters. For that he collected a check for $4,000.
This Spring Adamowski is collecting another $4,269 to teach a course entitled Data Driven Decision Making for School Improvement and Policy Development. Rather than the usual weekly classes, Adamowski’s class meets six times for extended class periods.
The UConn money comes in addition to his $225,000 salary as “Special Master,” the $16,800 to pay for the medical insurance for himself and his spouse, the $1,080 to pay for the dental insurance for himself and his spouse, the $3,900 for a special life and disability insurance policy, the $11,000 to cover his worker’s compensation policy, the $5,000 to pay for his professional and general liability insurance and an extra $10,000 to cover any travel and other work expenses.
Adamowski’s “Special Master” contract was one of those that the State Department of Education inappropriately ran through the State Education Service Center (SERC) in order to get around Connecticut’s competitive bidding laws.
Adamowski’s no-bid contract does allow him to engage in outside work, but on a very limited basis. In fact, the contract reads;
“Dr. Adamowski cannot perform services for other districts, agencies or parties while performing the services pursuant to this agreement, except as set for herein. Dr. Adamowski may continue to teach one course per semester in a Connecticut institution of higher education beginning in the spring 2012 semester as long as such engagement does not unreasonably interfere with his responsibilities under this Agreement.”
While his present UConn contract to serve as an “Adjunct Faculty” from 1/17/2013 to 5/14/2013 appears to meet the requirement of his SERC contract, how Adamowski and SERC could claim that his UConn contract last year from 2/24/2012 to 8/22/2012 to serve as an “Academic Specialist” meets the language of the contract is more of a mystery.
In any case, back at the State Department of Education, once the State Auditors ruled that the end-run Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education were using to get around Connecticut’s bidding laws was illegal; they announced that they were proposing legislation that would end their use of that technique. However, as Wait, What? readers know from previous posts, the proposed legislation Pryor put forward to the Connecticut General Assembly this session doesn’t actually do what Commissioner Pryor reported that it did.
Bridgeport, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Bridgeport, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
Fellow columnist and pro-public education blogger, Wendy Lecker, and I have both written about the plan to open “gifted and talented” academies next fall in Windham, New London and Bridgeport. The three new schools will be called Renzulli Academies and modeled after the school in Hartford by the same name.
Details about the plan can be found by reading the Wait, What? posts entitled, Blessed are the Gifted for they shall inherit the earth and “Gifted” to the right, “Special” to the left, the rest of you sit down and wait.
The proposal to segregate “gifted” students from the rest of the population raises a variety of extremely serious issues, not the least of which is the negative impact it would have on both the students who are being pulled out and the students left behind in the “traditional” public schools.
Furthermore, since part of the selection process for these schools will be utilize Connecticut Mastery Test results, and standardized test results are driven, in no small part, by poverty, language barriers and the need for special education services, specific groups within our society will be disproportionately hurt by this proposal.
As everyone knows, being “gifted” in certain skill areas is in no way related to needing help with the English language or needing special education services in other areas.
But the existing Renzulli Academy is proof that an unfair selection criteria will have an unfair result.
As the following chart reveals, Latino children, those who are not fluent in English and those who need some sort of special education services are disproportionately left out of the program.
- While 52 percent of Hartford’s students are Latino, the population of the Renzulli Academy is only 33 percent Latino.
- While 17 percent of Hartford students need specialized help learning English, less than 1% of the students at the Renzulli Academy qualify as ELL students.
- And while a student can certainly be both “gifted” and need special education services, while 12.7 percent of Hartford students utilize special education programs, only 5 percent of the Renzulli Academy students have special education requirements.
The proposal to expand these “gifted” schools into Windham, New London and Bridgeport is unfair, inappropriate and will expand – not reduce – segregation in our schools.
% English Language Learners
% Special Education