Education Reform, New London, Steven Adamowski, Terrence Carter Corporate Education Reform Industry, New London, Steven Adamowksi, Terrence Carter
Mr. Terrence Carter, who falsely called himself Dr. Carter arrived from Chicago, with the help of Special Master Steven Adamowski, to “save” the children of New London. But having lied about some of the most important aspects of his resume, including the fact that he wasn’t a “Dr.” after all, the New London Board of Education decided not to hire Mr. Carter. In response, Mr. Carter sued the New London Board of Education.
How dare an elected group of citizens stand in the way of the Corporate Education Reform Industry!
So, in true American fashion, Mr. Carter sued.
And today a Connecticut judge laughed him right out of the courthouse.
Breaking news from the Courant’s Jon Lender and Kathy Megan- Judge Tosses Suit By New London School Chief Candidate, Saying He Misrepresented Credentials.
Terrence P. Carter, the highly touted Chicago educator whose selection as New London schools superintendent was rescinded after revelations that he had made false statements about his background and qualifications, has lost his lawsuit against the city’s board of education and its chairwoman.
Carter last year had sued the New London school board and its chairwoman, Margaret Curtin, alleging that they breached an agreement to hire him. But in a ruling dated Tuesday, New London Superior Court Judge Robert F. Vacchelli granted motions for summary judgment filed by the board and Curtin, throwing out the case in which Carter sought damages in an unspecified amount greater than $15,000.
The New London board had voted in mid-2014 to appoint Carter – amid widespread praise in the local community and press of Carter’s apparent qualifications to improve the city’s underachieving school system. Top state education officials in the Malloy administration also endorsed his selection publicly. The school board scheduled a vote for July 21, 2014 on an employment contract with Carter – and Carter had put his signature on a proposed agreement.
But the vote was put off after The Courant published a story on its website on July 18, raising questions about his credentials.
“The progress on his employment became derailed when, on July 18, 2014, newspaper articles began appear[ing] in the Hartford Courant…reporting that the plaintiff had been referring to himself as ‘Dr. Terrence Carter’ or ‘Terrence Carter, Ph.D.’ in numerous public or official documents for years when, in fact he had no accredited doctorate,” Vacchelli wrote in his decision.
“The plaintiff reportedly told the reporters that he had a degree from Hamersfield University in London which would permit his practice in the ministry. He provided a college transcript but the transcript was from Lexington University for a degree in Human Resources Management and Organizational Learning. An investigation showed that Lexington University was a proverbial ‘diploma mill’ source, selling degrees for a price of up to several hundred dollars,” Vacchelli wrote. The Day of New London later wrote stories with other disclosures, the judge said.
The school board then commissioned an investigation by its legal counsel, the Hartford firm Shipman & Goodwin. Vacchelli said that the law firm’s report verified information in the newspaper reports and “demonstrated that the plaintiff had frequently held himself as having a doctorate degree, including a Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Stanford University. The [law firm’s] report showed that his cover letter to the board contained many passages that were plagiarized. And it showed he was dishonest in answering questions about his bankruptcy filing history.”
The judge said that “the evidence was clear and convincing that the plaintiff repeatedly and intentionally misrepresented his educational credentials, work product, criminal history and financial history to get the defendant to hire him as Superintendent of Schools for the City of New London. He deceived the board into taking steps to awarding the contract, until his deceptive conduct was revealed in newspaper stories.”
You can read the whole story at: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-terrence-carter-1022-20151021-story.html
If you have an account or create an account with the Day of New London you can read more at: Terrence Carter’s suit against New London school board and its president is dismissed
Christina Kishimoto, Education Reform, Garth Harries, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Steven Adamowski Christina Kishimoto, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Garth Harries, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, PROACT Search, Steven Adamowksi
This past Tuesday (October 13, 2015) former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, one of the nation’s leading Corporate Education Reform Industry leaders, pleaded guilty for her role in a $23 million kick-back scheme with Gary Solomon and his education reform companies, The SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates.
As part of the plea agreement federal prosecutors told the court that they would drop all but one of the twenty fraud charges listed in Byrd-Bennett’s indictment and that although she faced a maximum of 20 years on each of 20 fraud counts, they would recommend a prison sentence of no more than seven 7 ½ years if she continued to “cooperate with federal investigators.”
Byrd-Bennett has previously served in top management positions with the Cleveland and Detroit public school systems.
As Barbara Byrd-Bennett was pleading guilty for her crimes in Chicago, The Detroit News reported that the FBI was investigating contracts Byrd-Bennett approved when she worked in Detroit;
According to six-month expenditure reports from May and November 2011, DPS paid $1,487,654.08 to Synesi for “Consultant Services/Curriculum/Office of Accountability.”
The report from November 2011 also lists an invoice of $128,698.77 to Synesi as “disapproved.”
The dark cloud of potentially illegal activities casts a long shadow over The Supes Academy, Synesi Associates, and a third company that is owned by Gary Solomon, PROACT Search.
As previously reported, Solomon’s PROACT Search has received a number of contracts in Connecticut.
The superintendent search firm was responsible for getting Garth Harries the superintendent’s job in New Haven and Manuel Rivera the same post in Norwalk.
When the New London Board of Education, with the help of Governor Malloy’s Special Master Steven Adamowski, hired Rivera away from Norwalk in February 2015, the Norwalk Board of Education re-hired PROACT Search and this time they recommend Steven Adamowski for the job.
Steven Adamowski has had a long-standing relationship with Gary Solomon and his corporate education reform companies. Adamowski worked with The Supes Academy for many years and has also been on PROACT Search’s preferred list.
When Steven Adamowski announced his surprise departure as head of the Cincinnati school system in 2002, PROACT Search was hired to find his replacement. The process garnered national attention as the Cincinnati Enquirer ended up, “suing the school board and its new superintendent over the secretive process by which the superintendent was chosen for the job. Adamowski’s name was featured prominently in the newspaper’s complaint.
Four years later, in 2006, when PROACT Search put Steven Adamowski on the short-list for the superintendent’s job in Seattle, the move generated searing local criticism (See: The School Board Flunks Google 101 – In rounding up superintendent candidates, it seems no one did their homework. And what about the $63,500 head-hunting firm?)
And PROACT Search’s involvement in Norwalk has also generated controversy.
As the $20 million no-bid contract in Chicago originally came to light, Catalyst Chicago, a local education media outlet in Illinois reported;
In addition, Byrd-Bennett is listed as a senior associate for a superintendent search firm called PROACT Search, in documents dated August 2012—four months after taking the position with CPS [Chicago Public Schools.] PROACT is run by the same individuals who lead Supes: Gary Solomon, the executive director, and Thomas Vranas, the president
Byrd-Bennett is one of four contacts listed in the proposal for services submitted by PROACT in its bid to do a superintendent search for the Norwalk, Connecticut school district. She has an e-mail address listed in the proposal. When PROACT won the contract, an official for the company was quoted in the local newspaper touting that Byrd-Bennett, who by that time had been named as Chicago’s CEO, was a contractor with the firm.
However, Byrd-Bennett denies that she ever worked for PROACT and was surprised that her name was used, according to CPS spokeswoman Kelley Quinn. Quinn says the e-mail address [email protected] was “generic.”
At the time, Norwalk Board of Education member Mike Lyons, Steven Adamowski’s biggest local supporter, who now serves as Chairman of the Norwalk Board of Education spoke out in favor of hiring PROACT Search. A November 12, 2102 Stamford Advocate article reported,
Lyons said the company has three bilingual staff members that will work on the project and hires contractors as well, including Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former superintendent of the Cleveland school system and now CEO of the Chicago school system
“I think we’ve got some really top flight talent that this group can bring in,” Lyons said.
Two years later, when it was time to find yet another superintendent, the Norwalk BoE voted 7-0 to rehire PROACT. This time the company’s involvement led to the hiring of Steven Adamowski
In addition to their connection with Gary Solomon’s company, both Garth Harries and Steven Adamowski “graduated” from the Broad Academy, a corporate education reform training camp funded by billionaire Eli Broad, whose foundation is one of the three biggest funders of the Corporate Education Reform Industry.
A fourth Connecticut name with connections to those associated with the Chicago scandal is Christina Kishimoto who became Hartford’s superintendent when Adamowski left the position in 2011. Kishimoto was Adamowski’s choice for the job, despite Mayor Pedro Segarra’s opposition (or initial opposition). Like Adamowski, Kishimoto has worked with Gary Solomon’s Supes Academy.
Education Reform, Garth Harries, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowski Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Garth Harries, Gary Solomon, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowksi
UPDATED! Chicago: Barbara Byrd-Bennett Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to 7 1/2 Years in Prison
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and one of the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s most prominent leaders, we be in federal court today – Tuesday, October 13, 2015 – to face charges criminal stemming from her indictment in a $23.5 million contract and kick-back scheme. A guilty plea is expected.
Charges were also filed against The SUPES Academy LLC and Synesi Associates LLC, as well as against the owners of those two companies, Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas. According to the indictment, their role in the kick-back scheme includes charges of bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
A third company owned by the two individuals, PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm that provided New Haven with Superintendent Garth Harries and Norwalk with Superintendent Steven Adamowski has also been caught up in the FBI’s investigation into the Chicago scandal.
As the Chicago Sun Times reported last week,
“Even before she was hired to run Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett set up a scheme to get a 10 percent kickback on all the CPS contracts she could steer to a former employer, in part to set up a college fund for her twin grandsons, authorities said Thursday.
The feds found damning, detailed emails between her and her ex-boss, Gary Solomon —
“I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit :)” the feds say Byrd-Bennett wrote in one of many emails discussing the alleged kickbacks.
In a follow up story the Chicago Sun Times added,
“In another email from December 2012, Solomon assured Byrd-Bennett that trust accounts had been set up in the names of two of her young relatives, each funded with tens of thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors alleged. The cash would be hers once she stepped down from her public post and rejoined his firm.
‘It is our assumption that the distribution will serve as a signing bonus upon your return to SUPES,’ Solomon wrote, according to prosecutors. ‘If you only join for the day, you will be the highest paid person on the planet for that day.’
Prior to being hand-picked by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to run Chicago’s Public Schools, Byrd-Bennett worked as a consultant and lead teacher for The Supes Academy, worked as a consultant for Synesi Associates and was listed as a part of the management team at PROACT Search.
While many key actors in the Corporate Education Reform Industry have been involved with Gary Solomon and his companies, one of the most prominent names on Solomon’s list of close colleagues is the Great Paul Vallas, the Education Reform Guru and former CEO of the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans public school systems.
More recently, Democratic Governor and education reform disciple Dannel Malloy brought Vallas to Bridgeport, Connecticut and then twisted Connecticut law in knots so that Vallas could stay for two years until local residents had finally had enough and forced Vallas to leave the job and return to Illinois.
As for the situation in Chicago, it could certainly be said that Gary Solomon’s ability to build such a “successful” corporate education reform company is due, in no small part, to his close relationship with Paul Vallas.
Vallas not only hired Solomon and his companies when he worked in Philadelphia, but brought Solomon with him to New Orleans.
And Vallas worked to bring other business to Solomon and his companies as well.
While Vallas has publicly claimed that he has no financial interest in any of Solomon’s consulting activities, in Vallas’ Philadelphia days Solomon’s consulting company advertised that it had “the exclusive rights to Paul Vallas’ model of education reform.”
Solomon’s Synesi Associates went on to bragged on its website that it had played a leadership role in, “‘the successful implementation’ of Vallas’ plans when Vallas was heading up the Louisiana Recovery School District.”
The close relationship between Vallas and Solomon was explored in a detailed expose published on Philadelphia’s education website, The Notebook, in April 2005. In an article entitled Cashing in on ‘The Vallas model’ the Notebook laid out the story as follows;
Even with all the private company entrepreneurship revolving around Philadelphia School District initiatives lately, local observers expressed surprise at signs that District CEO Paul Vallas himself was appearing to be in on the action.
Evidence of a business initiative involving the use of Vallas’ name and reform approach recently surfaced on the websites of two related Chicago-based businesses. Information about the venture on one website was apparently pulled from the web minutes after Notebook inquiries. The other website disappeared the next day. (Images of several of the removed pages referenced in this story were saved by The Notebook, and are linked to in this story).
Solomon Consulting Services Inc. (SCS), a new for-profit enterprise that counts among its team a number of prominent administrators and leaders who’ve worked under or with Vallas, had obtained exclusive rights to “The Vallas Model,” according to the website of SCS’s partner and online marketing firm.
Vallas categorically denies any such deal. But questions linger about how a website devoted to marketing Paul Vallas’ accomplishments and approach came into being and what will become of the enterprise that created it.
Through a District spokesperson, Vallas said he has no commercial relationship with Solomon Consulting, adding that SCS had not been authorized to use his name or sell his reform model.
Spokesperson Cecelia Cummings said Vallas has acknowledged awareness of a number of his associates forming an enterprise. Cummings said the District had threatened legal action over the SCS website, which implied that the School District was a client of SCS.
SCS’s team list names Phil Hansen, a former Chicago chief accountability officer who served on Vallas’ Philadelphia transition team and who now works for Princeton Review; Cozette Buckney, Chicago’s chief education officer under Vallas and a member of Vallas’ Philadelphia transition team; Sue Gamm, chief specialized services officer in Chicago during Vallas’ tenure, who also served as a consultant to Vallas during his transition…
SolomonConsultingInc.com, disappeared from the web April 28, one day after the interview with Solomon. [Solomon had told the Notebook that a newly designed site was to be posted soon. A new SolomonConsulting Inc.com was posted Saturday, April 30, with no references to Vallas and no list of personnel].
When Solomon’s website reappeared there was also no mention that Gary Solomon had also served as assistant vice president of educational partnerships with the Princeton Review, but….
On April 20, the School Reform Commission approved a resolution for $2.6 million in categorical/grant funds for Princeton Review to provide curriculum, educational materials and professional development for the District’s summer program. Other Princeton review contracts this school year have been for $600,000 for consulting for four transitional high schools – Lamberton, Sayre, Vaux and Parkway Gamma High, and $750,000 for PSSA test prep materials, support and professional development.
During the interview, Solomon initially said he no longer worked with Princeton Review. However, in a Notebook phone call to Princeton Review’s New York office, an operator responded that the company did indeed have a listing for Gary Solomon. When the call was transferred, Solomon answered, and explained, “They’re a client of mine.”
And, has been repeatedly reported, the close bond between Vallas and Solomon was just beginning.
When Paul Vallas moved on to New Orleans to head the Louisiana Recovery School District, Solomon picked up even more lucrative contracts.
But it is a story out of Illinois that provides a true snap-shot and insider’s view into how Vallas and the Corporate Education Reform Industry works;
While Gary Solomon and his companies profited greatly via Vallas in Philadelphia and New Orleans, it is the somewhat more hidden story surrounding the Rockford School District (PSD 150) in Illinois that provides telling evidence about how Vallas and the Corporate Education Reform Industry works.
The December 13, 2007 headline in the Rockford Star newspaper proclaimed, Vallas will ‘assess and evaluate’ District 150 – for free. The story read,
School reform trailblazer Paul Vallas is willing to assess the educational program at District 150 and develop a “vision” to effectuate change, all for free.
“My role would not only be to assess and evaluate but also to lay out a comprehensive vision for the district. … Given the fact that I would do it for free, there’s certainly no loss of investment,” the New Orleans superintendent said Wednesday.
But the question remains: Will District 150 take advantage of his services or hire consultants he has recommended to assist the district in reform efforts?
Vallas met with district leaders in November, and he and consultants offered educational services to the district. The consultants are Gary Solomon and Phil Hansen, of Synesi Associates.
Vallas is willing to help for free, but the consultants have a cost. School Board President David Gorenz said Synesi has quoted the cost of its consulting services at $600,000.
Vallas, the former head of schools in Philadelphia and Chicago, emphasized Wednesday that he is not affiliated with the consultants and doesn’t benefit financially from their services. They are, however, among a group of people he recommended be part of a successful school reform process.
“Should they decide that they want my help and should they decide that they want me to recommend a full team to come in and do the job … I will be very specific in identifying the people I feel (are) some of the best people out there to come in,” Vallas said.
The superintendent of Recovery School District in New Orleans said he’s inclined to help districts when he can. Plus, he has always enjoyed Peoria, and the city is close to his permanent home — his wife still lives in Chicago.
Days later, on December 22, 2007, the paper expanded its coverage reporting Vallas will meet with Peoria District 150 officials after Christmas,
Noted education leader Paul Vallas was in town Friday talking to local business leaders about school reform, and he plans to meet with District 150 officials sometime after Christmas.
Vallas has offered to help the district reform its educational system and bring in consultants to help implement changes. He first made the offer to district officials in November, after being asked to come to town by Mayor Jim Ardis.
The superintendent of Recovery School District in New Orleans stopped by Peoria on his way home to Chicago for the holidays. He spoke at a meeting of the CEO Roundtable Friday morning and met with the Journal Star editorial board afterward.
“All I’m going to do is try to tell them what I think works and what doesn’t work and to try to provide them with some guidance. The rest is going to be up to them,” Vallas told the editorial board.
Vallas is willing to help for free, but the consultants that he would recommend would have a cost. School Board President David Gorenz has said that a consulting firm that was represented at the November meeting quoted the cost of its services at $600,000
And while Vallas said he would work for free … who were the consultants that District 150 would need to hire?
The consulting firm that is in contact with District 150 is Synesi Associates. Company officials Gary Solomon and Phil Hansen were both at the November meeting. But Vallas said there are multiple people he is willing to bring to District 150, people he referred to as “the best seasoned educators around.”
As the Chicago Scandal played out in the news this year, the Chicago Tribune reported that,
“No contract was ever signed in Peoria and Vallas disputed the assertion that he had pitched work specifically for Solomon’s firm.”
But there is often more to these types of situations than meets the eye.
Earlier this summer, Paul Vallas and his relationship to Illinois Public School District 150 surfaced yet again. The local PJ Star newspaper reported, Efforts for independent review of District 150 continue despite rejections,
PEORIA – … the current School Board already had rejected at least two attempts at outside evaluations orchestrated by Mayor Jim Ardis, with help from his recently retired education adviser Bill Collier and Peoria County Regional Superintendent of Schools Beth Derry.
The Illinois State Board of Education apparently declined to get involved in a request made by Collier, according to Freedom of Information Act requests. Derry backed off after the school district attorney questioned the legality of her office’s involvement.
But Ardis and Collier haven’t given up on getting the board to agree to an independent review. The School Board’s make-up will change Wednesday with the seating of two new members who support the idea. Either the board or Superintendent Grenita Lathan could have a change of heart, Ardis said last week.
“Support has started to build,” Collier added. “It’s really for altruistic reasons.”
Local business leaders would have donated about $60,000 for a third-party evaluation conducted by a team led by nationally-known, but controversial, education reformer Paul Vallas, who has been school superintendent in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Bridgeport, Conn.
According to Vallas, he met with Derry and the teachers’ union leadership, all of whom were supportive. Ardis and Collier presented the proposal to school officials.
Board members were wary of the motives behind what Ardis, Collier and Derry say were sincere efforts to gain an unbiased analysis of District 150’s strengths and weaknesses.
“It was presented as a fait accompli,” said District 150 Chief Legal Officer Rick Rettberg. “The consultant had already been chosen, the scope of the review had already been decided and there was no disclosure of who was paying for it.”
By April, Derry was planning to incorporate the Vallas team’s evaluation into the standard compliance review her office conducts for all Peoria County school districts every four years. That plan was dropped after Rettberg pointed out an expanded compliance review was beyond the scope of her authority.
“What you are proposing in your letter is both extraordinary and problematic,” Rettberg wrote to Derry, reminding her the ROE’s office does not have authority to conduct a quality review, much less delegate it to a private consultant.
The letters between Rettberg, Lathan and Derry were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The letters show the district filed its own FOIA request to obtain copies of a contract and correspondence between the ROE’s office and Developmental Specialists Inc., or DSI, the consulting firm Vallas recently joined.
Vallas emphasized he was providing his services for free, a favor he has done for Ardis in the past…
The $60,000 cost would go to the four-person team he assembled to conduct the review.
So while the federal government was closing in on the contract and kickback scheme involving Chicago School CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Gary Solomon this summer, Paul Vallas was a few miles up the road telling local officials in Illinois’ Public School 150 that he was willing to, once again, work for free. All local taxpayers had to do was pay a hand-picked company selected by Vallas.
But this time Vallas was instructing them that they would have to pay a company that he had publically joined about sixty days earlier.
From a press release issued by DSI Civic Financial Restructuring, LLC on April 4, 2014,
Educational Restructuring Veteran Paul Vallas Joins DSI Civic Financial Restructuring, LLC Former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools Brings 20 Years of Experience to Leading Management Consulting and Financial Advisory Services Firm
Chicago, IL – April 4, 2014 –DSI Civic Financial Restructuring, LLC (DSI Civic), which specializes in government and municipal restructuring and reorganization, today announced that Paul Vallas has joined the firm, lending his considerable government experience and expertise to the group’s national distressed governmental and municipal practice.
Mr. Vallas, the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools system, as well as school districts in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Bridgeport, Connecticut, brings a solid grasp of state and muncipal issues that complement the senior management team of DCI Civic, an affiliate of Development Specialists, Inc. (DSI), a worldwide consulting firm headquartered in Chicago with major offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities.
“Paul brings to DSI Civic a tremendous skill set that uniquely compounds the skills and diverse background of our executives. As a member of our staff our clients will benefit from the extensive knowledge he has built over time; he is an accomplished industry veteran who can navigate successfully through the complex and complicated issues that face many distressed municipalities and school districts,” said Bill Brandt, DSI’s President and CEO.
“I’m flattered to have been asked to join DSI Civic and its stellar team of professionals,” said Mr. Vallas. “I look forward to aiding this very distinguished team as they counsel school districts, diverse units of government and municipal leaders on how to address the difficult issues that governments are dealing with in this new era of constrained budgets. The main reason I am making this move is because Bill Brandt and DSI create jobs and value. They sustain communities and bring opportunities that just weren’t there before.”
Norwalk, Steven Adamowski Norwalk, Steven Adamowski
The Norwalk Hour reports,
NORWALK — The Board of Education appointed Steven Adamowski as the next Superintendent of Schools in a close vote of 5-4.
With concerns of Adamowski’s certification to be superintendent, he will first serve as Acting Superintendent until requirements are fulfilled.
Dr. Adamowski received a waiver from the Commissioner of Education in 2007, which is unlimited in its application to either school districts or time,” said BOE Chairman Michael Lyons. “Based on that letter, both Dr. Adamowski and PROACT felt that he was qualified to serve as a superintendent.”
The waiver was issued to Adamowski when he served as superintendent of Hartford Public Schools. Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell was willing to accept the waiver but gave Adamowski the option to either use the waiver or fulfill the certification requirements to avoid controversy about his status, said Lyons.
Adamowski opted to fulfill the requirements.
Lyons said the same method was used two years ago to appoint Dr. Manuel Rivera, who had the qualifications for superintendent but needed a course in special education. Rivera later showed that he met the requirement from his previous experience and was granted certification in July 2013.
“Adamowski will serve as acting superintendent as of July 15, 2015 and then upon completion of certification requirements, he will become superintendent for a term of three years from July 15, 2015 to June 30, 2018,” according to a post resolution Lyons read Tuesday.
The four dissenting votes came from Democrats Sherelle Harris, Migdalia Rivas, Rosa Murray and Shirley Mosby.
“We spent a lot of money on a search firm to do a vetting. This was one of the requirements for certification that the applicants had. My question tonight is how did that slip through the cracks. How did we not see this coming?,” said Mosby.
Rivas stated that she didn’t hear about many of the allegations involving Adamowski until after the selection of Adamowski was made public. She suggested the Board should table the vote until the end of the week until the allegations were investigated.
You read the full article at: http://www.thehour.com/news/norwalk/norwalk-school-board-narrowly-oks-new-superintendent/article_f7735aea-1490-11e5-b04f-2368f41b5c8e.html
Additional coverage can also be found at https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/, which began its “news’ coverage by writing,
NORWALK, Conn. – A new era of school reform in Norwalk was ushered in Tuesday by the slimmest of margins.
The Board of Education voted 5-4 to make Steven Adamowski its new superintendent of schools after a discussion dominated by those who had problems with the appointment.
Adamowski, sitting in the front row, got a good look at the behavior of Norwalk’s fractious Board in public, as Migdalia Rivas rambled emotionally for 10 minutes about hurt feelings, Shirley Mosby said she wouldn’t be a rubber stamp and Mike Barbis flashed anger as he called Mosby out for her face-making.
PROACT Search LLC
Meanwhile, the search firm that recommended Adamowski to Norwalk, PROACT Search LLC, continues under a cloud of suspicion due to its founder and CEO’s involvement in a $20 million no-bid contract in Chicago. Gary Solomon created and runs PROACT Search, the Supes Academy and Synesi Associates. Solomon previously served as Chairman of the Chicago Board of Education and a series of contracts between his companies and the Chicago School System and his firms are reportedly under investigated by the FBI. With the investigation growing, the CEO of Chicago’s school system who worked for some of Solomon’s company’s recently resigned.
PROACT was also fired last month by the school board in Lancaster, Pennsylvania when the local board of education “learned of disturbing allegations … that PROACT Search CEO Gary Solomon used racist slurs in some past emails.”
A number of other communities have terminated their contracts with PROACT in the wake of the Chicago allegations.
It remains unclear if members of the Norwalk Board of Education were fully informed about Adamowski’s involvement with Solomon and his companies.
Supes Academy lists Adamowski as one of its Past Teachers, Speakers & Advisors and the business tracking website ZoomInfo reports Adamowski is a “Board Member” of Supes Academy LLC.
Steven Adamowski Steven Adamowksi
Undaunted by the issues that are being raised and apparently determined not to provide any further opportunity for input, the Norwalk Board of Education appears dead set on voting at tonight’s meeting to hire Steven Adamowski to become that community’s $250,000+ a year superintendent of schools.
According to local media reports, a majority of the Norwalk board education members have already committed to Norwalk Board Chairman Lyons that they will vote in favor of Adamowski tonight…no matter what.
Perhaps the most ironic point of the entire situation is that Adamowski is a contender for the position because Norwalk’s superintendent of schools decided to leave Norwalk to become New London’s superintendent when Adamowski’s initial choice for the New London job, “Dr.” Terrence Carter, became the center of a controversy when it was discovered that he didn’t actually have the academic degree that he claimed to have.
Carter claimed he was a “Dr.” but it turned out he wasn’t.
By comparison, Steven Adamowski definitely has a Ph.D. According to the resume the Norwalk Board of Education was provided by the ProACT search firm, Adamowski received his degree from St. Louis University in 1996. An online search will even lead to the dissertation that Adamowski wrote in order to earn that degree.
But what is especially intriguing is that seven years earlier, President Ronald Reagan appointed Steven J. Adamowski to become a Member of the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education.
And as part of that October 3, 1988 announcement, the President of the United States indicated that Steven Adamowski had a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut and noted that he received that degree in 1987.
President Reagan’s October 3, 1988 statement reads;
The President today announced his intention to appoint Steven J. Adamowski to be a member of the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education for a term expiring July 27, 1992. He would succeed Gonzalo A. Velez.
Since 1987 Dr. Adamowski has been superintendent of schools for Chatham, NJ. From 1983 to 1987, he was superintendent of schools for Norwich, CT. Dr. Adamowski was assistant superintendent of schools for Portland, ME, 1979 – 1983, and principal of Union Elementary School in Connecticut, 1976 – 1978.
Dr. Adamowski graduated from Southern Connecticut State College (B.S., 1972), Trinity College (M.A., 1975), and the University of Connecticut (Ph.D., 1987). He was born December 9, 1950, in Derby, CT. Dr. Adamowski is married, has one child, and resides in Morristown, NJ.
President Reagan’s Announcement is stored in a variety of locations including at:
Perhaps President’s Reagan’s staff misread the materials Steven Adamowski provided the White House prior to being appointed to the position. Perhaps there was a transcription error. Perhaps Adamowski’s resume was silent on the issue and a pro-UConn Huskies staffer simply inserted the fact that the newest member of the Intergovernmental Advisory Council on Education had a doctorate from UConn when he actually did not have one.
When doing their background research, one would have thought that ProAct Search would have discovered the error and made note of it before passing on Adamowski’s name to the Norwalk Board of Education, perhaps they did.
We can be sure of one thing though, no questions or issues are important enough to slow down the Norwalk Board of Education.
Hartford, Norwalk, Robert Cotto Jr., Sheff v. O'Neill, Steven Adamowski Hartford, Norwalk, Robert Cotto Jr., Sheff v. O'Neill, Steven Adamowksi
Robert Cotto Jr. is a member of the Hartford Board of Education. He is also a leading academic expert on education policy in Connecticut. His articles have appeared in numerous publications and his writing and work can be regularly found in the Hartford Courant, CT Mirror and CT NewsJunkie.
Having seen witnessed Mr. Adamowski’s time in Hartford first-hand and written extensively about the challenges facing Hartford’s public school system, Robert Cotto Jr. sent the following letter to the Norwalk Board of Education today.
Letter to Norwalk Board of Education (By Robert Cotto, Jr. June 16, 2015)
This letter is sent in my capacity as an individual and do not represent the views of any organization I am involved in. The views are my own.
Dear members of the Norwalk Board of Education,
Several newspapers recently reported that the Norwalk Board of Education would be hiring a former Superintendent of the Hartford Public Schools (HPS). As a Hartford Board of Education member since 2010 and an educational researcher, I write to raise concerns about claims made about the Hartford Public Schools between 2006 and 2011.
A press release from the Norwalk Board of Education suggests that HPS improved test results and graduation rates because of a change in policies and a new superintendent in 2006. It is true that HPS embarked on a policy of expanded school choice and hyper-accountability. This included closing schools and reopening them as themed academies.
However, there is little evidence that these policies alone resulted in improved achievement and graduation rates. As I wrote in The Hartford Courant in 2011, there was a mixed result from these policies – at best. Most importantly, the apparent “increases” only began when testing and graduation policies changed to artificially inflate this data.
Hartford’s “historic” test result increases only began when low-income, Black, and Latino students with disabilities were removed from regular tests and allowed to participate in a separate modified assessment in 2009. By 2011, 10% or more of all Hartford students, all with disabilities, were selected for a separate test. While this was happening, the HPS superintendent and administrators took credit. They also took bonus money for the subsequent increases, caused in large part by removing these kids.
I have written extensively on this issue. You can read my Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant, my report for CT Voices for Children, and my TEDx Talk at Central CT State University on the issue. This is not speculation, but fact.
Hartford’s graduation rate also has a number of question marks. Between 2006 and 2011, several policies changed that inflated graduation rates. First, the formula changed to calculate graduation rates. This new formula has excluded hundreds of Black and Latino students. They have been transferred out of their cohorts, and effectively removed from all calculations.
Second, online credit recovery and the policy of mandatory minimum grade of 55% inflated graduation rates. Online credit recovery, required by State law in 2010, meant that students that did not pass a course the first time were allowed to take the course online instead.
Hartford’s “F-55″ rule mandated that a student failing a quarter or semester would get a 55% percent. With this rule, a student could earn a 75% in one quarter and pass the rest of the course, even without doing any work or even showing up to class. The Hartford Board of Education never approved these changes for online credit recovery and the “F-55” policy.
The information is not new, but ignored. Elected board members in Hartford raised concerns about both the test scores and graduation rates with little response from the Superintendent or his successor. Interestingly, the video of the meeting in early 2011 where Board members confronted the superintendent about the test inflation was reported as “damaged”. This was the only missing or damaged meeting video in my six years of service.
Rather than outright success, much of what happened in Hartford can be explained by these data illusions. Also, the tremendous State investment in school choice, particularly magnet schools, under the Sheff v. O’Neill agreement has played a major role.
The Hartford Public Schools are still trying to recover from the considerable damage caused by the school “turnarounds” started in 2006 and the unregulated school choice system. Our district is in as much or more financial distress with the expansion of school choice programs beyond our ability to support them. Many of the “turnaround” schools have experienced their second closure and reopening. In many of the Sheff magnet schools and most of our non-magnet schools, our staff still struggles to meet the needs of all children. Even former proponents of these policies have come to question their viability and performance.
I believe deeply in the ability of our city’s children and families, mostly Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino folk, to succeed academically and thrive in life. That is what we have been doing for hundreds of years with substantially unequal and separate opportunities in education and the economy. Yet, the limited resources that sustained our Black and Latino communities are now diminished, dismantled, privatized, or provided to only selected students. These resources included broad academic curriculum offerings, sports, special education services, bilingual education, and libraries.
While you are free to make the decision that is best for Norwalk, I would recommend not to make that decision based on discredited claims about Hartford. What happened from 2006-11 in Hartford may have helped some kids, but came along with further marginalization of the most vulnerable children and families in our city. In Hartford, we are still working for equitable opportunity.
Robert Cotto, Jr.
Member, Hartford Board of Education
– See more at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2015/06/16/letter-to-norwalk-board-of-education/#sthash.6WmgJGGa.dpuf
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Norwalk, Steven Adamowski CCJEF v. Rell, Norwalk, Steven Adamowksi
There are many questions about why the Norwalk Board of Education would hire the extremely controversial and combative Steven Adamowski to be the community’s next superintendent of schools.
Adamowski has left a trail of destruction behind him. One need only ask parents, teachers, school administrators and taxpayers in Windham, New London and even Hartford.
But above all else, not only is Adamowski one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s closest advisors and allies when it comes to education, Adamowski – who is presently on the payroll of Malloy’s Department of Education – is one of Malloy’s star witnesses in the effort to derail and destroy the critically important CCJEF v. Rell School Funding Lawsuit.
In fact, when the CCJEF v. Rell case finally goes to trial later this year, Steven Adamowski will be there.
But Adamowski won’t be there to testify on behalf of Connecticut’s public school students, teachers, parents and schools. And he won’t be there to testify on behalf of Connecticut’s property taxpayers.
And he certainly won’t be there to testify on behalf of the best interests of Norwalk.
He will actually be there to testify against all of those people.
Instead, Steven Adamowski will be there to testify on behalf of Governor Dannel Malloy and his effort to stop Connecticut’s judicial branch from finally requiring that the state of Connecticut to design and adopt a fair and equitable school funding system.
The truth is that Steven Adamowski has already given a deposition in support of Malloy’s position and against the interest of Norwalk and all the other communities that are fighting so hard to force Connecticut’s elected officials to adopt a fair, equitable and constitutional school funding formula.
Here at Wait, What? I’ve called the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit the single most important court case of our lifetime. There are almost as many posts about the CCJEF case as there are against Adamowski.
CCJEF v. Rell is the case that correctly argues that Connecticut’s school funding system is unconstitutional and that Connecticut’s Governor and General Assembly have a fundamental duty to adopt a school funding formula that finally ensures that towns get the financial aide they need to ensure that ensure that every Connecticut child has the opportunity to succeed.
The CCJEF v. lawsuit is also proof that that there are some issues that are so important that the partisan divide that is undermining our nation is put aside.
It is an issue that is so vital to the future well-being of our citizens that Democrats and Republicans are actually willing to work together for the common good.
And it is a lawsuit that would probably benefit the children and taxpayers of Norwalk more than any other town in Connecticut.
And yet, the Norwalk Board of Education appears to be on the verge of handing control of their public schools over to someone who has is a star witness for Governor Malloy’s on-going attempt to undermine and defeat this critically important lawsuit.
For those who don’t know what the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit is all about they may want to start by reading some of the Wait, What? posts on the issue. See: NEWS FLASH: Kids win, Malloy/Jepsen lose as judge rules school funding trial to begin this summer and Whatever you do, don’t mention school funding and the school funding lawsuit! and Jepsen, Malloy and playing politics with the law…
Those who already know how important the case is and how hard Governor Malloy has been working to undermine the case should look to Norwalk’s own media coverage on the topic.
Start with the article written by the Norwalk Hour’s Korey Wilson who just a year ago published an article entitled, “Lawsuit against state aims to revamp educational funding formula,”
NORWALK — A lawsuit filed against the state nearly 10 years ago, which calls for a revamping of the Education Cost Sharing Formula, will finally go to trial in September.
The plaintiff in the suit is the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF), a nonprofit organization launched in 2004 by the mayors of several cities and now includes municipalities, boards of education, professional education associations, teachers and parents.
Read the Hour’s story entitled, “Rilling named to Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding; school funding lawsuit goes to trial in September,” which explained,
NORWALK — A landmark lawsuit by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding to revamp school funding statewide will go to trial in September and Norwalk will have a strong stake in the proceedings and outcome.
Mayor Harry W. Rilling was recently appointed the to coalition’s steering committee.
“This is a way that we can fight for equal funding for our schools and our children,” Rilling said. “It’s my hope that we will prevail and that we will be able to reduce significantly the tax burden off the shoulder’s of our homeowners, who are being overly taxed for our educational system.”
The Education Cost Sharing Formula allocates state money to local school districts based, among other things, upon a city’s or town’s tax base, poverty and the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
Local officials, from both sides of the political aisle, have long labeled the formula unfair to Norwalk. Norwalk is not alone in that belief.
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF), a nonprofit organization, was launched in 2004 by the mayors of several cities and now includes municipalities, boards of education, professional education associations, teacher and other unions, parents and others.
In 2005, CCJEF filed suit against the state. In CCJEF v. Rell, the coalition alleges that “the state’s failure to suitably and equitably fund its public schools has irreparably harmed thousands of Connecticut schoolchildren.”
And definitely read about how Norwalk’s Mayor has been working so hard on behalf of the case in the article entitled, Rilling vows to obtain more state aid for schools
NORWALK — Mayor Harry W. Rilling on Monday vowed to become more active in the litigation aimed at getting more state aid for Norwalk schools.
Rilling said he has traveled to Hartford three times and has spoken with state budget Director Benjamin Barnes about changing the Education Cost Sharing formula but concluded the matter shouldn’t be left solely for the General Assembly to decide.
“We will also need a state constitutional mandate to make sure the educational needs of our children will be met,” Rilling said. “Therefore, I will continue to support the education funding lawsuit by maintaining Norwalk’s membership in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding that was initiated by Mayor (Alex) Knopp and continued by Mayor (Richard) Moccia.”
The mayor said he plans to seek a more active role in the coalition by volunteering membership on the organization’s steering committee.
And then, after you understand just how important this lawsuit is to Norwalk and the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Connecticut, ask yourself…
Why on earth would the Norwalk Board of Education turn control of Norwalk’s schools over to someone who is not only on Malloy’s payroll but is actually one of Malloy’s most outspoken witnesses in a case that would benefit the children AND taxpayers of Norwalk.
For more about Norwalk’s history with this important case read, also consider reading the following articles from Nancy on Norwalk.
Norwalk bemoans inadequate state education funding
‘Unfair’ Connecticut education formula to be challenged this fall
Letter: The next fight for education funding
Norwalk Mayor’s Night Out focuses on finances
English Language Learners, Norwalk, Steven Adamowski English Language Learners, Norwalk, Steven Adamowksi
Like communities across Connecticut, Norwalk’s public schools are witnessing a growth in the number of students who are not proficient.
As academic studies have shown, poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs are the three major factors leading to the educational achievement gap.
In Norwalk, more than 1,300 students, accounting for more than 12 percent of the student body are such limited English language skills that they qualify for identification as English Language Learners.
While Spanish is the primary language spoken by the majority of Norwalk students who do not speak English, the Connecticut State Department of Education reports that nearly 4 in 10 (37%) Norwalk public school students come from homes where English is not the primary language and that, according to the state’s latest data, Norwalk students come from homes that speak 60 different languages.
As Norwalk contemplates who would best serve as their school superintendent, they should be especially cognizant of the policy issues surrounding how to improve educational outcomes for those students who enter the school system without the English language skills necessary to succeed.
A major 2013 investigative report produced by WNPR public radio entitled, “End of Bilingual Education in Windham Forces English Language Learners to Cope,’ looked into the impact of Special Master Steven Adamowski’s decision to eliminate Bilingual education in Windham Connecticut over the objections of students, parents, teachers and some local officials.
As the piece explained, the WNPR’s reporting on this critical issue was made extremely difficult because Adamowski refused to speak to the reporters. The unwillingness to speak to the media required the respected news outlet to note in their report,
“Multiple requests by WNPR for an interview with Adamowski were unsuccessful.”
What was reported was the following;
As the number of Hispanic students in Connecticut’s schools continues to rise, the achievement gap between these students and their white classmates remains. Gaps can be found in every grade, in every subject, in just about every school district in the state. The highest percentage of English language learners can be found in the town of Windham. In the past year, there have been big changes there to the way Hispanic students are being taught.
A few years ago, newcomers to Windham would be placed in bilingual education, and transition over time into mainstream classes. The philosophy behind bilingual education is to teach kids using a mixture of English and their native language, so they can keep up with subject matter as they gradually master English. But that changed about a year ago, after Dr. Steven Adamowski was named Special Master for Windham’s schools.
In an effort to improve lagging test scores and move kids more quickly into mainstream classes, Adamowski took a different approach, ending bilingual education and moving to English-only. He allowed certain support programs for non-native speakers to continue, but essentially dismantled bilingual education throughout the district. Multiple requests by WNPR for an interview with Adamowski were unsuccessful.
Rose Reyes, who used to teach a second-grade bilingual education class in Windham, now provides Spanish support to kindergarten, first, and second graders. She worries that too many of these children are being tracked into special education. “When there’s so much English going on for a kindergartener,” she said, “there are two responses. Children either implode or explode. The children who are exploding, acting out, are now flagged as problematic, and then more support services or interventions are provided. However, the condition is that the interventions and services are in English.”
And what was the result of Adamowski’s extremely controversial changes?
As the WNPR investigation reported, student test scores actually declined.
Norwalk’s elected officials, school administrators, teachers, parents and community leaders need to ask the serious questions about Steven Adamowski’s commitment to students who come from households whose primary language is not English.
All children can learn, all children can succeed, but Mr. Adamowski’s track record indicates that he is unwilling to make the investments necessary to ensure that every child gets the support they deserve.
Steven Adamowski, Windham Steven Adamowksi, Windham
The announcement that Steven Adamowski would be forced to release his grip on Windham’s public schools was met with a variety of emotions in the community. The huge sigh of relief was combined with an overwhelming sense of anger and bitterness on the part of many parents, teachers and public education advocates who had watched in horror as Adamowski, Governor Malloy’s point person when it comes to taking over local districts, engaged in a campaign of disruption and confrontation leaving parents, teachers AND local officials stunned.
The voters of Windham were saddled with a Special Master as a result of some legislative language that was inserted deep within the 2011 State Budget bill. Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education then named Adamowski as Windham’s Special Master without an open process that even allowed for the community’s input. The process was a sad reminder that even the most sacred notion of local control can be destroyed in a moment.
There are numerous stories about Steven Adamowski’s arrogant and authoritarian “leadership style” and how he squandered a significant amount of money that the General Assembly had set aside to help improve educational opportunities for Windham’s children.
The CT Mirror wrote two major stories about Adamowski’s tenure as Windham’s Special Master. CT school reform: 2 years under ‘special master’ and Connecticut sheds daily operations of Windham schools. The articles are informative, but as parents and teachers out here in Eastern Connecticut will tell you, they only scratched the surface about the damage Adamowski did to the very schools he was sent to “save.”
The announcement that the Norwalk Board of Education is on the verge of appointing Adamowski as that community’s next superintendent of schools has re-ignited the bad memories that people in Windham have about Adamowski and his record.
A series of weekend conversations among those most knowledgeable about Adamowski’s time as Special Master in Windham produced the following article
Windham’s Experience with Special Master Steven Adamowski
There are those, some of whom apparently serve on the Norwalk Board of Education, who are enamored with the notion of “Education Reform” as trumpeted by non-educators like George W. Bush, Barak Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Governor Jeb Bush and Governor’s such as Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy.
Rather than recognize that lack of educational achievement is driven by poverty, English language barriers and unmet special education needs, these “reforms” believe that answer lies in the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and a wholesale attack on teachers.
Over the years Steven Adamowski, formerly the Special Master of Windham, has worked to be seen as a leading school reformer.
However, those who have been most directly impacted by his actions are mystified that public officials would choose to hand their community’s students and schools over to him and his destructive leadership style.
Perhaps most important, Adamowski’s work in Windham was anything but efficient, effective or appropriate.
In fact, his tenure in the town was marked by clumsy, ill-advised policies that did little for the children of Windham, but served Adamowski well in creating the perception that he knew what he was doing.
In many instances, corporate school reformers have no more expertise than the next person on how to improve the public schools. The reformers use impressive jargon and are fond of quoting “the research” to justify their labors. But close attention to what they are doing will soon reveal that, in so many ways, they are just making it up as they go along, trying this and that in a more or less opportunistic fashion. Although (like the rest of us) they have ideological predilections in their approach to education, they pretend that their point of view is value free truth or neutral “science.” They pretend that the corporatist managerial style they favor is simply the logical outcome of a “best practices” philosophy, confirmed by all “the research” as the only way to go. Reformers of the Adamowski mold will enact dramatic and far-reaching transformations to the local education system on the pretend basis that just about everything the town has been doing is simply wrong. But the point of these radical reforms is not to reconceive the system as such in a positive direction, but to radically destabilize it, making privatization initiatives much more palatable to some people in the local community.
Adamowski’s’ reign in Windham, as Special Master, was a disaster that made a bad situation worse. The State Department of Education took over Windham Schools because of a widening “achievement gap” between white and Hispanic students, and because the fiscal situation of the schools was far from healthy, as lean annual budgets failed to meet the real needs of the system. Windham is a poor town, with a fair number of people on fixed incomes and a sizeable cohort of landlords who live out of town. School budgets are invariably controversial. Cuts rather than increases have been the recent historical norm. The Windham school system clearly illustrates the inequities and injustices which arise from a school funding system strongly based in local property taxes.
Some people in Windham thought that the arrival of Special Master Adamowski would signal a moment of truth for the town. It seemed that once Adamowski took a close look at the recent history of Windham budgets he would be obliged to inform the community and the State that Windham’s children were not getting the support to which they were legally and morally entitled. But Adamowski decided to play politics. After years of enduring weak budgets, the school system was stressed even more by Adamowski, as he insisted on further cuts to make certain that the budget passed on a first town vote. This was a terrible strategy, both morally and politically. The not-so Special Master passed up a golden opportunity to educate the budget naysayers in the community; and he also sent the appalling message that the schools could function with LESS rather than more. Adamowski got his victory, as the budget passed on the first vote. But, his political victory was a hard defeat for Windham’s children, as now it will be even more difficult to propose realistic budgets in the future. Some Windham parents quickly realized that the Special Master had his own agenda in reforming Windham’s Schools and it was not at all clear that what he had in mind was good for the children.
The Special Master had secretive (possibly unethical) relationships with certain individual parents, but he made no special effort to engage the generality of Windham’s parents. He worked behind the scenes with one parent to bring an elementary charter School to Windham, but, even as he had the care of their children, to most parents, he seemed aloof and distant, like a colonial administrator among the natives. At no point did he hold a forum in which he sought an exchange of views with parents. It was as if the parents were irrelevant or invisible. Often, parents had no idea what was being done to Windham schools until they read about it in the local newspaper.
Adamowski is a true believer in the doctrine of “school choice,” wherein education is a “product” offered to “consumers” in a “free marketplace.” As District Superintendent, Adamowski brought this dubious model to bear on the educational landscape of Hartford. He created numerous themed “academies” to “compete” with the local neighborhood public schools. Many studies have shown that school choice models are divisive and unequal: they tend to concentrate social and academic problems in certain schools and they wreak havoc with comprehensive education. The “school choice” model is most often applied to urban school districts, because the larger population makes a “portfolio” of schools a viable proposition. The model makes no sense at all in a small town or city, where there is only one high school. But this did not prevent Adamowski going out of his way to impose school choice on the district of Windham. For him, “school choice” is a formula to be applied at all times and in all places. With this end in mind, he made the unpopular decision to divide Windham High School into themed academies. Predictably, this division has been a source of community tension, as one academy is more esteemed than the other, and significantly out performs the other in standardized testing.
There was no demand from the Windham town folk for themed academies. In fact, students from Windham High protested the division of their school into two separate schools; and nor were the teachers enthusiastic about this major “reform.” But Adamowski was not to be moved by the complaints of those he likes to call “the stakeholders.” The Special Master had his mission to fulfill as a corporate reformer. In further pursuit of school choice, Adamowski bullied the local school board into accepting a student exchange with Parish Hill School in Hampton. A certain number of slots to Parish Hill would be paid for by the town of Windham. The Windham Board of Education initially did not support this proposal, as Windham is hardly in a positon to send town monies to another town! But Adamowski told them in no uncertain terms that he had the authority to carry out this policy, and he was going forward with it no matter what they said. This style of leadership is usually called dictatorship.
Adamowski made significant changes to the High School, mostly with an eye to creating “school choice” and keeping the budget super-lean. But his changes took services away from children to which they were entitled. Adamowski slashed bilingual programs, and he cut special education. He went after programs that did not fit into his dogmatic vision of academies as de facto separate schools. Many teachers and support staff were demoralized by the rule of the Special Master, but living under dictatorship they could hardly voice their disapproval. Because Adamowski was given a free hand by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor to do with Windham as he wished, the Teacher’s union had no choice but to appeal directly to powerful figures in the State legislature. Certain legislators came to understand that Adamowski was being loosed upon Windham by the Malloy administration to test the limits of corporate school reform in Connecticut. Malloy’s people only started to see things from another perspective when it became clear that Adamowski’s shenanigans might prove costly to the Democrats in local elections. Agreements were reached (in political circles) to rein the beast in, but the beast still had some leeway to cause havoc on the end of its leash.
The Special Master threw himself into the Windham Middle School turnaround, where he was definitely not wanted. The turnaround committee had to fight hard to carry out the legal mandate to redesign WMS in a way that it saw fit. Adamowski and Pryor wanted the Committee to do their bidding, which was to take the school in the direction of corporate reform. Once again, the meddling of the Special Master led to some high level wheeling and dealing in political circles. In the end, Malloy’s people did exactly what you might expect: they declared Adamowski’s disastrous rule in Windham a great success, and then they pulled him out, so that he might live to fight another day. Anyone familiar with the details of Adamowski’s tenure knew very well that the Special Master had failed abysmally in Windham. Most of his “reform” policies have had to be discontinued, as people came to see that they would not work. They realize that the budget picture is as bad as ever. The Adamowski dictatorship led to more white flight, more attrition of veteran teachers, and more divisiveness in the town over the schools.
In sum, Steven Adamowski is a prime example of all that is wrong with corporate school reformers. They promise more than they can deliver, because they refuse to look at the real social and economic factors that impinge upon education. Instead, they offer the banal and stupid formulaic “solutions” dreamt up in Educational Leadership Programs and right wing business schools. The myth of the managerial expert is very damaging, because it shifts the education conversation away from important social issues like justice and equality to technocratic concerns like “accountability” and “efficiency.” Adamowski has an underserved reputation for effective reformism. Windham is no better off than before he arrived at Special Master and many who know Hartford will testify that his work there was disastrous. The question has to be asked: why aren’t Steven Adamowski’s failures taken seriously; why is he not held accountable for his poor decisions and terrible policies? The short answer is politics. The long answer is politics. Pity the children whose education has to suffer so that some people can play nefarious political games.
Those who participated and watched Steven Adamowski’s work in Windham know the truth. While people of good will can discuss and debate the wisdom of various efforts to improve public education and reduce the achievement gap in the United States, no one who has experienced Adamowski’s reign would give him yet another opportunity to damage the children who need and deserve so much better.
Steven Adamowski Steven Adamowksi
On Tuesday, the Norwalk Board of Education plans to name the controversial Steve Adamowski as the district’s next superintendent of schools, but Adamowski lacks the state certification necessary to become a superintendent of schools as required by Connecticut law.
Adamowski’s educator certification lapsed in 2007 and he never saw fit to take the necessary steps to renew that certification.
Adamowski’s unwillingness to take the appropriate certification tests and participate in the required professional development training has, to date, prevented him from adding the time he has worked in Connecticut (since 2007) to his teacher retirement pension.
As previously reported here, Governor Malloy engaged in a failed attempted to change Connecticut’s teacher pension law in 2012 to bend the rules to allow Adamowski to add up to seven years of time to his Connecticut teacher pension.
The Malloy administration returned to the issue of Adamowski’s pension in the contract they provided him when he was retained as Windham’s Special Master, a contract that was funneled through the quasi-governmental agency SERC in order to avoid the State’s competitive bidding laws. However, once again, the maneuver failed to get Adamowski extra years for his pension.
Journalist Mark Chapman has been covering the Adamowski developing story in Norwalk for the news site Nancy on Norwalk.
In his most recent article entitled, BoE release of super choice’s name greeted with mixed reaction, Chapman followed up on the Wait, What? observation that Adamowski does not have the certification necessary to be a Connecticut superintendent and that he would need another waiver from Malloy’s Commissioner of Education in order to take the Norwalk job.
“Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons said the allegations are not true. ‘The ‘nonrenewable certification’ that Pelto refers to (which expired on 11/7/07) was replaced by a new certificate issued the day before its expiration (on 11/6/07). That certificate remains in effect. I’ll get a copy of it for you.’
Adamowski responded to a late email and elaborated further:
‘Connecticut laws allows ‘highly qualified’ superintendent candidates to receive a waiver of CT requirements (in my case I exceeded the Supt requirements but my CT elementary teaching certificate from the 1970’s had lapsed). There are requirements for this in the statute – you have to hold certification in another state and have at least 15 years experience as a superintendent. I received the waiver from then-Commissioner Mark McQuillan on 11/7/07.’”
While we wait for the Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons to produce the “new certificate” that Adamowski supposedly received, Adamowski’s own answer is a truer statement of events.
Thanks to an amendment to the educator certification law that passed on the last day of the 2007 Session of Connecticut General Assembly, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education was able to waive Adamowski’s need for certification in November 200 so that he could continue to serve as Hartford’s superintendent of schools.
It was exactly that law that Malloy and Adamowski tried but failed to change in 2012 so that the uncertified Adamowski could go on to collect a pension from the State Teachers Retirement System despite the fact that pensions are only available to those that are certified.
As for the present law concerning the ability of a commissioner of education to waive the certification requirements for someone to become a superintendent of schools, the Malloy administration has sought and received changes two times over the past four years.
The first time was to try and bypass the law so that Paul Vallas could remain in Bridgeport. The second time was to make it generally easier for non-certified individuals to become school superintendents in Connecticut.
The law now reads;
Sec. 10-157 (c) The commissioner may, upon request of an employing local or regional board of education, grant a waiver of certification to a person (1) who has successfully completed at least three years of experience as a certified administrator with a superintendent certificate issued by another state in a public school in another state during the ten-year period prior to the date of application, or (2) who has successfully completed a probationary period as an acting superintendent pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, and who the commissioner deems to be exceptionally qualified for the position of superintendent.
As the law now stands, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education could waive the requirement that Steven Adamowski hold the necessary Connecticut educators certification to become Norwalk’s next commissioner.
However, the commissioner may only take that action if requested by the school board and if the commissioner deems that the individual – in this case – Steven Adamowski is “exceptionally qualified.”
Considering Norwalk’s Board Chair believes Adamowski has some secret certification it seems unlikely the Board has already asked for the waiver.
As to whether Adamowski is “extremely qualified,” there are many in Hartford, Windham and New London who would strongly disagree with that claim.
And Connecticut resident are not the only ones who have raised serious questions about Adamowski.
When the same ProAct Search firm tried to get Adamowski the superintendent’s job in Seattle, the Seattle times looked Adamowski’s background and found;
“[Adamowski] … was viewed as a very authoritative kind of leader.” According to the editor of School Administrator magazine 9/23/2003
“[Adamowski] was great at proposing reform, but he didn’t want to be questioned,” said Cincinnati School Board member Harriet Russell.
“Adamowski’s style ‘was my way or no way’ and ‘He is not a person who leads by building consensus among all stakeholders,'” according to the local teacher union leader.
Five months after he left, the district [Cincinnati] went back on “academic emergency” status.
Adamowski also faced serious criticism for his strong support for charter schools. In an October 2011 editorial the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote;
“In 2000, the East End Community Heritage School, a charter school, opened with 186 students and a promise to better educate children with Appalachian roots and keep them in school to graduation.
In fact, its contract said 85 percent of students would pass Ohio proficiency tests within three years, a rate to rival top suburban schools.
Steve Adamowski, then superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, the school’s original sponsor, promised skeptics it would earn an acceptable state ranking within three years or give families a 180-day notice and close.
Three years later, it was in Academic Emergency. Its achievement was so low by 2006 that CPS dropped out as sponsor.”