Education Reform, Ethics, Malloy, Michelle Rhee, Newtown, Standardized Testing, StudentsFirst, Teach for America, Teacher Evaluations, Teacher Tenure, Unions Education Reform, Malloy, Newtown
Teach for America (TFA) provides some outstanding young people with a unique, short-term opportunity to teach in some of America’s poorest schools. Some of these dedicated individuals even use that opportunity as an alternative route to a longer-term career in the teaching profession.
But the founders and leaders of TFA have a very different agenda. First and foremost, they make a lot of money. TFA’s founder and CEO pulls in just under $400,000 in salary and benefits. Over a dozen of the top TFA executives make more than a quarter of a million dollars each.
In addition to making huge amount of money, TFA is about advocating and lobbying for “education reforms” that include a variety of anti-teacher positions including the excessive use of standardized testing, the expansion of charter schools and efforts to end tenure and seniority.
But most notably, like so many of the corporate education reformers, the top leaders and supporters of TFA are is viciously anti-union.
Take for their reaction to a recent blog post by Diane Ravitch.
Ravitch’ s post was a tribute to the teachers and staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, with special attention to heroic teachers and staff who died protecting the children.
After highlighting each hero, Ravitch noted that;
“Oh, and one other thing, all these dedicated teachers belonged to a union. The senior teachers had tenure, despite the fact that “reformers” (led by ConnCAN, StudentsFirst, and hedge fund managers) did their best last spring to diminish their tenure and to tie their evaluations to test scores. Governor Malloy said, memorably, to his shame, that teachers get tenure just for showing up. No one at Sandy Hook was just “showing up.”
Governor Dannel Malloy has led the effort in his state to expand charter schools and high-stakes testing. He appointed a state commissioner of education who co-founded a charter chain. He said, memorably, that he didn’t care how much test prep there was so long as scores go up. Sandy Hook is not that kind of school.
Let us hope Governor Malloy learned something these past few days about the role of public schools in their communities.
Newtown does not need a charter school. What it needs now is healing. Not competition, not division, but a community coming together to help one another. Together. Not competing.”
Diane’s observation was 100 percent accurate. It was not only a perfectly appropriate thing to say, but others have said the same thing. Certainly Wait What? readers have read very similar sentiments here, albeit put less eloquently.
But what is so interesting is that over the last 48 hours, dozens of veteran education reformers and TFA advocates have been on the war-path, purposely misleading people about the post, while condemning Dr. Ravitch and through her the rest of us who have been speaking out and paying tribute to the extraordinary teachers of Newtown Elementary School.
David Rosenberg, of Teach for America tweeted, “The latest post by @DianeRavitch on #Newtown is truly reprehensible. She should retract it”
And “education reform” champion, RiShawn Biddle, who has listed himself as a consultant to at least one education reform group here in Connecticut, wrote, “Over the past few years, Dropout Nation has had plenty to say about once-respectable education historian Diane Ravitch… she discredits herself with every tweet and blog post, there has been more than enough evidence to show that the Camille Paglia wannabe doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously by anyone. So it isn’t shocking that Ravitch debases herself further with a piece on her eponymous site on last week’s massacre of 26 teachers and children in Newtown, Conn., that shows her to be the kind of intellectual opportunist that would take advantage of tragedy to score points.
“Ravitch decided to spend much of the piece defending traditionalist thinking, as well as arguing against Nutmeg State Gov. Dan Malloy’s school reform efforts (including the expansion of charter schools, Ravitch’ s bogeyman of late).”
“As your editor, I’m not even going to dissect her arguments or her insinuations because it is not the right time for all that at all. Nor am I going to do some pearl-clutching, or call for Ravitch to be banished to some imaginary hinterland. I’m not even happy to be commenting on this piece at all. What I will say is that Ravitch is engaging in pure intellectual demagoguery in obituary form. This is absolutely, positively inappropriate to do. Not even Fleet Street writers, whose tradition of skewering the deceased in obituaries is legendary (and often admirable in a way), would defend this. Certainly Ravitch could have found a more-appropriate topic through which she could argue for her positions. She could have even devoted her piece to discussing how the Newtown massacre is an opportunity for all of us to build caring cultures for our children. Yet Ravitch has proven incapable of such decency or logical thinking. And this fact speaks loudly about Ravitch’s capacity for thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and decency.”
So let’s get this right. Diane Ravitch correctly points out that these teachers were career professionals that all belonged to a union, some of them had tenure, while others were working toward tenure…AND THAT ALL OF THEM were negatively impacted by legislation proposed by Governor Malloy. In return she is described as someone who is incapable of decency or logical thinking.
Diane Ravitch’s comments were absolutely and totally correct. These teachers were career professionals, they did belong to a union, some did have tenure and some were working toward tenure AND ALL OF THEM WERE negatively impacted by Governor Malloy’s “education reform” plan.
You can defend Malloy’s plan if you want, but you can’t say Connecticut’s new “education reform” bill didn’t impact these heroes and all the other teachers and school professionals in Connecticut!
Mr. Biddle, it is you who should take a look in the mirror. Then you’ll see what someone unable to engage in telling the truth or logical thinking looks like. Your politics of hate is not welcome in Connecticut. It wasn’t welcome when you supported Governor Malloy’s anti-teacher, anti-union proposal last spring and it certainly isn’t welcome here as we grapple with the unimaginable horror of December 14, 2012.
Yes, there are people trying to capitalize on the tragedy, but it certainly isn’t those of us who are providing our readers with the truth. It is the people like the TFA leadership and this Mr. Biddle who are the ones who should be ashamed of themselves.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Corporate Viewpoint, Education Reform, Educators 4 Excellence, Malloy, Michelle Rhee, Stefan Pryor, StudentsFirst, Teach for America, Teacher Evaluations, Teacher Tenure Education Reform, Educators 4 Excellence, Malloy
It started with Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company co-founded by Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
Then came the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), the Connecticut Coalition for Advocacy Now, (ConnAD), Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst (calling itself the Great New England Public School Alliance, GNEPSA) and Students for Education Reform (SFER, an off-shoot of 50-CAN, which, in turn, grew out of ConnCAN)
When Governor Malloy proposed his “education reform” legislation earlier this year, these groups, funded by millionaire and billionaire hedge fund owners, along with the Gates, Walton and Broad Foundations, engaged in the most costly lobbying, advertising and public relations effort in Connecticut history.
Since then, many of the same organizations funded Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s record spending effort to eliminate Bridgeport’s elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the mayor.
Now, with the next session of the Connecticut General Assembly only a few weeks away, comes that news that a group called “Educators 4 Excellence” is opening operations here, as the corporate reformers seek to continue their efforts to privatize and undermine Connecticut’s public education system.
Educators 4 Excellence is a two year-old organization, funded by the Gates Foundation (among others) and set up by the corporate education reform trifecta of Education Reform Now (ERN), Education Reform Now Advocacy (ERNA) and Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).
Most recently, these groups were among the primary funders behind the multi-million-dollar, anti-teacher, anti-union television advertising campaign that ran during this year’s Chicago teacher’s strike.
This week Educators 4 Excellence announced that it is hiring a “Founding Executive Director” for a new Connecticut chapter.
Educators 4 Excellence is headed by two former Teach for America (TFA) recruits. Their stated goal is to create, “an elevated, prestigious teaching profession in which educators are leaders both in and outside of their classrooms to drive positive outcomes for students.”
In order to achieve that goal, Educators 4 Excellence campaigns to end seniority, institute merit pay and replace tenure with what the group calls “earned tenure,” in which teachers who are able to push up standardized test scores are provided with greater job security and financial bonuses.
Based in New York City, Educators 4 Excellence has already created chapters in Los Angeles and Minnesota, with Connecticut being their next target.
According to their advertisement, “Reporting directly to the Co-Founders/Co-Chief Executive Officers and serving as a member of E4E’s senior leadership team, the Founding Executive Director, Connecticut will help launch Educators 4 Excellence-Connecticut (E4E-CT). The Founding Executive Director will have strategic and operational responsibility for E4E-CT staff, programs, growth, and execution of its mission to elevate the voices of teachers in Connecticut state and local education policy.”
The organization has been growing quickly, if not in members, at least in resources. Thanks to unnamed donors, the Educators 4 Excellence budget skyrocketed from $339,000 in 2010 to $1.9 million in 2011.
Or, as Educators 4 Excellence put it, “In just one year, we have grown into a national movement of teachers leading the charge to change our education system.”
Last year the group primarily focused on supporting Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to destroy tenure in the New York City Schools, writing, “We applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to make tenure decisions more meaningful.” This year, the group has also been one of the most vocal supporters of New York’s new, ill-fated teacher evaluation system.
Wait, What? readers may remember that here in Connecticut, the corporate education reformers ran television ads blasting the teacher unions and suggesting that legislators were modifying Malloy’s proposals in order to sell out to the unions.
Perhaps it is only an uncanny coincidence, but during the recent battle in New York, the Educators 4 Excellence partners, Education Reform Now and Democrats for Education Reform ran television ads that included one parent saying, “Albany’s listening much too much to the teachers union,” and a second parent, looking to the camera and saying, “Stop listening to the teachers union.”
In Connecticut, some of the most offensive, anti-teacher ads that were run in support of Malloy’s education reform bill were paid for by ConnCAN’s sister organization, ConnAD. Those ads were produced by a company called SKD Knickerbocker.
In the small world department, SKD Knickerbocker is the very same company doing the anti-teacher ads, but in this case they were paid for by Educators 4 Excellence’s allies, Education Reform Now and Democrats for Education Reform.
The connections don’t stop there, but we’ll cover the next piece in a future blog post…
Education Reform, Hartford, Teacher Tenure, Teachers Hartford, Superintendent Evaluations, The Hartford Courant
Last week, Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, sent a letter to the Hartford Board of Education (her employer) saying,
“I will not engage in political debate with board members…My duty, my sole concern, is for the academic and career success of our Hartford school children and youth.”
Meanwhile, rather than take calls from the media, she directed that all calls about the situation be referred to her attorney.
Although the immediate debate was about whether Kishimoto was communicating sufficiently with the Hartford Board of Education, the real impetus behind the superintendent’s bizarre and incredible letter was the performance evaluation that the Board of Education’s recently concluded.
Last year, the Board of Education and the Superintendent agree to an evaluation process that was based on a variety of indicators and measures.
Of the 10 student achievement targets that Superintendent Kishimoto was to be evaluated on, she “failed to meet most of them.”
On other key measures, the Superintendent was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being unacceptable and 5 noting outstanding performance.
Her score for educational leadership was a rather dismal 3.0. When it came to engaging stakeholders, such as parents, teachers, community members, she scored a 2.4, and, as for the school board-superintendent relationship, Kishimoto got a failing 1.6 rating.
Considering the Hartford Courant has championed Governor Malloy’s effort to use “teacher evaluations” as the best vehicle to determine which teachers to keep and which to let go, one would have reasonably expected that any Courant editorial would take the Superintendent to task for her failing evaluation.
Instead the Courant called on the Hartford School Board and the Superintendent to, “mend” their relationship, and the Courant editorial went on to say, “Ms. Kishimoto knows reform. She’s top-notch at it, as her supporters point out.”
Failure to meet agreed upon achievement targets, low scores on educational leadership and engaging stakeholders, and utter failure to maintain a good relationship with her employer, and the Courant suggests her “top-notch” understanding of reform means she should keep her job?
How much clearer could it be?
Education reformers talk a good game, but refuse to walk the walk.
They demonize teachers and teacher tenure and suggest that teacher evaluation is the single greatest step we can take to turnaround the American education system. Then they turn the other cheek when one of their own falls flat on the most basic measures of performance and achievement.
And to top it off, Hartford has a superintendent of schools, a public servant, who is pulling down six figures, who has the audacity to say to the Board of Education, “I will not engage in political debate with board members…”?
Perhaps the Superintendent missed the college class when students were taught that political debate is the discussion of policy options and, in this case, the role of the Board of Education to make appropriate policy decisions as the formal legislative body of Hartford’s school system.
We’re not talking about name calling or character assassination; we are talking about the most fundamental role of the superintendent – board of education relationship.
Her claim that she is somehow above engaging in “political debate” suggests that she doesn’t know the meaning of the term, doesn’t understand the role of the Board of Education or apparently feels that the obligation of democratic governmental systems simply don’t apply to her.
Between her inappropriate letter and her scores on her recent evaluation, she certainly appears unable to successfully perform her job.
If those who believe that “evaluation” is the measure of who should stay and who should be let go, then Hartford‘s Superintendent of Schools should be packing up her office and looking for another job.
For more background see the Courant article and editorial – http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-kishimoto-eval-0928-20120927,0,4935745.story and http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-superintendent-turmoil-in-hartford-schools-20120927,0,5491532.story
Charter Schools, Education Reform, Michelle Rhee, Paul Vallas, Special Education, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America, Teacher Tenure Education Re
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram newspaper leads with the headline, “Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine.” The reporting is a stunning tribute to what reporters can do when they look past the spin and the fancy press releases and really start digging.
It is also another shocking example about how public education is falling to the education reform industry.
Change the location from Maine to Connecticut and the term “virtual schools” to “education reform” and readers will recognize the patterns.
They are just as prevalent here in Connecticut.
In Maine it is being perpetrated by a tea-bag governor and his ultra-right hacks, and the lack of finesse and sophistication shows. Here, in Connecticut, it is being designed and implemented by Democrats, so it appears more sophisticated and legitimate. However, many of the goals and outcomes are exactly the same.
Read the article from the Maine Sunday Telegram. Book mark it. Hold on to it. We’ve seen some of it already here in Connecticut; we’ll see more of it, if Connecticut legislators don’t stand up and put a stop to it.
The Maine Sunday Telegram’s core findings are eerily familiar.
Education Reform: Guided by people and organizations, many of whom stand to profit from the changes.
Out of State Connections: Individuals within government, our schools and education reform groups that are part of a broader coalition of people seeking to undermine public education.
Follow the Money: The flow of lobbying dollars from out of state, leading to the flow of taxpayer funds from Connecticut and our schools districts to education companies…and then back to some of the very people who are making the decisions to privatize our education system.
Behind the Scene Deals: Every Freedom of Information request, here in Connecticut, like those in Maine, reveal more and more behind the scene meetings and efforts to push education reform forward with as little public input as possible.
And to top it all off, all the money going toward systems that fail: The Education Reform advocates claim success after success, but the most basic research reveals that their claims are nothing more than lies.
Charter schools who cream off the best students, refusing to take their share of the poor, those with language barriers or students who need special education services. Or bait and switch techniques, such as those used in Hartford, to make it appear test scores and graduation rates were up.
Feeding on the fears and desires of parents and communities to improve their education system, many of these “education reformers” are little more than white-collar crooks, stealing and wasting scarce public resources.
For the Maine Sunday Telegram Story See: http://www.pressherald.com/news/virtual-schools-in-maine_2012-09-02.html. More here: http://media.kjonline.com/images/virtualschoolsfull.jpg
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Teacher Tenure Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Teacher Tenure
No matter how much the downsizing and corporatization of the Hartford Courant undermines the image it once had, I will never stop believing that it the Courant is OUR newspaper and, as such, has earned the right to continue to be known as Connecticut’s “paper of record.”
That’s why I find it so painful, frustrating and sad when they write editorials that lack an underpinning of facts. I understand the desire to pander to the powers that be; sitting governors and corporate leaders, but when the Hartford Courant simply re-prints their propaganda without addressing the most basic truths it further undermines the paper’s credibility and reputation.
Yesterday, our Hartford Courant’s editorial demanded that above all else, the “Governor should insist on tying evaluations to consequences.” [http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-malloy-should-hold-the-line-on-school-reform-20120418,0,2203043.story]
The Courant writes that “Mr. Malloy first proposed to tie a new system for evaluating teachers to certification. That lit a firestorm of teacher union resentment and opposition. But evaluations have to have consequences in a teacher’s world, as they do in just about everybody’s workplace. Evaluations have to be tied to something, whether certification or the granting of tenure or pay.
Although I can hardly speak for teachers or their unions, I feel very comfortable speaking to what I have learned as I’ve monitored the impact of public policies on public education for nearly four decades or so. To my knowledge, no reasonable person opposes the concept of evaluations being used as the tool to keep good teachers, identify those teachers who need extra help and get rid of those who are not up to the challenges of successfully leading a classroom.
To suggest that Dan Malloy is the only one who believes that proper evaluation must be part of the teacher selection, retention and dismissal process is to simplify the argument to the point that the Courant squanders its opportunity to be a constructive addition to the debate.
To my knowledge the question is not one that is necessarily related to tenure or even certification. A teacher who has a problem in an inner city classroom where students are speaking five different languages may not have that same problem in a homogeneous, suburban classroom just as the opposite could be true as well.
Let us all be honest. The issue is not that the only way to proceed is to tie evaluation to tenure or certification, but to use it as part of a reasonable, efficient and effective system to get teachers additional training or remove them from that classroom setting.
And so, with that truth, the question is not whether there should be extensive evaluation procedures but what should be part of that evaluation process.
As the Courant knows, Dan Malloy and the “education reformers” have put an inordinate weight on the role of standardized testing (i.e. his comment that he supports teaching to the test so the test scores go up).
Now, the Courant is very familiar with the issue of CMT test scores because it regularly applauded Steven Adamowski, the former Hartford Superintendent of Schools, for his success in improving test scores.
It was only after the fact that we learned that the controversial administrator was able to improve CMT scores by moving, at least in part, significant numbers of low performing children from the CMTs to an alternative MAS test.
I recently found a PowerPoint presentation that Mr. Adamowski used at various national conferences in which he took credit for the “spectacular” increase in mastery test scores in Hartford, Connecticut.
One chart informed the audience that Hartford was able to increase the percentage of 3rd graders who achieved “goal” in Reading by 4.2 percent in just one year. However, nowhere did he explain that the number of third graders taking the CMT Reading test dropped by 5.9 percent because he moved the low performing students from the CMT to the MAS.
In fourth Grade Mathematics, Adamowski bragged that the percentage of students who achieved goal grew by 3.9 percent but failed to mention that 5.9 percent of low performing fourth graders stopped taking the CMT test in Mathematics.
And the list went on and on.
Ironic to note that in two different studies there was an extraordinary statistical correlation between the percentage of low scoring students that were moved out of the CMT and the proportional increase in CMT scores,. In fact, if the ratio of a one percent drop in participation led to a .6 percent increase in the number of T students who reached scores it is possible that the entire change in Hartford, or at least, the vast majority of change, was due exclusively to the bait and switch technique of moving low performing students out of the CMTs.
If this is what occurred, should Adamowski get a bonus for figuring out how to “beat the system” or do the individual teachers get bonuses and get to keep their jobs because they suddenly had “extraordinary” success in improving test scores?
Meanwhile, we know that one of the single biggest factors in influencing CMT scores are language barriers.
As the Courant knows, 40 percent of Hartford students go home to households that do not use English as their primary language. However, equally true is that these third and fourth grade non-English speaking or non-English proficient students being taught science and math in English and then tested in English – despite a significant number who don’t speak English are very unlikely to be getting help with their English language homework in science and mathematics when they live in homes that don’t use English.
The result of this “designed to fail” to fail approach is that English speaking 5th grade students who take the Science CMT score at goal at 62.1% compared to 9.5% or of the non-English speaking students scoring at goal on the 5th grade Science CMT.
Imagine being taught science and math in a language you don’t know and then being tested in science in math in a language you don’t understand.
Now, we know that there are hundreds of millions of Spanish speaking people around the world are proficient in science and math, so we can be pretty damn sure that problem is not genetic but the way in which we are infusing language barriers into the teaching of science and math.
When the education reformers talk about using evaluations in the process of determining which teachers stay or go, they always talk about using CMT test scores to measure as a measure of effectiveness. To date, some of the reformers in Connecticut want standardized test scores to account for 28 percent of the teacher’s evaluation, while others want test scores to account for about 40 percent of the evaluation.
If there is a newspaper editorial board in the entire country that should recognize the complexity of this issue is well documented, it is the Hartford Courant. This is one of the places where the issue is well documented and the most profound.
The fact is, Connecticut’s great newspaper does a tremendous disservice to its readers, our state and the quality of the “Education Reform” debate when it says something as naïve as the “Governor should insist on tying evaluations to consequences.”
Despite the claims of the “reformers”, no one is suggesting that we stick with the status quo. However, the Courant editorial board should be especially sensitive to the fact that there are people out there who have figured out how to game the system, while there are significant challenges facing those who are trying to teach math and science – in English – to non-English speaking students who must then turn around and take standardized tests on those subjects in a language in which they are not proficient.
Do you really believe that is the best way to evaluate teachers?
Or do you think there should be a comprehensive evaluation system used to get help for those teachers who can benefit from additional instruction while moving out those who can’t get the job done?
When the Courant resorts to the simplest of rhetoric we all suffer.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Teacher Tenure Achievement First, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
Some readers may remember my earlier columns about the inter-connections between the various “Education Reform” leaders, organizations and the billionaires and millionaires that are funneling money into their efforts.
You may recall when Governor Malloy traveled to New York City to speak at some group’s annual meeting about economic development (although it was really a gala honoring charter school champion Jonathan Sackler). Malloy’s office responded that they had no idea it was a gala and that the Governor most definitely did speak about economic reform and most definitely did not stay to introduce the guest of honor (even though the organization’s newsletter announced that he was being invited for that very purpose).
Coming to Malloy defense was the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green who used the opportunity to mock me and the underlying issue that I was raising and went on to claim that it was absurd to suggest that Governor Malloy, charter school proponents and their wealthy investors were part of some vast conspiracy to push Malloy’s “Education Reform” legislation.
At the time I observed that while that particular terminology was his, not mine, it was rather clear to anyone monitoring the situation that the organizations that are pushing Malloy’s anti-teacher plan and the people funding that effort were – as the saying goes – “closely related entities.”
With the Education Committee voting on Malloy’s bill tomorrow or Wednesday it seem like a good time to go back and reiterate that point.
||ConnCAN: CT Coalition for Achievement Now
||CT Coalition for Advocacy Now
||Students for Educational Reform
||Teach for America CT
|Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan
||Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan
||Lobbyists moved to ConnCAN’s budget
*please not I removed the reference to Nate Snow having worked for ConnCAN. Although it appears he provided many “tweets” for ConnCAN he was not an employee – my apologies.
|Connecticut Council for Education Reform
|New Education Reform Business group
|Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan
||Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan
* Stefan Pryor and Dacia Toll led the effort to create the Amistad Academy and then created Achievement First as a vehicle for opening charter schools in Connecticut and New York. Achievement First presently runs 20 schools but their goal is to grow to 35 schools in the coming years so that they can be larger than “95 percent” of school districts in the United States. Stefan Pryor is now Malloy’s Commissioner of Education while Dacia Toll is now President and CEO of Achievement First
A Brief History of Connecticut’s Charter School and Education Reform Lobbying Effort.
- Achievement First Inc. created in 2003 with Pryor, Toll and corporate executives Jonathan Sackler and Alex Troy.
- Jonathan Sackler, Alex Troy and Brian Olson, another Fairfield County corporate executive, formed the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc. (ConnCAN) in 2004. Jonathan Sackler served as Chairman and Alex Troy served as President of the Board.
- Jonathan Sackler and Alex Troy then formed the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc.(ConnCAA) with Jonathan Sackler as Chairman and Alex Troy as Secretary. The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc. retained the services of Gaffney, Bennett, one of the state’s premier government relations and lobby firms, and over the next 6 years paid them over $540,000 to lobby Connecticut’s elected officials.
- Jonathan Sacker formed 50CAN Inc. in order to develop Coalition for Achievement Now chapters in other states. Jonathan Sackler serves as a Director of 50CAN and Marc Magee, who previously served as ConnCAN’s chief operating officer for six years, is the President of 50CAN. There are now CAN chapters in Rhode Island, Minnesota, New York and Maryland and they have announced that they will have 12 state campaigns by 2013 and at least 25 chapters by 2015. RI-CAN, 50CAN’s Rhode Island affiliate, implemented the recent public relations and lobbying effort to get approval for Achievement First to open schools in Providence, Rhode Island.
- Today, Jonathan Sackler remains on Achievement First’s Board and 50CAN’s Board, Alex Troy serves as the Chairman of Achievement First’s Amistad Academy and the Elm City College Preparatory School, Andrew Boas, who served on Achievement First’s Board, now serves as Chairman of Achievement First – Bridgeport and also serves on ConnCAN’s Board. Brian Olson remains chairman of ConnCAN’s Board.
- Students for Education Reform is a new coalition put together to support “Education Reform” efforts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York and expanding to other states in the coming years. The Chair of the group is from KIPP. The KIPP foundation runs 109 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 33,000 students.
- In addition to recruiting and training teachers for charter and urban school districts, Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter has been working behind the scenes on Malloy’s plan and in support of the state’s efforts to take over the Bridgeport and Windham school systems.
- Finally, calling themselves the “Connecticut Council for Education Reform” top executives from New Alliance Bank, The Hartford Insurance Company, UBS Private Wealth Office, Yale New Haven Hospital System, Webster Bank, The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, Nestle Waters North America, First Niagara Financial Group, Yale University, the Travelers Companies, Inc., the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, United Illuminating Holdings Corporation and GE Asset Management have joined together to hire staff and lobbyists to push Malloy’s “Education Reform” plan.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Teacher Tenure Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Teacher Tenure
“Okay, no more questions? Good…let’s vote”
In the coming days we’ll hear Governor Malloy ramp up his rhetoric about the need to vote and vote quickly on his “Education Reform” bill.
Malloy’s exclusive focus on trying to make people believe that Senate Bill 24 is only about modifying teacher tenure and the evaluation system for teachers seems to be working.
His biggest concern has got to be that legislators, the media and the public will actually read the 163 page bill.
While it is true that the bill includes significant changes to Connecticut’s teacher tenure and evaluation laws, there are still many people – including many legislators – who apparently don’t know or don’t understand the ramifications of some of the other incredible policy changes that have been packed deep into Malloy’s bill.
Here is a quick refresher on the ones we’ve discussed to date:
Section 7: Money for Charter Schools at the Expense of Urban Schools:
Malloy’s proposal is to give Connecticut’s charter schools an increase of $2,600 per student, $1,000 of which will be funds that are presently going to Connecticut’s lowest performing, poorest and predominantly most minority school districts.
The result will be that funding for the average charter school student will go up by $2,600 while the funding for the students in the 30 poorest school districts will only go up by $150 per student.
The biggest winner of all will be Achievement First Inc., the large charter school management company that Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor helped create and manage for the past 8 years before he resigned to become Malloy’s point person on education reform.
Achievement First, a company that educates less than 3,000 students receive more NEW money than the entire Hartford School System, New Haven School System or Bridgeport School System.
Section 8: Start Up Grants for Charter Schools/Limiting Collective Bargaining:
Meanwhile, as many school districts continue to lay-off teachers and cut vital programs, Section 8 of Malloy’s bill provides a NEW grant program for NEW charter schools. Malloy’s bill provides these new charter schools with a $500,000 start-up grant, $3,000 per student grants and, for the first time in Connecticut, language limiting collective bargaining rights for teachers in these new charters.
Section 11: Penalize Small Districts:
Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill will penalize and take education funding away from school districts that have less than 1,000 students.
While small, neighborhood elementary schools are not only allowed but encouraged for urban and suburban districts, Malloy’s bill will force small towns to regionalize their elementary schools or face losing their state education funding.
Section 18: Commissioner’s Network – taking over 25 low performing schools – while attempting to reverse the Bridgeport Supreme Court Decision:
One of the most amazing sections of the entire bill is Section 18 which gives the gives the Commissioner of Education the authority to unilaterally take over up to 25 Connecticut schools.
He can manage these schools himself or delegate the control of the schools to some 3rd party, including a private entity.
The “Commissioner’s Network” schools would be exempt from Connecticut laws concerning the use of consultants, competitive bidding and purchasing. All teachers in these schools would be laid off and although they can re-apply for their jobs, Connecticut’s collective bargaining laws WILL NOT apply in “Commissioner’s Network” schools.
And as if the language on the “Commissioner’s Network” schools was not shocking enough, Section 18 also includes the language attempting to legalize the state of Connecticut’s illegal attempt to take over the Bridgeport School System. The bill’s language says that if the state did do something illegal, that action is no longer illegal.
At the same time, the bill quietly removes the requirement that the state must help train and support local school boards before it can unilaterally un-elect elected officials. With that nuisance out-of-the-way, it will be easier for Malloy’s Department of Education to simply disband local boards of education in towns that they want to take over. More
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Malloy, Teacher Tenure Achievement First, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Malloy, Teacher Tenure
ConnCAN CEO Patrick Riccards (Photo courtesy of New Haven Independent)
The ConnCAN approach – Don’t let the truth get in your way…
Last week, ConnCAN, the pro-charter school and “education reform” advocacy group was trumpeting the results of a survey that they had conducted of Connecticut teachers.
The problem is that ConnCAN’s report on their own survey is nothing short of a lie – and yet these are the people who are saying that Connecticut’s legislators should vote for the “education reforms” that they are proposing.
The anti-tenure reformers claimed that their survey proved that (1) “More than four out of five Connecticut public school educators say schools and districts ought to be able to dismiss teachers and administrators with a documented history of poor performance.” And (2) “Nearly 60 percent say educators should be promoted and receive tenure based on their success with increasing student achievement growth.”
After reading their press release and related PR about their survey an observer would be left to believe that Connecticut educators support the positions being put forward by ConnCAN and Governor Malloy.
But not surprisingly, in this day and age of being loose with the facts and misrepresenting the results to get the headline, their own data doesn’t back up the claims they are making.
In fact there isn’t even a question that would allow ConnCAN to intellectually claim that “nearly 60 percent say educators should be promoted and receive tenure based on their success with increasing student achievement growth.”
How ConnCAN makes that claim reveals much about their level of honesty.
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Governor headed to the Connecticut Science Center to speak about “education reform” at an event hosted by corporate leaders.
Calling themselves the “Connecticut Council for Education Reform “ top executives from New Alliance Bank, The Hartford Insurance Company, UBS Private Wealth Office, Yale New Haven Hospital System, Webster Bank, The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, Nestle Waters North America, First Niagara Financial Group, Yale University, the Travelers Companies, Inc., The Connecticut Business & Industry Association, United Illuminating Holdings Corporation and GE Asset Management are pushing to take center stage in this year’s education reform debate.
The corporate CEOs and Presidents have set up a website, retained lobbyists and hired a staff including their new Executive Direct, Rae Ann Knopf, who served as Vermont’s Deputy Secretary of Education from 2006 until she left to take the position the Connecticut Council for Education Reform.
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Governors engage in a fair number of strange and suspicious political maneuvers – but this one is a first.
Photo courtesy of the Yale Club
Call it the “Golden Rule” when it comes to Elected Officials and their relationship with the media;
All major elected official release their “Public Schedule.” It is often sent out to reporters the day before so that the media can plan their day and determine which events they want to attend.
Traditionally only a small fraction of an official’s events show up on that “Public Schedule” because it usually is limited to events in which the press can go and see the official “in action.” In addition there is usually an informal “press availability” before or after the event.