Ben Barnes (OPM Secretary), Bridgeport, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, State Budget Ben Barnes, Bridgeport, ECS Formula, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas
Connecticut’s taxpayers cover more than 80 percent of the costs associated with running Bridgeport’s Schools.
For more than twenty-five years, Connecticut’s primary funding mechanism has been called the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula. Underfunded by about $2 billion dollars, the money is distributed to towns based on a variety of factors including the number of students living in poverty and the town’s ability to come up with their own funds via their local property taxes.
Every town gets some state aid; the poorest towns get the most.
There are three criteria that towns must meet to get their state aid;
First, the entire amount of the ECS state-grant MUST be spent on education
Second, any increase in the ECS grant CAN NOT be used to supplant local funding for education.
Third, the town must invest a minimum amount of its own money, a system that is called the ECS Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR).
As the CT Post is reporting, “Mayor Bill Finch’s administration is negotiating feverishly in Hartford to shrink a state-mandated $3.3 million spike in education spending that the mayor inexplicably left out of his proposed budget.”
The story goes on to read, “Since Finch did not include the money in his 2013-14 fiscal plan, Bridgeport officials are now trying to convince the state they should not be on the hook for the $3.3 million because of all the unreimbursed “in-kind” school expenses the city covers.”
Connecticut’s entire school funding system is based on the notion of shared expenses. Bridgeport is at the very top of the list of towns that benefit from the state system.
Although the ECS fails to allocate sufficient funds to cover what the state should be paying, rather than pay their share, Bridgeport officials claim that they should be allowed to duck their responsibility to pay their required share.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Bridgeport appears to have any ally in Ben Barnes, Malloy’s Secretary of the state Office of Policy and Management.
Barnes worked for Malloy when Malloy was the Mayor of Stamford. When Malloy left the Mayor’s office in Stamford to run for governor, Barnes landed in an administrative position in Bridgeport. Soon after, he transferred over to become the chief financial officer for Bridgeport schools.
Barnes knows very well that Bridgeport’s schools are underfunded and he knows the requirements of the local Minimum Budget Requirement law.
However, instead of demanding the Bridgeport, like every other Connecticut city, meet its MBR Requirement, Barnes is quoted in the CT Post article as saying, “If a city takes over some $1 million activity for the (school) board, they get a credit, or vice versa…So we’ve agreed to look for some additional information from them. (And) we’ll provide them with some additional clarification of how we’re interpreting the statute.”
But Barnes knows that history and intent of the law and there was never the notion that a city’s “in-kind” support for its schools was meant to take the place of the city’s fundamental requirement to meet its Minimum Budget Requirement.
Last month, the school budget proposed by the Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools,” counted on the additional $3.3 million the law requires Bridgeport to spend.
Now Vallas is changing his tune. According to the CT Post article, at a recent Bridgeport Board of Alderman meeting, Vallas said, “Do we need $3.3 million more? Yeah…Can we live without it? If we have to, we will find a way to do that.”
So here is the person heading up Bridgeport’s schools backing off his own budget proposal and the need for the state and the city to properly fund Bridgeport’s schools.
Meanwhile, the CT Post reports that, “Finch and his office have refused to discuss the matter publicly, instead issuing the same terse statements that the administration is focused on a resolution.”
This isn’t the first time the Bridgeport has attempted to duck their local funding requirement. A major Connecticut State Department of Education Audit in 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 raised extremely serious problems with Bridgeport’s unwillingness to fulfill its legal obligations when it comes to properly funding education.
Here we are, almost ten years later…
And we are left with the realization that the more things change, the more the stay the same.
Once again, Bridgeport officials want us to believe that Connecticut’s education funding laws applies to everyone but them.
For the full CT Post article go to: http://m.ctpost.com/connpost/db_43463/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=hcRAd05N&full=true#display
Bridgeport, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Special Education Bridgeport, Easy IEP, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Special Education
It was one of the first non-bid contracts that Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas pushed through. Using a half-baked “sole-source” rationale, Vallas hired a company that he had worked with in Chicago and Philadelphia without using any bidding process.
The contract promised Bridgeport a state-of-the-art special education software program “for free,” as long as the Public Consulting Group was given a lucrative Medicaid reimbursement contract.
The new software was scheduled to come on-line July 1, 2012.
Soon, free became $100,000 plus with more “option costs” to come.
July 1, 2012 came and went…with no Easy IEP software
Then August, September, October, November, December 2012 and still no software.
January, February and March 2013 came and went without a working version of the Easy IEP special education software.
Finally, Easy IEP was scheduled to go live on April 1, 2013 with a complete shift by the end of April.
Here we are in May 2013 and multiple Bridgeport teachers and professional staff have reported that the “state-of-the-art” software is such a mess that special education teachers are relegated to hand-writing their IEPs and producing reports in the same way they were doing it 40 years ago.
This is the most important part of the year for updating IEPs and meeting state and federal mandates for special education reporting.
Instead of the promised comprehensive system, teachers and staff are reporting chaos.
Not only are students in need of special education services being short-changed but the cost to Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayers could be astronomical.
Just take a look at the news out of New York City when the software system implemented by the Bloomberg Administration fell apart;
“NEWS: Overtime bill for staff using special ed system totals $38.5M
The city doled out $38.5 million in back pay to schools staff who were wrongly required to work overtime on a buggy special education data system, according to payment details released today by the education department.
Nearly 30,000 therapists, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists received the overtime payments this month after an independent arbitrator ruled in January that the Department of Education violated the United Federation of Teachers’ contract. The first round of payments, on April 12, totaled $2.6 million for 1,700 occupational and physical therapists and the second and final payment — $35.9 million — went out to the rest of employees today.
The total number of educators who qualified for overtime far exceeded UFT’s estimates, which hovered at around 10,000. The UFT filed the labor complaint in mid-2011, charging that staff should not have been required to work outside of their contractual school day.
The unintentional overtime centered on time that educators spent plugging data into the Special Education Student Information System. According to teachers and union staff, the program does not have basic functions that are routinely found in other computer programs, such as an ‘auto save’ feature.
In a statement today, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said that SESIS continues to be unnecessarily time-consuming for teachers and a wasteful example of the city’s pricey technology contracts.
“Thousands of hours that teachers could have spent helping kids were wasted trying to get this boondoggle of a computer system to work,” Mulgrew said. “But just as CityTime cost the city millions of dollars year after year, until SESIS is fixed or scrapped it will continue to be a money pit.”
Department of Education officials defended SESIS, which tracks student attendance and keeps a record of services that special education students receive.
“Keeping accurate and complete records on services provided to special needs students is necessary to ensure that we are providing quality services, and we are working to ensure that all staff are properly compensated in accordance with the arbitration award,” Connie Pankratz said.”
Meanwhile in Connecticut, neither Mr. Vallas nor the Bridgeport Board of Education has explained what is actually happening with Vallas’ “no-bid” special education software system in Bridgeport.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker Achievement First, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker
Wendy Lecker, the pro-public education advocate and fellow columnist hits it out of the park; again, with a new commentary piece in Stamford Advocate entitled “The consistently wrong path to better Schools.
Improving education achievement in our major cities must be a top priority for all of Connecticut’s citizens. Access to higher quality public schools is a fundamental American right, and is even guaranteed by Connecticut’s Constitution. In addition, in the near future, 40% of Connecticut’s entire workforce will be coming from our state’s poorer, urban, Priority School Districts. Our state’s economic future depends on providing all of our young people with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. Finally, the price tag for creating quality schools is not cheap. Connecticut’s schools are already underfunded and yet Connecticut taxpayers are paying about 80% of the entire educational expenses in cities like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.
Education is both the economic and civil rights issue of our time.
Governor Malloy, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, Bridgeport “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas, “Special Master,” Steven Adamowski and the corporate education reformers claim to have the solution – simply hand our public schools over to private corporations.
The approach being perpetrated by these corporate reformers couldn’t be more wrong and Wendy Lecker’s latest column dives that point home.
Wendy Lecker writes;
“Most people who board the wrong train headed to the wrong destination get off and look for the right train.
But not the educational leadership of Hartford.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, a protégé of the controversial “reformer” Steven Adamowski, has climbed on the wrong train despite the obvious signs that it will take Hartford in the wrong direction.
In her state of the schools address, Kishimoto highlighted a study conducted for her by University of Connecticut researchers. The study measured, by neighborhood, factors that inhibit the ability to learn, such as child poverty, the percentage of adults without high school or college degrees, crime, health, housing and neighborhood stability, and community assets such as preschool and after-school programs.
Fifty years of research have established that these out-of-school influences account for the majority of differences in student achievement.
In a recent New York Times article, Stanford University’s Sean Reardon summarized his research demonstrating that income inequality is the prime factor in educational disparities. As Professor Reardon noted, schools do not “produce much of the disparity in test scores between high- and low-income students.”
Reardon’s research revealed that the achievement gap between high-income and low-income students has widened in the past three decades largely because income inequality has increased, affluent students arrive to kindergarten better prepared than poor students, and affluent parents spend more on enrichment and tutoring.
Our best chance to reduce academic disparities, then, is to work to reduce economic inequities.
To the extent schools can help, we must give them the capacity to counteract the forces that hinder learning. That means a sufficient number of social workers, school psychologists, health centers, extra academic help and support for children and families, as well as a rich and varied curriculum.
However, rather than address the factors that prevent Hartford’s neediest children from learning, Hartford Superintendent Kishimoto seems intent on taking us in completely the wrong direction, ignoring the evidence she herself requested.
First on Kishimoto’s agenda is expanding the Achievement First charter franchise in Hartford. Achievement First, Inc., already operates a charter school in Hartford and is notorious for failing to serve Hartford’s neediest children. In a city where 43 percent of students come from non-English-speaking homes, only 4.8 percent of Achievement First’s students come from non-English-speaking homes. In Hartford, 18 percent of students are not fluent in English; at Achievement First, 4.8 percent. Thirteen percent of Hartford’s students have disabilities compared with 7.5 percent at Achievement First. Moreover, Achievement First has a 25 percent attrition rate.
Achievement First, a state charter school, is funded directly by the state and is not part of Hartford’s school district. However, Hartford Public Schools must pay for special education services and transportation for Hartford children attending the school. On top of this requirement, Hartford public schools paid $1.5 million dollars for capital improvements on Achievement First’s school building, which the charter uses for free. Additionally, Hartford and Achievement First entered into an agreement whereby the district pays more money to the charter company. This coming year, the district is scheduled to pay Achievement First over $3.2 million.”
Wendy’s assessment the approach being implemented by Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is harsh but 100% accurate.
Take the time to read the whole column at the Stamford Advocate at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-consistently-wrong-path-to-4487142.php#ixzz2SQUbtfw3
Democratic Party, George Jepsen, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Sarah Darer Littman, Stefan Pryor Sarah Darer Littman, The Democratic Party
Public education advocate and CTNewsjunkie columnist, Sarah Darer Littman, has produced another “must read” column articulating the anger and frustration that so many of us are feeling toward much of the leadership of the Democratic Party.
I pretty sure it was actually on my 18th birthday that I raced to the Old Town Hall to register as a Democrat. Less than two years later, I become, what I think, was the youngest Democratic Town Chairman in Connecticut history, beating out my former boss and mentor, Sam Gejdenson.
Today I watch a Democratic President and Democratic Governor undermine the public education system and coddle the rich, while here in Connecticut we witness the deepest cuts in history to our public colleges and universities, while slashing some of the most vital human services, such as respite care for parents of the developmentally disabled.
In recent years, time and time again, we’ve witnessed the Democratic leadership taking our party away from its core beliefs and principles.
In what is certainly an award-winning response, Sarah Darer Littman says enough is enough:
A Woman Without A Party (By Sara Darer Littman)
When my son registered to vote two years ago this month, he wanted to register unaffiliated. “Both parties are just corporate shills,” he said.
I had a hard time disagreeing with that point of view, but I talked him out of it with the same words my father told me thirty years earlier, when I was a new voter: “You should always join a party in a closed primary state so you can vote in a primary.”
My son listened to me, as I listened to Dad. So he was shocked when I told him that I’d gone to Town Hall this week and changed my registration from Democrat to Unaffliated in the final stage of my journey to disgust and disillusionment with the two-party system.
“Welcome to my world,” he said.
At 18, I was a registered Republican. At 36, I became a Democrat. And now, as a woman of a certain age, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Attorney General George Jepsen, and their BFF Arne Duncan, have persuaded me to join the fastest growing voter group in both Connecticut and the country — the Unaffiliated.
(Read her full post at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/a_woman_without_a_party/)
Sarah ends by saying, “One of the books that has most influenced me was one I read in that 10th grade honors English class, George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM. The reason I’ve become unaffiliated is because as I looked from one party to the other on education, “already it was impossible to say which was which.”
I know Sarah speaks for many of us…
Corporate Viewpoint, Ethics, Malloy Corporate Influence, Ethics, Malloy
At the very moment Governor Malloy’s political operation was weighing the political fallout of his trip to the White House Correspondents Dinner and whether he should “reimburse” People Magazine for $1,000 or so (we still don’t know how much taxpayers shelled out for Malloy’s security detail), the U.S. Security Industry Association was releasing a press release that Malloy would be this year’s “Keynote Speaker” at their Security Industry Association Government Summit next month in Washington, D.C.
According to the Security Industry Association (SIA), the event is the “premier annual public policy conference in the security industry.”
The press release explained that Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy will serve as the keynote speaker and that, “Gov. Malloy’s remarks will precede a panel on school safety on day two of the Summit. Violent events in our nation’s schools have demonstrated that these “soft targets” are not sacred to those seeking to do harm. Understanding there are many factors that can contribute to secure learning environment, this panel will examine those factors as well as the contributions the industry can make to provide safe educational facilities.”
The press release goes on to note that, “The SIA Government Summit provides attendees with unique insights that help them better understand how policy drives business in the security industry. The exclusive nature of the setting allows one-on-one conversations with government decision makers.”
According to the Security Industry Association’s website, they are “the leading trade association for electronic and physical security solution providers. SIA protects and advances its members’ interests by advocating pro-industry policies and legislation at the federal and state levels; creating open industry standards that enable integration; advancing industry professionalism through education and training; opening global market opportunities; and collaboration with other like-minded organizations. As a proud sponsor of ISC Expos and Conferences, and owner of the Securing New Ground Conference, SIA ensures its members have access to top-level buyers and influencers, as well as unparalleled learning and network opportunities.”
Interestingly the press release did not reveal whether Governor Malloy’s trip to Washington D.C. would be paid for by the Security Industry Association or the taxpayers of Connecticut.
Education Reform, Pelto, Sarah Darer Littman, Standardized Testing, Wendy Lecker Standardized Testing
(A Blog Post by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto)
Ask any parent, high school student or teacher- 11th grade is hell. Aside from the heavy course-load, juniors have to suffer through a litany of standardized tests- and these count: SATs, SAT subject tests, ACTs, APs.
Could anyone make junior year any worse? Why yes! Thank President Obama, Secretary Duncan, Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education and Connecticut’s esteemed legislators. They all pushed and/or voted to make the Common Core State Standards Connecticut law.
As we all know, the CAPT test, the only state standardized test in high school, is administered in 10th grade. That test will now be replaced by the Common Core test, which will now be administered in 11th grade.
Would anyone who has any familiarity with high school ever be moronic enough to add ANOTHER standardized test to 11th grade, losing weeks of learning time and adding stress to the pressure cooker that is junior year?
Of course not- but then again, students, parents and teachers were never consulted before the Common Core was rammed down our throats.
What could possibly be the justification for this move to eleventh grade testing? That “we” want to make sure students are “college-ready?” Do people really think that a standardized test, scored in seconds by a computer, will tell us whether a student is ready for the research, writing and in-depth learning she will face in college? Rather than imposing tests that pretend to measure whether they are college-ready, leave our kids alone- they already have enough exams on their plate. We want them to be well-rounded, healthy individuals, with time for extra-curricular interests and yes, even a social life.
Defenders of the Common Core, a set of standards written with virtually no teacher involvement, like to claim that its critics are right-wing nuts or left-wing nuts.
But we aren’t. We are parents, who care deeply about education and learning. We also love our children and unlike the geniuses that thought it would be a bright idea to add another round of high stakes testing in junior year, we understand their social and emotional needs.
When Sarah told her junior daughter that the Greenwich Board of Education had planned Common Core Alignment Testing to gather data for the State Board of Education this month, while she was also going to be taking AP Exams and preparing for the SAT, she said, “That’s just disrespectful.” She is right.
We adults expect respect from our teenagers. But to earn their respect, we must show them the respect they, too, deserve. Expecting them take an assessment test for data purposes when they are already facing so much pressure is not only disrespectful, it is unhealthy.
Greenwich parents rebelled and Greenwich was allowed to opt-out of testing – for this year. But just for this year. Meanwhile, across the state, juniors in other districts are suffering. Parents in the wealthy suburbs had better wake up and smell the coffee. This testing madness is coming for your kids too.
As adults, we should be modeling balance for our kids, not cruelty and insanity. The rate of suicide for the 15-24 age group has nearly tripled since 1960. Is it any wonder when the State Board of Education and the National Secretary of Education treat our already stressed out teens like lab rats instead of human beings?
This is not a partisan issue. This is a conflict between those driven by ideology alone, who clearly will never live with the consequences of their policies, versus those who live with children in our public schools. And for those of us who teach in, learn in or have children in high school, no matter what our political affiliation, it is time to rise up and shout: “Enough is enough!”
Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto are public education advocates and commentators. In addition to their pieces here at Wait, What? you can find many of Wendy’s commentary pieces at the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media Group papers and Sarah’s at CTNewsjunkie.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Wait What? ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Wait What?
“You may know a person by the company they keep.”
The quote’s profoundness is right up there with an Arabian proverb that goes, “Judge a person by the reputation of their enemies.”
In either case, the phrases prove that much can be said with just a few choice words.
This past weekend, I had the honor of providing the “key-note” address at a conference that took place at Central Connecticut State University entitled “Defending Public Education.”
The conference explored the corporate education reform movement. As readers of Wait, What? know – there was a lot to discuss!
I’ve been meaning to post a blog about the conference, but a reader sent me a review of the conference published on the pro-corporate education reform blog, CTEducation180.
In this case, I think that reposting their assessment probably gives Wait, What? readers a better and more accurate review of the conference than I could ever write;
Following their post, I’ve copied some background about the CTEducation180 blog which appears to be a blog that is used by ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group.
Anti-reformer gathering puts Pelto in spotlight
This weekend, a teachers union funded and convened an anti-education reform conference, featuring who else but Jonathan Pelto on the list of speakers.
The event was hosted by the Central Connecticut State University Youth for Socialist Action, which describes itself on its Facebook page as “a group of revolutionary minded students and young workers.”
Really. You can’t make this stuff up.
Conference organizers make exactly zero attempts to be evenhanded, academic or honest. The flyer for the event goes off on a paranoia-laced rant about legislators “influenced by the profit motive” and “demonized” public workers.
Who is ponying up the dough for this nonsense? The Hartford Federation of Teachers, among others.
Called “Defending Public Education,” the conference appears to be little more than an anti-education reform rally. It features such panels as “Teachers Are Not the Enemy” and “Organizing Action in Your Community.”
And Jon Pelto headlined.
You might remember Pelto from his continuing series of blog posts attacking the state’s education commissioner, the governor, the schools chiefs from Windham, Hartford and Bridgeport, and many, many other folks who have made improving Connecticut’s schools their life’s work.
It would be nice if people could engage in a real discussion about how to better help Connecticut’s failing schools, and how to better support Connecticut’s students. But with gatherings like these which only engender fear, skew the facts, and prop up hacks like Jon Pelto — funded by our teacher unions — that remains a dream, rather than a reality.
So who is CTEducation180?
CTEducation180 is a blog that was created by public relations consultant Pat Scully, whose own blog is called the “hanging shad.” It now appears that CTEducation180 has become a communication vehicle for ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy organization created by members of Achievement First, Inc’s Board of Directors. Achievement First, Inc. being the charter school management company co-founded by Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
The “about” section of the blog reads, “The education reform bill passed last year by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Dannel P. Malloy raises standards for educators, allows immediate action to improve failing schools, increases access to high-quality public school choices, and improves how education dollars are spent.
Unfortunately, bold steps forward on education reform have spawned a vocal chorus of opponents that are willing to say and do anything in order to maintain the status quo and prevent children from attending the high-quality public schools they deserve.”
Ethics, Malloy Ethics, Malloy
“To remove a needless distraction when there are far more important public policy issues to deal with, Gov. Malloy has made the decision to personally reimburse People Magazine for the costs of his attendance at the White House Correspondents Dinner. He has written a personal check for $1,234.62,” said his spokesman, Andrew Doba.
You have got to be kidding me!
So it was an official visit to Washington, but he will reimburse People Magazine…and yet the taxpayers will still pick up the tab for the airfare, accommodations, payroll and overtime for Malloy’s security detail – - – the cost of which Malloy’s office refused to provide…
As just reported in the CT Mirror, Malloy’s spokesperson said;
- “We are confident that People Magazine’s payment would have been proper under Connecticut’s ethics laws…The governor attended the event in his official capacity and used the opportunity to advance Connecticut’s interests. The governor’s office accepted People Magazine’s gift in order to relieve taxpayers of the cost. Instead of shifting the cost to the taxpayers, the Governor is personally paying the cost.”
- “First, during the event, Gov. Malloy engaged in substantive discussions with numerous senior officials,” Doba said. “To note just a few discussions among many, he talked with Small Business Administrator Karen Mills about Connecticut’s Hurricane Sandy relief plan and small business investment programs under the JOBS Act, talked with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer about the strategy for pursuing federal gun control legislation, and talked with Congressman Steve Israel about proposals for the establishment of a regional infrastructure bank.”
- “And Gov. Malloy promoted Connecticut’s economic development agenda in discussions with numerous business and media leaders.”
See CTMirror Blog Post at http://www.ctmirror.org/blogs/malloy-reimburses-people-white-house-party
Budget Cuts, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Office of State Ethics, Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Stevan Adamowski, Teach for America
Yup, the Connecticut Director of Teach for America has submitted an application to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
Nate Snow arrived in Bridgeport in 2007 as a new TFA recruit.
Today he serves as the Executive Director for the Connecticut Chapter of Teach for America and President of the Board of Directors of Excel Bridgeport, Inc., a corporate funded education reform organization that he co-founded with Meghan Lowney, an aide to billionaire, hedge fund owner Steven Mandel.
Excel Bridgeport serves as the primary advocacy group supporting Governor Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch and “Superintendent of Schools” Paul Vallas’ education reform policies.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, Snow joined TFA and taught for two years in Bridgeport. He then joined TFA’s fundraising operation and then made an unsuccessful bid as a Republican candidate for the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Snow and Vallas recently signed a three-year contract between the Bridgeport Board of Education and Teach for America for $777,000, although the contract was never provided to the Board for their review and approval. Team Vallas is claiming he has the authority to sign the contract without Board involvement.
And meanwhile, despite having no experience in school administration, Snow is the lead name on a charter school application that is pending before Paul Vallas and the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Snow’s proposal is to create a Montessori Charter School for children between the ages of three and thirteen.
As to Snow’s connection to TFA and Excel Bridgeport, a recent CT Post article reported that “The charter school idea, he said, is his own.”
According to their proposal, “Whittier’s Montessori program is inspired by the design and implementation of Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School (AFMMS), a high-performing public Montessori school in Hartford, Connecticut. Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School has distinguished itself by meeting high standards of student achievement through a meticulous, fully implemented Montessori program.”
Stephen Adamowski, who according to emails acquired through a Freedom of Information request, worked with Snow around Malloy’s education reform bill, was a strong proponent of Hartford’s Montessori school and now, as Malloy’s Special Master for Windham and New London has been working hard to get Windham to switch one of its elementary schools over to a Montessori school.
In the new Montessori charter school application, the proponents explain how they developed the plan saying, “Prior to preparing for this submission, none of the founders had worked with a Montessori school, but they knew that it was a good brand with an excellent reputation. Starting with a visit to the acclaimed Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School in Hartford, then undertaking conversations with parents who have children in private Montessori school in Fairfield County, and ending with informal consultations with Montessori leaders from around the country, the Founding members became convinced that Montessori should be an option for all children in Bridgeport. Nate Snow contacted the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS), located in Hartford, for further information on what was necessary to start a public Montessori school. These discussions led to an eventual contract with NCMPS to assist in school design and to aid in writing the charter application.”
The charter school proposal aims to start with 69 students next fall and reach 209 students in its fifth year. Their budget calls for expending $1.7 million in year one and at least $3.8 million in year five.
While state charter schools get their money primarily from a state grant, Snow and his colleagues are trying to open a “local” charter school, meaning the funds would come mostly from Bridgeport’s school budget, with an extra $3,000 per student coming from a new state “local charter grant” that was part of Malloy’s education reform law. Malloy’s education reform law also included a series of $500,000 “start-up grants” that charter schools could get from the state. Snow and company are counting on getting one of those grants, as well.
In addition, the cost of transportation and special education costs would be paid for by the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Bridgeport is already well into the 60 day local charter review process. The application, if approved, would then go to Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the state Board of Education.
As to the various players behind the proposal, Wait What? readers may recall that starting in January 2011, Meghan Lowney, Nate Snow and Excel Bridgeport worked to persuade the Connecticut State Board of Education to take over the Bridgeport School System. Over the course of the six months leading up to the State Board of Education’s illegal takeover, Lowney, Snow and Excel Bridgeport engaged in numerous communications with state officials.
Despite their ongoing lobbying, both before and during the illegal takeover and throughout the effort to persuade legislators to support Malloy’s education reform bill, neither Lowney, Snow nor Excel Bridgeport registered to lobby with the Connecticut Office of State Ethics, as required by law.
More than two weeks after the end of the 2012 Legislative session, Excel Bridgeport finally filed the required papers, listing Jorge Cabrera as the organization’s lead lobbyist.
Excel Bridgeport, a group initially called the Bridgeport Partnership for School Success, Inc., was created in December 2010 and then changed its name to Excel Bridgeport Inc. in September 2011.
According to its incorporation papers, Meghan Lowney, the Executive Director of the Zoom Foundation, (the personal foundation of Fairfield County billionaire Stephen Mandel), was registered as Excel Bridgeport, Inc.’s founding president and Nathan Snow, the Executive Director of Connecticut’s Teach for America Chapter served as the organization’s founding vice president.
Snow then took over the role as Excel’s president. A board was also created made up of Jonathan Hayes (Executive, Meetinghouse Productions), Joel Green (Partner, Green & Gross, PC), Robert Francis (Executive Director, RYASAP), Carl Horton, Jr. (Consultant, Accenture), Scott Hughes (City Librarian, Bridgeport Public Library), Meghan Lowney (Executive Director, ZOOM Foundation) and Joseph McGee (Vice President, Fairfield County Business Council). Like Snow, Francis, the Executive Director of RYASAP, also has a contract with the Bridgeport Board of Education.
As of now, Lowney and Snow have still not registered to lobby despite their ongoing efforts to influence public policy.
Meanwhile, faced with inadequate state resources, and Mayor Finch’s need to come up with $3.2 million more just to meet the state’s minimum local expenditure law, it will be interesting to see if Paul Vallas, the Bridgeport Board of Education and Commissioner Stefan Pryor divert dollars to their colleague Nate Snow and his proposal for a new Montessori charter school.
Ethics, Malloy Ethics, Malloy
True it is only May 1, 2013, but Governor Malloy has swept into the front-runner position for the Wait, What? “Quote of the Year” competition with his explanation to WTNH Channel 8 news regarding his decision to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner.
“I could do it with state dollars, or I could do it with someone else’s dollars. I thought doing it with somebody else’s dollars made a lot of sense,” Malloy told Channel 8 news.
According to the Channel 8 report, People Magazine paid about $1,000 for the cost of airfare, hotel accommodations and the ticket to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
People Magazine explained that they invited Malloy because he would make an interesting guest as a result of the Newtown nightmare. Or as the editor of People Magazine put it, “with all eyes on the tragedy in Newtown, a story that People readers care deeply about, and that People has been covering intensively, we saw Governor Malloy as someone suddenly playing on a larger stage, someone interesting to our readers, our editors and other guests.”
Malloy defended his decision telling Channel 8, “With all due respect, it’s not a gift, there was an offer to pay to have the Governor of the State of Connecticut, in his capacity as the Governor of the State of Connecticut, attend a very important meeting, session, series of events,” said Governor Malloy.
Channel 8 went on to explain that in addition to the dinner, the Governor attended, “at least one party after the star studded annual event on Saturday night, and quickly came back to Connecticut, a visit by his estimate of about 22 hours.”
While Governor Malloy’s “official schedule” is always made public and Malloy, himself, explained that his trip to the White House Correspondents Dinner was made exclusively in his official capacity as Connecticut’s Governor, his press secretary told CTNewsjunkie and other media outlets that they did not issue a press advisory about Malloy’s trip to D.C because they only inform the media when “Malloy is speaking or has the opportunity to be interviewed. The correspondents’ dinner fit neither category.”
Considering Malloy said the trip was funded by private dollars, it must be assumed that the $1,000 for airfare, accommodations and other expenses covered the governor and his security entourage.
As usual, the controversy is not so much that he attended the dinner…who wouldn’t want to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner…but the political spin around that decision.
You can read and watch the Channel 8 news story at: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/politics/magazine-paid-for-malloy-to-attend-correspondents-dinner#.UYBtqys_9B1?utm_source=Coffee+and+Politics+No.+415+May+1%2C+2013&utm_campaign=Issue+415+%7C+Morning+Coffee+%26+Politics%3A+Budget+Analysts+Predict+%24488M+Drop+In+Revenue&utm_medium=email