Bellwether Education Partners, Education Cities, Education Reform, Harbormaster Bellwether Education Partners, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Education Cities, Harbormaster
“Harbormasters have a mission to buoy the number of high-quality seats in their cities.” – Bellwether Education Partners on behalf of Education Cities
- “Harbormasters” are unelected entities that seek to put themselves in control of managing public education in a particular community, and (b) “High-Quality Seats” is a euphemism for more charter schools.
So translated into English, the phrase “Harbormasters have a mission to buoy the number of high-quality seats in their cities” actually means,
If we are to succeed in our goal of opening more charter schools and continuing the efforts to privatize public education we will need more un-elected entities willing to step in and usurp the democratic process that presently stands in our way.”
When one follows this path of edu-jargon they will quickly come across groups like Bellwether Education Partners, Education Cities and similar corporate-funded organizations that are working to remove the term public from public education.
Take for example, Education Cities, a relatively new entity in the privatization game.
Education Cities’ primary mission is to develop and expand the notion of “harbormasters” as part of its ongoing strategy to expand the number of charter schools in targeted cities.
Education Cities claims it is a “nonprofit network” of 32 city-based organizations in 25 cities. As the evidence makes clear, it is really just another charter school front group funded by the same cabal of big education reform foundations.
The organization traces its roots back to 2012, when the an Indianapolis, Indiana “educational venture capital fund” called The Mind Trust spun off a related entity it called CEE-Trust or Cities for Education Entrepreneurship.
The organization’s stated goal was to bring Indianapolis-like corporate education reforms to other cities around the country.
Changing its name to Education Cities in 2014, the entity collected more than $5.5 million during its first two years as a 501(c) (3). Not surprisingly, major contributions came from The Broad Foundation; the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; The Walton Family Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, all leaders in the effort to privatize public schools in the United States.
Always keen on coining a phrase, the public relations mavens at The Mind Trust and Education Cities announced that their primary strategy was to install “harbormasters” as vehicles to promote and implement their privatization agenda.
And what, pray-tell are harbormasters and what role do they have when it comes to implementing the corporate education reform agenda?
Bellwether Education Partners, a leading corporate education reform consulting company, proudly explains the Harbormaster concept as follows;
If you DON’T work in education, a harbormaster is an official responsible for enforcing the regulations of a particular harbor or port, in order to ensure the safety of navigation, the security of the harbor and the correct operation of the port facilities. It’s the nautical version of an air traffic controller. I assume they look like this:
If you DO work in education, the term is a metaphor for a city-based nonprofit that plays a central role in funding and coordinating high-impact education initiatives.
The term was popularized by Ethan Gray, a Mind Trust team member who incubated and then launched Education Cities (formerly CEE-Trust — pronounced SEA-Trust), a member organization that convenes and supports harbormasters across the country. Education Cities is a current partner and former client.
Over on the Education Cities’ website, one learns that when you “partner” with Education Cities you get the opportunity to hire, pay or work with a slew of top education reform industry consultants including, none-other-than, Bellwether Education Partners.
Other companies and organizations in on the slick deal include the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington, Public Impact, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute to name a few.
Expounding upon the benefits of harbormasters, Bellwether Education Partners adds;
By aligning vision, resources, talent and political will, these organizations become the strategic leaders of their community’s efforts to create more great schools. They can also be the recipients of heated opposition from those who seek to preserve the status quo. Both are valuable roles.
We believe that there are four main elements to the harbormaster strategy: supporting quality schools, strengthening effective educator pipelines, advocating for pro-student pro-teacher policy changes, and
In concert, these four strategies create the conditions for high-quality public schools to launch, grow and persist. Harbormasters often lead in one or more of those areas and work in close collaboration with other local stakeholders on the other efforts to accelerate the pace and sustainability of school improvement.
Here’s a list of the Education Cities member organizations. Bellwether has extensive experience working with harbormasters including New Schools for New Orleans, The Mind Trust in Indianapolis, Choose to Succeed in San Antonio, Accelerate Great Schools in Cincinnati, and The Boston Schools Fund.
It will come as no surprise to readers that Bellwether’s client list is not dissimilar to the list of organizations that make up Education Cities, a list that includes the following communities;
Baton Rouge, LA
Kansas City, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
New Orleans, LA
San Antonio, TX
San Jose, CA
Rather than work through democratically elected boards of education, where public policy belongs, harbormasters are designed to do an end run around the American political system and install pro-privatization gurus and consultants to take over and run privatization efforts.
And to date, their record speaks for itself.
In an article entitled, Why Harbormasters Are Critical to a City’s Ecosystem, the Senior Vice President of Growth, Development & Policy at Rocketship Education crowed,
…the idea of the harbormaster has taken shape in a variety of forms, in a few pockets of our country. In some places, harbormasters were borne of natural disaster, as with New Schools for New Orleans; elsewhere, it was a response to a generation of declining results, as with Schools That Can Milwaukee; or sheer volition, as with San Antonio’s Choose to Succeed; or the sound execution of a strategy, as with the DC Fund of NewSchools in collaboration with the CityBridge Foundation.
All four schools systems are widely recognized as examples where corporate education reform and privatization have or are failing the vast majority of students.
As if Rocketship’s references to New Orleans, Milwaukee, San Antonio and Washington DC were not unsettling enough, EdSurge, a corporation that helps schools “find, select and use the right technology to support all learners,” doubles-down on the need to replicate New Orleans’ failures with a piece titled, How the ‘Harbormaster Network’ Plans to Spread Nationwide Personalized Learning.
For those who may be confused about the meaning of the education reform phrase “personalized learning,” you might start by reading the Wait, What? post, When THEY say “personalized learning” is, it is time to be afraid, very afraid.
In conclusion, while it is true that the corporate education reform “movement” is weighed down with a long list of failed policies, you have to give them credit for their prowess when it comes to developing marketing terms that seek to mislead their target audiences.
For example, next time you hear the term harbormaster in an education policy setting, you’ll know exactly what is being said (or not said) as the case may be.
Democratic Legislators, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit Democratic Legislators, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit
Despite the political spin that he had put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, Governor Dannel Malloy has presided over a continuous sea of red ink when it comes to the Connecticut state budget.
As Keith Phaneuf explains in a recent CT Mirror article entitled, CT budget closes in deficit again; little reserves left for this year,
“The governor insisted throughout his 2014 re-election campaign that nonpartisan deficit forecasts were wrong, and that growth projections for Connecticut’s economy — and correspondingly for state revenues — were too conservative.
But state government has had nothing but deficits since the governor’s re-election. Connecticut closed the 2015 fiscal year with the General Fund $113.2 million in the red.
Malloy began to acknowledge in the summer of 2015 that the economic growth he’d predicted was lagging, and by January 2016 he’d begun declaring repeatedly that Connecticut faced a “new economic reality” of modest growth. The Democratic governor’s Republican critics say this economic shift was evident years earlier and that the governor would not admit it until after he had won a second term.”
The actual numbers paint a stark and depressing picture:
Connecticut’s string of budgets in deficit:
Fiscal Year15 $113 Million Deficit
Fiscal Year16 $170 Million Deficit
Fiscal Year17 Present year – Deficit (To Be Admitted)
Fiscal Year18 $1.3 Billion Deficit (Projected)
Fiscal Year19 $1.6 Billion Deficit (Projected)
Despite two record tax increases and unparalleled budget cuts over the last six years, Connecticut is facing a budget shortfall of about $3 Billion in the next budget cycle.
Adding to the fiscal crisis is the fact that Governor Malloy and the Democratic members of the General Assembly have left Connecticut with a “Rainy Day Fund” of only $236 million, or about 1.3 percent of the state’s annual operating costs. Comptroller Kevin Lembo recommends that Connecticut’s “Rainy Day Fund” should be in the range of 15 percent of annual operating expenses, a number which means that Connecticut has a fund that is less than 10 percent of what we should have set aside for difficult economic times.
And yet, in response, Malloy continues to downplay the problem, with his spokesperson telling the CT Mirror
“The year that ended on June 30, 2016, was an extraordinarily difficult one,” Malloy spokesman Chris McClure said. “Income tax receipts were $650 million below budget, and the state was repeatedly compelled to take difficult steps to mitigate a developing deficit. We should be gratified that the hard work of state workers and the commitment of the legislature helped us to preserve more than $200 million of our Rainy Day fund, even in the pouring rain.
“We will continue to hold the line on the budget to ensure we fulfill our solemn obligation to balance the budget for FY17,” McClure said. “Our most current budget estimate, issued September 20th, is that the state is on track to meet its budget targets for FY17.”
However, the fiscal reality is that Connecticut’s budget is not on target.
Malloy and public relations team are intentionally overlooking the news that revenues are falling short and expenses are actually going to be significantly higher than authorized.
It would not be at all surprising if this year’s shortfall exceeds $200 million, eating up the remaining $236 million in the “Rainy Day Fund.”
But with Election Day a month away, look for Malloy to duck any mention of this year’s budget deficit until after November 8, 2016.
Then, and only then, will the people of Connecticut be told about Connecticut’s continuing budget deficits.
Pelto 2016 Pelto
For Immediate Release
September 30, 2016
Pelto signs onto Revive the Peace Movement Letter entitled The Russia-US Bombing Deal Will Bring Neither Peace Nor Justice
Revive the Peace Movement Network (RPM) is a broad-based network of organizations working to promote greater peace and harmony in the world. In their letter below, they (1) reject U.S.-Russia collaboration for more bombing, (2) call for immediate food drops to besieged areas in Syria and (3) explicitly condemn the Assad/Russian Killings as well as U.S. Bombing
As the Green Party candidate for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District, I sign this important letter entitled, The Russia-US Bombing Deal Will Bring Neither Peace Nor Justice and call on all candidates across the political spectrum to join the effort to promote peace.
The Russia-US Bombing Deal Will Bring Neither Peace Nor Justice
There can be no doubt that the Syrian people have paid a terrible price for their struggle for freedom. They know the pain and suffering of being unable to feed their children, of being the targets of relentless and merciless bombing. We share their desire to see peace with justice in Syria. Unfortunately, the Kerry-Lavrov negotiations have thus far brought neither. The “agreement” being sold as a “peace deal” for Syria has thus far been a rotten bargain that extends the bombing. The wanton destruction of the aid caravan on September 19th brought the sorely unsuccessful “ceasefire” phase to a barbaric conclusion, and what is proposed to follow will be even worse – far worse.
The Assad regime’s forces continued their attacks throughout the so-called “ceasefire” of September 12th-18th. The day after the deal was announced, a hundred people died from regime attacks. On September 16th, regime warplanes targeted and bombed the White Helmets’ Head Quarters in Al Tamanna, rendering it inoperable.
The sieges that seek to impose submission to the regime through starvation still affect hundreds of thousands, and promises to allow aid convoys to reach the besieged areas during the “ceasefire” never materialised. This demonstrates beyond all doubt that only air-drops of food will prevent the mass starvation of entire populations under siege.
Millions have been driven from their homes as a result of Putin and Assad’s bombing campaign. Tens of thousands rot in Assad’s torture-to-death prisons.
These issues must be addressed to bring peace through justice to Syria. An expansion of the targets to be bombed by the US Coalition, and cooperation in bombing these targets between the US and Russia, which objectively means cooperation with the Assad regime, cannot bring Syrians peace nor justice.
Stop the bombing! Don’t expand it!
End the sieges! #DropFoodNotBombs! Immediate airdrops of food to the besieged! UN Aid must reach the people, not be diverted to supply a war criminal regime! Aid to the hungry is non-negotiable!
The peace and antiwar opposition can offer a real alternative to the expansion of the militaristic, never-ending and phony “War on Terror” by calling for an end to all bombing, including US bombing, and calling upon Russia and Iran to withdraw all support for the brutal Assad regime. Support for this regime enables ethnic cleansing and merciless attacks on unarmed civilians, on a nightmarish scale that is experienced by Syrians living in areas outside of regime control as a targeted genocide of Sunni populations within the opposition – an experience which is amplified by Assad’s subsequent sectarian re-population of areas from which the besieged have been driven from their homes. This strategy can do nothing but breed sectarian division within Syria.
Assad and Putin’s campaign of collective punishment of civilian populations has produced a terrible humanitarian crisis. Peace activists have an ethical responsibility to oppose these crimes against humanity. Our commitment to justice demands we challenge all attacks on the dignity and human rights of the Syrian people. To be silent is only to facilitate the attacks.
The peace and antiwar opposition can further promote a just solution to the terrible war in Syria by insisting that legitimate negotiations must include representatives from the Syrian democratic opposition, and these negotiations should have as their goal the ending of the bombing, the lifting of the sieges, and the freeing of all political prisoners.
The Obama administration is leading a military intervention in Syria, and more broadly in the Middle East under cover of the War on Terror. The War on Terror is not only a cynical cover for US intervention in the Middle East; experience has demonstrated that it is counterproductive as a strategy to fight terrorism.
In Syria, the violent sectarian forces have grown in strength directly as a result of the devastation wrought by relentless bombing. The democratic opposition to both the dictatorship and the violently sectarian forces is being crushed under barrel bombs, cruise missiles, cluster and phosphorus munitions, napalm and chemical weapons attacks. The peace and antiwar opposition can stand in solidarity with the democratic struggle by demanding an end to all bombing by all parties.
The strategy of combating violent sectarianism through drone strikes and bombing results in the death of innocent civilians and is a recipe for a never-ending war.
Without a single bomber dropping a single bomb, a major blow could be struck against violent sectarian forces by ending all military aid to the dictatorship in Egypt and to Israel, whose militaries should not be recipients of aid, and in an urgently needed display of human solidarity, redirecting the aid to provide for besieged Gaza and the Syrian refugees. Across the region external powers have been working to support undemocratic and oppressive regimes, whether in Yemen, Egypt, or Palestine. Under the Kerry-Lavrov deal, Washington and Moscow will be collaborating to maintain Assad in power. Solidarity with the democratic struggles is the alternative to occupations, war, dictatorships and violent sectarianism.
To endorse this letter and join the effort go to: http://www.rpm.world/statement-against-kerry-lavrov-deal.html
SAT, Standardized Testing SAT, Standardized Testing
Tomorrow, October 1, 2016, thousands of Connecticut children will – once again – be taking the SATs in the hopes of acquiring a high enough score that they can attend the college of their choice.
However, more and more colleges and universities are going test optional. According to Fairtest, the national test monitoring entity, more than 900 colleges and universities across the country have dropped the requirement that students provide an SAT or ACT test score with their application. Colleges have taken this step because they recognize that it is a student’s grade point average – not their standardized test score – that is the best predictor of how well a student will do in college.
Meanwhile, it was just last year that Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly mandated that every Connecticut high school junior take the SAT, despite the fact that the overwhelming evidence is that the test is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory, not to mention, it is designed to fail a vast number of children.
Instead of promoting a sophisticated student and teacher evaluation program, Malloy and other proponents of the corporate education reform agenda have been pushing a dangerous reliance on standardized testing as one of the state’s primary mechanisms to judge and evaluate students, teachers and public school.
Below are two statements that were recently posted by Manuel Alfaro on his LinkedIn account. Alfaro is an outspoken whistleblower and critic of the College Board and their SAT.
Before coming forward to report the College Board’s unethical, and arguably illegal activities, Alfaro served as the Executive Director of Assessment Design & Development at The College Board (The SAT).
Considering Connecticut’s public officials made a profound mistake by mandating that schools use the SAT scores to evaluate students and teachers, Mr. Alfaro’s information and warnings are particularly important.
Manuel Alfaro Post #1
Residents of CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MI, and NH, the heads of the Department of Education of your states have failed to protect the best interests of your students and your families, opting instead to protect their own interests and the interests of the College Board.
Over the last five months, I have written about several serious problems with the redesigned SAT. The problems include:
- Development processes that do not meet industry standards; false claims made (in public documents) by the College Board about those processes; false claims made (in state proposals and contracts) by the College Board about those processes.
- Poor quality of items—documented in letters and comments from content committee members.
- Extensive revisions of a large percentage of operational items—the College Board claims that this happens only on the RAREST of occasions.
- Test speediness resulting from the use of the wrong test specifications during the construction of operational SAT forms—use of the wrong specifications resulted in operational tests that, according to formal timing studies conducted by the College Board, require an additional 21-32 minutes (on top of the 80 minutes already allowed) to complete.
Under normal circumstances, the department of education of the client states would have imposed heavy penalties on the College Board; suspended administration of the flawed SATs; and demanded immediate corrective actions.
For example, in 2010, the state of Florida fined Pearson nearly $15 million, which Pearson paid. (Source: www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/florida-hits-fcat-contractor-pearson-with-another-12-million-in-penalties/1110688.) The nearly $15 million fines were imposed because the FCAT results were delivered late. Imagine what the fines would have been if the problems had been as severe as the ones I’ve disclosed about the SAT.
The reason you are not seeing this type of reaction from the states administering the SAT for accountability is that they are partly responsible for the problem. Allow me to elaborate: Typically, to protect both the state and the testing company, an assessment contract that includes the use of an assessment created for the intent and purpose of college admission, not state accountability, would include a clause requiring that the test items be reviewed and approved for use by a content committee from the client state.
This additional step, however, costs money; requires that custom SAT forms are created for each state; and impacts administration schedules. So, even though it is in the best interest of the state, the College Board, and—most importantly—students, state officials opted not to do it. What are the ramifications of this decision?
- The inclusion of items unfit for use in the target state
- Performance level descriptors that are meaningless
- Students spending time on items that should not have been included on the test
- Teachers being evaluated (partially) using results from tests that may or may not accurately assess student performance
To illustrate the 4 points above, consider the following item (from Practice SAT Forms):
This item targets two different clusters of the Common Core Standards for Math:
Understand and apply theorems about circles
Find arc lengths and areas of sectors of circles
If students get this item wrong, it is impossible to tell whether students got it wrong because they don’t understand and are unable to apply theorems about circles to determine the measure of angle O or because they are unable to compute the length of minor arc LN, after they’ve determined the measure of angle O.
To be included in a state assessment, items have to clearly align to a single standard. The item in this example cannot be aligned even to a single cluster, much less the individual standards within each of the two clusters. Thus, this item would be deemed to exceed the content limits of the standards and would be excluded from inclusion on the state tests.
If students get this item wrong, the performance level descriptor associated with their scores will state that the students are unable to compute arc lengths; they are unable to apply theorems about circles; or both. But this is meaningless as it is impossible to determine what exactly led to the incorrect answer.
This impacts teachers in a similar way: You cannot tell if they are doing a great job at teaching students to compute arc lengths; apply theorems about circles; neither; or both. How useful are the teacher reports generated from an assessment that includes such items? They certainly cannot be used to let teachers know what they need to improve on.
The SAT contains many items like the one in the example above. University researchers should analyze all the practice SAT tests to determine the full scope of the problem. If I continue to provide examples, we will get more of the same glib responses from the College Board.
Demand that the heads of department of education of your states take immediate action by either:
- Suspending SAT administrations until the College Board addresses the problems
- Resigning, and letting an individual willing to protect the interests of your students and families take over (and fix the problems).
Manuel Alfaro Post #2
To minimize advantages resulting from the use of calculators with computer algebra systems (CAS), the College Board uses a simple trick to keep students from directly solving math questions using their CAS calculators. For example, in Item 1 below the correct solution requires a simple substitution before solving a linear equation. This item is counted towards one of the “linear equation” dimensions under Heart of Algebra. However, that simple substitution (“k=3”) makes this item a system of equations (see Item 29 below, for an example of a similar item with a different arrangement of the equations), which makes it count toward a different dimension within Heart of Algebra.
(Source: SAT Practice)
As the College Board uses this trick frequently, each operational form contains several items that are artificially “enhanced” to defeat CAS advantages. This leads to the construction of operational SAT forms that do not meet SAT content specifications because the “enhanced” items are misaligned. In the case of the form containing Item 1, the form would have too few items targeting the “linear equations” dimension and too many items targeting the “system of equations” dimensions. In some cases (Item 9, below), the enhancements push the items completely outside the scope of the entire SAT content specifications—this item should not have been included in the test at all, as it is a system of more than two equations.
(Source: SAT Practice)
Items like these are unfit for use under the classification the College Board originally assigned them because they target two different skills. As I mentioned on my September 26, 2016 post, if students get these items wrong, it is impossible to tell whether it is due to their inability to solve equations or their inability to evaluate expressions. Sadly, these enhanced items don’t promote best instructional practices, as the College Board aims to do.
In any case, the inclusion of these types of items results in SAT operational forms that are not:
- Parallel psychometrically, as the pretest item statistics were invalidated when the College Board revised the items (and did not pretest them again) during operational form construction;
- Parallel content-wise, as each operational form may contain several items that are misclassified or are beyond the scope of the SAT content specifications.
What does this mean? It means that the SATs are WORTHLESS; INDEFENSIBLY WORTHLESS.
Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public school deserve better. Governor Malloy and Connecticut’s elected officials should immediately repeal the requirement that Connecticut students take the SAT and replace that mandate with an evaluation system that actually measures whether students are learning what is being taught in Connecticut’s classrooms.
Connecticut General Assembly, Corporate Welfare, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Malloy Connecticut General Assembly, Corporate Welfare, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Malloy
The politicians and industry officials were beaming. The media was singing their praises. The Connecticut General Assembly had just voted to give Lockheed Martin $220 million in public funds.
The question was not whether Lockheed Martin was going to get paid for producing a new line of helicopters. The question was whether, in addition to payment and excessive profits, a state government would pay the Lockheed Martin Corporation even more money in return for a promise that the company would produce those machines in their state.
And Lockheed Martin found a willing partner in the form of Governor Dannel Malloy and the members of the Connecticut General Assembly.
Yesterday, Connecticut’s elected officials voted – almost unanimously – to give Lockheed Martin $220 million in corporate welfare. Counting principal and interest, the cost to Connecticut taxpayers will exceed a quarter of a billion dollars over the next twenty years.
In return, Lockhead Martin, a $50 Billion a year company, has promised to keep Sikorsky’s headquarters in Connecticut for at least a decade, add up to 550 new jobs at the Sikorsky plant and build some new helicopters here in the state.
The underlying threat was that If Connecticut’s taxpayers didn’t cough up the blood money, Lockheed Martin would retaliate by moving the Sikorsky work to a factory in another state or overseas.
And the $220 million taxpayers will be paying?
As Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, Marilyn Hewson made in excess of $29 million in 2015. Her pay and benefits topped $106 million over the past five years. Meanwhile, the top five Lockheed Martin corporate officers pulled in approximately $62 million in pay and benefits last year.
That $220 million that Connecticut taxpayers are donating to the company barely equates to what the top five corporate officials have made over the last five years.
But Connecticut’s elected officials weren’t talking about padding the salaries of Lockheed Martin’s executives yesterday, instead they were patting themselves on the back for agreeing to the deal.
Governor Dannel Malloy crowed about the gift Connecticut was making to one of the most profitable members of the military-industrial complex saying,
“Competition in today’s worldwide economic climate is fierce, and Connecticut is showing that we remain a valued leader where businesses can maintain a competitive edge well into the future,”
Meanwhile, State Senator Catherine Osten, (D-Sprague), celebrated the deal calling it, “an unalloyed piece of good news,” and stating,
“I’m more than happy to support this deal. I think it’s a great day. I think it’s a turning point in Connecticut.”
Maintaining a competitive edge? The development is an unalloyed piece of good news?
To reiterate the obvious, this was not about whether Lockheed Martin was going to get paid to build a new line of helicopters. Not only were public and private funds paying for the helicopters, but Lockheed Martin was always going to make a massive profit on each unit.
The reference to the so-called competitive climate was simply a question of which state – or country – was willing to pay Lockheed Martin above and beyond their costs and profits in order to “win” the company’s benign neglect.
In January 1960, President Eisenhower warned us of the danger of the Military-Industrial Complex.
Yesterday, we saw that more than fifty-five years later, there were only 7 out of 187 members of the Connecticut General Assembly who had the courage and conviction to stand up to that political cabal.
Voting against the horrendous deal…
Republican State Senator Markley and Republican State Representatives Ackert, Belsito, Dubitksy, France, Sampson and Smith.
You read read more about the story and how the media covered it via:
Common Core, Education Reform, Standardized Testing, Utah Common Core, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Standardized Testing, Utah
In May 2016 Utah’s Republican Governor, Gary Herbert, called on the Utah Board of Education to, “move past Common Core standards and get rid of mandatory SAGE testing for high school students.”
Governor Herbert wrote,
“I am asking the State Board of Education to consider implementing uniquely Utah standards, moving beyond the Common Core to a system that is tailored specifically to the needs of our state.”
The Utah Governor’s strong action in opposition to the Common Core standards and its related Common Core testing scheme won him praise from conservatives and educators, but some of the state’s top Republicans are now joining the Utah business community and the state’s corporate education reform allies to try and keep pro-Common Core incumbents on the Utah Board of Education.
Following the loss of some pro-Common Core incumbents during the state’s summer primary, corporate education reform allies are now raising money to defend the remaining pro-Common Core, pro-corporate education reform candidates on the Utah School Board.
Earlier this month, Utah Policy.com, a Utah based political blog reported,
“Get ready for partisan, big money, races for the Utah State School Board…
[T]the primary race this year caught some GOP leaders off guard, as several well-liked (at least on Capitol Hill) incumbents were beaten June 28.
And now a “last ditch” effort is being made to save a few of the other incumbents as a group of business/reform groups are looking to raise money and set up PACs to help those endangered school board members.
Utah Policy.com added;
Over the weekend a quickly-formed school board candidate fund-raiser was put together by the Utah Technology Council, among others, with House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, called in to help raise money for some of the remaining school board incumbents feeling the heat from the Utah Education Association – the main teacher union in the state.
For Hughes it is an old battle – remember the failed private school voucher fight of 2007?
There are eight seats on the Utah School Board this year. The Utah Education Association, which endorsed Republican Governor Gary Herbert against his Democratic rival Mike Weinholtz, this year, is supporting candidates in six of those races.
Rather than find common ground with the teacher’s union over support for the governor and opposition to the Common Core, the Republican elected officials and corporate education reform advocacy groups are now targeting the union endorsed candidates for defeat, including those that are running on an anti-Common core agenda.
As one Utah based anti-Common Core group posted, Common Core’s Role in Hot State School Board Race,
The State School Board race has never drawn much attention before. But this year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, businesses and even top-tier elected officials are personally campaigning and fundraising for and against certain candidates.
Yesterday’s headline was: “Niederhauser and Hughes ask Business Leaders to Help Defeat UEA-Backed School Board Candidates“. Yesterday, too, business organizations such as the Utah Technology Council and the School Improvement Association joined Niederhauser and Hughes in a fundraising webinar that promoted a slate of pro-Common Core candidates who happen to be not favored by or funded by national teacher’s unions.
The anti-common Core blogger added,
“…I don’t understand why these groups have chosen to campaign against both the anti-Common Core candidates as well as against the UEA-backed candidates…
Nor do I understand why our House Speaker and Senate President don’t see the hypocrisy in speaking against big money buying votes (NEA) while both of them are personally funded by big business money (Education First).
But my bigger questions are: how do the Speaker and the Senate President dare to campaign for Common Core candidates, thus going directly against Governor Herbert’s call to end Common Core alignment in Utah?
How do they dare campaign against the resolution of their own Utah Republican Party that called for the repeal of the Common Core Initiative?
Have they forgotten the reasons that their party is strongly opposed to all that the Common Core Initiative entails?
Have they forgotten Governor Herbert’s letter that called for an end to Common Core and SAGE testing just four months ago? (See letter here.) For all the talk about wanting to move toward local control and to move against the status quo, this seems odd.
Of course, the answer to the anti-Common Core blogger’s lament is that the Common Core has always had strong support from mainstream Republicans. In fact, it was George W. Bush’s administration that helped foist the Common Core and Common Core testing program upon the nation.
It should come as no surprise to the education advocates in Utah that even when their Republican governor calls for an end to the Common Core, there will be some top Republican leaders, along with the business community and pro-corporate education reform groups, that would seek to undermine his position.
The sad reality is that when it comes to the federalization and privatization of public education, many Republican and Democratic elected officials have no problem undermining their local students, parents, teachers and public schools.
Charter Schools, Mercedes Schneider, Question 2 Massachusetts Charter Schools, Mercedes Schneider, Question 2 Massachusetts
On Tuesday, November 8, 2016 (Election Day 2016), Massachusetts voters will have to opportunity to cast their vote in favor or against Question 2, a referendum that would lift the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts taxpayers are already coughing up move then $450 million a year to fund the more than 70 privately owned and operated charter schools in the Commonwealth, despite the fact that these schools refuse to accept or educate their fair share of students that require special education services or those who needed extra help learning the English Language.
But skimming nearly a half a billion dollars from Massachusetts taxpayers instead good enough for the charter school industry. If Question 2 passes, the cost to Massachusetts residents could skyrocket by another $300 million dollars a year.
Opponents of Question 2 say the amount of money lost will grow if Question 2 passes: $100 million more the first year, more than $200 million the next year, more than $300 million the year after that. In some cities and towns, charter schools can already take as much as 18 percent of a school district’s budget. That, say public school advocates, would result in the elimination of classes such as music, art technology and foreign language courses and leads to larger class sizes.
As Wait, What? reported earlier this month in, Charter School Industry targets Massachusetts,
A group of billionaires and corporate executives are using a front group called Great Schools Massachusetts and the New York based charter school advocacy group, Families for Excellent Schools, to pour an unprecedented amount of money into a campaign to expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts.
According to published reports, the charter school industry is on track to dump up to $18 million into a record-breaking campaign in support of Massachusetts Question 2, a referendum question on this year’s ballot that would effectively lift the legislative mandated cap on the number of charter schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
But exactly who are the billionaire charter school proponents who are seeking to buy a larger foothold in Massachusetts?
The public will never know the full extent of this farce.
Mercedes Schneider, an education advocate and education investigator and blogger extraordinaire, has written extensively about the big money behind the effort to pass Question 2.
In her post blog entitled, MA Question 2 Gains Another $1.5 Million, Mostly from NY, Mercedes Schneider reports,
On September 20,2016, one committee in support of Q2, Great Schools MA, has added another $1,029,193— with most of it– $1 million– coming from the largest funder by far of Massachusetts’ ballot measure for charter expansion: New York-based lobbying nonprofit, Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy.
What this means is that as of September 20, 2016, the New York-based lobbying nonprofit has spent $6,750,000 to expand charters in Massachusetts.
Also, as of September 20, 2016, the total amount of unique, non-overlapping money spent in support of Q2 is $12.1 million. New York-based Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy has provided 56 percent of that total.
Meanwhile, Schneider explains that Jim and Alice Walton, owners of Wal-Mart, have donated in excess of $1.8 million to the campaign to pass Question 2 and that,
The Waltons are not the only out-of-state billionaires using their wealth to influence the charter cap in a state in which they do not reside. According to the September 09, 2016, filing of the Question 2 ballot committee, Great Schools Massachusetts, other out-of-state billionaire/lobbying nonprofit contributors include the following:
John Arnold (Texas), $250,000
Michael Bloomberg (New York), $240,000
Education Reform Now (ERN) Advocacy (New York), $250,000
Families for Excellent Schools (FES) Advocacy (New York), $5,750,000
Schneider adds that since Education Reform Now Advocacy (ERNA) and Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy (FESA) are registered as non-profit foundations and not campaign groups, neither is required to disclose who they collect their money from. It is perfectly possible that the Walton’s gave to these two committees as well.
Consider that so much of the big money flowing into Massachusetts is “dark money,” meaning that its source does not have to be revealed, the harsh reality that that whether or not a Massachusetts resident votes on Election Day 2016 is a matter of public record, but these same voters will never know exactly which billionaires were responsible for the record breaking effort to mislead them into voting Yes on Question 2.
With so much outside money being spent in support of the charter school industry, it makes one wonder … just whose pockets are these billionaires trying to pad.
Pelto, UConn Pelto, UConn, UConn 2000
From today’s CT Mirror
UConn first came under fire over its capital program in 2005 amid reports that new dormitories that hadn’t been subjected to fire and other safety code inspections had been opened and were housing roughly 5,000 students.
An investigatory panel appointed by Rell and chaired by former Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, concluded UConn had improperly shifted tens of millions of dollars from one project to another. That investigation also showed that funds earmarked for deferred maintenance were used for expansions and new construction.
Rell and the legislature responded with several reforms in 2006, including creation of the Construction Management Oversight Committee. It was was comprised of seven members — four appointed jointly by the governor and legislative leaders and three named by the UConn Board of Trustees. UConn also appoints the chairman of the oversight panel.
“The Governor’s Commission on UConn Review and Accountability recommended a strict oversight process for UConn 2000 building funds,” Pelto said Monday. “The legislature put those recommendations into law. … It is beyond shocking that they have returned to their old ways and have been ducking the mandated oversight process.”
As the CT Mirror reports in, State officials let UConn 2000 oversight panel languish for years,
Deprived of overdue appointments, the panel tasked with overseeing the University of Connecticut’s capital building program has not met since December 2014, according to records obtained by The Mirror.
Governors and legislative leaders have not made appointments to the UConn 2000 Construction Management Oversight Committee since 2009, despite repeated warnings from the university that some members’ terms had expired.
This disclosure comes two weeks after state auditors reported UConn improperly redirected nearly $50 million in funds earmarked for deferred maintenance, instead spending it to expand and upgrade various facilities. The redirection of deferred maintenance funds was one of the chief allegations raised 11 years ago that led legislators and then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell to establish the oversight committee in law.
And while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office was uncertain Monday about the need for new appointees — and questioned the recent conclusions of state Auditors John C. Geragosian and Robert M. Ward — several legislative leaders took a different stand, recommending that the committee be reactivated and saying that UConn needs greater oversight now.
You can read the entire disturbing story at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/09/27/state-officials-let-uconn-2000-oversight-panel-languish-for-years/
Pelto 2016 Pelto 2016
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Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, Program Review and Investigations Commitee, Sarah Darer Littman Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Program Review and Investigations Commitee, Sarah Darer Littman
CT Newsjunkie columnist Sara Darer Littman digs deeper into the incredible decision by Connecticut’s legislative leaders to dump the professional staff of its Program Review and Investigations Committee rather than trim the legislature’s partisan, political staff.
As explained in last week’s Wait, What? post entitled, Surprise! CT Legislature decides to function in the dark,
As the former House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Program Review and Investigation Committee, I’ve waited with baited breath as Connecticut’s legislative leaders’ contemplated ways to trim their generous legislative branch budget.
One option facing the Democratic-controlled Legislative Management Committee was to reduce the number of partisan, political staff that serve as the part-time legislator’s year-around aides.
Alternatively, legislative leaders announced that would have to consider taking the unprecedented and illogical step of eliminating the professional staff who work for the critically important Program Review and Investigation Committee, the primary entity that allows the legislature to investigate and oversee Executive Branch programs.
What, oh what, would legislative leaders do when faced with such a “difficult” decision?
Should they take a small step that might reduce their power of incumbency or decide it is better to simply fly blind when it comes to the Legislative Branch’s oversight function?
With the stark headline, CT legislature’s chief investigative panel to lose all staff, the CT Mirror reported on the recent decision made by the legislative leaders.
CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,
State legislative leaders have eliminated the General Assembly’s chief investigative arm, reassigning most of the Program Review and Investigations Committee’s 11-member staff to other duties in coming months.
The committee was established 44 years ago over the veto of then-Gov. Thomas Meskill.
In her follow up to the initial news, Sara Darer Littman writes;
The bottom line is that fewer analysts will be looking at the financial consequences of our state legislation and programs, which cannot possibly be viewed as a good thing by any rational taxpayer.
What makes this move particularly disturbing, especially in light of what’s been happening with the state’s economic incentives, is that the program review staff would have been assigned to review hundreds of millions of dollars in business tax incentives if Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s bill — which was passed by both houses of the legislature — had not been subsequently vetoed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Some of us are old enough to remember when the Governor came to office pledging to run an “open and transparent” government.
Sara Darer Littman goes on to lay bare the vague rationale behind the legislature’s recent decision to destroy their oversight function. Her piece raises serious questions that every legislator should be forced to answer.
You can read and comment on her commentary piece at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_budget_changes_hamstring_good_government/