Education Reformers and their obsession with Standardized Testing – Even the NY Times can’t get the story right!

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Fellow education blogger Diane Ravitch, the nation’s premier public education advocate, opened the New York Times this morning and noted that even the New York Times has been “snowed” by the Corporate Education Reform Industry and their false narrative that the solution to the challenges facing public education in the United States is to have more standardized testing.

Diane Ravitch writes;

News flash! There is a national test that enables us to compare reading and math scores for every state! It is called NAEP. It reports scores by race, ELLs, poverty, gender, disability status, achievement gaps. This is apparently unknown to the Néw York Times and the Secretary of Education, who has said repeatedly that we need Common Core tests to compare states.

The New York Times, America’s newspaper of record, has a story today about Massachusetts’ decision to abandon PARCC, even though its State Commissioner Mitchell Chrster is chairman of the board of PARCC. True or Memorex? Time will tell.

But the story has a serious problem: the opening sentence.

“It has been one of the most stubborn problems in education: With 50 states, 50 standards and 50 tests, how could anyone really know what American students were learning, or how well?”

Later the story has this sentence:

“The state’s rejection of that test sounded the bell on common assessments, signaling that the future will now look much like the past — with more tests, but almost no ability to compare the difference between one state and another.”

What happened to the National Assessment of Educational Progress? It has been comparing all the states and D.C., as well as many cities, since 1992. Has no one at the New York Times ever heard of NAEP?

It is more than an embarrassment that the “mass media” takes corporate education reform industry propaganda for truth.  In fact, it is a dangerous confirmation that without the truth citizens cannot keep their government and leaders in check.

Of course, here in Connecticut we have a governor who not only dramatically increased the amount of standardized testing, claiming it was necessary in order to determine whether schools are making children “college and career ready” but explained,

“I’ll settle for teaching to the test if it means raising test scores” – Governor Dannel Malloy

[See Wait, What? Post, “I’ll settle for teaching to the test, if it means raising scores” Dan Malloy 4/9/12.]

So to the New York Times and all the other media entities that have become puppets for the “Education Reformers” remember this…

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right. . . and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, and indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.” John Adams (1735–1826)

PLEASE take a moment to review the facts about the U.S. Syrian refugee issue


A Personal note: 

I appreciate that readers can hold very different opinions and I strive to respect the views of all my readers, including those who strongly disagree with me, even when they are delivered via a harsh email.

That said, I also believe in former New York United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s observation that, “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

With that in mind, I am asking my readers, on all sides of the refugees issue to become aware of the facts concerning President Obama’s declaration that the United States should accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the coming year.

On Thursday, the Republican members of the United States House of Representatives, along with 47 Democrats including Joe Courtney (D-CT 2nd) and Jim Himes (D-CT4th), voted to stop that initiative. In response to that vote I posted Congressman Courtney and Himes – You have brought shame on our nation and our state, I can no longer support you

This is not a debate about whether we should and must do everything possible to stop terrorists who illegally enter our country or use fake passport or violate the provisions of the nation’s various visa programs to get into the United States.

This is specifically and ONLY a debate about whether the United States should treat Syrian refugees differently than it treats other refugees from around the world.

Please take the time to read the following;

Three days ago, the conservative/libertarian CATO Institute, founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers., posted a blog entitled, Syrian Refugees Don’t Pose a Serious Security ThreatThe article reads as follows;

In the United States, a refugee is somebody who is identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a refugee camp.  UNHCR does the first round of security checks on the refugee according to international treaties to which the United States is a party and refers some of those who pass the initial checks to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

The referrals are then interviewed by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer abroad.  The refugee must be outside the United States, be of special humanitarian concern to the government, demonstrate persecution or fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, and must not be firmly resettled in another country.

Because the refugee is abroad while the U.S. government checks their background, potential terrorist links, and their claims to refugee status, the vetting is a lot more thorough and can take up to two years for non-Syrians.  For Syrians, the vetting can take about three years because of the heightened concerns over security.

For independent background, the following information comes from reports published by the nonpartisan, non-aligned Migration Policy Institute which is funded by a wide range of foundations and organizations that span the political spectrum.  The Chairman of the Board of the Migration Policy Institute is The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, New York.

In 2015, 69,933 individuals arrived in the United States as refugees.

This number is well below the number allowed in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the United States allowed closer to 150,000 refugees into the country each year.

The number in 2015 is about the same as in 2014 (69,926) and 2013 (69,926).

In 2015, the top three countries where refugees came from were Burma (also known as Myanmar), Iraq, and Somalia.  These three nations account for 57 percent (39,920 individuals) of legal refugees.

The rest of the top ten include the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Bhutan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, and Cuba.

Iraq was the top refugee origin country in 2013 and 2014, accounting for 28 percent of refugees, the share of dropped to 18 percent in 2015.

This year, the refugee program is scheduled to 1,682 Syrians, which would account for about 2% of the total refugees allowed into the country.

As reported by the United Nations and confirmed by various independent agencies,

As of mid-2015, UNHCR had referred more than 15,000 Syrian refugees to the United States for resettlement, who are being screened to determine their eligibility.

The CATO Institute further explained in their article;

The first step for a refugee is to arrive and register in a UNHCR refugee camp outside of Syria. The UNHCR then refers those who pass the first stage of vetting to the U.S. government refugee process.

The National Counterterrorism Center, the Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department use biometrics and biographical information gleaned through several interviews of the refugee and third-party persons who know him or could know him to make sure applicants really are who they claim to be, to evaluate their security risk, and to investigate whether they are suspected of criminal activity or terrorism.  Numerous medical checks are also performed.  During this entire screening process, which takes about three years for Syrians, the refugee has to wait in the camp. If there is any evidence that the refugee is a security threat, he or she is not allowed to come to the United States.


The UNHCR annually refers less than one percent of all refugees for resettlement. In 2014, they referred a mere 103,890 to all resettlement nations. That year, the United States accepted 69,933 refugees, or about 0.5 percent of the total number of all refugees in the world.

In 2015, the United States has accepted only 1,682 Syrian refugees, or 0.042 percent of the 4,045,650 registered Syrian refugees.  Only one out of every 2,405 Syrian refugees in a camp was resettled in the United States in 2015.


If the United States still takes in 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, and the number of refugees rises to 4.5 million, a mere 0.22 percent of them–one out of every 450–will be resettled in the United States.  That number is still so small and the process so well monitored that potential terrorists are unlikely to see the refugee system as a viable way to enter the United States.

Foreign-born terrorists tend to enter on student visas, tourist visas, business visas, or have asylum applications pending, or are lawful permanent residents. All non-immigrant or immigrant categories face fewer security and background screenings than refugees do.

Of the 859,629 refugees who have entered the United States since 2001, three have been convicted for planning a terrorist attack abroad and exactly zero have perpetrated domestic attacks – that’s one conviction for every 286,543 refugees admitted.


In 2015, 53 percent of the Syrians admitted were men, while only 41.5 percent of those men were between the ages of 14 and 40.  Of all the Syrian refugees in that year, only 22.3 percent of them were men between the ages of 14 and 40.  Terrorism-related convictions are almost always of men, so any risk-assessment should note the small number of men in the applicable age ranges.


This situation may be different in Europe, where 681,713 Syrian asylum seekers have sought refuge since the beginning of their civil war in 2011.


The current refugee vetting system is multilayered, dynamic, and extremely effective. ISIS fighters or terrorists who are intent on attacking U.S. soil have myriad other options for doing so that are all cheaper, easier, and more likely to succeed than sneaking in through the heavily guarded refugee gate. The low level of current risk does not justify the government slamming that gate shut.

Our nation deserves leaders who will rise to the occasion, especially in times of anxiety, tension and strife.  The Republicans in Congress were wrong to pass legislation treating Syrian refugees differently that others and, in my mind, Congressman Courtney and Congressman Himes violated their public trust by joining the fear-mongers.

As I wrote in my piece, I can only speak for myself but I will not cast my vote for someone who replaces the truth with political pandering.


Congressman Courtney and Himes – You have brought shame on our nation and our state, I can no longer support you


I have but one vote.

When I had the economic resources and time, I tried to donate what I could to the candidates that I supported and believed in.

As a member of the Connecticut House of Representative, I actually had the opportunity to vote on policy issues, weighing the concerns of my constituents along with my own feelings, philosophy and understanding.

Now I use my blog to try and influence public discourse and impact public policy, keeping much of my focus on issues related to promoting public education.

But as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wisely explained,

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Thus while I appreciate that reasonable people can disagree on important issues, I feel compelled to speak up;

Last night, Connecticut Congressmen Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Jim Himes (D-CT) joined with the right-wing, hysterical, fear-mongering members of the United States House of Representatives to pass a bill designed to ostracize and persecute refugees fleeing from Syria and Iraq because they are coming from a land that also contains terrorists.

Despite the fact that every country is home to dangerous people and we Americans are born to recognize that discrimination on the basis of national origin is abhorrent, two of Connecticut’s congressman joined the lynch mob that is being driven by nothing short of fear, ignorance and stupidity.

The legislation that passed the House of Representatives was not about how best to work within a society and system of government that is based on the belief that all People are created equal, but it was an effort to pander to those who would have us run away from our fundamental American ideal that – above all else – there must be equal treatment under the law.

After the vote, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) took to Fox television to proclaim that the legislation would halt the processing of Syrian and Iraqi refugees for as much six months, despite the reality that the United States already has a thorough refugee process that takes 1 1/2 to 2 years to complete.

Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes rationalized his vote by claiming that he was committed to “’protecting innocents from violence and persecution in their home countries’ but also wanted to make the United States safe.”

As if those who voted against the legislation were not equally committed to the safety and security of the United States and its citizens.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney, while admitting that the present refugee screening process “is already extensive,” said he voted for the bill because, “Americans want to know — and deserve to know — that their government is rigorously and thoroughly reviewing all refugee candidates to ensure no one is taking advantage of our nation’s generosity to commit violence here.”

But of course, refugees and asylum seekers are being rigorously and thoroughly reviewed.

Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro was absolutely correct to call the “American SAFE Act” nothing but a “political ploy” designed to further divide and polarize our nation.

The bill was not about making the nation safer but about trying to scare American citizens into voting for the fear mongers who wish to hold onto their offices and their generous salaries and benefits  in a time of economic and social distress.

Senator Chris Murphy explained that, “Instead of focusing on the 2,000 highly vetted (Syrian refugees,) we should be focusing on the lightly vetted (visa-waiver visitors).”

As multiple published reports explain, the alternative and substantive legislation that would actually deal with the threat we face is the proposal to, “limit the visa waiver program that allows citizens of nearly 40 countries to enter the United States for as long as 90 days without obtaining a visa. The list includes most European countries, along with Australia, Chile, Japan and South Korea.”

But the vote in Congress last night wasn’t about limiting the visa waiver program, it was about whether the United States of America should use its legal system to discriminate against a group of people based on their national origin.

Congressman Courtney told Connecticut’s WNPR radio, “Public confidence right now, given the events of Paris, and what’s going on, I actually think is a big deal.”

Courtney is correct – the issues of terrorism, national security and immigration are “a big deal.”

That is why we need thoughtful and courageous leaders who will honestly put world events into perspective and institute policies that address problems while, at the same time, preserve the fundamental ideals that we hold sacred.

Yesterday, prior to the Congressional vote on the anti-immigrant bill, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum issued the following statement.

WASHINGTON, DC—Acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum looks with concern upon the current refugee crisis. While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees.

The Museum calls on public figures and citizens to avoid condemning today’s refugees as a group. It is important to remember that many are fleeing because they have been targeted by the Assad regime and ISIS for persecution and in some cases elimination on the basis of their identity.

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.

As measured by history, the outrageous and inappropriate vote of the United States House of Representatives brings shame on the United States Congress, the Nation and the individuals who voted yes.

Yesterday’s vote was a moment for elected officials to lead the nation forward, not legitimize the paranoia, fear and meanness that is enveloping the public discourse and will derail, destroy and drown the very ideals that we hold self-evident.

There is simply no excuse for having voted for the legislation.

I have known and worked with, for and alongside Joe Courtney for nearly forty years.

I have always considered him a good and honorable person.

True, this is but one issue, but there are issues that rise above others and truly “matter.”

Dr. King’s instructions were as simple as they were profound, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter.”

In this case, silence is not an option.

Congressman Courtney, I withdraw my support.  You will get no more votes from me.

Connecticut Public Financing Program “Safe”, For Now … But…


As CT Newsjunkie reported late yesterday,

“By the end of the day Thursday, both House and Senate Democrats who proposed suspending Connecticut’s landmark public financing system in 2016, had withdrawn their proposals.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, made the announcement early Thursday afternoon and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz agreed to find the money elsewhere later Thursday afternoon. The news of the reversal came part way through a press conference held by ConnPIRG, Common Cause, lawmakers and other defenders of the clean election system.”

As reported in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, Connecticut’s Democratic Legislative Leaders call for suspending elections to save money…,

The Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly proposed suspending Connecticut’s public financing system, thereby allowing legislators to transfer about $11 million toward the $254 million budget deficit in this year’s state budget.

Their plan would roll back the campaign finance system that Connecticut adopted after former Governor John Rowland resigned in disgrace and was sent to prison.

Instead of keeping Connecticut’s Clean Election Program in place, Democratic leaders would return the state to the “Wild West” campaign fundraising system that favored incumbents and ensured that campaigns for the legislature were primarily financed by political action committees, lobbyists and those who benefit financially from state contracts.”

Former Governor Jodi Rell joined in condemning the Democratic leader’s move to end the Clean Elections Program but correctly noted that Governor Malloy and the General Assembly had already undermined some of the most important aspects of the historic effort to keep dirty money out of Connecticut politics.

In a statement Rell observed,

“The Democrats have effectively eviscerated the spirit of the law since 2011 and now they are looking to overturn the actual letter of the law altogether.”

Meanwhile, faced with a state budget deficit in excess of $254 million, the Senate Democrats issued their own proposal yesterday. (See CT Newsjunkie’s The Democratic Divide and CT Mirror’s Senate Dems break with House, go own way on deficit.)

As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,

Senate Democrats issued their own deficit-mitigation plan Thursday, pressing for a retirement incentive plan opposed by House Democrats and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as damaging to the state’s overburdened pension system.

The retirement incentives were offered in place of suspending the state’s public financing of campaigns, a measure included in a list of spending cuts they jointly proposed Monday with House Democrats.


An estimated $163 million would be saved over this fiscal year and next, Senate Democrats say, by paying incentives to encourage senior state employees to retire.

Of course Connecticut has learned the hard way that while retirement incentives “reduce” the state payroll by persuading state employees to retire early, it does that by moving employees from the state payroll over to the pension fund, which is already extraordinarily underfunded.

In addition, since some state employee positions must be refilled in order to maintain some of the most critical state services, early retirement programs never save as much money as initially proposed.

For Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, early retirement incentive programs disrupt the level and quality of vital services they receive.

In addition, while the budget cutting plans issued by Governor Malloy, the House Democrats, the Senate Democrats and legislative Republicans differ in various ways, all target the University of Connecticut, Connecticut’s State Universities and the state’s Community Colleges for even more devastating cuts ranging in size from a low of $12 million to Governor Malloy’s high of $28 million.

Malloy has already dealt Connecticut’s public colleges and universities with the biggest budget cuts in Connecticut history, which in turn have led to massive tuition increases and reduced educational opportunities and programs.

Connecticut’s Democratic Legislative Leaders call for suspending elections to save money…

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Well, their proposal is pretty damn close to that…

Earlier this week, the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly proposed suspending Connecticut’s public financing system, thereby allowing legislators to transfer about $11 million toward the $254 million budget deficit in this year’s state budget.

Their plan would roll back the campaign finance system that Connecticut adopted after former Governor John Rowland resigned in disgrace and was sent to prison.

Instead of keeping Connecticut’s Clean Election Program in place, Democratic leaders would return the state to the “Wild West” campaign fundraising system that favored incumbents and ensured that campaigns for the legislature were primarily financed by political action committees, lobbyists and those who benefit financially from state contracts.

Without consulting the members of the Senate or House Democratic Caucuses, the plan to suspend Connecticut’s campaign finance system was announced by Democratic Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, Democratic Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey and Democratic House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz.

The 2006 campaign cycle was the last time Connecticut incumbents enjoyed the full pay-to-play campaign finance game that ensured that most campaign donations went to incumbents and that those funds came from state contractors, lobbyists and political action committees.

In fact, the old “incumbent protection” system was working so well that neither Senator Martin Looney nor Representative Brendan Sharkey even had opponents, while Senator Bob Duff and Representative Joe Aresimowicz were able to easily raise far more campaign money than their challengers.

Although Senator Looney didn’t even have an opponent that year, he raised more than $43,000 for his campaign, nearly 60 percent coming from PACs and a large percentage of his individual contributions from lobbyists and state contractors.

Senator Duff raised over $100,000 in 2006, with well over 60 percent coming from PACS, Lobbyists and state contractors, while Representative Aresimowicz collected over $40,000 with more than 70 percent coming from PACS, lobbyists and state contractors.

The leadership proposal designed to return Connecticut campaign finance system and elections to the dark ages drew immediate condemnation from organizations dedicated to more open and transparent elections and government including,the Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG), Common Cause and the national democracy advocacy group, DEMOS.

As the CT Mirror reported,

Tom Swan, executive director of CCAG, said it was especially galling to see Democratic leaders willing to end a program that has provided political newcomers a level playing field for raising money, while they also are proposing cutting business taxes.

“For them to try to stack the deck by eliminating clean elections to fund corporate loopholes is one of the worst public policy proposals from a political perspective I can think of,” said Swan

Common Cause added,

After years of Connecticut being a beacon for the nation for open, transparent elections where money is identified and visible, our successful public financing program for state elections is under attack from Democratic leadership in the Connecticut General Assembly. They are poised to cut $11.7 million from the Citizens’ Election Fund, which will essentially end public financing in Connecticut.

State budget shortfall is a serious issue.  However, the answer is not to cut a program which successfully removed the moniker “Corrupticut” from our state – a program overwhelmingly supported by the public that allows people to run who are not wealthy or connected to power and has been used by over 74% of candidates running for state office.

And Demos, a national advocate for Clean Elections stated;

While Seattle and Maine make progress in getting big money out of elections, Connecticut is poised to undo a signature accomplishment—the Citizens Election Program. Facing budget cuts, some legislators in Connecticut have proposed allowing wealthy donors to, once again, dominate the state’s elections.

Connecticut has had state-wide public financing since 2008. Through financing from the Citizens’ Election Fund, candidates who obtain the required number of small donations can receive a lump sum to fund their campaign.

The program has increased participation, diversified the donor pool, helped more candidates of color run for office, and led to policy outcomes more responsive to the needs of the general public rather than the elite donor class.

While the negative response from advocacy groups and newer legislators sends a powerful signal that allowing PACS, lobbyists and state contractors to control Connecticut politics will not be tolerated, this latest Democratic leadership proposal is actually a continuation of the strategy Governor Malloy and the Democrats and the Connecticut General Assembly have used to significantly undermine Connecticut’s once prominent Clean Elections Program.

In recent years, Malloy and Democrats have adopted a series of loopholes in the campaign finance reform law that resulted in Malloy taking $6.5 million in public funds to pay for his 2014 gubernatorial campaign and then collecting millions of dollars for his campaign activities from political action committees and state contractors, funding entities whose donations are supposed to be completely banned under Connecticut’s Public Financing System.

You can read more about the Democratic proposal to drop the “Clean Elections” program at CT Newsjunkie: Dems Would Scrap Clean Election Program To Balance Budget

You can read more on how the existing program has been undermined via the following Wait, What? posts or by going to Wait, What? and searching under “Campaign Finance”.

Malloy, legislature continue to water-down Connecticut’s “landmark” campaign finance laws;

Malloy’s “Final Destruction” of Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Reform Law;

Malloy/Democrats make mockery of Connecticut’s once prominent role in campaign finance reform

CT Leaders propose cutting funding for public schools while protecting charter school increases


In the face of yet another budget deficit, Governor Dannel Malloy and leaders in the Connecticut General Assembly have been laying out competing plans to cut the state budget.  All plans include cuts in state aid for public schools while protecting Malloy’s initiative to expand funding for charter schools in Connecticut.  Some of the proposed cuts to public education would simply shift the burden onto local property taxpayers, while others would reduce the level of services some public school students receive.

In this guest post, public school advocate and retired Connecticut educator explores the reasons why Governor Malloy and legislators are cutting funding for Connecticut’s public school children while still increasing support for charter schools.

BEYOND OUTRAGE!!!  By John Bestor

Wondering why charter school allocations have remained sacrosanct despite the serious budget issues facing our legislators and the citizens of our State?

In addition to the lucrative New Market Tax Credit that is available to investors who – in their philanthropic largess – receive “tax credits” that will enable them to double their philanthropic investment in seven years, there are other reasons why monies for charter school expansion remain an untouchable budget item.


In 2010, Steve Adamowski, then the Superintendent of the Hartford Public Schools and ever-since Governor Malloy’s “go-to” education disruptor, signed an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “to expand access to a high quality education to advance college readiness” with the “goal to support communities in significantly boosting the number of students enrolled in high performing schools”.  The grant terms called for

  • Joint professional development for teachers in charter and district schools
  • Implementing CCSS with aligned instructional tools and supports for teachers
  • Creating personalized learning experiences for students
  • Universal enrollment system for all public schools, and
  • Common metrics to help families evaluate all schools on consistent criteria.

A signing bonus of $100,000 was paid to the signatory enabling Hartford to join 12 other cities in seeking further competitive grants under a District-Charter Collaboration Compact.

The Compact, as it is commonly referred to, has provided nearly $5 million for the express purpose of encouraging and creating more charter schools in our State.

According to a 2013 Interim Report published by the Center for Reinventing Public Education, a monitoring arm of the Gates Foundation (, the Hartford Public Schools have received the largest allocation of grant dollars of any of the other competing urban districts.

Quoting directly from their 47-page report (with Appendix VII specifically detailing the Hartford P.S. Involvement), the authors of the 2013 CRPE Interim Report found that:

“Mayoral control of a school board appears to have made the signing of a Compact more likely.” (p.6)

“The Gates Foundation required that Compacts be signed by key district and charter leaders and include agreements about specific collaborations.”  (p.7)

“Leaders in every Compact city were motivated to improve access to and the quality of special education services in schools.” (p.8)

“In places with a history of some portfolio management and collaboration, like Hartford and Denver, there was plenty of support for signing the Compact.” (p.9)

“Interviews with education leaders in Compact cities revealed that changing the tone of the conversation between school districts and charter schools and tackling a few mutually beneficial projects has been extremely important, especially in cities starting from scratch.” (p.10)

“A dedicated “Compact manager” oversees the committee [steering committees and subcommittees] and helps push the Compact agreements forward.”  (p.10)

“In Hartford, the Achievement First charter management organization trains residents for district school leadership positions through residencies in charter schools and district partner schools, intense individual coaching from the program director, and weekly professional development seminars.”  (p.13)

“In Hartford, new superintendent Christina Kishimoto has the same strong commitment to the Compact that her predecessor, Steven Adamowski, had when he signed, and the city has made progress in several areas since the transition.”  (p.14)

“Finally, in four cities – Denver, Hartford, New Orleans, and New York – both district and charter leaders came to the table with a deep understanding of what could be gained from collaboration and saw a long-term commitment pay off.  These ‘mature collaborations’, as we call them, signed Compacts in environments where districts had supported charter schools for many years and believed that the district’s job is not to run all schools directly but to instead manage a portfolio of public schools for the city’s students. For example, Denver Public Schools has been aggressively recruiting new charter schools for five years, and the Hartford Public Schools had been voluntarily sharing revenue with charter schools for six years.”  (p.18)

“As Compacts were signed across the country, there was generous media coverage and excitement.” (p.19)  [The Press Release by the Hartford Public Schools on 12.5.12 is available online and identifies Noah Wepman as Gates Foundation’s Portfolio Manager for College Ready Programs, Gov. Dannel Malloy, the disgraced Dr. Michael Sharpe, the ever-present Dacia Toll from Achievement First, and Matthew Poland, chairman of Hartford BOE, as present for this release.]

“CRPE will continue to monitor and help support the next phase of Compact Implementation.  As described above, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recently provided a significant infusion of financial as well as programmatic support to seven Compact cities – Boston, Denver, Hartford, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and Spring Branch – to expand and deepen their collaborative efforts.” (p. 21)

Your guess is as good as mine as to who reported out to these report writers on the progress that the Hartford Public Schools had made prior to release of the Interim Report.


It seems quite obvious that to renege on charter school expansion plans would be contrary to the terms of the Compact and would undoubtedly put in jeopardy any unspent or future dollars under this philanthropic entity.

It leads one to wonder how the signing bonus was disbursed.  Where the grant monies reside? In what account and maintained to who?  With regulatory irregularities associated with charter school oversight well known, just how have these grant monies been spent?  On what and to what purpose?  Who benefits and who profits?  Are Senator Sharkey and Representative Looney aware of this commitment during their “inside” budget negotiation sessions with the Governor’s men?  Are rank-and-file democratic legislators also aware that charter cuts must be left off the table?  Maybe someone should ask them and force them to go on the record before they continue cutting essential services to vulnerable citizens.  Does it extend to minority legislators as well?  Promises made, promises kept, governing corrupt, citizens kept “in the dark”.

Further investigation into the CT charter school scandal was quietly released in 1/2015 (conveniently the day after New Year’s) as Attorney Frederick Dorsey revealed fiscal mismanagement without oversight, nepotism, and questionable real estate shenanigans in his scathing report that had been called for by former Education Commissioner Pryor at the height of the scandal.  Dorsey’s investigation was requested just before a more extensive FBI investigation took over; though the FBI investigation is probably far from finished, a progress report in the The Progressive (8/2015) pointed out that charter school finances nationwide were ripe for graft and corruption.  As reported: “The troubled Hartford charter school operator FUSE was dealt another blow Friday when FBI agents served it subpoenas to a grand jury that is examining the group’s operations. When two Courant reporters arrived at FUSE offices on Asylum Hill on Friday morning, minutes after the FBI’s visit, they saw a woman feeding sheaves of documents into a shredder. The Hartford Courant, 7.18.14.”

Diane Ravitch called it an “Outrage!” in her recent blog (11.09.15) on the prospective Boston school closings, but it is truly BEYOND OUTRAGE!!! and impacts under-resourced urban school systems across this country: a veritable “Who’s Who?” of struggling school communities which have either lost local control of its school board or are at risk of losing local control.  At the same time, local school boards are simply unwilling to exert their authority and ask the important questions while complying with directives of the State Department of Education while CABE, CAPSS, CAS, CBIA, CCER, and ConnCAN – working in collusion as Big Six Partners follow a roadmap designed by The Common Core Funder’s Working Group in the Fall 2012 – continue to work behind scenes and in the media to lobby for “corporate education reform” with its top-down imposed Common Core State Standards and their unproven destructive test protocols.


Press Release: Gates Foundation Invests Nearly $25 Million in Seven Cities Dedicated to Bold Collaboration Between Public Charter and Traditional Schools

2013 CPRE Interim Report by Sarah Yatsko, Elizabeth Cooley Nelson, & Robin Lake

Press Release: Hartford Public Schools to Expand Partnerships with Charter Schools

CT Post article (1.02.15): “State report details problems with FUSE management” by Linda Conner Lambeck.

Diane Ravitch – “Connecticut: state investigation finds rampant nepotism and lack of oversight at charter chain.”

The Hartford Courant (1.02.14) “Probe of Charter School Group Blasts ‘Suspect’ Conduct, ‘Rampant Nepotism’.” by Matthew Kauffman, Vanessa de la Torre, & Jon Lender.

The Progressive (8/20/14). “FBI Tracks Charter Groups.”

“A Test Score is an approximation, not a precise measure” (George Washington University)


As the nation’s colleges and universities move away from relying on standardized tests scores to determine whether a student is capable and ready to attending college, public officials in Connecticut and across the country continue their mindless devotion to more standardized testing as the means of determining whether our children our “college and career read.”

In Connecticut this past spring, Governor Dannel Malloy and the General Assembly voted to mandate that every high school junior take the SAT.

The new law was part of Malloy’s larger “education reform” initiative that has been forcing Connecticut public school students and their teachers to devote more and more time preparing for and taking the “Common Core aligned” standardized tests.

Malloy and other proponents of the Common Core and Common Core testing scheme continue to claim that the excessive testing programs are needed in order to determine whether Connecticut students, schools and teachers are succeeding.

Under Malloy’s policy, not only will the state rate schools and students based on standardized test results, but Connecticut’s public school teachers will also be evaluated on how well their students do on these unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory tests.

However, while Malloy and the legislature were mandating that every 11th grader take the SAT, George Washington University in Washington, D.C. was announcing that students applying for their prestigious undergraduate program would no longer be required to even submit SAT or ACT scores with the college applications.

Michael Feuer is a Dean at George Washington University and the elected President of the National Academy of Education, an internationally recognized academic organization that, “works to advance high quality education research and its use in policy formation and practice.”

In a recent GW Magazine article, Dean Michael Feuer explained why George Washington was dropping the SAT requirement,

It is important to remember that a test score is an approximation, not a precise measure of ability or achievement. It provides a snapshot into the complexities of learning and cognition, but it’s a blurry on…The picture has potential value—but it’s not the real thing.”

The public education expert and education school dean added,

There is lots of evidence that students are spending considerable time planning for and preparing for the test at the expense of time they could be spending on real learning. This is one of the factors that led the University of California, for example, to change its testing admissions policy. It’s on the minds of many educators especially in an era of so much testing who want to shift attention back to teaching, learning and achievement…”

A special commission at George Washington University was tasked with the job of determining the value of standardized test scores when it came to “understanding how a student performs at GW.” Their reported concluded that,

“One can predict success at George Washington University based upon a student’s high school record, especially his or her high school GPA.

As a result, George Washington will no longer require an SAT score, relying instead on a policy in which,

High school coursework and grades will continue to be the most important factors in GW’s holistic review process, along with a student’s writing skills, recommendations, involvement in school and community, and personal qualities and character.”

George Washington University joins the long and growing list of major college and universities that are dropping the SAT requirement.  According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), More than 800 four-year colleges and universities, including at least 195 Top Tier academic institutions, no longer require SAT or ACT scores from students applying for their undergraduate programs or have dramatically reduced the use of SAT scores when making admission decisions.

College and universities are making it incredibly clear.  Students need to spend more time learning and less time taking these unnecessary standardized tests.

And here in Connecticut, if the waste of learning time is a persuasive enough reason to reduce the amount of testing, with local public schools trying to cope with inadequate state funding, Governor Malloy’s state budgets devote at least $73 million to the Common Core and Common Core Testing program during fiscal years 2015-2017.

Less testing, more learning is what will provide Connecticut’s children with the knowledge and skills needed to be “college and career ready.” 

It is extremely disturbing that Connecticut officials continue to push schools, teachers, students and Connecticut taxpayers in exactly the wrong direction.

For more about the SAT debacle read;

Once again Connecticut elected officials are wrong to mandate the SAT for all 11th graders

More on CT’s disastrous move to force all high school juniors to take the “NEW” SAT

Nancy Wyman – It’s time to step up for Academic Freedom and Connecticut’s universities and colleges


There was a time when Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was considered one of the most important and outspoken advocates for public higher education in Connecticut.

Heralding from the 53rd House District, Nancy Wyman served as a state representative from 1987 to 1995.  In that capacity she was a powerful voice for her constituents who were faculty, staff, students and alumni of the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and Connecticut’s Community and Technical Colleges.

As the Vice Chair and then Chair of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a high-ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Nancy Wyman worked tirelessly to make public higher education a priority, including helping to successfully derail an outrageous plan to merge Connecticut’s Community Colleges and State Universities under a new bureaucratic and administrative structure.

Considering Nancy Wyman was one of the few public officials who truly understood, appreciated and supported the fundamental role that public higher education plays in Connecticut, there were high hopes that as Governor Dannel Malloy’s Lt. Governor, Nancy Wyman would help usher in a new era of state support for public universities and colleges.

Instead, she became a silent partner in Malloy’s unprecedented attack on Connecticut’s institutions of higher education.  Malloy’s excessive and record-breaking budget cuts have systematically undermined all of Connecticut’s colleges and universities, resulting in higher tuition and reduced educational opportunities for those who could actually come up with the money to pursue a college degree.

And in what was a truly ironic and tragic moment, Nancy Wyman not only failed to stop Malloy’s inappropriate initiative to merge Connecticut State Universities and Community Colleges via the creation of the Board of Regents, but it was Wyman’s phone calls and lobbying of Democratic legislators that actually allowed Malloy to eviscerate the very programs that she had previously worked so hard to support.

Yet as bad as Malloy’s higher education policies have been over the last five years, it has become apparent that the greatest threat to UConn and CSU are the Malloy administration’s recent contract proposals.

Rather than focus on issues of salary and compensation, Malloy’s political appointees on the UConn Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents are seeking contract language and policy changes that would destroy the core aspects of Academic Freedom, shared governance and tenure.

For examples see;

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University

New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty.

While both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters at the University of Connecticut and Connecticut State University are speaking out against the Malloy administration’s proposals, the damage that would occur, should these concepts be adopted, would reach well beyond the impact that they would have on the faculty.

These proposals would literally undermine the national reputations that UConn and CSU have been building up over the years and limit what the schools can achieve in the years ahead.

Among Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most important contributions was his observation that,

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

Those of us who have worked with and for Nancy Wyman over the past forty years know the difference she can make when engaged in an issue that she truly cares about and we know she was once a true friend of higher education.

With the very future of Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education hanging in the balance, the time has come for Nancy Wyman to truly and honestly step up and speak out…

Silence is simply not an option.

When THEY take dirty money it is BAD, but when WE do … well that’s different.


One of this week’s Emails from the Connecticut Democratic Party was another Call to Action to fight the influence of Corporate Money that is destroying our Democracy.

The email urged me to add my name to the historic effort to end the damage that is being caused by Supreme Court’s decision in the infamous Citizens United case that allowed corporate money to corrupt politics in the United States.

The Connecticut Democratic Party’s email reminded,

Ever since the disastrous decision of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, the Koch brothers and their corporate cronies have been buying our democracy out from under us—and we can’t let it stand anymore.

Add your name and call for an end to Citizens United

NAME: Jonathan Pelto


We have some bad news for you: your money is being used to help radical Tea Party Republicans win.

We know this is a shock to you—but it’s sadly true. That’s because HUGE corporations—where we buy our groceries, our gas for our cars, cleaning supplies—have unlimited influence over our elections, and they are POURING money into races to try to elect radical right-wing Republicans.

Had enough of this? We sure have. Sign on to end the deluge of corporate money into our elections.

With a simply click I could act on the outrage of HUGE corporations buying American politics.

I could add my name to the Democratic Party’s outrage about “the deluge of corporate money into our elections.”

One click and I would be standing side by side the Connecticut Democratic Party fighting the terrible fact that;

HUGE corporations —where we buy our groceries, our gas for our cars, cleaning supplies—have unlimited influence over our elections…

Of course the Democratic Party’s argument is a “bit” disingenuous.

Despite Connecticut’s extraordinary effort to ban corporate and state contractor money from contaminating Connecticut politics following disgraced Governor John Rowland’s resignation, Governor Malloy and the Democratic Party watered down those laws and used loopholes to take the very corporate contributions they now claim that oppose.

Even worse, not only did they open the flood gates to allow corporate and state contractor money to undermine our democracy here in Connecticut, but they are actively engaged in an effort to prevent the Connecticut’s State Election Enforcement Commission from investigating the apparent illegal activities that Malloy and the Democratic Party engaged in during last year’s gubernatorial campaign. (See Campaign Finance Reform Malloy Style: NU CEO says support Malloy by giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party and Malloy and the Democratic State Central Committee – In plain English it’s called obstructing Justice.

And what corporate money have the Connecticut Democrats taken?

Dannel Malloy’s Re-Election and the 2014 Election Cycle AMOUNT
AETNA INC. PAC $2,500.00
ALCOA INC. PAC $2,500.00
ALEXION PAC $2,500.00
AT&T INC. PAC $5,000.00
DOMINION PAC $3,500.00
FOX PAC $5,000.00
MAXIMUS INC. PAC $5,000.00
PFIZER INC. PAC $10,000.00
PRAXAIR, INC. PAC $5,000.00
SYNERGY PAC $5,000.00
XL AMERICA. INC. $1,500.00


Even more money in 2015… AMOUNT
ANTHEM, INC. PAC $5,000.00
FOX PAC $2,000.00
H&R BLOCK INC. PAC $2,000.00
MAXIMUS INC. PAC $1,000.00
PFIZER INC. PAC $5,000.00


Want to know the truth about CT’s Fiscal situation – Read OFA’S 2015 Fiscal Accountability Report


Getting honest, accurate information about Connecticut’s fiscal crisis is not easy.  One of the most important sources of information is the annual Fiscal Accountability Report issued by the Connecticut General Assembly’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Fiscal Accountability Report

OFA has become a bastion of “truth-telling” – even when others, including some legislators, would prefer they weren’t.

The one overarching message is that “kicking the can” down the road is simply no-longer an option.

You can find the report at:

Many other useful reports and documents can be found at:

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