Common Core SBAC Test Designed to ID 9 in 10 Special Education Children as Failures

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The Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test is intentionally designed to ensure that the vast majority of students are deemed failures.  [The Common Core PARCC test is no better]

According to SBAC’s own official policy, the Common Core SBAC test is designed so that almost 7 in 10 children who take the “mandatory” test fail to reach “goal” in math and about 6 in 10 are deemed failures in English Language Arts.

Making the Common Core SBAC test even more inappropriate is that the fact that the 2014 SBAC Field Test results prove that the test discriminates against students who come from poor households, students who are not proficient in the English Language (English Language Learners) and students who need special education services.

Perhaps the most outrageous reality of all is that the Common Core SBAC test is rigged to ensure that the almost all students who require special education services are deemed to be failures.

Not only is the Common Core SBAC test unfair and inappropriate, it is nothing short of immoral and unethical.

According the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Disaggregated Field Test Data for 2014, the cut scores that have been set for this year’s test are designed to produce the following results:

Projected Failure Rate for Special Education Students with IEPs on the Common Core SBAC Math Section

4th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 87.1% WILL FAIL
6th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 91.3% WILL FAIL
8th Grade Math –  Special Education Students with IEPs 90.3% WILL FAIL
11TH Grade Math –  Special Education Students with IEPs 92.5% WILL FAIL

 

Projected Failure Rate for Special Education Students with IEPs on Common Core SBAC English (ELA) Section

4th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 83.6% WILL FAIL
6th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 90.1% WILL FAIL 
8th Grade Math –  Special Education Students with IEPs 91.5% WILL FAIL
11TH Grade Math –  Special Education Students with IEPs 91% WILL FAIL

 

These are the official projected results based on the SBAC Field Test of 2014 and the Pass/Fail “cut scores” adopted by the SBAC Committee in November 2014.

A civilized society does not produce a Common Core testing system that is designed so that 9 in 10 special education students are deemed failures…. But then again, the Corporate Education Reform Industry does not reflect the values of a civilized society.

Check out the results based on the SBAC cut score system at: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Disaggregated-FieldTestDataFINAL.pdf

And after you read what is going on – then do everything you can to opt your children out of this unfair and inappropriate Common Core SBAC test and derail their criminal system of unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory standardized testing.

Connecticut Education Association says put the focus on student learning, not testing.

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Seven weeks after Governor Dannel Malloy was sworn into a second term and the Connecticut General Assembly began to consider legislation for the 2015 Session, the Connecticut Education Association held a press conference today to proclaim;

Teachers and voters sound the alarm on excessive testing

File this one under – a little late, but better late than never…

With the massive inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scam about to sweep into Connecticut’s public schools, the Connecticut Education Association  held a “major news conference” to discuss:

  • what we want to happen to testing;
  • how we want it to happen; and,
  • what we—together through legislative advocacy—must do to get it done.

The union representing most of Connecticut’s public school teachers said they were going to, “call on the Connecticut General Assembly to reduce the testing burden on students.”

The CEA’s news release can be found at:  CEA news release

The CEA is also releasing a new public opinion poll that “indicates the voting public wants the state legislature to take action to reduce testing.”

The CEA’s leadership is also announcing that, it has,

“[B]een in high-level discussions with decision makers at the U.S. Department of Education to determine how Connecticut can meet onerous federal requirements, while still reducing testing. Sound impossible? It isn’t.”

The teacher’s union is going to air two new television ads about the testing issue which apparently can be seen here – Click here to see the new ads.

And the CEA has, “launched a petition drive to round out our efforts to get positive change. Click here to sign the CEA petition.”

I added my name, hopefully other Wait, What? readers will sign the petition as well.

The CEA press release apparently makes no mention of what, if anything, the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter is doing to stop the students, parents and teachers by fighting the Common Core SBAC testing madness.

The press release also fails to address what the CEA expected since the union leadership had overruled its own endorsement committee and through the union’s support behind Governor Dannel Malloy who has pledged to stay the course on his Corporate Education Reform Industry Agenda.

The AFT donated in excess of $600,000; while the National Education Association gave Malloy’s various campaign accounts a much smaller amount of money.

More on this breaking news as it becomes available.

Unfortunately, the CEA press release also fails to make a strong and definitive statement of support for a parent’s fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair and discriminatory Common Core Test.

Nevertheless, it is good news that the leadership of Connecticut’s largest union is taking action to urge the legislature to reduce the amount of standardized testing.

Again, you can find the CEA press release here: http://www.cea.org/issues/press/2015/feb/23/teachers-and-voters-sound-the-alarm-on-excessive-testing.cfm

More on this breaking news as it becomes available.

Wait, What? Week-in Review – A lot going down – Please take a look

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With the massive Common Core SBAC Testing scam about to swallow up Connecticut’s children and public schools, a disastrous proposed state budget having been put forward by Governor Dannel “REqad My Lips” Malloy and a special state senate election in Bridgeport featuring the darling of the charter school industry, the disgraced Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr, the Wait, What? blog has been blaze with activity and extra posts and comments.

If you haven’t had time to review some of the recent blog posts, please take a moment to read up about the developments that are taking place around us.

Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Test

Parents & Teachers Please Read – the Common Core Test is rigged to fail students

Is your public school student a “failure” – the Common Core SBAC Test says probably yes!

Teachers across America are fighting for their students – Where the hell are CT’s teacher unions

Opt-Out Gobbledygook – The Regional School District No. 14 Example

Malloy on Corporate Education Reform Agenda – “stay the course” “even if [policies] aren’t that popular”

Pelto Challenges Connecticut’s Corporate Education Reform Industry Leaders to debate

Yes to SBAC opt out request brings Bristol CT off the SBAC Wall of Shame

Connecticut Teacher Union perfects the concept of Sleeping with the Enemy

***** Sample opt out letter for Connecticut parents *****

 

Malloy’s State Budget Plan:

Malloy budget targets most vulnerable among us (By Sarah Darer Littman)

Dan Malloy’s cut to end all cuts – Bring out your dead (or don’t as the case may be)

The Biggest Winner in Malloy’s Budget – Charter Schools

Read it and Weep – Malloy’s budget – More money for charter schools, less money for public schools

Dan “Read My Lips” Malloy goes with $900 million plus in new revenue…

Ya know that “no tax pledge” I made during the campaign, well I lied! – Surprise

News Flash: Malloy reneges on sales clothing exemption commitment to pay for tiny cut in sales tax

 

The real story surrounding the Special State Senate Election in Bridgeport

Hey Reverend Moales – Where is the missing money?

Another effort to stamp out democracy in Bridgeport – What is it with Mayor Finch and the Charter School Industry?

Mayor Finch shifts to Reverend Moales in Bridgeport Special State Senate Election

 

Other key issues including the Achievement First Inc Charter School Money Grab in New Haven

The “done deal” to divert scarce public funds to another Achievement First Inc. hits a road block

New Haven (& CT) Taxpayers to subsidize Achievement First’s corporate development plan?

Parents, Teachers and Taxpayers – Beware the Achievement First Inc. Money Grab in New Haven

Charter School Renewal in CT: The Accountability Is Flexible (By Robert Cotto Jr.)

Without A Net – The challenge of learning in chaos (By Wendy Lecker)

Teachers across America are fighting for their students – Where the hell are CT’s teacher unions

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Governor Malloy has made it painfully clear – he intends to stay the course on the discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

This from the Governor who said he didn’t mind teachers teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up.

The truth is that Common Core SBAC Test is rigged to ensure that the majority of Connecticut students are deemed failures.

Furthermore, the outrageous and absurd Common Core Test is particularly unfair for children of color, children who aren’t fluent in the English Language and children who require special educations services.

Despite these facts, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education voted to set the pass/fail mark at a level that as many as 7 in 10 students will fail and the State Department of Education continues to instruct local superintendents to mislead parents into believing that they do not have the fundamental right to protect their children by opting them out of this dangerous testing scheme.

But of course, parents have the fundamental right to protect their children and there is absolutely no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or local school districts to punish children whose parents refuse to allow their children to be abused by this Common Core testing system.

In state’s across the nation, public teachers are stepping forward and risking their jobs to say enough is enough and that the massive and inappropriate Common Core Testing Scheme has got to be stopped before it unfairly defines an entire generation of children as failures.

In many cases, teacher unions are taking the lead in speaking out for students, parents and teachers against the Common Core Testing program.

But from the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter these has been no public criticism of Governor Malloy or his reliance on the Common Core Testing scam that seeks to undermine public education in Connecticut and denigrate teachers and the teaching profession.

Instead the leadership of the two teacher unions endorsed Malloy in his re-election campaign and the American Federation of Teachers provided Malloy in excess of $600,000 to fund his campaign.

The time is long past due for the leaders of Connecticut’s teachers unions to join their colleagues in other states and condemn the Common Core Testing system.  The teachers unions need to demand a halt to this year’s testing program and demand that the test results from this unfair test are not used to evaluate the hardworking and dedicated public school teachers of Connecticut.

If the leadership of Connecticut’s teacher unions need some guidance on what to say about the disastrous Common Core Testing is, here are just a few of the many links they should follow;

Chicago Teachers Union joins growing national opposition to deeply flawed Common Core Standards

Resolution to Support the “I Refuse” Movement

Includes New York Associated Teachers of Huntington, Baldwin Teachers Association, Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers, Bellport Teachers Association, Bethpage Congress of Teachers, Brentwood Teachers Association, Brockport Teachers Association, Camden Teachers Association, Central Islip Teachers Association, Clarkstown Teachers Association, Connetquot Teachers Association, Farmingdale Federation of Teachers, Fulton Teachers Association, Hamburg Teachers Association, Hastings Teachers Association, Ichabod Crane Teachers Association, Islip Teachers Association, Kingston Teachers Federation, Lancaster Central Teachers Association, Lakeland Federation of Teachers, Lawrence Teachers’ Association, Levittown Teachers Union, Locust Valley School Employees Association, Lynbrook Teachers Association, Miller Place Teachers Association, MORE Caucus (NYC), New Hartford Teachers Association, New Paltz United Teachers, New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees, New York Mills Teachers’ Association, North Rockland Teachers Association, North Syracuse Education Association, Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers, Plainedge Federation of Teachers, Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers, Port Jefferson Teachers Association, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, Rocky Point Teachers Association, Rome Teachers Association, Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association, Springville Faculty Association, Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association, Teachers Association of Lindenhurst, Troy Teachers Association, Valley Stream Teachers Association, West Babylon Teachers Association, West Canada Valley Teachers Association, West Genesee Teachers’ Association, West Seneca Teachers Association

Portland teachers Oregon union resolution objects to new Smarter Balanced test

Florida Education Association & Palm Beach County Pass Anti-Testing Resolutions

Boston Teachers Union Resolution Against Testing

BAT JOINT RESOLUTION FOR TEST REFUSAL/APPR RESOLUTION

Another effort to stamp out democracy in Bridgeport – What is it with Mayor Finch and the Charter School Industry?

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What is it with Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Connecticut’s Charter School Industry?

We already know these people have a problem with democracy, but here we go again!

First Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and his Corporate Education Reform Industry allies persuaded Governor Malloy’s administration to illegally take over the Bridgeport School System.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ended up intervening and forcing the state of Connecticut to hand Bridgeport’s Schools back to the voters of Bridgeport.

As a result of Malloy’s illegal action, the Supreme Court even had to order a new election to fill the seats on Bridgeport’s democratically elected Board of Education.

But not to let a little thing like the law stand in the way, Bridgeport Mayor Finch and his supporters then tried to jam through a change in Bridgeport’s City Charter that would have completely eliminated a democratically elected Board of Education.

Mayor Finch’s solution was to replace democracy with a board of education appointed by him.

The Charter Revision campaign failed, but not before Finch and his Charter School buddies spent a record breaking amount of money.

Political Action Committees affiliated with the Corporate Education Reform Industry spent over $560,000 trying to convince Bridgeport voters to give up their democratic rights.

Major contributors to the anti-democracy campaign included the Charter School front group Excel Bridgeport ($101,803); Michele Rhee and the charter school advocacy group StudentsFirst ($185,480); Achievement First Bridgeport Chairman Andy Boas’ personal foundation ($14,000); ConnCAN ($14,000); Harbor Yard Sports & Entertainment ($14,442); Pullman & Comely law firm ($7,000); Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($25,000); Achievement First and ConnCAN founder Jonathan Sackler ($50,000); and a who’s who of the Bridgeport’s business community.

After failing to persuade Bridgeport voters to hand their schools over to a non-elected Board of Education, Charter School Team Finch went on to lose both a Democratic Primary and the General Election for the Bridgeport Board of Education.

But apparently Finch and the Charter School elite that have been targeting Bridgeport over the past few years just won’t rest until they actually destroy democracy in Bridgeport

Their next target appears to be Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, an organization that has been around for 45 years and has become a strong and effective voice for Bridgeport’s parents and students.

And an effective voice for parents is apparently just too much democracy and power for the Finch loyalists who are now engaged in an undemocratic strategy to derail this important vehicle for parent involvement in Bridgeport’s schools.

Late last Friday a “special notice” was sent out announcing that the Bridgeport Board of Education would be holding a “Special Meeting” to deal with the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council tomorrow – Monday, February 23, 2015.

The notice for a special meeting comes despite the fact that the Bridgeport Board of Education already has a regular meeting scheduled for 6:30 P.M.

Issuing an updated agenda would have been easy enough, but the pro-charter school, anti-democracy crowd went with the “Special Meeting” tactic.

Why would they want a “Special Meeting” instead of taking up whatever clandestine effort they are going to attempt at the Bridgeport Board of Education’s regular Monday Meeting an hour and a half later?

Because under their rules, the public is not allowed an opportunity to speak to the Board of Education at Special Meetings, whereas at regular meetings public input is allowed.

No really…

While it appears true that we are called the United States of America where the notion of freedom and democracy is supposed to be among our most cherished fundamental and inalienable rights, but when it comes to the Charter School Industry’s agenda and tactics, nothing is sacred.

Apparently “simply” undermining democracy isn’t enough for the charter school advocates.

They are not only engaged in a strategy to undermine Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, but they want to do it in a way that completely and utterly destroys the notion that Bridgeport’s parents even have Freedom of Speech or the right to be heard before their government takes action against them.

Adding further insult to the already absurd farce is that the “Special meeting” is scheduled for 5:00 PM, a time many parents and community members are still working or are busy fulfilling child raising duties and unable to make it to a hastily scheduled Board of Education Meeting.

The agenda for the “Special Meeting” is ominously entitled, “Discussion and Possible Action on District PAC Leadership.”

The agenda item being a not so hidden reference that the Board of Education may take “action” against Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council.

The entire development is just one more disgusting reminder that while we claim to be fighting the enemies of freedom abroad, some of the most serious threats to our American principles can be found right here at home.

If you happen to know Mayor Finch or his Charter School Allies…

Oh, never mind, it is no use talking to them, they simply don’t care about notions like democracy and Freedom of Speech.

And tomorrow they will try to prove that point yet again.

To them, the end always justifies the means and the Corporate Education Reform Industry won’t stop until they truly destroy public education in our country.

Here is to the hope that our fellow citizens in Bridgeport can fight back against the anti-democracy movement that is out to get them.

Hey Reverend Moales – Where is the missing money?

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This coming Tuesday, Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. is hoping that the voters of the 23rd State Senate District will come out and make  him Connecticut’s newest State Senator in the Special Election.

However among the various clouds that hang over his head is the unanswered question of what happened to all the missing money.

Reverend Moales brags that he is a millionaire.

And maybe he is.

The member (and former chairman) of the Bridgeport Board of Education sends his children to some of the most elite and expensive private schools in Connecticut; Fairfield College Preparatory School, Fairfield Country Day School and Ridgefield Academy.

Together, the tuition for those three schools exceeds $90,000 a year.

At that rate, putting three, let alone four, kids through private school until college would cost in excess of $3.2 million.

But at the same time Moales hasn’t been paying his bills.

For example, he hasn’t been paying Foundation Capital Resources, the mortgage company that provided him with more than $7.3 million to build his Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.

Moales owes another $225,000 to Bridgeport’s now defunct The Community Bank and as much as $500,000 or more to a variety of vendors, as well as, to the City of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut for back taxes.

Moales’ other troubles include being caught twice in the last few years driving two different unregistered automobiles that are “owned” by his Church, a Cadillac Escalade and a Mercedes Benz.

According to court records, Kenneth Moales borrowed more than $7 million from Foundation Capital Resources promising in return to build a multifaceted Cathedral and community center.

However what is sitting at 689 Union Avenue and called the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is but a portion of what he promised to build according to the original mortgage documents and the present building has never been valued at more than $4.8 million.  It is presently assessed at only $3.4 million.

Moales once told the Connecticut Post that he was a pastor and a businessman, with degrees in both accounting and religion.  He said he also runs a financial consulting business.

Moales added, “Our church is very strong financially, we have seen an increase in our membership and a 40 percent increase in our revenue.”

A millionaire, who is head of a financially strong church that has enjoyed a 40 percent increase in revenue, wants voters to support him in Tuesday’s Special State Senate Election.

There is still time for the Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. to step forward and explain what happened to all the missing money and why he thinks it is appropriate to brag about his millions while he fails to pay his bills or follow the laws that apply to everyone else in our state.

Perhaps one of the local media outlets in Bridgeport would provide Mr. Moales with an opportunity to tell the truth about his financial affairs before Election Day.

Charter School Renewal in CT: The Accountability Is Flexible (By Robert Cotto Jr.)

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Robert Cotto Jr. is the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives and Lecturer in the Educational Studies Program at Trinity College. He is also an elected member of the Hartford Board of Education and he writes for the blog; The Cities, Suburbs & Schools Project.

For the original of this post go to http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2015/02/21/charter-school-renewal-in-ct-the-accountability-is-flexible/

Charter School Renewal in CT: The Accountability Is Flexible (By Robert Cotto Jr.)

Over the next few months, the public and Legislature will debate whether charter schools in Connecticut are sufficiently regulated or not. The State Department of Education and Board of Education will also decide whether or not to renew six (6) existing charter schools in Connecticut.

Already this legislative session, there is a bill for a moratorium on new charter schools and a review of existing ones. There are also proposals for more charter schools in CT. A missing aspect of this debate has been the existing charter school renewal process. This process merits more scrutiny because the firm “accountability” it promises is actually more flexible than advertised and it stands in contrast with how other public schools are treated by the State.

When Connecticut lawmakers initially allowed charter schools to operate in 1997, a major guiding principle was an exchange of “flexibility” for “accountability”. In other words, private non-profit “entities” receive public funds to operate public charter schools with permission to operate outside of various state and local laws, such as limited or no requirements for teacher certification and collective bargaining; but only if they met State educational goals. Charter school laws and guiding principles are similar around the country.

In 2014, the State’s charter school report claimed that, “Connecticut’s charter school law and accountability plan administered by CSDE require charter schools to demonstrate their success and compliance with the law in exchange for their charters.” In 2010, the report put it more directly as success and compliance, “in exchange for autonomy from local boards of education.”

This concept suggests that if charter schools don’t meet defined goals or state educational interests, they will face concrete, firm, and predictable consequences. The case of charter schools renewals, past and present, shows that the concept of “accountability” for “flexibility” is more theory than practice. Instead, when it comes to charter schools, the “accountability” is “flexible” and consequences do not come their way in a regular or predictable fashion.

For other public schools, the concrete goals usually mean some test-score target defined each year; and the firm, predictable consequences for not meeting those targets can mean mandatory state or local intervention in managing the school, firing most of the staff, or converting the school to a private management company, or a charter school. Examples of this “test and punish” approach throughout Connecticut include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Lewis Fox Middle School in Hartford was closed and later replaced with an Achievement First Charter School
  • Milner Elementary School in Hartford and Paul L. Dunbar School in Bridgeport were reconstituted and then operated by Jumoke/FUSE charter management corporation through the controversial “commissioner’s network”. This experiment ended with the demise of FUSE/Jumoke.
  • Last year the State of CT and Hartford Public Schools attempted to close Clark Elementary and replace it with an Achievement First-managed charter school, but that effort failed.

There is a different approach for charter school renewal and evaluation. Depending on the particular charter, the non-profit, private organizations that operate a public charter school must go through a  process to determine whether they can keep their charter or lose permission from the state to operate the school. This process happens every three to five years for each charter school. The process is a way to regulate all charter schools and make sure they are serving the goals of public education.

The process to renew a charter has multiple parts and extends over several months. The charter operator must first submit an application to the State Department of Education explaining their work, including areas such as students’ academic progress (interpreted by the state as standardized test results), curriculum, staff development, finances, and governance (management & administration) of the school.

Six schools will go through the charter renewal process this school year (2014/2015). Those schools include: (click on the school name link for the 2014/15 renewal applications.)

These aren’t new charter schools, but have enrolled children for ten to twenty years at this point. Having opened in 1997, Odyssey, Common Ground, and ISAAC were among the first state charter schools created in Connecticut.

Here’s a list from The CT Mirror for future charter school renewal years.

The next step is that the State Department of Education reviews the application and conducts a site visit to observe how a school operates compared to the description in their renewal application. A look into this process can be seen in this letter from CT SDE’s charter school program manager to administrators at the Common Ground High School in 2009, when the school was last up for a review. The letter shows some of the criteria for the charter renewal, which includes categories listed above, such as finance, test results, etc. If the school is meeting its goals and the educational interests of the state, then the State Board of Education can renew the school’s charter.

The state’s charter school law, specifically Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-66bb(g), outlines basic criteria that should guide the State Board of Education in deciding whether or not to renew a school’s charter. The criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • “student progress”,
  • administrative irresponsibility or misuse of public funds,
  • non-compliance with applicable state laws,
  • and failure to attract, enroll, and retain certain demographic groups such as students with disabilities and emerging bilingual children, identified as “English Language Learners.

It’s worth reading the CT charter school renewal law here.

The law leaves the door open for flexibility in this process. The text states that the State Board of Education “shall” (must) take into account the findings of a holistic, independent appraisal, but “may” (can) deny the application based on criteria in four categories, but not necessarily others. In short, the law does not require the State Board of Education to deny a charter renewal application for any particular reason, although it may do so.

In this way, lawmakers created loose rules in the charter renewal process. Like a judge may have discretion on a legal matter, or a psychologist uses clinical judgement, the CT State Department of Education reviews charter schools on a case by case basis and has a wide range of options in responding to their strengths and weaknesses. This provides administrative leeway or flexibility for state charter schools in Connecticut in the charter renewal process, but is contrary to this apparently strict mantra of “more accountability for more flexibility.”

Not included in the above section of charter school renewal law or the checklist are requirements to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation or other state laws. To that point, the very next section of the charter school law states:

(h) The Commissioner of Education may at any time place a charter school on probation if (1) the school has failed to

(A) adequately demonstrate student progress, as determined by the commissioner,
(B) comply with the terms of its charter or with applicable laws and regulations,
(C) achieve measurable progress in reducing racial, ethnic and economic isolation, (continued…)

Finally, the state can revoke a charter at any time in cases of an emergency, or with written notice for failure in any of the areas listed above. The commissioner has to provide notice in writing about why she/he moved to revoke the charter. The law states:

(i) The State Board of Education may revoke a charter if a charter school has failed to:

(1) Comply with the terms of probation, including the failure to file or implement a corrective action plan;
(2) demonstrate satisfactory student progress, as determined by the commissioner;
(3) comply with the terms of its charter or applicable laws and regulations; or
(4) manage its public funds in a prudent or legal manner.

Even if the State Board of Education moves to revoke a charter, the “governing council”, or a charter school’s managing board, can provide an oral or written presentation to contest the State’s decision to revoke the charter and demonstrate compliance in areas deemed deficient.

Perhaps because of the flexibility in the charter renewal law, there have been times when charter schools have been renewed despite apparent examples of not meeting specified goals, the listed criteria in statute, or educational interests of the State. Another possibility is that the implementation of the policy has not been sufficiently discerning to identify major problems such as financial malfeasance or the mistreatment of children.

As a result of this flexibility, the state Board nearly always renews charters. Between 2010-2013, all 17 charter schools  in the state obtained a renewed charter from the State Board of Education, according to this list  from the CT Mirror. (excluding one that became an interdistrict magnet school) Non-charter public schools have not been so fortunate as they have had to follow strict federal and state rules and consequences, primarily on the basis of standardized test results. Since 2007, at least ten non-charter schools in Hartford, CT alone were closed or the staff fired on the basis of rigid test-based targets and subsequent punishments as outlined in state, federal, and local policy.

(Note: To my knowledge, there isn’t a list of all CT schools that have been closed, reconstituted, converted to charters, turn(ed) around, or restarted as a result of NCLB/RttT test-based accountability. If you know of a list, please share!)

Take the charter schools requirements to enroll representative populations of emerging bilingual students and students with disabilities and the reduction of racial and ethnic isolation. In my report with Kenny Feder, “Choice Watch,” over at CT Voices for Children, we reported that charter schools in CT tend to have smaller proportions of emerging bilingual children and children with disabilities when compared to local school districts, and are often more racially segregated than local school districts. Yet, no charter school was revoked because it didn’t include emerging bilingual students, children with disabilities, or because it was racially segregated, as state law would suggest.

When problems are found, the State Board of Education has often allowed schools to keep their charters rather than closing the school through a non-renewal. In some cases, the State board required more frequent review of charter schools, such as a renewal process after three years rather than five, for example. This scenario happened in 2007 with Common Ground and Odyssey Community School (due to poor test data) and Achievement First-Hartford in 2013 (due to excessive suspensions/special education/civil rights complaints). In other cases, schools received “probation” by the State Board of Education before a charter was revoked or non-renewed. Examples of this action included Highville/Mustard Seed (due to financial malfeasance) and Jumoke (due to financial malfeasance).

According to past and recent State Department of Education reports on the operation of charter schools, only five charter schools closed their doors since 1999. Three closed because of insufficient funds, despite the fact that the State Dept. of Education was required to review their financial plans before a charter was granted. Additionally, the CT State Board of Education shut down one charter school for health/safety violations and closed one charter school because of lack of academic progress.

Even relatively low test scores haven’t been a sufficient reason to deny a charter renewal. When its charter was renewed in 2012, Trailblazers Academy charter school had among the lowest aggregate test results in CT. By the rules of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Trailblazers had not met “Annual Yearly Progress” for six years.

Stamford Academy, which had among the lowest aggregate test results in 2013 is now in a similar situation this year as it faces a charter renewal process. (They are up for a renewal after only three years.) By 2010-11, Stamford Academy hadn’t made “Annual Yearly Progress” for five years.

(Note: Annual Yearly Progress was such a problematic measure that it was abandoned by the CT State and U.S. Federal Departments of Education in Connecticut’s 2012 waiver to parts of the NCLB Act.)

According to the logic of more “accountability” for more “flexibility”, shouldn’t these schools have lost their charters?

Despite not making AYP (the goal back then) and the State reporting this negative status, it is still unclear why these charter schools never faced the same sorts of clear, strict punishments as other public schools under NCLB. While the CT State Department of Education and State Board of Education delegated the responsibility of implementing NCLB sanctions to local districts for schools under local control, they apparently haven’t assumed that responsibility for schools under their own supervision in recent years.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, if these schools had been non-charter public schools, they would have been targeted for punishments such as firing the entire staff, notifying parents that they could choose to go to another school, closing the school, state takeover, conversion to charter schools, or taking away public governance in favor of private management. Ironically, Stamford Academy and Trailblazers were the end goal of No Child Left Behind – privately managed, publicly-financed state charter schools that parents chose to enroll their children, ostensibly to produce higher test scores. Yet, they were still amongst the most struggling academically and the state renewed their charters in 2012.

In defense of these schools, (Trailblazers, Stamford Academy, and others) perhaps they are offering educational benefits not captured by overall low test results. Stamford Academy and Trailblazers Academy enrolled high proportions of children that struggled in school. These schools also served a much more historically under-served group of children, mostly Black, Latino, low-income, and many more students with disabilities when compared to the more affluent Stamford Public Schools, which also have higher proportions of white students.

I am not advocating that Trailblazers and Stamford Academy should close because I don’t have enough information on either one to make a judgement, nor would closing the schools improve them. But I am pointing out that there have been two sets of rules when it comes to state “accountability”. Several years ago, Wendy Lecker also pointed to what appeared to be “double standards” in evaluating charter and other public schools in her column at The Stamford Advocate.

Let’s also consider what the renewal process has looked like for some of Connecticut’s charter schools that look better as measured by test score data. When its charter was renewed in 2012, the State touted Amistad Academy’s high test results compared to New Haven schools in 5th grade, and particularly for 8th grade students.

The state’s resolution on Amistad Academy noted that the school didn’t meet “Annual Yearly Progress” in the elementary grades, but did in the high school grades in 2010-11. But there didn’t appear to be any firm academic goals apart from the AYP metric, just general description of its test results and how they were better than the New Haven Public Schools overall. There was a presentation of test results with some narrative, particularly of the vertical scale scores offered as evidence in the final resolution to approve the charter renewal.

Undiscussed however, was the fact that the test participation data showed massive student attrition at Amistad Academy. In 2008, there were 76 students in grade 5, but there were only 53 students that matched that group in grade 8 in 2011. This was a loss of 30% of the student population from the original 76 students that started 5th grade in 2008.

So the high overall test results in 8th grade only accounted for 70% of the kids that stayed at the school-those students that took the standard CMT in math in both grade 5 and grade 8 at Amistad Academy. This attrition happened in CT and New Haven overall, but not to the same degree. Such attrition impacted the way the test results were interpreted (we are only looking at 70% of an already selected cohort) and the manner in which the test results were obtained (removing low-scoring or undesirable students can inflate results at this school and impact other local schools that later enroll these students). This attrition went unmentioned in the State Board’s renewal resolution despite one of the questions in the State checklist being, “Is there a high turnover of students?”

The State’s resolution, referencing the audit and site visit, also explained that the school lacked curricula in grades 3-8 science, K-12 health, physical education, and the arts. There were also problems with financial controls and safeguards between Achievement First, Inc, the private charter management corporation, and Amistad Academy, the public charter school; and many of the school’s teachers lacked proper state certification. The school was allowed to remedy, or begin fixing these deficiencies before their hearing at the State Board of Education, thus securing a renewed charter.

In Connecticut, there are laws against both excessive suspensions of students and racial/ethnic segregation of students, particularly for charter schools. [see above CGS Sec. 10-66bb(h)] But the renewal process for Amistad Academy ignored its exclusionary disciplinary policies, racial and ethnic segregation, and provided no analysis of representative populations of bilingual children and students with disabilities, among others. To be sure, these issues aren’t specified in the renewal checklist, but the school is required to follow applicable laws and regulations, including laws about students suspensions, special education rights, and racial and ethnic segregation, among others.  A year after the Amistad renewal, The CT Mirror and The Hartford Courant reported that Amistad Academy and its Achievement First affiliates had the highest numbers and rates of suspensions of children in CT. As Choice Watch reported, the school was (and still is) racially segregated, as well as most charter schools in CT.

Amistad Academy may be a school that people want their children to attend amidst the relative disinvestment, neglect, and mis-education of children of color in other schools. However, parent and families’ decisions about schools happen in the context of State over-investment and policy in favor of public school choice programs and under-investment in other public schools with high proportions of low income and Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino children.  This arrangement is a key feature of Connecticut educational policy, like other states. (See M. Apple, P. Lipman, & K. Buras writing on this issue.)

Regardless of Admistad Academy’s status, the State’s own charter renewal report documented educational concerns and overlooked substantial problems. It was not until then-State Child Advocate Jamey Bell intervened that the suspension information and the depth of the problem became known to the public, particularly throughout the Achievement First charter school chain. As a result of State and public pressure, Achievement First/Amistad has reportedly made improvements to its disciplinary policies; and lately the company has explored the idea of alternative methods in addition to its current “no excuses” schooling.

Like all schools, Amistad Academy has both its strengths and  weaknesses. Recognizing this point, the State’s charter renewal process has been flexible in its approach towards renewal and remediation of charter schools, instead of responding with rigid “accountability.” In addition to flexible, the state’s approach has also been selective in valuing particular types of “achievement” data first, and everything else after.

Accountability at Traditional Public Schools

In Connecticut, however, plenty of other non-charter public schools have similar groups of children as Stamford Academy and Trailblazers Academy charter schools, may need more support, and struggled on overall test results. Unlike these two charter schools, other public schools faced crude forms of high-stakes test accountability under federal, state, and local rules.

This flexible “accountability” stands in stark contrast to the regimented consequences that other public schools face under the No Child Left Behind Act, NCLB Waiver, and other high-stakes test accountability systems such as in Hartford, Connecticut. These systems outline firm, test-based numerical targets and emphasize clear punishments when the goals aren’t met, such as school closings, conversion to charter schools or private management. Unlike the charter renewal process, there are rarely second or third chances for other non-charter public schools, and excuses aren’t acceptable when it comes their “accountability” process.

So here’s a dilemma: Carefully implemented, the ability of  authorities to have administrative discretion (reviewing each school on a case by case basis) and assess schools holistically may be pragmatic and humane policy in some cases. In other cases, this flexibility can result in vague, selective accountability. It’s worth considering this local administrative judgement and holistic assessment in the context of all public schools. So I will explore this idea in a future post.

In the meantime, let’s watch this charter renewal process. The charter renewal process offers the possibility for people and groups to weigh in through letters to the State Department of Education, a public hearing for people to testify about the school’s work, and, ultimately, people can testify at the CT State Board of Education before a school’s charter is renewed.

The dates, times, and locations for the local public hearings on these charter school renewals are here and the chart is below. So take a look at the charter school applications and the process documents. In the meantime, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is the State of Connecticut exercising sufficient oversight of charter schools through the renewal process? Is the law sufficient?
  • Are these charter schools meeting their goals and the educational interests of the State?
  • What evidence should be weighed in this process of charter renewal?
  • Can the holistic process of reviewing charter schools be applied to other public schools?

(Note: Comments are activated and you can now share this link with a “share it” button.)

 

Charter Renewal
Public Hearings 2014-15

School Name Dates Time Hearing Location
Robert Trefry

New Beginnings Family Academy

Tuesday
February 24, 2015
6:00 -8:00 pm Bridgeport City Hall
Common Council Chambers
45 Lyon Terrace

Bridgeport, CT 06604

Estela Lopez

Odyssey

Wednesday
February 25, 2015
6:00 -8:00 pm Howell Cheney Technical High Multi-Purpose Room

791 W. Middle Turnpike

Manchester, CT 06040

Stephen Wright

Stamford Academy

Thursday
February 26, 2015
6:00 -8:00 pm J. M. Wright Technical
High School

Gymnasium
120 Bridge St.
Stamford, CT 06905
Charles Jaskiewicz

ISAAC

Tuesday
March 3, 2015
6:00 -8:00 pm Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern CT
Lecture Hall
490 Jefferson Avenue

New London, CT 06320

Allan Taylor

Explorations

Thursday
March 5, 2015
6:00 -8:00 pm Winsted Town Hall
P. Francis Hicks Room
338 Main Street
Winsted, CT 06098
Maria Mojica

Common Ground

Tuesday
March 10, 2015
6:00 -8:00 pm Wilbur Cross High School
Auditorium

181 Mitchell Drive

New Haven, CT 06511

– See more at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/?p=11615&preview=true#sthash.pXBOv16N.dpuf

 

 

Without A Net – The challenge of learning in chaos

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Education advocate and commentator Wendy Lecker has yet another – MUST READ – piece in this weekend’s Stamford Advocate and on the Hearst Media website.  You can find the original at: Wendy Lecker: The challenge of learning in chaos.

The challenge of learning in chaos

The notion of equal educational opportunity was explained clearly by Kansas Judge Terry Bullock in a 2003 school funding decision: “If a child lives a great way from school, the transportation cost for that child will be greater than for another child nearer to school — just to provide him or her the same educational opportunity. Similarly, if a child cannot speak English, it may cost more to teach that child English as a second language before the child can learn math and other subjects.”

In other words, providing equal opportunity means meeting children where they are — helping them overcome their individual obstacles to learning. Judge Bullock recognized that although those obstacles often exist outside the school walls, overcoming them is part of the state’s constitutional obligation to provide a free public education.

A new UCLA report centers on those out-of-school factors that interfere with learning. The report, titled “It’s About Time,” found that community stressors such as economic distress, hunger, lack of medical care, family problems, unstable housing and violence, result in lost learning time three times as often in high poverty schools as in low poverty schools.

While the report focuses on California, I have heard identical stories from teachers, principals and district officials in Connecticut and New York. Children in impoverished districts often arrive at school hungry, without coats, socks or with broken glasses. High school students miss the first few periods of each school day because they must ensure their younger siblings get to school safely. Children bring to school the instability they experience in their lives.

These are not isolated stories. These are the barriers many poor children encounter every day when they try to learn, and teachers encounter when they try to teach. Before a child can focus on learning, she needs to be fed and clothed and have a way to deal with any trauma she may have experienced the night before. This is why social workers, behavioral specialists, psychologists, counselors and other therapists are essential educational resources. “Support staff” is a misnomer.

More than half of American public schoolchildren live in poverty. Consequently an increasing number of schools must contend with the chaos that surrounds the lives of their students. However, as the number of poor public schoolchildren rises, schools have fewer resources to help. Most states provide schools with less funding today than they did before the recession hit. And the number of federal dollars, a very small percentage of a school district’s budget to begin with, has also shrunk considerably. The poorest districts are least able to fill in those chasms with local tax dollars.

The result? Every year, our poorest school districts must slash millions of dollars from their budgets. That means cutting services.

Teachers pick up the slack. They find jackets for students, feed them, buy school supplies and give up their lunch periods to counsel them. The UCLA report found that teachers in high poverty schools spend time “addressing a variety of important academic, social, and long-term planning issues with their students more frequently than teachers in Low Poverty schools.”

The report dispels the “absurd notion,” as former Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville once said, that “all the incompetency in our education systems has coincidentally aggregated around low income students.” Teachers in high poverty schools go above and beyond to meet their students’ needs. It is not about incompetence. It is about lack of resources.

One has to wonder why the Obama administration pushes policies that not only fail to correct the inequalities in educational resources, but instead exacerbate them.

The UCLA report revealed that poor schools lose three times more instructional days than low poverty schools to standardized testing and test prep — more than four weeks of instructional time.

It is now well-established that standardized tests do not improve learning, and narrow a school’s curriculum. It is also well-known that yearly testing is unnecessary, since a child who passes a test one year is overwhelmingly likely to pass the next.

Yet U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan clings to the faulty conviction that children must suffer through standardized tests every year so that children “do not fall through the cracks.” How absurd. Teachers know which children are struggling academically.

If policymakers were truly concerned with children falling through the cracks, they would make sure that every school had a safety net to catch them. Too often, our neediest children must face life’s harshest realities. It is time politicians stop ignoring how those realities impact our schools.

For more go to: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-challenge-of-learning-in-chaos-6093176.php

Parents & Teachers Please Read – the Common Core Test is rigged to fail students

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RE-POSTING: IMPORTANT – Parents, teachers, school administrators, elected officials – PLEASE READ

The Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, like the parallel PARCC test – is rigged to fail the majority of students.  If parents don’t act and opt their children out of this unfair testing scheme their children could easily be tagged as failures when they are not!

Like all standardized tests, the Common Core SBAC discriminates against students who come from poor households, students who are not fluent in the English language and students who have special education needs.

But worse, unlike the traditional Connecticut Master Test which was more or less designed to determine whether students were learning what was being taught at their grade level in Connecticut, the Common Core SBAC test is rigged to determine that the vast majority of Connecticut students are deemed failures because they are not at “goal” level.

First off, the Common Core SBAC exam fails to test students on what they have been learning in Connecticut.  Instead the Common Core SBAC test is seeking to determine if students have reached a level that is about two grade levels above the present curriculum.

Second, and even more troubling, Governor Malloy’s administration approved Common Core SBAC pass/fail “cut scores” that are intentionally set to ensure that as many as six in ten children fail to meet goal in English and as many as seven in ten fail to reach goal in Math.

To repeat, the Common Core SBAC pass/fail rate is intentionally set to ensure that the vast majority of public school students are deemed failures, and making the situation even more unfair, the Common Core SBAC scheme particularly targets minority students, poor students, children who are not proficient in English and students with disabilities that require special education services.

Although tens of thousands of students participated in last year’s Common Core SBAC “Test of the Test,” Governor Malloy’s administration has refused to release the test results fearing, no doubt, that by informing parents, teachers, elected officials and the public of the results of the unfair Common Core SBAC test, opposition to these inappropriate standardized tests will grow exponentially.

It is unclear exactly what data that they Malloy’s Department of Education has been given by the SBAC organization, but documents available through the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC) reveal that data from last year’s massive testing program were available at least as early as December 22, 2014.

A review of the national results of the SBAC data makes it extremely clear why the Malloy administration would want to cover up and keep the Connecticut SBAC results because they clearly show that the Common Core SBAC test is even more discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate than critics ever imagined.

Here is just a quick snapshot of some of the Common Core SBAC results to date.

#1 Fourth Grade Math Scores CMT VS. COMMON CORE SBAC

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 66% 36%
Boys 68% 39%
African American 38% 15%
Latino 45% 21%
White 78% 43%
Special Education 36% 13%
ELL/English Language Learners 27% 10%
Free Lunch 41% 22%

 

#2 Fourth Grade Writing/English Language Arts Scores CMT VS. COMMON CORE SBAC

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 73% 46%
Boys 59% 36%
African American 42% 24%
Latino 44% 25%
White 76% 48%
Special Education 21% 16%
ELL/English Language Learners 27% 10%
Free Lunch 42% 27%

 

#3 Eighth Grade Math Scores CMT VS. COMMON CORE SBAC

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 67% 32%
Boys 66% 33%
African American 37% 16%
Latino 39% 19%
White 79% 40%
Special Education 28% 8%
ELL/English Language Learners 13% 5%
Free Lunch 36% 20%

 

#4 Eight Grade Writing/English Language Arts Scores CMT VS. COMMON CORE SBAC

Demographic % at goal according to the Connecticut Mastery Test 2011 % at goal according to the Common Core SBAC Test 2014 (National Data)
Girls 73% 49%
Boys 58% 34%
African American 40% 23%
Latino 39% 29%
White 76% 49%
Special Education 20% 9%
ELL/English Language Learners 9% 5%
Free Lunch 36% 29%

 

After reviewing this data, parents should take immediate steps to opt their children out of the discriminatory Common Core SBAC test.

And then they should be asking why this data has not been shared with local boards of education and parents.

The time to protect your children from the inappropriate Common Core SBAC testing scam is now!

You can find a sample opt-out letter here; Sample opt out letter for Connecticut parents

Source of Data

CMT via Connecticut State Department of Education CEDAR

SBAC Field Test Data by Demographic Group, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium 21/22/2014

Malloy budget targets most vulnerable among us

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As we know, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy promised that he would not propose or accept any tax increase if he was elected to a second term  and then went ahead and proposed over $900 million in revenue “enhancements” in his budget address this week.

Malloy also used his re-election campaign to promise that he would maintain funding for local cities and towns and would not cut vital services.

On budget day, in the same document he proposed flat funding Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing education funding formula; he cut about $70 million from a variety of important public education programs that assist local schools as they seek to serve some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children.

And as if all of that wasn’t revolting enough, Malloy reserved his most drastic and draconian cuts for some of the state’s most important social service programs.

In a powerful and MUST READ commentary piece, Sarah Darer Littman lays out the truth about Malloy’s devastating budget plan in her commentary piece at the CTNewsjunkie;

Governor’s Budget Ignores Evidence, Hits Vulnerable (By Sarah Darer Littman)

Last week, after two years of hearing testimony, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued its draft report.

One hundred and thirty pages of the 198-page report relate to mental health issues, and the importance of building “systems of care that actively foster healthy individuals, families and communities,” particularly in light of research showing that “approximately half of young people qualify for some behavioral health diagnosis by the time they reach 18.”

Yet less than a week later, when Gov. Malloy revealed his biennial budget for 2016-2017, it was as if the Commission had produced an expensive paperweight, for all the attention it received from the administration.

According to an analysis by CT Voices for Children,  the “Children’s Budget” – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget, yet over half (54 percent) of the governor’s proposed cuts come from programs affecting children and families.

That’s before we even get to health care and education.

The Sandy Hook report specifically mentioned the importance making it easier for families to obtain mental health services for young people. Yet the budget reduces funding for the Young Adult Services program by $2.7 million (3.3 percent) and reduces funding for school based health centers by $1 million (8.5 percent).

In the Department of Education, the governor plans to eliminate funding for “lower priority or non-statewide programs” by $ 6.2 million. Here we’re talking about programs such as Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership (LEAP); Connecticut PreEngineering Program; Connecticut Writing Project; neighborhood youth centers; Parent Trust; science program for Educational Reform Districts; wrap-around services; Parent Universities; school health coordinator pilot; technical assistance – Regional Cooperation; Bridges to Success; Alternative High School and Adult Reading; and School to Work Opportunities. Not only that,he’s cutting $6.49 million annually for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School components of the Priority School District Grant (i.e. grant program for districts with greatest academic need).

Wrap-around services, longer school days, and enrichment for students, particularly in the more disadvantaged districts, were something Malloy touted when he was selling his education reform package back in 2012. “It’s not as if we don’t know what works,” Malloy said in an article in the New Britain Herald: “wrap-around services, longer school days and longer school years, Saturday enrichment options.”

On top of what Malloy said, there’s over 100 years worth of research on summer learning loss. It disproportionately affects lower-income students whose parents can’t afford to send them to pricey summer camps or other enrichment activities. What’s more, the effects are cumulative, contributing to the achievement gap.

Take the time to read Sarah Darer Littman’s entire commentary piece.

You can find it at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_governors_budget_ignores_evidence_hits_vulnerable/

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