Achievement First/ConnCAN, Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Mass Insight company, Stefan Pryor Achievement First, Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
As if Connecticut’s Alliance School Districts (the 30 poorest school districts in the state) weren’t having enough problems, Stefan Pryor has managed to pour even more salt into the wounds that are dragging down public education in Connecticut.
Over at the State Department of Education, Stefan Pryor got rid of Connecticut’s experienced Leaders in Residence and the team of experts who were dedicated to helping Connecticut’s Priority School Districts improve educational opportunities in the state’s poorest districts.
In addition to dumping the four Leaders in Residence, Pryor got rid of the three retired superintendents, all of whom had extraordinary, real world experience in Connecticut’s communities.
Malloy’s Commissioner of Education even transferred out the expert in English Language Learning and bilingual programs, the expert in helping schools create successful multi-cultural environments and the expert on reducing school bullying, making schools safer and improving school climates.
He replaced all of this expertise with a $1 million contract with an out-of-state corporate education reform company that sent in five inexperienced consultants to tell Connecticut’s education leaders what to do.
The result has been chaos with many Alliance Districts unable to get the money and help that Malloy and the Connecticut Legislature promised them.
To make matters worse, a majority of the MassInsight company consultants have left and been replaced by even less experienced individuals.
With Alliance Districts twisting in the wind, Stefan Pryor brought in a new Director for his “Turnaround Office,” a principal from one of Pryor’s Achievement First, Inc. charter schools.
Morgan Barth is noteworthy in his own right. He says he worked as an Achievement First, Inc. teacher in Connecticut for six years. However, it appears that he was in those classrooms illegally because despite a state law mandating that all teachers be certified by the State Department of Education, Barth never bothered to become a Connecticut certified teacher.
Ironic that Morgan Barth, who refused to follow the laws of the State Department of Education, is now a senior manager at that very state agency.
But if it wasn’t already clear enough, Stefan Pryor has now proven that he is completely and utterly tone-deaf to the anger and frustration that is building up around the Malloy administration’s handling of public education policy in the state.
This week Morgan Barth proudly pronounced that Nasir Qadree, an Education Pioneer Fellow, Class of 2013, has joined Pryor’s “Turnaround Office.”
Nasir Qadree is new to the education management industry.
According to his bio, Qadree has been working in the “Investment Manager Services sleeve” of State Street Corporation where he was “responsible for covering North American Business Development and Sales.” Nasir worked with prospective clients to “review and align their current operations with State Street’s servicing model.”
Before that, “Nasir worked in the Institutional Equity Sales Research group of State Street Global Markets (SSGM). In this role, he introduced portfolio managers, analysts, and traders to SSGM’s proprietary macro and quantitative research.”
And “Prior to joining State Street, Nasir worked at Goldman Sachs in New York where he worked as an operations analyst on the Fixed Income Sales desk. At Goldman Sachs, he supported municipal bond and money market sales traders.”
Nasir Qadree received a B.S. from Hampton University in Marketing and reports that he did some tutoring in New York City.
It is unclear who is paying Nasir Qadree’s salary. He doesn’t show up (yet) on the state’s payroll but State Department of Education hasn’t gone through the necessary steps to take him on as a non-paid employee.
According to Morgan Barth though he is a “New Team Member,” with Barth writing, “Please join me in welcoming Nasir Qadree to the turnaround team. Nasir joins the SDE as an Education Pioneer Fellow…Nasir will initially support several projects pertaining to the Commissioner’s Network and charter schools.”
And rest assured that Nasir Qadree likes charter schools and charter school advocates;
Among his recent social media texts and posts were the following;
“I love this. Tireless KIPP teachers showing how much they care for the future of their KIPPsters (students), all through Hip-Hop.” (KIPP being one of the biggest charter school chains in the country).
“@CoryBooker excited to be begin working for your former colleague Stefan Pryor in CT, focusing tirelessly on #schoolturnaround.” To which Cory Booker responded, “He is a great man.”
Last week Qadree also tweeted, “Excited to participate in the Northeast Charter School Conference. #StudentsFirst.”
In conclusion, it is certainly clear that Governor Malloy reiterates his commitment to undermining Connecticut’s teachers, schools and our state’s system of public education.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Matt Poland, Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor
In true corporate education reformer fashion, Hartford’s out-going superintendent of schools is announcing that she will attempt to rush through a proposal to close the John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary & Middle School and hand the facility over to Achievement First, Inc. to run.
Clark School administrators and the Clark School Governance Council were only told of the proposal yesterday, October 24, 2013.
Hartford Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto will be meeting with parents this coming Monday, will explain her proposal to a Hartford Board of Education sub-committee on Tuesday and has announced that she expects the full Board of Education to approve the demise of Clark Elementary and Middle School at its November meeting.
The Clark School’s Panther Paws Pledge is, “I pledge today to do my best. In my life, I will invest. I promise to perform four deeds: Be respectful, be responsible, be caring, and be safe.”
Clearly Superintendent Kishimoto doesn’t subscribe to the same four “deeds” considering closing Clark and handing it over to Achievement First, Inc. is neither respectful nor responsible nor caring nor the right or safe thing to do for Hartford’s public school children
Presently the Clark School has special programming in conjunction The Village For Children and Families, UCONN’s Husky Sports Mentor Program and UCONN’s Read & Raise Program.
Clark was also the recipient of the “Ray of Hope” award for its state-of-the-art computer lab.
However, Hartford Superintendent of Schools Kishimoto, along with a majority on the Hartford Board of Education including Board Chairman Matt Poland and Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra have promised Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company another school in Hartford.
Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor. Achievement First is widely recognized for its failure to take its fair share of Latino students, its fair share of students who face language barriers and its fair share of students who need special education services.
Earlier this year, Poland, Segarra and the majority of the Hartford Board voted to give Achievement First, Inc. another Hartford school but ducked identifying which school it would be.
Now Kishimoto is announcing that the targeted school will be the Clark school and a rush vote will be taken in just a couple of weeks.
Kishimoto’s plan is to end Clark by phasing out its program and ramping up Achievement First, Inc. #2 to take its place.
Ordering the “Death Penalty” for Clark School will have a devastating impact on the community that utilizes this neighborhood school.
According to records filed with the State Department of Education;
- More than 95 percent of Clark’s students come from households that are so poor that children qualify for free and reduced lunches.
- More than 46 percent of Clark’s students are Hispanic, more than one in four come from households where English is not the primary language and at least 15 percent of Clark’s students are not proficient in English.
- In addition, nearly one in five students at Clark receive special education services
By targeting Clark Elementary and Middle School, Kishimoto, Hartford’s Mayor and the Board of Education are displacing the very type of students that Achievement First, Inc. has been unable or willing to serve.
Check back for additional details as they become available.
Achieve Hartford, Achievement First/ConnCAN, Alan Taylor, Charter Schools, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Stefan Pryor Allan Taylor, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor
Pryor packs Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan Advisory Committee with charter school and corporate reform advocates.
As mandated by Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-4(c), every five years the Connecticut State Board of Education must develop a new five-year Comprehensive Plan for Elementary, Secondary, Vocational, Career and Adult Education in Connecticut. Upon adoption by the State Board of Education, the plan is submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly’s Education Committee.
In the past, this process has been developed with the broad-based consensus of public educators from throughout Connecticut.
In December 2005, the State Board of Education appointed an advisory committee that included a broad array of organizations and individuals engaged in promoting public education in the state. Narrowly focused special interest lobbying groups such as the Connecticut Charter Schools Network (CCSN) were allowed to present testimony but were not put on the Advisory Committee.
The 2005 committee represented the wide spectrum of Connecticut’s public education community: teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, public school students, Connecticut’s technical schools and institutions of higher education made up the core of the committee along with some representatives of Connecticut’s business community.
Advisory committee members had a long track-record of expertise in Connecticut public schools working with a diverse population of Connecticut students. This is just the type of group we would want to determine the long-term vision for our school districts.
A comprehensive plan requires a broad thinking group that looks out for the interests of all our children.
But now that Governor Dannel Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor have taken the helm, those days are gone. Instead of appointing members dedicated to the long-term development of quality public education in Connecticut, they have poisoned the Advisory Committee and the process for developing the new five-year comprehensive plan by packing it with corporate education reform groups that have consistently revealed their narrow political agendas.
Public education has been a primary target of America’s growing corporate education reform industry. Over the past three years, these so-called reformers have spent a record breaking $6 million plus lobbying on behalf of Governor Malloy’s education reform initiatives, many of which have been aimed at promoting the privatization of public education in the state.
The corporate reformers also dumped record amounts into elections in Bridgeport, first in a failed effort to change the City’s charter to do away with a democratically-elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the mayor and then in a failed effort to elect members of the board of education who support Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas.
Now it has become painfully clear that all that money has paid off, at least when it comes to trying to control the discussion around Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan for 2013-2018.
The new Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee has been packed with pro-corporate reform organizations.
When the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee meets for the first time tomorrow from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Legislative Office Building many of the seats will be filled with corporate education reform industry representatives.
New members of the State Board of Education’s Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee include representatives from:
- Achieve Hartford!
- Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN)
- Connecticut Council on Education Reform
- Excel Bridgeport
- Northeast Charter Schools Network
- Students for Education Reform – Connecticut
- Teach for America – Connecticut
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), the charter school lobby group formed by the board members of Achievement First, Inc. has spent more than any other organization lobbying for Malloy’s Education Reform bills. Of course, ConnCAN’s relationship with Achievement First, Inc. is especially noteworthy since Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management company was co-founded by Stefan Pryor.
Connecticut Council on Education Reform is the New Haven-based, corporate-funded education reform organization that joined ConnCAN and Michelle Rhee’s Students First/GNEPSA in running television ads supporting Malloy’s reforms.
The Northeast Charter School Network is the New York based charter school advocacy group that recently merged with the Connecticut Charter School Network.
Students for Education Reform – is the quintessential corporate “astro turf” lobbying organization bankrolled by a variety of education reform groups. Recall that in 2012, Students for Education Reform organized a “ student demonstration” in favor of Malloy’s reforms on the Capitol steps but when students at the demonstration were questioned about why they were there, they had no idea what they were demonstrating about.
Students for Education Reform’s Board of Directors includes Jonathan Sackler who is also on the Boards of Achievement First, Inc. and ConnCAN. Another one of Students for Education Reform Directors is Justin Cohen. Cohen is the President of MassInsight, the out-of-state consulting company that recently received a $1 million contract from Pryor. Cohen also served as a moderator for Malloy’s education reform conference before Governor Malloy introduced his reform bill and Cohen traveled to Connecticut to submit testimony in support of Governor Malloy’s education reform bill when it was first introduced.
Prior to becoming President of Mass Insight Education’s School Turnaround Group, Justin Cohen was the Director of the Office of Portfolio Management and senior advisor to Chancellor Michelle Rhee at the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).
Excel Bridgeport and Achieve Hartford! are two corporate affiliated organizations that have worked toward expanding charter schools.
And Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter is the vendor that is making millions of dollars thanks to contracts in Bridgeport, Hartford, New London, New Haven, Windham and elsewhere to place minimally trained recent college graduates to fill jobs that should be held by certified Connecticut school teachers who have graduated from Connecticut’s college and universities. It should be noted that the Chairman of Excel Bridgeport’s Board of Directors is none other than the Executive Director of Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter.
Perhaps even more disturbing, Teach for America, along with ConnCAN, Excel’s leadership and State Board of Education President Allan Taylor, were the behind-the-scenes architects of the secret and illegal 2011 state takeover of Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education
Many of these groups, like Teach for America and the charter lobbies, have been singularly focused on using public funds to expand their businesses in Connecticut.
Charter schools serve 1% of Connecticut’s students. Yet they have been given SEVEN seats on the new Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee
Although some of these corporate education reform organizations have been plaguing our state for several years, others have absolutely no history in Connecticut.
All of these groups are primarily funded by national networks. Why should these narrow groups, dedicated to serving outside interests, be determining the future of Connecticut’s public education system?
Why should groups standing to gain contracts with the State Department of Education even be allowed to serve on this committee?
When it comes to pushing their pro corporate education reform industry agenda, there has been no doubt where Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor stand, but this latest move to ensure their agenda becomes part of Connecticut’s five year comprehensive education plan is perhaps their most offensive move yet.
Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Morgan Barth, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Commissioner Network, Fuse, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor
When in doubt, purchase a new data management system, give it a name that has nothing to do with education, hire more consultants and then hold as many meetings and “training sessions” as possible.
All paid for, or course, by the generous taxpayers of Connecticut (while school districts across the state go without adequate funding).
Here in Connecticut, the corporate education reform industry has become a caricature of itself.
This very afternoon, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth, his uncertified “Division Director of the Turnaround Office,” will be hosting the first “NetStat” meeting of the year with representatives of Pryor’s 11 Commissioner’s Network Schools.
The State Department of Education’s delegation will include the cadre of out-of-state consultants that arrived with the $1 million contract with the politically connected Mass Insight Company.
At last word, even Governor Malloy is planning to make an appearance at today’s meeting.
At today’s NetStat meeting, Pryor and Barth’s goal is to spotlight “the schools with ‘best-in-class’ results” which is more than a bit odd considering that half the schools have only been members of the Commissioner’s Network for one year and the other half just became Commissioner’s Network schools this past month.
But as Morgan Barth, the former teacher who couldn’t bother to become certified wrote in a recent memo, “We’ll hear many stories at NetStat including one from a dynamic duo – Karen Lott and Marilyn Taylor – respectively the principals of Milner and Dunbar. In visiting both schools I was impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate.”
Impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate?
Apparently Barth remains a big fan of the no excuses, no talking, march in a single line, hands at your sides, detention for wearing the wrong colored belt or not keeping your eyes on the teacher school climate approach.
And what a surprise that the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. (Stefan Pryor) and the former principal of an Achievement First, Inc. school (Morgan Barth) are bringing together schools from around the state so that they can “learn” about best practices from two privatized, “no excuses” schools that have been taken over by the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school chain.
It must be especially convenient since the COO of FUSE/Jumoke is a member of the State Board of Education, thanks to Governor Malloy, and she will probably be in attendance thanks to her role as that company’s leading voice in their expansion efforts.
Why not just be a bit more transparent and entitle the workshop; The Malloy Administration’s dedication to privatizing public education in Connecticut.
According to a copy of today’s agenda that was posted on the web, “Attendees will receive data packets for their schools, containing current and historic data for a universal set of leading and lagging indicators used to measure school turnaround.”
They’ll then spend that day analyzing the data using a “3-step data protocol” while “The Turnaround Office will present an 8-step change management process used to drive organizational effectiveness and improvement.”
The Bottom Line?
“School teams will learn more about the vision for and expansion of the Commissioner’s Network during the upcoming school year.”
Meanwhile, we are one hundred days into the school year and the same “Turnaround Office” has still failed to process all of the Year Two Alliance District Grants leaving at least a dozen school districts without the money they were promised by Governor Malloy and the General Assembly to help “turnaround” their schools this year.
And one of the towns left twisting in the wind?
The very community that reported this week that it might have to close its schools due to a lack of funds.
But no worries…
With the first NetStat meeting of the year being held, solving Connecticut’s school funding problem can’t be far behind.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Jonathan Kantrowitz, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Special Education Achievement First, Charter Schools, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Special Education
Most charter schools are failing to take their fair share of students who require special education services
You can always count on Connecticut resident, fellow blogger and public education advocate, Jonathan Kantrowitz, to explore the important issues with a sophisticated, fact-based approach.
In a new blog post entitled, “Why the Gap? Special Education and New York City Charter Schools,” Jonathan Kantrowitz examines data coming out of New York City about the failure of charter schools to take and keep students who need special education services.
This study, from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, uses NYC data to analyze the factors driving the gap in special education enrollment between charter and traditional public schools. Among the findings:
- Students with disabilities are less likely to apply to charter schools in kindergarten than are regular enrollment students. This is the primary driver of the gap in special education enrollments.
- The gap grows as students progress through elementary grades, largely because charter schools are less likely than district schools to place students in special education—and less likely to keep them there.
- The gap also grows as students transfer between charter and district schools. Between kindergarten and third grade, greater proportions of regular education students enter charter schools, compared to students with special needs.
- There is great mobility among special education students, whether they attend a charter or traditional public school. Close to a third of students in special education leave their school by the fourth year of attendance, whether they are enrolled in charters or traditional public schools.
Given the complex factors revealed by the study, the report cautions against simplistic policy solutions like quotas and enrollment targets. Instead, policy attention might be more usefully spent identifying and replicating effective academic or behavioral interventions that allow schools to declassify students with mild disabilities, and investigating why parents of students with special needs are not choosing charters early on.
You can read his full blog post here: http://educationresearchreport.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-gap-special-education-and-new-york.html
What is clear is that many charter schools want to claim the mantle of being public schools, but the majority fail to take their fair share of students who need special education services, just as they fail to take their fair share of students who need extra help when it comes to learning the English language.
There are undoubtedly charter schools that understand the fundamental role of public schools and do make a real effort to provide educational opportunities to the full range of students, but those charter schools are outliers compared to the vast majority of their colleagues.
As another New York City study found;
“…[NYC] charter schools enroll a smaller percentage of special education students than do district schools. But more importantly, charter schools do not enroll the same kind of special ed students as the district schools. While special education enrollment in charters grew over the last year, the special ed students who attend charters have much lower levels of disability than their special ed counterparts at neighboring district schools.
Practically none of the 57 charters we reviewed enroll “self-contained” students, the highest category of need, who must be taught in separate classrooms with one teacher for every 6 or 12 students. Very few enroll “collaborative team teaching” students, who are educated in mixed classrooms with two teachers, one a specialist. These two higher-need categories of special education students by and large attend district schools. Students who require the less-intensive “related services,” such as speech or physical therapy, are by far the most prevalent special education type in the charters. ”
Similar observations have been made in Connecticut.
Even at the most basic level, most Connecticut Charter Schools consistently fail to educate their fair share of students who need special education services
Here is the latest available data on students needing special education services in selected district schools in Connecticut versus selected charter schools in Connecticut
||% Special Education
|Hartford Public Schools
|AF – Hartford Academy
|New Haven Public Schools
|AF – Amistad
|AF – Elm City*
|Bridgeport Public Schools
|Park City Prep
(*) 2010-2011 report not on file, data is 2009-2010
While charter school funding is the fastest growing area of Governor Malloy’s education budget, the evidence is clear that Connecticut’s charter schools are consistently failing to provide educational opportunities to special education students and students who need extra help with the English language.
Blogger Gary Rubenstein, Diane Ravitch, Jared Polis Charter Schools, Congressman Jared Polis, Diane Ravitch
Last week, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis tweeted that public education advocate Diane Ravitch was “an evil woman” and that he couldn’t “think of anybody else who has caused more harm to public schools, except maybe Koch brothers.”
Those bizarre and incredible statements generated a flurry of coverage across the country, including here on Wait, What?
One of the key discoveries was not only has Congressman Polis, the seventh wealthiest Member of Congress, sponsored his own charter schools but he has been a key foot soldier for the corporate education reform organization, Democrats for Education Reform, as well as a loyal follower of corporate education reformer Michelle Rhee.
Perhaps the most telling information on Congressman Polis’ involvement in the corporate education reform industry came from fellow blogger Gary Rubinstein, who rolled up his sleeves and took the time to track down the information about how well Congressman Polis’ charter schools actually do.
Gary Rubenstein wrote,
“Polis is a charter school supporter and has opened a few of his own charter schools, three in Colorado. Of those three schools, called the New America Schools, two are located in counties just outside of Denver and one is near Vail. Colorado is one of the states that has been most aggressive about tying standardized test scores to teacher evaluations and to school rankings. They have developed something called The Colorado Growth Model, which is a way of comparing how schools with similar achievement levels have progressed from one year to the next. So a school can have high test scores, but low growth and, conversely, there can be a school with low test scores but high growth. The Growth model, as the idea goes, is the great equalizer.
Now I don’t put much stake in these growth models. Like the New York City ‘progress’ score, a ‘growth’ number like 60 means that the students at that school generally scored better than 60% of the students in the state who had similar scores the previous year. Though they are not supposed to be biased, I think they are biased against low performing schools, and the graphs below support this belief. But people who fancy themselves ‘reformers’ like Polis do take these measures very seriously. So I thought I’d look at the excellent Colorado public data system called SchoolVIEW to see where The New America Schools stand.
From the data I was able to find on the two schools near Denver, they had some of the least ‘growth’ in their districts.
…according to the ‘growth’ models are doing a very poor job getting their students to progress. One day these low growth numbers could cause these schools to get shut down. I wonder if Polis will still consider Ravitch ‘evil’ when he has to quote her arguments against these sorts of metrics to save his own schools.”
The information Gary Rubenstein dug up reveals that Congressman Polis isn’t only a bully and a thug, but has no idea of what he is talking about when he attacks Diane Ravitch and blurts out the education reform talking points he has memorized.
You can read more about the data Rubenstein reviewed on his blog: http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2013/09/23/polis-joke/
Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
In a shocking display of his lack of appreciation for the importance of local governance and local control, an internal memo written by a top staff person at the Department of Education reveals that Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, is preparing a legislative agenda that includes proposals to “strengthen legislation impacting the Commissioner’s Network, Alliance Districts, Priority School Districts, and Charter Schools.”
While the Malloy administration remains unwilling or unable to get Connecticut’s Alliance Districts the 2013-2104 funds they were promised, Pryor and his top staff remain fixated on promoting an agenda aimed at increasing his power and expanding charter schools.
Stefan Pryor is co-founder of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company, and served on their board of directors until he resigned to become Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education.
Since taking office, a string of Achievement First employees have joined Pryor’s operation. The latest Achievement First staffer to become a state employee is the new director of Pryor’s “Turnaround Office.” Morgan Barth, who served as a principal at Achievement First – Bridgeport Academy and is married to another Achievement First – Bridgeport Academy principal.
According to documents recently acquired from Commissioner Pryor’s office, despite scarce resources and the historic underfunding of Connecticut’s public schools, Pryor is preparing to;
(1) Launch a fall 2013 charter school RFP
(2) Develop a funding model for New Haven’s Elm City Montessori Local Charter School and create a special “staffing flexibility agreement” for the Montessori Charter School
(3) Work with “interested districts” to explore the creation of local charter schools
(4) Revise and release the charter school renewal application and
(5) Identify the availability of funds for local charter school start-up grants and develop an application
This news comes as the vast majority of Connecticut’s 30 Alliance Districts continue to be put through the ringer as they wait for the extra funding that Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly promised would be available before the start of the school.
Now, with the school year nearly a month old, most districts remain in the dark about when these critical funds will become available. While Derby, New Haven, Norwich and a handful of other Alliance District towns have been approved for their Year 2 grants, Pryor’s office has demanded that at least 26 districts re-do and resubmit their Year 2 plans.
Meanwhile, these districts are supposed to be implementing new programs to improve academic performance….without the promised funds.
Charter Schools Charter Schools
South Bronx Charter School:
Enrollment of students with IEPs: 5.4 % compared to District average of 18.3 %
Enrollment of English Language Learners: 7.7% compared to District average of 19%.
South Bronx Charter School loses nearly 50 percent of the students from kindergarten to fifth-grade year
Sounds familiar to Wait, What? readers…
Diane Ravitch posted the following post on her blog today.
But let’s face it. The way some Connecticut’s charter schools refuse to provide an education to non-English speaking students, refuse to take on their fair share of students who need special education services, “out-migrate” students who won’t abide by their “culture” and abuse the children who manage to stay in their program, we can safely assume that we’ll be hear some of these same charges surfacing here in Connecticut.
Diane Ravitch writes:
“John Marzulli of the New York Daily News reports that the ex-project manager of the South Bronx Classical Charter School is suing the school for $1 million for firing her for reporting financial and academic wrong-doing.
She allegedly told supervisors that the school was billing the city for special education students who were not enrolled and that some exams were plagiarized.
She also complained that children were punished by withholding food from them.
Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters reports that the school was awarded an A by the city on its latest report card:
South Bronx Classical Charter allegedly defrauded public funds by charging DOE for special ed kids no longer attending, cheated on the state tests and withheld food from kids as punishment; yet got an A on NYC progress reports.
The school claims to develop “citizens of impeccable character.”
Lester Long, the ED and principal, who was allegedly informed of the fraud and shrugged his shoulders, is a former investment banker according to Wikipedia.
The charter school was allowed to expand into the middle grades and to replicate and open a second school, S. Bronx Classical Charter II by SED and the Regents, despite the fact that it was reported in 2012 that between 20 and 40 percent of students originally enrolled in the school left before they were tested, and no new students replaced them.
Moreover, in its site visit dated June 2012, the DOE charter office noted that the “school should continue its efforts to reach compliance with the amended 2010 NYS charter law requirements related to the enrollment and retention of at -risk student populations… …its enrollment of students with IEPs is below CSD 12 averages with a special education population of 5.4 % compared to CSD 12’s average of 18.3 %, as is the school’s population of ELLs (7.7% compared to 19% in the district.)”
The visitors also mentioned the high level of turnover of teachers and excessive reliance on inexperienced TFAers.
In another case reported in the DN in 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights was investigating the suspension of Christian Charriez, 6, a special-needs student, who was suspended four times – the last time his parents told that he had to receive a psychiatric diagnosis.
“Principal Lester Long said the school invited Christian back to school and contacted his mother multiple times, but a letter from the family’s lawyer shows the school was contacted multiple times without response.”
And meanwhile, since we here in Connecticut know the type of people charter school management companies put on their boards, looking at the names on the South Bronx Classical School Board of Trustees begs the question…who is minding the store?
C. Stephen Baldwin, Esq., Chair (Served as counsel with the United Nations, executive director of the Learning Disabilities Association of NY)
James Maher, Trustee (Vice President of Real Estate Acquisitions at BlackRock Kelso Capital Corporation)
Kathryn Moore Heleniak, Vice Chair (Author and a professor of Art History at Fordham University)
Kevin Murphy, Secretary (Technology teacher at P.S. 96 in East Harlem. Previously, he was an agent with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and a vice president at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York)
Melissa Brown, Treasurer (Vice President in the Leveraged Finance investment banking group at Barclays Capital)
William F. Higgins, Trustee (Founder and CEO of Higgins Group LLC, a real estate investment company)
Larry Hirsch, Trustee (Senior CPD representative with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
Kristi Jacques, Esq., Trustee (Associate attorney at King & Spalding LLP, specializing in international arbitration)
Louisa Childs, Esq., Trustee (General Counsel of The Dwight School. Prior to joining Dwight, Ms. Childs was an associate at King & Spalding). The Dwight School being the one located at 291 Central Park West with a Teacher to Student ratio of 1:5 and a tuition rate of about $35,000 a year)
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Hartford, Matt Poland, Teach for America Achievement First, Charter Schools, Hartford, Matt Poland
Blogger and policy advocate, Kerri Provost, writes a powerful, insightful and extremely interesting blog which can be found at: http://www.realhartford.org/.
Today’s post, which is entitled Hartford Board of Ed: Out of Order is a must read for anyone interested in how education reform policy, charter schools and Hartford politics are all intertwined.
Kerri Provost writes,
The abuse of power by some on the Hartford Board of Education was called into question after politicking and bullying behaviors ruled and dissenting voices were silenced at last week’s regular public meeting.
Upon arriving, it was evident this would be another dog-and-pony show, as a bus had been chartered to bring dozens of Achievement First supporters to the meeting. Gathering supporters and having them pack meetings is nothing new in Hartford.
Letting children see and participate in decision-making can be educational, but the nature of this particular action raises questions about who funded the bus and t-shirts, along with whether or not it is age-appropriate for elementary school children to be expected to sit still and quiet for hours on end.
Yet, the Board — at least on paper — claims that decorum is needed for its meetings.
Anyone who knows children can attest that unless their spirits have been utterly broken, they are going to be antsy in about twenty minutes, especially when the environment is freezing cold and the chairs are hard plastic.
No effort was made by the Board to remind the children that this was a solemn, public meeting, but then, it is unclear if the Board understood that either.
All night, cell phones rang in the audience without reminders from the Board to silence them. As the public spoke during the comment period, there was loud cheering and applause, booing, continuous snapping of fingers, and derisive remarks made by the audience toward members of the Board; those remarks were primarily dismissive of Board member Brad Noel, who several audience members referred to as “the white woman.” When Board member Robert Cotto spoke, there were audience members dismissing him for not being a parent; no such criticism was levied against other Board members — most of whom do not have children currently attending Hartford Public Schools — who happened to be in favor of approving plans for a new charter school. For minutes on end, audience members stood, blocking the view of those behind them.
Two individuals attending the meeting told Real Hartford that since the Board was doing nothing to quiet the audience; they took the responsibility to ask that those around them lower their voices, as it quickly became difficult to hear comments by both the public and the Board. In both of those cases, instead of being apologetic and speaking more softly, the intervening residents were met with verbal hostility.
Currently, there is no clear mechanism in place that would enable members of the audience to inform the Chair that a call to order is desired. Security guards stand between the audience and the Board of Education. Alerting via text message would require the Board have their cell phones out; it would also require that schools open their Wi-Fi so that everyone with the technology to do so can have equal access. Neither of these tactics is especially practical, but there must be some way to communicate needs for order without creating more disruption.
Until such a mechanism is in place, the Chair would need to be in touch with the vibes of the room so that he could run a meeting according to the Board of Education’s own guidelines.
The only call for order given between 5:30 and 8:30 was following the spectacle created when Board Chair Matt Poland had the mic cut for Councilman Larry Deutsch, who had signed up for public comment, waited his turn, and had only spoken for a few moments before being shut down. While others’ commentary exceeded five minutes, it was Councilman Deutsch’s desire to stand at an angle to address both the Board and the public, that allegedly made Poland declare the Working Families Party member to be out of order. Deutsch, who was attempting to share the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., said he felt it was rude to have his back to the public and wanted to speak in a way that was inclusive to the children in the audience. There is video of this incident circulating online; however, the video does not show the entirety of the incident nor does its producer provide any context needed so that the public who were not at the meeting have an accurate sense of what ensued. Councilman Deutsch did not rush the podium, did not speak out of line, did not exceed his three minutes, did not use any language that would be inappropriate for children to hear. He began by saying “We need to have the public involved. This is inspiring,” and was promptly cut off.
“You don’t need a weatherman”
Deutsch, who was to speak against Achievement First was escorted away from the mic by security, all the while Poland repeatedly used the Councilman’s first name instead of his title.
John Motley – who is the Chair of the Hartford School Building Committee, a financial supporter of Teach for America, and on the Board of Directors for Achievement First Hartford — gave a maudlin “not in front of the children, Larry!” cry. On Facebook, locals asked what was behind the Chair’s actions. One individual suggested that the Chair be removed from his position for his inability to properly conduct a public meeting.
When Councilman Deutsch moved from the center of the room to the doorway as supporters gathered, I asked if he had cursed on mic. I had not heard anything inappropriate, but I wanted to confirm. He said no.
Following this incident, Deutsch said on Facebook, “It honestly was a surprise to me that the Board of Ed chair thought it was a big deal that I stood to face the public/audience as well as the Board. Seems like common democracy and avoiding rudeness, don’t you think?”
Deutsch also said that he “thought it better as example for kids and parents, more than the Board, to continue to speak to them as well, rather than meekly sit down.”
You can read the rest of this amazing blog post at: http://www.realhartford.org/2013/09/03/hartford-board-of-ed-out-of-order/
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Sarah Darer Littman Achievement First Inc., Charter Schools, Sarah Darer Littman
Connecticut is quickly getting the message.
As far as the education reform industry is concerned, there are two standards of Accountability. There is one standard for teachers and a very different, much lower standard of accountability for the professional education reformers and their corporate entities.
Call it yet another example of the Great American Corporate Accountability System, otherwise known as laws and rules are only for the rank and file, not for the elite.
Sarah Darer Littman has yet another “must read” piece that appeared in this past weekend’s CT Newsjunkie entitled, Is Accountability Only For Teachers?
In it she observes;
“Accountability. It’s the No. 1 buzzword of corporate education reform. Teachers must be held can countable based on their students’ performance on standardized tests, even though the method is deeply flawed.
Students must also be held accountable. Poverty is no excuse. Who cares if you’ve experienced early childhood trauma, if your parents aren’t native English speakers, or if you have a learning disability. No excuses, no compassion. Toe the line, Bucko.
As Achievement First Hartford Academy stated in its 2007 charter application: “Excuses will not be tolerated. Mediocrity will not be good enough.”
Yet when it comes to the education reformers themselves there is little or no accountability and there are plenty of excuses — even to measures they have set for themselves. Take the aforementioned Achievement First Academy Hartford, which just had its charter renewed for three years in a shameful act of cronyism by the state Board of Education.
Here are some of the goals Achievement First Hartford set in its 2007 charter application:
-p.12 - “The AF Hartford approach to student behavior will be overwhelmingly positive. While there will be clear, strict consequences for poor behavior at AF Hartford, research finds that positive recognition of good behavior is more likely to fundamentally improve student behavior.”
-p.41 - Special Needs Populations: “All students with disabilities attending AF Hartford will be accorded a free, appropriate and public education. Disability will not be used as a criterion for non-eligibility for admissions or enrollment . . . AF will comply with all regulatory special education requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Likewise, AF Hartford will fully comply with additional regulations and policies of the State of Connecticut.”
Under “Charter Self-Evaluation and Accountability,” Achievement First Hartford listed the following:
-p.65 - Suspensions: “We will have an average of 5 or fewer suspensions for the months of January to June (or a total of 30 or fewer suspensions during this six month period).
-p.66 - Student Retention: “Student attrition will be less than 5 percent (other than students moving out of the district) during our first year and less than 3 percent in each successive year.
-p.68 - Staff Turnover: “There will be low rates of administrative and teacher turnover. Our targets for annual teacher turnover will be less than 25% in the first two years and less than 15 percent after that.”
Yet how did Achievement First Hartford measure up? We know their “positive recognition of good behavior” methods resulted inthe highest number of suspensions of any school in the state, with 32.5 percent of elementary school students and 49.4 percent of middle school students having at least one in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, or expulsion.
Clearly their model — and their leadership across the board — is flawed, because in the elementary school category, the top four slots in the suspension leaderboard were held by Achievement First schools: Hartford Academy, 32.5 percent; Elm City College Prep, 26 percent; Bridgeport Achievement First, 20 percent; and Amistad Academy, 13.8 percent.
In the middle school category, Achievement First dominates again, with three of the top four slots: AF Hartford Academy, 49.4 percent; Bridgeport Achievement First, 43.7 percent; and Amistad Academy, 41.9 percent.
High school? Achievement First had two schools in the top six, with Elm City Prep ranked second at 40 percent and Bridgeport Achievement First sixth at 35.9 percent.
The recent voluntary resolution agreement of a civil rights complaint filed on the behalf of six AF Hartford students by Greater Hartford Legal Aid is proof-positive that AF failed their special needs students.”
Everyone tracking the education reform corporate movement should take the time to read this informative and disturbing piece.
By understanding the real “achievements” of organizations like Achievement First, Inc. readers will have a much better understanding of the notion that the best way to describe these education reforms is to start by saying…”don’t look at the man behind the curtain.”
You can find Sarah Darer Littman’s full commentary piece at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/sboe_is_accountability_is_only_for_teachers/