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The battle for control of Hartford’s Clark Elementary School has become a case study in how the corporate education reform industry works.
On one side are the heroic parents and teachers who are working tirelessly to save and improve one of Hartford’s local neighborhood schools.
On the other side is the money, greed and arrogance that drives the corporate education reform industry.
The effort to run over the will of the local community and hand Clark Elementary School over to a charter school management company is being led by Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, and Morgan Barth, Pryor’s “Turnaround Director,” who illegally worked as a teacher and administrator for Achievement First, Inc before being appointed to his present position by Pryor.
As Wait, What? readers know, Stefan Pryor co-founded Achievement First, Inc. and Achievement First, Inc. has received more money from the Malloy administration than any other charter school operator.
With the help of Hartford’s out-going superintendent, Christina Kishimoto, Pryor and his band of education reformers tried to work a deal to close Clark Elementary School and hand the school and all of its taxpayer funds over to Achievement First, Inc.
Clark Parents and teachers fought back and derailed to the effort to give the school to Achievement First, Inc.
As the following links reveal, Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth then concocted a plan to hand Clark Elementary School over to a large Washington D.C. charter school company called Friendship Charter Schools.
The only thing standing in their way was a state law requiring that parents, teachers and the local community had to play a role in selecting a “turnaround” model and there was little interest in a Washington D.C. charter school company that had virtually no experience running schools with a large Latino population, a significant number of English Language Learners and a large special education population.
But now, according to sources close to Pryor and Barth, rather than work with the local community to identify a turnaround model that is actually appropriate for Hartford’s Clark Elementary, Malloy’s State Department of Education is telling the parents, teachers and local community that they must accept the charter option or the school will receive no additional funds or support mandated under the Commissioner’s Network Program.
The arrogance being displayed by Malloy’s appointees is truly breathtaking. Never in a million years would these bullies treat White, suburban communities they way they are treating a community made of African Americans, Latinos and other Americans of color.
State Department of Education sources confirm that Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth are giving the Clark School community an ultimatum.
Their choice – go with one of our hand-picked charter schools or get nothing.
The racism and discrimination against the Clark School community is nothing short of criminal
But if members of the Connecticut General Assembly don’t intervene, the Malloy administration will get away with destroying another urban neighborhood school.
For background, here are some of the previous Wait, What? posts on Clark Elementary School.
Breaking News: Hartford’s Clark School Targeted for closure, will be handed over to Achievement First, Inc. (10/25/13)
Real Hartford Blog examines “bait and switch” with Clark School and Achievement First Inc. (10/28/13)
(Updated) Superintendent Kishimoto’s “end justified the means” form of a School Redesign Analysis (10/29/13)
Update on the effort to destroy the Clark Elementary School in Hartford (11/30/13)
Hartford’s Clark School parents, teachers and community fight back! (10/31/13)
Hartford’s Clark Elementary School Community says “NO” to takeover (11/11/13)
NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain (2/10/14)
Corporate Education Reform Industry targets students, parents and teachers of Clark Elementary School (2/13/14)
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When Dan Malloy was running for governor he pledged to make adequate funding for Connecticut’s public schools a priority.
Instead Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education corporate education reform industry initiative of any Democratic governor in the country.
Rather than use state education funds to support local schools and take some of the pressure off local taxpayers, Malloy has used scarce public funds to push his own initiatives including implementing the absurd Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Testing scheme and an unfair and inappropriate teacher evaluation system.
Compounding the problem has been Malloy’s devotion to diverting money to Connecticut’s charter schools. In fact, the single largest beneficiary of Malloy’s charter school largesse has been Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that was co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
But Malloy and Pryor have been shoveling public funds to other charter school companies as well.
The charter school management company known as Jumoke Academy/FUSE has been given additional money and control of two neighborhood public schools. The executives of Jumoke Academy have been given management control of the Milner Elementary School in Hartford and the Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport. The Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke Academy/FUSE was even appointed to the Connecticut Board of Education by Governor Malloy.
Meanwhile, other charter school companies have already been approved or are seeking approval to open new schools in Connecticut.
Last month, nine new charter school applications were submitted to the State Department of Education.
Despite the inadequate funding for existing public schools and a projected $1 billion state deficit for the year following this November’s gubernatorial election, Malloy’s budget includes funding for at least two new charter schools.
A primary target for the expansion of charter schools has been Bridgeport, in part because Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch is considered a strong charter school advocate. Bridgeport already has four charter schools.
As the Connecticut Post recently reported;
“BRIDGEPORT — An outspoken Hartford magnet school principal, a Rhode Island education reform advocate and a longtime city teacher who also happens to be the mayor’s ex, all want the same thing: open the state’s next charter school here.
The three applications represent a third of nine applications received by the state to open charter schools this fall or next….”
The new plans include two schools prepared to open next fall if they receive approval — the Capital Prep Harbor School, modeled after a Hartford magnet school run by Stephen Perry and the STEAM Academy for Girls, started by Claire Mastromonaco, a fifth-grade teacher at Johnson School, who is also the ex-wife of Mayor Bill Finch.
A third contender is Great Oaks Charter School, a school spearheaded by Maryellen Butke, founding director of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now.”
Charter school companies see Connecticut as a prime target for expansion because not only does the state give charter schools money for every student they take in, but the cost to transport those charter school students and the cost to provide them with special education services continues to be paid by the local school district.
The Connecticut Post article goes on to summarize the three new Bridgeport charter school proposals;
Charter School Proposal #1
Mastromonaco said she has always wanted to start a school for girls. A classroom teacher for 18 years, Mastromonaco also runs the Children’s Center for the Arts. Her background is in the arts, but she loves the sciences and math and said she sees too many of her female students lose confidence and “check out” by the time they reach middle school.
She said a single-gender school that focuses on science, math and the arts will help them more feel confident.
STEAM would open in the former Holy Rosary School near Washington Park with 108 pre-kindergarten through first-graders and grow to a 252 pre-K to fifth-grade school by its fifth year. The school would strive to be racially balanced, draw from the suburbs and city. Its preschool would be Montessori-based.
Christopher Finch, her son and a teacher in New York City, would serve on her governing board along with several Bridgeport educators and parents.
In a letter of support for STEAM, Bruce Ravage, director of Park City Prep, a charter school that has won permission to add a fifth grade, said Mastromonaco knows the student population well and is in a unique position to address its needs.”
Charter School Proposal #2
“Capital Prep Harbor School
Asked why he’d want to come to Bridgeport, Perry, a lightning rod for school reform issues, talks about the city’s waterfront location, proximity to New York City and its potential.
“Bridgeport has always been one of those cities you heard about,” Perry said. The charter school he would form here would be modeled after the public magnet school he has run in Hartford for nearly 10 years.
It would have a theme of social justice, a longer school day and year, require students to participate in sports and extra-curricular activities, and would strive — according to the 600-page application — to send all graduates to four-year colleges.
“Running it as a charter would be different,” said Perry. “It would create the opportunity for us to be more creative. Quite frankly, there are limits within the structure of a large school system. Even when people don’t want it to, it has to be the same. That sameness presents a challenge to schools like ours.”
Something else that is different is that Capital Preparatory Schools Inc., a private management company run by Perry, would get 10 percent of the fee, $2.5 million over the first five years of the contract. Perry said that is common when charter firms run more than one school. It also remains unclear how much the school would pay for rent.
The Harbor School application said the city has dedicated space in the Bridgeport Technology and Trade Center on Barnum Avenue and the proposed budget shows no rental expenses. The city, however, doesn’t own that property.
Among supporters of the plan are Kenneth Moales Jr., a member of the city school board.”
Charter School Proposal #3
Great Oaks would be a college preparatory school geared largely toward English language learners, who make up more than 13 percent of students in the district.
The school day would be long, stretching from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by after-school activities. The school year would be 200 days, compared to the normal 180 days a year.
There are already Great Oaks schools in New Jersey and New York, said Christina Grant, vice president of the Great Oaks Foundation, who acts a chief academic officer for both schools. The school would start with 100 sixth-graders and work its way up, providing two hours of individualized tutoring to students every day, according to the application.
It would also be located in the former Singer Factory on Barnum Avenue, where three other city charter schools (Bridge Academy, New Beginnings and Park City Prep) all got their start. Great Oaks would pay $10 a square foot for 6,366 square feet. It wants to open in the fall of 2015. Its management fee built into its budget would amount to $1.6 million over the five years.
One of the many letters of support for the proposal came from Meghan Lowney, executive director of the Zoom Foundation, and a behind-the-scenes player when the city school board was taken over by the state in 2011. Great Oaks’ plans, she wrote, are aligned with her efforts to rapidly improve public education opportunities for underserved children by pooling and leveraging financial, human and political capital.”
Although public hearings are required on each proposal, the decision to approve or reject a proposal rests with the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education. The charter school law severely limits the role of local boards of education.
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Three days ago, in a post entitled NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain, Wait What? readers learned of an apparent deal by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and his senior staff to turn over Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to a major Washington D.C. based charter school management company despite the fact that the Clark Turnaround Committee, which is made up of local parents, teachers, administrators and Hartford residents, hadn’t even begun to identify which of five possible turnaround models they were interested in pursuing.
Out-going Hartford Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto “nominated” Hartford’s Clark Elementary school for Governor Malloy’s “Commissioner’s Network” turnaround program.
State law requires that when a school is accepted as a Commissioner’s Network School, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor must defer to the recommendations of the local Turnaround Committee except in extreme circumstances where the Turnaround Committee fails to adopt a turnaround plan or the plan is so inadequate that the Commissioner must take total control of the school.
But according to multiple sources within Pryor’s Office and in the Hartford Board of Education central office, Pryor and his sidekick, Turnaround Director Morgan Barth, have already decided to give Hartford’s Clark School to the Friendship Charter School chain, regardless of what the Clark Turnaround Committee may choose.
The Friendship Public Charter School chain is made up of six charter schools in Washington D.C. and another four schools that the company runs in Baltimore, Maryland.
Late yesterday, Hartford Courant reporter Vanessa De La Torre reported that a group of Clark parents, educators and administrators were flying to Washington D.C. to visit Friendship Charter Schools. Apparently plans are already in place for Friendship Charter Schools to come to Connecticut in the next week or two.
In the Hartford Courant entitled Hartford Parents, Educators Visit D.C. Charter School, the Courant reported;
A 14-person delegation from Hartford that included six parents from Clark, two teachers, the principal and a district administrator flew out of Bradley International Airport Tuesday night and spent Wednesday visiting two sites of the Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.
The trip is research, they said. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor has chosen Clark, a North End neighborhood school that has struggled with low test scores and chronic absenteeism, as a candidate to enter the state Commissioner’s Network after this academic year.
A state-mandated committee for Clark is now under deadline to create a detailed “turnaround” plan by April. That means the panel, which includes two union-appointed teachers, is rushing to explore school models that might best help Clark and its groups of students who are learning English or have special needs, said Soto, one of the committee’s parent members.
However, highlighting the corrosive power of the corporate education reform industry, the most bizarre part of the entire story is revealed when the Courant article added:
Hartford school board Chairman Matthew Poland denied this week that any school model is a favorite. So did community organizer Mayra Esquilin, executive director of Hartford Areas Rally Together, which received a $24,000 contract from the school system to guide Clark parents and community members through the turnaround process.
HART, the school system and the reform advocacy group Achieve Hartford! Funded the short trip to Washington, Esquilin said. The group was scheduled to return Wednesday night.
What the article didn’t fully explain is that although Superintendent Kishimoto hired the Executive Director of Hartford Areas Rally Together to “guide Clark parents and community members through the turnaround process,” Mayra Esquilin has repeatedly shown that she has a major conflict of interest in the entire situation.
Mayra Esquilin is not only the Executive Director of Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART), but she is also a member Achieve Hartford’s Board of Directors.
Achieve Hartford Inc. is not only paying for the airfare and hotel accommodations for the 14 members of the Clark Turnaround Committee to fly to Washington, but the corporate lobbying group has been one of the biggest supporters of Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s public school privatization efforts.
Esquilin and Achieve Hartford Inc. not only supported Superintendent Kishimoto’s failed attempt to close Clark Elementary and hand the building over to Achievement First, Inc. but also supported the outrageous and potentially illegal attempt to hand S.A.N.D. Elementary School over to Steve Perry’s private charter school company as part of a that secret Sheff lawsuit deal.
As the Hartford Courant reported previously, Esquilin was quoted as saying “that she and others canvassed the neighborhood over the past few days and found many parents who were uninformed — and in some cases, misinformed — about the SAND proposal.”
It is beyond incredible that the individual and corporate-funded advocacy group that supported destroying Clark and S.A.N.D elementary are now “guiding” Clark parents, teachers and community members through the turnaround process.
Talk about the foxes guarding the chicken hen-house.
And worse, the entire process may very well be short circuited if Stefan Pryor has already decided to hand the school over to an out-of-state charter management company.
Meanwhile, who funds Achieve Hartford Inc.?
According to Achieve Hartford’s own website, the education reform advocacy group is funded by some of the most powerful corporate education reform industry companies in the country including the Aetna, Prudential, Travelers, Bank of America, ING, The Phoenix and Metro-Hartford Alliance.
The potential for serious and illegal conflicts of interests are so great that it is hard to imagine that even these companies would risk supporting such an inappropriate use of their donations by Achieve Hartford Inc.
The extensive list of potential ethics violations will undoubtedly keep the Connecticut’s Ethics Commission and Hartford’s Ethics Commission busy.
For an example of Achieve Hartford’s conflict of interest read the newsletter article that can be found via the following link: http://www.achievehartford.org/upload/files/10-31-13-EducationMattersEXTRA.pdf?utm_source=October+31%2C+2013+Edition&utm_campaign=2-16EM&utm_medium=archive
For the Hartford Courant article go to: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-clark-school-0213-20140212,0,6213104.story
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According to the charter school application submitted by Steve Perry’s private charter school Management Company;
“The Capital Prep Harbor School (the “Harbor School”) is designed as a replication of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School (“Capital Prep”) in Hartford, Connecticut. The founders of Capital Prep have developed an internationally recognized model designed to prepare children from historically disadvantaged populations to compete and ‘win’ in education. Capital Prep has proven that all children when given the right conditions and environment not only succeed but excel in their academic as well as their social-emotional growth.”
As the Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education consider Steve Perry’s 600 page application to open a new charter school in Bridgeport, their first task will be to overlook the fact that Perry’s Hartford Prep Magnet School refuses to provide equal access to Latinos and other children who deal with English language barriers.
Perry’s Hartford school also fails to take its fair share of students who need special education services, and it is alleged that the special education students Capital Prep does enroll don’t get the services mandated in their Individual Education Plans (IEPs). There are widespread rumors that Capital Prep is being investigated as a result of its utter failure to meet federal and state special education laws.
The data on Capital Prep’s failure to provide equal access is stark and extremely disturbing;
||Hartford School System
||Capital Prep Magnet School
|Students not Fluent in English (ELL)
|Students who come from homes where English is not the primary language
|Special Education Students
In addition, the disciplinary tactics utilized at Capital Prep Magnet School have raised equally serious concerns. Students being forced to sit at the “Table of Shame,” students being required to stand while eating lunch, students being made to state during entire academic classes and students being made to stand facing the wall for long periods of time in administrators offices are all examples of disciplinary policies that may cross into child abuse.
Perry’s charter school application reports that he and his senior staff have been working with Bridgeport officials and community leaders for months. The application reads;
“Founding members continuously met with local officials, including Mayor Bill Finch and his Education Adviser, Joshua Thompson, as well as local community-based organizations, religious leaders and representatives from Housatonic Community College.”
So who are these Bridgeport supporters?
Listed as Governing Council Members for Perry’s new Charter School are;
Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr., Senior Pastor Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
- As directly quoted from his resume, Moales also lists himself as CEO/Founder C.R.E.A.M. Inc. and says that in that capacity he, “Earned endorsement from Mayor, local newspaper, Democratic District leaders and Democratic Clubs in Bridgeport CT for Board of Education” and “Exhibited tireless energy, positive attitude and visionary leadership” and “Revamped entire department bringing in all new Commissioner.”
- Kenneth Moales Jr. who continues to serve on the Bridgeport Board of Education is also Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.
Reverend Carl McCluster, Senior Pastor Shiloh Baptist Church, Bridgeport
- McCluster also lists himself as Founder, Managing Director, Senior Program office for F.R.E.E.D.O.M. Inc. a National Economic Development Consulting Firm
Reverend William McCullough, Senior Paster Russell Temple CME Church in Bridgeport.
- McCullough also lists himself as the Founder and CEO of U-Turn Ministries, FaithCARE and Safe Streets Kids (SSK)
Teresa Wilson, Executive Director V.I.P. College Preparatory Program, Inc., Bridgeport CT.
Wilson reports that she coordinates “college tours for areas high school students” and “collaborates(s) with various school districts and school administration in selection of students to attend tour….”
Gwendolyn Brantley, ACCESS Education Services, Bridgeport, CT.
Brantley’s adds her duties are to “Administer and manage an academic enrichment program for middle and high school students.”
Meanwhile, appended to Perry’s charter school application are a series of letters of support. They come from:
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch who writes, “As Mayor of Bridgeport, I am writing to express my full support of the proposal of by Capital Prep Harbor School to open a state charter school in fall of 2014 that will serve the children and families of Bridgeport. I am honored by the decision of the Capital Prep team to bring their outstanding academic model to Bridgeport within the context of a top-tier high school program…”
Other letters of support are from:
State Representative Charles Clemons
Teresa Wilson writing on behalf of the VIP College Prep Program. (Note that Wilson serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
Reverend Carl McCluster writing on behalf of Shiloh Baptist Church. (Note that McCluster serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
Gwendolyn Brantley writing on behalf of ACCESS Education Services. (Note that Brantley serves on the proposed charter school’s Governing Council.)
And Kenneth Jackson, founder of Kenneth Jackson’s Mentoring Services
Considering that Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, has consistently supported charter schools at the expense of public district schools and has ducked his obvious conflict of interest when it comes to his support for charter schools, it will be interesting to watch whether Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are successful in railroading this controversial and flawed charter school application through the State Board of Education.
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The Hartford Bridgeport Board of Education is paying Steve Perry a large salary to serve as the Principal of its Capital Prep Magnet School. Perry has a twelve month contract so he is supposed to be “on duty” year around.
Although Perry has missed 20 percent of the Capital Prep school days this year, he has been paid for those missed time thanks to banked vacation days, sick days and personal days.
But he actually spent those days traveling around the country giving speeches for hire.
Most recently, the news is that Steve Perry has submitted an application to open up a Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School in Bridgeport.
Perry intends to use the charter school management company that he set up a few years ago.
According to the official documents filed at the Connecticut Secretary of State, Perry’s private company is housed at his home in Middletown and he is the sole owner of the entity.
However, Perry filed documents with the Internal Revenue Service claiming that his company is really housed at the same address as the Hartford public school that he runs.
The immediate question that arises is that although he was being paid by the taxpayers of Hartford for his full full-time job with the Hartford Board of Education and making far more money thanks to his speaking business, Perry had time over the past few months to create a 600 page Charter School Application and meet with state and local officials to lobby for their help and support.
It certainly isn’t clear who paid for the development of the application or how he managed to hold down two jobs and still develop his Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School plan.
What is clear is that Perry expects to make a huge windfall from his Charter School Project.
According to the application Perry submitted, the Hartford Board of Education employee is demanding that Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, approve a management fee of at least $2.6 million dollars over the first five years of his Charter School project.
In addition, he apparently expects the City of Bridgeport to pay for the following costs:
- Rent for the Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School
- Utilities for the Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School
- Custodial Costs for the Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School.
And all that money comes on top of the state subsidy that he would be getting.
With Commissioner Pryor’s support, Steve Perry would not only receive a major “startup” grant, but Connecticut taxpayers would hand over approximately $34 million to Perry’s company over the first five years that the school is in operation. By the fifth year, Perry would be expecting a public subsidy in excess of $11.5 million dollars a year to run his charter school.
These funds would be on top of his management fee and the taxpayer support doesn’t even count the millions of dollars Perry would be getting from the taxpayers of Bridgeport to subsidize his school transportation costs and pay for the special education services of the students who would be attending his Charter School.
Putting aside the massive cost and the myriad of problems associated with Perry’s erratic and dysfunctional management style, the ultimate insult to Bridgeport and Connecticut is that Perry claims that his school will provide educational opportunities to the full range of students who attend Bridgeport’s school system.
Perry’s application reports that;
13% of the student body will be for students who need special education services, 6% of the students will be those face English Language barriers and 90% of the students will come from families that are so poor that they qualify for Free/Reduced lunch .
Compare those numbers to the reality of Steve Perry’s Capital Prep School in Hartford.
Instead of a special education population of 13%, Perry’s Hartford school only 6.3% of the students served have special education needs and most of those are not getting the services they need, deserve and are legally entitled too.
Instead of an ELL/Bilingual population of 6% that he is promising Bridgeport, only 3.4% of the students in Perry’s Hartford school face English Language challenges.
And instead of 90% of the children coming from low income households, only 51.4% of his students in Hartford qualifying for Free/Reduced lunches
The truth is that despite the fact that his application is in excess of 600 pages, Steve Perry’s Bridgeport Charter School application appears to be nothing more than a sham.
Oh, and one last extremely revealing note about Steve Perry’s unwillingness to provide equal education opportunities to Latinos and those who face language barriers…
Perry’s Bridgeport Charter School application brags that 6% of the student in his Charter School will be reserved for children who need English Language help. But of course, as the State Department of Education reports, the number of Bridgeport students who need English Language Services is at least 12% and growing. That number that is more than double the percentage that Perry says he will accept in his proposed Bridgeport Charter school and four times the number he allows into Hartford’s Capital Prep School.
The State Department of Education is rushing the approval process through. Check back for more information about when any public hearings on Perry’s Charter School proposal will be held.
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The Hartford Courant and City Line Blog reporter Vanessa De La Torre have the latest news on Steve Perry’s attempt to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
De La Torre refers to “Capital Prep.” wanting to open a charter school but as Wait, What? readers are undoubtedly aware, the charter school application is not from Capital Preparatory Magnet Academy, a Hartford public school, but from a private company that Steve Perry set up as part of a complex strategy to get the City of Hartford and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor to transfer Capital Prep and another Hartford elementary school to Perry’s private company.
The move would have given Perry control of more than 1,000 Hartford public school students and more than $15 million a year in state funds.
The Hartford Board of Education eventually rejected Perry’s scheme, but it now appears that Perry wants to keep his six figure income as a Hartford principal while running a K-12 charter school in Bridgeport.
According to sources within Capital Prep, certain administrators and hand-picked teachers have been promised jobs and promotions in Perry’s proposed charter school.
In addition, with the help of one or more legislators from Bridgeport, Perry has already been lobbying Bridgeport officials to support his charter school plan.
The Hartford Courant reports;
“The state Department of Education received nine applications by its Jan. 24 deadline from organizations interested in establishing state or local charter schools in Connecticut. Today, the state released the list to Cityline after a Freedom of Information request.
Some highlights? Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc., the nonprofit management group run by Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry, wants to open a charter school in Bridgeport this year called Capital Prep Harbor School. As you might recall, Perry recently clashed with organized labor over the failed proposal to have his group take over SAND School in Hartford.
Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), the group that has brought you Jumoke Academy, seeks to open a Booker T. Washington Academy charter school in New Haven.
And Democracy Prep Public Schools, the New York-based charter organization, has proposed opening a school in Hartford in 2016.
…The completed applications — usually large files — are still being processed, said Kelly Donnelly, an education department spokeswoman.”
Perry’s maneuver obviously raises a lengthy list of ethical and legal questions.
As a full-time, 12 month employee of the Hartford Board of Education, Perry is prohibited from using public time or resources to promote any private business.
However, Perry has already missed 20% of the Capital Prep School days traveling around the country collecting fees for giving “inspirational” speeches.
Perry has also consistently used time when he was at school to promote his speaking business.
And there are growing reports that meetings related to Perry’s charter school proposal, including discussions with State Board of Education officials, took place during the work day.
Conducting private business while on state time is both a violation of Hartford Board of Education policies and Connecticut state law.
FOI requests for all communication related to the proposed Perry charter school have or will be submitted to all the various parties. A related issue is that previous FOI requests reveal that Perry has used his private email and phone to conduct public business. Although those records fall within the Freedom of Information purview, Commissioner Pryor’s office has refused to turn over some of those communications.
Meanwhile, word is that Commissioner Pryor and the State Department of Education are moving quickly to set up “public hearings” on these new charter school requests and that Pryor will try to force a vote of the State Board of Education on these charter applications within the next 60 days.
Finally, as Wait, What? readers also know, charter school supporters have become a major source of campaign contributions for Governor Malloy’s political aspirations.
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NEWS FLASH: Embattled Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry has submitted an application to open a K-12 charter school in Bridgeport.
Perry is an employee of the City of Hartford but created a private charter school management company.
Under Connecticut law, Perry’s company is housed at his private residence, but under federal IRS laws it is housed at the Capital Prep Magnet School – a Hartford public school building.
The legal and ethical issues related to Perry’s attempt to open a charter school through his private company are incredible.
He is a full-time, 12-moth city employee collecting a six figure income.
However, he not only spent his taxpayer-funded time promoting his private public speaking company but has now been using his publicly-funded time to promote his private school management company.
The legal and ethical violations of the state law and City of Hartford policies and ordinances are so significant that an independent investigation is needed.
Equally important is to determine whether Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, Mayor Bill Finch, Commissioner Stefan Pryor or other state or local officials violated state laws or policies in conjunction with this Capital Prep Charter School application.
There are also confirmed reports that state legislators were involved in lobbying state or local officials on behalf of Perry’s effort to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
Check back for updates on this breaking story
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An updated review of the latest federal and state campaign finance reports reveal that Governor Malloy has collected in excess of $70,000 in campaign contributions from individuals associated with the corporate education reform industry.
Although Malloy has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election next year and he has not filed the necessary paperwork be a candidate, his fundraising operation is in full-swing and the corporate education reform industry has become one of, if not the, largest sources of campaign cash for his political aspirations.
Since Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union education reform bill of any Democratic governor in the nation, the corporate reform industry has spent more than $6 million lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s initiatives. One education reform group, A Better Connecticut, which was formed by the present and former CEOs of ConnCAN spent in excess of $2 million television advertisements “thanking” Malloy for his leadership in promoting charter schools and the privatization of public education.
Malloy has also been going to the corporate education reform industry for campaign contributions.
Last year Malloy, a held a lucrative fundraiser for the Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee at the home of Jonathan Sackler, the corporate executive who helped finance Achievement First, Inc., ConnCAN, 50-CAN and other education reform organizations. The fundraiser netted in excess of $40,000 for the Malloy related PAC.
This year the money from the corporate education reform industry has been funneled through the federal and state accounts of the Democratic State Central Committee.
Malloy’s recent contributions include another $20,000 from Sackler and his wife, at least $15,000 from other members of ConnCAN’s Board of Directors and at least $11,000 from members of Achievement First’s Board of Directors. Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, co-founded Achievement First, Inc. and the larger charter school management company has received a major increase in funding since Pryor took over the State Department of Education.
In addition to large contributions from ConnCAN and Achievement First board members, Malloy has collected $10,000 from billionaire Steve Mandel who serves on the TFA Board of Directors and $8,000 from billionaire Eli Broad who is one of the three largest funders of the corporate education reform industry.
According to the various reports it appears that Malloy has collected at least $70,000 for his various campaign related PACs and Committees from the charter school and education reform industry.
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.