Malloy’s proposed budget underfunds public magnet schools while increasing money for charter schools

14 Comments

Although many parents, teachers and public school advocates already know that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is the most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic Governor in the nation, Malloy’s proposed budget drives the message home in a very big way.

Last month Malloy proposed a new budget plan for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2015.

While the Governor used his annual budget speech to brag about his election year gimmick to provide a “sales and gas tax refund of $55 to single filers earning less than $200,000 and $110 to joint filers earning less than $400,000,” Malloy failed to explain that his budget DOES NOT INCLUDE the $18.8 million that is needed to keep Connecticut’s public magnet schools operating, nor does it provide the money needed for the new magnet schools that are opening.

Malloy’s failure to properly fund the state’s magnet schools didn’t stop him from attending the recent ribbon cutting at the new Connecticut River Academy Magnet School’s $57 million school building in East Hartford where he told students, “This is our gamble, our bet, our investment in your future, that is saying that we want Connecticut to be as successful as it ever was, in fact we want it to be more successful…You have the opportunity to see the tone, to make sure that each student that follows you understands how high the bar has been set.”

But the truth is that even though the Malloy administration knew the additional funds were needed, they failed to add the $18.8 million because it would have pushed Malloy’s budget plan over the state’s spending cap.

Although Malloy failed to properly fund Connecticut’s public the magnet schools, the avid disciple of the corporate education reform industry and their Common Core, Common Core Testing and pro-charter school agenda, had no problem adding money for Connecticut’s privately run charter schools.

As Governor Malloy has increased charter school funding from $65 million last year to $75.6 million this year.  He plans to spend an incredible $92 million on charter schools in the coming year.

When the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee approved Malloy’s proposed budget on March 28,2014 they also failed to include the money needed for the magnet schools and, like Malloy, failed to put in the  money that is needed for the magnet school expansion that has already been approved.

As reported by the CT Mirror,

“By capping magnet school funding, the committee also decided not to provide the $30 million needed to increase enrollment at 10 magnet schools that have already opened and that the state spent millions to build. Typically, when a new magnet schools opens, the state phases in funding for enrollment growth by opening a new grade or two each year until the school is at capacity. The 10 magnet schools that had been set to increase enrollment before this budget were in the Bridgeport, Hartford and Windham regions. Malloy’s proposal also did not fund the magnet expenses.”

Despite failing to put in the funds needed for the magnet schools, Democrats on the Appropriations Committee left Malloy’s addition $16.4 million for charter schools untouched.

The impact of Malloy’s budget plan means that Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education can go ahead with plans to approve new charter schools this year.

The State Board of Education is expected to approve at least two new charter schools.   Among those being considered is the charter school being proposed by Steve Perry, the principal of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School.  Readers know that Perry, who has failed to show up for his City of Hartford principal’s job more than 20 percent of the time, has created his own charter school management company and is now trying to open a charter school in Bridgeport with the help of Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Finch’s disgraced campaign treasurer and former Bridgeport Board of  Education Char Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. Perry’s proposal is to have the state’s taxpayers pay for all the costs associated with the charter school that will be run by his private company.

And what will happen to the thousands of Connecticut children who are attending magnet schools when those schools run out of money part way through the year.

Not to worry;

Sources within the Malloy administration explained that Malloy’s plan is to go back to the General Assembly after the election to get approval for spending the extra funds needed to keep the magnet schools open.

Meanwhile, Pryor and his charter school operators will get their taxpayers funds up front.

Throughout Malloy’s tenure as governor he has utilized numerous budget gimmicks to make his spending plans appear balanced.  Malloy claims that his $19 billion proposed budget for this coming year includes a $22 million surplus and is under the state’s constitutional spending cap by $8 million.

Oh and for those who were wondering, Malloy’s new budget plan simply overlooks the $1.1 billion budget deficit that is projected for the year after this November’s gubernatorial election.

Charter Company: We’re from the Bronx, NY and we are here to help

3 Comments

When it comes to Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the corporate education reform industry, perhaps the most absurd, inappropriate, insulting, and anti-local control privatization scheme is playing itself out in Stamford, Connecticut.

Fellow pro-public education advocate columnist Wendy Lecker lays out the facts about Bronx Charter School for Excellence effort to open a charter school in Stamford and the help they are getting from Commissioner Pryor’s office and Connecticut’s lobbying group dedicated to privatizing Connecticut’s system of public education.

As parents, teachers and pro-public education allies have learned, these ongoing efforts to undermine public education are not coming from some wing-nut Teabag Republican but from Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his band of corporate education reform industry supporters.

This week Wendy Lecker lays out the stunning facts in a Stamford Advocate column entitled, Charter school pitch not about helping community.

Wendy Lecker’s MUST READ piece follows,

Since my column appears in several papers, I was asked, when I started, not to write about Stamford. This week, I am writing about an application by Bronx Charter School for Excellence (BSCE) to open a school in Stamford.

But this is not about Stamford.

If this were about Stamford, BCSE would have taken care to describe Stamford in its application. Instead, it describes a city where, compared to its neighbors Darien, New Canaan, Westport and Greenwich, “racial isolation prevails.” You read that right — the application claims that compared to those predominately wealthy, white towns, Stamford is racially and economically isolated.

Not only is Stamford wonderfully diverse, our community has a proud commitment to integrated schools. For more than 40 years, Stamford has maintained its “10 percent rule,” requiring that our schools reflect the demographics of the community, plus or minus 10 percent. When our schools fall out of balance, we redistrict — a public and sometimes painful process. For our magnet schools, we long ago abandoned a “blind lottery” because we found that a lottery without demographic controls segregates. Decades of research and experience in schools across the nation confirm our experience.

BCSE plans to specifically target our children of color and low-income children and insists on admission by blind lottery. It completely discounts the research and Stamford’s experience, which almost guarantees that this school will be segregated.

But this is not about Stamford.

Stamford strives to serve all its more than 16,000 children — with little help from the state, which owes Stamford’s children millions of dollars in state education aid. Stamford’s school budget is almost 90 percent local money.

BCSE seeks about $4 million in state taxpayer dollars to serve at most 392 children, from pre-K through fifth grade. If this had been about Stamford, someone might have asked what Stamford needs.

But this is not about Stamford.

If this were about Stamford, BSCE would realize that its claim it will “eradicate” our achievement gap is empty. BCSE struggles with a large achievement gap in its own small school, and offers no educational practices that Stamford does not already do. The difference is that Stamford serves all children — not just a handful.

It is no wonder BCSE gets it all wrong. No one in BCSE bothered to learn about Stamford before completing the application. The entire process was conducted without consultation with or even notice to anyone in Stamford.

In November 2013, without informing Stamford, charter school chain founder and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor directed former charter school principal and State Department of Education “turnaround” director Morgan Barth to solicit charter applications targeting Stamford and select other cities.

BCSE prepared its application without contacting the superintendent, mayor or parent groups, and without visiting Stamford public schools. SDE scheduled a local hearing about this application with no notice to Stamford, during Stamford’s school vacation.

When the superintendent received the application, in February, she, the mayor and members of the Board of Education protested SDE’s lack of notice. In response, SDE postponed the hearing by three weeks. Only then did BCSE reach out to Stamford officials.

BCSE also held a well-advertised dinner the Saturday before the hearing. About five people showed up, three of whom were not supporters of the charter application. Had this been about Stamford, BCSE would have understood that Stamford parents are not interested in their version of “choice.”

But this is not about Stamford.

So, BCSE bused in parents, teachers and students from the Bronx to tell the state representatives at a local hearing that Stamford parents “need” this school.

Of the more than 50 people who spoke at the hearing, only one resident of Stamford spoke in favor of the application. A charter lobbyist read a supportive statement from another absent resident. The rest, Stamford parents, Board of Education members, community leaders and the mayor spoke in opposition to the application. The diverse Stamford community explained that this school is not what we need nor want.

But this is not about what Stamford needs or wants. This is about a charter school setting itself up to look good — receiving a hefty sum of state dollars for classes of 16 children, starting in pre-K, so it does not have to submit to state testing until 2018, well after it will be a “done deal.”

This is about ignoring community needs, community experience and community values.

When someone comes here pushing a school that does not reflect our commitment to equity and integration, we know — it is not about Stamford.

You can read column and Wendy Lecker’s other pieces via http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Charter-school-pitch-not-about-helping-5338987.php and by searhing www.stamfordadvocate.com

 

More crazy sh*t Capital Prep Steve Perry has said

27 Comments

Steve Perry is the principal of a public school in Hartford, Connecticut.  For that job, the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut pay Perry close to $200,000 in salary, benefits and retirement credits.

But Steve Perry also has a lucrative speaking business that means he is absent from his job about 20 percent of the school year.

Perry has also set up his own private charter school management company and with eight of his fellow Capital Prep administrators and teachers Perry has submitted a proposal to open a charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Regardless of what happens with that pending application, Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry will always be known for his offensive Tweet of November 21, 2013.

After the Hartford Board of Education rejected Steve Perry’s request to transfer Capital Prep Magnet School and another Hartford Elementary school over to his private company, Perry Tweeted,

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”

Strap up is slang for putting on a concealed pistol and “there will be head injuries” doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination.

If a student posted that threat, they’d be arrested, suspended and probably prohibited from ever returning to a public school.

If a teacher said that, they be fired and papers filed to have their certification revoked by the State Board of Education.

But Steve Perry said it…  And neither Christina Kishimoto nor the Hartford Board of Education took any disciplinary action at all.

But that was hardly the only time Steve Perry has used his Twitter account to make threats or say inappropriate things while on the job.

In fact, Perry has spent hundreds of hours Tweeting when he should have been working.  And the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut were left picking up the tab for that time.

Whether on Twitter, in speeches, interviews or in writing, Capital Prep’s Steve Perry has said some pretty crazy stuff.

In an April 2013 speech in Minnesota, when talking about teachers unions Perry said “we need to call out the roaches.”

Perry also used the speech to blame teachers for the “literal death” of children.  [This coming from a Connecticut school administrator 120 days after school administrators and teachers gave their lives in a desperate attempt to save children at Sandy Hook Elementary School].

But outrageous and disgusting rhetoric has been Steve Perry’s consistent forte.

Here are just a few of quotes and comments,

“Enough is a damn ‘nuf…  Drag sorry principals and teachers out into the street.  Kick open the doors in our communities and collar lazy parents.  Line ‘em all up on Main Street, snatch their pants down and show the entire world the ass that they have given our kids to kiss.”  (Perry’s book, “Raggedy Schools”).

“The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) ain’t liberal and they damn sure aren’t progressive.  Their drab played out policies are more conservative than the National Rifle Association.  The AFT and the NEA make the NRA look like a San Francisco gay pride parade.”  (Perry’s book, “Raggedy Schools).

“If you think about it, being a teacher is one of the most stable jobs you can find…Over 95 percent of all Connecticut’s tenured teachers kept their jobs this year, so one would think 95 percent of our students would be…When their children’s performance suffer, they do not [suffer].”  (Perry interview, Hartford Advocate 2010)

“Dictatorial teachers’ unions despise Steve Perry.  So do lazy teachers.  So do entrenched, unimaginative school boards.”  (Cover Flap, Perry’s book, “Push Has Come to Shove”).

“Teaching kids is stressful, and we don’t need any punks.”  (Perry’s Book, “Push Has Come to Shove”).

“We are looking for attractive, smart, interesting people.  Yes, I said attractive.  Why?  Because attractive, smart, and interesting people sell kids everything—from breakfast cereal to Xbox games.  That may sound cynical, but it’s the truth.  Why should we expect anything different when trying to sell children education?”  (Perry’s Book, “Push Has Come to Shove”)

“The leaders of our teachers’ unions have ruined public schools.  They are the ones who created the school calendar that is too short and a six-and-a-half-hour school day…” (Perry’s book, “Push Has Come to Shove”).

“Teachers’ unions are not the only professional parasites feasting on our public schools.  Add the unions representing principals, secretaries, custodians, security officers, and paraprofessionals and you’ll begin to see why our schools don’t work…Their working conditions are awesome.  Our schools are failing.”  (Perry’s book, “Push Has Come to Shove”).

“Yet the union leadership often claims that parents want neighborhood schools.  Lie.  Maybe the teacher that live (sic) in nice neighborhoods want them, but Black people that live in the hood want out of their neighborhood schools in a hurry.” (Perry’s book, “Raggedy Schools”).

“Let’s get it straight: schools are failing because of the people who work in them, not because of parents like you.  The truth is that one factor—teacher effectiveness—has the greatest impact on student performance.”  (Perry’s book, Push Has Come to Shove”).

“[On Capital Prep’s community…]  We’ve built a bold bad ass (sic?) band of brothers and sisters of all hues who share a sir name and it is Love.” (Perry’s book, “Raggedy Schools”).

“We are one of the nation’s most successful schools because we don’t whine that the difference our kids.” (Perry’s book, “Raggedy Schools”).

His communication style on Twitter is equally bizarre,

Perry has also used his Twitter account to call the Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public education advocate, a racist on at least 49 occasions.)

Perry recently Tweeted, “Oh yeah, by the way CPrep started w 55 freshmen 4 yrs ago and will graduate 53, 100% of whom have acceptance letters to 4 year colleges.”

The statement is a bald face lie.  Perry has been losing 10-30% of his students over the years.  This year’s “graduating class” is down at least 10% from the 9th grade.  Others have transferred into his school which explains his claim that there are 53 graduating from Capital Prep this year.  However, Capital Prep’s dropout or push out rate is significant.

And finally, like most bullies, Steve Perry is not only arrogant and abusive but thin skinned.  In response to a Wait, What? blog post and some criticism, Perry went on a Twitter rampage one day Tweeting,

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
Be the person worth talking about not the clown talking about other ppl.

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
Think about it, if you’re the topic in a room that you’ll never visit, what does that say about the room? Be bold & don’t look back.

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
If your greatest contribution is the criticism of others, your life is w/o value and you will deep the poison fruit you’ve sewn.

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
The only person who has to get you is you. You’ve got to like you the most. If you dig you, who gives a damn what others think?

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
When they’re counting what’s going in your pocket, they clearly ain’t putting nothing in theirs. Man, their life must really suck.

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
They only ppl worrying about what you’ve got do have anything of their own. Feel bad for them, their life sucks.

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
Don’t EVER let anybody make you feel bad for being successful. The fact that they’re not is THEIR problem, not yours. Let THEM live w it.

Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry
We have shined the lights on those who have been responsible for forcing kids to go to failed schools & my God are they desperate to stop us

NEWS FLASH: Stefan Pryor & Morgan Barth trying to roll Hartford’s Clark School parents and teachers – again

16 Comments

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)

No real financial support for public schools, but plenty more for charter schools (especially Bridgeport)

16 Comments

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

“STEAM

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

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.

 

 

Corporate Education Reform Industry targets students, parents and teachers of Clark Elementary School

12 Comments

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

Who is pushing Capital Prep Steve Perry’s Capital Prep Harbor Charter School application?

14 Comments

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;

2011-2012 Hartford School System Capital Prep Magnet School
     
Latino Students 49.7% 21.7%
     
Students not Fluent in English (ELL) 18% 3.4%
     
Students who come from homes where English is not the primary language 39.7% ?
     
Special Education Students 13.5 6.3%
     

 

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.

Stay tuned…

Steve Perry’s Capital Prep Bridgeport Charter School management fee for initial five years – $2.7 million

22 Comments

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.

News Update: More on Steve Perry’s application for a charter school in Bridgeport

15 Comments

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.

Rumors confirmed – Perry submits charter school app for Bridgeport

44 Comments

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

 

 

 

 

Older Entries Newer Entries