Charter Schools, Common Core, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Jeffrey Vilar, Jennifer Alexander CCER, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Jeffrey Villar, Jennifer Alexander
Jennifer Alexander, the CEO of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) gets paid a lot of money to be the spokesperson for the Connecticut charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies.
Doing that job earned her $224,000 in salary and benefits in 2014. Her board of corporate elite even gave her a $25,000 bonus that year, all so that she could continue to push their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher political agenda.
However, while Jennifer Alexander spends plenty of time inside the Capitol lobbying legislators and working with the Malloy administration, she has refused, to date, to accept an offer to debate the real problems and issues facing Connecticut’s public school children, parents, teachers and schools.
Not that long ago, UConn actually invited me to participate in a panel discussion about the very issues facing Connecticut’s public schools. Other participants were to include both Jennifer Alexander and Jeffrey Villar, the highly paid executive of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, another charter school industry front group.
However, within 48 hours of the invitation being sent, UConn suddenly cancelled the panel. And when it was rescheduled months later, no invitation to me was forthcoming.
Meanwhile, thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly, while Connecticut’s public schools are being hit with the deepest cuts in state history, Malloy and his administration are shoveling even more scarce taxpayer dollars to privately owned and operated charter schools that have consistently refused to educate their fair share of children who require special education services or those who need extra help learning the English language. These charter schools even allow a significant number of uncertified teachers and staff to “educate” the children they claim to serve.
One would think that being paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year would give Jennifer Alexander the courage and conviction, or at least the obligation, to actually come out and debate the issues.
But in Malloy’s Connecticut, honesty and transparency are useless terms and those paid to defend his positions choose to remain hidden inside their golden temples.
Thus, I renew my request and offer.
Ms. Alexander, we’re waiting with baited breath. Come out and debate.
Or perhaps Mr. Villar would be willing to defend the reformers’ indefensible positions.
How about it Jen or Jeffrey?
This is an important election year, why not accept my challenge and debate the issues so that Connecticut’s voters have the information they need to make informed decisions.
Billionaires for Education Reform, Charter Schools, Common Core, Education Reform, PARCC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing Billionaires for Education Reform, Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, PARCC, SBAC, Standardized Testing
The colossal and disastrous effort to privatize public education in the United States is alive and well thanks to a plethora of billionaires who, although they’d never send their own children to a public school, have decided that individually and collectively, they know what is best for the nation’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.
From New York City to Los Angeles and Washington State to Florida, the “billionaire boys club,” as Diane Ravitch, the country’s leading public education advocate, has dubbed them, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars via campaign contributions, Dark Money expenditures and their personal foundations to “fix” what they claim are the problems plaguing the country’s public schools.
These neo-gilded age philanthropists claim that the solution is for parents, teachers and education advocates to step aside so that the billionaires and their groupies can transform public education by creating privately owned and operated – but taxpayer funded – charter schools.
In addition, they pontificate that students learn best when schools are mandated to use the ill-conceived Common Core standards so classrooms become little more than Common Core testing factories and the teaching profession is opened up to those who haven’t been burdened by lengthy college based education programs designed to provide educators with the comprehensive skill sets necessary to work with and teach the broad range of children who attend the country’s public schools.
The billionaire’s proclaim that the solution to creating successful schools is really rather simple.
They say that public schools run best when they are run like a business…
Cut through their rhetoric and the billionaires want us to believe that by introducing competition and the concept of “profit” they can turnaround any school, no matter the challenges it or its students may face….
Privatization, they argue, will lead to greater efficiencies while opening up the public purse to those who have products that they seek to sell to our children and our public schools.
And, the billionaires would have us believe, that the best teachers are those who get five weeks of training via a high-profile Teach for America program and are then thrown into the classroom where they, like all teachers, should be evaluated based on how well their students do on those unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core standardized tests.
Like the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about more than 55 years ago, the billionaires, the charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies want us to believe that providing children with the skills and knowledge to succeed and prosper in the 21st Century is nothing more than an opportunity to “wage war” and make money, all at the same time.
And who are these billionaires?
They are the self-professed greatest names in the United States.
The following is a partial and growing list of the super elite who deem to dabble in remaking our public schools.
Or as they would put it, blessed are the wealthy for they shall reform our public schools, with or without our consent.
||Relationship with Corporate Education Reform and Charter School Industry (Partial list)
||How They got their billions
||Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, EdVoice, New Teacher Project
||Hedge Fund Owner – Centaurus Advisors LLC
||StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Moore Capital Management
||Stand for Children, Major Dark Money Donor
||Achievement First, Inc.
||WR Berkley Corporation Founder Chairman CEO – insurance sports and entertainment companies
||Leadership for Educational Equity, Teach for America, Stand for Children, New Leaders for New Schools, California Charter School Advocates, Major Dark Money Donor
||Co-founder, Bloomberg LP Owner, former Mayor of New York City
||The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, EDVoice, California Charter School, Cuomo Donor, Malloy Donor, Major Dark Money Donor
||Sun Life Insurance Company of America – (Retired)
||Steve and Alexandra Cohn Foundation, Harlem Children’s Zone, Achievement First, NE Charter School Network, Teach for America
||Hedge Fund Owner – SAC Capital Advisors
||Dalio Foundation, Teach for America,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Bridgewater Associates Owner Founder – hedge
||DeVos Family Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Federation for Children, Stand for Children, All Children Matter, Children’s Scholarship Fund, Major Dark Money Donor
||Amway Owner Co-Founder – Orlando Magic NBA Team Owner
||New Schools Venture Fund, EdVoice,
||Venture Capitalist – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byera
||Children’s Scholarship Fund,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Duquesne Capital – Retired
||Democrats for Education Reform,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Greenlight Capital
||Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice,
||Gap Inc. Co-Founder
||Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, KIPP Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Silicon Valley Growth Fund, Ed Voice,
||Gap Inc. Heir Owner – Oakland Athletics Owner
||Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
||KIPP Foundation, Ed Voice, California Charter School Association, Major Funder
||Netflix Co-Founder Facebook Board Member
||National Heritage Academies, Inc. (NHA) for-profit charter school management organization, Stand for Children
||Investor, Waste Management- Blockbuster Video – AutoNation – Swisher Hygiene
||Texans for Education Reform,
||Hunt Oil Co-Owner Heir – son of founder H L Hunt – oil
||Icahn Charter Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Icahn Enterprises Owner
||Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation, Alliance for School Choice, American Education Reform Council
||Chairman, Franklin Resources – Owner of San Francisco Giants
||Tudor Jones III
||Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, Cuomo Donor
||Hedge Fund Owner – Tudor Investment Corporation
||KIPP Foundation, Teach for America
||Hedge Fund Owner – Oaktree Capital Management
||Families of Excellent Schools, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Baupost Group Investments
||American for Prosperity, American Encore, Major Dark Money Donor
||American for Prosperity, American Encore, , Major Dark Money Donor
||Thomas T Fordham Institute (former), Bronx Preparatory Charter School,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Caxton Associates
||Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Harlem Children’s Zone, Republicans for Cuomo
||Home Depot Co-Founder
||Success Academy, Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Cuomo Donor, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Third Point LLC
||Teach for America, Excel Bridgeport,
||Hedge Fund Owner – Lone Pine Capital
||Texans for Education Reform,
||Chairman, McNair Group
||News Corporation Founder Chairman, CEO
||NewSchools Venture Fund, Teach for America,
||University of Chicago Charter School,
||Pritzker Organization Chairman CEO – Hyatt Hotels Corp Executive Chairman
||Noble Charter Schools,
||Hyatt Hotels Heir –
||KIPP New York, Relay Graduate School of Education, Teach for America New York, Harlem Village Academies, Harlem Children’s Zone
||Hedge Fund Owner -Glenview Capital Management
||Robertson Foundation, Pave Charter Schools, Families for Excellent Schools, iMentor, Teach for America, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Hedge Fund Owner – Tiger Management Corporation
||Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Charter School Growth Fund, Ed Voice, Stand for Children, Teach for America
||Samson Investment Company (oil & gas)
||Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Teach for America, Aspire, KIPP Foundation,
||Charles Schwab Corp Founder
||Paul Singer Family Foundation, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany
||Elliott Management Corporation Founder Owner – distressed debt acquisitions
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir-Widow of John-who was son Of Founder Sam Walton
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Youngest Son Of Founder Sam Walton
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Daughter of Founder Sam Walton
|Carrie Walton Penner (S Robson)
||Walton Foundation, Major Dark Money Donor
||Wal-Mart Co-Owner Heir – Son Of Founder Sam Walton
||Zell Family Foundation, Teach for America
||Equity Group Investments Chairman -real estate – private equity
||Zuckerberg Foundation, Newark Project
||Facebook Chairman CEO
Charter Schools, Education Reform, Families for Excellent Schools Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Families for Excellent Schools
Families for Excellent Schools, the corporate funded, New York based charter school lobby group, with chapters in Connecticut and Massachusetts, is looking for a manager of tactics.
A Manager of Tactics?
Not just any Manager of Tactics. They are hiring a National Director of Tactics…
Perhaps they find their calling in the words of Sun Tzu, who wrote about tactics in his epic entitled, The Art of War;
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
So it is that the billionaire funded Families for Excellent Schools has posted a job listing searching for a National Manager of Tactics.
What an incredible and disturbing commentary about the charter school industry and its corporate education reform allies.
According to the FES job posting, the pro-charter schools, anti-public education, anti-teacher lobby group’s job posting states;
As National Manager of Tactics, you will support the Tactics team in strengthening best practices and logistics around campaign tactics, such as rallies, press conferences, and other field tactics in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. Your primary responsibilities will be producing internal reports on campaign tactics and organizing resources, such as event assets and project tools. You will report to and work closely with the Director of Tactics and work closely with the Managing Director of Tactics as well as collaborate with the rest of the organization on executing its mission.
So there you go…
“As National Manager of Tactics, you will support the Tactics team in strengthening best practices and logistics around campaign tactics…”
And to do that, you will called upon to “produce internal reports on campaign tactics.”
And sadly, these people are for real and their job post is no joke.
They love corporate and military terms, interspersed with as much hyperbole as possible.
Their “non-profit” lobbying groups are headed by people with titles of CEO and make in excess of $150,000, along with plenty of COO and CFOs added for good measure.
And now they are hiring for titles like Director of Tactics, Managing Director of Tactics and other positions within “tactical” teams.
And this is how they intend to provide the nation’s children with the comprehensive education they will need to succeed in the 21st Century?
Me thinks they have watched too many made-for-TV movies about Seal Team Six.
God Help Us.
A Better Connecticut Education Reform Lobbying Group, Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bronx Charter School for Excellence, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Connecticut General Assembly, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy Achievement First Inc., Bronx Charter School for Excellence, CCER, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Families for Excellent Schools, Malloy, Northeast Charter Schools Network
Since taking office in January 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy has been able to count on the consistent and lucrative support of the charter school industry and their pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher corporate education reform allies.
In addition to being one of Malloy’s largest sources of campaign cash during his 2014 re-election campaign, the owners and operators of Connecticut’s charter schools, along with the corporate elite who support Malloy’s “education reform” initiatives have dumped more than $9 million into the lobbying effort to support Malloy’s agenda to undermine public education in Connecticut.
This lobbing frenzy makes the corporate education reform effort the most expensive lobbying campaign in Connecticut history.
Funneling money through a variety of different organizations and front groups, the charter school advocates have been able “transform” public education in Connecticut by promoting Malloy’s plans to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in scarce public funds to privately owned and operated charter schools.
While Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly are instituting unprecedented cuts to public schools, thanks to the “reformers” lobbying effort, more than $110 million in public dollars will be handed over to charter schools this year alone.
In addition, these groups have spent their millions pushing the Common Core and Common Core testing scheme, a program designed to label a vast number of Connecticut’s children, teachers and schools as failures.
The following chart highlights the Step Right Up, Buy Public Policy organizations that have lobbied on behalf of Malloy’s charter school and anti-public education agenda.
|A Better Connecticut (ConnCAN front group)
|| $2.3 million
|| $1.9 million
|Families for Excellent Schools
|| $1.8 million
|GNEPSA (StudentsFirst/Michelle Rhee)
|CT Council for Education Reform
|Students for Education Reform
|NE Charter School Network/Charter School Network
|Bronx Charter School
|CT Business & Industry Assoc. (CBIA)
|| >$1.2 million
This past legislative session, these charter school and education reform entities spent in excess of $500,000 successfully persuading legislators to cut their own district’s public school funding, at the same time they were sending even more taxpayer money to Connecticut’s charter schools, despite the fact that these private institutions have traditionally refused to educate their fair share of students who need special education services, children who require help learning the English Language or those who have behavioral issues.
More taxpayer money for the private sector, less public funds for public schools.
Malloy and the Democratic controlled General Assembly should be sent packing and replaced with people who will put our children ahead of political and private interests.
Charter Schools, Connecticut State Department of Education, Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Malloy, Wendy Lecker Charter Schools, Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Malloy, Wendy Lecker
Surprise! Connecticut taxpayers are giving privately owned and operated charter schools more than $110 million a year, with little to no oversight. Meanwhile, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled state legislature are implementing the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools. The budget cuts, along with the inadequate funding allocated for public schools mean Connecticut’s public school students will be getting less, while local property taxpayers will be charged even more.
In another MUST READ piece, public education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker reports on the void in oversight of Connecticut’s charter schools.
Wendy Lecker writes;
One would think that after the scandals involving Connecticut’s two large charter chains, Jumoke and Achievement First, Connecticut’s education officials would finally exert some meaningful oversight over Connecticut’s charter sector.
One would be wrong.
This week the Connecticut Mirror reported that Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell dismissed a complaint against Bridgeport Achievement First, for using uncertified teachers for 47 percent of its staff, in violation of Connecticut statute. Wentzell unilaterally decided that the law allowing complaints against public schools does not apply to charters; despite the fact that charters receive more than $100 million each year in public taxpayer dollars.
Wentzell disregarded the data showing Achievement First’s misdeeds, claiming the State Department of Education (SDE) will wait until the charter comes up for renewal. Wentzell apparently ignored the law allowing her to put a charter on probation “at any time.”
The laissez-faire attitude toward charter schools pervades this administration. At the June 1 State Board of Education meeting, where the board voted to grant waivers to six charters to increase their enrollment beyond the statutory cap, Mark Linabury, head of SDE’s Choice Bureau, stated that when it comes to charter oversight, “we operate in the dark” until the renewal process.
While SDE closes its eyes, the complaints against charters pile up. Last week, students at Achievement First’s Amistad High School in New Haven staged a mass walkout to protest racial insensitivity and harsh discipline. They might have also protested the abominable graduation rate which, counting attrition since ninth grade, was 53 percent in 2015 — well below New Haven’s.
Amistad is one of the schools granted an enrollment increase waiver on June 1; supposedly based on Amistad’s academic performance (a 53-percent graduation rate?). Recommending the increase, SDE declared that Amistad draws 100 percent of its students from New Haven. However, the New Haven Independent, in reporting the walkout story, noted “(a)t 10:20, students who live in Bridgeport went inside after they were told they would not be allowed to board buses home if they didn’t.” Indeed, students told reporter Paul Bass that half of Amistad students come from Bridgeport every day. Is anyone at SDE minding the store?
Students have well-founded complaints about Amistad’s discipline practices. While suspensions statewide decreased from 2010 through 2015, they skyrocketed at Amistad, from 302 to 1,307 suspensions. There were more suspensions in 2014-15 than there were students, who numbered 984. During that five-year period, enrollment increased by about 25 percent, while suspensions more than quadrupled.
Other charters granted enrollment expansion waivers on June 1 also have deplorable suspension rates. Bridgeport’s Achievement First had 1,641 suspensions, almost double the number of students, 977, in 2014-15. The number of suspensions more than tripled since 2010-11, when there were 456, and 409 students.
Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport, operating for just one year, had 154 suspensions, outpacing its enrollment of 127 students. Great Oaks received the waiver for the largest increase in seats. Explaining the basis for exceeding the statutory cap, Linabury stated that there was a strict focus on the school’s performance.
Apparently SDE does not consider abusive discipline worth investigating. It should. A recent UCLA report found that nationwide, suspensions lead to dropouts, costing more than $46 billion in lost tax revenue and other social costs.
SDE admitted that, academically, Great Oaks performs well below the state average, and worse than Bridgeport, its host district. Yet SDE still recommended Great Oaks for an increase, which the board rubber-stamped.
Beyond its appalling lack of oversight, SDE made blatant misrepresentations in its quest to expand charters. SDE’s CFO Kathleen Dempsey, declared that before these charters opened, “local approval and support” were required. For Great Oaks and another school granted a statutory increase, Stamford Charter School for Excellence, that statement is false. The public and the local boards of education opposed these charters.
Some state board members feigned dismay that there was ample funding for charter increases while the state slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from vo-tech, magnets and public schools. They then approved the enrollment increases, without any investigation into discipline abuses, uncertified teachers or other misdeeds.
The members declared it would be unfair not to expand enrollment because the charters already held the lotteries for these seats. When asked why the charters held lotteries for seats before they were even approved, SDE again abdicated responsibility, claiming SDE has no say over charter lotteries.
With billions of dollars and student well-being at stake, Connecticut’s children and taxpayers deserve better than officials who sit idly by while charter schools call all the shots.
You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s original article in the Stamford Advocate at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-A-void-in-oversight-of-charter-7988759.php
Charter Schools, Education Funding, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Sarah Darer Littman, State Budget, Wendy Lecker Charter Schools, Education Funding, Jumoke, Malloy, Sarah Darer Littman, State Budget, Wendy Lecker
Governor Dannel Malloy, with the support of Democratic legislators, has made the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools. Already inadequately funded, Connecticut’s elected officials are now truly undermining the opportunity for every Connecticut child to get the education the need and deserve.
However, Connecticut’s fiscal crisis isn’t stopping Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education from shoveling even more public funds to the privately owned and operated companies that run Connecticut’s charter schools – entities that refuse to educate their fair share of students with special education requirements or those who need extra help becoming proficient in the English Language (ELL students.)
At yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting (June 1, 2016)), Governor Malloy’s appointees voted to allocate even more funding for charter schools, while pretending their primary responsibility to adequately fund public schools wasn’t being undermined by Malloy’s actions.
In Charter school enrollment set to rise, the CT Mirror reported that the State Board of Education was moving forward with a proposal from Malloy’s Commissioner of Education to allow charter schools to increase enrollment at charter schools next fall, noting;
While the enrollment increase will cost the state an additional $4.1 million next year, funding for traditional public schools is being cut by $51.7 million and for regional magnet schools, opened to help desegregate city schools, by $15.4 million.
In recommending that 14 of Connecticut’s 23 charter schools be allowed to enroll another 401 students, Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell wrote the publicly funded schools had a “demonstrated record of achievement.”
However, Wentzell isn’t telling the truth. The reality is that many Connecticut charter schools are failing to provide equitable and adequate access to the full array of Connecticut’s public school students and that even after cherry-picking the students they will accept and keep, most charter schools are failing to do an adequate job.
The CT Mirror goes on to report;
One of the schools being recommended for an enrollment boost, however – Achievement First Hartford – was put on probation last month after an audit criticized the school for a high rate of disciplining students and having too few of its teachers properly certified. Achievement First Hartford includes an elementary, middle and high school.
The schools were first identified in 2013 as having some of the highest suspension rates in the state, but enrollment caps have been waived by the state education board for three years so enrollment could grow from 874 to 1,125 students. In a 2013 memo to the state board, the leader of Achievement First outlined plans to revise its “if-in-doubt-send-them-out” suspension policy, to better train teachers on handling disruptive students, and to reduce the offenses students could be suspended for. But data released in April showed the schools still have high suspension rates.
One other school, Jumoke Academy, is currently on probation, and two others were given notice they needed to improve last May.
Jumoke was at the center of a controversy surrounding questionable fiscal practices that were unveiled by The Hartford Courant. The school is in its second year of probation and is the only charter school that is being recommended for decreased enrollment. However, enrollment at Jumoke has increased since it was put on probation, from 705 students during the 2013-14 school year to 765 students next year.
Stamford Academy and New Beginnings in Bridgeport both had their charters renewed last May for shortened terms, and conditions for improvement were imposed. Stamford is being recommended for an enrollment increase and Bridgeport for a flat enrollment.
When Dannel Malloy took office in January 2011, Connecticut taxpayers subsidized charter schools to the tune of about $50 million a year. This coming year, after becoming one of Malloy’s most important sources of campaign cash, Connecticut taxpayers are giving the private companies that run charter schools more than $125 million. No other area of the state budget has grown at such an alarming rate.
As noted here at Wait, What? and elsewhere, charter schools have a long and ugly track record of mistreating students, parents and teachers. Across the country, more and more charter school operators are also being investigated, indicted and/or convicted of fraudulent use of public funds.
One of the more noteworthy controversies surrounding charter schools occurred here in Connecticut when Jumoke Academy came under investigation for misuse of public funds and it was revealed that the company’s CEO didn’t have the academic degree he claimed but was living the high-life in a brownstone purchased and renovated by the charter school company.
Additional Background on Connecticut’s Charter School Scandals can be found via the following Wait, What? posts:
The downfall of another Charter School Management Company
What’s missing from the damning Jumoke/FUSE report – Part 1
FUSE re-lights Connecticut’s Charter School Scandals
Malloy and Pryor: The Connecticut Charter School Debacle Expands
An ‘anything goes’ approach to charter schools by Wendy Lecker
Today’s MUST READ PIECE – Where’s the Accountability? Anyone? By Sarah Darer Littman
Columns on the Malloy/Pryor Charter School scandals
Bridgeport, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Families for Excellent Schools, Jonathan Sackler, Joshua Thompson, New York Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Families for Excellent Schools, Jonathan Sackler, Joshua Thompson, NYC
Although it is undoubtedly purely coincidental, with fans eagerly awaiting the much anticipated release this Friday of “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” along comes the news that Joshua Thompson, former Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s former aide, who claimed on his on-line biography that he was actually Bridgeport’s “Deputy Mayor,” is now focusing his attention on defeating New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
No, Josh Thompson isn’t working for one of the potential candidates who are considering challenging de Blasio in the November 2017 election. Mayor Bill Finch’s former aide is running to BECOME New York’s next mayor.
Josh Thompson’s time as a member of Bill Finch’s Brain Trust highlight the recent challenges that have been dragging down Connecticut’s charter school industry and their corporate education reform allies who continue to undermine public education in Connecticut.
As some readers may remember, in March 2013, Wait, What? reported that Joshua Thompson was garnering media attention when he updated his on-line biography to read:
Joshua Thompson is the Director of Education and Youth Policy and the Deputy Mayor for Education for the city of Bridgeport, CT. Prior to this position, he was the Program Analyst and Projects Manager for the Deputy Mayor for Education in the Executive Office of the Mayor in Washington, DC.
In this capacity, he served in a direct oversight role in the District’s schools, working in partnership with charter schools, as well as the federal government on policies such as Race to the Top and other major initiatives that impact the District at large.
But, of course, few of the claims made by the 20-something political operative were true.
At the time Josh Thompson was hired in August 2012 to join Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s staff, the Connecticut Post wrote that the newcomer would be working as Finch’s education aide. The paper explained,
“Joshua Thompson will develop and carry out public education policy and shape new initiatives. He will earn $102,000 as an at-will employee of the mayor. Funds for the salary were approved by the City Council and come from a dedicated line in the budget, said Adam Wood, Finch’s chief of staff.”
However, neither Mayor Finch nor his Chief of Staff, Adam Wood, bothered to explain to the City Council that the “dedicated line” they were referring to was actually the City’s education budget and their tactic meant money intended for educating Bridgeport’s children would, instead, be used to expand Finch’s political operation.
While Thompson’s official position remained that of a deputy chief administrative officer, the Finch Administration started referring to Thompson as the Mayor’s “Director for Education and Youth.”
Initially, Director of Education and Youth is how Thompson referred to himself on his LinkedIn social networking account, although he bulked up his title a bit more on his twitter account, calling himself, “Director of Education in Bridgeport, CT.”
But Thompson’s amazing, meteoric, self-promotion was most evident when it came to his biography on The Council of Urban Professionals’ website. The CUP is a New York City based entity that claims to be, “an energetic 21st century leadership development organization that molds diverse business and civic leaders, and empowers them to exert influence, achieve their individual goals and create collective impact through a range of programs and initiative.”
After Thompson was done doctoring his biography on the site it read;
“Director of Education and Youth Policy and the Deputy Mayor for Education for the city of Bridgeport, CT.”
Of course, the claim was more than a little far-fetched considering Bridgeport City Charter doesn’t even allow the use of the title, Deputy Mayor. After Thompson’s enhanced biography was published on Wait, What? he modified it to remove his status as the Park City’s self-appointed Deputy Mayor.
Meanwhile, back in Bridgeport, Thompson’s first task was to help pass Mayor Finch’s plan to do away with the city’s democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the mayor. The Mayor’s charter referendum initiative went down in a stunning defeat.
Undaunted by the will of the people, Finch then had Thompson take on the role of bullying the Bridgeport Board of Education into extending the contract of education reformer extraordinaire, Paul Vallas, who had arrived in Bridgeport after successfully undermining and the public school systems in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
Thompson’s role as Finch’s education reform enforcer was covered in a number of Wait, What? blog posts, including, Bridgeport: Finch puts Deputy Mayor Thompson in attack mode to protect Paul Vallas…, Mayor Finch and Bridgeport City Council move to cut education funding? And last but not least, in Finch/Vallas land…
Leading the Custer-like effort to defend Vallas, Thompson issued a threatening statement to the members of the Bridgeport Board of Education that appeared in the Only in Bridgeport” blog. Thompson opined;
“I want to make something 100-percent clear…I am very concerned that we have elected board members whose values are tied to that of the Working Families Party…. With Superintendent Vallas’ evaluation coming up this Monday, it is clear that anyone who is part of the Working Families Party did not objectively evaluate the Superintendent’s performance…”
Finch also gave Thompson the task of helping make sure that only pro-charter school Finch loyalists were elected to the Bridgeport school board, an effort that also ended in failure.
Failure was also the outcome of Finch’s re-election plans, when the incumbent mayor was defeated in November 2015 by former Bridgeport mayor, Joe Ganim, who had returned to Bridgeport after serving seven years in federal prison for corruption.
But by then, Thompson’s dreams of glory had taken him back down the road to New York City.
As Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll noted (purportedly while on drugs);
As for his time in Bridgeport, Thompson explains on his new campaign website;
In 2012, as I was finishing up in DC, I received a call that Bridgeport’s education system was in crisis and drove straight there. When I arrived in Bridgeport, there was a $13 million education budget deficit, a dropout rate of nearly 50%, and textbooks that still said George H. W. Bush was president. During my tenure, we eliminated the deficit without letting go of a single teacher or closing a single school. In fact, we opened 9 schools, some of which are now among the highest performing schools in Connecticut. Instead of outdated textbooks, every high school student in Bridgeport now has a tablet….
As an aside, the tablet statement isn’t true and the $10 million no-bid contract to purchase new textbooks not only ended up with “new” books that are not Common Core complaint but the outrageous and lucrative payment schedule ended up diverting scarce dollars from critically needed instructional costs for years after Vallas and Thompson left town.
But none of the uncomfortable details matter to Connecticut’s charter school industry and those associated with the anti-teacher, anti-public school education reform agenda.
Annoyed with New York Mayor de Blasio, the moneyed interests associated with Connecticut’s charter schools are stepping up to help their guy “challenge” New York’s Mayor..
According to Thompson’s first campaign finance report, Bridgeport’s former “Deputy Mayor” raised a total of about $15,000 during his first reporting period.
Thompson’s largest donor, of course, is none-other-than Jonathan Sackler, the multi-millionaire pharmaceutical executive who was also Governor Dannel Malloy’s largest campaign contributor.
Thompson’s other donors include;
Jennifer Alexander (CEO, ConnCAN)
Andrew Boas (Achievement First, Inc. Board of Directors)
Adam Goldfarb (Former Chief of Staff to Former CT Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor)
Jeremiah Grace (Director of the NY based charter school front called Families for Excellent Schools)
Alex Johnson (Former CEO, ConnCAN)
Megan Lowney (Co-founder of the charter school advocacy group Excel Bridgeport)
Adam Wood (Former Chief of Staff to Former Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch)
And others who names appear regularly here at Wait, What?
It just goes to show you…. Although what exactly is goes to show is a bit of mystery.
Billionaires for Education Reform, Charter Schools, Cuomo, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform, Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy Charter Schools, Malloy, SFER, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Students for Education Reform (SFER), Teacher Evaluations Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, DFER, Malloy, SBAC, SFER, Standardized Testing, Teacher Tenure
Today’s CT Mirror includes a deceitful and extraordinarily misleading commentary piece entitled, “This legislative session, let Connecticut children win for a change.”
Shavar Jeffries, the mouthpiece for a corporate funded, New York based, charter school advocacy group that calls itself “Democrats for Education Reform (DFER)” uses the space to urge Connecticut legislators to DEFEAT a bill that, if passed, would require Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration to develop an honest and effective teacher evaluation system rather than continue with Malloy’s present program that is dependent on the results of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme.
Jeffries, who is the founding Board President of Newark’s Team Academy Charter Schools, a board member of the charter school front called Students for Education Reform (SFER) and a Director for Eva Moskowitz’s infamous Success Academy charter school chain, instructs Connecticut’s elected officials to “stay the course” with Dannel Malloy’s failed anti-student, anti-parent, anti-teacher and anti-public school agenda.
In the face of overwhelming evidence that reveals that the SBAC testing scam is not an appropriate measure of student academic achievement or an effective tool for evaluating teachers, the highly paid spokesman for the charter school industry opines,
“Will Connecticut beat back the progress it made in adopting a modern educator evaluation system in 2012? That system recognizes great teachers for a job well done, while providing support to struggling teachers. Or will lawmakers cave to a power structure that wants to keep things the same?”
The charter school fan’s incredible statement speaks volumes.
The truth is that it is Malloy’s shameful corporate education reform initiative of 2012, and his utter failure to properly fund public education that is taking Connecticut in the wrong direction.
Malloy, who has proposed record-breaking cuts to Connecticut’s public schools while diverting more and more scarce taxpayer funds to privately owned and operated charter schools has become a poster-boy for the insidious and devastating impact that the education reform and privatization effort is having on public education in Connecticut.
The negative consequences of Malloy’s actions are particularly evident when it comes to the absurd teacher evaluation system that he has championed. To better understand the problems with Malloy’s teacher evaluation program start with the following Wait, What? posts;
Wendy Lecker explains – Again – Why the Malloy-Wyman teacher evaluation system is a terrible farce
Speaking out for decoupling Common Core testing from the teacher evaluation process
Why Common Core SBAC results SHOULD NOT be part of the teacher evaluation process
New York Superintendents call for an end to evaluating teachers on standardized test results
However, when it comes to DFER and its allies, the truth has no value.
In fact, it is the truth that serves as the most serious impediment to their goals.
DFER and their plan to “transform” public education by handing it over to Wall Street investors, the elite hedge fund owners, and the private companies that seek to make money off the backs of our children, teachers and public schools require a political and public policy environment in which the truth is not allowed to get in the way.
Speaking of that dystopian approach to governance, George Orwell summed it up sixty-seven years ago writing in his once fiction – now non-fiction – epic titled 1984;
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Of course, when it comes to the real actors behind the effort to undermine public education, Shavar Jeffries is but a two-bit player. His commentary piece in today’s CTMirror is a reminder that he is just someone who will carry the water for those that would prefer to remain hidden in the dark.
It is the dark and it’s associated “dark-money” where DFER flourishes.
Much has been written here at Wait, What? and elsewhere about DFER and those behind the charter industry.
An early description of the group appeared in December 2010, when the UFT’s Michael Hisrch wrote;
Among the group’s eight-person board is hedge-fund manager John Petry of Gotham Capital, who with Eva Moskowitz co-founded the Harlem Success Academy Charter School. The board also includes Tony Davis of Anchorage Capital, the board chair of Brooklyn’s Achievement First East New York school; Charles Ledley of Highfields Capital Management; and Whitney Tilson, chief of T2 Partners and Tilson Funds and vice chairman of New York’s KIPP Academy Charter Schools.
Of DFER’s seven-person advisory board, five manage hedge funds: David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital, LLC; Joel Greenblatt, founder and managing partner of Gotham Capital and past protégé of fallen junk-bond icon Michael Milliken; Vincent Mai, who chairs AEA Investors, LP; Michael Novogratz, president of Fortress Investment Group; and Rafael Mayer, the Khronos LLC managing partner and KIPP AMP charter school director.
Orbiting the group is billionaire “venture philanthropist” and charter school funder Eli Broad, whose foundation gave upwards of $500,000 to plug advocacy related to the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and another charter-touting film, “The Lottery.” Though not himself a DFER board member, Broad is a major funder of Education Reform Now, DFER’s nonprofit sister organization, also headed by Joe Williams.
Meanwhile, Andrew Rotherman, recently retired DFER director and EduWonk blogger, is co-founder of and a partner in for-profit Bellwether Education, described as “offering specialized professional services and thoughtful leadership to the entrepreneurial education reform field.” Rotherman sits on the Broad Prize Review Board, while DFER board member Sara Mead is a senior associate partner at his Bellwether Education and sits on the Washington, D.C., Public Charter School Board.
DFER is actually part of a much larger multi-headed beast that also includes Education Reform Now and Education Reform Now Advocacy, two tax-exempt entities that allow the billionaires and corporate elite behind the charter school industry to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into political, lobbying and advocacy efforts. (For an example of their approach see Wait What? post, Figures that the super-rich would turn privatization of public schools into a game)
As noted previously, DFER is also a key player behind SFER – Students for Education Reform. The SFER story explains a lot about just how far the corporate education reformers are willing to go to corrupt the system.
For more on SFER read;
SFER – The $7 million+ “student run” Corporate Education Reform Industry Front Group
MORE ON SFER – Corporate Money in the 2015 Denver Board of Education Election
Perhaps most telling of all is that when it comes to Malloy’s disastrous SBAC tests and his dangerously warped teacher evaluation program, the only entities supporting it are the groups and individuals funded, directed or at the beckon call of these hedge fund managers and corporate elite.
NOTE: Who else has taken Walton money?
Governor Dannel Malloy and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Adam Goldfarb, Charter Schools, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Adam Goldfarb, Charter Schools, Corporate Education Reform Industry, DFER, Malloy, People's Prep, Stefan Pryor
Having become a great weight around Democrat Dannel Malloy’s desire to serve a second term as Connecticut’s governor, in the run-up to Connecticut’s 2014 gubernatorial election, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, announced that he was leaving his post in search of new opportunities. (See Wait, What? post –Commissioner Pryor and entourage are the biggest threat to Malloy’s Re-election…)
Pryor quickly announced that he was headed east to become Commerce Secretary for his friend, the newly elected Governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo. Pryor, Raimondo and her husband, hedgefund executive Andy Moffit, all attended Yale together. Moffitt was roommates with Cory Booker and Pryor ended up serving as Booker’s economic adviser for five years until joining the Malloy administration as Commissioner of Education in 2011.
While at Yale, Pryor co-founded Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that owns and operates charter schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
As Governor Malloy’s point person on education, Pryor led the effort to undermine Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.
It was Governor Malloy, with the help of Pryor and a series of no-bid contracts with out-of-state corporate education reform industry consultants, which produced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education bill of any Democratic governor in the country.
In addition to the millions of dollars that Commissioner Pryor wasted on out-of-state consultants and his successful effort to divert hundreds of millions in scarce taxpayer funds to Connecticut’s charter school industry, another one of Pryor’s controversial actions was to hire his close personal friend and former Newark aide, Adam Goldfarb, to serve as his chief of staff. (See Wait, What? post –IMPORTANT UPDATE: Oh, it’s good to be King, or at least Commissioner of Education.)
In order to get around the State of Connecticut’s hiring rules, Pryor actually hired Goldfarb under one job classification and then immediately bumped up his salary and made him chief of staff.
Like Pryor, Goldfarb went to Yale.
Like Pryor, Goldfarb worked on economic development issues in Newark for then mayor Cory Booker.
Like Pryor, Goldfarb had no real public education experience.
And like Pryor, Goldfarb was a big fan of charter schools despite their unwillingness to provide equal educational opportunities to students who require special educational services, those who aren’t proficient in the English Language or those who fail to adhere to the abusive and degrading harsh disciplinary policies that are the staple of charter school operations.
In Goldfarb’s case, he has served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of People’s Prep Charter School in New Jersey since the privately owned, but publicly funded charter school opened. (See Wait, What? post – What is Commissioner Pryor’s Chief of Staff doing as the Vice President of a Charter School Board of Directors?)
While Goldfarb’s boss, Stefan Pryor, has spent the last year hiring even more out-of-state consultants and plunging Rhode Island’s governor into one controversy after another (Check back soon for more about that), Goldfarb has been treading water as a consultant for Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies and America Achieves project.
However, although no official announcement has yet been made, it appears that Adam Goldfarb has recently landed the job of Chief Operating Officer for the education reform and charter school advocacy group known as Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).
DFER is the corporate and elite funded pro-education entity that serves as the political wing of Education Reform Now and its sister organization, Education Reform Now Advocacy.
DFER is used as a political action committee and a “dark-money” bundling group that has poured millions of dollars into political campaigns on behalf of candidates who support the Common Core, the Common Core testing scam and the privatization of public educations through the massive expansion of charter schools.
A darling of the education reform industry, DFER’s new National President, Shavar Jeffries, joined DFER after a stunning defeat against Newark councilman and community activist, Ras Baraka, for mayor of Newark when Booker became a United States Senator.
Jeffries has now brought in Adam Goldfarb to so serve as DFER’s Chief Operating Officer.
As for DFER, The Center for Media & Democracy’s Executive Director, Lisa Graves, recently published a investigative piece entitled, How DFER Leaders Channel Out-of-State Dark Money, in which she wrote;
DFER is actually the more well known PAC arm of Education Reform Now, Inc. (ERN), a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit, and Education Reform Now Advocacy, Inc. (ERNA), a 501(c)(4) social welfare group. Their acronym not only sounds like the word “earn,” but also it has the backing of some really huge earners.
DFER co-founder (and founder of the T2 Partners hedge fund) Whitney Tilson explained the hedge funders interest in education noting that “Hedge funds are always looking for ways to turn a small amount of capital into a large amount of capital.”
The Board of Directors for ERN consists almost entirely of Wall Streeters who made their fortunes through financial groups and hedge funds, such as Sessa Capital, Gotham Capital, Covey Capital, Charter Bridge Capital, Maverick Capital, Cubist Systematic Strategies, and Sanford C. Bernstein.
As the New York Times reported: DFER’s supporters have included “the founders of funds like Anchorage Capital Partners, with $8 billion under management; Greenlight Capital, with $6.8 billion; and Pershing Square Capital Management, with $5.5 billion.”
However, ERN and ERNA do not disclose who its major donors are and how much those big donors give to fund its operations and ambitions.
It is known, though, that FOX‘s Rupert Murdoch gave at least $1 million to ERN. Murdoch has expressed his desire to get in on education “reforms,” stating “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone….”
The most recent federal tax filings of ERN/ERNA show that it had more than $12 million available to push education reform ($7.4 million for ERN and $5 million for ERNA) in 2013. Its non-profit filings from the most recent major election year, the 2014 mid-terms, or last year are not available.
What is known from the 2013 is filings is that, in that year, ERNA disclosed that it spent $1.7 million in political expenditures, nearly all of which went to DFER. These funds were used for expenditures, like mass mailings or ads supporting particular politicians but that were “independent” and not to be coordinated with the candidates’ campaigns.
ERN/ERNA’s leader Joe Williams has been paid a for-profit like salary as its executive, with $398,500 in total annual compensation in 2013. He’s also listed as “Executive Director Emeritus” for DFER and on DFER’s board. Williams stepped down from his staff position at DFER in 2015 and also became a director at the Walton Education Coalition that year. That’s Walton as in Walmart’s Walton family.
Because nonprofits like ERN/ERNA do not have to disclose their major donors to the public, even when ERNA is active in supporting electoral activities the public is left in the dark about which hedge funder is actually helping to fund state and local ads and mailers during the election.
Even though privately held corporations and hedge funders do not have to disclose their donations to operations like ERN/ERNA, a CEO’s charitable foundations does have to disclose to whom they give grants.
That’s how it is known that the Walton family, of Walmart fame or infamy, has backed such efforts. In 2011, for example, ERN/ERNA received $1.1 million from the Walton Family Foundation. The total amount from all such CEO-controlled foundations given to ERN/ERNA to date is not known.
As Matthew Fleischer noted in the Frying Pan News (reprinted by the Huffington Post) that hedge funder Tilson has followed the Waltons’ lead: “in a 2010 documentary, A Right Denied, Tilson suggested that DFER was created because of Walmart patriarch John Walton’s support of vouchers and “school choice.'”
It has been investigative journalists who have helped expose the billionaire network behind ERN/ERNA/DFER, despite the opacity on the surface, as noted by George Joseph in the Nation:
“[A]ccording to Steven Brill in his book Class Warfare, around this time [in 2010] the hedge-fund alliance for education reform really began to take off. That April, for instance, Education Reform Now’s Joe Williams and Bradley Tusk schmoozed over drinks with Paul Tudor Jones II and other hedge-fund billionaires at Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone’s Five Avenue apartment, where they planned a successful campaign to secretly spend millions through a 501(c)(4) political action fund and win the charter cap increase [in New York]. As with Families for Excellent Schools’ mostly secret financing today, Brill notes that Education Reform Now’s donations never became public, and that in May a room full of eager billionaires was able to push the legislature to authorize increased charter-school expansion.”
(The Nation‘s exposé on ERN/ERNA/DFER in New York includes emails and a slide deck about the billionaires and foundations behind such efforts that were leaked to the magazine.)
Despite or perhaps because of this reality, the DFER arm in a state where ads are run merely discloses to the state authority that it received contributions from ERNA, not the hedge funders.
So, the ERN/ERNA/DFER operation is like a shell game when it comes to the public being able to pierce through the layers of nonprofits to find the name of a particular billionaire or uber-rich hedge funder whose money is propping up a particular electoral candidate being backed by DFER.
Similarly, DFER in the states has been known to partner with other groups that have similarly murky or occluded funding sources.
Most recently, DFER and its related entities have been particularly involved in campaigns and political activities aimed at supporting politicians committed to privatizing public education and promoting charter schools in California, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York and in other targeted states and cities.
Capitol Prep Charter Schools, Charter Schools, Sean Combs P. Diddy, Steve Perry Capital Prep Charter School, Charter Schools, Sean Combs P. Diddy, Steve Perry
Quick News Brief – More to Come on this breaking story!
With billions of dollars in taxpayer funds being diverted from public schools to privately owned and operated charter schools, a motley collection of the nation’s super-wealthy, including sports and music stars, are looking to cash in on the existing bi-partisan political support for the privatization of public education in the United States.
According to recent published reports, the latest to climb on the Charter School Industry Gravy train is rap star, actor, record producer, clothing designer and successful entrepreneur Sean Combs, who has previously gone by the name of P. Diddy, Diddy and Puff Daddy.
In an article entitled, Capital Prep Founder To Oversee Sean “Diddy” Combs’ New Harlem School, the Hartford Courant reports;
“Combs announced Monday that the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School will open in the fall. The school will be overseen by Capital Prep leader Steve Perry, who founded Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford in 2005.
By “partnering” with Steve Perry, who refers to himself as the “Most Trusted Educator in America,” Combs is tying his charter school ownership aspirations to the controversial, anti-union, anti-teacher, media personality who “made” his reputation as a principal of a Hartford magnet school that was and continues to be part of the Hartford Public School System.
Perry gained national notoriety for his school’s harsh disciplinary policies that included the use of the “Table of Shame” to punish children who received demerits and for his ugly public comments about unions, teachers and anyone who opposed his empire building efforts.
As a 2013 Wait, What? post entitled, Hey Steve Perry – Tell us about Capital Prep’s “Table of Shame,” explained;
Located in the cafeteria of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School at 1304 Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut is the “Table of Shame.”
At part of Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry’s “zero-tolerance” policies even the slightest “violations,” such as wearing the wrong colored belt, will result in punishments designed to humiliate and demean students.
For example, it is not uncommon for Capital Prep students to be forced to stand in the cafeteria to eat as punishment for violating the school uniform policy or some equally unimportant “violation.”
And now, more than a half a dozen former and present parents, students and teachers report that Perry and his fellow Capital Prep administrators regularly require children, even the youngest students in the building, to sit at the cafeteria’s “Table of Shame.”
And yes… it is actually referred to as the “Table of Shame.”
Along with the charges of abusive disciplinary practices and questionable financial activities – According to federal and state documents, Steve Perry registered his private charter school management company at the address of the Hartford public school at which he worked – Perry’s unwillingness to provide federally required educational services to children with special needs led to a sweeping investigation and follow-up action.
As a Hartford school administrator, Perry was also unwilling or unable to recruit and retain students who where English Language Learners despite more than 50 percent of Hartford’s students being Latino.
Perry is also fond of attacking unions and teachers, famously calling teacher unions roaches and belittling classroom teachers and the teaching profession.
Of course, as for his anger management problems, when the Hartford Board of Education rejected his proposal to give his private company ownership and control of two Hartford public schools, Perry infamously Tweeted;
Dr. [email protected]
“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.”
For more on that piece see Update: “Strap up [my gun], there will be head injuries” (Steve Perry 11/20/13) and the Washington Post’s coverage, Angry principal tweets: ‘Strap up, there will be head injuries’
With this latest public relations claim that this new charter school in Harlem is P. Diddy’s invention, Perry is proving, yet again, that the he and the truth don’t often go hand in hand.
The latest Hartford Courant story adds;
“I want to make getting an A cool,” Perry said Combs told him. To support the effort, Combs initially provided staff and office space. He also helped identify people and institutions to build support for the school.
And he’s played a role as the school has been developed. He conducted the final interview with Jones and has gotten involved in issues as minute as cleaning restrooms.
The school will open in the fall with 80 sixth graders and 80 seventh graders.
Perry said he asked Combs whether he wanted the school named after him. The answer was no. “Call it Capital Prep,” Combs told him, Perry said.
Steve Perry is claiming that he asked Diddy whether he wanted his name attached to the new charter school but the rap icon said that he wanted to use the name of Perry’s school instead?
In classic Perry fashion, the nation’s “most trusted educator” is hoping that no one actually checks the record.
As the record proves, it was Perry and his company who submitted the proposal to open a charter school in Harlem and the application was approved, despite a long list of questionable statements that were contained in Perry’s application.
This truth is that this isn’t P. Diddy’s charter school, it is Steve Perry’s charter school that he is now connecting to P. Diddy’s star power.
The application to open the school never mentioned Diddy in any way whatsoever.
As reported back in 2014 by Wait, What? in articles entitled, Self-proclaimed as “America’s Most Trusted Educator,” Steve Perry says he is opening a charter school in NYC? And Perry’s New York City charter school application generates requests for investigations, the truth was clear.
“Earlier this month [November 2014], the New York Board of Regents moved to approve a charter school application from Steve Perry, a principal of a public school in Connecticut who has formed a charter school management company in the hopes of opening up charter schools in the greater New York City region.
Although the Board of Regents’ Education Committee approved the charter school application submitted by Mr. Perry, he does not own the concepts, materials and intellectual property contained in that application. Instead they belong to the Hartford, Connecticut Board of Education.
At their November meeting, the P-12 Education Committee of the New York Board of Regents, upon the recommendation of Commissioner John B. King, Jr and the staff of the New York State Department of Education, voted to approve the application for the Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School.
In the memo to the P-12 Committee, Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. wrote, “The Commissioner and Department staff recommend that the Board of Regents consider, approve and issue initial charters and provisional charters for the following four new charter schools.” The list included Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School.
As the application read,
CPS is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools. It is our hope that we will manage two schools in Harlem. The first is to be Capital Prep Harlem, 6-12. The second would be a kindergarten to 5th grade school in or near the first in CSD 5
From all the available evidence, it appears that the school P. Diddy is opening this fall is actually the school that the New York Board of Regents approved for Perry but not for Diddy.
Perry is now relying on Sean Combs to fill the seats in the charter school that the New York Board of Regents approved for Perry.
Note that in the application to the New York Board of Regents, Perry also stated that his company owned a school in Hartford, Connecticut but that is an absolute and total lie. The school in question is not owned by Steve Perry’s charter school management organization but is owned by the residents of Hartford and operated by the Hartford Public Schools System.
As the story continues to develop, it is also worth remembering that while Steve Perry brags about the “famous” people associated with Charter School Board of Directors, those familiar with Perry and his proclivities will remember the issue about Perry’s new charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut – in which Wait, What? wrote:
A Convicted Felon on Steve Perry’s Charter School Governing Council – There should be a law!