Malloy’s new charter schools – 1st up the Booker T. Washington Charter School in New Haven

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Time to review the facts surrounding Malloy’s new charter schools…

Number #1: The Booker T. Washington Charter School.

The Booker T. Washington School may very well be Connecticut’s first foray into using public funds to pay for what appears to be a religiously connected school.  (We’ll pretend for a moment that such a move is not unconstitutional).

According to the charter school application approved by Malloy’s State Board of Education yesterday, there is a rather unseemly and bizarre connection between the Booker T. Washington Charter School, the charter school management company known as Jumoke/FUSE Inc. and the Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The application begins with the statement,

“The Booker T. Washington Academy is the brainchild of Reverend Eldren D. Morrison, Pastor of Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut (“Varick Memorial”)

The Governing Board of Directors for the Booker T. Washington Academy includes the following individuals,

  • Reverend Eldren D. Morrison: Founder of Booker T. Washington Academy, Pastor of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut and New Haven, Community Leader
  • Jesse Phillips: Chief of Staff to Rev. Morrison at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, CT, and Community Economic Advisor)
  • Stacia Morrison: Academic Assistant, Bridgeport Public Schools and First Lady of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut).

And on the next page of the application its states,  “Stacia Morrison is currently a member of the Board of Directors. She intends to apply for a staff position with the Academy and, if hired, will resign from the Board.”

The cost to Connecticut taxpayers to get the Booker T. Washington Charter School up and running over the next five years will exceed $27 million.

In addition, the taxpayers of New Haven will continue to pay for the transportation costs and special education costs of students attending the privately run Booker T. Washington Charter School.

A $27 million dollar public expenditure for the “brainchild” of a church minister and the school’s governing board will include the minister, his assistant and his wife … at least until she gets a  job at the school at which time she will resign her position on the governing board.

Interestingly no one on the State Board of Education even pressed the issue of the association between the school and a church or the notion that the founder’s wife will serve on the Board of Directors until she gets a state-funded job at the school.

For more read Wait, What? Post: Merging Church and State – The Booker T. Washington Charter School

 

The second rather unseemly and bizarre issue is that the new Booker T. Washington Charter School will be run by a charter school management company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc.

Just two years ago there was nothing even called FUSE Inc. and now the charter school management company has a senior corporate officer sitting on the Connecticut State Board of Education, was just approved to run its fourth school in Connecticut and it still had time to take over management of a public school 1,500 miles away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

FUSE Inc. is better known as Jumoke Academy Inc.  Their initial charter school is in Hartford and is called the Jumoke Academy.

Like all charter schools in Connecticut, the Jumoke Academy has refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs.

With the passage of Governor Malloy’s “education reform” law in 2012, Stefan Pryor used his new-found power to take over Hartford’s Milner Elementary School and give it to Jumoke Academy to manage via a no bid contract.

The agreement was struck so quickly that the state and Jumoke didn’t even have a signed contract until well into the new school year.

The deal was particularly strange since the Jumoke Academy had never had a non-English speaking student in its six-year history and yet was given control of Milner Elementary, a school in which approximately 40 percent of students didn’t speak English or went home to households in which English was not the primary language.

A review of the demographics of the two schools made it clear that Jumoke could not possibly have been the best management company to take over the Hartford neighborhood school.

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 25% 0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 39% 0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 11% 4%

 

To facilitate the expansion of his growing charter school company, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. and named himself the new company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Less than a year later, although the State Department of Education had no data about the level of success Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was having at Hartford’s Milner School, Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education gave Jumoke/FUSE, Inc. another no-bid contract, this time to take over the Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport.

In the meantime, Governor Malloy nominated Andrea Comer, the Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke/FUSE Inc. to serve as a member of the State Board of Education — the very entity responsible for approving charter school applications and holding charter schools accountable.

And now the State Board of Education approved Jumoke/FUSE Inc.’s application to open the Booker T. Washington Charter School in New Haven.

But as tens of millions of public funds are diverted to this lucky company, the most interesting development of all may well be that while Jumoke/FUSE Inc. claims to be focused on operating schools in Connecticut,  their Booker T. Washington application failed to mention that just a few months ago, Jumoke/FUSE Inc. was able to get a contract from the Louisiana Recovery School District in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take over a school there. [The Louisiana Recovery School District is the state entity that Paul Vallas ran before he made his way to Bridgeport].

Imagine, a charter school management company that has been given two no-bid contracts from the Malloy administration to run public neighborhood schools and still managed to get control of a school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

And although there is no data about how they are doing with their Connecticut schools or what time commitments they have made to their Baton Rouge school, not a single member of Malloy’s State Board of Education asked Jumoke/FUSE Inc. how it was going to have the time to open yet another charter school in Connecticut.

For more read Wait, What? blogs Friends in high places = lots of money! and The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train.

Merging Church and State – The Booker T. Washington Charter School

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Governor Malloy’s State Board of Education is expected to approve the New Haven charter school application proposed by Jumoke/FUSE Inc. at its meeting today.

The cost to Connecticut taxpayers over the first five years of the school exceeds $27 million.

In addition, the taxpayers of New Haven will continue to pay for the transportation costs and special education costs of students attending the privately run Booker T. Washington Charter School.

The application reveals the unseemly and bizarre connection between the Booker T. Washington Charter School, the charter school management company known as Jumoke/FUSE Inc. and the Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The application begins with the statement,

“The Booker T. Washington Academy is the brainchild of Reverend Eldren D. Morrison, Pastor of Varick Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut (“Varick Memorial”)

According to their application, the Governing Board of Directors for the Booker T. Washington Academy will include the following individuals,

  • Reverend Eldren D. Morrison: Founder of Booker T. Washington Academy, Pastor of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut and New Haven, Community Leader
  • Jesse Phillips: Chief of Staff to Rev. Morrison at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, CT, and Community Economic Advisor)
  • “Stacia Morrison: Academic Assistant, Bridgeport Public Schools and First Lady of Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut).”

And on the next page of the application its states,  “Stacia Morrison is currently a member of the Board of Directors. She intends to apply for a staff position with the Academy and, if hired, will resign from the Board. “

A $27 million dollar public expenditure for the “brainchild” of a church minister and the school’s governing board will include the minister, his assistant and his wife … at least until she gets a  job at the school at which time she will resign her position on the governing board.

Aren’t there laws against this sort of thing?

The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train

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Many of Connecticut’s public schools remaining significantly underfunded but for those looking for a case study about the growing privatization of public education in America need only look as far as Connecticut and the tenure of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.

Call it the Jumoke Academy Charter School Case Study.

First there as was a Charter School called Jumoke Academy.

Like all charter schools in Connecticut, Jumoke Academy refused to take its fair share of English language learners or students with special education needs.  While proponents of charter schools promised they would help reduce racial isolation, Jumoke Academy, like every other urban charter school was actually more racially isolated than the surrounding community.

And then, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and his band of corporate education reform industry allies used Malloy’s new “education reform” law to take over the Milner Elementary School in Hartford and give it to Jumoke Academy using a no-bid management contract.  The new entity is called Jumoke at Milner.

Jumoke was given the management contract to run Milner despite the fact that approximately 40 percent of Milner’s students faced English language barriers or went home to households that didn’t  use English as their primary language AND JUMOKE HADN’T HAD A NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING STUDENT IN ITS SIX-YEAR HISTORY.

In addition, as a direct result of Jumoke’s policies, the charter school company had virtually no experience with students who required special education services.

But those problems didn’t stop the Malloy administration from handing over control of a public school to a private corporation.

Jumoke immediately got rid of the vast majority of the teachers who were part of the Milner School community.

Percent of Students not fluent in English Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 25% 0%

 

Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 39% 0%

 

Percent of Students with special education needs Milner School Jumoke Academy
2010 11% 4%

 

Soon after Malloy’s Commissioner of Education brought in the private company to run Milner Elementary School, Jumoke’s Chief Executive Officer Jumoke Academy , Michael Sharpe, set up a holding company called the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc.  He named himself Chief Executive Officer of Family Urban Schools of Excellence, Inc. as well.

And the following year, despite no data about the level of success at Jumoke at Milner, Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was given a no-bid contract to run the Dunbar School in Bridgeport.  The decision to hand over the Dunbar School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) was made by Pryor, Bridgeport “Superintendent” Paul Vallas and Kenneth Moales, Jr. who was then serving as the Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education and had previously served as Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer.

Moales has been saddled with significant legal and financial troubles and has been facing a foreclosure lawsuit that seeks to take his church and all of its properties and assets including the house in which Moales lives, as well as, his Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes Benz.

Interestingly, soon after the deal went down giving Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Jumoke (FUSE Inc.), the Hartford attorney who set up and represents Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) became Moales’ lawyer.

In the meantime, Governor Malloy nominated Andrea Comer, the Chief Operating Officer of Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) to serve as a member of the State Board of Education and the General Assembly approved the nomination.  Comer promised not to use her position to further the interests of FUSE, the company she serves as its COO.

But Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) is back, yet again.

This week the State Department of Education will start holding hearings on new charter school applications.  One application for a new charter school comes from New Haven where the school would be called the BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ACADEMY.

But as the application explains in one of its initial footnotes, “FUSE is the management organization hired by BTWA to oversee the daily operations of the Academy.  That is, while the schools is called the Booker T. Washington Academy, the public funds will actually flow to the private company known as Jumoke (FUSE Inc.).

As the next footnote goes on to explain, “At the beginning of each school year parents and scholars will receive a handbook that includes behavioral expectations and provides school procedures and policies. All documents labeled Jumoke Academy are attached as a representative model of FUSE drafted documents that will be adapted for the Academy.”

The proponents of this charter school application couldn’t even be bothered to paste the name of the school over the Jumoke Academy name.

What is clear is that FUSE Inc is the charter school management company that Jumoke Academy set up to divert tens of millions of public dollars away from Connecticut’s public schools and into its coffers.

What isn’t so clear is that while Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) suggests that its sole focus is on Connecticut, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) corporate executives have been hard at work ramping up their charter school gravy train well beyond the borders of the state..

With little fanfare and no publicity, late last year, FUSE managed to pick up a lucrative contract to take over Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Dalton Elementary School.

As the Advocate Newspaper of Baton Rouge reported last October,

“Some uninvited guests, including a member of the state education board, were allowed at the last minute Monday morning to sit in on presentations by charter school groups seeking space in public schools in north Baton Rouge, thereby averting a potential fight.

Carolyn Hill, who represents the area as part of the 8th District for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, was not happy she had not been invited, calling it “disrespectful.”

“We need people who reside in this area to be at the table,” Hill said.

Leaders of the Recovery School District organized the meetings, originally invitation-only, as that state agency decides which groups will land space in the seven schools RSD runs in north Baton Rouge.

Representatives from three charter management groups gave presentations on their school plans…The three groups that presented Monday were Family Urban Schools of Excellence, of Connecticut…”

Despite their lack of a track record beyond their original charter school and the new no-bid contracts they picked up from the Malloy administration, FUSE Inc. went on to capture one of the contracts from the Louisiana Recovery School District.  

The Louisiana Recovery School District is the entity that Paul Vallas ran for six years.  And, in the “small-world” department, Paul Vallas, of course, was the key player, along with Stefan Pryor, who decided to hand Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School over to FUSE, Inc.

While the public hearings are yet to be held on the New Haven Booker T. Washington Charter School, knowing their uncanny record of success with Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and the Corporate Education Reform Industry, the Jumoke (FUSE Inc.) executives must be salivating at the prospect that they will soon be tapping into tens of millions of dollars of additional Connecticut taxpayer funds.

For Martin Luther King, it wasn’t “bad” segregation vs. “okay” segregation.

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It was June 23, 1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading the Great March on Detroit, which has also been called “The Walk to Freedom.” Speaking to a crowd of more than 25,000 people at Cobo Hall in Detroit King said:

“For we have come to see that segregation is not only sociologically untenable, it is not only politically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Segregation is a cancer in the body politic, which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized. Segregation is wrong because it is nothing but a new form of slavery covered up with certain niceties of complexity. Segregation is wrong because it is a system of adultery perpetuated by an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality. 

[…]

 “I think we all will agree that probably the most damaging effect of segregation has been what it has done to the soul of the segregated as well as the segregator.”

And King reserved some of his most powerful words for the segregation in the North where he said;

“No community in this country can boast of clean hands in the area of brotherhood. Now in the North it’s different in that it doesn’t have the legal sanction that it has in the South. But it has its subtle and hidden forms and it exists in three areas: in the area of employment discrimination, in the area of housing discrimination, and in the area of de facto segregation in the public schools. And we must come to see that de facto segregation in the North is just as injurious as the actual segregation in the South. And so if you want to help us in Alabama and Mississippi and over the South, do all that you can to get rid of the problem here.”

Dr. King did not differentiate between BAD segregation and segregation that was OKAY or that was acceptable.    

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made it clear that ALL segregation was bad.

But here we are 50 years later and multiple forms of segregation surround us.

Earlier today, Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry tweeted that “Dr. Martin Luther, Jr was a huge critic of US public ed.”

Proving that even Steve Perry and those of us who believe in the importance of public education can agree on something… Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge critic of US public education.

But to use King’s words to defend the corporate education reform industry’s effort to expand charter schools and support the privatization of public education is beyond disingenuous.

As King noted over and over again, in the North the problem of segregation was just as serious as in the South but it came in the form of de facto segregation, just as the Supreme Court had ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education.

De facto segregation remains one of the greatest threats to our public education system, our society and our future.

But Perry and his charter school allies couldn’t be more wrong when they imply that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would support their vision of education policy.

Every single one of Connecticut’s major charter schools is even more segregated than the school districts that they serve and as proof of their use of de facto segregation, every charter school, along with Perry’s own Capital Prep., fails to enroll or maintain their fair share of Hispanic students, students that aren’t fluent in English or students that go home households where English is not the primary language.

As the following chart clear show, segregation comes in many forms and some of the most serious segregation can found in Connecticut’s charter schools and schools like Capital Prep.

District/School % Hispanic % not fluent in English % from homes where English isn’t primary language

Hartford School System

49.7%

18%

39.7%

 

Capital Prep

21.7%

3.4%

13.9%

 

Jumoke Academy

3.9%

0.2%

 

Achievement First – Hartford

13.9%

6.7%

7.6%

     

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not distinguish between BAD segregation and segregation that was OKAY.

King never minced words.  He was an American Hero and an American Revolutionary.  He spoke the truth no matter the result and he paid for that with his life.

The stark reality is that as a nation and a society we have made little progress in achieving King’s Dream.

But as we grapple with that failure don’t let anyone fool you…As King said, segregation is segregation and schools that segregate against certain ethic groups or segregate against those who are in need of special educational services are failing to achieve King’s Dream just as much as those who segregate based on the color of a child’s skin.

In addition to discriminating against Latinos and non-English speaking students, Connecticut’s Charter Schools and schools like Capital Prep do just as bad, if not even worse, when it comes to discriminating against students who require some additional special educational services.

District/School % of students needing Special Education Services

Hartford School System

13.5%

 

Capital Prep

6.3%

 

Jumoke Academy

4.1%

 

Achievement First – Hartford

6.7%

 

 

 

Addressing the unfinished tasks laid out by Martin Luther King is everyone’s responsibility but let’s start with an honest assessment of what is really going on in Connecticut when it comes to the de facto segregation that is undermining the ethical and moral authority of our public schools.

The State Department of Education’s NetStat to the rescue!

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When in doubt, purchase a new data management system, give it a name that has nothing to do with education, hire more consultants and then hold as many meetings and “training sessions” as possible.

All paid for, or course, by the generous taxpayers of Connecticut (while school districts across the state go without adequate funding).

Here in Connecticut, the corporate education reform industry has become a caricature of itself.

This very afternoon, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth, his uncertified “Division Director of the Turnaround Office,” will be hosting the first “NetStat” meeting of the year with representatives of Pryor’s 11 Commissioner’s Network Schools.

The State Department of Education’s delegation will include the cadre of out-of-state consultants that arrived with the $1 million contract with the politically connected Mass Insight Company.

At last word, even Governor Malloy is planning to make an appearance at today’s meeting.

At today’s NetStat meeting, Pryor and Barth’s goal is to spotlight “the schools with ‘best-in-class’ results” which is more than a bit odd considering that half the schools have only been members of the Commissioner’s Network for one year and the other half just became Commissioner’s Network schools this past month.

But as Morgan Barth, the former teacher who couldn’t bother to become certified wrote in a recent memo, “We’ll hear many stories at NetStat including one from a dynamic duo – Karen Lott and Marilyn Taylor – respectively the principals of Milner and Dunbar. In visiting both schools I was impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate.”

Impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate?

Apparently Barth remains a big fan of the no excuses, no talking, march in a single line, hands at your sides, detention for wearing the wrong colored belt or not keeping your eyes on the teacher school climate approach.

And what a surprise that the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. (Stefan Pryor) and the former principal of an Achievement First, Inc. school (Morgan Barth) are bringing together schools from around the state so that they can “learn” about best practices from two privatized, “no excuses” schools that have been taken over by the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school chain.

It must be especially convenient since the COO of FUSE/Jumoke is a member of the State Board of Education, thanks to Governor Malloy, and she will probably be in attendance thanks to her role as that company’s leading voice in their expansion efforts.

Why not just be a bit more transparent and entitle the workshop; The Malloy Administration’s dedication to privatizing public education in Connecticut.

According to a copy of today’s agenda that was posted on the web, “Attendees will receive data packets for their schools, containing current and historic data for a universal set of leading and lagging indicators used to measure school turnaround.”

They’ll then spend that day analyzing the data using a “3-step data protocol” while “The Turnaround Office will present an 8-step change management process used to drive organizational effectiveness and improvement.”

The Bottom Line?

“School teams will learn more about the vision for and expansion of the Commissioner’s Network during the upcoming school year.”

Meanwhile, we are one hundred days into the school year and the same “Turnaround Office” has still failed to process all of the Year Two Alliance District Grants leaving at least a dozen school districts without the money they were promised by Governor Malloy and the General Assembly to help “turnaround” their schools this year.

And one of the towns left twisting in the wind?

Winchester, Connecticut.

The very community that reported this week that it might have to close its schools due to a lack of funds.

But no worries…

With the first NetStat meeting of the year being held, solving Connecticut’s school funding problem can’t be far behind.

Charter Schools and the systematic discrimination of special education students

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Most charter schools are failing to take their fair share of students who require special education services

You can always count on Connecticut resident, fellow blogger and public education advocate, Jonathan Kantrowitz, to explore the important issues with a sophisticated, fact-based approach.

In a new blog post entitled, “Why the Gap? Special Education and New York City Charter Schools,” Jonathan Kantrowitz examines data coming out of New York City about the failure of charter schools to take and keep students who need special education services.

Kantrowitz writes;

This studyfrom the Center on Reinventing Public Education, uses NYC data to analyze the factors driving the gap in special education enrollment between charter and traditional public schools. Among the findings:

  • Students with disabilities are less likely to apply to charter schools in kindergarten than are regular enrollment students. This is the primary driver of the gap in special education enrollments.
  • The gap grows as students progress through elementary grades, largely because charter schools are less likely than district schools to place students in special education—and less likely to keep them there.
  •  The gap also grows as students transfer between charter and district schools. Between kindergarten and third grade, greater proportions of regular education students enter charter schools, compared to students with special needs.
  • There is great mobility among special education students, whether they attend a charter or traditional public school. Close to a third of students in special education leave their school by the fourth year of attendance, whether they are enrolled in charters or traditional public schools.

Given the complex factors revealed by the study, the report cautions against simplistic policy solutions like quotas and enrollment targets. Instead, policy attention might be more usefully spent identifying and replicating effective academic or behavioral interventions that allow schools to declassify students with mild disabilities, and investigating why parents of students with special needs are not choosing charters early on.

You can read his full blog post here: http://educationresearchreport.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-gap-special-education-and-new-york.html

What is clear is that many charter schools want to claim the mantle of being public schools, but the majority fail to take their fair share of students who need special education services, just as they fail to take their fair share of students who need extra help when it comes to learning the English language.

There are undoubtedly charter schools that understand the fundamental role of public schools and do make a real effort to provide educational opportunities to the full range of students, but those charter schools are outliers compared to the vast majority of  their colleagues.

As another New York City study found;

“…[NYC] charter schools enroll a smaller percentage of special education students than do district schools. But more importantly, charter schools do not enroll the same kind of special ed students as the district schools. While special education enrollment in charters grew over the last year, the special ed students who attend charters have much lower levels of disability than their special ed counterparts at neighboring district schools.

Practically none of the 57 charters we reviewed enroll “self-contained” students, the highest category of need, who must be taught in separate classrooms with one teacher for every 6 or 12 students. Very few enroll “collaborative team teaching” students, who are educated in mixed classrooms with two teachers, one a specialist. These two higher-need categories of special education students by and large attend district schools. Students who require the less-intensive “related services,” such as speech or physical therapy, are by far the most prevalent special education type in the charters. ”

Similar observations have been made in Connecticut.

Even at the most basic level, most Connecticut Charter Schools consistently fail to educate their fair share of students who need special education services

Here is the latest available data on students needing special education services in selected district schools in Connecticut versus selected charter schools in Connecticut

District/School 2010-2011 % Special Education 
Hartford Public Schools 12.5%
AF – Hartford Academy 7.7%
Jumoke Academy* 2.3%
New Haven Public Schools 10.8%
AF – Amistad 5.4%
AF – Elm City* 4.0%
Bridgeport Public Schools 12.1%
AF-Bridgeport 7.3%
Park City Prep 8.4%
Bridge Academy 12.2%

(*) 2010-2011 report not on file, data is 2009-2010

While charter school funding is the fastest growing area of Governor Malloy’s education budget, the evidence is clear that Connecticut’s charter schools are consistently failing to provide educational opportunities to special education students and students who need extra help with the English language.

Feet flat on the floor, hands folded on the desk and eyes on me…

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“While I am teaching, I want to see you in ready position…Being in ready position to learn means feet flat on the floor, hands folded on the desk and eyes on me.”  – A new fifth grade teacher at the new Jumoke Academy at Dunbar School.

First came the Jumoke Academy, a Hartford based, discipline oriented charter school that over its history failed to take a single bilingual or non-English speaking student since it opened, despite the fact that one in five Hartford student’s aren’t fluent in English and nearly 50% of all students come from households that don’t speak English.

So Governor Malloy, Commissioner Stefan Pryor, the State Board of Education and the Hartford Board of Education gave Hartford’s Milner School, a predominantly Latino  local public elementary school, to Jumoke Academy to manage.

This year, with no evidence that Jumoke has the skill to manage other public schools, Governor Malloy, Commissioner Stefan Pryor, the State Board of Education, Paul Vallas and the Bridgeport Board of Education gave Bridgeport’s local Dunbar elementary school to Jumoke Academy to manage.

Jumoke Academy immediately brought a number of new teachers, many from Teach for America.  As the Connecticut Post reported, “In the week before school opened all teachers and academic assistants at Dunbar went through a training program to learn the Jumoke brand of climate and culture.”

The Connecticut Post article featured one new Teach For America recruit who will be teaching firth grade at the Jumoke Academy at Dunbar this year.  Rather than go through a traditional teacher training program, Konigsberg graduated from Bucknell University and joined Teach for America.

“Our school is going to be wonderful,” she told the Connecticut Post.

The first time teacher and TFA recruit explained to the nine year olds that they must always be in the “ready position,” adding, “Being in ready position to learn means feet flat on the floor, hands folded on the desk and eyes on me.”

You can read the full CT Post article at: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/The-first-day-in-a-school-s-turnaround-4772269.php

Shocker as State Board of Education decides to reverse itself and follow at least one law

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While Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, continues to dismiss his legal obligations as they relate to the certification requirements for Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools, the State Board of Education did a 180 degree flip, last week, when they voted to add Bridgeport’s Dunbar Elementary School to Stefan Pryor’s “Commissioner’s Network” “turnaround” program.

Pryor and the State Board returned, once again, to one of their favorite charter school management companies by handing the local Bridgeport public school over to Hartford’s Family Urban Schools of Excellence, the company that runs Jumoke Academy Charter School in Hartford.

It was just last summer that Pryor and his education reform and privatization team gave Hartford’s Milner Elementary school over to the FUSE/Jumoke Academy.

But last year they also allowed FUSE/Jumoke to insert an illegal provision that prevented any new students from transferring into the “new” Jumoke Academy at Milner after October 1st.

This provision was clearly illegal since Malloy’s education reform law states that “”(c) Any not-for-profit educational management organization that is assigned the management, administration or governance of a school participating in the commissioner’s network of schools shall continue the enrollment policies and practices of such school that were in effect prior to such participation in the commissioner’s network of schools.”

Real public schools aren’t allowed to restrict access to public school students by placing an artificial date after which no child may transfer into the school.  But despite the law, Commissioner Pryor allowed Jumoke to add just such a provision.

But this time, the State Board of Education miraculously decided to follow the law.  As the Connecticut Post noted in a recent article, “One change made in the draft plan by the state board was to remove a sentence that would have barred new students from enrolling in the school after Oct. 1. Enrollment would be open beyond that date.”

What makes Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education’s action so interesting is that we now have the situation that while following the law was deemed important in the recent decision with the Dunbar School; Hartford’s students are still suffering from the illegal policy at the Jumoke Academy at Milner.

In fact, Hartford Board of Education members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel have been so concerned about the enrollment date violation at Milner that they submitted a resolution to the full Board of Education asking that the Jumoke enrollment policy be changed.  However, rather than protect the interests of their city’s children, the Hartford Board of Education, which is controlled by Mayor Pedro Segarra, tabled the motion, thereby allowing the unfair and illegal policy to remain in place.

Why Hartford’s Mayor, Superintendent of Schools and the majority on the school board would allow their own city’s children to be treated so unfairly is a sad commentary about politicians putting their relationship with Jumoke above the constituents, and in this case, the law.

Now that the State Board of Education has reversed course and decided to actually adhere to the legal requirements, it will be interesting to see if the Mayor and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education decide to implement the change that was demanded by Board members, José Colón-Rivas, Robert Cotto, Jr. and Brad Noel

Meanwhile, over in Windham, the infamous “operations plan” for the new Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy STILL READS that, “Enrollment will end on September 30th of the school year…Mid -year transfers will not be permitted to protect the enculturation of students and allow for beginning of the school year expectation to be learned by each student. This also holds the integrity of the lottery process intact.”

Malloy visits Jumoke at Milner: Says don’t confuse me with the facts:

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According to the Hartford Courant’s Vanessa De La Torre, Governor Malloy joined former Hartford Mayor Thirman Milner yesterday in the library of Jumoke Academy at Milner to celebrate the success of Malloy’s “education reform” proposals.

Milner explained, “You walk in the school, you can see the difference.”

And Malloy was all too happy to take credit for the changes claiming that it was the privatization effort of his administration that accounted for the changes.

But of course, the truth is far from that.

In fact, neither Malloy nor Milner admitted that the changes aren’t due to the fact that the local elementary school was handed over, last year, to a private charter management organization but is directly attributable to the fact that the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford are finally making a real financial investment to support the school.

Malloy and Jumoke Academy’s CEO, Michael Sharpe, would have us believe that it is the $345,000 annual contract to hire the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school management company that is responsible for “turning around” the Milner School…

However, the facts reveal a very different truth;

First, it wasn’t until AFTER the Milner School was added to the “Commissioner’s Network” and turned over to Jumoke that the state added well over $1 million in additional operating funds for the school and the City of Hartford provided more than $2 million in new funds to fix up the school. (Insiders report that while some of the funds have been used for cosmetic changes, the school continues to have a fairly significant rodent issue.)

Second, despite the fact that Malloy’s education reform law required that turnaround schools maintain the same entrance requirements; Jumoke was allowed to introduce a provision that prevents students from transferring into school after October 1st.  This change significantly reduces the number of more transient students coming into the school, students who often arrive with a variety of educational and language challenges during the school year.

Third, an audit conducted by the State Department of Education in December revealed that Jumoke at Milner still hadn’t filled a vital bi-lingual position and that teachers were unaware or confused about whether the school’s English language development program was based in “pushing into” the classroom or “pulling” children out of the classroom for the extra help they needed

Fourth, while Jumoke CEO Sharpe told Malloy that student attendance was up and only 15 have left Jumoke at Milner to date, Sharpe failed to admit that while the school is getting significantly more resources, the total population is down significantly since last year.

And finally, as parents at Milner know, there have been significant communication problems at Jumoke Academy at Milner including a disastrous lock-down drill in which students were marched into the gym and cafeteria rather than required to stay in their rooms behind locked doors.  As one parent on the scene put it, children were told to sit on the side of the gym, “in front of the inside gym windows, in plain sight.”  The drill left parents and children shaken and extremely worried about whether the Jumoke Administrators were capable of handling a real emergency.

So while Malloy and Jumoke congratulate themselves about their education reform achievements, parents in every other Hartford school would do well to remember, smaller class sizes, having a teacher and an instructional assistant in every classroom and providing more support services is not a result of Malloy’s education reform efforts but a result of Malloy, the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford actually stepping forward and providing the resources necessary to make appropriate changes —- changes that should be being made at every Hartford School if only elected officials would address the broader issue inadequate funding for Connecticut’s schools.

You can find the Courant’s account of the meeting here:  http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-malloy-education-0515-20130514,0,4682765.story

Meanwhile, deal surfaces to give Bridgeport elementary school to Jumoke’s charter school management company

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Re-post:

Fresh off Malloy’s “victory” of getting the Chief Operating Officer of FUSE/Jumoke Academy on to the State Board of Education, the Malloy Administration, Mayor Bill Finch and “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas, have apparently concocted a deal to hand Bridgeport’s Paul Lawrence Dunbar Elementary School over to Hartford’s Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE)/Jumoke Academy to run.

FUSE/Jumoke Academy is best known for its complete failure to provide educational opportunities to children who go home to households that don’t speak English or children who need special education services.

In fact, since Jumoke Academy opened its doors in Hartford, it has failed to admit ANY non-English speaking students or ANY students from non-English speaking households.  In addition, less than 4 percent of Jumoke Academy’s students receive special education services.

All this despite the fact that the Jumoke Academy is located in Hartford; a city in which more than 1 in 4 students aren’t fluent in English, where more than 4 in 10 go home to households where English is not the primary language and where more than 1 in 10 require some type of special education services.

As a result of this new deal, FUSE/Jumoke will be given control of the Dunbar School where, according to the State Department of Education’s School Profile Database, at least 18 percent of the students go home to households where English is not the primary language and about 12 percent of the students receive special education services.  Thus Team Vallas is proposing to turn a Bridgeport school over to a company that has absolutely no meaningful experience with two of the most important populations that attend Dunbar.

The Bridgeport deal would mirror the one in Hartford where FUSE/Jumoke Academy was given Hartford’s Milner School under a deal between Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and the Hartford Public School System.

Speaking for Team Vallas about the Dunbar deal, Bridgeport’s chief operating officer, Sandra Kase, explained to the Connecticut Post that, “Jumoke rose to the top of a short list of turnaround models — the others included Classical Studies Academy, a local magnet school, and the Interdistrict Six-to-Six Magnet School in Bridgeport — because it was ready, willing and able to start this fall.”

However, it is unclear whether Vallas et. al. bothered to follow the requirements of the Commissioner’s Network planning process which includes extensive parent and public involvement before any plan can be submitted to the State Board of Education for approval. More

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