Mayor Segarra and Matt Poland lead 6-2 vote to give TFA $650,000

There will be 210 fewer job openings in the Hartford School System for Connecticut residents thanks to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland and their allies on the Hartford Board of Education.

While hundreds of qualified, certified Connecticut teachers are unemployed and hundreds of additional Connecticut residents will be seeking teaching jobs after graduating from Connecticut institutions of higher education and completely comprehensive teacher training programs, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra led his political appointees in a 6-2 vote to give Teach for America another three-year contract with the City of Hartford..  In exchange for the $650,000 finder’s fee, Teach for America will send 210 new recruits to teach in Hartford Schools.

Mayor Segarra appoints the majority of members to the Hartford Board of Education.  All of his appointees, including out-going Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland, voted in favor of the TFA contract.

In this case the actual deciding vote came from the Hartford Board of Education’s one elected Republican who, “coincidently,” was “elected” chairman of the Hartford Board of Education last night as Segarra’s choice for the position.

Only Working Families Party member Robert Cotto and Michael Brescia, a former Buckley High School teacher, voted against the TFA contract.

Although the TFA recruits only get five weeks of training, they are paid the same salary and given the same benefits as teachers who already hold teacher certification in Connecticut and who have gone through a full college-level teacher training program.

The Hartford Courant update on the vote is below, but for background purposes,

According to Forbes Magazine, as of 2012, Teach for America collects in excess of $318 million a year to enlist recent college graduates to teach in low-income communities throughout the United States.

Wendy Kopp is the Founder and Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors.  Until recently she was Co-CEO of Teach For America.  Now, in addition to being the Chair of TFA’s Board of Directors, Kopp serves as Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Teach For All, a new TFA spin-off company that is trying to recreate TFA in the global marketplace.

Connecticut billionaire Steven Mandel Jr. is the Treasurer of Teach For America’s Board of Directors.  Mandel is not only a major campaign contributor to Governor Malloy but has donated tens of millions to support the corporate education reform industry.  Mandel played a pivotal role in the creation of Excel Bridgeport Inc. and the related ongoing effort to privatize public education in Bridgeport.

In addition to her TFA work, Wendy Kopp is married to Richard Barth, Jr.  Barth serves as the CEO of the KIPP charter school chain.  KIPP is one of the biggest players in the corporate education reform industry with 141 charter schools in 20 states.

Interestingly, Morgan Barth, who illegally taught and served as an administrator at Achievement First, Inc. for six years before becoming Commissioner Pryor’s “Turnaround Director” is a close relative of Barth and Kopp.

Of course, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor is the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc.  Achievement First Inc. is the charter school management company with schools in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island.  Achievement First Inc. has also been the charter school company that has received the most financial benefit from Malloy and Pryor’s pro-charter school policies.

Not long ago Achievement First, Inc. added Elisa Villanueva Beard to their Board of Directors.  Elisa Villanueva Beard is a long time TFA senior executive and became TFA’s Co-CEO when Kopp left to become CEO of that new TFA spin off company.

Jonathan Sackler, a leading corporate education reform advocate in Connecticut and another major Malloy donor has been part of the Achievement First Inc. Board of Directors since it was co-founded by Stefan Pryor.  Sacker also formed ConnCAN and ConnAD, which is now called A Better Connecticut.

ConnCAN, ConnAD and A Better Connecticut led the record-breaking $6 million dollar lobbying effort in support of Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” initiative.  These groups, along with Steve Mandel and Excel Bridgeport Inc., played the key role in support of Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to eliminate an elected board of education in Bridgeport.  They also pumped a significant amount of money into Fich’s failed effort to elect Bridgeport Board of Education candidates who would support Paul Vallas.  (They failed Vallas leaves his post in Bridgeport this coming Friday).  Finch is a leading supporter of Achievement First’s Bridgeport Charter School and is lobbying on behalf of Capital Prep Steve Perry’s attempt to use his own private company to open a charter school in Bridgeport.

Jonathan Sackler also created 50CAN, a company dedicated to spreading the ConnCAN model across the country.  Sackler formed 50CAN and serves on its Board of Directors.  50CAN’s Board includes Dacia Toll who not only co-founded Achievement First Inc. with Stefan Pryor, but presently serves as Co-CEO & President of Achievement First, Inc.

Another 50CAN Board Member is none-other-than KIPP Charter School’s Richard Barth Jr.  That being the same Richard Barth Jr. who is Wendy Kopp’s husband and Morgan Barth’s relative.

Meanwhile, back in Hartford, the Hartford Courant explains,

“The board voted 6-2 to approve a three-year, $650,940 contract extension between the city schools and Teach For America, a proposal that drew critics and supporters of TFA who addressed the board for more than an hour during public comments.

Teach For America recruits and trains recent college graduates who pledge to teach for at least two years in mostly low-income public schools across the country. The agreement calls for Hartford to pay Teach For America about $3,000 per recruit, with up to 60 TFA hires in 2014-15, up to 70 in 2015-16 and as many as 80 in 2016-17.

[…]

Since 2007, the first year of Hartford’s partnership with Teach For America, the district has hired 1,477 new teachers, 14 percent of whom are TFA recruits, said Jennifer Allen, the school system’s chief talent officer.

Rather than graduating from a traditional teacher preparation college, TFA recruits complete five weeks of training and become certified through the state’s Alternate Route to Certification program, administrators said. They also receive ongoing professional development through TFA that Allen called “a remarkable model for supporting new teachers.”

While several Hartford students spoke in support of their TFA teachers, many of the critics Monday, including Andrea Johnson, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, described the contract as paying a “headhunters fee” and argued that the money should be spent on improving school programs. Board member Robert Cotto Jr., who voted against the extension, also criticized the retention rate.

Among the 22 TFA hires in 2007, three remain in the school system. And of the 31 TFA teachers in the 2011-12 year, 13 still teach in Hartford schools, district data show.

Those numbers reveal that only 13 percent of the 2007 TFA recruits are still teaching in Hartford after six years and 58 percent of the 2011 TFA recruits have already bailed.

Of course, the contract states that TFA keeps its $3,000 per recruit even if the teacher quits during the first week of school.

Hartford’s Matt Poland lashes out at citizens who write to him about his upcoming TFA vote

Appointed by Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Matt Poland serves as a member of the Hartford Board of Education.  While he will remain on the Board, Poland is stepping down as Chairman tonight and Segarra’s appointees will elect the one Republican on the Board to become the Chairman.

Matt Poland also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Hartford Library.  Poland became the Hartford Public Library’s Deputy Administrator in June 2008.  He became interim Director in December 2008 and by October 2009 he had acquired the title of Chief Executive Officer.  This was the first time that such a title had been used since the library opened in 1893.

As a public servant, whether on the Hartford Board of Education or as an employee of the Hartford Public Library, Poland’s primary job is to serve the public.

It is for that reason his email attack on citizens who contacted him is all the more bizarre.

As noted in previous Wait, What? blog posts, the Hartford Board of Education will be voting on a $650,000 Teach for America contract tonight.  Over the past few weeks a number of citizens have written to members of the Hartford Board of Education urging them to vote no.  Some citizens wrote following an informative email they received from the American Federation of Teachers (see below).

On Saturday night, after receiving a number of emails, Matt Poland went into an email tirade and sent out this response.

Collecting the names of the people who had written to him, Poland sent out a blast email that was cc’d to all the people who wrote.  His email read,

“I have just received 13 e-mails from this group on the above-referenced topic in which each of you have presented yourselves as Hartford residents, while only 6 are actually residents and taxpayers in the City (please see the list of locations below). Let me begin by saying that this demonstrates a lack of good judgement on the part of those writers who misrepresented themselves.

Since this is a form letter, it is clear that there is an organizing entity behind this effort. I will tell you what I intend to do when one of you tell me who you represent.

Matt Poland
Board Chair

Windsor
Newington
Rocky Hill
West Hartford
East Hartford (2)
Bloomfield
Hartford (6)

If there was a “Hall of Fame” to highlight the arrogance and sense of entitlement that permeates American politics, politicians and political appointees, Poland’s missive could certainly be a stand-alone exhibit.

It would certainly be inappropriate for a non-Hartford resident to say they lived in Hartford.  As members of the Hartford Board of Education, Poland and the others certainly have a primary duty to Hartford students, parents, teachers and residents.

However for Poland to dismiss the concerns of the people who wrote to him is beyond insulting.

Here are some important facts:

As a result of the Open Choice program, Hartford schools accept children from the entire region. 

Even more to the point, only about 23 percent of Hartford’s $415 million school budget is funded by Hartford taxpayers.  Connecticut taxpayers pick up about 67 percent of Hartford’s school budget and the federal government pays for most of the last 10 percent.

From the available evidence, it certainly doesn’t appear that any person was trying to “trick” Poland into believing they were Hartford residents, but more to the point, as a public official Poland has a duty to be open-minded enough that voices – even those outside of Hartford – are heard.

The individuals who wrote the emails to Poland were apparently persuaded to write after reading the following email sent out by the American Federation of Teachers,

Hartford’s Board of Education is expected to vote Monday night on whether to renew a recruiting contract with Teach for America (TFA) worth nearly three quarters of a million dollars.

Is this really the best use of the city’s limited education resources?

Handing $651,000.00 to TFA over three years as a “finders-fee” for an additional 210 recruits for the district raises additional questions:

Why spend tax dollars on a human resources function when parents are crying out for improvements to their neighborhood schools?

Why outsource recruiting to TFA instead of partnering with our state’s public colleges and universities?

Why import TFA recruits from outside the state when there is no shortage of credentialed teachers right here in Connecticut?

Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”

The growing “Hartford Rising” movement has been saying school officials need to listen to parents, communities, and educators before making decisions that impact students and their opportunity to learn. Join them in urging the board vote “NO” to this costly contract.

In solidarity,

Melodie Peters
President, AFT Connecticut

Steve McKeever
First Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Jean Morningstar
Second Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Andrea Johnson
President, Hartford Federation of Teachers Local 1018

Shellye Davis
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221

Jackie Aviles
Co-President, Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 2221

P.S. Click here for a brief story on the board’s planned vote and the growing movement to “resist TFA” in local schools across the nation.

And when you, “Click here to tell the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside ‘head hunters,’” you get this,

Hartford BOE: Make Better Choices than Finder’s Fees

Hartford school officials are about to decide on renewing a three-year, $651,000.00 contract with Teach for America (TFA) for an additional 210 recruits for the district. We are urging members living in Hartford to contact the Board of Education before their February 24 meeting and urge they make better choices with scarce education resources.

Join the Hartford Rising! movement in urging the BOE to invest in Hartford’s neighborhood schools, not outside “head hunters.”

In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.

Please look up and use your full nine-digit zip for the best results. Please enter your zip/postal code

Hartford Leaders scheduled to waste another $650,000 in taxpayer funds

Last week’s Hartford Board of Education meeting has been re-scheduled for tonight.

At tonight’s meeting, the Hartford Board of Education, led by Mayor Pedro Segarra, is expected to throw an additional $650,940 at Teach for America.

Despite the fact that there are hundreds of unemployed and underemployed Connecticut residents who are certified teachers and hundreds of other Connecticut residents who have recently graduated or will be graduating from Connecticut’s public and independent colleges with teaching degrees, Hartford’s Mayor Segarra will likely give Teach for America a $650,000 “finders-fee” to bring in up to 210, mostly out-of-state, recruits to take teaching positions in Hartford public school classrooms.

The action being taken by these Hartford leaders is an extraordinary and disturbing statement about their fundamental lack of commitment to Connecticut citizens.

Instead of providing jobs for people here at home, these “leaders” will use scarce Connecticut taxpayer dollars to hire an out-of-state, nonprofit company who will bypass qualified Connecticut residents, recruit primarily out-of-state people, give them five weeks of training and then place them in a Hartford classroom where they will receive the same salary and benefits as a Connecticut resident who have gone through one of our college’s teacher training programs.

This vote isn’t about whether Teach for America is a good program, it is about how Connecticut’s elected and appointed officials are using public funds.

In her memo to the Hartford Board of Education,Hartford Superintendent Kishimoto writes,

“Teach for America recruits teachers from the top colleges and universities across the country.  Each teacher, corps member, commits to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions across the United States. Teach for America’s mission is to recruit, select, train and support outstanding recent college graduates to serve as highly qualified and effective teachers in urban schools.”

TFA may be a great program, at least for its corps members.  With a mere five weeks of training, TFA recruits are paid the same rate as Hartford’s fully trained beginning teachers and the federal government allows the TFA recruits to write-off their federal student loans for each year they teach.

However, as noted in an earlier blog, 136,500 Connecticut residents remain unemployed including many trained teachers who already hold Connecticut teacher certificates.

Furthermore, as a direct result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s policies, there are about 8,200 FEWER jobs in state and local government since he took office.  Those jobs disappeared as a result of targeted budget cuts to various government programs, including education at the state and local level.

In addition, hundreds of new Connecticut residents have graduated over the past couple of years or will be graduating from the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and other Connecticut colleges and universities after completing four and five-year teacher preparation programs.

These students and their families have spent tens of thousands of dollars to prepare for a teaching career in Connecticut.

But rather than give unemployed teachers and the fully-trained recent graduates an opportunity to get a job in Connecticut’s capital city and contribute to the well-being of their home state, the Hartford Board of Education appears ready to throw away another $650,000 on Teach for America’s fees to recruit non-Connecticut residents.

Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Windham, New London and other cities have already paid out millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to Teach for America so that they can recruit and place inexperienced teachers in our state’s urban classrooms.

The fact that Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Pryor haven’t stepped in to put Connecticut citizens first is even more outrageous.

Once again, we are left to ask, are there any elected or appointed state or municipal officials who will stand up for Connecticut’s families?

You can contact Hartford Board of Education members by using the following links;

Our Board of Education members include:
Matthew K. Poland, Chairman
Robert Cotto, Jr., Secretary
Honorable Mayor Pedro Segarra, Board Member
Jose Colón-Rivas, Board Member
Richard F. Wareing, Board Member
Beth A. Taylor, Ph, D., Board Member
Craig Stallings, Board Member
Michael Brescia, Board Member

Hello CT and Hartford officials… Is there anyone who will confront the lawbreakers?

Are there any elected or appointed official in Connecticut who have the courage and conviction to actually ensure the laws of this state are equitably enforced?

Student-athlete recruitment by interdistrict magnet schools such as Capital Prep Magnet Schools is illegal in Connecticut.  (For example, see Sec. 10-220d.of the Connecticut General Statues).

According to the Connecticut State Department of Education, “All eligible applicants are either offered a placement or placed on a waitlist for Regional School Choice schools and programs through a random lottery process.”

Based on state law and state regulations, “The RSCO lottery is the computer-based method that places students who have submitted a complete and on-time application to available RSCO schools and programs. The Connecticut State Department of Education manages the RSCO lottery process.”

By law, the lottery process for magnet schools MUST BE random.

Magnet schools ARE NOT ALLOWED to give any preference to student-athletes.

When reading the following information about Steve Perry Capital Prep Magnet School, ask yourself:

Did Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, and the State Department of Education, know about these extremely serious allegations of illegal activities related to Capital Prep’s  lottery and student-athlete recruitment techniques.  If they knew, what actions did they take to prevent Capital Prep from engaging in these alleged violations?  If they did not know, how is that possible when complaints were made and full-fledged independent investigations conducted that they did not know?

At the same time, considering Capital Prep Magnet School is owned and operated by the Hartford Board of Education, did Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and the Hartford Board of Education, including Mayor Pedro Segarra, know about these extremely serious allegations of illegal activities related to Capital Prep’s  lottery and student-athlete recruitment techniques.  As stated above, if they knew, what actions did they take to prevent Capital Prep from engaging in these alleged violations?  If they did not know, how is that possible when complaints were made and full-fledged independent investigations conducted that they did not know?

The bottom line for Connecticut and Hartford officials is there anyone who will confront the lawbreakers?

Did Capital Prep corrupt School Choice Lottery process to enroll student-athletes?

Last August, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference stepped in to investigate serious allegations of inappropriate even illegal, recruitment of student-athletes by Capital Prep Magnet School.

The CIAC Board of Control authorized an independent investigation and then met to review and act upon the recruitment investigation reports that had been lodged against Capital Preparatory School.

In a letter dated August 23, 2013 the Associate Executive Director of CIAC wrote to Capital Prep Principal Steven Perry on behalf of the CIAC Board of Control.

The letter included the following passages:

“….the Board expressed serious concerns about two issues both of which could be viewed as a form of recruitment.

It appears that student-athletes involved may have been admitted to the school through other than the lottery process and may have been given special preference because they were athletes.

Allowing student-athletes from another school to attend conditioning sessions prior to attend the school is not in the spirit of CIAC rules and gives the appearance that recruitment was taking place.

  • The Board of Control expects that Capital Preparatory School will follow all procedures set forth by the State School Lottery Office for admission for the applicants and no special treatment or preference will be given to any student due to their athletic talent.
  • Additionally, all procedures for “wait list” students be followed and no preference be given to any student-athlete.  Any future complaints regarding the admissions process will necessitate the school producing documents from the State Lottery Office that substantiate all students were properly admitted through the lottery process or wait list procedures.

Furthermore, the Board expects that Capital Preparatory School will inform all coaches, volunteer or otherwise, that students from other schools may not be invited to participate in any conditioning sessions with Capital Preparatory school teams prior to the student officially entering the school.

As agreed….all expenses associated with the investigation will be bourne (sic) by Capital Preparatory School.  Enclosed is an invoice for the expenses related to the investigation…”

This CIAC letter raises many important questions.

Are there any elected or appointed official in Connecticut who have the courage and conviction to actually ensure the laws of this state are equitably enforced?

Breaking News: Citizens prevented from addressing Hartford Board of Education on Steve Perry

At tonight’s Hartford Board of Education meeting, the outgoing Chairman of the Hartford Board of Education, Matt Poland, used a procedural maneuver to prevent Hartford parents and other concerned citizens from addressing the Board about Capital Magnet School Principal Steve Perry prior to the Board’s scheduled executive session on Perry.

Claiming that citizens could only address “action items” on the agenda and that the Board’s executive session wasn’t an “action item,” Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra’s hand-picked chairman effectively prevent citizens from discussing their concerns about Perry.

Hats off to Mayor Segarra, Chairman Poland and Superintendent Kishimoto for effectively destroying the right of the citizens of Hartford and Connecticut from addressing their representatives.

Their actions speak volumes about the unholy power of the corporate education reform industry and its disciples.

NEWS FLASH: Executive Session on Steve Perry re-appears on Hartford BOE agenda

The agenda is out for the Special Meeting of the Hartford Board of Education to be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.  The meeting beings at 5:30 pm at the Fred E. Wish Museum School located at 350 Barbour St in Hartford.

One of the first items on the agenda is the “Public Comment” period. In an unprecedented move, the agenda reads that that Public Comment is “limited to business items”.

The last item is an agenda is an Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter and entitled [Steve Perry].

Assuming this is still America where Freedom of Speech is guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the constitution of the State of Connecticut, one has to assume that public comments can be addressed to the Steve Perry issue since it is on the “agenda” although the language limited public comment to “business items” is bizarre to say the least.

So as long as the Superintendent and Board don’t try to stifle public comments, this may well  be the only time parents and community members can address the Hartford Board of Education before they meet in Executive Session to discuss Steve Perry’s flagrant violations of Board policies and potential violations of state law.

And here is a rather odd item: 

The Hartford Board of Education Agenda for Tuesday contains a rather strange note that explains that the “Public Comment” period is recommended to last no more than 30 minutes.

In all previous sessions of the Hartford Board of Education, the “Public Comment” section is called a “Dialogue Session” and almost never included a “recommended” time limit.  The few times a time limit was listed it read – (Recommended 60 minutes)

According to previous Hartford Board of Education agenda, there was no time limit for the following meetings:
11/19/2013
10/15/2013
9/19/2013
8/27/2013
7/27/2013
3/19/2013
2/19/2013
1/15/2013
 
A “Recommended 60 minute time limit for the Dialogue session was listed for two meetings:
 1/27/2014 and 12/19/2013

Those concerned about whether the Board of Education is trying to remove your guaranteed right to free speech may want to check with the Superintendent, Board of Education Chairman or Mayor before the meeting.

Superintendent Kishimoto:  [email protected]

Board Chairman Matt Poland: [email protected] and [email protected]

Mayor Pedro Segarra: [email protected]

The Tuesday February 4th meeting agenda can be found at:

http://www.hartfordschools.org/files/02042014BoESpecialMeetingAgendaPACKET.pdf

A look at Steve Perry’s record of absenteeism and use of social media to bully others

On Tuesday January 21, 2014 the Hartford Board of Education will hold a special executive session to discuss Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry.  The public has the opportunity to address the Hartford Board of Education starting at 5:30 pm.  The meeting is taking place at the Journalism and Media Magnet Academy located at 150 Tower Avenue in Hartford. 

Since the discussion about Perry will be held behind closed doors and in Executive Session it isn’t clear what topics will be discussed.

In addition to charges of excessive student disciplinary policies that border on child abuse, widespread bullying of students and teachers, violating federal and state law by failing to provide students with mandated special education services and doctoring official documents to make it appear that the school qualifies for additional funds under the Sheff agreement, Perry’s excessive absenteeism and obsessive use of Twitter during the school day may also come up.

Dealing with excessive absenteeism in Connecticut schools has been a top priority for the Hartford Board of Education and the State Department of Education.

In an effort to address the problem of truancy, the State Department of Education and State Board of Education have defined excessive absenteeism as missing at 20% of school days, for any reason.

As 2013 came to an end, Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry had missed about 30 of 127 school days since the 2013-2014 Capital Prep school year had begun.  That comes to nearly 24 percent of all school days.

Instead of being on duty, as required, Perry was usually gallivanting across the country making money thanks to his public speaking business.

When Steve Perry was at work, he spent an inordinate amount of time doing media interviews to promote that public speaking business or obsessively using his Tweeter account.

Over the last few months he has conducted dozens of media interviews, many during school hours.

In addition, since he created his Tweeter account, Steve Perry has sent out more than 33,958 Tweets.  Many of these were sent during school hours.

Even the most conservative estimate is that Perry has spent about 150 hours Tweeting while he was being paid by the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut.  At his six-figure salary level that means taxpayers have paid Perry well in excess of $10,000 for the time he spent Tweeting.

Making matters even worse, in many cases those Tweets were abusive, insulting and in violation of Hartford School Board policies.  The most extreme example being  his infamous Tweet on Thursday morning, November 21, 2013.

Still angry that his plan to transfer two Hartford schools to a private company that he had created had been rejected by the Hartford Board of Education, while students and teachers were working, Perry Tweeted;

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry

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

Whether the term “strap up” does or doesn’t refer the practice of carrying a concealed weapon, the phrase, “there will be head injuries” would be enough to get any public school student suspended or a teacher fired.

But while Matt Poland, the chairman of the Hartford Board of Education demanded an investigation into Perry’s potentially illegal action, no investigation was apparently conducted and Perry went right back to his Tweeting frenzy.

Over the months, Perry’s tweets often focused on his hatred of unions and public school advocates.

He has called public education advocate Diane Ravitch a racist on dozens of occasions and has made similar statements about AFT President Randi Weingarten and other teacher union officials.

In addition to calling teachers roaches and bullying his own staff, some of his more bizarre Tweets include,

  • “How can your job be hard? You work with kids all day! If it’s so hard, quit!”
  • We have these conversations in closed spaces because teachers will start trying to make you feel bad for them.”
  • “Our traditional schools over-feminized…”
  • “When you go to charters you get ppl who care about you, you get the complete opposite in public schools.”
  • America has a long & ugly history of groups like the teachers’ unions fighting to keep minority kids from getting out of failed schools.
  • The teachers union is power-thirsty.
  • Want to stop truancy? … tell your teachers to get to work.
  • All DUE PROCESS means is that you need documentation for your decision. You don’t have to justify your documentation to the union.”
  • “Everyone knows that ineffective educators fall in the union shield to protect them from accountability. When you’re good you’re “protected.”
  • “Their playbook is the same. They don’t do their job & they get written up for it. They claim admins CAN’T write them up. “It’s harassment.”
  • “The strategy to keep ineffective educators is simple. Stall, claim harassment, file a CHRO or ADA complaint & more accusations. Same ol same.”
  •  “Most admins believe they answer to the union. WRONG. You work for the kids & the board. They’re the ONLY ppl to whom you have to answer.”
  • “The harassment strategy is usually their go to. The other is that you’re “bullying” them. It’s not either it’s called supervision.”
  • “Too many admins don’t want to be the bad guy so they capitulate to these silly claims. Focus on the kids & desperate adults won’t matter.”
  • “Protecting ineffective educators IS human rights issue, it’s just that the humans being wronged are the kids & families not the ineffective.”
  • “Every time a union supports an ineffective educator they hurt kids, education, teaching, our community & their credibility.”

And then there was the day that in a wild and bizarre burst of tweets, Perry hurled the following insults over the course of an hour or so…

  • “Be the person worth talking about not the clown talking about other ppl.”
  • “If your greatest contribution is the criticism of others, your life is w/o value and you will deep the poison fruit you’ve sewn.”
  • “The only person who has to get you is you. You’ve got to like you the most. If you dig you, who gives a damn what others think?”
  • “A fan is a fan, even if the only way they can show it is to spew hate. Pity them, They are weak, but they’re still a fan. Enjoy the show…”
  • “When they’re counting what’s going in your pocket, they clearly ain’t putting nothing in theirs. Man, their life must really suck.”
  • “They only ppl worrying about what you’ve got do have anything of their own. Feel bad for them, their life sucks.”
  • “It’s not up to them to decide what YOU deserve. What kind of lame thinks THEY can tell you what YOU should have…? Idiots!”
  • “Don’t EVER let anybody make you feel bad for being successful. The fact that they’re not is THEIR problem, not yours. Let THEM live w it.”
  • “We have shined the lights on those who have been responsible for forcing kids to go to failed schools & my God are they desperate to stop us.”

Disciplinary action against Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry by Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and the Hartford Board of Education is long overdue.

Tuesday’s Hartford Board of Education Executive Session about Perry is at least an important first step.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: As schools scramble to get children home safe, Steve Perry Tweets about Bacon Bowls

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The initial version of this post was inaccurate.  Although Capital Prep is part of the Hartford School System it is not on the same academic schedule as Hartford’s other schools. My original comments were based on my impression that Capital Prep, like all Hartford Schools, were dealing with an early dismissal today.

I took Steve Perry to task for Tweeting instead of handling the early closing situation.  I stand corrected thanks to information provided by “HartfordTruth,” a reader who is or is close to Mr. Perry.  I was clearly in error since it turns out that Capital Prep was closed today and I apologize for providing inaccurate information.

That said, the underlying issue remains unchanged.

Perry’s constant use of his Twitter account on public time remains a serious breach of ethics and his approach to social media completely fails to meet the ethical standards required by a principal.

Although Capital Prep was not in session today, Steve Perry, as we know, spends an inordinate amount of time Tweeting and engaged in self promotion, even on days when school is in session.

Steve Perry is the principal of Capital Prep.  With the help of Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Perry is trying to get the Hartford Board of Education (and the state of Connecticut) to turn Capital Prep and one other school over to Perry’s private charter school management company.

But the truth is that the role of a school principal is probably the single most important administrative position in public education.  

Today’s weather-related closing situation is a prime example.  The administrative responsibility principals are significant.  This is especially true for principals at magnet schools that must deal with complex bus schedules that need to get children home to multiple communities and principals who oversee schools with younger children since they have a particularly fundamental, even legal, obligation to ensure that no young child goes home to an empty house.

This morning, principals throughout Connecticut were working with their staff to call parents to ensure “pick-ups” were made on time and someone would be home to meet younger children.  In my town it is not uncommon for the local principal to be waiting with a couple of students long after all the other children and staff has safety gotten home.

As parents, teachers and school administrators know, early closing days are busy days for Connecticut’s school principals

But if his social media record is any indication, Dr. Steve Perry is rarely so busy with his administrative duties that he doesn’t have time to engage in meaningless Tweeting or media interviews to promote himself and his private business activities.

As we now know, Capital Prep was not in session today so we don’t really know how Perry would have handled the problem, but Perry’s approach to serving as a principal is certainly very different from that of his colleagues.

Steve Perry may have been “off-duty” but at 9:34 am this morning Steve Perry was Tweeting, “The Perfect Bacon Bowl… Really!”

His Tweet was a reference to a national advertising campaign selling “The Perfect Bacon Bowl is the newest, tastiest way to cook bacon.”

Maybe Steve Perry was watching TV instead of  catching up on work.  It turns out the Perfect Bacon Bowl ad aired on Morning Joe just a few minutes before he tweeted about it.  Other national stations also aired the ad this morning according to an industry publication.

Or maybe he was surfing the web and found the ad on YouTube: http://youtu.be/5kjujVnwZEs

Of perhaps he was just yucking it up with staff or ordering himself some of the “As Seen On TV” bacon bowls for himself at: https://www.buyperfectbacon.com/default.aspx?utm_source=Google_Non_TM&utm_medium=CPC&utm_campaign=CPD

We may never know why Steve Perry was Tweeting about bacon bowls, but he certainly wasn’t “away” on vacation.  In fact, a  bit later in the day he turned his attention to his work, Tweeting

  1. Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry – “If you don’t like being told what to do, do it it before you’re told.”

    And then  Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry “Hardest part of supervising is getting ppl to do what they’re supposed to do when & how they’re supposed to do it w/o getting an attitude.”

But as Steve Perry’s Twitter-feed reflects, once again, he can’t seem to refrain from the self-promotion.  When not Tweeting about Bacon Bowls or employees getting “an attitude”, he moved on to his never-ending self-promotion.  This time Tweeting,

“I’m on live w Angelo Henderson in Radio WCHB radio Detroit!”

It turns out Perry was doing PR for his January 25, 2014 speech at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino Hotel where he’ll be the luncheon speaker for Delta Sigma Theta. (PS Tickets are only $65 per person)

Of course, Steve Perry’s obsessive compulsive Twitter habits are hardly new…

When Steve Perry used his Twitter account to threaten his political opponents, Matt Poland, the Chairman of the Hartford Board of Education called for an investigation.  But no investigation or action was ever taken.

And when it became clear that Steve Perry had spent hundreds of hours Tweeting rather than working and thereby wasted tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds as he promoted himself and his businesses enterprises…all we heard from the Hartford Superintendent and the Hartford Board of Education was silence.

What will it take for the leadership in Hartford and the Malloy administration to hold Steve Perry accountable for his actions?

By now, any other public official or public employee would have been escorted to the door.

Running an 800 student school requires real leadership, running more than one school even more.

But Steve Perry spends hours and hours Tweeting about things like bacon bowls and his many interviews aimed at publicizing the private speeches that he will be giving in the weeks ahead.

It turns out that one of Steve Perry’s books is called “Man Up!”  He claims it is autobiographical in nature.

Watching his Twitter performance today leaves one with the distinct impression that if you wanted to buy the book you’d best start by looking for it in satire or comedy section of the bookstore.

Foxes guarding the chicken coop or Hartford politics as usual.

With relatively little fan-fare last fall, Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland appointed a 13 member search committee to choose a new superintendent of schools for the Hartford School System.

Poland, who is not only appointed to the Board of Education by Mayor Segarra, is also the Director of the Hartford City Library, an organization which receives the vast majority of its funding from the Mayor and Hartford City Council.

In his announcement Poland appointed four members of the Hartford Board of Education to the search committee, including himself, but committed to give up his spot to a new member following their swearing-in ceremony in December.

In addition to the four members of the Board of Education, Marlene Ibsen, a Travelers executive was appointed to the Search Committee as a representative of the MetroHartford Alliance business group. Oz Griebel is president and CEO of MetroHartford Alliance and has been one of the leading advocates for the corporate education reform agenda in Hartford.

What makes the appointed especially interesting is that Travelers is the chief corporate sponsor of High School, Inc., “a four-year college prep school for Hartford Public School students in grades 9-12 who are interested in pursuing careers in the insurance and financial services industries.”

Last month, the Hartford Board of Education was presented with a secret “Sheff lawsuit plan” that called for opening up two new magnet schools in Hartford and handing Capital Prep and the S.A.N.D. elementary school over to a private company set up by Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry.

Citing the lack of any public hearing or public input into the controversial plan, the Hartford Board of Education rejected the secret deal.

However, three weeks ago the Hartford Board of Education reversed course and with no public hearing or public input, authorized “the state and district to convert High School Inc….to a Sheff magnet school beginning with ninth grade in 2014-15 and gradually expanding to 12th grade by 2017-18.”

The deal will divert hundreds of thousands to the Travelers’ affiliated school despite the fact that “the school has posted low scores on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test. This year, only 5 percent of 10th-graders met the state’s goal in mathematics this year, while less than half of the school’s test-takers were proficient in math, science and reading. Travelers supported the conversion to a magnet program, according to [Hartford school] board member Cherita McIntye, who was involved in negotiations.”

However, despite the appearance of a potential financial conflict of interest, Travelers will continue to serve on the Hartford Superintendent Search Committee.

Another member of the Hartford Superintendent Search Committee is Capital Community College President Wilfredo Nieves. While Nieves is widely respected for his leadership at Capital Community College, the college desperately needs to find additional revenue and additional tenants to fill unused space at the College.

Over the past few years, Governor Malloy has made the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities. More than anything else, Connecticut’s colleges now need to find additional revenue, whether through tuition increases or revenue from new tenants.

The secret Sheff deal has also included authorizing Capital Community College to open a magnet school despite the fact that Capital Prep Magnet School used to be affiliated with the college before Capital Prep broke off on its own.

As with the Hartford High Inc. magnet school deal, three weeks ago, the Hartford School Board reversed itself on the Capital Community College proposal and voted 6-1 to allow “state and school officials to move forward with creating Capital Community College Senior Academy, a magnet school to be established for 11th and 12th graders next year in partnership with the community college in Hartford.”

Again, despite the appearance of a potential financial conflict of interest, the President of Capital Community College remains on the Hartford Superintendent Search Committee.

Another member of the Hartford superintendent search committee is Mayra Esquilin, the executive director of HART (Hartford Areas Rally Together).

Esquilin is not only a member of Board of Directors of Achieve Hartford Inc. the leading corporate funded education reform organization in Hartford, but even after being added to the Superintendent Search Committee, Esquilin and Hartford Areas Rally Together submitted a proposal to the City of Hartford in response to a Request for Proposals for a community based organization to rally parents at the Clark School to support handing their school over to Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

Although the $19,400 contract went to another organization called the Multi-Cultural Community Alliance, Esquilin has been extremely outspoken in favor of restructuring S.A.N.D. elementary, the school that was supposed to go to Perry’s private company as part of the secret Sheff Deal.

According to a recent Hartford Courant article, Esquilin said “that she and others canvassed the neighborhood over the past few days and found many parents who were uninformed — and in some cases, misinformed — about the SAND proposal.”

It isn’t exactly clear who is paying Esquilin and HART to work on the S.A.N.D. school effort (watch for an upcoming Wait, What? post on the topic), but despite appearance of a financial conflict of interest, Mayra Esquilin remains on the Hartford Superintendent Search Committee.

And the list goes on…

Considering the size and diversity of Hartford, it is either a sad commentary or an incredible message that the powers that be appointed a number of people with direct or potential conflicts of interest to the search committee for the most important non-elected official in Hartford.

Meanwhile, according to a Hartford Courant story yesterday entitled, Hartford Picks Iowa Firm For Superintendent Search, “The city’s superintendent search committee has chosen the Iowa firm Ray and Associates Inc. to find the next schools leader for Hartford…The contract with Ray and Associates to conduct a national search should total no more than $24,000, according to school board Chairman Matthew Poland.”

Michele Rhee’s StudentsFirst rally to support Steve Perry; Board fails to take up Perry’s threatening tweet

At last night’s Hartford Board of Education meeting Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Hartford Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland failed to address the status of the promised investigation into Capital Prep Steve Perry’s threatening email rant or the growing controversy surrounding the Capital Prep Scholarship Fund.

Instead the meeting was dominated by a lobbying effort pushed by Michelle Rhee’s national corporate education reform group, StudentsFirst.  The goal of the effort appears to be to resurrect Steve Perry’s attempt to take over two Hartford Schools and transfer them to a private company that he owns.

The involvement of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst is an impressive indication of the corporate education reform industry’s commitment to Perry and his tactics.

Michelle Rhee is infamous for pouring tens of millions of dollars money into the local political process to try and force local officials to shift scarce public funds from their public schools to the  privatized corporate education reform model.

In Connecticut, Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst have set up a front group called GNEPSA (The Greater New England Public School Alliance).

Although it claims to be the New England Public School Alliance, the direct connection with StudentsFirst becomes obvious when looking at the organization’s Connecticut Ethics Reports, Connecticut Campaign Finance Reports and even their website – http://www.gnepsa.org/state/connecticut .

For example, Jeri Powell, who submits her testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly and authors commentary pieces by listing her title as GNEPSA’s Connecticut state director, has an official bio that reads:

“Jeri Powell has worked as a State Director for StudentsFirst since March 2011 and was the founding State Director for Florida, Georgia and Minnesota, guiding StudentsFirst’s policy efforts in those states over two legislative sessions… She currently sits on the Board of Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of high performing charter schools based in Harlem, NY.”

Since Governor Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union “education reform” legislation of any Democratic governor in the nation in 2012, Michelle Rhee and StudentFirst (AKA GNEPSA) has become a leading sources of money in the effort to lobby and support Malloy and his education policies.

In less than two years, GNEPSA has spent over $889,604 lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s legislation, another $150,554 in “independent” expenditures to try and influence two legislative races and hundreds of thousands in support of Mayor Bill Finch’s failed effort to do away with a democratically-elected board of education and replace it with one appointed exclusively by the mayor.

Now Rhee’s organization has apparently dived into the controversy surrounding Steve Perry and Capital Prep Magnet School by joining organizations like Achieve Hartford, Inc. and HART to try and force the Hartford Board of Education to reverse its previous action and give Perry and his private company control of Capital Prep Magnet School and at least one other Hartford elementary school.

In their propaganda and rhetoric to date, neither StudentsFirst nor their allies have explained to Hartford or Connecticut taxpayers that Perry’s plan would shift approximately $15 million a year in public funds to Perry’s company.

With no public hearing and no competitive bidding process, StudentsFirst wants the Hartford Board of Education to simply transfer the schools and the related funding to Perry with some type of “MOU” to be worked out later to determine the level of public oversight over those funds.

Despite all the controversy surrounding Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry, perhaps the single greatest indicator of what Perry is really trying to pull off can be seen by the arrival and involvement of Michelle Perry and StudentsFirst —- the leading purveyors of the modern corporate education reform industry.

Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers need to keep a special grip on their wallets if Michelle Rhee and her ilk are coming to the aid of Capital Prep’s Steve Perry.