Another Charter School Front Group in Connecticut? Naw…Same people just different name

As Connecticut faces yet another massive state budget crisis, even more Pro-Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry money is flowing into Connecticut to help grease the charter school operators’ efforts to grab additional public funds courtesy of charter school aficionado and “education reform” groupie Governor Dannel Malloy.

This time the corporate funded charter school lobbyists are calling themselves “Fight for Fairness CT” and are rallying in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford.

Charter school organizers are using www.fightforfairnessct.org, a website that was created by a New York City advertising company on October 23 2015.

Although they are calling themselves by a different name, the group is actually the same controversial New York based charter school lobby group known as “Families for Excellent Schools” http://www.familiesforexcellentschools.org/ except when they call themselves “Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy.”

While their primary purpose has been to support Eva Moskowitz and the other New York Charter School operators, Families for Excellent Schools arrived in Connecticut from New York last year and registered both Families for Excellent Schools AND Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy as lobbying entities with Connecticut’s Office of State Ethics.

However, Families for Excellent Schools immediately created a new front group called Coalition for Every Child, setting up a website named http://www.foreverychildct.org/

When slapped for failing to register Coalition for Every Child with the Connecticut’s ethics office, the New Yorkers quickly changed their name to Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child.

This year Families for Excellent Schools has spent nearly $1.2 million lobbying in favor of Governor Malloy’s charter school and education reform initiatives.

A quick glimpse at the newly formed www.fightforfairnessct.org will reveal the same logo as the old http://www.foreverychildct.org/, although they did change the color from Yellow to Blue to go along with the new t-shirts that Families for Excellent Schools are handing out to charter school parents and students in New York and Connecticut.

If the name changes seem confusing, no worries because even the highly paid consultants who work for the charter school industry appear to be confused.

According to www.fightforfairnessct.org,

“For all Press and Media inquiries, please contact Andrew Doba at [email protected].”

However, the actual press releases themselves go out from Andrew Doba at [email protected]

Doba was also listed as the media contact for Families for Excellent Schools, Coalition for Every Child and Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child.

Just last year, Doba was working as Governor Dannel Malloy’s spokesperson but left that post this past January to join Stu Loeser and Company, a New York City public relations firm owned by the former press secretary of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Stu Loeser and Company are paid to run the Families for Excellent Schools’ public relations campaigns in New York and Connecticut.

Since leaving the state payroll and joining Stu Loeser and Company, Doda has also been serving as the spokesperson for Greenwich native Luke Bronin’s campaign for Mayor of Hartford.

And to bring the whole thing full circle, as previously reported in the Wait, What? article Billionaires for Bronin, one of Luke Bronin’s most noteworthy campaign contributors is Paul Tudor Jones II, the Greenwich Billionaire who is also one of the biggest donors to Families for Excellent Schools and was a charter school owner.

Although Families for Excellent Schools, now known as Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child, was using www.fightforfairnessct.org last year as their online organizing website and have now shifted to http://www.foreverychildct.org/, they charter school advocacy group is sticking with the Twitter handle @FIGHTForFairnessCT.

@FightforFairnessCT got its start last year when Families for Excellent Schools bused in charter school parents and students from as far away as New York and Boston to rally at the Connecticut State Capitol in support of Governor Dannel Malloy’s ill-conceived proposal to divert scarce public funds away from public schools so that two new companies could open up charter schools in Connecticut.

A cursory review of @FightForFairnessCT will lead the casual observer to ConnCAN, Connecticut’s primary and original charter schools advocacy group which was founded by Greenwich millionaire Jonathan Sackler.  Sackler, whose company makes OxyContin, was a pivotal player in the creation of Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school chain with schools in New York Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Sackler and his wife are among Luke Bronin’s biggest campaign contributors having donated the maximum allowable amount to the Bronin mayoral campaign not once, but twice, in the last few months.

The Twitter Account @FightForFairnessCT’s first Tweet was actually a Re-Tweet of Jennifer Alexander’s excitement about being at last year’s Families for Excellent School’s Capitol rally.

Alexander is the CEO of ConnCAN, although the name of their lobbying and advocacy organization is actually the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc. except when they call themselves the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc.

Two years ago, ConnCAN added yet another front group to the mix forming A Better Connecticut, Inc. but have since dropped that name and the use of Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc., sticking instead with Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Inc. corporate name.

Over the last three years, ConnCAN and its related entities have spent in excess of $3.5 million lobbying in favor of Malloy’s anti-public school and pro-charter school agenda.

Of course, none of those organizations should be confused with Connecticut’s other Pro-Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry lobby groups which include Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) or their new front-group called the Connecticut School Finance Project.  The New England Charter Schools Network (NECSN) is yet another advocacy group, although like ConnCAN, NECSN is closely aligned to Achievement First, Inc.

CCER and NECSN have spent well in excess of $800,000 promoting Malloy’s charter school and reform agenda.

None of those groups are directly connected to the “other” charter school and Corporate Education Reform Industry groups that have spent money lobbying in Connecticut, including StudentsFirst and Students for Education Reform, which together dropped in over $1 million on behalf of Malloy’s proposals.

Meanwhile, according to ​Andrew Doba’s latest press release from Fight for Fairness CT (but sent out from [email protected]),

“Parents, Teachers and Students Call For Fair Funding of Public Schools Announce “Fight for Fairness” March to Take Place Tuesday, November 10th in Bridgeport.”

Doba’s media statement goes on to explain that “Coalition members supporting” today’s march include ConnCAN, the New England Charter Schools Network (NECSN), Achievement First, and Families for Excellent Schools….

PS:  There will be a standardized test on this material and your teachers will be evaluated on how well you score.

Billionaires for Bronin

Hartford voters can thank Connecticut’s 4th wealthiest resident for helping provide Luke Bronin with the money he wanted in order to run for Mayor of Connecticut’s Capital City.

In fact, as Greenwich native and Hartford newcomer Luke Bronin eagerly awaits being elected Hartford’s next Mayor, he will need to thank many people for funding his record breaking $1.2 million mayoral campaign.

Among those who deserve “special recognition” are all of those on the extensive list of Greenwich residents who, taken together, donated nearly $100,000 to fund their hometown guy’s dream of leading the City of Hartford and its residents.

And first among all of those equals is real-life Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II whose net worth exceeds $4.6 Billion, making him the 108th richest American and placing him in the number 352 on the list of wealthiest people in the world.

Jones resides, at least some of the time, in a 13,000 square-foot Greenwich mansion that includes a 26-car garage.

Earlier this year, Paul Tudor Jones made news when he gave a TED talk in Canada condemning the “unsustainable” wealth gap between the rich and everyone else.   While stating that he was not only an extremely success but a “proud capitalist” Jones observed that when it came to the reality of wealth inequality, the world was on a “disastrous” path and that if this path was left unaltered, it would lead to revolution.

A few weeks later the Billionaire hedge fund manager purchased a $71 million Mediterranean-style 7-bedroom, 18-bathroom property on the coast of Florida that sports a tennis court, movie theater, swimming pool and gym.

Paul Tudor Jones also owns the Grumeti Reserves in Tanzania’s Western Serengeti. His Sasaskwa Resort, which is located in the Reserve, has been repeatedly rated the #1 hotel in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

According to the campaign finance records, Paul Tudor Jones’s donation to Luke Bronin was hardly his first foray into politics.  The Billionaire donated $200,000 to Mitt Romney’s campaign for President of the United States, although he also hosted a 500-person fundraiser in 2008 for then candidate Obama at his Greenwich home.  Others who have received campaign checks from Paul Tudor Jones include Hillary Clinton, John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, John Boehner (The immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives), Linda McMahon and a long, long list of Republican and Democratic politicians.

On the policy side, the Luke Bronin supporter may be best known for his unquestioning commitment and dedication to charter schools, the Common Core and the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

Not only did Paul Tudor Jones create the Excellence Charter School, the first all-boys charter school in the country, but he has been one of the most significant financial supporters of the charter school front group called Families for Excellent Schools.  Families for Excellent Schools (FES for short) has organized rallies in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In a successful effort to persuade Connecticut legislators to support Malloy’s initiative to divert scarce state funds from public schools to charter schools, Families for Excellent Schools even bussed in charter schools students and parents from as far away as New York City and Boston to attend a rally in Hartford last year.  The Connecticut spokesperson for Families for Excellent Schools, who happens to have been Governor Dannel Malloy’s spokesperson is also the spokesperson for Luke Bronin.

Meanwhile, Paul Tudor Jones is not only an outspoken supporter of the Common Core, but in a moment of extreme rhetoric, he even claimed that the move to the “Common Core” was the modern version of John F. Kennedy’s “call to put a man on the moon.”

Interestingly, Jones himself has opening trashed the quality of the education he received.

That said, when the Billionaire was asked how public schools could be improved, he told Forbes Magazine that the solution was longer school days and years, better teacher and principal training and true evaluation and accountability.

Jones added that real culprit that caused the problems in the nation’s urban schools were the teacher unions.  Jones observed,

“What’s happened in the last 20 years in many of the large cities in the U.S. is that the educational system has been dictated by the unions.  They have failed. They get an ‘F.’ What we have now is a failure in the way the teaching corps is organized, administered and deployed.”

But if there is one thing that Luke Bronin has made clear in his campaign for mayor, (it even cost him the endorsement of the Hartford Teachers Union), is that money from Paul Tudor Jones and the other corporate education reformers is far more important to his candidacy than any support from teachers and their unions.

Finally, while Paul Tudor Jones’ pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, anti-teacher agenda has generated its share of controversy, it all pales by comparison to the excitement generated by his remarks about the role of women on Wall Street.

In May 2013 the Washington Post reported on a University of Virginia conference that Paul Tudor Jones spoke at in 2012.

Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones told the audience “that it is difficult for mothers to be successful traders because connecting with a child is a focus “killer.”

As Jones explained;

“’As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it,’ Jones said, motioning to his chest during an April symposium. He was talking about two women who worked with him at a stock brokerage in the late 1970s — two women who married, had children and, according to his account, no longer had the laser focus needed for the intense world of macro trading.”

And as to the possibility that more women will be able to break into the male dominated Wall Street environment Jones added;

“If you told me that this woman was not going to have a baby — certainly can get married but not going to have a baby — then I think it would be a completely different panel 20 years from now,” Jones said. “Assuming that she’s not going to have a baby.”

So Voters of Hartford!

If Luke Bronin wins on Election Day 2015, perhaps he can be convinced to invite Paul Tudor Jones to his inauguration so that the people of Connecticut’s Capital City can meet and personally thank Paul Tudor Jones and Billionaires for Bronin for helping the City’s new leader come up with the cash to run a winning campaign.