Call it the new American Way. The billionaires, millionaires and corporate elite who fund charter schools give generously to Democratic and Republican politicians and the politicians return the favor by shifting public funds into the coffers of the privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.
Here in Connecticut the system was clearly on display last week when Governor Dannel Malloy and his sidekick, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, rolled out their new “austerity budget” for 2016-2017.
In classic fashion, their plan slashes a full array of vital services while giving the wealthy yet another tax break. Their plan makes absolutely no effort, whatsoever, to require Connecticut’s richest resident to pay their fair share in taxes.
But their budget certainly targets the middle class and all of Connecticut’s working families, along with those who rely on state services to lead more fulfilling lives.
Failing to even identify where 40 percent of the budget cuts would actually come from, Malloy proposed a spending plan that would provide $720 million less than what would be necessary simply to maintain the current level of state services.
Malloy targeted some of his deepest cuts to programs that help children in crisis, the developmentally disabled, those with mental illness, Connecticut’s public schools, the state’s public colleges and universities, and municipal aid.
Of course, the Governor promised – yet again – that he would not raise taxes … overlooking the fact that his budget would force cities and towns across Connecticut to raise property taxes.
But while everyone else loses under Malloy’s budget, charter schools win!
In the midst of their budget slashing frenzy, Malloy and Wyman are actually increasing the amount of taxpayer funds going to Connecticut’s privately owned charter schools.
The CT Mirror explained the situation in a story entitled, Malloy: Increase charter school, cut neighborhood school funding;
“Charter schools have escaped Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget knife and are slated for a $9.3 million boost in his newly proposed state budget.
But the Democratic governor also wants a $52.9 million cut in funding for special education, after-school programs, reading tutors and other services in low-performing public schools across the state.
Malloy also wants to rescind an $11.5 million funding increase in the Education Cost Sharing grants for the next school year. It is the state’s principal education grant to municipal public schools, and the idea of a reduction is not sitting well with some of the lawmakers who helped approve the ECS money last year.
The Democratic governor and Lt. Governor who used to decry the lack of adequate funding for the state’s public schools are now proposing the deepest cuts to public education in Connecticut history.
At the same time, their “generosity” toward charter schools only grows.
The reason seems pretty obvious. Connecticut’s charter schools and their supporters have become a “golden egg” for Malloy’s political aspirations.
In the months leading up to and through his re-election campaign, corporate education reform proponents and the charter school industry poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Malloy’s various campaign entities and organizations.
Take, for example, Greenwich millionaire Jonathan Sackler.
Sackler, whose company brought the world OxyContin, likes charter schools … a lot.
Sackler serves on the Board of Directors of Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management chain with schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island and the Board of Directors of ConnCAN, the Connecticut charter school advocacy front group. Sackler helped bankroll the formation of Achievement First Inc. and was the founder of ConnCAN. He is also a major player in the national charter school movement.
During Malloy’s re-election campaign, Sackler and his immediate family donated well in excess of $100,000 to Malloy’s campaign operation and the spigot didn’t stop when Malloy won a second term as governor. Since the 2014 election, the Sacklers have donated an additional $50,000 to Malloy’s political activities.
According to reports filed with the Federal Election Committee and the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, over the past few years, Dannel Malloy’s fundraising operatives have collected more than $330,000 from the people who serve on the Achievement First, Inc. Board of Directors, the ConnCAN Board of Directors or play a leadership role in Connecticut’s charter school and corporate education reform organizations.
The truth is that the corporate elite behind the Pro-Common Core, Pro-Common Core testing, Pro-Charter School and Anti-teacher agenda that Dannel Malloy has been pushing have become Malloy’s most important sources of campaign cash.
During the very same time, Malloy and Wyman have turned their backs on the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers that actually support and fund Connecticut’s public school system.
Since taking office, Team Malloy/Wyman have dumped over $450 million in scarce taxpayer funds into charter schools in Connecticut, although these schools consistently discriminate against children who require special services, children who aren’t fluent in the English language and children who won’t adhere to the charter school’s abusive “no-excuses” disciplinary policies designed to push out children with behavioral issues.
While public schools in every town will suffer from Malloy’s budget cuts, and local taxpayers will be forced to pick up some of the lost state funding, the charter schools will continue to wallow in more state support.
The CT Mirror noted;
In Stamford, the governor’s proposal means the public schools will not get the $225,000 increase they would have received, but the new charter school in town will get about $3 million more so enrollment can increase. That charter school and another in Bridgeport are to expand by about 650 seats.
Other towns in line not to receive previously scheduled increases include Danbury ($1 million), Rocky Hill ($450,000), Shelton ($500,000), Southbury ($600,000), West Hartford ($1.6 million) and Wethersfield ($530,000).
Of course, the charter school supporters who donated and worked for Malloy are overjoyed by the news that Malloy was coming through, yet again, for the charter school industry.
“Jeremiah Grace, Connecticut state director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network, applauded the governor’s proposed budget.” (CT Mirror 2/5/16)
Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public school advocate pointed out the harsh reality in her blog yesterday, Connecticut Governor Malloy Increases Funding for Charters, Cuts Funding for Public Schools;
Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy is faithful to his state’s hedge fund managers, who supported his campaigns. But he is not faithful to the children, parents, and educators of his state.
Malloy is offering a nice increase for charter schools, but budget cuts for the public schools that educate the vast majority of students.
The truth is that the charter school industry has put an unprecedented amount of money on the political table. Dannel Malloy and Nancy Wyman happily took that money and continue to produce for their favored donors.
It may be the new American Way, but it is a disgusting style of politics that shouldn’t be tolerated here in Connecticut.