Charter Schools, Clark Elementary School, Friendship Public Charter Schools Inc., Hartford, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Andrew Ferguson, Clark Elementary School, Friendship Charter Schools Inc., Malloy, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor
Parents, teachers and the community that makes up Hartford’s Clark Elementary School in Hartford are still reeling from the Malloy Administration’s threat that the Clark “Turnaround Committee” must agree to turn their local Hartford neighborhood school over to Washington D.C.’s Friendship Charter School Inc or else they won’t get the funds necessary to improve their school.
But there is much that Clark School parents and the Clark School community have not been told.
This development comes despite a state law that requires an inclusive “turnaround” process in which parents, teachers, school officials and community members are supposed to play the primary role in deciding the future of their local school.
The Malloy Administration’s plan to force the “Clark School Turnaround Plan” to hand the day-to-day operation of the Hartford elementary school over to Friendship Public Charter School Inc. first came to light in a February 10, 2014 Wait, What? article entitled, “NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain (2/10/14).
A follow up story on February 10, 2014 further explained developments. See Corporate Education Reform Industry targets students, parents and teachers of Clark Elementary School (2/12/14).
Late last week, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor pulled the trigger in their effort to force the Clark School community to accept their new master. Using his Turnaround Director, Morgan Barth and State Department of Education staffer, Andrew Ferguson, the Clark’s parents were basically informed that they had no choice to but to agree to Pryor’s demands. See NEWS FLASH: Stefan Pryor & Morgan Barth trying to roll Hartford’s Clark School parents and teachers – again (3/6/14).
The Friendship Public Charter School chain is presently made up of six charter schools in Washington D.C. and another five “turnaround” schools that the company runs in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.
Washington D.C.’s Friendship Public Charter School company is yet another charter school management organization trying build an empire.
Just last October, Friendship Charter School was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana trying to open a new chain of schools.
As reported by the local media in Baton Rouge last October, “Nine charter school groups planning to open schools in Baton Rouge introduced themselves Monday night to about 125 people who gathered at Living Faith Christian Center…..” Friendship Public Charter School from Washington, D.C.was one of those schools giving a presentation.
According to their application, ”Friendship Louisiana – a Louisiana non-profit corporation – seeks to hire Friendship Public Charter School Inc. to start, manage, and grow a network of charter schools that implements its proven charter school and turnaround models to improve dramatically outcomes for Louisiana students.”
But Baton Rouge isn’t Friendship Charter Schools’ only target. Their Louisiana application adds, “Friendship proposes to operate a network of charter schools in Louisiana that includes three schools in Shreveport ultimately serving grades pre K-12, and one school in Baton Rouge serving grades 6-12.”
In an apparent effort to impress the Louisiana powers that be, in their application, Friendship Charter Schools Inc brags that they have, “been invited by school districts in states including Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and North Carolina to operate turnaround schools, and [have] declined.”
The application goes on to read, “Friendship is interested in Louisiana because it has created the conditions for reform that make it conducive to turnaround success.”
So lets get this right…Friendship Charter Schools turned down “invitations” to open schools in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and North Carolina turned down those invitations because those states didn’t have “conditions for reform” that made “it conducive to turnaround success,” at yet the Malloy administration, out of the blue, wants to give them a school in Connecticut?
There is something very, very wrong with this picture.
And what happened in Louisiana?
On October 31, 2013, the Advocate Newspaper of Baton Rouge reported,
“Capitol High and Istrouma High will merge on the Capitol High campus, with Friendship Public Charter Schools, of Washington, D.C., in charge.”
Donald Hense, chairman of Friendship, donned a dark blue ballcap with an F on it, a reference to the group’s flagship high school.
He rattled off positive statistics connected with that school and the group’s other high school in the nation’s capital.
“Ninety-five percent of our students graduate in four years,” he said. “One hundred percent go on to college.” (A claim that sounds familiar to those who have been following the Steve Perry and Capital Prep Magnet School farce).
At the press conference, Louisiana’s Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard, who holds the position Paul Vallas held for six years called the development, “a positive step forward.”
And back here in Connecticut, Stefan Pryor’s operation claims that they are choosing Friendship Public Charter School, Inc., regardless of the opinion of Clark School’s parents, because the Friendship Public Charter chain will provide the personal attention that Clark Elementary School needs.
Christina Kishimoto, Clark Elementary School, Hartford, Malloy, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor Andrew Ferguson, Christina Kishimoto, Clark Elementary School, Malloy, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor
Clark Elementary School’s parents, teachers and community have a right to know what is really going on behind the scenes in the ongoing effort to stifle parental involvement and hand Clark over to an out-of-state charter school company.
The corporate education reform industry has targeted Clark, but who exactly is pushing these unfair, discriminatory proposals that seek to take over the school, fire all the teachers and hand control of the school over to those who have no understanding of the community?
It is time to find out,
Pursuant to the Connecticut Freedom of Information act, the proponents of this Clark takeover need to produce any and all memos, documents, notes, emails and attachments that have been sent, received or produced over the last 60 days and relate to the Clark Elementary School.
If elected and appointed officials won’t do the right thing for the Clark community then at least the community deserves to know the deals that have been cut behind the scenes.
This Freedom of Information request will cover Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Morgan Barth, Pryor “Turnaround Director” and Andrew Ferguson, Pryor and Barth’s point person on the effort to destroy Clark.
In addition FOI requests are being submitted for the same information from Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Hartford Portfolio Director Oliver Barton.
Clark should refuse to engage in further discussion until these materials are handed over.
The request for these documents are being submitted today, it will be noteworthy to see if Malloy administration and the City of Hartford fulfill their legal duty and hand over the requested information in a timely fashion.
Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Clark Elementary School, Hartford, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor Charter Schools, Clark Elementary School, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor
The battle for control of Hartford’s Clark Elementary School has become a case study in how the corporate education reform industry works.
On one side are the heroic parents and teachers who are working tirelessly to save and improve one of Hartford’s local neighborhood schools.
On the other side is the money, greed and arrogance that drives the corporate education reform industry.
The effort to run over the will of the local community and hand Clark Elementary School over to a charter school management company is being led by Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, and Morgan Barth, Pryor’s “Turnaround Director,” who illegally worked as a teacher and administrator for Achievement First, Inc before being appointed to his present position by Pryor.
As Wait, What? readers know, Stefan Pryor co-founded Achievement First, Inc. and Achievement First, Inc. has received more money from the Malloy administration than any other charter school operator.
With the help of Hartford’s out-going superintendent, Christina Kishimoto, Pryor and his band of education reformers tried to work a deal to close Clark Elementary School and hand the school and all of its taxpayer funds over to Achievement First, Inc.
Clark Parents and teachers fought back and derailed to the effort to give the school to Achievement First, Inc.
As the following links reveal, Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth then concocted a plan to hand Clark Elementary School over to a large Washington D.C. charter school company called Friendship Charter Schools.
The only thing standing in their way was a state law requiring that parents, teachers and the local community had to play a role in selecting a “turnaround” model and there was little interest in a Washington D.C. charter school company that had virtually no experience running schools with a large Latino population, a significant number of English Language Learners and a large special education population.
But now, according to sources close to Pryor and Barth, rather than work with the local community to identify a turnaround model that is actually appropriate for Hartford’s Clark Elementary, Malloy’s State Department of Education is telling the parents, teachers and local community that they must accept the charter option or the school will receive no additional funds or support mandated under the Commissioner’s Network Program.
The arrogance being displayed by Malloy’s appointees is truly breathtaking. Never in a million years would these bullies treat White, suburban communities they way they are treating a community made of African Americans, Latinos and other Americans of color.
State Department of Education sources confirm that Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth are giving the Clark School community an ultimatum.
Their choice – go with one of our hand-picked charter schools or get nothing.
The racism and discrimination against the Clark School community is nothing short of criminal
But if members of the Connecticut General Assembly don’t intervene, the Malloy administration will get away with destroying another urban neighborhood school.
For background, here are some of the previous Wait, What? posts on Clark Elementary School.
Breaking News: Hartford’s Clark School Targeted for closure, will be handed over to Achievement First, Inc. (10/25/13)
Real Hartford Blog examines “bait and switch” with Clark School and Achievement First Inc. (10/28/13)
(Updated) Superintendent Kishimoto’s “end justified the means” form of a School Redesign Analysis (10/29/13)
Update on the effort to destroy the Clark Elementary School in Hartford (11/30/13)
Hartford’s Clark School parents, teachers and community fight back! (10/31/13)
Hartford’s Clark Elementary School Community says “NO” to takeover (11/11/13)
NEWS FLASH: Pryor reportedly giving Hartford’s Clark Elementary School to Washington D.C. Charter School Chain (2/10/14)
Corporate Education Reform Industry targets students, parents and teachers of Clark Elementary School (2/13/14)
Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
A number of public school districts across Connecticut have informed parents or teachers that parents do not have a right to opt their children out of the Connecticut Mastery Test or the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test.
Administrators who have communicated this information to parents or teachers are either misinformed or are part of the Malloy administration’s calculated attempt to mislead and intimidate parents into believing that they don’t have the fundamental right to refuse to have their children participate in these tests.
As to issue number one, the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test is a test of a test and despite the misleading statements coming from Commissioner Pryor’s operation, the test of a test not a “Mastery Test” as defined under Connecticut law and the statute in question does not apply. (See Connecticut State Statute Sec.10-14n).
While the state may be able to argue that next year’s Common Core SBAC test is a Mastery Test under the law, by its own definition, this year’s test is not a Master Test and the state has no authority to tell parents that they may not opt their students out of the Common Core SBAC test.
Second, for those towns giving the CMT/CAPT Mastery Test and for those attempting to claim that the Common Core SBAC test of a test is a mastery test, the State Department of Education already made the policy clear in a December 2013 memo to superintendents in which it stated,
[IF] “Parent writes back to the district a letter explaining that they have read and understood the district’s letter, but insist that the child not be tested.”
[THEN] “In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing)…”
School administrators who are telling parents or teachers that parents may not refuse the test are out of line.
There are even reports that school administrators are instructing, threatening or disciplining teachers who are providing parents with the correct information about their rights when it comes to opting their children out of the standardized testing frenzy.
A school administrator engaged in any such activities would be in violation of the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for School Administrators which clearly lays out how school administrators are to interact with teachers, students and families.
In order to identify districts and administrators who may be engaged in activities that violate their Code of Professional Responsibility or potentially are even violating the law, we are collecting copies of any communication, correspondence or emails that parents or teachers have received from school administrators about the opt-out issue.
Please email any communications to [email protected]
All names will be removed to ensure confidentiality but the information will be used to inform parents about how certain communities are handing this important issue and, where appropriate, the information may be used to file complaints against administrators who are failing to properly perform their duties.
Again, if you have any communications between school administrators and parents or school administrators and teachers, please email them to [email protected] or contact me so that I can give you a fax number or address to send the information.
Thank you very much,
Common Core, George Jepsen, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor Common Core, George Jepsen, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
Connecticut parents have a right to opt their children out of the standardized tests!
Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, knows that is the truth but has chosen to engage in a strategy to intimidate and mislead Connecticut’s parents of public school students.
Governor Malloy must immediately put an end to this travesty or Attorney General George Jepsen should step in and perform that task.
Last December, Stefan Pryor sent out a memo to superintendents explaining how they were to intimidate parents into thinking that they did not have the right to opt their children out of the inappropriate and unfair standardized testing program.
The memo noted that Connecticut State Statute 10-14n reads,: “Each student enrolled…in any public school shall annually take a statewide mastery examination,” but the memo also admitted that there were no provisions in the law to punish a parent or their child if a parents decided that they did not want their student to take the standardized tests.
The memo concluded;
[IF] “Parent writes back to the district a letter explaining that they have read and understood the district’s letter, but insist that the child not be tested.”
[THEN] “In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing)…”
Furthermore, Pryor and his legal team have to recognize that the because the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test is nothing but a test of a test it doesn’t even qualify as a “Mastery Test” under the provisions of 10-14n and the Commissioner has absolutely no legal authority to force parents to make children take the test of a test.
Following yesterday’s post entitled, “Stefan Pryor says his rules trump parental rights.” a reader commented:
Background: There is no opt-out language in state or federal law governing assessment. Sec.10-14n of the Connecticut Education Laws states that “Each student enrolled…in any public school shall annually take a statewide mastery examination.”
In terms of the reporting of results from the SB-FT, please note the following:
Connecticut’s Field Test Flexibility waives the CSDE and local districts from the requirement of providing individual student reports regarding achievement on the SB-FT to parents, teachers, and principals.
But wait, how can this be when the law requires that according to Sec. 10-14n of the Connecticut Education Laws that…
[(e) Student] (d) The scores on each component of the [state-wide tenth grade] mastery examination for each tenth or eleventh grade student may be included on the permanent record and transcript of each such student who takes such examination. [provided, for a] For each tenth or eleventh grade student who meets or exceeds the statewide mastery goal level on any component of the [state-wide tenth grade] mastery examination, a certification of having met or exceeded such goal level shall be made on the permanent record and the transcript of each such student and such student shall be issued a certificate of mastery for such component. Each tenth or eleventh grade student who fails to meet the mastery goal level on each component of said mastery examination may annually take or retake each such component at its regular administration until such student scores at or above each such state-wide mastery goal level or such student graduates or reaches age twenty-one.
So does this mean they have to score the assessments even though the commissioner says they don’t? I’m confused, which part of the law are we supposed to follow? Oh wait, there won’t be any reports. I’m good with that, but there damn well better be an indication on my daughter’s transcript and permanent record as to whether or not my daughter met mastery on this “statewide mastery examination” as the law requires.
Commissioner Pryor, answer me this one simple question. Is this (the SBAC), or is this not the the “official statewide mastery examination”?
The Wait, What? reader makes the point better than I ever could.
Pryor and his corporate education reform industry allies are making a mockery of Connecticut law and are engaged in a disgusting campaign to that is designed to intimidate and mislead Connecticut parents.
Unfortunately, as we’ve learned the hard way, Governor Malloy is unwilling to put the interests of parents and students above his efforts to undermine teachers and public schools.
Malloy’s failure to act means the burden shifts to Attorney General George Jepsen to protect the rights of parents and their children.
If he refuses to act unilaterally, Connecticut allows one of the four top leaders in the Connecticut General Assembly to request a legal opinion from Jepsen. [Connecticut General Statute 3-125 authorizes the Attorney General to issue formal opinions to leaders of the General Assembly and the heads of any state agency, state board or commission].
Senate President Don Williams, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney or House Minority Leader Larry Cafero are in in a unique position to stand up and demand the truth now that it has become clear that that Governor and Commissioner of Education are failing to properly implement Connecticut law.
Link to Pryor’s new memo: Pryor’s March memo
Link to Pryor’s earlier memo: Pryor’s December memo
Common Core, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
A last Friday’s Democrat’s informational “non-public” hearing on the Common Core and the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, couldn’t even manage to tell the truth about this year’s Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test. called SBAC.
Pryor is not only the Commissioner of Education and a Yale educated lawyer but by accepting the position of Commissioner of Education he accepted the responsibility and legal duty to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. when it came to Connecticut’s education laws.
However, when he came face to face with that duty last Friday he failed.
Earlier today a Wait, What? blog examined what Pryor said at last Friday’s Education Committee’s “hearing.” After reading the blog post, friend and fellow pro-education blogger Lee Barrios of Louisiana posted a comment questioned the accuracy of one of Pryor’s claims.
According to media accounts, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education told the General Assembly’s Education Committee that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment “test of the test” was required under federal law.
But in his smoke and mirrors answer he managed to overlook the truth and skip the most important and relevant issues surrounding that topic.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the national entity responsible for developing the test, explains the legal status of the test of the test right on their website.
As the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium explains,
“Each Smarter Balanced state individually determined how schools and students would be selected to take the Field Test. In some states, only a representative sample of students will participate—10 percent of student s for each subject area. In others, the Field Test will be administered more broadly.”
The federal government didn’t mandate that nearly all of Connecticut”s 550,000 students must suffer through this Common Core test of the test, it was Governor Malloy’s political appointees who decided to turn our children into guinea pigs for the corporate education reform industry.
There are just over 550,000 public school students in Connecticut. The Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment was looking for about 10 percent to take the practice exam. But the Malloy administration said they knew better and students in all but about a dozen districts will spend big chunks of March, April, May and June taking tests rather than learning.
It is certainly odd that Connecticut’s Commissioner failed to tell legislators the truth about this important point.
Equally important, as a lawyer Pryor knows that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test of a test is not a legal mastery test under Connecticut law. This means that Connecticut’s Public Schools ARE NOT REQUIRED TO GIVE THE TEST.
Finally, as Pryor knows because he was the one who authorized the memo to superintendents on how to lie and mislead parents into thinking they can’t opt their children out of standardized tests, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THE LAW that allows the state or school districts to punish parents and children who fail to take the test.
Wait, What? has said it before and will say it again and again…. As long as Stefan Pryor and his corporate education reform industry thugs are overseeing public education in Connecticut, Malloy will not come close to garnering the votes necessary to win re-election.
Charter Schools, Common Core, General Assembly, Larry Cafero, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Teacher Evaluations Common Core, Larry Cafero, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
Many parents, teachers, public school advocates and taxpayers are asking whether the Connecticut General Assembly will hold a real public hearing on the Common Core , the Common Core testing fiasco, and the flawed teacher evaluation system?
The answer is … yeah, sort of, maybe… it depends on what you call a real public hearing.
When Governor Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-charter school ,corporate education reform industry bill of any Democratic governor in the nation, the Connecticut General Assembly blindly jumped on the train.
With Malloy’s signature, Senate Bill 458 became Public Act 12-116 and Malloy, his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and their allies were off and running in their effort to undermine public education in Connecticut.
Malloy’s “education reform” bill is the driving force behind the Common Core testing scheme and the unfair and inappropriate teacher evaluation system — a legislative package that passed the Connecticut House of Representatives 149-0.
Not a single legislator, Democratic or Republican was willing to stand up for the students, parents, teachers or public schools in Connecticut.
The vote in the State Senate was 28-7. Of the 13 Republicans who voted, seven voted with the Governor and the Democrats and six voted against the bill.
For two years, teachers and public school advocates have been warning elected and appointed officials about the impending disaster that will be caused by the rollout of the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and the teacher evaluation program.
But Connecticut’s “see no evil, hear no evil” elected officials remained silent.
That was until this year when, thanks to the outcry from teachers and parents, elected officials starting waking up.
The strategy being displayed by the Malloy administration and Democratic legislative leaders remained one dedicated to staying the course.
On the other hand, Republicans realized they had a great political opportunity on their hands and despite the fact that most of them voted for Malloy’s “education reforms,” they called for a public hearing on the Common Core and introduced bills to slow the process down.
Led by House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, the Republicans used a petitioning process to force the Democrats to hold a public hearing on the Common Core, the outrageous testing and the unfair teacher evaluation system.
As the Connecticut Newsjunkie story reported on February 26, 2014 in an article entitled, “GOP Use Parliamentary Rule To Get Public Hearing On Common Core,” the Connecticut General Assembly’s House Republicans used a rarely utilized technique to force a public hearing on some bills related to the implementation of the Common Core.
The CT Newsjunkie wrote,
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero appeared behind the podium and made his own announcement. Cafero said House Republicans had used a legislative petition process to force the Education Committee to hold a public hearing on two bills, including one to impose a moratorium on the implementation of Common Core.
Cafero said the chairs of the Education Committee had indicated they did not plan to hold any public hearings this year on bills pertaining to the Common Core and instead had opted to have an informational hearing on the subject. He said Republicans collected enough signatures from lawmakers to force a public hearing on the bills under legislative rules.
“We have circulated a petition which has been signed by 51 House Republican members which was filed moments ago with the House Clerk office which will force a public hearing on the two bills in question,” he said.
Cafero said lawmakers “have heard horror story after horror story about the inability for boards of education, teachers to prepare themselves” for the Common Core implementation. The other bill would codify changes made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration last month to delay the implementation of elements of the state’s teacher guidelines.
“Those two bills now, by Joint Rule 11, will be having a public hearing. The scheduling of that hearing will be up to the chairs, but the issue as to whether or not there will be a public hearing is no longer an issue,” he said.
Cafero said it was “unacceptable” to have no public hearing on an issue impacting parents, students, and teachers.
The legislative rule that Cafero used is called the “PETITION FOR PREPARATION OF BILLS OR RESOLUTIONS.”
According to the rule, if a petition is signed by at least fifty-one members of the House or at least twelve members of the Senate, a committee “shall hold a public hearing on the bill.”
But the chairs of the committee still have the power to schedule the timing of that public hearing.
In this case that means that the Democratic leaders could hold the public hearing during the day when most parents and teachers would be unable to attend.
If the Democrats were serious about providing Connecticut citizens with the right to be heard on this critical issue they would hold a hearing in the late afternoon and evening.
To date, the Democrats have yet to announce their plans about the public hearing that the Republicans have forced to be held.
In some ways, equally important is the reality that all the petition process requires is a public hearing.
The Education Committee doesn’t even have to discuss or vote on the bill following the public hearing. In fact, Democrats on the committee could prevent a vote from even being taken on the Republican bills..
There is a petition process for forcing the committee to vote, but that requires a full majority in the House or Senate to sign yet another petition.
Considering Malloy and his corporate education reform advocates don’t want the Common Core testing and teacher evaluation issues to even be discussed in public, it will take a lot to convince Democratic rank and file legislators that they should put their constituents ahead of Malloy’s politics.
Common Core, Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Common Core, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
The development and implementation of the Common Core and its related Common Core testing scam is one of the most important issues facing American public education.
The Common Core was developed in relative secrecy and forced upon the states by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Some of the people who developed the Common Core Standards were even required to sign documents swearing not to speak about the process.
The vehicle used to pull off this education disaster was the National Governors Association and a series of other organizations that were paid by the corporate education reform industry, along with hundreds of millions of taxpayer funds, that were funneled to private consulting companies to “develop” the standards and tests, while pushing their own profit-making efforts to sell more computers, new software, textbooks, and consulting opportunities.
After all, it was media mogul Rupert Murdoch who said that the America’s K-12 public education system was an $500 billion untapped market.
And support for the growing corporate education reform industry came from Democrats and Republicans alike.
In Connecticut, for example, it was Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy who introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-charter school education reform bill of any Democratic governor in the nation. The bill not only passed, but it passed with overwhelming support from both Democratic and Republican legislators.
But after two years, when teacher’s concerns were finally being heard and more and more parents were speaking up, legislative attention returned to this vital issue.
The Democratic leadership decided to hold a sham “informational session” made up of pro-Common Core advocates. In response, the Republicans, finally seeing the political advantage in speaking up, used a little utilized parliamentary procedure to force a traditional public hearing on some of their bills related to slowing down the implementation of the Common Core.
The Democrat’s farce hearing took place on Friday, February 28th.
The two most amazing developments were the lack of media coverage and the Malloy administration’s ability to keep their heads in the sand in the face of the disastrous impact of their policies.
For those who want to feel that emotion that allows one to laugh and cry at the same time you can watch the recording of the hearing by going to CT-N’s video on demand entitled, “Education Committee Informational Forum on Common Core State Standards.”
Warning: The level of misleading statements and lies is enough to cause dangerous increases in blood pressure.
But equally disturbing is that the sham hearing received such limited media coverage. In fact, most of Connecticut’s media outlets simply failed to cover it all together thereby leaving Connecticut citizens uniformed about the way in which the Malloy administration and the Democrats are trying to duck this important issue.
The best coverage of the hearing can be found in the Connecticut Post which wrote,
HARTFORD — Defenders of moving ahead with the Common Core learning standards spent four hours Friday explaining the controversial learning program and the test that goes with it before the Legislature’s Education Committee.
The invitation-only forum came after Republicans have forced public hearings on the matter. Those hearings have not yet to be scheduled.
Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, joined by Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped draft the standards, told the committee and a large audience that the road to fully implement Common Core in all classrooms may be a rocky one, but the state is headed in the right direction.
[Note: Pryor is a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers.]
The CT Post story includes Commissioner Pryor who said,
“Our youngsters are arriving at college unprepared for college. That is a problem,” he said. “We must aim for higher standards … Common Core goes about the teaching and learning process in the right way.”
[Note: Connecticut's schools are incredibly successful. As a result of poverty, language barriers and insufficient support for students who have special education needs, Connecticut has a significant achievement gap between suburban and urban schools that must be addressed, but to suggest that "our youngsters are arriving at college unprepared" is the statement of a liar or a fool.]
The CT Post highlighted the rhetoric coming from the Council of Chief State School Officers and other groups that are being paid to sell the Common Core and the Common Core testing adding,
Minnich, who has been traveling the country in defense of the standards — Thursday he was in Missouri — said none of the 45 states that have signed onto the standards were forced to do so, and 73 percent of teachers support a more challenging curriculum.
“It is surprising to me that it is controversial,” he said.
The new standards, adopted in Connecticut in 2010 and now being fully implemented across the state, teach reading and math in a deeper way and in a different order than in the past. Most districts in the state have agreed to try out the new test that goes along with the standards this spring instead of the traditional Connecticut Mastery Test.
Results of the new test won’t “count”; still many are fearful that students, teachers and schools have not had enough time and training in the new system and will be labeled as failures when students perform poorly on the test. They also said time was being wasted.
Pryor said the “test of the test” is required under federal law. He also argued that the standards are not a curriculum and do not dictate what needs to be taught in the classroom.
“But how flexible is Common Core if there is a test tied to it?” state Rep. Noreen Kokoruda, R-Madison, asked.
Minnich said the standards merely say, for instance, that third-graders will learn about multiplication and division and gain an understanding of fractions. How that is taught is up to the teacher.
Minnich maintained states ARE not under pressure to adopt the standards.
States that didn’t adopt the standards could not win federal Race to the Top dollars, Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, pointed out.
Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, questioned the fairness of expecting students taught one way for so long to adjust in one year to a new set of standards.
Meanwhile, Rep. Gail Lavielle, also R-Wilton, wondered who decided the new standards are higher than what was already in place.
Minnich said national experts vetted the standards, and there are early indications in Kentucky and Tennessee, which have been using Common Core the longest, that student achievement is going in the right direction.
Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown, said it is not the new, higher standards that bother him, but the way they have been implemented. He characterized the rollout as “crummy.”
The state now has a new website, training efforts and a committee to work on ironing out the problems, Pryor said.
From start to finish the Malloy administration’s arrogant, top-down approach on education reform has been a disaster. Malloy has failed on many fronts, but Stefan Pryor and his side-kicks like Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowski and Morgan Barth are on track to ensure Malloy is unelectable.
One would think that after two years of being told about the damage they are doing they’d change course. But when it comes to issues like this, Malloy and his inner circle are tone deaf….or worse.
You can read the complete CT Post article at: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Common-Core-standards-defended-5277595.php
Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
Some public school superintendents and principals are using Commissioner Pryor’s instructions to mislead, lie and intimidate parents into thinking they can’t opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test.
Other public school superintendents and principals are sending letters telling parents what a great opportunity taking the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test will be because they will be helping develop a more effective Common Core test for future students.
And yet other public school superintendent are dealing with the issue in a professional, responsible and humanitarian way and allowing parents to opt out their children from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test March Madness. In some cases children will be allowed to go to the library or cafeteria. In other local schools, administrators are taking the rather strange step of telling the parents that their children must sit in the class or computer lab but can read a book while other students take the test. (Still haven’t figured out whether that is meant as a punishment to the students whose parents have opted them out or to the student’s whose parents didn’t step forward and opt their children out of this charade of a standardized test).
But after receiving dozens of letters from parents who have shared their school districts’ letters to parents, the winner for the most bizarre and inappropriate response to date comes from the Town of Bethel.
In a letter dated February 2014, school administrators sent out a letter that begins:
Dear Parent or Guardian:
Bethel High School is one of many in the country participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test this March. Students in Grade 11 will take the online assessment in mathematics and English language arts/literacy. The assessment is untimed, participation is confidential, and your child’s grades will not be affected.
By participating in the field test, your child will be influencing the development of future Smarter Balanced assessments used in our schools and throughout the nation. Students will be able to try out new, online testing software and innovative question types that will be very similar on future Smarter Balanced assessments. Unless we are able to field test students, we will not know what assessment items and performance tasks work well and what must be changed in the future development of the test. From these field test results, Smarter Balanced will set preliminary achievement standards, and those are important to all of us—students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Therefore, every child’s participation is critical.
And then comes the most incredible statement of all,
For actively participating in both portions of the field test (mathematics/English language arts), students will receive 10 hours of community service and they will be eligible for exemption from their final exam in English and/or Math if they receive a B average (83) or higher in that class during Semester Two.
So if parents allow their students to be guinea pigs for the Corporate Education Reform Industry they will be able to get out of some of their community service responsibilities and will exempt from having to take the tests that actually measure what they are supposed to be learning in English and Math. (except, of course, for those student who are struggling in which case they will still be forced to take the “real” tests in additional to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test of a Test).
The entire Common Core and Common Core Smarter Balanced Testing scheme has been sold as a vehicle to ensure public school students graduate college or workplace ready.
The message to Bethel’s students and parents is that if you agree to be a test subject for the Common Core test of a test, you can reduce your community service responsibilities and skip the tests colleges actually use to determine if you are college ready.
As we seem to be saying more and more here at Wait, What? You just can’t make this sh*t up.
Barth Keck, Common Core, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Barth Keck, Common Core, Corporate Education Reform Industry, Malloy, Smarter Balanced Assessment Test, Stefan Pryor
Earlier this week, Connecticut educator and CT Newsjunkie columnist Barth Keck published another important column about the problems associated with the Common Core and the utter failure in the way it is being implemented.
The Common Core fiasco was begun with President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” and continued under Barak Obama’s “Race to the Top.” It has consistently had strong bi-partisan support from the “incumbent party” of Democratic and Republican elected and appointed officials. The overall effort to create this monstrosity was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with hundreds of millions more coming from taxpayers via the federal and state governments.
In this week’s column, Barth Keck writes,
As we place more and more emphasis on computerized algorithms and Big Data to help us make Big Decisions, one question lingers: Where does common sense fit in?
The Hartford Courant’s Kathleen Megan recently reported that “new research shows that high school grades — not standardized tests — area much better predictor of college performance” for current high school juniors.
William C. Hiss, the principal investigator of the study, explains that good grades come from “long-term discipline, attention to detail, and doing your homework” — precisely the qualities needed for success in college.
As one of my colleagues quipped after reading Megan’s article, “I am completely surprised . . . said no teacher, ever.”
Put another way, isn’t this simply old-fashioned common sense?
Maybe so, but the current craving for more standardized testing in public education indicates a definitive lack of common sense.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 initiated this frenzy by requiring annual tests of all students in grades 3 through 8, and once in high school. Individual states were left to choose how to test their students.
By 2010, the future of standardized testing in schools became more complex through President Obama’s “Race to the Top” program in concert with the new Common Core State Standards.
“These new tests will be an absolute game-changer in public education,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the time. “They’ll be better, smarter assessments — the kind of tests our teachers want and our students need.”
Indeed, these “better, smarter assessments” are not your run-of-the-mill “bubble tests.” Instead, they are “adaptive tests” that automatically change as a test taker provides answers.
“Computer-adaptive assessments,” explains an Education Week article, “rely on complex algorithms to feed students questions targeted to their individual skill levels based on their prior responses. The more questions a student gets right, the harder the subsequent questions will be.”
Scheduled for official implementation by 2015, these adaptive tests sound much more individualized than the traditional standardized assessments. What could be so bad about that?
Ask the folks in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. Their initial foray last year into these new tests was hardly reassuring.
“Thousands of students experienced slow loading times of test questions, students were closed out of testing in mid-answer, and some were unable to log in to the tests,” according to another Education Week piece. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of tests may be invalidated.”
Moreover, one school official in Oklahoma termed the testing problems as “absolutely horrible, in terms of kids being anxious. It was heartbreaking to watch them. Some of them were almost in tears.”
Thankfully, states have another year to get the situation straightened out. In Connecticut, students this spring will be taking a field test — a “test of the test” — to help work out the kinks.
“The Field Test is a trial run of the assessment system that helps ensure the assessments are valid, reliable, and fair for all students,” according to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the organization behind Common Core-aligned tests in 22 states.
“It also gives teachers and schools a chance to gauge their readiness in advance of the first operational assessment in spring 2015. Students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 — along with a small sample of students in grades 9 and 10 — will participate in the Field Test.”
For my school, that means three weeks of testing this spring — one each for 9th, 10th, and 11th graders — the results of which will be shared with neither the students nor the school. This spring’s test, after all, is testing the test, not the students.
College-bound juniors, no doubt, are thankful that their scores will count when they take the SAT around the same time they serve as guinea pigs for SBAC. You remember the SAT? It’s that other standardized test which research shows is a poor indicator of college performance.
Perhaps by next year, the algorithmically-enriched SBAC test will tell us if kids are — as the Common Core people would say — “college- and career-ready.”
Makes perfect sense to me — just not common sense.
You can read this column and Barth Keck’s other pieces at CT Newsjunkie