Christina Kishimoto, Education Reform, Hartford, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Christina Kishimoto, Standardized Test Scores, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowksi
Some Hartford school officials have apparently joined the ranks of those who have engaged in cheating to make their students’ standardized test scores look better.
The Hartford Courant has the latest news in a story entitled “Investigators Confirm Test-Tampering At Hartford School.”
Major cheating scandals have already rocked Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
Hartford is just the latest in a series of school districts across the country where school administrators have doctored test results to make it appear that their students are doing better on standardized tests such as the Connecticut Mastery Test.
In Connecticut, former Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Steven Adamowski, introduced the “bonus for the improvement of standardized test results scheme” when he ran Hartford’s schools for five years.
As a result of Adamowski’s policies, many of which have been continued under present Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, school officials receive bonuses if they can show improvement in standardized test results.
Apparently, the scheme leads some school administrators to take matters into their own hands…literally.
According to the Hartford Courant story written by Kathy Megan and Vanessa De La Torre,
“An investigation has confirmed that dozens of Connecticut Mastery Tests taken earlier this year at Betances Early Reading Lab School in Hartford were tampered with by unknown individuals.
The investigation by the Hartford law firm of Siegel, O’Connor, O’Donnell & Beck concluded that “testing irregularities are present in the CMT reading content area test booklets, completed by third-grade students” at Betances.”
The Courant goes on to report, “’Changes were made to students’ 2013 CMT reading content area test booklets by an individual or individuals that were not the students,’ the investigators state in a report for the Department of Education dated Nov. 5.”
According to the investigation, a number of teachers identified potential problems with their student’s test scores.
The Courant explained that;
“The report contained many examples of teachers saying that students’ scores were much higher than could be reasonably expected, as well as statistics showing that the number of answers changed from wrong to right was well beyond what might be expected.
For instance, one teacher, describing ‘Student D,’ noted that the student had ‘an extremely hard time recognizing words and comprehending text.’ She expected the student to score poorly on the test.
When the teacher was advised that the student changed answers 26 times and that 25 of those times were from the wrong answer to the right answer, the report says, ‘she could not believe it. Based on her experience with Student D, she did not feel it was possible.’
The timing of this cheating scandal is particularly noteworthy because starting this year, as a direct result of Governor Malloy’s “education reform” law, there is a new state-mandate that schools, teachers and many school administrators be evaluated based, in part, on whether standardized test results improve.
In Hartford, Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto called the test tampering “really poor judgment that I want to really get to the bottom of.”
And not to be outdone, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, told the Courant that the state was discussing what steps to take with Hartford school leaders regarding the cheating scandal.
Considering Stefan Pryor’s record and overwhelming fondness for massive amounts of standardized testing, in what might have been misinterpreted as a joke, Commissioner Pryor’s PR operation released a statement to the media yesterday which read;
“Testing irregularities are rare in our state. In general, Connecticut teachers, administrators and students display great integrity around the administration of statewide assessments… However, when such instances of possible tampering do occur, we take the matter very seriously… Unfortunately, the investigators’ report concludes that tampering has occurred in this case. We are in communication with Hartford’s board and central office leadership regarding this matter.”
You can read the Courant article and get more of the ugly details at: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-betances-cheating-1107-20131106,0,5846511,full.story.
Alliance Districts, Malloy, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor Malloy, State Department of Education, Stefan Pryor
In a piece entitled, “Stefan Pryor expands his team of charter school advocates,” Wait, What explored the latest move by Stefan Pryor to bring in more inexperienced, out-of-state, education reform advocates to tell Connecticut’s Alliance Districts what to do.
The latest addition to Pryor’s inner-circle is Nasir Qadree, who is an Education Pioneer Fellow (Class of 2013). According to the State of Connecticut’s payroll system, Nasir Qadree was hired on Oct. 28 at an annual rate of $59,261 plus benefits.
Pryor gave him the title of “Education Staff Assistant,” which is new term that Pryor has been using to hire members of his core team. Previously, Pryor hired his friend, Adam Goldfarb, using that title at $75,000 a year and then almost immediately promoted him to Chief of Staff with a salary closer to $100,000.
Like Pryor’s other key advisors, Nasir Qadree has no education degree, no substantive direct teaching experience and has never been certified to teach in any setting. Although it is important to note that a friend of his did post to Wait, What? that Qadree has done a lot of tutoring.
However, it is par for the course that Pryor put Qadree into the State Department of Education’s “Turnaround Office” where, along with Turnaround Director, Morgan Barth, inexperienced education reform advocates will be controlling the purse strings for Connecticut’s 30 poorest school districts.
Readers will recall that as of last week, despite being 120 days into the school year, Pryor’s turnaround office has STILL NOT PROCESSED the Year 2 education grants for at least 8 of Connecticut’s Alliance Districts.
According to Nasir Qadree’s biography, the $60,000 salary is getting the state an employee whose previous experience was working in the “Investment Manager Services sleeve” of State Street Corporation where he was “responsible for covering North American Business Development and Sales.” Nasir worked with prospective clients to “review and align their current operations with State Street’s servicing model.”
Before that, “Nasir worked in the Institutional Equity Sales Research group of State Street Global Markets (SSGM). In this role, he introduced portfolio managers, analysts, and traders to SSGM’s proprietary macro and quantitative research.”
And “Prior to joining State Street, Nasir worked at Goldman Sachs in New York where he worked as an operations analyst on the Fixed Income Sales desk. At Goldman Sachs, he supported municipal bond and money market sales traders.”
The state has not turned over the paperwork related to Nasir Qadree’s position, but according to SDE insiders, professional staff was also included on search teams —- until Pryor arrived and now hiring is done behind closed doors with little to no involvement by the staff that actually has the responsibility to carry out state policy.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Hartford, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Christina Kishimoto, Clark School, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
The battle to fight off the “Hostile Take-Over” of Hartford’s Clark School is growing.
Last week Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, announced plans that she wants to close Hartford’s Clark School and hand the building over to Achievement First, Inc., the larger charter school management company that already has one school in Hartford but was promised another by Mayor Pedro Segarra and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education.
This week, a Hartford Board of Education sub-committee heard from Superintendent Kishimoto, Achievement First, Inc. and the Clark School’s parents and students.
Despite growing opposition to the plan, Kishimoto is pushing the Hartford Board of Education to vote on her Clark School Closure proposal at its November meeting.
Meanwhile, despite the mounting evidence that Steve Perry’s claims of success at Capital Preparatory Magnet School are fraudulent, Perry and Kishimoto are still moving forward on plans to close another Hartford school and hand it over to Perry. To date, Perry and Kishimoto have failed to identify what Hartford school they intend to take-over.
Back at John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary and Middle School, Hartford Public School teachers, para-educators, and classroom instruction support staff are joining parents in the fight to stop Kishimoto’s plan to destroy their neighborhood school.
A primary complaint about Kishimoto’s plan is that that not only has the Clark School been making progress in improving its academic performance, but the Superintendent’s actions violate Connecticut’s school governance council law.
Connecticut’s school governance law requires that local School Governance Councils (SGCs) be included in major policy decisions about the school.
But Hartford’s Superintendent completely failed to properly include Clark’s School Governance Council in this “bait and switch” maneuver.
Failure to properly include school governance councils was one of the items that got Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s faux Superintendent of Schools, sued earlier this year.
According to a recent American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter press release, Gloribee Gonzalez, a Clark School Governance Council (SGC) and Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) member explained that “It’s an insult to call our community school ‘failing’…Throwing the word around to justify a hostile take-over is not acceptable. And it dismisses all that we’ve accomplished by working together as a community.”
The press release reports that “Gonzalez’ comments refer to claims by district Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto that Clark was selected for “redesign” as a privately-operated charter due to prolonged failure to make necessary improvements. However, its students are performing above the minimum proficiency threshold permitted to allow targeting a school for “turn-around” under Hartford Board of Education policy. Additionally, Clark has been part of the city’s nationally-recognized Community Schools Initiative since 2011, enabling students and their families to receive “wrap-around services” from neighborhood non-profits.”
In an open letter to Hartford Board of Education members, Clark School Governance Parent Chair Millie Soto added that “We are frustrated and hurt by the disrespectful method and tone in which this ‘plan’ was presented.”
And according to the AFT-CT press release, Kimberly Daly, a Clark School teacher said that, “It feels like someone is trying to stick our community with a ‘scarlet letter…Calling us a ‘failing school’ to allow outsiders to take-over is no way to treat the community we serve. The students and their parents deserve better than that.” Daly is a member of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1018, and the union’s representative at Clark School.
The trauma now facing the students, parents and teachers at Clark School is reflective of a much bigger strategy on the part of the corporate education reform industry to close public schools and hand them over to private entities.
Massive school closure operations are underway in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, approximately 40 percent of all public school students are now being diverted into charter schools.
Here in Connecticut Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor have been using a variety of techniques to expand the reach of corporate charter schools.
In Hartford, the Jumoke Academy charter school was given control of the Milner School while in Bridgeport the Jumoke Academy was given control of the Dunbar School.
In both cases the charter school management company with no experience working with non-English speaking children was given schools with significant numbers of non-English speaking students.
Although charter school companies like Jumoke Academy and Achievement First, Inc. have been unwilling to take their fair share of students who face language barriers and children who have special education needs, Malloy and Pryor have been diverting millions of dollars away from public schools to finance charter school operations.
As the following two tables indicate, the Clark School situation would be one of the most egregious examples of this practice to date. In fact, to even suggest that Achievement First, Inc. should take the place of the Clark School is an incredible insult, especially to the Latino community and to parents whose children need additional special education services.
The number of students coming from households where English is not the primary language.
The percentage of students requiring special education services.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Mass Insight company, Stefan Pryor Achievement First, Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
As if Connecticut’s Alliance School Districts (the 30 poorest school districts in the state) weren’t having enough problems, Stefan Pryor has managed to pour even more salt into the wounds that are dragging down public education in Connecticut.
Over at the State Department of Education, Stefan Pryor got rid of Connecticut’s experienced Leaders in Residence and the team of experts who were dedicated to helping Connecticut’s Priority School Districts improve educational opportunities in the state’s poorest districts.
In addition to dumping the four Leaders in Residence, Pryor got rid of the three retired superintendents, all of whom had extraordinary, real world experience in Connecticut’s communities.
Malloy’s Commissioner of Education even transferred out the expert in English Language Learning and bilingual programs, the expert in helping schools create successful multi-cultural environments and the expert on reducing school bullying, making schools safer and improving school climates.
He replaced all of this expertise with a $1 million contract with an out-of-state corporate education reform company that sent in five inexperienced consultants to tell Connecticut’s education leaders what to do.
The result has been chaos with many Alliance Districts unable to get the money and help that Malloy and the Connecticut Legislature promised them.
To make matters worse, a majority of the MassInsight company consultants have left and been replaced by even less experienced individuals.
With Alliance Districts twisting in the wind, Stefan Pryor brought in a new Director for his “Turnaround Office,” a principal from one of Pryor’s Achievement First, Inc. charter schools.
Morgan Barth is noteworthy in his own right. He says he worked as an Achievement First, Inc. teacher in Connecticut for six years. However, it appears that he was in those classrooms illegally because despite a state law mandating that all teachers be certified by the State Department of Education, Barth never bothered to become a Connecticut certified teacher.
Ironic that Morgan Barth, who refused to follow the laws of the State Department of Education, is now a senior manager at that very state agency.
But if it wasn’t already clear enough, Stefan Pryor has now proven that he is completely and utterly tone-deaf to the anger and frustration that is building up around the Malloy administration’s handling of public education policy in the state.
This week Morgan Barth proudly pronounced that Nasir Qadree, an Education Pioneer Fellow, Class of 2013, has joined Pryor’s “Turnaround Office.”
Nasir Qadree is new to the education management industry.
According to his bio, Qadree has been working in the “Investment Manager Services sleeve” of State Street Corporation where he was “responsible for covering North American Business Development and Sales.” Nasir worked with prospective clients to “review and align their current operations with State Street’s servicing model.”
Before that, “Nasir worked in the Institutional Equity Sales Research group of State Street Global Markets (SSGM). In this role, he introduced portfolio managers, analysts, and traders to SSGM’s proprietary macro and quantitative research.”
And “Prior to joining State Street, Nasir worked at Goldman Sachs in New York where he worked as an operations analyst on the Fixed Income Sales desk. At Goldman Sachs, he supported municipal bond and money market sales traders.”
Nasir Qadree received a B.S. from Hampton University in Marketing and reports that he did some tutoring in New York City.
It is unclear who is paying Nasir Qadree’s salary. He doesn’t show up (yet) on the state’s payroll but State Department of Education hasn’t gone through the necessary steps to take him on as a non-paid employee.
According to Morgan Barth though he is a “New Team Member,” with Barth writing, “Please join me in welcoming Nasir Qadree to the turnaround team. Nasir joins the SDE as an Education Pioneer Fellow…Nasir will initially support several projects pertaining to the Commissioner’s Network and charter schools.”
And rest assured that Nasir Qadree likes charter schools and charter school advocates;
Among his recent social media texts and posts were the following;
“I love this. Tireless KIPP teachers showing how much they care for the future of their KIPPsters (students), all through Hip-Hop.” (KIPP being one of the biggest charter school chains in the country).
“@CoryBooker excited to be begin working for your former colleague Stefan Pryor in CT, focusing tirelessly on #schoolturnaround.” To which Cory Booker responded, “He is a great man.”
Last week Qadree also tweeted, “Excited to participate in the Northeast Charter School Conference. #StudentsFirst.”
In conclusion, it is certainly clear that Governor Malloy reiterates his commitment to undermining Connecticut’s teachers, schools and our state’s system of public education.
Andrew McDonald, Connecticut State Government, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, Republicans, State Legislature, Stefan Pryor Democrats, Malloy, Republicans, State Legislature, Stefan Pryor
You certainly can’t say that Governor Malloy is preoccupied with the minutia of running the state of Connecticut.
In fact, it is probably more accurate to say that it appears that he finds the day-to-day administrative duties of serving as Connecticut’s Chief Executive Officer boring, annoying or, at the very least, a waste of his time.
Many observers and commentators have already noted that Malloy has spent more time out-of-state than any other governor in recent history. His recent “West Coast” fundraising trip, the one that he won’t discuss, is just one more example.
It certainly seems accurate to say, except in the face of an immediate natural disaster or crisis when the television cameras are running, Governor Malloy is pretty disinterested in rolling up his sleeves and attending to the actual administrative duties of managing a $20 billion dollar enterprise.
That said, when it comes to attending ground breakings or handing out taxpayer funds he is a master.
One of the most serious examples of this “hands-off” approach can be seen at the State Department of Education where Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, has been allowed to systematically dismantle the professional capabilities of the agency.
While jobs go unfilled, key administrative functions go uncompleted.
And it when tasks must actually be performed, it seems the Malloy administration is more it is comfortable with out-sourcing the work to expensive, out-of-state consultants.
The impact of this approach can be easily seen with the State Department of Education’s Alliance District Program where at least eight communities ARE STILL WAITING for approval of their Year 2 Funding plans despite the fact that the fiscal year started 120 days ago and the school years is more than two months old.
The Malloy administration is quick to wrap itself in corporate education reform rhetoric but can’t seem to even review and approve the grants needed to implement its own corporate education reform program. (Although it should be noted that checks are flowing for MassInsight, the out-of-state education reform consultants who were brought in to run the failing program).
Today we now hear about yet another example of the downside of having an Administration that is either unwilling or unable to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of running a complex organization like the government of the State of Connecticut.
A recent state audit provided a devastating assessment of the failures at the State Department of Public Health.
The situation is summarized in a press release that was sent out by the House Republicans entitled, “House Leader Cafero Blasts Health Department Over Audit Faulty Background Checks on Day Care Personnel, Missing Drugs, No Oversight.”
I use the House Republican’s verbiage, word for word, because it should send a shockwave through the entire Democratic Party and especially the Democrats who make up the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives.
A consistent refrain here at Wait, What? has been to raise the question, what would “we Democrats” be saying if the table were turned and it was a Republican governor doing the things that Malloy has been doing.
“We Democrats” would be calling that Governor out on those issues and demanding immediate action.
It may be painful for Democrats to hear, but Connecticut Democrats should paying far closer attention to press releases like this one.
The Connecticut House Republicans write:
“HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Larry Cafero today criticized the state Department of Health over an audit that shows holes in background check for daycare providers, missing drugs, lack of staff oversight and numerous other findings that raise questions over agency management.
“These troubling findings by the auditors raise serious questions about how this department is being run and whether it takes seriously its core mission to function as the State of Connecticut’s premier health agency,’’ Cafero said. “These violations need to be addressed immediately.’’
One of the most troublesome cites concerned faults in background checks for child care facilities. The auditors called into question whether the department’s procedures may not turn up people not suited to working in the child care facilities due to lack of monitoring and follow-through in checking records.
“Child care providers and their employees may be operating without the required completed background checks. As a result, children in licensed child care facilities are at an increased risk of coming into contact with unsuitable individuals,’’ the report released today states.
The department agreed with the finding. The auditors came up with 17 recommendations that need to be addressed including:
- DPH has not established a process to properly track prescription drug distribution and drugs, including those used to treat pain, have gone unaccounted for;
- EMS providers have failed to submit required tracking and activity reports;
- DPH should overhaul its contractor oversight procedures to ensure that the work is being performed and invoices are processed correctly;
- Travel vouchers for employees have not been authenticated;
- Compensation time for employees lacks oversight and questions arose over allowing employees to return to work following lengthy sick leaves.
Cafero said nine of the 17 citations are repeats of a previous audit and questioned why they had not been corrected.
“Some of these findings appear relatively benign but overall the picture being painted is a general lack of oversight on the part of management that needs to be fixed,’’ he said.”
In truth, the failure of leadership at the State Department of Education and the State Department of Health are the most visible parts of a much bigger iceberg.
Democrats need to take heed before it is too late to get the captain on to the bridge.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Matt Poland, Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor
In true corporate education reformer fashion, Hartford’s out-going superintendent of schools is announcing that she will attempt to rush through a proposal to close the John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary & Middle School and hand the facility over to Achievement First, Inc. to run.
Clark School administrators and the Clark School Governance Council were only told of the proposal yesterday, October 24, 2013.
Hartford Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto will be meeting with parents this coming Monday, will explain her proposal to a Hartford Board of Education sub-committee on Tuesday and has announced that she expects the full Board of Education to approve the demise of Clark Elementary and Middle School at its November meeting.
The Clark School’s Panther Paws Pledge is, “I pledge today to do my best. In my life, I will invest. I promise to perform four deeds: Be respectful, be responsible, be caring, and be safe.”
Clearly Superintendent Kishimoto doesn’t subscribe to the same four “deeds” considering closing Clark and handing it over to Achievement First, Inc. is neither respectful nor responsible nor caring nor the right or safe thing to do for Hartford’s public school children
Presently the Clark School has special programming in conjunction The Village For Children and Families, UCONN’s Husky Sports Mentor Program and UCONN’s Read & Raise Program.
Clark was also the recipient of the “Ray of Hope” award for its state-of-the-art computer lab.
However, Hartford Superintendent of Schools Kishimoto, along with a majority on the Hartford Board of Education including Board Chairman Matt Poland and Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra have promised Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company another school in Hartford.
Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor. Achievement First is widely recognized for its failure to take its fair share of Latino students, its fair share of students who face language barriers and its fair share of students who need special education services.
Earlier this year, Poland, Segarra and the majority of the Hartford Board voted to give Achievement First, Inc. another Hartford school but ducked identifying which school it would be.
Now Kishimoto is announcing that the targeted school will be the Clark school and a rush vote will be taken in just a couple of weeks.
Kishimoto’s plan is to end Clark by phasing out its program and ramping up Achievement First, Inc. #2 to take its place.
Ordering the “Death Penalty” for Clark School will have a devastating impact on the community that utilizes this neighborhood school.
According to records filed with the State Department of Education;
- More than 95 percent of Clark’s students come from households that are so poor that children qualify for free and reduced lunches.
- More than 46 percent of Clark’s students are Hispanic, more than one in four come from households where English is not the primary language and at least 15 percent of Clark’s students are not proficient in English.
- In addition, nearly one in five students at Clark receive special education services
By targeting Clark Elementary and Middle School, Kishimoto, Hartford’s Mayor and the Board of Education are displacing the very type of students that Achievement First, Inc. has been unable or willing to serve.
Check back for additional details as they become available.
Bridgeport, Carmen Lopez, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Carmen Lopez, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Stefan Pryor
As Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch undoubtedly likes to remind Governor Malloy, without Bridgeport, Malloy would have lost the 2010 gubernatorial election.
Since then, Finch and Malloy have taken a beating in Bridgeport.
- Malloy and Finch conspired to have the state of Connecticut take over the Bridgeport schools. The move was deemed illegal by the Connecticut Supreme Court and the Malloy administration was forced to return the Bridgeport School system to local control.
- Mayor Finch’s attempt to pass a change to Bridgeport’s Charter to eliminate a democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by him was soundly defeated.
- Malloy, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and Mayor Finch brought in Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools but their attempt to keep him in the post was deemed illegal and a Connecticut Superior Court judge ruled that Vallas doesn’t have the qualifications or credential necessary to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut. Vallas is only holding on to the job due to the fact that Finch, Malloy and Pryor (using Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayer funds) are keeping Vallas in Bridgeport hoping that the Connecticut Supreme Court will overrule the Connecticut Superior Court judge’s ruling.
- And in September, a slate of Democratic challenges opposed to the Malloy, Pryor and Finch education reforms crushed the slate endorsed by Finch and funded by the Bridgeport and Connecticut Democratic Committees.
So with Election Day coming up, Carmen Lopez, the former superior court judge who helped to orchestrate the successful law suit on the control of Bridgeport’s schools and brought the law suit the led to the ruling that Vallas doesn’t have the credentials to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent asks, recently wrote a commentary piece asking, “What will the Election Day ballot of Mayor Bill Finch look like?”
And then Carmen Lopez goes on to lay out the following:
Along with many others, I have been pondering that question ever since the Sept. 10, 2013, Democratic primary, when the Democrats of Bridgeport, emphatically and unmistakably, repudiated the Finch machine and what it has come to represent.
Challengers, including three candidates for the Bridgeport Board of Education, were victorious across the board. As a result, some have begun to celebrate. While I, too, rejoiced in the victory of the Board of Education challengers, I feel compelled to sound a note of caution. To those who would celebrate before the votes are counted on Nov. 5, I would advise “not so fast!”
The first act of the newly elected BOE will be to elect the chair. Assuming that the three endorsed Democrats are successful, they will join John Bagley, who was elected in the 2012 special election on the Working Families Party line, and three hold-over Finch loyalists, on the new BOE. One additional vote will be needed in order to ensure a BOE chair who will ask questions, demand answers and will not rubber-stamp everything Finch, Superintendent Paul Vallas and City Attorney Mark Anastasi put in front of it.
Finch, Chief of Staff Adam Wood, City Bond Counsel John Stafstrom and BOE Chairman Kenneth Moales will do everything in their power to make sure that this does not happen.
After all, they all have a lot to lose.
Don’t think for a moment that the Finch machine has despaired. Rest assured that Finch, Wood, Stafstrom, Moales and their machine loyalists still have a card to play — an ace up their collective sleeves, in the form of their wholly owned and predictably compliant Republican subsidiary.
They will all, quietly of course, mark their Election Day ballots for the Republican candidates for the Board of Education. Republican success represents the Finch machine’s only chance to salvage control of the Bridgeport BOE. Without Republican help, they will be unable to retain Finch’s hand-picked chairman, the walking conflict of interest Kenneth Moales.
For those of you who question this analysis, and are scratching your heads, I will review some recent Bridgeport political history. As George Santayana famously said, “Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
If you think my prediction is too Machiavellian, I would ask you to objectively examine the most recent history of the Republican Party here in Bridgeport. That examination reveals that Republicans holding public office have been reliable, loyal and dependable allies of the Finch machine.
In July 2011, the only Republican member of the Bridgeport Board of Education voted in favor of the illegal takeover, a takeover conspired by Finch, the governor’s office and wealthy down-county hedge-fund moguls. Although a party in the litigation that went to the Supreme Court, the local Republican Party never filed any papers in support of the challenge mounted to the illegal takeover.
After the court decision, when Finch and his attorney were attempting to delay the return of the lawfully elected board, their star witness in court was the Republican registrar of voters. The same GOP board member who voted in favor of the BOE takeover helped recruit Thomas Mulligan to fill a vacancy on the Board of Education, thus guaranteeing a reliable machine vote.
On the Civil Service Commission and Bridgeport’s land-use bodies, when the machine needs a key vote, the Republicans are always there to deliver.
Every Republican member of the Bridgeport Charter Revision Commission voted to disenfranchise Bridgeport voters, and marched in lock-step with Finch’s directive.
The Bridgeport Republicans may claim to be different at election time, but a look at their performance in office reveals total loyalty to Finch and his machine, and belies any claim of independence. Let’s not forget that in 2009, this Republican Party nominated Nate Snow for the Board of Education, the same Nate Snow who was a key conspirator in the illegal takeover attempt.
The truth is that unless the two candidates who appear only on the Working Families line, Sauda Baraka and Eric Stewart-Alicea are elected to the school board, history will repeat itself.
A reading of the tea leaves, informed by a reading of recent history, convinces me that the first vote cast by newly elected Republican members of the Board of Education will be to re-elect Moales, Finch’s campaign treasurer as the board chair. This will happen courtesy of the Bridgeport Republican Party, and will no doubt be justified as an exercise in civility and bipartisanship.
The chairmanship is key. The chair sets the agenda and runs the meetings. Finch knows that if you can control the chair, you can control the board.
The slogan for this ongoing whisper campaign might well be “Save Finch, Save Moales, Vote Republican for Board of Education.”
If this underground effort succeeds, then history in this one-party city will continue to repeat itself.
You can find Judge Carmen Lopez’s commentary piece letter to the editor at: http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Predicting-the-mayor-s-Election-Day-ballot-4920372.php
Adam Goldfarb, Alan Taylor, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor Allan Taylor, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor
Two key questions about Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan Advisory Committee
Jonathan Pelto and Wendy Lecker
Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan Advisory Committee is one of the most important citizen advisory groups in the state.
Connecticut State Statue 10-4 (C) states that the Connecticut State Board of Education “shall prepare every five years a five-year comprehensive plan for elementary, secondary, vocational, career and adult education. Said comprehensive plan shall include, but not be limited to, a policy statement of the State Board of Education’s long-term goals and short-term objectives, an analysis of cost implications and measurement criteria and how said board’s programs and operations relate to such goals and objectives and specific action plans, target dates and strategies and methods of implementation for achieving such goals and objectives. The State Board of Education shall establish every five years an advisory committee to assist the board in the preparation of the comprehensive plan. Members of the advisory committee shall be appointed by the State Board of Education with representation on the committee to include, but not be limited to, representatives of the Connecticut Advisory Council on Vocational and Career Education, education organizations, parent organizations, student organizations, business and industry, organized labor and appropriate state agencies.”
Two questions stand out.
When did the State Board of Education vote, as required by the law, to establish Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan Advisory Committee? (SBE voted to set up its own Ad Hoc Comprehensive Plan Committee at its October 2, 2013 meeting)
Second, aside from a mention in a PowerPoint Presentation that Commissioner Pryor’s Chief of Staff, Adam Goldfarb, made at the State Board of Education’s August retreat, what steps did the Commissioner or the Board of Education take to solicit suggestions about who should serve on Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan Advisory Committee?
Achieve Hartford, Achievement First/ConnCAN, Alan Taylor, Charter Schools, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Stefan Pryor Allan Taylor, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor
Pryor packs Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan Advisory Committee with charter school and corporate reform advocates.
As mandated by Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-4(c), every five years the Connecticut State Board of Education must develop a new five-year Comprehensive Plan for Elementary, Secondary, Vocational, Career and Adult Education in Connecticut. Upon adoption by the State Board of Education, the plan is submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly’s Education Committee.
In the past, this process has been developed with the broad-based consensus of public educators from throughout Connecticut.
In December 2005, the State Board of Education appointed an advisory committee that included a broad array of organizations and individuals engaged in promoting public education in the state. Narrowly focused special interest lobbying groups such as the Connecticut Charter Schools Network (CCSN) were allowed to present testimony but were not put on the Advisory Committee.
The 2005 committee represented the wide spectrum of Connecticut’s public education community: teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, public school students, Connecticut’s technical schools and institutions of higher education made up the core of the committee along with some representatives of Connecticut’s business community.
Advisory committee members had a long track-record of expertise in Connecticut public schools working with a diverse population of Connecticut students. This is just the type of group we would want to determine the long-term vision for our school districts.
A comprehensive plan requires a broad thinking group that looks out for the interests of all our children.
But now that Governor Dannel Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor have taken the helm, those days are gone. Instead of appointing members dedicated to the long-term development of quality public education in Connecticut, they have poisoned the Advisory Committee and the process for developing the new five-year comprehensive plan by packing it with corporate education reform groups that have consistently revealed their narrow political agendas.
Public education has been a primary target of America’s growing corporate education reform industry. Over the past three years, these so-called reformers have spent a record breaking $6 million plus lobbying on behalf of Governor Malloy’s education reform initiatives, many of which have been aimed at promoting the privatization of public education in the state.
The corporate reformers also dumped record amounts into elections in Bridgeport, first in a failed effort to change the City’s charter to do away with a democratically-elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the mayor and then in a failed effort to elect members of the board of education who support Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas.
Now it has become painfully clear that all that money has paid off, at least when it comes to trying to control the discussion around Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan for 2013-2018.
The new Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee has been packed with pro-corporate reform organizations.
When the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee meets for the first time tomorrow from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Legislative Office Building many of the seats will be filled with corporate education reform industry representatives.
New members of the State Board of Education’s Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee include representatives from:
- Achieve Hartford!
- Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN)
- Connecticut Council on Education Reform
- Excel Bridgeport
- Northeast Charter Schools Network
- Students for Education Reform – Connecticut
- Teach for America – Connecticut
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), the charter school lobby group formed by the board members of Achievement First, Inc. has spent more than any other organization lobbying for Malloy’s Education Reform bills. Of course, ConnCAN’s relationship with Achievement First, Inc. is especially noteworthy since Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management company was co-founded by Stefan Pryor.
Connecticut Council on Education Reform is the New Haven-based, corporate-funded education reform organization that joined ConnCAN and Michelle Rhee’s Students First/GNEPSA in running television ads supporting Malloy’s reforms.
The Northeast Charter School Network is the New York based charter school advocacy group that recently merged with the Connecticut Charter School Network.
Students for Education Reform – is the quintessential corporate “astro turf” lobbying organization bankrolled by a variety of education reform groups. Recall that in 2012, Students for Education Reform organized a “ student demonstration” in favor of Malloy’s reforms on the Capitol steps but when students at the demonstration were questioned about why they were there, they had no idea what they were demonstrating about.
Students for Education Reform’s Board of Directors includes Jonathan Sackler who is also on the Boards of Achievement First, Inc. and ConnCAN. Another one of Students for Education Reform Directors is Justin Cohen. Cohen is the President of MassInsight, the out-of-state consulting company that recently received a $1 million contract from Pryor. Cohen also served as a moderator for Malloy’s education reform conference before Governor Malloy introduced his reform bill and Cohen traveled to Connecticut to submit testimony in support of Governor Malloy’s education reform bill when it was first introduced.
Prior to becoming President of Mass Insight Education’s School Turnaround Group, Justin Cohen was the Director of the Office of Portfolio Management and senior advisor to Chancellor Michelle Rhee at the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).
Excel Bridgeport and Achieve Hartford! are two corporate affiliated organizations that have worked toward expanding charter schools.
And Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter is the vendor that is making millions of dollars thanks to contracts in Bridgeport, Hartford, New London, New Haven, Windham and elsewhere to place minimally trained recent college graduates to fill jobs that should be held by certified Connecticut school teachers who have graduated from Connecticut’s college and universities. It should be noted that the Chairman of Excel Bridgeport’s Board of Directors is none other than the Executive Director of Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter.
Perhaps even more disturbing, Teach for America, along with ConnCAN, Excel’s leadership and State Board of Education President Allan Taylor, were the behind-the-scenes architects of the secret and illegal 2011 state takeover of Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education
Many of these groups, like Teach for America and the charter lobbies, have been singularly focused on using public funds to expand their businesses in Connecticut.
Charter schools serve 1% of Connecticut’s students. Yet they have been given SEVEN seats on the new Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee
Although some of these corporate education reform organizations have been plaguing our state for several years, others have absolutely no history in Connecticut.
All of these groups are primarily funded by national networks. Why should these narrow groups, dedicated to serving outside interests, be determining the future of Connecticut’s public education system?
Why should groups standing to gain contracts with the State Department of Education even be allowed to serve on this committee?
When it comes to pushing their pro corporate education reform industry agenda, there has been no doubt where Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor stand, but this latest move to ensure their agenda becomes part of Connecticut’s five year comprehensive education plan is perhaps their most offensive move yet.
Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Kenneth Moales Jr., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
At some point yesterday, following the publication of a Wait, What? blog post on the topic, the Connecticut State Police caught up with Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. long enough to serve him with an outstanding arrest warrant.
The warrant for Moales’ arrest had been issued on September 11, 2013 but had gone un-served for more than two months.
The arrest warrant was related to Moales’ failure to appear in court following a February 2013 motor vehicle stop in which he was charged with speeding and driving an unregistered vehicle.
As previously reported here at Wait, What?, Moales’ church owns a Cadillac Escalade and at least two Mercedes. It was not clear whether the unregistered car Moales was driving was one of those owned by his church.
When Moales failed to show up for court date or dates, an arrest warrant was issued.
Kenneth Moales Jr. serves as Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer, Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education (for a few more months) and is an outspoken ally for Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and their effort to promote charter schools and the corporate education reform industry in Connecticut.
Kenneth Moales Jr. is also known as the biggest supporter of faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas.
But as reported yesterday, the fancy suits, the swagger and the bullying didn’t stop the legal system from proceeding this time, albeit it proceeded rather slowly.
The Connecticut Post picked up the arrest warrant story yesterday writing, “ Between fighting the foreclosure of his luxurious cathedral, chairing the city’s contentious Board of Education and overseeing the mayor’s campaign finances, Kenneth Moales Jr. became a scofflaw.
According to state records that surfaced Monday, the East End pastor and close ally of Mayor Bill Finch did not show up in court to address a pair of State Police tickets for speeding over 70 mph in an unregistered vehicle in Norwalk in February.”
According to the Connecticut Post, “Moales’ phone was not accepting messages Monday, and he could not be reached at his offices at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, nor around the block at his Central Avenue home… His wife, Ena, said she was unaware of the warrant but would pass along reporters’ messages to Moales.”
The Connecticut post story also highlighted some of Kenneth Moales’ other troubles explaining, “As reported this summer, court documents revealed the church was operating without a certificate of occupancy and owed mortgage payments totaling $7.3 million to lender Foundation Capitol Resources.
Liens against the church and a number of its properties in the East End total nearly $1 million more, including $225,000 owed to the failed The Community’s Bank, shuttered in September by federal authorities.”
You can read yesterday’s Connecticut Post story here: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Warrant-brings-more-controversy-to-Moales-4914909.php
Addition details about Moales’ arrest and his legal troubles will be posted as they become available.