Today’s “MUST READ” Columns on the Malloy/Pryor Charter School scandals

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Another Week, Another Scandal (By Sarah Darer Littman)

Another week, and another education scandal here in the Nutmeg State. The FBI served subpoenas on charter school operator FUSE last Friday morning, and shortly after their visit Hartford Courant reporters found the receptionist shredding documents. “Asked what was being shredded, she said the documents were associated with the state-subsidized Jumoke charter schools.” Obstruction of justice, anyone?

Meanwhile, after the notoriously opaque state Department of Education declined to issue reporters a copy of their own FBI-issued subpoena, the Courant received this statement Monday from Department of Education spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly: “We have been assured that the department is not a subject of this investigation.” Okay then. That’s clear.

Yet by Tuesday, it was another story. Apparently, the subpoena seeks, among other things, “All emails of Commissioner Stefan Pryor” since January 2012.

Read the complete piece at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_another_week_another_scandal/

 

A charlatan in charge of children (By Wendy Lecker)

It is becoming painfully clear that in Connecticut, the refrain that education reform is “all about the children,” is a sad joke. To Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and his allies, children are merely collateral damage.

Recently, there was the scandal involving Hartford’s Milner school, in which the children were used as pawns in a scheme to expand the charter empire of now-disgraced Jumoke/FUSE CEO Michael Sharpe. Pryor never bothered to discover that Sharpe is a former felon and falsified his academic credentials. Instead, while Milner was floundering under Sharpe, Pryor, a longtime Sharpe supporter, handed him two additional schools. The fate of public school children was clearly the last thing on Pryor’s mind. Currently, the FBI is investigating Pryor’s, Sharpe’s and Jumoke/FUSE’s connections.

And now — New London. In 2012, Pryor decided to take over New London’s school district. His pretext was that the school board was dysfunctional and “rife with personal agendas.” Pryor never provided any causal relationship between the board’s behavior and student performance.

On the contrary, Pryor acknowledged that “many of the problems of New London and the New London School District are the direct result of economic decline and poverty.”

Instead of providing New London with adequate resources, the Malloy administration, through Pryor, appointed Steven Adamowski as New London’s powerful special master.

Adamowski was simultaneously the special master of another impoverished district, Windham. Adamowski’s reign in Windham was characterized by pushing unproven reforms while gutting services that actually helped children. He cut funding for Windham’s successful pre-K program and reduced the capacity of Windham’s bilingual program-even though over a quarter of the students are English Language Learners. He pushed the use of Teach for America, replacing experienced local teachers with temporary recent college graduates; and promoted “choice” for a select number of parents who could afford transportation to an out-of-district school.

 Read the full article at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-A-charlatan-in-charge-of-children-5647661.php

 

Search Firm Faulted For Overlooking ‘Ph.D.’ Claims In Carter’s Past; Says It Will Make Good (By Jon Lender)

You’re in front of a Google search screen. You type in “Terrence Carter” — in quotation marks — and then add Chicago, his hometown. Hit “Enter.”

On the first page of results there’s a link for some speakers’ biographies for a 2011 education conference. One of the “Presenter Biographies” is about “Terrence Carter, Ph.D.” and it says he holds doctorate from Stanford University — which he doesn’t.

That’s the process that The Courant went through two weeks ago, finding a public document listing Carter as the holder of a doctorate — several years before his scheduled receipt next month of a Ph.D. from an accredited institute, Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.

Expanding the search terms slightly — to combinations such as “Terrence Carter, Ph.D.” and Dr. Terrence P. Carter” — yielded a dozen such references.

A member of the search team Nebraska-based McPherson & Jacobson — a Nebraska-based human resources consultant — said she didn’t come up with any Ph.D. or Dr. listing. Carter was never asked about those references during the application process that led to his selection last month by New London’s Board of Education for the job of school superintendent effective Aug. 1.

As a result, the questions that could have been asked in the relatively relaxed setting of a job interview now will be asked in an overheated pressure-cooker situation. The school board Thursday night postponed a vote to approve a contract with the superintendent’s job and ordered its law firm to investigate Carter’s background. The probe is expected to take a month.

The action came after a series of Courant stories starting July 18 raised questions about Carter’s use of the titles Ph.D. and Dr. dating back at least to 2008.

Some officials and citizens in New London said they are wondering why the search consultant that pledged in March to perform “extensive background checks” on the candidates didn’t turn any of this stuff up.

“Why did it take someone from the Hartford Courant to vet the whole situation?” New London resident Eric Parnes asked the school board at its meeting Thursday night.

Read the complete article at: http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-lender-carter-resume-0727-20140726,0,1585462.column

 

And one more – file this one under – What the heck was “Dr.” Terrence Carter and the corporate education reform industry geniuses thinking?

PDF: Comparison Of Terrence P. Carter’s 2011 And 2014 Biographies

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State Seeks “Dr.” Terrence Carter’s Withdrawal

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From the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender and Kathy Megan;

State Seeks Carter’s Withdrawal As Incoming School Chief After Doubts About Use Of ‘Ph.D.’

The state Department of Education asked Terrence P. Carter to withdraw from consideration Thursday as superintendent of schools for New London – after a week of damaging disclosures that he used the titles of Ph.D. and Dr. for at least five years without holding an accredited degree.

“On behalf of the Department, Special Master [Steven] Adamowski has asked for his withdrawal. At the request of the Commissioner, the Special Master is participating in ongoing conversations with the local board regarding this evolving situation and potential next steps,” said education department spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly.

There was no answer yet from Carter as of 2:45 p.m.The message was delivered to Carter only hours before a scheduled 5 p.m. meeting in New London at which the local Board of Education planned to grill him over what he has said, or not said, about his education credentials.

The board had planned to question him behind closed doors before considering whether to approve a contract for Carter to take over the city’s troubled school system on Aug. 1.

The state holds more sway in this local hiring decision than it typically does with municipalities. That’s because the low performance of the New London schools brought about the decision by the state education department, more than a year ago, to install a “special master.” Adamowski, the former Hartford schools superintendent, oversees the system.

The New London school board asked state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor to interview Carter last month after it voted to select him after a national search. However, no contract was yet approved.

The request for him to withdraw came the day after The Courant reported that a national research organization said Carter submitted a biography in 2011 that indicated he had received a Ph.D. from Stanford University, an assertion that contradicts what the embattled educator has said.

Stanford has said that Carter never attended, which Carter has acknowledged. Carter has previously told The Courant that he was not the source for either the 2011 biography or a 2008 biographical article that also indicated he had received a Ph.D. from Stanford.

Larry McQuillan, director of public affairs for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday emailed to The Courant what he said was “the original bio submitted by Carter.” It indicated that he held “a Ph.D., in Organizational Leadership from Stanford University.” The institute used the biography in a “Presenter Biographies” document for a June 2-3, 2011, education conference in Rosedale, Ill.

That story was the latest in a series that began last Friday with a Courant report revealing that Carter has been calling himself “Dr.” and “Ph.D.” for more than five years on the basis of what he described as a degree from an unaccredited university — Lexington University, for which no campus address can be found, and which offers no website for online instruction.

The Courant found more than a dozen documents listing him as a Dr. or Ph.D. Carter first said that he had earned a doctorate in theology in 1996 from an unaccredited school called Hamersfield University in London. Educators in London told The Courant that they never heard of it, and, when pressed for more information two days later, Carter emailed a copy of a transcript from Lexington University. Hamersfield has changed its name to Lexington since he attended, he said.

The Lexington University transcript indicated that Carter received an A in each of 45 graduate courses on the way to a Ph.D. However, the transcript says that the degree was in Human Resource Management and Organizational Learning, not theology. The Courant was unable to locate a school by either the name Hamersfield or Lexington.

There is a website headed “Lexington University,” which advertises for people to obtain their degrees at prices of up to several hundred dollars but doesn’t include working links that allow enrollment. It was unclear if that website is connected with the transcript sent by Carter — and he has declined to answer more questions about it since Thursday.

However, a cached webpage from 2002 – found via the Internet Archive “Wayback Machine” – is headed “Lexington University” and displays the same two toll-free phone numbers that are printed on the transcript that Carter provided to The Courant last week. One number has been busy since last week, and the other, a fax number, rejected an attempt to fax a document. The cached web page bears the motto “Order Now, Graduate Today!”

Carter completed requirements in late May for a Ph.D. in education from an accredited school, Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., and is scheduled to receive the degree on Aug. 25. He and some New London school officials say he has the right to call himself “Dr.” since he completed the degree requirements in May.

The full Courant story can be found at: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-carter-resume-0725-20140724,0,7482548.story

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Will the Malloy administration force the New London Board of Education to hire “Dr.” Terrence Carter?

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New London’s elected board of education will be meeting tonight, first behind closed doors, and then in a public meeting to decide whether or not to hire “Dr. Terrence Carter, the individual who has claimed that he had a Ph.D. for the last eight years when it turns out that the only “doctorate” he had appears to be from a diploma-mill, on-line website that explains – Pay Now, Graduate Today.

Last night, the Hartford Courant reported even more revealing and embarrassing developments surrounding “Dr.” Terrence Carter.

The Courant wrote,

A national research organization said Wednesday that Terrence P. Carter, the incoming superintendent of schools in New London, submitted a biography in 2011 that indicated he had received a Ph.D. from Stanford University, an assertion that contradicts what the embattled educator has said.

Stanford has said that Carter never attended, which Carter has acknowledged. Carter has previously told The Courant that he was not the source for either the 2011 biography or a 2008 biographical article that also indicated he had received a Ph.D. from Stanford.

Larry McQuillan, director of public affairs for the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday emailed to The Courant what he said was “the original bio submitted by Carter.” It indicated that he held “a Ph.D., in Organizational Leadership from Stanford University.”

The institute used the biography in a “Presenter Biographies” document for a June 2-3, 2011, education conference in Rosedale, Ill.

“I don’t know where they got it from, but they did not get it from me,” Carter, 49, who has been an education administrator in Chicago for a decade, said in a telephone interview with The Courant on July 15. He said that a request for information “was submitted to my secretary” at the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago, but that he had not responded personally. Ultimately, Carter did not attend the conference.
Efforts to reach Carter on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

[…]

McQuillan provided The Courant with a string of emails from May 2011 — which included an attachment containing the bio that McQuillan said that Carter sent. The string also included a note from Carter: “Here it is…sorry for the delay! Terrence P. Carter, Ph.D.”

As observers now know, over the past eight years, “Dr.” Terrence Carter has been listed as having a doctorate from Stanford University, a doctorate from a non-existent program run by Stanford University and Oxford University and a doctorate from Lesley University.

But he was never enrolled at Stanford, Oxford and is only now (apparently) getting his Ph.D. from Lesley University in Boston.
In a related story yesterday, the Hartford Courant also revealed that “Dr.” Terrence Carter demanded that people call him “Dr.” despite the fact that his only doctorate appears to have been from a mail-order website.

As the Courant explained,

It is clear from public records that Carter made formal mention of his unaccredited doctorate while he was principal of Clara Barton Elementary School in the Chicago public school system.

Illinois State Board of Education teacher service records show that for Carter’s first three years at Barton school, he had a Master’s. The state records list a “doctorate” – with a notation that it was obtained “Outside U.S.A.” – for the first time in the 2008-09 school year.

Over a two year period, his pay jumped from $133,203 with a Master’s in 2007-08, to $142,128 with a doctorate in 2009-10. In the middle year, 2008-2009, the first year that a doctorate is listed, his pay dipped by $369 to $132,834. It’s unclear why the unaccredited doctorate, which Carter said he received in 1996, appeared for the first time in that year. Attempts to reach Chicago Public School officials have been unsuccessful.

A onetime Chicago teacher also said that Carter required staff and students to refer to him as “Dr.” from his start at Barton in 2005. Barton Elementary’s letterhead stationery also listed him at “Terrence P. Carter, Ph.D., Principal.”

“He wanted to make sure you called him Dr. Carter. Don’t call him mister, you better call him doctor,” said Marcia Brown-Williams, a former Chicago teacher who was a delegate for the teachers union and attended meetings at Barton when Carter was there. “That was an important thing to him.”

In 2008, Carter wrote a letter on Barton school stationery to Shawn Gowder, a local school council member and parent, recounting a disagreement they’d had a month earlier in which he had said: “[I] ask that you address me as Dr. Carter.” He signed it “Terrence Carter, Ph.D.”

So why is someone like “Dr.” Terrence Carter still being considered for the top job in New London’s School System?

Well, last we heard from Special Master Steven Adamowski, the person who serves as Governor Malloy and Commissioner’s Pryor’s mouthpiece, was saying that there is nothing that he has seen that would suggest the New London Board shouldn’t go forward with handing New London’s schools students, parents and teachers over to Terrence Carter.

Really?

Nothing that would suggest that New London could do better than “Dr.” Terrence Carter?

One thing is absolutely certain – if Malloy, Pryor and Adamowski do not pull Carter out of contention before tonight’s vote, they and the New London Board of Education will become the laughing-stock of the nation.

The latest Hartford Courant article can be found at: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-carter-resume-0724-20140723,0,6761650.story

You can also read more about Terrence Carter and his on-line doctorate at: Now exactly what is “Dr.” Terrence Carter’s Lexington University? or http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/07/23/now-exactly-dr-terrence-carters-lexington-university/

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Now exactly what is “Dr.” Terrence Carter’s Lexington University?

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Thanks to the investigative reporting of the Hartford Courant, we learned a whole lot about Terrence Carter and the various references to his Ph.D(s).

For eight years “Dr.” Terrence Carter has claimed, implied, suggested or was introduced as having a Ph.D.

As we now know, some documents report that he got the doctorate from Stanford University in California, but it turns out that he never actually attended Stanford University.

Other documents report that he got it from a non-existing joint program between Stanford University and Oxford University in England….but he didn’t attend Oxford either.

At yet another point, “Dr.” Carter claimed he had his Ph.D. from Lesley University in Massachusetts – but turns out that wasn’t true either – although he is quoted as saying ne now is going to get that degree any day now.

But in the end, the only document he could produce for the Hartford Courant was a “Ph.D.” from a place called Lexington University.

But what and where is Carter’s Lexington University.

As noted in a recent Wait, What? blog post, “Dr.” Terrence Carter – Lexington University:  Order Now, Graduate Today, there is a Lexington University.  You pay a few hundred dollars and they send you a degree and provide “lifetime” verification to potential employers.

$300 and you too can call yourself a Doctor… or for that matter… can buy almost any other degree you want.

But is this the actual Lexington University that “Dr.” Terrence Carter “graduated” from or did he find another on-line diploma mill called Lexington University?

While Special Master Steven Adamoski and the Malloy administration continue to claim there is no reason not to give “Dr.” Terrence Carter the six-figure, lucrative job as New London’s superintendent of Schools, the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of New London (and Connecticut) at least deserve a clarification as to which Lexington University Carter received his Ph.D. form.

For starters, is “Dr.” Terrence Carter’s Lexington University the same Lexington University that was under investigation by the United States General Account Office?

If it was, there is a whole lot more explaining to be done before handing New London’s students, parents, teachers and schools over to this guy.

Just take a look at what the GAO found when its investigators looked into a diploma mill called Lexington University.

United States General Accounting Office (http://www.gao.gov/assets/100/91621.html)

November 21, 2002:

The Honorable Susan M. Collins:
Ranking Minority Member:
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations:
Committee on Governmental Affairs:
United States Senate:

 Subject: Purchases of Degrees from Diploma Mills:

Dear Senator Collins:

This report responds to your request that we investigate issues concerning the proliferation of diploma mills, which sell bogus academic degrees based upon “life experience” or substandard or negligible academic work. Specifically, you asked that the Office of Special Investigations, acting in an undercover capacity, demonstrate how easy it is to purchase a degree from a diploma mill. You also asked us to identify and interview individuals who have purchased degrees from diploma mills and determine whether those individuals have used their bogus degrees to increase income, defraud employers, or gain positions of public trust. We briefed your office on our investigative findings. This report summarizes those findings and includes documents referenced in that briefing.

[…]

Posing as Susan M. Collins, we first contacted Degrees-R-Us to obtain information regarding the steps to follow in purchasing degrees. Following those instructions, we successfully purchased a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology dated June 13, 1975, and a Master of Science degree in Medical Technology dated June 10, 1988, in the name of Susan M. Collins. The degrees were awarded by Lexington University, a nonexistent institution purportedly located in Middletown, New York. Pursuant to Degrees-R-Us’s request, we provided the names and telephone numbers of individuals who could provide references and vouch for Ms. Collins’ job experience in biology and medical technology. However, Degrees-R-Us did not contact any of our references. We paid $1,515 to Degrees-R-Us for the “premium package” The package included two diplomas from Lexington University, honors distinctions, and a telephone degree verification service that could be accessed by potential employers wishing to verify information regarding the school transcripts and degrees purportedly conferred.

To test the degree verification service, we posed as a potential employer of Ms. Collins. An individual associated with Degrees-R-Us confirmed that Ms. Collins had been awarded a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Lexington University.

Since the investigators “purchased” the premium package, they were provided with the following:

1) Bachelor of Science in Biology, dated June 13, 1975 – diploma.

2) Transcripts for a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a GPA of 3.8.

3) Master of Science in Medical Technology, dated June 10, 1988.

4) Dean’s List Certificates for all 8 semesters on your Bachelor’s Degree.

5) Envelopes from Lexington University.

 

Wait, What? readers can find the full GAO report at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/100/91620.pdf.

In fact, there you will find the fake diplomas as well as an “Official Transcript” from Lexington University.

It is pretty impressive what a few hundred dollars will buy you.

And when all is said and done, rather than vote to hand over the keys of New London’s schools to “Dr.” Terrence Carter, the New London Board of Education should tell the Malloy Administration to back off the pressure.  Instead of saying they see no reason not to hire Carter; Malloy’s operatives should be helping the New London Board of Education to determine exactly what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to Mr. Carter’s educational background.

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Hey Look – “Dr.” Terrence Carter – went to Columbia Teachers College too…

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The famous, infamous, hilarious and just plain absurd controversy surrounding Terrence Carter, the proposed new superintendent of schools in New London, just keeps getting worse and worse.

According to various resumes, articles, websites and bios, “Dr.” Terrence Carter received his Ph. D. from Stanford University, from Stanford and Oxford Universities, from Leslely University and from a university outside of the United States.

But the apparent truth is that Mr. Terrence Carter got his ‘doctorate’ from a notorious diploma mill called Lexington University – and if it is the same diploma mill that has received national news coverage – it is the one whose website explains – “Order Now, Graduate Today”

Lexington University photo

 

But in the latest twist, it turns out that “Dr.” Terrence Carter’s educational achievements even go beyond the institutions reported by the Hartford Courant.

In an article about his experience at Barton Elementary School in Chicago, the Chicago Catalyst, a Illinois-based media outlet wrote,

“Carter also brought in a reading and writing curriculum he learned about while enrolled in Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City. (Carter was a teacher before joining the corporate world.) He also launched a before-school reading program to help youngsters who are behind and emphasizes professional development.”

Terrence Carter went to Columbia?

Wonder why that isn’t on his resume….

You can find the full Chicago article at:  Principals get creative within the bounds of district bureaucracy

New London Board of Education puts off vote on superintendent till Thursday

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The Hartford Courant is reporting the latest news on the “Dr.” Terrence Carter debacle…and while Carter is the Malloy administration’s choice for New London Superintendent of Schools, allegations that he falsified continue to build.

The Hartford Courant story entitled, Vote Off On Incoming School Chief Who Called Himself Ph.D. Without Accredited Doctorate, explains;

The New London school board Monday postponed a vote to approve a contract for Terrence P. Carter as its new schools superintendent after The Courant disclosed that Carter has been calling himself “doctor” and “Ph.D.” for more than five years on the basis of what he’s described as a degree from an “unaccredited” university.

“We had a number of questions,” said Margaret Mary “Peg” Curtin, president of the Board of Education.

She said board members plan to meet in a closed-door session with Carter on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Science & Technology Magnet High School in New London. After that, she said, the board will meet in a public session, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., to consider approving a contract.

Meanwhile, stories, blogs and jokes about “Dr.” Terrence Carter are popping up across the country as news about “Dr.” Terrence Carter reaches other public education advocates.

Check out the following from public education advocates and bloggers.

George Schmidt. Here a doctor. There a doctor.

Call me Dr. Klonsky, if you please.

Ten minute drawing. CPS central office. Is there a real doctor in the house?

And there are a growing number of news stories as well,

New London school board cancels meeting, delaying vote on new superintendent

Incoming New London superintendent’s references to Ph.D. at issue on eve of contract vote

Without An Accredited Doctorate

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Commissioner Pryor and entourage are the biggest threat to Malloy’s Re-election…

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Considering Governor Dannel Malloy won the last gubernatorial election with less than 50% of the 1.2 million votes cast and his margin of victory was only 6,404 votes, virtually anything could cost him his re-election dreams.

But forget the Republicans and their propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory…

Forget Malloy’s tax increases that have fallen disproportionately on the middle class…

Forget the combined $3.2 billion deficit that Malloy’s budget gimmicks have created for the three years following the next election….

Forget his warped “economic development” strategy that gives multi-million dollar companies scarce public funds that should be going to preserve vital services…

With nearly 500 teachers showing up at a Fairfield County meeting last night to meet with their state legislators we are reminded, yet again, that Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and his entourage of high-priced, out-of-state consultants and personal assistants is the factor most likely to put an end to Malloy’s political career.

Commissioner Pryor, the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company has led Governor Malloy’s relentless effort to undermine Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public education system.

It was Governor Malloy, with the help of Pryor and a series of no-bid contracts with out-of-state corporate education reform industry consultants that introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education bill of any Democratic governor in the country.

And thanks to Malloy and Pryor, the Common Core freight train and the inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment testing scheme will end up costing Connecticut taxpayers tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of dollars…while turning Connecticut’s public schools into nothing more than testing factories.

The truth be told; Every day teachers, along with more and more parents of public school students, understand that Malloy was brutally honest when he said that he didn’t mind teaching to the test, as long as the test scores go up!

Add in Malloy and Pryor’s absurd teacher evaluation system, along with Malloy’s failure to properly fund Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing school funding formula and you have a situation that could easily cost Malloy ten times the number of votes he won by in the 2010 election.

In addition to the millions that Commissioner Pryor has wasted on no-bid contracts and his ongoing effort to divert scarce taxpayer funds to his charter school agenda, the record is clear.

Pryor hired his personal friend, Adam Goldfarb under one job classification and then immediately bumped up his salary and made him chief of staff.  Goldfarb’s educational experience?  Serving on the board of directors of a New Jersey charter school.

And it was Pryor who turned over the State Department of Education’s School Turnaround Office to Morgan Barth.  This is the same Morgan Barth who worked illegally for six years as a teacher and administrator at Pryor’s Achievement First, Inc. Despite a state law requiring all teachers and administrators to hold state certification, Morgan Barth refused to go through process required to be in a Connecticut classroom or principal’s office.   What does Stefan Pryor do?  With six years of illegal teaching and administration under his belt, Pryor puts Barth in charge of the effort to undermine the teachers and schools in Connecticut’s 30 Alliance Districts

And if all of that wasn’t bad enough, Stefan Pryor is Steven Adamowski’s biggest supporter – Adamowski got a $225,000 no-bid contract from the Malloy administration to serve as “Special Master” of Windham and New London.  When the contract period ran out, Pryor gave Adamowski a six-figure state job without posting the position or going through the proper selection process.  And all this time, “Special Master” Adamowski is wreaking havoc with the public schools in two of Connecticut’s poorest communities.

Malloy’s popularity has been in the tank since he was elected.  There are many challenges to his re-election plans, but none more serious or significant than his the way and his Commissioner of Education have treated Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public schools.

“I am in control here” – A day in the life of Special Master Steven Adamowski

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 “As of now, I am in control here, in the White House.” – Alexander Haig, Secretary of the State

It was March 30, 1981 and an assassination attempt sent President Reagan to the hospital.

Secretary of the State Al Haig called a press conference at the White House to announce, “Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State in that order, and should the President decide he wants to transfer the helm to the Vice President, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.”

But of course, Al Haig had his facts wrong since the US Constitution requires that the line of succession is the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and then the Secretary of State.

The Haig moment is often used as a metaphor when someone inappropriately attempts to take power or control.

Just such a moment occurred earlier this week when Governor Malloy’s “Special Master” for New London and Windham, Steven Adamowski, informed the New London Board of Education that he and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor were the ones truly in charge when it came to selecting a new local superintendent of schools for New London.

As reported by The Day newspaper of New London, Peg Curtin, the head of the New London Board of Education explained, “I would like to see the community be involved…”I would just want to make sure everyone is heard.”

The newspaper then goes on to report that, “As a result of the state’s involvement in the city’s school system, Adamowski said, he or the state commissioner of education could review the candidates the board decides to interview and eliminate any they find to be unqualified.”

Adamowski explained, “We will not be in a situation where I or the commissioner is in a position of having to veto something the board wants to do or tell you not to do something…We would like to simply make sure that the depth and quality of the candidates that go before you as finalists is sufficient.”

What?

The Connecticut General Assembly authorized the State Board of Education, in very limited circumstances, to name a “Special Master” to help communities improve their schools.  The Malloy administration has used that authority in two cases – Windham and New London.

In both cases the result has been a disaster.

While the title “Special Master” is absurd and insulting, the law was never intended to create a dictator who would be in position to destroy a community’s right to control its schools.

And yet is exactly what has been happening in the two communities.

Adamowski’s rhetoric is nothing short of an “Al Haig moment” and the citizens of New London and Windham better reach out to their local state senators and representatives to insure this modern-day Al Haig doesn’t get away with claiming powers he does not have.

A perfect example of the problem appears in the very same Day article.  The paper reports, “Adamowski has previously recommended that the new superintendent’s salary be set to a competitive level, that he or she be given a three-year contract and that the renewal of the superintendent’s contract be determined solely by the results of a yet-to-be-adopted performance evaluation tied to performance targets established in the district’s strategic operating plan.”

A superintendent evaluation “determined solely by the results of a yet-to-be-adopted performance evaluation tied to performance targets?

(AKA standardized test scores).

With that approach, New London parents and their local representative must move quickly to take back control of their schools so they can hire a superintendent who has the ability to fulfill all the duties associated with the job.

Because, as every parent, teacher and school board members understands, a superintendent’s job is so much more than improving test scores.

Superintendents are responsible for recruiting and retaining good administrators and teachers, for making sure special education student get the additional help they need and deserve, for developing and implementing effective bi-lingual and English Language Learning Programs, for improving early education opportunities, for reducing bullying and creating safer school climates, for seeking ways to reduce racial isolation, for ensuring scarce resources are well spent and the list goes on and on.

Despite Steven Adamowski’s apparent wish, Connecticut’s “Special Master” Statute was never intended to allow Pryor, Adamowski or anyone else to make decisions that are solely within the purview of the local Board of Education.

And if Adamowski claims he has special powers then citizens need to ensure legislators act to protect them from that power grab.

Al Haig’s comments that day in 1981 made him the laughing-stock of the world.

Adamowski’s claim that as “Special Master” he has “super powers” is equally absurd.

Or as the case may be, hey Steven, “you’re doing a heck of a job.”

You can find the latest Day article here:  http://www.theday.com/article/20131206/NWS01/312069954/0/SEARCH

Malloy calls his “educational reform” initiative “part of this grand experiment.”

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In the United States you can’t take medicine unless it has been fully tested and determined to be safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Heck, you can’t even sell or buy genetically modified salmon without it going through a comprehensive independent assessment process.

But for reasons that are extremely hard to comprehend public officials seem perfectly satisfied to upend our public education system and force local schools districts to adopt a one-size fits all corporate education reform industry agenda that is expensive and appears to be extremely ineffective, at best.

In 2012 Governor Malloy introduced the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education reform agenda of any Democratic governor in the nation.

Two years later, Malloy, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and a cadre of out-of-state consultants, along with people like Paul Vallas and Steven Adamowski, are pushing full steam ahead with their plans to force Connecticut’s school districts to implement very expensive standardized testing and evaluation systems, along with “turnaround programs,” that are untested, unproven and divert scarce resources away from the very instruction programs that are working with the vast majority of students.

Instead of systematically testing targeted strategies and then implementing those that work, Malloy, Pryor and their entourage are experimenting with Connecticut’s students and forcing Connecticut’s taxpayers to pick up the cost.

At yesterday’s grand opening of the Connecticut River Academy Magnet School in East Hartford, Governor Malloy had a moment of incredible honestly or uttered what could only be described as a true Freudian slip.

As reported in the Hartford Courant, Malloy, speaking to a crowd of students, staff and community leaders at the school’s opening told the students that they are “part of this grand experiment that we have underway in the state of Connecticut…”

Malloy added, “This is our gamble, our bet, our investment in your future, that is saying that we want Connecticut to be as successful as it ever was, in fact we want it to be more successful.”

Malloy said, when it comes to Connecticut, “In fact we want it to be more successful…”

Truer words have never been spoken.

But if our government leaders actually meant what they said, and said what they meant, they’d be engaged in a very different form of “education reform,” a reform that was not based on a corporate education reform industry agenda but one that was based on strategies that were properly assessed and deemed appropriate for the students of our state.

As the saying goes, “All students can learn and succeed, but not all on the same day, in the same way.”

We do the right thing when it comes to medicine; we even do it for salmon.

Our children deserve no less.

The man with no teaching experience calls himself “America’s Most Trusted Educator.”

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Connecticut law requires that all public school teachers must hold proper teaching certification in order to be educators.

Yet Steve Perry, the principal of Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Academy promotes himself as “America’s most trusted educator.”  In fact, he often starts his speeches and tweets by saying, “As an educator…”

But Steve Perry has NO TEACHING EXPERIENCE and no state teaching certification.

Like Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas and Special Master, Steven Adamowski, Steve Perry does not even have the state certification required to teach in a Connecticut public school.

Not only wouldn’t these so-called champions of education reform last a day in a classroom, they don’t even have the legal right to serve as a Connecticut teacher.

But despite all their self-promotion, these guys hardly represent the broad array of administrators who are running Connecticut’s schools on a day-to-day basis.

Just take a moment to compare Steve Perry’s qualifications with Hartford’s other magnet school principals:

Capital Preparatory Magnet School:
Principal: Steve Perry
Administrative Certification:  “PROVISIONAL”
Other state certification:
NONE
 
 
Hartford Classical Magnet School
Principal:  James Mott: 
Administrative Certification: “PROFESSIONAL”
Other state certification:
021-LATIN AND CLASSICAL HUMANITIES
015-ENGLISH, GRADES 7 THROUGH 12
110-UNIQUE SUBJECT AREA ENDORSEMENT
 
Richard J. Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts
Principal:  Ken O’Brien
Administrative Certification: “PROFESSIONAL”
Other state certification:
165-SPECIAL EDUCATION: COMPREHENSIVE, GRADES K THROUGH 12
110-UNIQUE SUBJECT AREA ENDORSEMENTS
 
Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) 
Principal:  Sally Brigs
Administrative Certification:  “PROFESSIONAL”
Other state certification:
044-PHYSICAL EDUCATION, PRE-K THROUGH GRADE 12 
 
Sport and Medical Sciences Academy (Grades 6-12)
Principal:  John Laverty
Administrative Certification: “PROFESSIONAL”
Other state certification 
001-PRE-K THROUGH GRADE 8
026-HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES, GRADES 7 THROUGH 12 
 
Hartford Journalism and Media Magnet School
Leonard Epps
Administrative Certification:  “PROFESSIONAL”
Other state certification:
026-HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES, GRADES 7 THROUGH 12
 
Breakthrough Magnet School
Principal:  Julie Goldstein
Administrative Certification:  “PROVISIONAL”
Other state certification
044-PHYSICAL EDUCATION, PRE-K THROUGH GRADE 12 

Environmental Sciences Magnet at Mary Hooker
Principal: Peter Dart:
Administrative Certification:  “PROVISIONAL”
Other state certification:
002-PRE-K THROUGH GRADE 6
006-GRADES 4 THROUGH 8
 
Betances Magnet School
Principal:  Melony Brady
Administrative Certification: “PROVISIONAL”
Other state certification:
043-HEALTH, PRE-K THROUGH GRADE 12
044-PHYSICAL EDUCATION, PRE-K THROUGH GRADE 12
 
Montessori Magnet at Moylan School
Principal: Carolyn Havrda
Administrative Certification: “PROVISIONAL”
Other state certification:
001-PRE-K THROUGH GRADE 8
039-SECONDARY SUBJECT
102-REMEDIAL READING AND REMEDIAL LANGUAGE ARTS, GRADES 1 THROUGH 12
 
University High School of Science and Engineering (Grades 9-12)
Principal:  Martin Folan
Administrative Certification: “PROVISIONAL”
Other state certification: 
068-SCHOOL COUNSELOR
229-MATHEMATICS, MIDDLE SCHOOL

And the list goes on and on.

Being an effective school administrator requires real-world teaching experience.

Steven Perry and his ilk have little to none.

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