Bridgeport, Connecticut Education Assocation, Malloy, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Bridgeport, CEA, Malloy, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
For one thing, properly utilizing School Governance Councils is the law in Connecticut!
In addition, even Governor Malloy, at least when he was a candidate, supported the creation of School Governance Councils. In fact, he promised to expand their use.
In support of the federal government’s Race to the Top program, candidate Dan Malloy backed a 2010 Connecticut law saying that it sought to “engage parents in a meaningful way.”
In a response on the website On the Issues, Dan Malloy wrote, “The bill establishes local school governance councils that include parents and help create a sense of community that can make schooling more relevant to kids, and kids more connected to their community. However, these councils are only required for low-achieving schools. We should not stop there… While governance councils are one tool for improving achievement, they are still a top-down approach to decision-making that limit involvement to only a few engaged parents. My administration will create opportunities for all parents to be involved.”
Apparently the memo concerning his commitment to “create opportunities for all parents to be involved” didn’t make it to the desk of Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s “Superintendent of Schools.”
In fact, Paul Vallas’ unwillingness to follow the law and properly include parents, teachers and community leaders in the decision-making process has become so severe that the Connecticut Education Association has taken the unprecedented step of filing a complaint with the State Department of Education.
Although Connecticut law requires that School Governance Councils be utilized in school districts that are facing the greatest challenges, in Bridgeport, Paul Vallas appears either unwilling or unable to meet his obligation to include the community, parents, and teachers in the educational decision-making process.
The complaint against Vallas cites numerous situations in which Vallas violated the law.
In particular, the complaint charges that Vallas failed to provide Bridgeport’s School Governance Councils the opportunity to; (1) to review the fiscal objectives of the draft budget for the school and provide advice before it was submitted, (2) participate, as required, in the hiring process of administrators, (3) work with school administration to develop and approve a school compact, (4) be involved in developing and approving a written parent involvement policy outlining the role of parents in the school, (5) participate in analyzing school achievement data and school needs relative to the improvement plan for the school, (6) assist the principal in making programmatic and operational changes for improving the school’s achievement and the list goes on.
As CEA President, Sheila Cohen explained, “These are just some of the examples of the flagrant disregard Bridgeport Public Schools Superintendent Vallas has shown for School Governance Councils and state law.”
“School Governance Councils have a successful track record of engaging parents, teachers, and community members in important school activities and providing collaborative support to improve student achievement. These opportunities and the benefit of state laws must be afforded members of the Bridgeport school community.” Cohen Added.
In addition to his pattern of failing to appropriately include School Governance Councils, the CEA’s complaint actually cites a school board meeting at which Vallas said that there were priorities more important than governance councils.
After the CEA issued their complaint, the Hartford Courant wrote that, “Vallas, reached at his office late Tuesday afternoon, said: ‘We are really busy and we don’t have time to deal with this type of nonsense because that’s what it is. No one has reached out more than my team — to parents, the teachers, faith-based organizations, even the non-teachers..’”
Vallas made a similar claim to the CT Post saying, “We are in full compliance,” Vallas said, adding, “I don’t have time for this nonsense.”
How Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, handles the complaint will be interesting to watch since Vallas brags that he came to Connecticut because Pryor asked him to take over the Bridgeport School System.
Pryor’s action will also be closely watched because there has also been widespread discussion that Steven Adamowski, the Department of Education’s Special Master for the Windham and New London School Systems has also failed to properly include School Governance Councils in those two school districts.
You can read more about the issue at: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-teachers-union-complaint-0522-20130521,0,5097870.story and http://www.ctmirror.org/story/union-files-complaint-against-bridgeports-superintendent and http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Union-Vallas-snubbed-governance-councils-4536210.php and http://blogcea.org/2013/05/21/complaint-cites-violations-of-law/
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker Achievement First, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker
Wendy Lecker, the pro-public education advocate and fellow columnist hits it out of the park; again, with a new commentary piece in Stamford Advocate entitled “The consistently wrong path to better Schools.
Improving education achievement in our major cities must be a top priority for all of Connecticut’s citizens. Access to higher quality public schools is a fundamental American right, and is even guaranteed by Connecticut’s Constitution. In addition, in the near future, 40% of Connecticut’s entire workforce will be coming from our state’s poorer, urban, Priority School Districts. Our state’s economic future depends on providing all of our young people with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. Finally, the price tag for creating quality schools is not cheap. Connecticut’s schools are already underfunded and yet Connecticut taxpayers are paying about 80% of the entire educational expenses in cities like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.
Education is both the economic and civil rights issue of our time.
Governor Malloy, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, Bridgeport “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas, “Special Master,” Steven Adamowski and the corporate education reformers claim to have the solution – simply hand our public schools over to private corporations.
The approach being perpetrated by these corporate reformers couldn’t be more wrong and Wendy Lecker’s latest column dives that point home.
Wendy Lecker writes;
“Most people who board the wrong train headed to the wrong destination get off and look for the right train.
But not the educational leadership of Hartford.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, a protégé of the controversial “reformer” Steven Adamowski, has climbed on the wrong train despite the obvious signs that it will take Hartford in the wrong direction.
In her state of the schools address, Kishimoto highlighted a study conducted for her by University of Connecticut researchers. The study measured, by neighborhood, factors that inhibit the ability to learn, such as child poverty, the percentage of adults without high school or college degrees, crime, health, housing and neighborhood stability, and community assets such as preschool and after-school programs.
Fifty years of research have established that these out-of-school influences account for the majority of differences in student achievement.
In a recent New York Times article, Stanford University’s Sean Reardon summarized his research demonstrating that income inequality is the prime factor in educational disparities. As Professor Reardon noted, schools do not “produce much of the disparity in test scores between high- and low-income students.”
Reardon’s research revealed that the achievement gap between high-income and low-income students has widened in the past three decades largely because income inequality has increased, affluent students arrive to kindergarten better prepared than poor students, and affluent parents spend more on enrichment and tutoring.
Our best chance to reduce academic disparities, then, is to work to reduce economic inequities.
To the extent schools can help, we must give them the capacity to counteract the forces that hinder learning. That means a sufficient number of social workers, school psychologists, health centers, extra academic help and support for children and families, as well as a rich and varied curriculum.
However, rather than address the factors that prevent Hartford’s neediest children from learning, Hartford Superintendent Kishimoto seems intent on taking us in completely the wrong direction, ignoring the evidence she herself requested.
First on Kishimoto’s agenda is expanding the Achievement First charter franchise in Hartford. Achievement First, Inc., already operates a charter school in Hartford and is notorious for failing to serve Hartford’s neediest children. In a city where 43 percent of students come from non-English-speaking homes, only 4.8 percent of Achievement First’s students come from non-English-speaking homes. In Hartford, 18 percent of students are not fluent in English; at Achievement First, 4.8 percent. Thirteen percent of Hartford’s students have disabilities compared with 7.5 percent at Achievement First. Moreover, Achievement First has a 25 percent attrition rate.
Achievement First, a state charter school, is funded directly by the state and is not part of Hartford’s school district. However, Hartford Public Schools must pay for special education services and transportation for Hartford children attending the school. On top of this requirement, Hartford public schools paid $1.5 million dollars for capital improvements on Achievement First’s school building, which the charter uses for free. Additionally, Hartford and Achievement First entered into an agreement whereby the district pays more money to the charter company. This coming year, the district is scheduled to pay Achievement First over $3.2 million.”
Wendy’s assessment the approach being implemented by Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is harsh but 100% accurate.
Take the time to read the whole column at the Stamford Advocate at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-consistently-wrong-path-to-4487142.php#ixzz2SQUbtfw3
Bridgeport, Education Reform, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker, Windham Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker
Fellow pro-public education advocate and columnist hits the mark, yet again, with her column in this past weekend’s CT Post, Stamford Advocate and other Hearst Media Group outlets. Her piece is entitled, No need to break the law — just have it changed for you.
In the piece, Wendy writes, “The education “reform” movement has been rocked recently by revelations that its biggest stars are more concerned with the appearance of success than whether children actually learn.”
With that she outlines the two major scandals involving cheating on standardized tests that have been in the news.
But the core of her column is about the approach the corporate education reformers are taking here in Connecticut.
“Not to be outdone, we Nutmeggers have employed our Yankee ingenuity to game the system, as well. While superintendent of Hartford, Steven Adamowski boasted major increases in test scores — a result, he claimed, of his reform methods, including school closures, school choice and merit pay. However, as revealed by Hartford Board of Education member Robert Cotto, the gains in test scores in Hartford during that period can largely be explained by the district’s exclusion of a significant percentage of students with disabilities from the regular test and having them take a modified assessment that did not count in Hartford’s test scores. As Cotto described, it Hartford engaged in “addition by subtraction.” Neat!
Connecticut’s Legislature and state Board of Education can be crafty, too, and it’s all legal. Connecticut law provides that school administrators be certified, to ensure that our schools and school districts are led by individuals with the knowledge and experience to properly oversee the education of our children. All of Connecticut’s permanent superintendents are certified to be superintendents — except one: Paul Vallas, superintendent of Bridgeport schools, serving approximately 20,000 students. To remedy this problem, Governor Malloy wrote a law enabling Vallas to be certified if he completed an educational leadership course approved by the state board of education. But then, another problem arose: the state Board of Education did not approve any course and Bridgeport already hired Vallas permanently.
Not to worry! UConn quickly devised a course it claimed was just like what all other superintendents must pass. As Jonathan Pelto has pointed out, though, a regular superintendent candidate must have 15 credits beyond a master’s degree; go through a rigorous application process that requires a full faculty review of one’s application; complete an additional 15 credits of course work in the program; and pay approximately $30,000 in tuition and fees. UConn’s program, hastily approved by the state Board of Education, only requires Vallas to enroll in a three-credit, one semester independent study course at a cost of about $4,000. More legal cheating!”
Wendy ends with a reminder to our children writing, “So, kids, if you want to grow up to change the world like these star reformers, you don’t need to learn anything of substance (don’t worry, with standardized tests in every grade and subject, soon you won’t be learning anything of substance, anyway). But don’t break the law! Simply ally yourselves with those who make the laws and they will bend and twist them to make your dreams of greatness come true!”
The column is well worth the read and you can find the complete column here: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-No-need-to-break-the-law-just-4448335.php#ixzz2RCIUZ79S
Freedom of Information, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Freedom of Information, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
Just when you think you’ve seen it all…
Steven Adamowski, Hartford’s former superintendent of schools, is in his second year as the Malloy Administration’s Special Master. His responsibilities include “overseeing” the Windham and New London School systems on behalf of the Connecticut State Department of Education.
Adamowski’s $225,000, plus benefits, “no-bid” contract was run through the State Education Resource Center (SERC) in order to avoid Connecticut’s bidding laws. Although he is a consultant to SERC, he reports to Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education. As a state (or state-related) consultant, he must abide by Connecticut’s Freedom of Information and ethics laws.
Over the past two years, it has become increasingly clear that Mr. Adamowski’s approach to “governance” is heavy-handed, arguably abusive and far from the open and honest public service that should be the hallmark of public servants and those funded with taxpayer dollars.
A new and stunning example of Adamowski’s approach has come to light.
As Wait, What? readers know, controversy has surrounded The Charles Barrows STEM Academy, a Windham-based magnet school that is planning to open in the fall of 2013.
The school is governed by the Windham Board of Education, but as a magnet school, it must also follow a variety of Connecticut Department of Education laws and regulations.
As part of an ongoing effort to identify the issues and problems surrounding the proposed Windham STEM academy, I have made multiple inquiries to Connecticut and Windham officials.
This week, when the Connecticut State Department of Education finally turned over documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information request that I had filed, the package included a rather interesting directive delivered from Special Master Adamowski to Windham municipal staff.
On Wednesday, February 6, 2013 I wrote an email to a number of Windham municipal employees requesting certain information pertaining to Town of Windham documents about the Barrows STEM Magnet Academy.
As part of the Freedom of Information package released by the State Department of Education was my email to Windham officials, along with a cover email that read;
“Per Dr. Adamowski’s instructions I am forwarding on all communications received from Jonathan Pelto. Please see below for the latest…”
My email to Windham was not addressed to Mr. Adamowski and was seeking information that was produced by and the property of the Town of Windham.
The notion that a state employee, or more particularly, a state consultant, would have the audacity to instruct municipal employees to forward communications from a certain individual to a state agency is rather shocking.
Considering that most communications with state or local government entities are public documents, the abuse is not the fact that information was shared but that anyone associated with the state would believe that they had the legal, moral or ethical authority, or even the right, to instruct a municipal employee on how they must handle a request for information from a Connecticut citizen.
Special Master Adamowski’s directive is clearly an abuse of power. It is not only bizarre behavior but a violation of ethical standards for Adamowski to instruct municipal employees to forward communications that were not meant for him to the office of a state commissioner.
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
Adamowski even says it will be voted on by the Windham Board of Education…
At the Windham Board of Education meeting last night, April 11, 2013, Special Master Stephen Adamowski finally addressed the issue of the Operations Plan for the Charles H. Barrows Stem Academy
It would be difficult, if not impossible, for Wait, What? readers not to know the story surrounding the infamous Windham STEM Academy Operations Plan.
Under Connecticut law, a magnet school must have an approved Operations Plan on file with the State Department of Education.
Apparently, Special Master Adamowski has managed to have multiple versions of an Operations Plan filed. The only problem is not one of them was (a) accurate or (b) approved.
Think of it this way;
Take the movie Ground Hog Day and merge it was an old episode of the Keystone Cops.
Cast in the starring role, Connecticut’s own $225,000 a year education reformer and Special Master, Steven Adamowski.
And you have the setting for a block buster (or at least a Buster Keaton), George Orwell meets Franz Kafka story of intrigue, misrepresentation, bold face lying, along with more than a dash of outright negligence.
The story began with the development of an Operations Plan for the new Windham STEM Academy Magnet by members of the Commissioner Pryor/Special Master Adamowski Team.
Among its provisions was as requirement that no child could transfer into the new STEM Academy, above the third grade, unless they were reading at grade level.
Following meetings and discussions, the Windham Board of Education was provided with a revised copy of the Operations Plan that was conveniently marked “approved” on the cover, despite the fact that it now appears that no vote was ever taken to actually “approve” the plan.
However, the offensive language that would serve to openly discriminate against non-English speaking students and students who needed special education services was still part of the “approved”, Operations Agreement.
When concerns about the discriminatory language was raised in a Wait, What? post, the Windham School Board was told that the “approved” Operations Plan that they had was not, in fact, the official Operations Plan and that the official Operations Plan was already on file with the State Department (and available on the STEM Academy website). And that furthermore, the discriminatory language had been removed from that version of the Operations Plan that was on file with the State Department.
Unfortunately, since the State Department of Education failed to provide a copy of the Operations Plan, despite a series of Freedom of Information requests, it was hard to determine exactly which version of the “truth” was, in fact, “the truth.”
That said, thanks to an observant state employee at the State Department of Education who did manage to get a look at the Operations Plan, it was determined that the version on file with the State Department of Education was definitely not the “official plan,” but was an earlier version of the plan, with the only late change being that someone removed the offending language but left untouched all of the other changes that had already been made in later versions.
Despite all of that, Adamowski and Windham officials continued to claim that the Operations Plan on file was the actual Operations Plan.
But then last night, Adamowski changed strategies and announced during his official presentation that the STEM Academy Magnet Operations Plan was being “revised” and “clarified” and will then be “re-submitted” to the State Department of Education.
Adamowski also announced that the Windham Board of Education would have to “approve” the Operations Plan before it could be finalized.
Meanwhile, the lottery for seats in the new STEM Academy, that was supposed to be held in March, was been delayed until April 23rd. The problem, we are told, was associated with the failure to mail appropriate notifications in a timely manner and not the fact that the school doesn’t even have an official Operations Plan on record.
Once the lottery is held for the Windham students who want to attend the STEM Academy, the follow up lottery can then be held for students from neighboring towns who applied for the remaining seats.
If at some point in the future, a real, “official” copy of the STEM Academy Operations Plan becomes available, you’ll be able to find a link here. (will hold this blank space till then _____________________________ )
And until then, I’m sure the Special Master will be more than willing to explain what the official version of the Operations Plan says.
For those who want to recount the earlier details, here are a few links:
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Steven Adamowski, Windham Steven Adamowski, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
March 22, 2013
An Open Letter to Superintendents in towns surrounding Windham, Connecticut
As a superintendent of schools from one of the potential sending towns to Windham’s new STEM Magnet school, I’m sure you are aware of some of the very serious concerns that have been raised about the management of Windham’s new magnet school.
I’ve written about some of these issues on my blog, Wait, What?
As leaders responsible for the education of your local students, you should be alarmed to learn that Windham’s Special Master, Steven Adamowski, still hasn’t filed an officially approved Operations Plan with the state Department of Education for the new Magnet School. In addition, the application that has been used for the Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy includes some inappropriate questions that will serve to dissuade certain key populations from even applying for the lottery to get into the STEM Academy.
As originally presented last summer, the proposed Operations Plan for the Barrows STEM Magnet School prohibited children from transferring into the school if they weren’t reading at grade level. This language violated the spirit and law underlying Connecticut Magnet School programs and would have especially discriminated against children who face language barriers including those who need ESL services and children who utilize special education services.
When the issue was raised, Windham’s senior school administrators claimed that the offensive language was not in the Operations Plan that had been filed with the state which was available on the Barrows STEM Magnet School website.
Instead, they claimed that the copy that was being distributed and was available on the Board of Education’s Agenda and Minutes webpage was an older copy of the Operations Plan. The claim was an odd one considering the so-called “older copy” had a newer date, was the very document that was given out to Windham Board of Education members, included language modifications that were marked as changes by the Board and was stamped “approved.”
Further complicating the matter is the fact that the Operations Plan filed with the state Department of Education was never approved by the Windham Board of Education, as required, nor did it include the changes that had been approved by Windham’s Board of Education.
As an aside, the changes that were approved by the Board of Education DID NOT remove the prohibition on transfers, so how that language disappeared from the document that is “on-file” with the state remains a mystery.
Even more troubling is the fact that the Operations Plan filed with the state and available via the Barrows STEM Magnet Schools website includes the wrong dates for the opening of the school and in one section claims that 70 percent of the students will come from Windham, while it has an adjacent chart indicating that 66 percent of the students will come from Windham. Another section also mentions the 66 percent figure despite the fact that the actual section applying to the demographics of the facility sticks to the 70 percent number. More
Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Education Reform, Steven Adamowski, Windham Steven Adamowski, Windham, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
You can keep Governor Malloy’s “Special Master”, Steven Adamowski, and Windham’s school administrators on the list of entities and individuals who seem unable or unwilling to follow the state’s laws and regulations.
With the lottery to select students for Windham‘s new Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy Magnet School about to take place, Adamowski and the Windham School System STILL HAVEN’T filed a legally-approved Operations Plan with the State Department of Education and the application form that they have been using inappropriately requests that students provide their social security number. It is a technique the effectively reduces the number of immigrants and poor who might apply for a seat in the new school.
As Wait, What? readers will recall, when concerns were raised about the fact that the Operations Plan for Windham’s new Barrows STEM Magnet School prohibited children from transferring into the school if they weren’t reading at grade level, Windham school administrators claimed that the offending language was not part of the approved Operations Plan filed with the state. Instead they claimed that the copy being read was an older copy of the Operations Plan, even though that “older copy” was the exact document that was given to the members of the Windham Board of Education and marked “approved.”
Further complicating the matter was that, upon investigation, it turned out that the Operations Plan filed with the state was neither approved by the Windham Board of Education, as required, nor did it include a variety of language changes that were approved by Windham’s Board of Education. (As an aside, the changes approved by the Board of Education DID NOT remove the prohibition on transfers, so how that language disappeared from the document is a “mystery.”)
Throughout this debate, neither Windham’s “Special Master” Adamowski nor Windham’s Superintendent have managed to explain how an unapproved Operations Plan was filed with the State or what they are going to do about actually filing the appropriate plan.
However, at a recent meeting, Windham’s Superintendent announced that the plan that had been given to the Windham Board of Education and recorded as “approved” was not actually approved and therefore wasn’t the plan to follow.
This revelation apparently leaves the school with no officially-approved Operations Plan, despite the fact that applications by Windham students were due no later than March 1, 2013 and the lottery to select Windham students (who will make up 75 percent of the student body) will take place before the end of the month. Applications for the remaining 25 percent of the students, meaning students from surrounding communities, are due by March 29, 2013.
In addition, despite repeated Freedom of Information requests, the State has not provided its copy of the faulty Operations Plan nor has it released the communication between the state, Adamowski and other Windham administrators that were part of the Freedom of Information request.
That said, state education regulations do require an approved copy of the Operations Plan be filed with the State, but neither Adamowski nor the school administrators have provided the Windham Board of Education with a final copy or scheduled the necessary vote.
Meanwhile, in violation of federal law, the application being used to sign up students for the new STEM Magnet includes a request for the child’s social security number.
According to the law, “When a federal, state, or local government agency asks an individual to disclose his or her Social Security number, the Privacy Act requires the agency to inform the person of the following: the statutory or other authority for requesting the information; whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary; what uses will be made of the information; and the consequences, if any, of failure to provide the information.”
However, no such notice is provided.
You can see the application here: http://www.windham.k12.ct.us/downloads/schools/chbsa/STEMApplication2013_14.pdf
So, Special Master Adamowski, et. al. are about to conduct a lottery for a new magnet school, but have failed to submit an approved Operations Plan and have an application that fails to meet the requirements of the federal Privacy Act.
And in the end, who knows whether any of this is intentional or unintentional? But what we can be sure of is – if you don’t have an approved Operations Plan there is no way to determine if they are actually following the rules and if you ask for information that you know that many immigrants and non-English speaking families don’t have, you effectively reduce the likelihood that those families will submit applications allowing them to even make it to the lottery process.
Quite frankly, it’s an outrage and the people of Windham and eastern Connecticut deserve better.
Education Reform, Malloy, New London, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, UConn, Windham Education Reform, Malloy, New London, SERC, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, UConn, Windham
If there is one thing you can say about Connecticut “education reformers” like Paul Vallas and Steven Adamowski it is that they sure do know how to double and triple down on making money.
Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent, Paul Vallas, wouldn’t sign a $234,000 annual contract unless it allowed him to maintain his private consulting company, the Vallas Group. The same held true for the three top staff people that he brought in to help him run Bridgeport’s Schools. Despite making about $200,000 each, Vallas required that they be allowed to do outside consulting, including work in other states for his own company.
Meanwhile, Steven Adamowski’s $225,000 a year no-bid contract to serve as “Special Master” of the Windham and New London school systems apparently isn’t enough to keep him busy. As a result of a recent Freedom of Information request, it turns out that he is collecting extra public funds as a consultant to the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.
Last year, the Department of Educational Leadership at UConn’s Neag School of Education paid Adamowski to “provide a series of guest lectures on urban school leadership and reform… participate in the redesign of the Executive Leadership Program…” and consult on some other matters. For that he collected a check for $4,000.
This Spring Adamowski is collecting another $4,269 to teach a course entitled Data Driven Decision Making for School Improvement and Policy Development. Rather than the usual weekly classes, Adamowski’s class meets six times for extended class periods.
The UConn money comes in addition to his $225,000 salary as “Special Master,” the $16,800 to pay for the medical insurance for himself and his spouse, the $1,080 to pay for the dental insurance for himself and his spouse, the $3,900 for a special life and disability insurance policy, the $11,000 to cover his worker’s compensation policy, the $5,000 to pay for his professional and general liability insurance and an extra $10,000 to cover any travel and other work expenses.
Adamowski’s “Special Master” contract was one of those that the State Department of Education inappropriately ran through the State Education Service Center (SERC) in order to get around Connecticut’s competitive bidding laws.
Adamowski’s no-bid contract does allow him to engage in outside work, but on a very limited basis. In fact, the contract reads;
“Dr. Adamowski cannot perform services for other districts, agencies or parties while performing the services pursuant to this agreement, except as set for herein. Dr. Adamowski may continue to teach one course per semester in a Connecticut institution of higher education beginning in the spring 2012 semester as long as such engagement does not unreasonably interfere with his responsibilities under this Agreement.”
While his present UConn contract to serve as an “Adjunct Faculty” from 1/17/2013 to 5/14/2013 appears to meet the requirement of his SERC contract, how Adamowski and SERC could claim that his UConn contract last year from 2/24/2012 to 8/22/2012 to serve as an “Academic Specialist” meets the language of the contract is more of a mystery.
In any case, back at the State Department of Education, once the State Auditors ruled that the end-run Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education were using to get around Connecticut’s bidding laws was illegal; they announced that they were proposing legislation that would end their use of that technique. However, as Wait, What? readers know from previous posts, the proposed legislation Pryor put forward to the Connecticut General Assembly this session doesn’t actually do what Commissioner Pryor reported that it did.
Bridgeport, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham Bridgeport, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, New London, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Windham
Fellow columnist and pro-public education blogger, Wendy Lecker, and I have both written about the plan to open “gifted and talented” academies next fall in Windham, New London and Bridgeport. The three new schools will be called Renzulli Academies and modeled after the school in Hartford by the same name.
Details about the plan can be found by reading the Wait, What? posts entitled, Blessed are the Gifted for they shall inherit the earth and “Gifted” to the right, “Special” to the left, the rest of you sit down and wait.
The proposal to segregate “gifted” students from the rest of the population raises a variety of extremely serious issues, not the least of which is the negative impact it would have on both the students who are being pulled out and the students left behind in the “traditional” public schools.
Furthermore, since part of the selection process for these schools will be utilize Connecticut Mastery Test results, and standardized test results are driven, in no small part, by poverty, language barriers and the need for special education services, specific groups within our society will be disproportionately hurt by this proposal.
As everyone knows, being “gifted” in certain skill areas is in no way related to needing help with the English language or needing special education services in other areas.
But the existing Renzulli Academy is proof that an unfair selection criteria will have an unfair result.
As the following chart reveals, Latino children, those who are not fluent in English and those who need some sort of special education services are disproportionately left out of the program.
- While 52 percent of Hartford’s students are Latino, the population of the Renzulli Academy is only 33 percent Latino.
- While 17 percent of Hartford students need specialized help learning English, less than 1% of the students at the Renzulli Academy qualify as ELL students.
- And while a student can certainly be both “gifted” and need special education services, while 12.7 percent of Hartford students utilize special education programs, only 5 percent of the Renzulli Academy students have special education requirements.
The proposal to expand these “gifted” schools into Windham, New London and Bridgeport is unfair, inappropriate and will expand – not reduce – segregation in our schools.
% English Language Learners
% Special Education
Bridgeport, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker, Windham Education Reform, Paul Vallas, Segregation, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Wendy Lecker
As Wait, What Readers learned in late February after reading, Blessed are the Gifted for they shall inherit the earth, “education reformers” extraordinaire Steven Adamowski and Paul Vallas have struck again.
Adamowski, Hartford’s former Superintendent of Schools and now “Special Master” of Windham and New London schools thanks to Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and Paul Vallas, who was recruited to serve as Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent of Schools by Stefan Pryor, are part of a team that have announced the creation of three “gifted academies” for Windham, New London and Bridgeport.
Fellow blogger and public education advocate Wendy Lecker, has used her latest column in the Hearst newspapers to blow the whistle on this absurd, even revolting, proposal.
In a column entitled, A return to school segregation?, Lecker explains why the proposal for gifted academies is an insult and attack on the entire public education system.
As she writes, “From Brown vs. Board of Education to Connecticut’s landmark case, Sheff v. O’Neill, to the language of the Connecticut constitution, the law has been clear. Children have a constitutionally guaranteed right to a public education that is not impaired by isolation based on race, ethnicity, national origin or disability. Therefore, it is unconstitutional to develop and fund education programs that intentionally or unintentionally limit access to educational opportunities based on racial or ethnic backgrounds, or disabilities.”
But as she clearly lays out, these new “gifted academies” move Connecticut away from the true mission of public education and back to the ugly era of school segregation.
As Lecker adds, not only is it unbelievable that that Pryor, Adamowski and Vallas are setting up these “academies,” but they are intending to use the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs) as major admission criteria. Using CMTs is not only intellectually dishonest but will further divide our students on the basis of poverty, language barriers and the need for special education services.
Lecker’s latest commentary piece is a “must read” for many reasons, but “the most disturbing issue of all is that creating separate schools for “gifted” children violates Connecticut law and policies prohibiting school segregation.”
While the equal protection clauses in most state constitutions only bar discrimination, Connecticut’s expressly bans segregation as well as discrimination.
This plan violates Connecticut’s Constitution, it violates Connecticut law and it violates the official policy of the Connecticut state Board of Education.
Just three years ago, under the leadership of then Commissioner of Education, Dr. Mark McQuillan, the State Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution blasting the destructive effect of separating children based on ability because grouping by ability “limits achievement and stifles expectation and opportunity for college and successful competition in the workplace.”
Lecker highlights the wording of the State Board of Education resolution;
“The board unanimously disapproved any practice that permanently groups students for instruction. As the board noted, the practice of tracking disproportionately burdens poor, African-American and Latino students.
The state board resolved that any school district that assigned students to a particular level based on assessed or perceived readiness had to disclose this fact to parents and report to the state the research proving that this separate placement was necessary, the length of time it planned to deny children in lower levels access to learning with higher-achieving peers, and the demographic characteristics of those children denied access to higher-achieving peers.”
And yet, here we are; a new Commissioner of Education and two of his top confidants are part of a new policy that will stand as a testament to how far we can move away from the principles and ideals of full and equal access to a quality education.
Lecker closes with what I believe is an absolutely correct observation – “And now, we have a proposal for “gifted only” schools, equipped with “gifted only” water fountains, “gifted only” bathrooms and “gifted only” lunchrooms…Something is very wrong here.”
I strongly urge you to take the time to read Wendy Lecker’s extraordinary piece at http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-A-return-to-school-segregation-4340187.php