Bridgeport, Hartford, Malloy, Nate Snow, New Haven, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America, Windham Malloy, Mathew Kramer, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamoski, Teach for America, Wendy Koop
In 2011, Teach for America brought in $306.8 million in revenue, up 14 percent from the year before.
TFA brags that only 20 percent of their money goes to fundraising and administration.
As of two years ago, Wendy Koop, TFA’s CEO and co-founder, pulled down $448,000 in salary and benefits. Her co-founder, Matthew Kramer made another $356,000. The next thirteen administrators collected salary and benefit packages ranging from $281,000 to $194,000 a year.
Teach for America’s federal financial reports are not particularly clear but it appears that in 2011 they received about $28.7 million for what they call “Fee for Service” revenue.
One assumes that is the money they collect from school districts for recruiting and placing TFA recruits in poor, urban districts around the nation.
While these finder’s fees appear to account for less than 10 percent of their total revenue, $28.7 million is … well, $28.7 million.
But as readers learned thanks to two recent Wait, What? posts, not every community is treated the same when it comes to what they have to pay to get a TFA recruit.
Having now acquired the Teach For America contracts from New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport and Windham, the number of questions about TFA’s practices is growing by the moment.
According to these TFA contracts, New Haven paid $2,500 for each of the TFA recruits the “non-profit” entity provided the New Haven school system last year.
At the very same time, TFA was charging Hartford $3,000. In Hartford, TFA’s finder’s fee is going to stay the same for the duration of their existing contract.
But Bridgeport’s taxpayers are not so lucky. And considering 80 percent of Bridgeport’s school budget is paid for by state taxpayers, the higher rates in Bridgeport are as much of a state issue as they are a local one.
Last Spring Paul Vallas signed a contract with TFA that committed the Bridgeport school system to pay TFA a finder’s fee of $3,000 per year, per recruit. The amount Bridgeport must pay goes up to $3,105 in 2014 and $3,214 in 2015.
But that amount is relatively minor compared to what TFA is charging Windham, thanks to Special Master Steven Adamowski. Windham was required to pay $4,000 per recruit this year or 33 percent more than what Hartford and Bridgeport paid and 60 percent more than what New Haven paid.
While the finder fee issue is interesting enough, some of the contract language in the TFA contracts is equally bizarre.
List under “Credentialing Services,” the contracts states that, “Teach for America shall facilitate the enrollment of individual Teachers in an alternative certification/licensure program that will enable the individual Teacher to obtain appropriate credentials to be a classroom teacher of record.”
That makes sense…. If taxpayers are going to pay Teach for America to place teachers in our cities, rather than going through an open recruitment and hiring process, TFA should at least be responsible for making sure that teachers are getting their legally mandated credentials.
But the very next section of the contract reads, “Teach for America shall not be responsible for, and shall not be in breach of any provision of this Agreement, in the event of any failure by an individual Teacher to fulfill his/her obligations to maintain his/her teaching credentials.”
So TFA will get their recruits oriented in the right direction but they take no responsibility for making sure the recruits actually do the work necessary to get or maintain their credentials.
And if that isn’t strange enough, the contract goes on to read, “Non-Refund: Teach for America shall have no obligation to refund to School District any amount paid by School District in respect of any Teacher for any reason whatsoever. For the avoidance of doubt, School District will be invoiced fees for each of the individual Teacher(s) initially employed by the School District.”
If the teacher doesn’t make it through day one TFA keeps their finder’s fee?
And then comes the ultimate kicker…
Even though the four contracts lay out the maximum number of positions that TFA recruits will take away from our ownm home-grown, Connecticut trained young teachers, each contract includes the following language…
“In the even that Teach for America supplies the School District with any Teachers above the Agreed Number, School District agrees to pay the agreed upon fees for the additional Teachers.”
So even if the contract says there will only be 20 TFA teachers, there appears to be an escape clause that allows school administrators and TFA to sneak in more.
So now the question is….
How many TFA recruits have been placed in New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport and Windham?
Check back because we’ll find out sooner rather than later!
Bridgeport, Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy, Malloy, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America, Windham Malloy, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America, Windham’s Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy
As reported yesterday and reprinted in today’s Washington Post, thanks to a deal between Paul Vallas and Nate Snow, the Executive Director for the Connecticut Chapter of Teach for America, Bridgeport hired another 31 TFA recruits this week. The contract Vallas signed last spring committed the City of Bridgeport to hire 125 mostly out-of-state TFA recruits rather than give Connecticut residents, who have graduated with teaching certificates from Connecticut colleges, a chance to get these jobs.
You can find yesterday’s Wait, What? post reprinted here: The Washington Post. 8-29-13
Thanks to the Vallas/TFA Bridgeport contract, Nate Snow’s Teach for America collected a cool $750,000 in finder’s fees for the effort.
But as insulting as that is to Connecticut’s new teachers and Bridgeport taxpayers, across the state, Governor Malloy’s Special Master for Windham, Steven Adamowski, signed a deal with Teach for America that is proportionately even more lucrative.
The Adamowski/TFA contract “only” calls for giving 20 Windham teaching jobs to TFA recruits rather than to new Connecticut teachers but the “fee” Windham must pay TFA is $4,000 per hear instead of the “$3,000 per year TFA is charging Bridgeport. Neither Adamowski nor TFA clarify why Windham taxpayers are paying 33 percent more than are the taxpayers of Bridgeport.
But the bottom line is the same; With hundreds of new graduates from Connecticut’s teacher preparation programs, the state’s highest ranking education officials are literally using taxpayer funds to give away good paying jobs to people who, for the most part, don’t come from Connecticut, didn’t get their college education in Connecticut and didn’t even major in education.
Meanwhile, since taking office, Governor Malloy has pushed through the deepest state funding cuts in Connecticut history for our public colleges and universities. As a result, Connecticut families are paying even more to attend UConn, Central, Southern, Eastern, Western and our state’s community colleges. Earning a teaching degree at the University of Connecticut, while living on campus, could now cost as much as $125,000.
And how does Malloy, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and state appointed administrators like Paul Vallas and Steven Adamowski reward that commitment and dedication…they pay TFA to recruit non-teachers to fill what few job openings that there are out there.
Perhaps the most interesting fact of all is that Special Master Adamowski only assigned the TFA recruits to teach Windham students, a town with a disproportionately large minority and Latino student population.
The Windham Board of Education opened a beautiful new STEM magnet school this week. As a magnet school, students from throughout the region are allowed to attend. So how many TFA recruits did Adamowski assign to teach at the magnet school? ZERO.
The TFA recruits were assigned to teach the students who didn’t get into the magnet school, while the magnet school was staffed primarily with longer-term Windham teachers who were transferred from the other district schools to the new magnet.
Finally, in response to a reader’s question about whether the minimally trained TFA recruits are paid less than traditional new teachers, the TFA contract between Bridgeport and Windham states;
“Every Teacher employed by School District as described in this Agreement shall be a full-time employee of School District with all of the rights, responsibilities and legal protections attendant to that status and not an employee of Teach for America. “
“School District shall provide to every Teacher employed by School District pursuant to this Agreement the same salary and benefits (including, as applicable, health, dental, vision and retirement) as are provided to other teachers employed by School District…”
“Subject to its obligations under pre-existing labor agreements…School Districts shall use reasonable efforts not to terminate any employed Teacher from his/her teaching position in the event of a reduction in force (RIF), layoffs, “leveling” or other elimination or consolidation of teaching positions within School District. School District shall treat any Teacher employed in connection with this Agreement whose teaching position is eliminated at least as favorably as other teachers…”
So, the answer, in short, is that these TFA recruits immediately acquire the same rights and privileges of those who have actually gone through a full Connecticut teacher preparation program.
Budget Cuts, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Office of State Ethics, Paul Vallas, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Nate Snow, Paul Vallas, Stevan Adamowski, Teach for America
Yup, the Connecticut Director of Teach for America has submitted an application to open a charter school in Bridgeport.
Nate Snow arrived in Bridgeport in 2007 as a new TFA recruit.
Today he serves as the Executive Director for the Connecticut Chapter of Teach for America and President of the Board of Directors of Excel Bridgeport, Inc., a corporate funded education reform organization that he co-founded with Meghan Lowney, an aide to billionaire, hedge fund owner Steven Mandel.
Excel Bridgeport serves as the primary advocacy group supporting Governor Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch and “Superintendent of Schools” Paul Vallas’ education reform policies.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, Snow joined TFA and taught for two years in Bridgeport. He then joined TFA’s fundraising operation and then made an unsuccessful bid as a Republican candidate for the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Snow and Vallas recently signed a three-year contract between the Bridgeport Board of Education and Teach for America for $777,000, although the contract was never provided to the Board for their review and approval. Team Vallas is claiming he has the authority to sign the contract without Board involvement.
And meanwhile, despite having no experience in school administration, Snow is the lead name on a charter school application that is pending before Paul Vallas and the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Snow’s proposal is to create a Montessori Charter School for children between the ages of three and thirteen.
As to Snow’s connection to TFA and Excel Bridgeport, a recent CT Post article reported that “The charter school idea, he said, is his own.”
According to their proposal, “Whittier’s Montessori program is inspired by the design and implementation of Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School (AFMMS), a high-performing public Montessori school in Hartford, Connecticut. Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School has distinguished itself by meeting high standards of student achievement through a meticulous, fully implemented Montessori program.”
Stephen Adamowski, who according to emails acquired through a Freedom of Information request, worked with Snow around Malloy’s education reform bill, was a strong proponent of Hartford’s Montessori school and now, as Malloy’s Special Master for Windham and New London has been working hard to get Windham to switch one of its elementary schools over to a Montessori school.
In the new Montessori charter school application, the proponents explain how they developed the plan saying, “Prior to preparing for this submission, none of the founders had worked with a Montessori school, but they knew that it was a good brand with an excellent reputation. Starting with a visit to the acclaimed Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School in Hartford, then undertaking conversations with parents who have children in private Montessori school in Fairfield County, and ending with informal consultations with Montessori leaders from around the country, the Founding members became convinced that Montessori should be an option for all children in Bridgeport. Nate Snow contacted the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS), located in Hartford, for further information on what was necessary to start a public Montessori school. These discussions led to an eventual contract with NCMPS to assist in school design and to aid in writing the charter application.”
The charter school proposal aims to start with 69 students next fall and reach 209 students in its fifth year. Their budget calls for expending $1.7 million in year one and at least $3.8 million in year five.
While state charter schools get their money primarily from a state grant, Snow and his colleagues are trying to open a “local” charter school, meaning the funds would come mostly from Bridgeport’s school budget, with an extra $3,000 per student coming from a new state “local charter grant” that was part of Malloy’s education reform law. Malloy’s education reform law also included a series of $500,000 “start-up grants” that charter schools could get from the state. Snow and company are counting on getting one of those grants, as well.
In addition, the cost of transportation and special education costs would be paid for by the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Bridgeport is already well into the 60 day local charter review process. The application, if approved, would then go to Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the state Board of Education.
As to the various players behind the proposal, Wait What? readers may recall that starting in January 2011, Meghan Lowney, Nate Snow and Excel Bridgeport worked to persuade the Connecticut State Board of Education to take over the Bridgeport School System. Over the course of the six months leading up to the State Board of Education’s illegal takeover, Lowney, Snow and Excel Bridgeport engaged in numerous communications with state officials.
Despite their ongoing lobbying, both before and during the illegal takeover and throughout the effort to persuade legislators to support Malloy’s education reform bill, neither Lowney, Snow nor Excel Bridgeport registered to lobby with the Connecticut Office of State Ethics, as required by law.
More than two weeks after the end of the 2012 Legislative session, Excel Bridgeport finally filed the required papers, listing Jorge Cabrera as the organization’s lead lobbyist.
Excel Bridgeport, a group initially called the Bridgeport Partnership for School Success, Inc., was created in December 2010 and then changed its name to Excel Bridgeport Inc. in September 2011.
According to its incorporation papers, Meghan Lowney, the Executive Director of the Zoom Foundation, (the personal foundation of Fairfield County billionaire Stephen Mandel), was registered as Excel Bridgeport, Inc.’s founding president and Nathan Snow, the Executive Director of Connecticut’s Teach for America Chapter served as the organization’s founding vice president.
Snow then took over the role as Excel’s president. A board was also created made up of Jonathan Hayes (Executive, Meetinghouse Productions), Joel Green (Partner, Green & Gross, PC), Robert Francis (Executive Director, RYASAP), Carl Horton, Jr. (Consultant, Accenture), Scott Hughes (City Librarian, Bridgeport Public Library), Meghan Lowney (Executive Director, ZOOM Foundation) and Joseph McGee (Vice President, Fairfield County Business Council). Like Snow, Francis, the Executive Director of RYASAP, also has a contract with the Bridgeport Board of Education.
As of now, Lowney and Snow have still not registered to lobby despite their ongoing efforts to influence public policy.
Meanwhile, faced with inadequate state resources, and Mayor Finch’s need to come up with $3.2 million more just to meet the state’s minimum local expenditure law, it will be interesting to see if Paul Vallas, the Bridgeport Board of Education and Commissioner Stefan Pryor divert dollars to their colleague Nate Snow and his proposal for a new Montessori charter school.
Education Reform, Sarah Darer Littman, Teach for America Education Reform, Sarah Darer Littman, Teach for America
CTNewsjunkie columnist, Sarah Darer Littman published another “must read” piece in last weekend’s CTNewsjunkie (see link)
In it, Littman tackles the issues surrounding the efforts to enhance the teaching profession, provide opportunities for young people to serve their communities by teaching in urban and poor schools systems and the political/lobbying apparatus that is known as Teach for America.
During a recent college tour, Littman and her daughter, who wants to be a teacher, ran straight into the paradox that one path to teaching is through investing, “four, possibly five years pursuing a double major in a subject area and education” or simply graduating from college and trading a two-year commitment to Teach for America in return for a brief training program and a guaranteed job in a classroom as a teacher.
Teach for America bristles at the notion that they are anything but a force for good, but as Littman notes, the issues are far more complex than that.
She cites a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University who recently wrote in the Washington Post that TFA’s message is that college grads can “use teaching in high-poverty areas as a stepping stone to a career in business.” Littman correctly writes that such an approach is “not only disrespectful to every person who chooses to commit their life to the teaching profession, it effectively advocated using students in high-poverty areas as guinea pigs for an experiment in “resume-padding” for ambitious young people.”
And the evidence lays out the case that it is our poor, urban districts that are the petri dishes for the experiment. As Littman writes, “Back in February 2012, as part of his Education Reform Bill, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called for tougher standards for teacher education programs. Yet the most troubled districts in Connecticut, the “turnaround” districts, are the ones where one finds the most TFA corps members, who show up in classrooms after five weeks of training.”
Littman goes on to examine the evidence about the effectiveness of the TFA program.
Agree or disagree about what the future of the TFA and TFA like programs should be, everyone interested in the subject should take the time to read Littman’s latest piece. Here complete Op. Ed. can be read here: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_tfa_contracts_ignore_the_evidence_-_and_malloys_own_rhetoric/
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Arne Duncan, Education Reform, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, StudentsFirst, Teach for America Achievement First, Education Reform, Stefan Pryor, StudentsFirst, Teach for America
Public education experts Diane Ravitch and Gary Rubinstein write about a recent letter from 30 plus “education reform” groups to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
The “education reformer’s” message; standardized test scores should be used to measure the effectiveness of teacher training programs in the United States.
No don’t laugh, these people are for real.
Here is what they want. Colleges graduate teachers; teachers get hired; the teacher’s students take standardized tests; the standardized test score not only determine which teachers are retained and which are fired, but the scores are also used to determine whether the colleges that trained them should get more or less funding.
Their plan completely fails to take into consideration the role poverty, language barriers and special education needs play in influencing standardized test scores.
What will happen? Universities and colleges that push their teachers to teach in high income, low need areas will show their “worth” by having graduates that have students that produce consistently high test scores. Colleges and Universities that urge their students to tackle the most difficult teaching environments, poor, inner city schools, will run the risk of being labeled “failures,” because the students of those graduates won’t score high enough on standardized tests.
Who would even think of such a stupid plan, let alone work to get the Obama Administration to implement it?
A group of 30 charter school management companies…
And who is at the top of the list of organizations signing the letter.
Connecticut’s own Achievement First Inc., the large charter school management firm that was founded, in part, by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
And another group behind the effort, ConnCAN, the charter school lobby organization, that was set up by the directors of Achievement First.
And 50CAN, the national off-shoot of ConnCAN, also set up by Achievement First’s directors is pushing the absurd concept.
Other organizations behind the effort are “Teach for America, StudentsFirst, Democrats for Education Reform (the Wall Street hedge fund managers), The New Teacher Project, Jeb Bush’s rightwing Chiefs for Change and his Foundation for Educational Excellence.”
Read Diane Ravitch’s blog here: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/09/04/talk-about-nerve/
And Gary Rubinstein’s blog here: http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2012/09/04/tfa-implores-obama-administration-to-hold-teacher-preparation-programs-accountable/
As Diane Ravitch notes, “these people and these organizations are wrong. They are driving American education in a destructive direction. They will reduce children to data points, as the organizations thrive…”
The time to stop the standardized testing madness is now.
Education Reform, Steven Adamowski, Teach for America, Windham Adamowski, Teach for America, Windham
While Bridgeport is getting the headlines (and the loans), in Windham, at the other end of the state, “Special Master” Steven “where is my pension” Adamowski continues to implement a turnaround strategy that relies on fewer teachers and more administrators.
Not satisfied with simply having a $225,000 “Special Master” and a $140,000 Superintendent of Schools (as well as an Assistant Superintendent of Schools), the Windham Board of Education will announce tonight that a Manchester Elementary School principal will become Windham’s new Deputy Superintendent of Schools.
Because, as we’ve noted before, you just can’t have too many superintendents!
In addition to the regular cadre of administrators, principals, vice principals and the like, Adamowski has also created two new administrative titles, two new people who will be called “Headmasters” and two new people who will be called “Dean of Students.”
Oh, and don’t forget the “Special Master’s” decision to create the position of “Special Administrative Manager (SAM)” whose job it will be to oversee Windham’s high school (which Adamowski has renamed an Academy.)
Meanwhile, when it comes to actually educating children;
70 percent of Windham students are minority, but only one in ten who work for Windham’s schools are minority.
Nearly three-quarters of Windham’s students come from households that are so poor that they receive free or reduced school lunches.
60 percent of Windham’s students are Latino and more than a third of the students aren’t fluent in English.
And 16 percent of the students receive special education services, nearly 50 percent more than most towns.
So what did Adamowski do when he arrived?
Of the first dozen teachers he laid off, three (3) were bi-lingual or English as a Second Language teachers and three (3) were special education teachers.
Instead Adamowski signed a contract with Teach For America, and although they bring tremendous energy and commitment to a school, TFA could not guarantee how many, if any, of the temporary teachers would be bi-lingual and none would be certified to provide special education services.
The notion that it is better to look good then feel good may be an acceptable strategy in Hollywood, but calling your high school an academy, your principals headmasters and having a couple of “Dean of Students” walking around doesn’t take the place of a functioning education program.
Bridgeport, Education Reform, Ethics, Malloy, Teach for America Education Reform, Malloy, Teach for America
It now appears that Teach for America is joining the “you won’t find our lobbying report” club.
Is there no “Education Reform” group willing to live by Connecticut’s ethical standards?
As noted previously, Connecticut’s Ethics law is really quite simple.
A lobbyist is “any person [or organization] that spends or receives $2,000 or more in a calendar year to communicate with, or to solicit others to communicate with, any official or his or her staff in the legislative or executive branch, or in a quasi-public agency, in an effort to influence legislative or administrative action.”
Back in 2009, like hundreds of other organizations, Teach for America’s Connecticut Chapter filed the necessary papers to lobby in Connecticut. Over the course of that year they reported spending a total of approximately $3,500 on lobbying activities.
However, since 2009, Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter has failed to register or file any lobbying reports at all.
And it’s not like Teach for America’s state chapters don’t engage in lobbying. In Rhode Island, which is also witnessing an “education reform” effort, Teach for America – Rhode Island has registered to lobby and has already spent $25,000 this year pushing their education reform proposals.
But here in Connecticut they are apparently claiming that their interaction with state government and state officials is so limited that they don’t even have to register with the Office of State Ethics despite their extensive efforts to change public policy.
But despite their failure to register, another set of emails has surfaced reveals that Nate Snow, Teach for America’s Connecticut Director, has engaged in a number of conversations (both in person and via email) with state officials about Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” proposal.
One flurry of emails proves that in addition to serving as Malloy’s “Special Master” for the Windham Schools, Steven Adamowski has been deeply involved in developing Malloy’s “Education Reform” plan. One set of emails highlights conversations that took place between Adamowski and Teach for American’s Nate Snow including a January 10, 2012 Hartford meeting to go over the “state policy proposals” that Adamowski was developing for Malloy.
In addition to whatever communication took place prior to Governor Malloy releasing his bill, Nate Snow also played a significant role in developing an organizations that engaged in lobbying state officials to urge them to have the state take over the Bridgeport School System.
Snow, who was listed as Vice President at the time, helped Meghan Lowney form Excel Bridgeport at the end of 2010. He has since become the President of Excel Bridgeport.
In addition to their work pushing the state to take over the Bridgeport Schools, Excel Bridgeport has also been engaged in an ongoing effort to mobilize people to contact their legislators on behalf of Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill.
Yet, despite the obviously lobbying activities taking place by Nate Snow, Meghan Lowney and Excel Bridgeport, not one of them has registered as a lobbyist in Connecticut.
It raises the question – again – is there something about “education reformers” that gives them the sense that they don’t have to follow the laws by which the rest of us must abide.
For more information about these organizations check out http://excelbridgeport.org/ and http://www.teachforamerica.org/where-we-work/connecticut