A reader reminded me of a post by blogger Jonathan Pelto about Hartford, Connecticut, that shows how districts can “game the system” to meet testing target.
And that reminded me that Jon Pelto is someone you should know about. Subscribe to his blog if you want an insider’s view of education reform in Connecticut.
Pelto was a legislator for several years and cares passionately about public education. He knows how to follow the money and watches for conflict of interest and hidden lobbyists.
He has written many posts in opposition to Governor Dannel Malloy’s alliance with the hedge fund managers’ group called ConnCAN (now operating in other states as 50CAN). Pelto has called out all the players in the corporate camp, including the other Wall Street group called Democrats for Education Reform, the charter chain Achievement First, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, and Teach for America, all of which took a role in shaping and pushing Governor Malloy’s “reform” bill to funnel more money to charters than to the state’s poorest districts and to strip teachers of tenure. It’s all “for the children,” remember. Malloy said he would be happy to see more “teaching to the test,” and also said the achievement gap in his state made it necessary to take away teacher tenure. This is absurd; Connecticut has a large achievement gap because it has outsized income inequality, with large concentrations of urban poverty and intense concentrations of extreme wealth. But let’s not talk about that.
Pelto has been critical of State Commissioner Stefan Pryor, who was a founder of a Connecticut charter school, Amistad Academy, and chairman of its board for five years. That charter school is the flagship in the Achievement First charter chain. Pelto has been fearless in criticizing the claims of the powerful Achievement First chain, showing what a small percentage of ELLs it enrolls compared to urban districts in the state, and pointing out how Malloy’s budget showered far more money on this wealthy charter chain than on the state’s neediest students.
Pelto has posted several times about what happened in Hartford during the reign of Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski.Adamowski was brought in to raise achievement, and he did get the numbers up. Here is his account from his own blog. Some school superintendents ward off charter schools, but not Adamowski. He hasworked closely with the politically powerful charter chain, Achievement First.After his tenure in Hartford, he was appointed as “special master” to run the schools of Windham, Connecticut. There, his moves have been controversial, such as cutting back on early childhood education and AP classes.
Not surprisingly, Pelto has been critical of Adamowski’s close ties to the charter school industry and to conservative groups like NCTQ. Pelto repeatedly exposed the ties between Governor Malloy and corporate reformers, as well as the lobbying activities of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst. Pelto has written scathing commentaries about the state takeover of Bridgeport and about Paul Vallas’s stewardship of the district. Pelto is one of the few commentators who has criticized the “reformers” in Connecticut for ignoring the impact of poverty on educational achievement. Please readthis.
Pelto has a dogged devotion to the facts and a well-honed sense of moral outrage: this article is the best exemplification of that combination, where he lambastes the state’s urban mayors for endorsing a budget that shortchanges their own city’s children.