Jon Lender of the Hartford Courant describes in detail how the embattled candidate for New London superintendent, Terrence Carter, was the very model of a modern school reformer. He graduated from New Leaders for New Schools, founded by Obama and Clinton advisor Jonathan Schnur.
Terrence Carter had deep roots in the world of “reform.”
“To fully understand the Carter episode, it helps to look at him in the context of a national battle over non-traditional school-reform efforts. The high praise that he received from influential voices in recent years sounds almost ironic now – as New London’s school board has its law firm conducting an investigation that could send him packing.
“Terrence Carter represents a new breed of principals who entered the profession from business through an excellent principal training program called New Leaders for New Schools. The program, which operates in Chicago and five other cities and is about to add two more, imposes higher expectations on principals,” the Chicago Tribune said in an editorial Feb. 4, 2007.
“Carter then was principal of Clara Barton Elementary School, in a poor Chicago neighborhood, after receiving training at New Leaders, a national non-profit school-reform group co-founded by Jonathan Schnur, a former Clinton White House staffer and Obama campaign adviser.”
With his credentials, Carter advanced rapidly in Arne Duncan’s Chicago:
“The Obama administration has been receptive to school-reform efforts by groups like New Leaders. Obama appointed his fellow Illinois native, Arne Duncan, as secretary of education after Duncan ran the Chicago schools, cooperating with school reformers and engineering oft-controversial school “turnaround” projects where “new breed” principals were inserted.
“Chicago was an early battleground in what’s become a national controversy between traditional educators and teacher unions, on one side, and, reform activists such as New Leaders and charter school operators on the other. That fight is playing out in Connecticut, where Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has appointed a charter school co-founder, Stefan Pryor, as a state education commissioner who supports turnaround efforts in low-performing schools.
“Skeptics about such efforts in Connecticut see more in the Carter controversy than just one candidate whose credentials and character have been questioned.
“This is how the pro-privatization, big-philanthropy-funded networks and organizations tend to work. They pass their own people along and up, greasing rails and plumping resumes as they go. And the main criteria for ‘success’ often seems not to be real leadership characteristics, so much as willingness to be a good soldier when it comes to pushing forward a particular reform agenda,” said Lauren Anderson, an assistant professor of education at Connecticut College in New London.”
Carter’s standing in the school-reform movement was such that in 2009 he accompanied Schnur to a presentation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The topic was New Leaders’ partnership with Chicago in the “turnaround” of several low-performing inner-city schools.
“New leaders like Terry” have made “dramatic gains” in student performance, Schnur said in a presentation that helped win an “Innovations in American Government” award from the Kennedy School’s Ash Center for the New Leaders-Chicago schools initiative.
“Terry for example — he didn’t spend 15 years as an assistant principal, but he was a chief learning officer at a Fortune 500 company working with and managing adults, and a former teacher, and brought that blend of skills to bear,” Schnur said in remarks still watchable on YouTube at http://youtu.be/sHjWtePruMU.”
Carter had the strong support of Connecticut State Commissioner Stefan Pryor.
“Anderson spoke against Carter’s hiring at a July 24 meeting in New London when the school board put off a scheduled vote to approve a contract for Carter — and instead instructed its legal counsel, Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford, to look into newspaper disclosures including the fact that Carter had used the titles Dr. and Ph.D. for years without holding a degree from an accredited university.
“Other newspaper revelations: he filed for bankruptcy twice; his application essay included long passages identical with other educators’ writings on the Internet; a national research organization released a copy of a bio that it says Carter submitted in 2011 with the claim that he had a Ph.D. from Stanford University, which Stanford says he does not; and he got a Ph.D. in 1996 from “Lexington University” — which doesn’t have a campus and had a website offering degrees for several hundred dollars with the motto “Order Now, Graduate Today!”
“Carter met in closed session with the school board on July 24, and said afterward that he did nothing wrong, never misrepresented his credentials to anyone now or in the past, and still wanted the job.”
“Carter had been selected by the school board in June, with Pryor’s endorsement, to begin running the troubled New London school system starting Aug. 1. At the time, he was the toast of New London and, in comments quoted by the Day newspaper, he invoked the name of Duncan, Obama’s national education secretary.
“The story noted that the Chicago-based Academy for Urban School Leadership — the education-reform group he’d been working for since leaving his principal’s job in 2010 — had been praised by Duncan and Rahm Emanuel, the former Obama chief of staff who now is mayor of Chicago. Carter said in the story that back in Chicago a decade ago, Duncan, then running the Chicago schools, had handpicked him from the New Leaders training program for school administrators.
“He saw my presentation and said, ‘I need this guy in Chicago,'” Carter said in the Day article.
“Duncan’s deputy press secretary declined a Courant request Thursday an interview with the national school chief or a statement about Carter.”
The Carter story is not about one man, but about the bipartisan movement to disregard credentials, to close schools, to hire ill-prepared TFA, and to favor privately managed schools over community public schools. To favor democratically elected school boards over management by hedge fund millionaires.