Archives for category: Connecticut

Jonathan Pelto notes the arrival of a new front group to promote charters in Connecticut. He also notes that the name is new, but the people are the same as the existing front groups.

“As Connecticut faces yet another massive state budget crisis, even more Pro-Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry money is flowing into Connecticut to help grease the charter school operators’ efforts to grab additional public funds courtesy of charter school aficionado and “education reform” groupie Governor Dannel Malloy.

“This time the corporate funded charter school lobbyists are calling themselves “Fight for Fairness CT” and are rallying in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford.

“Charter school organizers are using, a website that was created by a New York City advertising company on October 23 2015.

“Although they are calling themselves by a different name, the group is actually the same controversial New York based charter school lobby group known as “Families for Excellent Schools” except when they call themselves “Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy.”

“While their primary purpose has been to support Eva Moskowitz and the other New York Charter School operators, Families for Excellent Schools arrived in Connecticut from New York last year and registered both Families for Excellent Schools AND Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy as lobbying entities with Connecticut’s Office of State Ethics.

“However, Families for Excellent Schools immediately created a new front group called Coalition for Every Child, setting up a website named

“When slapped for failing to register Coalition for Every Child with the Connecticut’s ethics office, the New Yorkers quickly changed their name to Families for Excellent Schools/Coalition for Every Child.

“This year Families for Excellent Schools has spent nearly $1.2 million lobbying in favor of Governor Malloy’s charter school and education reform initiatives.

“A quick glimpse at the newly formed will reveal the same logo as the old, although they did change the color from Yellow to Blue to go along with the new t-shirts that Families for Excellent Schools are handing out to charter school parents and students in New York and Connecticut.”

The charter school kudzu.

Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker warns the state of Connecticut that it is wrong to require students in 11th grade to take the SAT  and to use it to evaluate teachers (in Hartford) and schools. Even the College Board says this is not a valid use of the SAT. The SAT is supposed to test college readiness, not whether students have learned what they were taught.

Lecker writes about a new study from the University of California that demonstrates the limitations of the SAT:

The study examined 1.1 million students from 1994-2011. It found that one-third of the variance of SAT scores could be explained by parental education, socio-economic status or status as a member of an underrepresented minority. By contrast, socio-economic factors accounted for only 7 percent of the variance in high school GPAs.
Even more stunning is that while in 1994, parental education was the strongest predictor of SAT scores, in the last four years of the study, status as a member of an underrepresented minority overtook both parental education and socio-economic status as the strongest predictor of SAT scores.

And while there is a racial gap in high school GPAs, that gap is not nearly as huge as the racial SAT gap. The study found, in ranking University of California applicants, Latinos and African-Americans comprised 60 percent of the lowest decile in SATs, but they comprised only 39 percent of the lowest decile in GPA. And while they comprised 12 percent of the top decile in GPA, they comprised only 5 percent of the top in SAT. Ranking by SAT score produces more severe racial/ethnic stratification than GPA.

The study also confirmed what three other large scale studies found: that the SAT is a poor predictor of college success.

The evidence showed that high school GPA is an accurate predictor of college completion, while the SAT is very weak.
This finding was especially true for students of color. When controlling for parental education and socio-economic status, the predictive power of the GPA increased — while the SAT’s predictive power got even weaker.

The SAT cannot determine whether a student is ready for college success. The SAT never professed to determine whether someone is “career-ready,” whatever that means.

But, as the study shows, the SAT has an adverse effect on racial minorities.So, while the SAT may be able to identify the demographic makeup of a school — and there are easier and cheaper ways to find that out — it cannot tell us a thing about the quality of the education that school provides.

If all the SAT will do is rank schools by race, why is Connecticut using it?

Obviously not. But as Jonathan Pelto writes, the new SAT will be much harder than the old SAT, including content that many students have never been exposed to. Since Jon lives in Connecticut, he notes with dismay that the state legislature has mandated that all eleventh grade students take the new SAT. He predicts disaster.

He writes:

A New York Times article last week entitled, Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT, laid out the facts about the NEW SAT including the news that,

“The addition of more-advanced math, such as trigonometry, means the test will cover materials from a greater number of courses. That will make it more difficult for students to take the SAT early. Some questions will require knowledge of statistics, a course relatively few students take in high school.”

Thanks to Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democrat and Republican members of the Connecticut General Assembly, a new state law adopted last spring mandates that high school students now take the SAT in their junior year.

The test results will be used to judge both students and teachers.

However as high schools students (and parents) know, most high school juniors are, at best, tackling Algebra in 11th grade and many are still working to master Geometry.

But that coursework won’t be enough for high school juniors to succeed on the NEW SAT.

Even in academically successful Connecticut, few students will have even taken the courses needed to master the SAT and the majority of juniors may not have been provided with the math content to even survive the NEW Common Core aligned SAT.

According to most recent data published by the United States Government’s National Center for Education Statistics, only 16% of high school graduates in the country had taken a calculus course, 11% a statistics course and only a third had even come in contact with pre-calculus concepts, all of which they will be expected to answer if they want to master the NEW SAT.

And that was graduating seniors, not juniors!

Of course, you know that David Coleman, architect of the Common Core, is now president of the College Board, which sponsors the SAT. So the SAT had to be aligned with the Common Core.

Soon we can expect to hear that Connecticut, one of the leading states on NAEP, has a failing school system. We can expect the charter industry to rush in to the rescue and the revenue.

Jonathan Pelto reports that Terrence Carter lost a lawsuit against the New London Board of Education. The board planned to hire him as a superintendent but before the final vote, the Hartford Courant discovered that Carter did not have a doctorate, as he claimed. Carter sued. He lost. 

Jonathan Pelto reports the results of the latest Quinnipiac poll of Connecticut voters. Governor Dannell Malloy’s approval rating has dropped to only 32%. Malloy is known to readers of this blog as a chum of the charter industry and the Connecticut hedge fund managers who love them. Not even the embarrassing implosion of the Jumoke charter chain dimmed his ardor for deregulated, privately managed schools.

From the Quinnipiac University Public Opinion Poll;
Connecticut voters disapprove 58 – 32 percent of the job Gov. Dannel Malloy is doing, his lowest approval rating ever and the lowest score for any governor in the nine states surveyed this year by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll. The governor gets 4-1 negative scores for the way he his handling taxes and the state budget.

“Gov. Dannel Malloy’s job approval rating has plummeted to 32 percent, close to the historic 24 percent low hit by disgraced former Gov. John Rowland in January 2004, and Gov. Malloy is not in the middle of a corruption scandal,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD.

“Only 36 percent of voters are satisfied with the way things are going in the state, one of the lowest scores since Quinnipiac University started asking this question in 1997.”

Connecticut is a state with many affluent, well-educated voters. They may remember that Governor Malloy campaigned last year with a promise not to raise taxes or to cut the budget of vital services. 

Pelto writes:

“But after being sworn back into office this past January, Malloy raised taxes, cut vital services and has turned his back on Connecticut’s state employees.

“Even after increasing taxes in the first year of his first term and the first year of his second term, when this present state budget cycle is over on June 30, 2017, Connecticut will be facing a two-year General Fund Budget Deficit of $1.6 Billion … YES, A DEFICIT OF $1.6 BILLION … [A deficit of $927 million in FY 2018 and $831 million in FY 2019.]”

Yesterday, the ex-CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme involving SUPES Academy. She is facing serious jail time. The owners of SUPES Academy, who made an agreement to pay BBB, have yet to be judged. Mayor Rahm Emanuel would like to pin the guilt squarely on BBB, but the Chicago Tribune revealed yesterday that the owner of SUPES is an ally of Emanuel and recommended first J.C. Blizzard as CEO, then BBB.

Jonathan Pelto, master blogger of Connecticut, sees connections that go beyond what we know so far. He sees Paul Vallas as a player in the Chicago drama. If you like to read truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories, read his post.

Pelto writes:

Charges were also filed against The SUPES Academy LLC and Synesi Associates LLC, as well as against the owners of those two companies, Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas. According to the indictment, their role in the kick-back scheme includes charges of bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

A third company owned by the two individuals, PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm that provided New Haven with Superintendent Garth Harris and Norwalk with Superintendent Steven Adamowski has also been caught up in the FBI’s investigation into the Chicago scandal….

Prior to being hand-picked by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to run Chicago’s Public Schools, Byrd-Bennett worked as a consultant and lead teacher for The Supes Academy, worked as a consultant for Synesi Associates and was listed as a part of the management team at PROACT Search.

While many key actors in the Corporate Education Reform Industry have been involved with Gary Solomon and his companies, one of the most prominent names on Solomon’s list of close colleagues is the Great Paul Vallas, the Education Reform Guru and former CEO of the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans public school systems.

More recently, Democratic Governor and education reform disciple Dannel Malloy brought Vallas to Bridgeport, Connecticut and then twisted Connecticut law in knots so that Vallas could stay for two years until local residents had finally had enough and forced Vallas to leave the job and return to Illinois.

As for the situation in Chicago, it could certainly be said that Gary Solomon’s ability to build such a “successful” corporate education reform company is due, in no small part, to his close relationship with Paul Vallas.

Vallas not only hired Solomon and his companies when he worked in Philadelphia, but brought Solomon with him to New Orleans.

And Vallas worked to bring other business to Solomon and his companies as well.

While Vallas has publicly claimed that he has no financial interest in any of Solomon’s consulting activities, in Vallas’ Philadelphia days Solomon’s consulting company advertised that it had “the exclusive rights to Paul Vallas’ model of education reform….”

The story gets weirder and weirder, as Vallas and Solomon play tag team:

When Paul Vallas moved on to New Orleans to head the Louisiana Recovery School District, Solomon picked up even more lucrative contracts.

But it is a story out of Illinois that provides a true snap-shot and insider’s view into how Vallas and the Corporate Education Reform Industry works;

While Gary Solomon and his companies profited greatly via Vallas in Philadelphia and New Orleans, it is the somewhat more hidden story surrounding the Rockford School District (PSD 150) in Illinois the provides telling evidence about how Vallas and the Corporate Education Reform Industry works.

More consulting contracts. Follow the story. Pelto is an amazing investigative reporter.

Jonathan Pelto notes with alarm that Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy will be the next chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

The respected blog “Academe” reposted Jon ‘s excellent post entitled, The Malloy Administration’s stunning attack on unions, professors and the future of Connecticut State University.

Jon writes:

“While people across the nation may not know it, in a few months, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy will be taking the helm of the Democratic Governors Association. In that position he will claim to be speaking for the nation’s Democratic governors and be responsible for electing more Democratic governors in the 2016 election cycle.

“Having already pushed through the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, the neoliberal, pro-Corporate Education Reform Industry governor is now engaged in an unprecedented attack on faculty at both Connecticut State University (now under the Connecticut Board of Regents) and the University of Connecticut.

“For the first time in UConn history, the Board of Trustees, which is made up of the governor’s political appointees and donors, have hired an outside, out-of-state, Chris Christie affiliated, anti-union law firm to lead the attack on the UConn AAUP. You can read more about the Malloy administration’s approach at UConn at: New Jersey lawyer known for privatization effort leads UConn bargaining effort against faculty. And UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union.”

“And now, as yesterday’s post explains, the Malloy administration dropped a contract proposal on Connecticut State University – AAUP faculty that eliminates a requirement that the institution declare financial exigency before firing tenured and non-tenured faculty and eliminates the requirement that prior to taking that “nuclear option,’ the management first meet with the AAUP chapter to discuss and find alternative solutions to firing tenured faculty. In addition, Malloy’s contract proposal takes the unprecedented step of inserting “Agency Fee” language into the contract itself, even though the matter is well settled and does not appear in any of the other State Employee contracts that cover more than the 45,000 Connecticut unionized state employees.”

Is Dannell Malloy the Scott Walker of the Democratic Party?

Jonathan Pelto has covered the charter school scams and scandals in Connecticut and often pointed out that the charters with the highest scores don’t accept the lowest performing students. That was the original purpose of charters. Ironically, the same cast of characters and hedge fund managers can be found pushing privatization of public schools across the nation.

In this post, Pekto draws attention to an excellent article on this subject by Sarah Darer Littman.

Littman analyzes the Washington state court decision and connects its relevance to Connecticut.

Jonathan writes:

“In her latest piece, Littman challenges Connecticut legislators to pay “close attention to several interesting legal developments on the West Coast, which could have significant implications here in the Nutmeg State.”

Sarah Darer Littman writes,

“The first came Sept. 5, when the state Supreme Court in Washington ruled 6-3 that charter schools don’t qualify as “common” schools under the state’s constitution, and therefore can’t receive public funding intended for traditional public schools.

“Our inquiry is not concerned with the merits or demerits of charter schools,” Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote in the majority opinion. “Whether charter schools would enhance our state’s public school system or appropriately address perceived shortcomings of that system are issues for the legislature and the voters. The issue for this court is what are the requirements of the constitution.”

Littman writes:

“Charter schools have always tried to play the public/private issue both ways. The acts of calling themselves “public” when it comes to claiming funds from the public purse, yet immediately claiming to be private entities the minute accountability and FOIA matters are raised, have created several interesting conundrums, as we have observed right here in our own backyard. (See FUSE, ConnCAN)

In the Washington State case this play it both ways strategy finally went pear-shaped:

[The Washington court writes:]

“The words ‘common school’ must measure up to every requirement of the constitution . . . and whenever by any subterfuge it is sought to qualify or enlarge their meaning beyond the intent and spirit of the constitution, the attempt must fail . . . Bryan established the rule that a common school, within the meaning of our constitution, is one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district. The complete control of the schools is a most important feature, for it carries with it the right of the voters, through their chosen agents, to select qualified teachers, with powers to discharge them if they are incompetent.”

Littman writes:

“The court listed all the ways charters fail to meet these qualifications. Namely, they are:

1) “governed by a charter school board,” which is “appointed or selected . . . to manage and operate the charter school.”

2) The charter school board has the power to hire and discharge charter school employees and may contract with nonprofit organizations to manage the charter school.

3) They are “free from many regulations” that govern other schools.

4) Charter schools are “exempt from all school district policies,” as well as “all . . . state statutes and rules applicable to school districts” except those listed in I-1240 section 204(2) and those made applicable in the school’s charter contract.”

Littman writes:

“In other words the Washington state court finally issued a ruling confirming what many of us here in Connecticut have been saying for years: charters are siphoning off taxpayer money from the public school system without sufficient (if any) accountability. Calling them “public schools” is merely convenient political fiction.”

Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker excoriates Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy for favoring privately-managed charter schools over underfunded urban public schools.

Lecker thinks Malloy should be guided by some recent court decisions.

“Charter schools want it both ways. To get taxpayer dollars, they want to call themselves public schools. However, they do not want to educate the same children as public schools, or be subject to the same rules. Courts are beginning to challenge this duplicity. In Texas and Arizona, courts have ruled that charters are not entitled to the same funding as public schools. Now, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are not public schools at all and it is unconstitutional to divert any money intended for public schools to them.

“Central to the Washington court’s decision was the connection between public schools and local democracy. The court noted that local control is the “most important feature” of a public school because it vests in local voters the power, through their elected agents, to run the schools that educate their children.

“Charters in Washington are authorized by state agencies and governed by unelected boards. The court concluded that charter schools are not true public schools because they are “devoid of local control from their inception to their daily operation.”

“This ruling follows another major decision by Washington’s Supreme Court, holding the legislature in contempt for failing to adequately fund its public schools, and fining it $100,000 a day.

“The refusal to fund public schools and simultaneous willingness to divert money to privately run charter schools has parallels to Connecticut.
In January, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will have to defend the state’s failure to fund our public schools as the CCJEF schoolfunding trial he has failed to thwart finally begins.

“While spending millions of taxpayer dollars trying to prevent children in underfunded school districts from having their day in court, the Malloy administration has aggressively expanded privately run charter schools and funded them at levels higher than schools in our poorest districts receive. Charter schools receive $11,000 per pupil annually from the state, while children in Bridgeport public schools, for example, receive less than $9,000 per pupil annually in ECS funding. New Britain Schoolsreceive less than $8,000 per pupil. Connecticut charter schools also tend to serve less needy, therefore less expensive-to-educate, students than their district counterparts.

“Moreover, the state, in violation of its own laws, concentrates charters in a few districts, forcing those financially strapped districts to pay additional millions to the charter schools for special education and transportation.

“The Malloy administration applies a double standard to charters on one hand and underfunded public schools on the other. As I have documented, the State Board of Education routinely reauthorizes charter schools despite their failures, while poor districts are subject to state takeover despite the state acknowledging that the districts’ troubles are financial ( The SBE even blindly handed over tens of millions of dollars to a convicted embezzler/charter operator,Michael Sharpe.”

Meanwhile the Malloy administration does nothing to alleviate segregation in charter schools.

Connecticut, like Washington State, has a strong tradition of local control.

Lecker says the courts will have to step in to protect the children of Connecticut from the neglect and indifference of the Malloy administration.

The state of Connecticut finally released the results of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment.

As expected, most students in Connecticut “failed.”

As I previously explained, the developers of the tests chose a passing mark that was designed to fail most students.

On the federal NAEP, Connecticut is one of the highest scoring states in the nation. Its failure rates were not as bad as in other states. But even so, a majority of students in every grade did not reach “proficient.”

Failure by design.

Time for parents in Connecticut to opt out in 2016.


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