Archives for category: Connecticut

The New London school board voted 6-0 to withdraw its offer of a contract for the superintendent job to Terrence Carter, a leader of the school turnaround organization AUSL in Chicago.

After the “Hartford Courant” published articles about discrepancies in the background of the man chosen to be the next superintendent of the New London schools, the school board asked a law firm to investigate the claims made about Terrence Carter. Carter was a high-level official at the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago, which was in charge of most of the city’s “turnaround” schools. He was well-credentialed as a reformer.

A few days ago, the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin released the results of its investigation.

It confirmed the charges leveled by reporters Jon Lender and Kathleen Megan.

It was painful for me to read. I felt badly for Mr. Carter. How many others have inflated their credentials to move ahead? I don’t find his conduct acceptable. I just felt embarrassed for him.

Jonathan Pelto will not be on the ballot in Connecticut as a Gubernatorial candidate. He did his best but did not collect enough signatures. He raised important issues, which should be raised by the media and the public during the campaign. That is the role of protest candidates. Thank you, Jon, for being a stalwart champion of children, teachers, and public education.

Here is his statement:

“Pelto Statement on falling short of the 7,500 signatures needed to get on the ballot”

Later today, the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office is expected to officially announce that the Jonathan Pelto/Ebony Murphy ticket did not collect the 7,500 certified signatures needed to qualify for a position on the 2014 gubernatorial ballot.

On behalf of the Pelto/Murphy campaign, Jonathan Pelto has released the following statement;

“We are, of course, deeply disappointed that we were unable to collect a sufficient number of signatures to qualify as 3rd party candidates for governor and lt. governor. While we failed to achieve that critical goal, we’re hopeful that our effort has and will continue to spur a more serious discussion about the critically important issues facing Connecticut.

I want to especially thank Ebony Murphy for agreeing to serves as my running-mate, the hundreds of people who helped collect signatures and the thousands of people who signed our petition. We are also especially grateful to those who provided the campaign with their financial support.

I apologize to all of our supporters for our inability to get onto the ballot, but want to assure them and the citizens of Connecticut that we will continue to stand up and speak out about the problems facing our state and our society and the solutions that will be necessary to ensure a better future of our of our state’s residents.

The petitioning process was an eye opening one. While requiring candidates to collect 7,500 signatures to qualify for a position on the gubernatorial ballot continues to seem like a reasonable number, the primitive and burdensome laws and archaic system clearly serves as an unfair barrier to those who believe our democratic system would be better served if voters had more choices when they go to vote.

In the coming months we’ll seek to partner with other 3rd parties, their supporters and those who believe in a more open and democratic process so that we can develop and advocate for a legislative package that will reduce the unfair aspects of the petitioning process and create a more open, democratic system of campaigns and elections.

I also want to offer a special thank you to Connecticut’s reporters and media for providing us with fair and extensive coverage of our campaign.

Finally, a special word of congratulations goes out to Joe Visconti, the other 3rd party candidate, who, along with his team of supporters, did a remarkable job collecting the signatures necessary to get on the ballot. Joe has shown that the People can challenge the incumbency parties and, shake up the establishment. I wish him continued success as he speaks out on the issues he is so passionate about.”

Given the recent scandal over Jumoke Academy and its sponsor, FUSE, you would think the State Board of Education and State Commissioner Stefan Pryor would be extra careful when authorizing new charters, but you would be wrong.

Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker writes here about the Board’s perfunctory scrutiny of applicants and the absence of any due diligence when someone wants a charter. The charter world, it turns out, is very cozy indeed. Michael Sharpe, the ex-CEO of Jumoke Academy was supposed to run a new charter called Booker T. Washington Academy in New Haven. After Sharpe resigned, the founder of the school wanted to proceed without Sharpe.

“Given Pryor’s and the Board’s gross negligence in allowing the first application to sail through without scrutiny, it was incumbent upon them to exert real oversight when the BTWA founder, Reverend Eldren Morrison, decided he still wanted to open a charter school. Since the original application was invalidated, Pryor and the Board should have required that BTWA repeat the same legally required process all charter school applicants must undergo.

“Instead, Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education rushed through a “modified” application ignoring both the charter law and SDE’s own procedure, which mandated, among other things, a local public hearing. The cut-and-pasted new application was presented directly to the State Board on August 4.

“Astoundingly, the State Board once again abdicated its responsibility and approved this modified application without any scrutiny.

“The most outrageous illustration of the Board’s negligence was its treatment of the school’s new director, John Taylor. Taylor, who had worked at the Northeast Charter Schools Network, co-founded by Michael Sharpe, touted his success founding and running a charter high school in Albany, called Green Tech.

“One board member questioned his record there, based on an article in Albany’s Times-Union. The newspaper reported that when Taylor ran the school, performance was abysmal- with a four-year graduation rate of only 36 percent and only 29 percent of students passing the English Language Arts Regents exam.

“When confronted with this data, Mr. Taylor flatly denied this report, claiming he had wanted a retraction from the newspaper.

“A quick check of the New York State Education Department website proves that the Times-Union`s data were accurate. Moreover, my source confirmed that Mr. Taylor never requested a retraction.”

Furthermore, writes Lecker, the close connections of the cozy charter world demand scrutiny, yet there is none:

“The new application is rife with dubious connections. Derrick Diggs of Diggs Construction Company submitted a letter of recommendation for the initial BTWA. Now, Diggs Construction will be handling the renovations for the new BTWA’s temporary and permanent buildings; which cost several hundred thousand taxpayer dollars. Jeff Klaus wrote a letter of recommendation for the initial application. Klaus’ wife is Dacia Toll, CEO of Achievement First Charter chain. Achievement First now has a contract with BTWA to provide professional development; and Achievement First is subletting its vacant building to BTWA as its temporary home. BTWA will return to AF a building renovated on the public dime. Given the self-dealing that permeated FUSE/Jumoke, it is shocking that the Board did not probe these questionable relationships.”

Neither the State Commissioner nor the State Board is willing to scrutinize these relationships. The situation is ripe for more trouble. No one is minding the taxpayers’ dollars or the children’s well-being.

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor announced that he would not serve a second term and was seeking other opportunities.

Jon Pelto, who hopes to run an independent campaign for governor, says that Governor Dannell Malloy is cutting his losses because of Pryor’s outspoken advocacy of charter schools. Also, says Pelto, Malloy realizes he has alienated teachers and is trying to win back their votes.

When the charter school Jumoke Academy and its parent organization FUSE were embarrassed recently, with the revelation that its CEO had served time in prison and had falsely claimed a doctorate, Pryor’s championing of charter schools became an embarrassment.

The unasked question is whether Governor Malloy will pick another charter booster if he is re-elected.

Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker chastises a charter advocate who says that all charters should not be smeared by the recent scandals involving Jumoke Academy, “Dr.” Michael Sharpe, and “Dr.” Terrence Carter. Her own charter, she says, has an open lottery and accepts all who win the lottery.

Lecker offers a mini-history lesson about how “choice” schools served in the South to perpetuate segregation. Then she delves into the statistics of the charter school with the “open lottery.”

Lecker writes:

“Open lotteries result in segregation. Pure and simple. In fact, open choice was used as a way of keeping southern schools segregated in the wake of the Brown decision. And over fifty years of evidence since then proves that unfettered choice segregates schools. The only way to achieve diversity in a choice system is to carefully design a controlled choice policy that consciously seeks diversity. In my district, Stamford, we abandoned an open lottery for our magnet schools years ago, as we found it that it increased segregation. Stamford has a mandatory integration policy. When our schools fall out of balance, we redistrict. Enrollment in our magnet schools is done through a lottery that consciously controls for demographics. Our schools are integrated because we make the conscious effort to integrate, rather than blindly declaring that “all can attend.”

“Ms. Dichele’s Side by Side charter school is a perfect example of how an open lottery works against diversity. When you compare the demographics of Side by Side charter school to its host district, Norwalk, Side by Side has ten percent less poverty, half the percentage of English Language Learners and half the percentage of students with disabilities that Norwalk’s schools have. Moreover, while state data show that Side by Side has zero percent teachers of color, Norwalk’s school district has 15.9%.”

Lecker understands that it makes no sense to have two separate and unequal publicly funded school systems, especially when they don’t serve the same demographics.

Fred Klonsky writes that in 2007, the Chicago Tribune praised CEO Arne Duncan because he would not be content with principals drawn from the ranks. not Arne! He was looking for superstar principals. Duncan was CEO because he lacked the experience as a teacher or a principal to be a superintendent.

The Tribune singled out one of Duncan’s “superstars”: Terrence P. Carter.

““Used to be, as long as the lights were on and the heat was working and teachers reported to school, your job as principal was basically done,” said Terrence Carter, principal of Clara Barton Elementary School in Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. “Now, in the age of more accountability, there’s a paradigm shift for what skills principals need to have.”

“For Carter, who also attended that day, the training reviewed skills he already knew. Carter represents a new breed of principal, many of whom recently entered the profession from the business world through a selective principal training program called New Leaders for New Schools. In that program, prospective principals focus on becoming academic leaders and conducting rigorous evaluations of teachers, students and curricula.

“That’s the challenge and the opportunity for Chicago: to draw dozens more leaders like Terrence Carter into the most challenging public schools and to help them thrive.”

Klonsky writes:

“Carter is now the center of controversy in New London, Connecticut where his application for school superintendent is on hold while the board investigates his claims of a doctorate from among other universities, Stanford University in California.

“Stanford denies he received a doctorate from them.

“Prior to applying for the job in New London, Carter worked as a principal for CPS and as an executive director for the Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL is responsible for managing most of CPS turnaround schools.

“CPS board president David Vitale and chief administrative officer Tim Cawley both come from the ranks of AUSL.”

Yet, Klonsky writes, the Chicago Tribune has not seen fit to report about Arne Duncan’s superstar, and Duncan has no comment.

The Day reports that the language in the cover letter submitted by Terrence Carter to be superintendent in New London contained language identical to a cover letter written by another job applicant in Michigan in 2011. When will this charade end? If he fabricated his résumé and plagiarized his job application and cover letter, what more evidence is needed?

Here is an excerpt from The Day:

“New London — The cover letter Terrence P. Carter submitted with his application to be the city’s next superintendent bears a resemblance to a cover letter submitted by a different candidate seeking a Michigan superintendent job in 2011.
Carter’s cover letter, submitted on March 11 along with his application and resume, shares a similar structure and, in some cases, identical sentences.

“I bring an unbridled passion for educating children and adults, a track record of launching and directing critical educational programs, and exceptional leadership credentials,” Carter wrote in his letter. “If you are looking for a dynamic educational leader who has continually succeeded in the classroom, in academic programs, in the central office, and in corporate America, then my credentials will be of great value to you, your students, and your community.”

A cover letter submitted in 2011 by Frederick Charles Clarke, then a candidate for the superintendent job in Rochester, Mich., contains a similar passage.

“…I bring to your academic institution an unbridled passion for educating America’s youth, a track record of launching and directing critical educational programs, and exceptional leadership credentials,” Clarke wrote. “If you are looking for a dynamic educational leader who has continually succeeded in the classroom, in academic programs, and in the central office, perhaps my credentials will be of great value to you, your students and your community.”

The Day, a Connecticut publication, reports more problems for Terrence Carter, applicant for the superintendency at New London, who used the title “Dr.” and “Ph.D.” without having earned the title.

The Day reports that sections of Carter’s job application were identical to other publications. That is known as plagiarism and is unacceptable in school or higher education.

“New London – At least 10 paragraphs in the two-page essay Terrence P. Carter submitted with his application for the city’s superintendent of schools job contain material apparently copied from other sources without attribution, including academic journals, news articles and websites.

“In some cases, entire paragraphs of Carter’s March application are exactly the same as writings that previously appeared in other publications.”

Jon Lender of the Hartford Courant, who has broken story after story about sham practices in the state’s charter industry, describes the process of trying to verify the “doctorate” of Terrence Carter, the nominee for superintendent of the New London schools. The search firm hired by the school board seems to have conducted its research via Google.

Despite the damaging stories about his educational résumé, Carter is not abandoning his quest for the job:

“On Thursday, hours before the board of education’s evening meeting, the state Department of Education asked Carter to withdraw from consideration following a week of damaging disclosures. But Carter showed up at the meeting, met with the board in closed session, and emerged saying he’d done nothing wrong. “I’m not stepping down” he said, adding that he’s still “interested in the job.” He wouldn’t answer any questions about his past Ph.D. claims.”

Just when you think things can’t get worse in Connecticut, another “reform” scandal pops up.

Civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker writes here about the clear pattern of hiring unqualified people to run impoverished districts. Their way of operating: cut services, bring in Teach for America, install unproven programs.

She writes:

“It is becoming painfully clear that in Connecticut, the refrain that education reform is “all about the children,” is a sad joke. To Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and his allies, children are merely collateral damage.

“Recently, there was the scandal involving Hartford’s Milner school, in which the children were used as pawns in a scheme to expand the charter empire of now-disgraced Jumoke/FUSE CEO Michael Sharpe. Pryor never bothered to discover that Sharpe is a former felon and falsified his academic credentials. Instead, while Milner was floundering under Sharpe, Pryor, a longtime Sharpe supporter, handed him two additional schools. The fate of public school children was clearly the last thing on Pryor’s mind. Currently, the FBI is investigating Pryor’s, Sharpe’s and Jumoke/FUSE’s connections.”

The latest drama is playing out in impoverished New London, where the state is pushing to hire a superintendent with a phony doctorate.

Connecticut is one of the nation’s highest performing states. It didn’t get that way by turning children over to inexperienced, unqualified teachers and superintendents. The achievement gap is a direct result of the opportunity gap. It won’t be closed by experimenting on children but by reducing the poverty that creates obstacles for children.

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