Archives for category: Connecticut

Governor Dannell Malloy of Connecticut sold his soul to hedge fund managers and corporate reformers.

 

Jonathan Pelto reports the tawdry details:

 

 

“Call it the new American Way. The billionaires, millionaires and corporate elite who fund charter schools give generously to Democratic and Republican politicians and the politicians return the favor by shifting public funds into the coffers of the privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

 

“Here is in Connecticut the system was clearly on display last week when Governor Dannel Malloy and his sidekick, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, rolled out their new “austerity budget” for 2016-2017.

 

“In classic fashion their plan slashes the full array of vital services while giving the wealthy yet another tax break. Their plan makes absolutely no effort, what-so-ever, to require Connecticut’s richest resident to pay their fair share in taxes.

 

“But their budget certainly targets the middle class and all of Connecticut’s working families, along with those who rely on state services to lead more fulfilling lives.

 

“Failing to even identify where 40 percent of the budget cuts would even come from, Malloy proposed a spending plan that would provide $720 million less than what would be necessary simply to maintain the current level of state services.

 

“Malloy targeted some of his deepest cuts for programs that help children in crisis, the developmental disabled, those with mental illness, Connecticut’s public schools, the state’s public colleges and universities, and municipal aid.

 

“Of course, the Governor promised – yet again – that he would not raise taxes … overlooking the fact that his budget would force cities and towns across Connecticut to raise taxes.

 

“But while everyone else loses under Malloy’s budget, charter schools win!

 

“In the midst of their budget slashing frenzy, Malloy and Wyman are actually increasing the amount of taxpayer funds going to Connecticut’s privately owned charter schools…..

 

“The Democratic governor and Lt. Governor who used to decry the lack of adequate funding for the state’s public schools are now proposing the deepest cuts to public education in Connecticut history.

 

“At the same time, their “generosity” toward charter schools only grows.

 

“The reason seems pretty obvious. Connecticut’s charter schools and their supporters have become a “golden egg” for Malloy’s political aspirations.

 

“In the months leading up to and through his re-election campaign, corporate education reform proponents and the charter school industry poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Malloy’s various campaign entities and organizations.

 

“Take, for example, Greenwich millionaire Jonathan Sackler.

 

“Sackler, whose company brought the world OxyContin, likes charter schools … a lot.

 

“Sackler serves on the Board of Directors of Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management chain with schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island and the Board of Directors of ConnCAN, the Connecticut charter school advocacy front group. Sackler helped bankroll the formation of Achievement First Inc. and was the founder of ConnCAN. He is also a major player in the national charter school movement.

 

“During Malloy’s re-election campaign, Sacker and his immediate family donated well in excess of $100,000 to Malloy’s campaign operation and the spigot didn’t stop when Malloy won a second term as governor. Since the 2014 election, the Sacklers have donated an additional $50,000 to Malloy’s political activities.

 

“According to reports filed with the Federal Election Committee and the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, over the past few years, Dannel Malloy’s fundraising operatives have collected more than $330,000 from the people who serve on the Achievement First, Inc. Board of Directors, the ConnCAN Board of Directors or play a leadership role in Connecticut’s charter school and corporate education reform organizations.

 

“The truth is that the corporate elite behind the Pro-Common Core, Pro-Common Core testing, Pro-Charter School and Anti-teacher agenda that Dannel Malloy has been pushing have become one of Malloy’s most important sources of campaign cash.”

 

 

 

 

 

Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy is faithful to his state’s hedge fund managers, who supported his campaigns. But he is not faithful to the children, parents, and educators of his state.

 

Malloy is offering a nice increase for charter schools, but budget cuts for the public schools that educate the vast majority of students. Perhaps Malloy forgot that the charter sector was rocked by scandal less than two years ago.

 

Malloy broke his promise to legislators and the public.

 

“Charter schools have escaped Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget knife and are slated for a $9.3 million boost in his newly proposed state budget.

 

“But the Democratic governor also wants a $52.9 million cut in funding for special education, after-school programs, reading tutors and other services in low-performing public schools across the state.

 

“Malloy also wants to rescind an $11.5 million funding increase in the Education Cost Sharing grants for next school year. It is the state’s principal education grant to municipal schools, and the idea of a reduction is not sitting well with some of the lawmakers who helped approve the ECS money last year.

 

“In order to secure the votes needed to pass the two-year budget last June, lawmakers reached a deal to appease both the urban legislators upset that state aid for neighborhood schools was not increasing and the governor, insistent on increased state funding so two new charter schools could open. The budget agreement upped funding for both charters and traditional public schools in each of the following two years.

 

“Rep. Edwin Vargas, D-Hartford, one of the more than dozen concerned legislators last spring, is upset that the governor is now backing off the increase for neighborhood schools but keeping the increase for charter schools.

 

“This was bad-faith bargaining,” said Vargas, a former teacher and union leader. “We swallowed this bitter pill of spending millions to open new charters and the sweetener was the additional money for the local districts. That was the way many of us could bring ourselves to support the budget.”

 

“It was a very close vote,” he continued, “and had people known that they were going to renege on part of the deal, it might have affected some of the votes on the final budget.”

 

In Stamford, the governor’s proposal means the public schools will not get the $225,000 increase they would have received, but the new charter school in town will get about $3 million more so enrollment can increase. That charter school and another in Bridgeport are to expand by about 650 seats.

 

“Other towns in line not to receive previously scheduled increases include Danbury ($1 million), Rocky Hill ($450,000), Shelton ($500,000), Southbury ($600,000), West Hartford ($1.6 million) and Wethersfield ($530,000). These increases would have ensured that every district receives at least 55 percent of what the state’s education funding formula says they deserve when factoring in town wealth and student need.”

 

Jonathan Pelto, former legislator and current courageous blogger in Connecticut, says that his daughter will not take the SAT test required of all juniors.

In response to parental objections to the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment, Connecticut dropped SBAC and replaced it with the Common Core-aligned SAT.

“Thanks to a contract signed by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Dianna R. Wentzell and approved by Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education, Connecticut taxpayers will be shelling out in excess of $4.3 million in scarce public funds, over the next three years, to the College Board, the company that owns the SAT. In return, the College Board will allow students to take their NEW SAT — a test that has yet to be validated and has come under increasing criticism because, despite their claims, the SAT fails to adequately predict how students will do in college.

“This latest debacle started last spring when, in the face of growing opposition to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, the Connecticut General Assembly and Governor Malloy decided to replace the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory 11th grade SBAC test with a new mandate that all high school juniors take what is likely to be an equally unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory NEW SAT.

“However, neither Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education nor the legislators had ever seen the NEW SAT that they are now trying to force 11th grader to take. They hadn’t seen it because the new version of the SAT isn’t even being released until March 2016.

“As the College Board website proclaims, students across the United States can take the NEW SAT for the first time on March 5, 2016 which means that Connecticut’s 40,000 juniors are truly little more than an initial round of guinea pigs for a testing company whose revenue is already in excess of $841 million a year….

“In my daughter’s case, of the dozen or so colleges that she is considering applying to, the majority DO NOT require an SAT test.

“For those schools that do require a standardized test score, my daughter will be taking the old version of the SAT on February 20, 2016. The last date for taking the old version of the SAT was supposed to be last week (January 23, 2016) but due to the snow storm on Saturday, the testing was postponed until the end of February….

“While she won’t be participating in the SAT test being “mandated” by the state of Connecticut, on March 2, 2016, if we determine that she should take the NEW SAT, then there are plenty of options to take the test in the spring, summer and fall, after the initial problems with the NEW SAT have been identified and resolved.

“What we won’t do is serve as pawns for the state of Connecticut’s attempt to collect standardized tests results so that they can unfairly evaluate teachers. Governor Malloy’s “education reform initiative” requires local school district to base 22.5 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on the standardized test results of their students.

“My daughter won’t be relegated to being a test subject for the College Board’s attempt to reclaim market share.

“Instead, we will do what is best for my daughter’s college aspirations – the state and its testing obsession be damned.”

Jonathan Pelto is a veteran political analyst in Connecticut and a former legislator. He is concerned about the rise of Donald Trump, and he understands that Trump taps into middle-class and working-class anger. Why are they angry? Connecticut has seen little economic growth, jobs are not increasing, the gap between rich and poor is getting wider.

Ever wonder who is the supplying the money behind the privatization of public schools?

It is a long list, and it starts with the U.S. Department of Education. Every year since 1994, your taxpayer dollars have been used to open schools that drain resources from your public schools while selecting the students they want. If your state has charters, you can expect that they will lobby the legislature for more charters. They will close their schools, hire buses, and send students, teachers, and parents to the State Capitol, all dressed in matching T-shirts, to demand more charters. Since the children are already enrolled in a charter and can’t attend more than one, they are being used to advance the financial interests of charter chains, which want to expand.

The big foundations support the growth of the charter industry: the Walton Family Foundation has put more than $1 billion into charters and vouchers; the Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation also put millions into charters, often partnering with the Far-right Walton Foundation.

There is a long list of other foundations that fund the assault on public education, including the John Arnold Foundation (ex-Enron trader), the Dell Foundation, the Helmsley Foundation, the Fisher Family Foundation (Gap and Old Navy), the Michael Bloomberg Foundation, and many more.

Here is a list of the funders of 50CAN, which started in Connecticut as ConnCAN, created by billionaires, corporate executives, and hedge fund managers, led by Jonathan Sackler, uber-rich Big Pharma.

Here is an example of a foundation that is very active in support of privatization. Check out where their money goes.

ALEC uses its clout with far-right legislators to promote charters and vouchers, as well as to negate local control over charters.

To see where the Walton Family Foundation spread over $202 million to advance privatization, look here.

The money trail is so large, that it is hard to know where to begin. Certain recipients do collect large sums with frequency, including KIPP, Teach for America, Education Trust, to name just a few.

As we say at the Network for Public Education, we are many, they are few. They have money, we have votes. Out ideas for children and education are sound, their ideas fail every time, everywhere.

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 http://www.fightforfairnessct.org, 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” http://www.familiesforexcellentschools.org/ 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 http://www.foreverychildct.org/

“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 http://www.fightforfairnessct.org will reveal the same logo as the old http://www.foreverychildct.org/, 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.]”

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