Archives for category: ConnCAN

Politico reports today that most teachers of the year agree test-based evaluations are the most demoralizing federal policy for teachers. Yet ConnCAN, the corporate reform group, is urging Connecticut legislators to stick with this failed program.

Shame on ConnCAN! Count on them to advocate for policies opposed by teachers and parents. Whom do they represent? Their biggest funder is the Sackler family, which became billionaires selling the highly addictive OxyContin.

And by the way, now that 50CAN has merged with StudentsFirst, it is time to recall that in the psychiatric literature, CAN refers to “child abuse and neglect.”

Politico writes:

“- Speaking of tests, 69 percent of State Teachers of the Year and finalists for State Teacher of the Year say that federal policy that has most damaged the professionalization of the teaching profession has required the use of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations. That’s according to new survey results released by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year:

“- In Connecticut, the state board will decide whether to adopt a state panel’s recommendation to delay linking student growth to teacher evaluations for the upcoming 2016-17 school year. Jennifer Alexander, CEO of the advocacy group ConnCAN, will testify in opposition to the measure, calling it “folding to political pressure and maintaining the status quo.” Meanwhile, the Connecticut General Assembly’s education committee has approved a bill that would ban the use of student growth in teacher evaluations.”

Last year, Camp Philos had its first meeting in a remote area of the Adirondacks of New York. Governor Cuomo was the keynote speaker at this gathering of philosophers who strategize about replacing public schools with private management and opening up the secure flow of government funding to private investors.

This year, the philosophers’ camp convened in Martha’s Vineyard, an equally inaccessible and very expensive location. It was in late October. Some of the stars of privatization were there, plus a few new faces.

The event was sponsored by the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and ConnCAN. The usual lineup of billionaires paid for this strategy session on how to steal democracy from the public, how to promote the ALEC agenda while calling yourself a Democrat.

This is an excellent letter to the editor that asks the right questions about charters:

Why do they get public money yet refuse to submit to public audits?

Why do they enroll fewer children in poverty?

Why do their leaders refuse to aid struggling public schools?

Why do they claim that the only way to help poor children is to move them to their privately managed schools?

Why do they refuse to acknowledge that public magnet schools outperform charter schools?

Why are charters the preferred “reform” of some of the state’s wealthiest citizens?

Why do charter advocates slander our public schools?

I am repeating this post because I left out the crucial word NOT in the original post. Malloy’s SB 24 thrilled “reformers” like ConnCAN, but not teachers. He also made the insulting comment that teachers get tenure just for showing up for four years.

Some people in Connecticut want to keep Jon Pelto off the ballot. That is not democratic. Let the people decide.

Governor Malloy has NOT been a faithful friend to teachers. He has been a faithful friend to charters and plutocrats. Let them vote for him.

Pelto has been a faithful friend to public schools, to teachers, and to kids. Let him run.

Kevin Rennie of the Hartford Courant doesn’t think it is right to limit democratic choices at the ballot box.

He writes:

“Malloy, in the meantime, wants to erase signs of his ardent romance with state plutocrats — including his plan to have the state’s working people hand over more than $100 million in incentives to one of the nation’s largest and most prosperous hedge funds, Bridgewater Associates, to move a few miles from Westport to Stamford. The deal fell apart last week when Bridgewater opted to stay in tony Westport.

“A defiant Malloy declared that he will continue to fight to bring jobs to the state. The Bridgewater jobs, however, are already here. The governor’s scheme required taxpayers to foot the bill for a new waterfront office with a helipad. Luckily, Malloy’s misbegotten deal failed, but it’s not likely to discourage him from handing hundreds of millions of public dollars to his stable of the favored rich.

“The most unambiguous moment of the campaign so far came in these pages a week ago when left-wing lobbyist and Malloy ally Betty Gallo denounced the efforts of former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, to petition his way onto the ballot for governor. She urged readers to join her in not signing his petitions.

“Those petitions include Pelto’s running mate, Ebony Murphy of Hartford. I don’t know what Gallo’s beef is with Murphy, an African American Stamford native, teacher and daughter of a Teamster. I know that if a Republican tried to limit candidates’ access to the ballot there would be a Democratic outcry. It doesn’t seem much different when it’s a Democrat.

Kevin Rennie is a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator. He can be reached at”

Here is a summary of a recent mayoral forum in Minneapolis, sponsored by MinnCAN.

MinnCAN is a spinoff of ConnCAN and 50CAN, organizations that promote school choice and look askance at public education. To be fair, they are quite happy to take public dollars, but to run their schools with rules that are very different from those that govern public schools, which are not allowed to pick their students or exclude those with low scores.

The candidates who came before the group in Minneapolis were singing the same song:

It goes like this: Our public schools are broken, our experienced teachers are no good, what we need is what the far-right think tanks have been advocating for fifty years:

Pressurizing teachers, “school choice,” standardized testing, “accountability”, charter schools, and vouchers.

School choice is the answer! No evidence needed.

Innovative? No, this is the status quo. This is the agenda of the Bush-Obama era.

With enough of this ideology, Minneapolis can destroy its public schools, replace them with privately managed charter schools and vouchers. And in short order, Minneapolis will look like Milwaukee, which has a charter sector, a voucher sector, and a withering public sector. Note that the public schools of Milwaukee has more students with disabilities than the other two sectors. And on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Milwaukee is one of the nation’s lowest performing urban districts.

Is this what is called a Race to the Bottom?

Josh Eidelson explains in what happened in Bridgeport, Connecticut, when the corporate reformers promoted a referendum to abolish the elected school boards and give the public schools to the mayor. Despite the active support of Michelle Rhee and a heavy infusion of money, the voters of Bridgeport decided they preferred to keep their right to choose those who control their schools.

The Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C., is one of the nation’s leading advocates for privatization of public education. Its leader, Jeanne Allen, was an education policy analyst at the rightwing think tank, the Heritage Foundation, before she founded CER in 1993:

The Center for Education Reform has long advocated for charters and vouchers. It has nothing to say about improving public schools, only that they should be replaced by private management or vouchers.

CER is closely allied with other conservative groups committed to privatization, like ALEC, the Heartland Institute, Democrats for Education Reform, and Black Alliance for Educational Options. CER claimed credit for helping to write the Heartland Institute’s version of the parent trigger law, which served as a model for ALEC.

If you want to track the advance of privatization, keep your eye on the Center for Education Reform.

This is CER’s take on the 2012 elections (to see the links, go to the CER website):

The Center for Education Reform Analysis:
How Education Reform Fared on Election Day

WASHINGTON, DC – The Center for Education Reform analyzed Tuesday’s results through the prism of education reform. Our EDlection Roundup provides our analysis on races up and down the ballots, including:

The White House: The Center congratulated President Obama and offered thoughts about how he could refocus education issues in his second term.

Governors: Two states, North Carolina and Indiana, will be inaugurating reform-minded Governors. They join the 23 other states who are also led by reformers. Is yours one of them? See our Governor grades.

Senate Races: We take a look at the results of four Senate races where candidates were strong reformers, and where two – Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) – were victorious.

Ballot Initiatives: There were education reform ballot initiatives in Georgia, Idaho, and Washington. We look at the results, which included a decisive victory in Georgia.

Superintendents: We examine the results of Superintendent races, with a special look at the disappointing defeat of Tony Bennett, a stalwart reformer.


CER, since 1993, is the leading voice and advocate for lasting, substantive and structural education reform in the U.S. Additional information about the Center and its activities can be found at

The Center for Education Reform
(tel) 800-521-2118 • 301-986-8088 • (fax) 301-986-1826

A group of 30 organizations associated with corporate reform wrote a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan to insist that he hold teacher education programs accountable for the test scores of the students taught by their graduates.

Groups like Teach for America, StudentsFirst, Democrats for Education Reform (the Wall Street hedge fund managers), The New Teacher Project, various charter chains, Jeb Bush’s rightwing Chiefs for Change and his Foundation for Educational Excellence, and various and sundry groups that love teaching to the test stand together as one.

Their views are in direct opposition to those of the leaders of higher education, who oppose this extension of federal control into their institutions.

Read Gary Rubinstein’s blog about it here, where you will see the full cast of corporate reform characters, many of them funded by the Gates Foundation.

They are certain that what minority students need most is more testing. They want the test scores of the students to determine the career and livelihood of their teachers. And they want the federal government to punish the schools of education that prepared the teachers of these children.

If Duncan takes their advice, he will assume the power to penalize schools of education if the students of their graduates can’t raise their test scores every year.

The vise of standardized testing will tighten around public education.

These people and these organizations are wrong. They are driving American education in a destructive direction. They will reduce children to data points, as the organizations thrive. Wasn’t a decade of NCLB enough for them?

They are on the wrong side of history. They may be flying high now, but their ideas hurt children and ruin the quality of education.

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.

Back when I was on the right side of the political fence, I was on the editorial board at Education Next. It is supported by the Hoover Institution and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, both conservative think tanks with which I was affiliated. The journal, which is based at Harvard and edited mainly by Paul Peterson, was created to counter what was seen as the liberal bias of the mainstream education media.

Education Next is a well-edited journal (I used to write a monthly book review there), but it does have a strong bias in favor of charter schools, vouchers, and testing. It is the journal of the corporate reform movement.

The current issue of Education Next has a fascinating article about the “reformers’ fight club.” I have been writing and speaking about the interconnections among these organizations (and there are many more), and it is good to see confirmation of what I have been saying.

For some reason, these incredibly rich and powerful organizations like to portray themselves as underdogs in contrast to the teachers’ unions.

So, get this picture: On one side are the 3.2 million teachers who belong to the NEA and the AFT. On the other side are the Gates Foundation ($60 billion), the Broad Foundation (billions), the Walton Foundation (billions, and spent $159 million this past year alone on education grants), the Dell Foundation, big corporations, Democrats for Education Reform (Wall Street hedge fund managers who can pump millions into political campaigns at will), and 50CAN (more hedge fund managers). And there are supposedly “liberal” advocacy groups like Education Trust and Ed Sector.

Gosh, that is surely an unequal lineup. No wonder the “fight club” feels like underdogs. Those teachers’ unions are just so doggone powerful and rich. Why, they have the big foundations and Wall Street trembling. Who knew that teachers had so much power?