Archives for category: ConnCAN

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?


Just days ago, the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado announced the winners of its annual Bunkum Awards.

These are awards given to the worst educational research of the previous year. Being mundane or trivial is not enough to win these awards. They go only to “prime exemplars of incompetent science.”

The Grand Prize for Bunkum, or “Cancer is Under-rated” award,” went to the Progressive Policy Institute, for its report “Going Exponential: Growing the Charter School Sector’s Best.” It achieved distinction for its “weak analysis, agenda-driven recommendations, and the most bizarre analogy we have seen in a long time.” The report compared the growth of charter schools to the growth of cancer and viruses. The citation read: “Beyond the analogy, the report suffers from an almost complete lack of acceptable scientific evidence or original research supporting the policy suggestions. It presents nine “lessons” or suggestions that are essentially common and vague aphorisms from the business world. Yet it fails to make the case that the suggestions or references are relevant to school improvement.

The First Runner-Up –the “Mirror Image (What You Read Is Reversed) “Award was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It won for its Measures of Teaching analysis, which reached  a conclusion that was the exact opposite of what the evidence suggested.

The “If Bernie Madoff Worked in School Finance” Award went to the advocacy group ConnCAN for proposing a financial reform package that would be a reverse Robin Hood: Steal from the poor and give to the rich.

The “If Political Propaganda Counted as Research” award went to the Center for American Progress for its report “Charting New Territory: Tapping Charter Schools to Turn Around the Nation’s Dropout Factories.” This report is a sham. Its “citations to “research” literature about school turnarounds, for instance, consisted of four references: a blog, a consultant’s template, a non-peer reviewed case study, and an article from the Hoover Institution journal Education Next. The report also focused on the ostensibly inspiring improvements of one school that, after concentrated, intensive and skillful charter management, catapulted English Language Arts proficiency rates to 14.9% and math proficiency rates all the way to 7%.”

The “Discovering the Obvious While Obscuring the Important” award went to the Third Way for its report on middle class schools. The report determined that middle class schools do better than schools at the bottom, but not as well as schools in affluent districts. What is the point of the study? “What, then, is basis of the conversation Third Way is attempting to ignite? We’re not sure. That’s because in a normal conversation, one can understand what the other person is saying. Yet this report mixes and matches data sources and units of analysis to such an extent that it’s almost impossible for readers to figure out which analyses go with which data. Even more troubling, since the report defines “middle class” as having between 25% and 75% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, its analyses of district-level data include the urban schools districts in Detroit, Philadelphia, Houston and Memphis. The Third Way appears to have found a new way to address urban poverty: define it out of existence.

The NEPC “Get a Life(time) Achievement Award” went to Matthew Ladner, advisor to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Education Excellence. As the award says, “Dr. Ladner’s body of Bunk-work is focused on his shameless hawking of what he and the Governor call the “Florida Formula” for educational success.  As our reviews have explained, they’d be less deceptive if they were selling prime Florida swampland. One cannot, however, deny Dr. Ladner’s salesmanship: gullible lawmakers throughout the nation have been pulling out their wallets and buying into his evidence-less pitch for flunking of low-scoring third graders and other policies likely to harm many more students than they help.”

To learn what put Ladner did to put him over the top in the estimation of the contests’ judges, read the full report.