Archives for category: Connecticut

Governor Dannel Malloy has grown a big budget deficit and has decided that schools should help to reduce the deficit. He has proposed to cut school funding across the state, except for the 30 poorest districts and to eliminate state aid entirely in 28 affluent districts.


His proposal has set off a firestorm of opposition.


“To take a district like mine … and completely eliminate the funding is entirely irresponsible,” Madison Superintendent Thomas Scarice said. The district stands to lose $1.57 million.


Taken together with the state’s “countless unfunded mandates” for districts, Scarice said, Malloy’s proposal is “nothing less than unspeakable.”


The slashing of education funding was part of a revised budget proposal from Malloy in an effort to close a $922 million deficit projected for the next fiscal year.


Rep. Andy Fleischmann, D-West Hartford and co-chairman of the legislature’s education committee, said Malloy’s plan for education funding is “not bold or smart” and is a proposal “that no one would ever vote for….”


Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said Malloy’s proposal has been met with “complete outrage and disbelief” from the towns she represents in Fairfield County. Malloy is proposing elimination of funding for many of the towns in Fairfield and Litchfield counties, as well as in several districts along the eastern shoreline.


“This is really a slap in the face of our communities,” Boucher said. “They are penalizing towns that have worked hard to be fiscally responsible, while the state continues to be fiscally irresponsible.”


She said she’s hearing an outcry for the elimination of unfunded mandates if the education funding is pulled.


Many school leaders say that Malloy has not only upended their budgets, but has left their planning for next year in disarray since they don’t know how much their budgets will be cut or whether Malloy’s proposal will be rejected.



This is really annoying. I stayed up late last night to write this post. And it disappeared!


Jonathan Pelto reported that Adam Goldfarb, former chief of staff to Connecticut’s commissioner of education Stefan Pryor, is going to work for Democrats for Education Reform, the hedge fund managers group that promotes charters.


Pryor now works in Rhode Island doing economic development for Governor  Gina Raimondo. Her husband roomed with Cory Booker.


What is the link that connects Pryor, Goldfarb, Raimondo, Booker? YALE.


Not any experience teaching. YALE.


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.”

This should be an April Fools’ Day joke, but it is not.


Rapper Sean (Puff Daddy) Combs is sponsoring a charter school in Harlem that will be run by the notorious Dr. Steve Perry of Hartford, Connecticut.


Perry bills himself as “America’s Most Trusted Educator.” His magnet school in Hartford was known for its harsh discipline. Perry became known for his contempt for teachers and unions. He once publicly referred to union teachers as “roaches.”


Perry has an intense lecturing schedule, including a few dates next fall after his charter school opens.


As Jonathan Pelto writes, Perry had quite a reputation in Hartford and beyond:


“Perry gained national notoriety for his school’s harsh disciplinary policies that included the use of the “Table of Shame” to punish children who received demerits and for his ugly public comments about unions, teachers and anyone who opposed his empire building efforts.



“As a 2013 Wait, What? post entitled, Hey Steve Perry – Tell us about Capital Prep’s “Table of Shame,” explained:


“Located in the cafeteria of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School at 1304 Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut is the “Table of Shame.”


“As part of Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry’s “zero-tolerance” policies even the slightest “violations,” such as wearing the wrong colored belt, will result in punishments designed to humiliate and demean students.


“For example, it is not uncommon for Capital Prep students to be forced to stand in the cafeteria to eat as punishment for violating the school uniform policy or some equally unimportant “violation.”


“And now, more than a half a dozen former and present parents, students and teachers report that Perry and his fellow Capital Prep administrators regularly require children, even the youngest students in the building, to sit at the cafeteria’s “Table of Shame.”


And yes… it is actually referred to as the “Table of Shame.”


Along with the charges of abusive disciplinary practices and questionable financial activities – According to federal and state documents, Steve Perry registered his private charter school management company at the address of the Hartford public school at which he worked – Perry’s unwillingness to provide federally required educational services to children with special needs led to a sweeping investigation and follow-up action.


As a Hartford school administrator, Perry was also unwilling or unable to recruit and retain students who were English Language Learners despite more than 50 percent of Hartford’s students being Latino.


Where Perry goes, controversy follows.






Wendy Lecker, civil rights attorney, reports that Connecticut, one of the nation’s richest states, neglects the needs of its neediest students. What a disgrace! While shorting the poorest districts, Governor Malloy has poured $100 million into charter schools supported by hedge fund managers.




“Hartford parents, teachers and students came out in full force to last week’s Board of Education meeting to protest devastating school cuts. Owing to budget shortfalls, the district is cutting guidance counselors, intervention specialists, and other critical staff, art, sports, enrichment, SAT prep, textbooks, summer school, tutors and more. Many of Hartford high schools will be left with one counselor for 350-400 students. As one parent said, they are cutting the support Hartford students need; and the subjects that motivate them to come to school.

“Hartford schools already suffer severe resource deficiencies. One high school has no library or computer lab. Another has no copier in the library, and no curricular material for certain classes. The culinary academy has no money to buy food for cooking class. The nursing academy cannot offer physics, though physics is a prerequisite for any nursing school. One high school is so overrun with rodents a teacher came in one morning to find five mice in traps she laid the night before. Teachers are forced to find vendors themselves and fill out orders in vain attempts to obtain supplies that never arrive. So they buy them out of their own pockets.


“The conditions in which these students have to learn, and these teachers have to teach, is shameful — especially in Connecticut, a state consistently in the top five on the list of wealthiest states in America.



“Hartford is not the only Connecticut school district suffering. According to a supplement to this year’s “Is School Funding Fair: A National Report Card,” issued by the Education Law Center (my employer) and Rutgers, Connecticut is the only state consistently among the five wealthiest states to have districts on the list of America’s “most financially disadvantaged school districts.” This year, two districts are featured on this list: Bridgeport and Danbury.



“Since this list has been compiled, starting in 2012, Connecticut districts have been featured every year. Connecticut also has the dishonorable distinction of being the only wealthy state featured on the list of states whose funding system disadvantages the highest share of low income students; as measured by the percent of statewide enrollment concentrated in those most disadvantaged districts.”



Shame on Governor Malloy.

Jonathan Pelto, a former legislator in Connecticut, warns about proposed legislation that would allow the state to take control of local schools, without regard to wishes of local school board.


He writes:


“A new piece of legislation before the Connecticut General Assembly (H.B. 5551) would be the most far-reaching power grab in state history – a direct attack local control of schools, our democracy and Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, local school officials and public school.


“The legislation would enable Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education to takeover individual schools in a district, remove the control of the elected board of education, “suspend laws” and eliminate the role of school governance councils which are the parent’s voice in school “turnaround plans.


“The bill is nothing short of an authoritarian maneuver by grossly expanding the Commissioner of Education’s powers under the Commissioner’s Network. The bill destroys the fundamental role of local control because it allows the state to indefinitely take over schools and even entire districts, without a vote of local citizens.


“The bill removes any time limit on Commissioner’s Network Schools. It removes the cap on how many Commissioner’s Network schools can be taken over by the state. It removes the right of the local community to appoint their own turnaround committee. It eliminates the requirement that local parents, through their school governance council are included in the process.”


Governor Dannell Malloy is chairman of the Democratic Governors’ Association, but the proposed legislation comes from the rightwing group ALEC.



Governor Dannell Malloy can’t do enough for the charter industry. He forgives their malfeasance, he gives them more money than the public schools that educate the vast majority of the state’s children, he puts their leaders on the state board of education. The hedge fund managers of Greenwich have been the governor’s reliable financiers, but maybe that is mere coincidence.


The latest appointment raised eyebrows not only because the gentleman runs a charter but because the state department of education system pays him over half a million dollars a year for his services.


Jonathan Pelto thinks that is a conflict of interest. 


Charter representatives on the board should recuse themselves in any decision affecting charter schools.  Will they? Don’t count on it.


By the way, Malloy is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.



What at do you think?

Superintendents in Connecticut (CAPSS) have endorsed the idea of putting children in front of machines and calling it “personalized learning.” As Wendy Lecker shows in this post, this machine work is neither “personalized” nor is it “learning.”


How can a machine be more “personal” than a human?



Lecker writes:



In CAPSS’ incoherent version, schools will no longer be age-graded, students will design their own curricula and progress when they develop “competencies” rather than completing a school year. Rather than being grouped according to age, students will be grouped according to “mastery.” In order to progress to the next level, children will have to undergo four standardized tests a year.
Of course, any system that depends on standardized tests for advancement cannot be “personalized.” In addition, the CAPSS plan institutionalizes tracking; a harmful educational practice rejected by the Connecticut State Board of Education. Worse still, CAPSS’ version of tracking, where there is no age-grading, would humiliate a student who fares poorly on standardized tests by grouping her with children years younger than she.
The CAPSS muddled vision also proposes students not necessarily learn in school, meaning that much learning will be conducted online; a method with little evidence of success.


What should school look like?



If we are concerned with our children’s development into healthy responsible citizens, then personalization should mean that schools should focus on relationships — with humans, not computers. Relationships with teachers and other students are the key to keeping students engaged and in school. A longitudinal study of diverse California high schools confirmed previous research that students who feel connected to their teachers improve academically, engage in less risky behavior, and are more likely to complete high school.


Another recent study comparing “personalized learning” to a control group in traditional schools found that students in the control group “reported greater enjoyment and comfort in school, and felt their out-of-school work was more useful and connected to their in-school learning.” As Harvard economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw recently observed in the New York Times, “after 30 years as an educator, I am convinced that the ideal experience for a student is a small class that fosters personal interaction with a dedicated instructor.”
The need for human interaction to promote effective learning is rooted in brain development. As neuroscience expert Adele Diamond has written, the brain does not recognize a sharp division between cognitive, motor and emotional functioning. Thus, research has shown that feelings of social isolation impair reasoning, decision-making, selective attention in the face of distraction and decreases persistence on difficult problems….


A truly “personalized” education would ensure small classes with supports for every need; and a variety of subjects to develop students’ interests as well as their cognitive, motor and social capabilities….

Our children are complex, multi-dimensional beings who need deep and rich experiences to develop properly. They are not characters in a video game who just need enough points to jump to the next level. Anyone who cares about healthy child development should reject CAPSS’ narrow and de-personalized vision of learning.



“Personalized learning” on a machine is an oxymoron.





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.”



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