I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, April 20, 2012

Reformy Tentacles Everywhere

Oh, my:  

For months, Leeds Global Partners, a New York-based firm specializing in educational issues as "attractive investment opportunities," has been closely involved in developing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed school reforms.

And while the governor's major proposals, including teacher evaluations, changes to tenure and the expansion of charter schools are meeting opposition in the General Assembly and the state's educational community, Leeds Global's school-privatization agenda has been front and center in a variety of closed-door negotiations.

Unionized teachers and a leading state lawmaker take the privatization proposals -- including plans to circumvent teacher contracts and public bidding procedures -- as major threats, underscored by the company's track record in creating individual agreements with teachers hired to turn around failing urban school districts.

Leeds was awarded a $195,000 contract, without prior public notice for bids, with money from the State Education Resource Center. The nonprofit center was set up in 2005 to support local and regional school boards, according to contract documents obtained by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.

Another investment group with interests in education, DSA Capital, was awarded a $60,000 consultant deal. Like the Leeds contract, this was championed by first-year state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, according to the documents and interviews with sources close to active negotiations.

According to state guidelines, executive branch agencies, including the Education Department, must obey state contracting procedures ordered by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell in the wake of the scandals that drove former Gov. John G. Rowland from office and into federal prison.

But Pryor's office said that SERC, because it is nonprofit and has an arms-length relationship with the Education Department, doesn't have to follow bidding rules. [emphasis mine]
Of course they don't - it's for the kids...

Wait a minute - DSA Capital. Where have I heard that name before? Could it be New Jersey?
TRENTON — A private consultant is being paid $60,000 by a California philanthropic foundation to help reorganize the New Jersey Department of Education, acting education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said during today’s Assembly Budget Committee hearing.
Asked by Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Hudson) if the department had hired such a consultant, Cerf said he was working with someone on a part-time basis, describing the man as a "friend" who is "very well respected" in education reform circles across the country.
After the hearing, Cerf confirmed the adviser is William Cox, who owns consulting company DSA Capital, state Treasury records show.
The Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation is paying DSA Capital to lead a team of consultants and produce "a high-level plan" for the Department of Education, DSA’s three-month contract shows.
Cerf is a 2004 graduate of the Broad Foundation’s superintendent’s academy, and it is common practice for the foundation to financially support its own as they transition to new leadership roles, DOE spokesman Alan Guenther said. [emphasis mine]
Nice work if you can get it. As I wrote at the time, William Cox and ACTING Commissioner Cerf are fellow Broadies. And Cox has other interests in education "reform":
The Record knows:

Cox has years of experience scrutinizing school systems. He said he worked as an analyst at Standard & Poor’s for 21 years, often focusing on public sector enterprises. He led a project called School Evaluation Services, launched in 2001 to assess schools’ finances, demographics and performance nationwide under a grant from the Broad Foundation, the Gates Foundation and the U. S. Department of Education. 
He became a managing director at Standard & Poor’s, and did work restructuring businesses. After leaving that company in 2008, he founded DSA Capital, a business strategy firm. [emphasis mine]
You know who owns Standard and Poor's? McGraw-Hill.

The teachers reading this blog just had their jaws drop to the floor; yes, it's THAT McGraw-Hill, the extremely well-known textbook and standardized test publisher. The same McGraw-Hill that is right in the middle of the DC testing scandal that calls into question the claims of former superintendent and corporate-reform supermodel Michelle Rhee.

But, yes, it really does get even better than that! Because what did Chris Christie just announce as part of his education "reform" plan?

Measures of Student Achievement Recognizing the Importance and Limitations of Test Scores. Fifty percent of a teacher’s overall evaluation should be based on direct measures of student achievement as demonstrated by assessments and other evaluations of student work.  This would be compromised of two required components and one optional component. The largest required component would be an individual teacher’s contribution to his or her students’ progress on a statewide assessment.  However, the other required component would take into consideration other factors that impact a student’s growth, including school-wide performance and specific student circumstances. Additionally, districts would be permitted to choose one or more optional measures of student achievement from a list of state-approved measures.  Such measures might include student performance on nationally-normed assessments or State-mandated end-of-course tests. [underline emphasis mine]
In other words: the standardized test will be the determining factor in teacher evaluation. But wait: only 10% to 20% of teachers could be evaluated currently on standardized tests - we only use them for Grades Three through Eight, and only in certain subjects. Wouldn't we have to develop a whole new raft of standardized tests to evaluate as much of the teaching corps as possible?
So Cox, after being invited in by Cerf and funded by Broad, spread the reformy, test-lovin' gospel to New Jersey. Now he's moving on to Connecticut, invited in by their SDE Commissioner, Stefan Pryor. Who's Pryor?
Who is ConnCAN?

  • The facts are this: Stefan Pryor, the current commissioner of the SDE, helped to create the Amistad Academy with Dacia Toll, Achievement First’s President and CEO. Today, Achievement First run 20 schools in CT and NY and plan to expand to 35 in the next few years. This bill will make that easier for them to expand, as will current legislation in NY.
Wow: a former edu-corporatist, just like Cerf. What are the odds?

Of course, anyone who even suggests that there may be an ulterior motive in all of this is obviously a union shill intent on destroying the youth of America.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along...

ADDING: Connecticut, you are blessed to have Jon Pelto doing his thing on your behalf.


G. Gales said...


I tried to get this to you via comments but it didn't show up. I think you will find this response to Steven Brill's, Class Warfare well worth a read.


Deb said...

Hail to the Jazzman for finding the connections that the rest of us might well miss - like in a great piece of jazz - connecting the dots we did not even know were there. Thanks for another eye opener.

Duke said...

Yeah, I think I've posted this before. It's really good. Thx for the link.

G. Gales said...

It is a brand new challenge to Brill and makes an eye witness case that Brill manufactured a fictitious, horrible public school teacher to serve as the sole representative of all union public school teachers. In other words he is caught in a very big lie.