Representatives from the Danbury Prospect Charter School discuss their proposal with the State Board of Education.
The State Board of Education today voted to give preliminary approval to two new charter schools, but those charters can only open if they can convince legislators to fund them.
In past years, charter schools that had applications approved by the State Board of Education went forward and enrolled students before receiving funding from the state, pressuring legislators into providing the funding. The legislature has since made it clear that that process is unacceptable and that no students can be enrolled until a school is funded.
CEA President Jeff Leake spoke out against the charter school applications at today’s meeting, saying, “CEA believes that charter schools should be non-profit, publicly accountable, transparent, and operate without diverting public funds from neighborhood public schools or to third-party management organizations.” Read more
The deeply troubled Path Academy has been given a week to propose a solution to the multitude of problems plaguing the charter school and its operators, according to yesterday’s decision by the State Board of Education.
Path Academy charter school in Windham faces revocation of its charter unless it can solve problems including chronic student absenteeism and the misuse of millions of public dollars.
The State Board of Education says Path Academy overbilled state taxpayers by nearly $2 million, opened two satellite campuses without approval, and 100 percent of its students are classified as chronically absent.
Path Academy gained access to public education dollars because of its mission to help students with challenging life circumstances. Unfortunately, the school failed both its students and the state.
“This was a breach of public trust and a failure to meet the most basic fiduciary duties that all public schools have: to spend education dollars on their intended purposes and to the benefit of students,” said CEA’s Orlando Rodriguez, testifying at yesterday’s hearing. “This board cannot overlook the egregious lack of accountability at Path Academy by both its administrative staff and board of governance. As for the students at Path Academy, every effort should be made to provide them resources to graduate on time.” Read more
CEA’s Orlando Rodriguez raised concerns about the contract between Stamford Academy and its CMO at yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting.
CEA has repeatedly drawn attention to the lack of financial accountability and oversight for charter management organizations (CMOs) in Connecticut. Despite concerns raised by CEA at yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting about the exceedingly high rates of chronic absenteeism at Stamford Academy and the questionable fees charged by its CMO, the board went ahead with a renewal of the contract between the charter and its CMO, Domus Kids, Inc.
This is the not the first Connecticut charter school run by a CMO to face concerns over its operating procedures. Just last month, the State Board of Education began the revocation process for Path Academy Charter in Windham after the State Department of Education uncovered shocking practices at the school that include defrauding the state of nearly $1.6 million, billing the state for 128 phantom students, operating unauthorized schools, and tolerating excessive absenteeism. Read more
Bridgeport Schools Beginning Teacher Coordinator Michael Brosnan was among many teachers urging the State Board of Education to reject charter school expansion at today’s meeting.
The State Board of Education today listened to teachers’ concerns about fairness in education funding and responded by rejecting increases in enrollment for three charter schools that would have cost the state $627,000.
At a time when state budget cuts are currently hurting students and teachers at neighborhood public schools, CEA President Sheila Cohen said it would have been unconscionable for the state “to divert precious education funds to expand charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools and to the detriment of all students, but especially minority students in the state’s poorest school districts.” Read more
Teacher Brian Deming reads testimony submitted by Bridgeport teacher Carmella Lorusso, asking the State Board of Education not to divert public school funds to charter expansion.
Public school teachers, parents, and CEA staff turned out in force at a State Board of Education (BOE) hearing this morning to oppose a charter school expansion that would carve into funds meant for Bridgeport Public Schools, which serve the majority of the city’s 21,000 students. In spite of powerful testimony opposing the expansion and diversion of funds, Board members voted 6-2 to grant the request.
Using millions of Connecticut taxpayer dollars meant to educate children, charter management organizations (CMOs) are lining their own pockets. According to a shocking new report detailing the financial data of Connecticut charter schools, some CMOs are profiting from state taxpayer dollars allocated for students, with little or no oversight or transparency as to how the money is being used.
“These CMOs are shaking down the State of Connecticut,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen, “and using money earmarked for our students to line their own pockets—profiting off the backs of our children and state taxpayers. Our schools and teachers are always working hard to do what’s best for students, but these CMOs are doing anything but.” Read more
The NAACP and the Black Lives Matter movement have both recently criticized the way some charter schools are run, highlighting their negative effects on black communities. Dr. Andre Perry, the former founding dean of urban education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids and the CEO of the Capitol One-University of New Orleans Charter Network, explains why some are coming to see the imposition of charter schools as harmful.
“The reason why black schools are not doing well is because black communities are not doing well,” Perry told Michigan Public Radio. “When you break up school districts, when you disrupt school boards, you are eroding black power.”
He added, “I think there’s been a disproportionate effort to apply charter schools to black communities instead of allowing black communities to reform themselves.” Read more
The NAACP this weekend ratified a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion. The organization sees significant problems with the lack of oversight and accountability of many charter schools and fears some charters are intensifying segregation.
A statement from the organization reads as follows.
We are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:
- Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools
- Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system
- Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and
- Cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.
Read more from The Washington Post here.
**UPDATE: On July 7, 2015, Governor Malloy signed SB 1096 into law.**
Charter schools, which have become a parallel school system in Connecticut—allowed to play by a different set of rules than those that govern traditional neighborhood public schools—are now subject to some much-needed oversight thanks to Senate Bill 1096 that passed the state House and Senate this week. With this bill legislators took important action to increase transparency of the charter school industry and require that all new charter schools are subject to General Assembly approval.
CEA has been a strong advocate of increased charter school oversight, urging the legislature to make sure choice program opportunities are provided for all children in ways that are consistent and transparent. Read more