Sunday, March 25, 2012

These Billionaires and Millionaires sure are “Interested” in “Education Reform”


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Some readers may remember my earlier columns about the inter-connections between the various “Education Reform” leaders, organizations and the billionaires and millionaires that are funneling money into their efforts.

You may recall when Governor Malloy traveled to New York City to speak at some group’s annual meeting about economic development (although it was really a gala honoring charter school champion Jonathan Sackler). Malloy’s office responded that they had no idea it was a gala and that the Governor most definitely did speak about economic reform and most definitely did not stay to introduce the guest of honor (even though the organization’s newsletter announced that he was being invited for that very purpose).

Coming to Malloy defense was the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green who used the opportunity to mock me and the underlying issue that I was raising and went on to claim that it was absurd to suggest that Governor Malloy, charter school proponents and their wealthy investors were part of some vast conspiracy to push Malloy’s “Education Reform” legislation.

At the time I observed that while that particular terminology was his, not mine, it was rather clear to anyone monitoring the situation that the organizations that are pushing Malloy’s anti-teacher plan and the people funding that effort were – as the saying goes – “closely related entities.”

With the Education Committee voting on Malloy’s bill tomorrow or Wednesday it seem like a good time to go back and reiterate that point.

Achievement First
ConnCAN: CT Coalition for Achievement Now
CT Coalition for Advocacy Now
50-CAN
Students for Educational Reform
Teach for America CT
Stefan Pryor*
Nate Snow
(was with ConnCAN)
Dacia Toll*
Jonathan Sackler
Jonathan Sackler
Jonathan Sackler
Jonathan Sackler
Jonathan Sackler
Jonathan Sackler**
Brian Olson
Brian Olson
Brian Olson**
Alex Troy
Alex Troy
Alex Troy
Andrew Boas
Andrew Boas
Matt Kramer
Matt Kramer
Matt Kramer
Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan
Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan
Lobbyists moved to ConnCAN’s budget



Connecticut Council for Education Reform
StudentsFirst
New Education Reform Business group
Michelle Rhee
Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan
Have lobbyists working to pass Malloy’s plan





* Stefan Pryor and Dacia Toll led the effort to create the Amistad Academy and then created Achievement First as a vehicle for opening charter schools in Connecticut and New York. Achievement First presently runs 20 schools but their goal is to grow to 35 schools in the coming years so that they can be larger than “95 percent” of school districts in the United States. Stefan Pryor is now Malloy’s Commissioner of Education while Dacia Toll is now President and CEO of Achievement First

A Brief History of Connecticut’s Charter School and Education Reform Lobbying Effort.

·         Achievement First Inc. created in 2003 with Pryor, Toll and corporate executives Jonathan Sackler and Alex Troy.

·         Jonathan Sackler, Alex Troy and Brian Olson, another Fairfield County corporate executive, formed the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc. (ConnCAN) in 2004. Jonathan Sackler served as Chairman and Alex Troy served as President of the Board.

·         Jonathan Sackler and Alex Troy then formed the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc.(ConnCAA) with Jonathan Sackler as Chairman and Alex Troy as Secretary. The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Advocacy, Inc. retained the services of Gaffney, Bennett, one of the state’s premier government relations and lobby firms, and over the next 6 years paid them over $540,000 to lobby Connecticut’s elected officials.

·         Jonathan Sacker formed 50CAN Inc. in order to develop Coalition for Achievement Now chapters in other states. Jonathan Sackler serves as a Director of 50CAN and Marc Magee, who previously served as ConnCAN’s chief operating officer for six years, is the President of 50CAN. There are now CAN chapters in Rhode Island, Minnesota, New York and Maryland and they have announced that they will have 12 state campaigns by 2013 and at least 25 chapters by 2015. RI-CAN, 50CAN’s Rhode Island affiliate, implemented the recent public relations and lobbying effort to get approval for Achievement First to open schools in Providence, Rhode Island.

·         Today, Jonathan Sackler remains on Achievement First’s Board and 50CAN’s Board, Alex Troy serves as the Chairman of Achievement First’s Amistad Academy and the Elm City College Preparatory School, Andrew Boas, who served on Achievement First’s Board, now serves as Chairman of Achievement First – Bridgeport and also serves on ConnCAN’s Board. Brian Olson remains chairman of ConnCAN’s Board.

·         Students for Education Reform is a new coalition put together to support “Education Reform” efforts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York and expanding to other states in the coming years. The Chair of the group is from KIPP. The KIPP foundation runs 109 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 33,000 students.

·         In addition to recruiting and training teachers for charter and urban school districts, Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter has been working behind the scenes on Malloy’s plan and in support of the state’s efforts to take over the Bridgeport and Windham school systems.

·         Finally, calling themselves the “Connecticut Council for Education Reform” top executives from New Alliance Bank, The Hartford Insurance Company, UBS Private Wealth Office, Yale New Haven Hospital System, Webster Bank, The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, Nestle Waters North America, First Niagara Financial Group, Yale University, the Travelers Companies, Inc., the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, United Illuminating Holdings Corporation and GE Asset Management have joined together to hire staff and lobbyists to push Malloy’s “Education Reform” plan.

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