Charter Schools Connecticut Corporate Reformers Education Industry Education Reform Privatization

Connecticut: Reformers Take Aim at Charter Critics in Next Week’s Primaries

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Jonathan Pelto reports on the latest chapter in the corporate reform movement in Connecticut. Bear in mind that Connecticut has one of the best school systems in the nation.

But reformers are unhappy. They want more charters. They know they won’t get them by appealing to the public. So, they are entering political campaigns to try to oust the elected officials who don’t like charters. The hedge fund managers have moved in with their political operation, DFER. And other groups have been created to give the veneer of grassroots support, which the charter industry never has, unless they pay for it.

Pelto explains the background:

Change Course CT, a front-group for Democrats for Education Reform, was formed on July 18, 2016.

Charters Care, a new appendage of the Northeast Charter School Network, was formed a few days earlier on July 13, 2016.

Both Democrats for Education Reform and the Northeast Charter School Network are corporate-funded charter school advocacy groups based in New York City and both receive the bulk of their money from the billionaires and millionaires who are trying to privatize public education in the United States.

According to forms filed with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission, all the funds collected by Change Course CT come from Education Reform Now Advocacy, a non-profit 501 (c) 4 corporation that is operated in conjunction with New York City based Democrats for Education Reform Now and Education Reform Now.

Signing the official documents on behalf of Change Course CT has been Jenna A. Klaus, who appears to be the daughter of Jeff Klaus and Dacia Toll. Toll is the CEO of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company that owns and operates charter schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. In addition to collecting the bulk of the $110 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds paid to charter schools, Achievement First, Inc. earned its infamy from suspending record numbers of kindergarteners in an apparent attempt to push out children who don’t fit the company’s limited definition of appropriate students. Jeff Klaus is a regional president for Webster Bank and can often be found, throughout the day, attacking education advocates and posting pro-charter school comments on various Connecticut media websites.

The Charters Care election documents are being signed by Christopher Harrington, the Connecticut Policy Manager for the Northeast Charter School Network and the PACs money has come from OxyContin’s Jonathan Sackler and from yet another New York based corporate education front group called Real Reform Now.

Not surprisingly, Jonathan Sackler, a Greenwich, Connecticut multi-millionaire is one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest campaign contributors and is on the Board of both the Northeast Charter Schools Network and Achievement First, Inc., as well as, being the founder and board member of ConnCAN, Connecticut’s leading pro-charter school lobbying group.

The charter school industry has spent in excess of $9 million lobbying on behalf of Governor Malloy’s charter school and education reform agenda.

As reported in the local press, Connecticut will hold Democratic primaries for its General Assembly next week, and corporate reformers plan to take out critics of charter schools and privatization.

Pelto has been warning about the big money forces and their alliance with Governor Dannell Malloy.

As we are seeing in states across the nation, such as Washington, Tennessee, and Massachusetts, corporate reformers are now using their money to knock out those who get in their way.

They failed abjectly in Tennessee, where every one of their school board candidates in Nashville lost. If the public is informed, they can be defeated everywhere. But it requires a strong grassroots effort to explain that the word “reform” is a synonym for privatization, budget cuts, union-busting, and driving out experienced teachers.

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