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Poor-Performing Charter School Co. With Ties to CT Governor Set to Expand

Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Governor Malloy's Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor. It's schools won't take their fair share of bilingual students or students who aren't proficient in English. They won't take their fair share of students who need special education services. And they are unwilling or unable to provide certified teachers in many of the classrooms.

Thanks to the Mayor of Hartford and a 5-2 vote of the Hartford Board of Education, Achievement First, Inc. will be opening a second elementary school in Hartford next year.

Only Board members Robert Cotto Jr. and Brad Noel voted against the Achievement First plan despite the fact that Achievement First effectively limits which Hartford students it will educate. It also faces serious problems with its draconian disciplinary policies.

Achievement First Inc. only needs the approval of the State Board of Education (a la Stefan Pryor) and a Hartford location before it can move forward with its plans for a taxpayer-funded school.

One option being discussed is to close an existing Hartford school and turn the facility over to Achievement First, Inc. Another is to "co-locate" the school within an existing Hartford school.

New York City has utilized the co-location mechanism many times. The charter school company moves into the existing public school. It gets its pick of the best features of the facility and the remaining "public" school and its students then get to use whatever is left.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the co-location practice in New York City has been the Harlem Success Academy chain of charter schools. Like Achievement First, Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools won't take its fair share of bilingual or English Language Learners, won't take its fair share of students who need special education services, and they've been widely criticized for discipline policies that appear to some to be nothing short of child abuse.

One report about CEO Eva Moskowitz and her Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools revealed that, "New students are initiated at 'kindergarten boot camp,' where they get drilled for two weeks on how to behave in the "zero noise" corridors (straight lines, mouths shut, arms at one's sides)."

As of two years ago, Eva Moskowitz was earning over $490,000 a year from her five taxpayer-funded charter schools, more than twice what the New York City Chancellor of Schools made for running 1,400 schools.

And what does Eva Moskowitz say about co-location of charter schools within district schools.

In a commentary piece Eva Moskowitz wrote last summer she said;

Sure, putting charter schools in separate buildings would spare district parents the pain of pressing their noses up against the glass of high-functioning charters. However, to improve our public-school system, parents must know things could be better, no matter how painful that knowledge is.

Consider it one more service charter schools do - communicating one simple message to the families whom the district schools so profoundly fail: It need not be so.

Is that the type of education reform policy that is coming to Connecticut?

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