PELTO: "See no evil"

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

As noted by a Wait, What? reader...

Yesterday's State Board of Education meeting began with the swearing-in of a new student member...

"Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, so long as you continue a citizen thereof; and that you will faithfully discharge, according to law, the duties of serving on the State Board of Education to the best of your abilities; so help you God."

And then the meeting continued without properly dealing with the inappropriate use of no-bid contracts by Commissioner Stefan Pryor or the illegal use of no-bid contracts by Paul Vallas, Bridgeport's $229,000 part-time superintendent of school.

In fact, rather than critical assessment, there was praise for activities that would have generated the demand for a full investigation had the alleged violators been - let's say - Republicans.

As the CTMirror, noted in their headline, "Bridgeport school reformer brought 'dramatic transformation'"

"Even though a court ruled it illegal, the state's ouster of the Bridgeport Board of Education last year has produced encouraging results, according to some members of the State Board of Education.

The replacement of the former Bridgeport board with new appointees led to the hiring of noted school reformer Paul Vallas, whose work as Bridgeport's superintendent drew praise Thursday from the state board following a report on his first six months on the job.

In those six months, the troubled Bridgeport system wiped out a gaping budget deficit and laid the groundwork for a long-term strategy to improve student performance, Vallas and Bridgeport Board of Education Chairman Robert Trefry told the board.

"I applaud you. Keep up the good work," state board member Charles Jaskiewicz told Vallas and Trefry as they appeared before the state board in Hartford."

No Board Member raised any concerns or objections about the following issues:

  • 20 or more no-bid contracts to consultants and software companies totally about $1 million in administrative costs and $12 million in software contracts.
  • A significant number of the consultants turn out to be people who work for Vallas' private consulting company, "The Vallas Group."

    Another whole round of standardized tests, the purpose of which was to make sure teachers actually taught and to provide information for summer school selection...but the test results didn't come in as promised and were never used for their stated purpose.
  • A new special education system developed without appropriate participation by special education teachers or the families utilizing special education services, as required
  • The layoff of a significant number of Connecticut residents to be replaced by out-of-state people.

And the list goes on...

There's more below the fold...
The CT Mirror reported that "a key accomplishment was the elimination of a budget gap that Vallas estimated at $12 million to $15 million, largely through sharp cutbacks in administrative costs. Vallas said the system reduced the staffing of the central office by about one-third and limited teacher layoffs to nine people in the 20,000-student district."

  • No mention that Vallas' failed to account for administrative costs related to his own entourage.
  • No mention that the software contracts were signed in order to push the costs into the next fiscal year.
  • No mention of the expenses related to the unnecessary and inappropriate 2nd round of standardized testing.
  • No mention of the key retirements that are being re-filed but only after the new fiscal year began.
  • No mention that Connecticut's taxpayers actually filed that gap with a $3.5 million "loan" from the state.

The message from the State Board of Education was loud and clear.

Stuff like the "swearing in" oath is for show.  The Board has no intention, what-so-ever to fulfill its Constitutional duties...

For the CT Mirror see:

Go to CT State Page
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