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Hartford Superintendent Defends Charter Schools

by CTNewsjunkie Staff | May 3, 2012 8:17pm
(6) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education

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Hartford Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto

Hartford Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wrote  Democratic leadership in the House and Senate Thursday to express her concern about recent drafts of the education reform legislation.

Recent drafts of the bill, which Kishimoto has seen, change how the state treats low performing schools in the Commissioner’s Network.

“These changes run contrary to the national educational reform agenda and do little to boldly address Connecticut’s place as the state with the nation’s worst achievement gap,” Kishimoto wrote.

“Hartford Public Schools has adopted a wide variety of successful school models, including charter schools, as part of its reform strategy and for which it has received broad national recognition,“ Kishimoto wrote. “Our work in Hartford serves as an example of turnaround success. Success, however, can only be achieved and maintained if we have the proper mechanisms in law to do our job.”

Kishimoto said recent drafts of the legislation she’s seen “eliminates the charter school option as a model for turning around low-performing schools.”

Another section, according to Kishimoto, would prohibit the Education Commissioner from choosing an entity such as a charter management organization to operate the lowest performing schools.

“Charter schools are public schools and those with proven achievement records should be seen as viable options to turnaround our historically low performing schools in this state,” Kishimoto wrote.

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(6) Comments

posted by: CONconn | May 3, 2012  8:41pm

I eagerly await the inevitable onslaught of comments that connect this woman to the rest of the “reform” advocates who have made these misleading claims. Which one will it be this time? Did she just get a raise from Dannel? Was she college buddies with Stefan? I can’t wait to see!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS | May 3, 2012  9:07pm

Charter schools are public schools and those with proven achievement records should be seen as viable options to turnaround our historically low performing schools in this state,” Kishimoto wrote.

She needs to read Alexander Hoffman report Are Charter School Public Schools? I’m Afraid Not.

First, let’s acknowledge what charter schools are. They are publicly financed schools that are run by private – usually nonprofit – organizations. Sometimes they are independent, and sometimes they are part of larger charter school organizations or chains.

The primary argument that charter schools are public schools is that they are paid for out of government funds. While they do get most of their budgets from tax dollars, that is not enough to render them public schools. There are many other organizations that pay for operations with public funds but are still private organizations. Defense contractors receive enormous sums of money from the government to provide design and manufacturing of weapons systems, but they remain private corporations. Blackwater provided labor, training and services to the Department of Defense and the State Department, but it remained a private organization.

If a construction firm is hired by a school district to build a school, it remains a private firm. If a new firm is formed to bid for a school construction job, and wins the project, it still remains a private firm. Even if that firm does such a good job that it wins future bids and does all the district’s construction work, it remains a private firm.

Frankly, I’ve not heard any other arguments that charter schools are public schools. Meanwhile, there are lots of ways in which they most definitely are not public schools

I think that it is pretty clear that at least some level of oversight of the day to day operations of our public agencies must rise up to our elected officials. Public agencies and offices must have some level of democratic oversight. Abuses, mismanagement and bad policy are subject to review by elected officials or those they appoint. Policies can be changed, budgets cut and/or senior personnel removed as a direct consequence of this oversight. This is quite different than contracted services. So long as the terms of the contract are met, the government cannot reach into the management of a contractor and force changes. They may try to embarrass the contractor, but they do not have authority to require changes. On the other hand, public schools are accountable to elected school boards, legislatures and/or mayors. There may be changes in who is ultimately responsible for a district, but it always is an elected official.

Charter school principals cannot be removed by elected officials. Their board members are not subject to removal by public elections. The executives of charter management organizations are not accountable to the government for their jobs.
Enjoy the rest.’m-afraid-not/

posted by: Educated | May 3, 2012  9:55pm

I thought Hartford’s schools *were* turned around, after four “spectacular” years of Steven Adamowski.
Hartford school children, and all children in Connecticut, deserve the best public schools possible.  Because of the history of racism and segregation in the State of Connecticut (see Sheff vs O’Neill), every Hartford school should be a magnet school or better.  Same in New Haven—but the primary beneficiaries of the finest facilities and teachers should be first and foremost the children who have suffered and continue to suffer the effects of poverty and segregation.  We would see real change that way.  There will be no permanent, meaningful change with charter schools.  Christina Kishimoto should look at how much Washington, D.C. has to pay each time a charter school closes its doors—as 35% of Washington charters have done in the last 5 years.  Wait until Hartford starts seeing that phenomenon.

posted by: brutus2011 | May 4, 2012  12:00am


Superintendent Kishimoto and other education managers, both public and private, seek to maintain their power and control over the public education of our urban poor.

Public funds are not being used efficiently—far too little $$$ ends up in the classroom and far too much $$$ is absorbed by the layers of management above the classroom.

This is apparent to anyone who can read a budget and who has experience teaching in urban schools.

The real question is—how long are taxpayers going to allow this fiscal mismanagement to continue?

posted by: ctperson13 | May 4, 2012  1:59pm

It’s no surprise that Kishimoto—the Adamowski crony—would support this opinion. Charter schools are NOT public schools, though they do utilize public funding. They put public funding into the hands of private individuals who are then free to funnel it into the hands of high-paid administrators and corporate backers. Yes, education reform is a nationwide trend—a tend that needs to be STOPPED in CT! As another poster points out, where these “reforms” have been in place long enough (Washington D.C.)—we are beginning to see how ineffective they really are. These “reformers” come in, pull as much cash out as they can, move out, and watch the whole thing go to hell.

posted by: Noteworthy | May 4, 2012  4:13pm

Perhaps the reason for her letter is that she like her predecessor Adamowski, is positioning herself to ride the reform pony to the bank. No charter schools are not public schools. All one needs to do is look at New Haven’s BOE budget - which supports the charters with some part time people and money, but that’s it. In fact, they are listed in the budget as NON-PUBLIC SCHOOLs. What the charter chums will say and do to get their way and add to that commissioner’s network of free no-bid school management contracts worth tens of millions of dollars is really amazing.