Wendy Lecker, veteran civil rights lawyer, reviews the recent report by Common Cause-Connecticut about the intrusion of Charter money and lobbyists into the state.
Former Governor Dannel Malloy depended on charter money and gave them a state commissioner and seats on the state school board,as well as generous funding.
After repeated losses in other states, like Massachusetts, the charter lobby now is doubling down in Connecticut.
After their spectacular public losses, the charter lobby is getting craftier. A recent report by Common Cause and the Connecticut Citizens Action Group reveal some of their newer tactics, but with many of the same backers.
The report, “Who is Buying Our Education System? Charter School Super PACs in Connecticut” continues the work previously done by blogger Jonathan Pelto tracking the influence of charter money. It details the donations and spending of charter Super PACs in Connecticut’s recent elections.
Super PACs enable individuals and organizations to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections, as long as they do not coordinate this spending with candidates.
The report found that since 2016, six Super PACS spent more than half a million dollars in Connecticut elections. These Super PACS are founded and/or dominated by charter lobbyists and employees of charter organizations, such as the Northeast Charter Schools Network, the now-defunct Families for Excellent Schools, ConnCAN, Achievement First charter chain and DFER. Soon-to-be former Gov. Dan Malloy recently joined DFER’s board.
The majority of the money donated came from outside Connecticut and from a limited number of large donors, the largest being Walmart’s Alice Walton.
Perhaps because of their very public defeats by grassroots organizing in other states, the charter lobby became more stealth-like. The report notes that these Super PACS conceal their aims by adopting innocuous sounding names, such as Build CT, Leaders for a Stronger CT, and Change Course CT. They spent money primarily on advertising and canvassing.
One PAC, Build CT, focused on candidates in safe or unopposed races, including: Stamford’s Pat “Billie” Miller and Caroline Simmons, and Senate Majority leader, Norwalk’s Bob Duff. The authors suggest this strategy is designed to curry favor with those who will definitely be in power. Last session, Duff unsuccessfully pushed a charter-friendly school funding scheme where local districts would have to pay for charter schools over which they have no say.
The charter lobby always uses deceptive, “caring” names to hide its true purposes:
1. Privatize public schools
2. Destroy the teaching profession
3. Eliminate unions.
Connecticut Voters: Beware!