School Board OKs Clemente Takeover

Melissa Bailey Photo When a private firm takes over Clemente Leadership Academy, one of the first tasks will be to create order in the halls.

At its regular meeting Monday, the Board of Education unanimously approved a contract with a New Jersey-based for-profit company, Renaissance School Services, LLC, to manage the pre-K-8 school, which serves 538 students in the Hill.

Click here and here to read the contract.

The pact marks new territory for the public school district, which has been experimenting with different ways to overhaul failing schools as part of a reform drive. Superintendent Reggie Mayo called the contract part of a “different strokes for different folks” approach in which each school will be run differently according to its needs. Clemente rated among the lowest-performing schools in the city’s latest rankings, leaving it in line to be drastically restructured as a “turnaround” school.

Renaissance will be the second outside firm, and the first for-profit company, to take over a failing New Haven public school as part of Mayor John DeStefano’s ambitious effort to close the city’s longstanding achievement gap.

The company, which has already been working in the school without pay, plans to start an intensive planning phase Tuesday, according to Renaissance President Richard O’Neill.

The district will pay Renaissance $800 per kid, up to $456,000 annually, for the expertise and specialized tools to fix up failing schools. The company will be paid $58,000 for the period from May 17 to June 30 of this year, plus a $65,000 retainer that will be paid back to the district. School officials intend to pay for the contract with a $2.5 million federal School Improvement Grant, which has not yet been awarded.

O’Neill said his company is in the beginning stages of figuring out what’s working and what isn’t at the school at 360 Columbus Ave.

He said so far, one conclusion is clear: “Some work needs to be done on discipline and code of conduct.”

That’s at the top of Maria Serrano’s list, too.

Serrano (pictured at the top of this story) was picking up her 6-year-old grandson, Emanuel Garcia, from Clemente one recent afternoon.

Serrano said she has other grandkids at Clinton Avenue and John C. Daniels schools. Compared to those schools, she said, Clemente doesn’t do a good job managing kids’ “hyper” behavior.

“There is no control,” she said, when kids line up to get on the bus after school. She said the school needs better security guards to keep the building safe and orderly.

O’Neill said he plans to bring in a Positive Behavior Support system, in which kids are rewarded for doing good deeds—and have a clear set of consequences for bad behavior. Parents will get phone calls in both cases, said O’Neill. The principal will spend “multiple hours per day” talking to parents.

Beyond those suggestions, O’Neill shied away from announcing specific plans for the school. He said he and his business partner, who have together managed 25 “turnaround” schools in their careers, have developed a “toolkit” of instruments. Before deciding which tools to use, he said, the company will need to observe the school and talk at length to the staff who work there.

O’Neill (at right in photo) made those remarks in a presentation to the school board Monday night. New Haven school reform czar Garth Harries (at left), who performed his own share of turnarounds when he worked for former school Chancellor Joel Klein in New York City, introduced O’Neill as the leader of “one of the most experienced turnaround teams in the country.” 

Clemente “is a school that we feel can really benefit from the serious and focused attention of a provider like Renaissance,” Harries said.

O’Neill told the board he plans to hire three administrators for the school: a principal, “achievement specialist,” and “operations specialist.” The three will be Renaissance employees, not part of the city’s union, with salaries totaling about $350,000. Beginning Aug. 1, Renaissance will pay their salaries and get reimbursed monthly by the school district for 125 percent of the cost.

The three new administrators will replace the school’s principal and assistant principal. O’Neill said he plans to post the jobs this week. He said he prefers to hire from within the district but will conduct a national as well as a local search.

O’Neill announced the new team aims to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress, a federal benchmark on standardized tests, within two years of taking charge. Clemente has failed to make AYP for nine years, the longest time of any of the district’s 43 schools. The company also has agreed to performance standards laid out in the contract.

Board member Alex Johnston (pictured) asked O’Neill if he feels “nervous” making a claim of projected success without having school leadership in place. That leadership is “fundamental” to a school’s success, he noted.

O’Neill replied “no.” He said he has a track record of making good hiring judgments.

Renaissance, which was formed in 2006, has directly managed two schools. It took over the Lowell Community Charter Public School in March of 2010 when it was on the brink of closure. In the first four months Renaissance fired 50 percent of the teachers and three-quarters of the administrators, he said. He said the Massachusetts education department has declared the school “transformed” even though test scores have not come out yet to verify that claim.

At Clemente all 45 teachers must reapply for their jobs if they want to remain there. If they aren’t rehired or choose not to remain, they’ll be guaranteed a job elsewhere in the district.

Monday’s deal came with the blessing from the city teacher union President Dave Cicarella.

“Despite everybody’s best efforts,” he said, “we haven’t had good results” at Clemente. He said it’s time to try a new solution to improve the school.

Teachers at the school were briefed on the changes at meeting at the school two weeks ago. So were parents.

Ann Boyd, a grandparent at the school, agreed the school needs a fix. But she frowned on the takeover.

Boyd, a longtime Hill activist, has four grandkids at Clemente; her nine children went there, too. She said as a neighborhood school., Clemente has long been a “dumping ground” for kids from other schools. It has “dwindled” in quality over the years, with poor instruction from teachers, poor cleaning from janitors and poor management from administrators, she opined.

Boyd suggested the school should be revamped by an “in-house revitalization committee”—not handed over to a for-profit company.

“I don’t think we should be roaming around the country looking for someone else to do a job” that the district already pays someone to do, she argued. “Do we really need an outside company?”

Boyd attended the closed-door May 12 meeting where parents heard from O’Neill about his company’s plans to take over the school. “The few parents that was there was concerned about how are you going to make it better for my child,” she said.

O’Neill provided few answers, she said: “He don’t have a plan. He came in with the assumption that he was already hired, but he couldn’t answer any question that was asked.”

Boyd missed Monday’s board meeting; no parents or members of the public spoke up about the plan.

For his part, O’Neill has said he isn’t coming to town with a “cookie-cutter” solution. He said he needs to learn more about the school before rolling out specific plans.

On Monday, Superintendent Mayo defended the choice to hire an outside contractor to run the school. He said the district already has its hands full running Brennan/Rogers, which was revamped as an in-house turnaround, and Wexler-Grant, which is due to follow suit this fall.

“If we overburden ourselves, we’ll be doing an injustice to our turnaround schools,” he said. Using an outside management company is a way of “accelerating and intensifying the work.”

Mayo said he likes that Renaissance is managing only two other schools at the moment. He praised the company’s experience and its flexibility. Although Renaissance has its own teacher evaluation system, the company was willing to come in and work with the city’s evaluation system, as well as all of its union rules.

DeStefano asked O’Neill how he plans to promote and measure parental engagement. He said he aims to keep parents in the loop on major school decisions. He’ll track their attendance at report card nights and roll out surveys soliciting their input.

Board member Selase Williams asked O’Neill how students will experience the changes at their school.

O’Neill said they should expect higher expectations for behavior and academics, more adult attention, and more communication between the school and their parents.

Seventh-grader Wesley Hough (pictured), who was waiting for a ride home on a recent school day, said he learned about the turnaround from his teachers: Four or five informed him they won’t be sticking around.

Wesley said he won’t be sticking around to see the school change, either: He’s off to Bishop Woods school as his mother searches for a better education for him and his sister. Wesley said he came to Clemente last fall from Ross/Woodward School, which he said had more challenging academics and more resources.

In eight months at Clemente, “we’ve never been on a field trip,” he said.

Ross-Woodward school has allocated $10,000 for field trips this school year, according to the school budget. Clemente has $500 for field trips.

That disparity is reflected in the budgets for the two schools, which serve similarly sized populations. Ross/Woodward, an interdistrict magnet school focusing on classical studies, has an operating budget of $4,427,606 for 514 students this year. Clemente, a neighborhood school, is spending $3,456,190 for 538 kids.

The $2.5 million federal School Improvement Grant for which the city has applied would fund the Clemente management contract for the next three years. The contract with Renaissance includes an opt-out phase if New Haven doesn’t get selected for the grant.

School board members approved the contract in a 6-0 vote, with Carlos Torre and Michael Nast absent. Mayor DeStefano stressed the importance of having the teachers union’s cooperation in and approval of the deal.

“This is not typical in America,” he said.

Past Independent stories on the Clemente school:

Fine Print Released On Clemente Deal
Illegal Meeting Aborted; Co. Starts Work, Anyway
City Secretly Plans School’s For-Profit Takeover
For-Profit Charter May Take Over Clemente
Two Schools Become “Turnarounds”


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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 24, 2011  8:07am

O’Neill (at right in photo) made those remarks in a presentation to the school board Monday night. New Haven school reform czar Garth Harries (at left), who performed his own share of turnarounds when he worked for former school Chancellor Joel Klein in New York City, introduced O’Neill as the leader of “one of the most experienced turnaround teams in the country.”

And rember Joel Klein didn’t stick around.Rember Embattled Schools Chancellor Cathie Black abruptly stepped down. Within two years O’neil will step down and like a Pirate he will be leaving with the Treasue Chest.Wake up people the puppets on the school board Along with Dr.Mayo and King John have sold out to these corporate vampires.This is nothing more the Edison sneaking back in.This
will fail.

Monday’s deal came with the blessing from the city teacher union President Dave Cicarella.

“Despite everybody’s best efforts,” he said, “we haven’t had good results” at Clemente. He said it’s time to try a new solution to improve the school

He as also sold his soul… He sold the teachers out and all of you need to rember this at election time.

We need a elected school board now.

P.S. Expose Doumus Now!!!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 24, 2011  8:10am

I forgot atleast In New York they are suing to stop this type of takeover.

UFT, NAACP, elected officials, parents, sue to halt closing and co-location plans for dozens of public schools

posted by: Stephen Harris on May 24, 2011  8:22am

Some questions:

Is it really necessary to pay a private company to discipline the children and run an orderly school? When I went to school teachers and administrators kept us in line. Why is that impossible now?

Clemente teachers not rehired are guaranteed jobs within the district. If, say, 50% of Clemente teachers are not rehired will the balance be filled by New Haven teachers from within the system? Or will there be new hires from outside? If from outside, won’t this just increase the budget? Where will the money come from for potential new hires?

If the grant to pay for the program doesn’t come through will the opt-out be activated or will the Board of Education seek to increase it’s budget to pay for it. If so, where will the money come from?

posted by: Betsy Rosenberg on May 24, 2011  9:48am

Isn’t anyone looking at the fact that Dr. Mayo is supposed to be in charge of the city’s schools??? New Haven USED to have an exemplary school system, with dedicated teachers and administrators. I worked with many of them in the late ‘70s in part time positions at Winchester (now Wexler) and Sheridan.

Back then, Administrators supported their teachers - and not because of Union contracts, but because they were GOOD at their jobs! And the teachers I knew - myself included - cared about the kids and felt an allegiance to the school they worked in. Paperwork documented the activities of the teachers but didn’t take over their day. Local curriculum standards set the mark for achievement, not government mandates, and teachers taught the curriculum, not how to take tests. Standards, expectations, and PARENT INVOLVEMENT are needed in our children’s lives, and GOOD administrators are needed to run our schools. If our current personnel can’t handle the job, then we should find those who can. And it starts with leadership.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on May 24, 2011  10:33am

And if the problems are due to the teachers not doing their job, how does anybody benefit if those who choose not to stay at Clemente—or are passed over for Clemente—are guaranteed jobs elsewhere in the system???  Doesn’t this just move the dead wood around?

posted by: Hmmm... on May 24, 2011  10:33am

In my heart I really don’t like this move.  It just doesn’t feel right. On the other hand I just want the kids to get educated in a nurturing and safe environment. I also don’t understand why we couldn’t figure it out ourselves. Screams incompetence!!! You want to know where to get the money to pay for this?  Get rid of Mayo (there’s $200k) and whoever else has been there supposedly running things and making sure our children are educated.  I think every child that went to Clemente in the last 9 years should sue the BOE, Mayo, the Mayor and anyone else involved for failing to provide a legally mandated level of education.

Question: Is there a plan to fix the budget disparities between the schools?

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on May 24, 2011  11:59am

I don’t know Renaissance directly but the leadership team comes with good marks from trustworthy folks in Massachusetts. 

Why do we care about what people in Massachusetts might say about Renaissance?  Because if we had the Massachusetts version of the achievement gap, instead of being last in the country Connecticut would be near the top for academic achievement of low income minority students.

And why might closing the gap be good for people in Connecticut?  Because unlike Connecticut which is dead last in the entire country in job creation over the last 15 years, Massachusetts continues to outperform us and other states in terms of business and job retention and growth. It also continues to grow as a hub for technology companies - which of course come with high paying, high skilled jobs. 

Massachusetts ranks about the same as Connecticut in terms of wealth per capita.  But Connecticut results are skewed subtantially by the mega-wealth in lower Firfield County.  If you removed the hedge funders from the calculation, Connecticut would fall towards the middle of the pack.  Massachusetts on the other hand has a wider distribution of wealth than we do.  And valuing education and wealth creation go hand in hand. But we haven’t seemed to figure that out yet.

This Renaissance deal is a good move and worth the risk. The results can only get better.  And in fact, if a substantially greater number of youngsters learn how to read, write, and compute at grade level, the fee paid to Renaissance should be considered chump change.

In general, NH school reform continues to go in the right direction - albeit in the slow lane.  The Mayor, who now understands that the MOST important city value is the proper education of New Haven’s children, has chosen the path of less, if not least resistance. I am sure he doesn’t FEEL like it’s less resistant some days but he clearly has decided that having a bloody war with the unions and the administrators down at the BOE is not in the best interest of the reform movement.

And if Washington DC serves as any example, he may be right.  Sometimes taking a hard line stand will only get you washed up on the rocks.  Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee can testify to that (although I don’t think they would have done it any other way).

Nevertheless, it has to be said that whether you call it compromise, concession, or the dreaded “c word” - COLLABORATION, the impact of this politically sensitive version of reform is detrimental to student learning and taxpayer’s wallets.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 24, 2011  12:21pm

I hope this move is successful. There are serious questions about Renaissance and what experience they actually have. Two schools doesn’t seem that deep, but let’s see what they will do. They’re certainly being paid well enough to produce. It seems we can not do worse.

There are also questions as to why in a brand new $45 million school, there is this level of discipline issues. How can you expect to teach children if it’s a zoo? How could this be allowed to continue all this time? We don’t need security guards, we need adults in charge, and parents who understand the meaning of discipline and proper behavior. Unless parents want to spend their days at home with unruly kids, I suggest they get a handle of the bad actors. As an interim measure, send the problem children to the gym teacher and have them lift weights.

posted by: Incredulous! on May 24, 2011  2:17pm

I have lost all respect for Alex Johnston. This is a farce just as Domus taking over MLK has been a disaster.  Why don’t you tell the real story of what is going on there?  When their contract gets terminated we’ll hear the politcally correct line that “the District decided to go in another direction!”  Only in New Haven.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 24, 2011  3:39pm

posted by: Incredulous! on May 24, 2011 2:17pm
I have lost all respect for Alex Johnston. This is a farce just as Domus taking over MLK has been a disaster.  Why don’t you tell the real story of what is going on there?  When their contract gets terminated we’ll hear the politcally correct line that “the District decided to go in another direction!”  Only in New Haven

I agree with you all the way.And the same thing is going to happen with here when these they take over Clemente Leadership Academy

This you tube is for Renaissance.
Vampires - Thievery Corporation

posted by: Domus B. Silent on May 24, 2011  3:43pm

I have wondered what has been happening at Domus since the vaunted takeover last fall. It has been quieter than quiet over there. Where are the press releases touting change? Oh….maybe because it’s not working out? Can someone enlighten me and the rest of the city? What’s going on at Domus?

posted by: How about progress reports? on May 24, 2011  5:36pm

How about progress reports on all of the restructured, transformed, reformed or turned-around schools?  All I want to know is a no-nonsense summary of how the schools are better now than they were before school reform.  Let’s do it from the perspective of:
1) Leadership, which is one of the most pressing needs
2) Student performance in terms of test scores, attendance, dropouts, etc.
3) Improved school climate (Does anyone know when the survey results will be published?)
4) Improved communication within the schools and with parents

Maybe the NHI can do a story.

posted by: Time for Change on May 24, 2011  5:59pm

This arrangement has to rank right up there with the most wasteful and worst moves that DeStefano and Mayo have ever made ... if not among the most expensive. And along with them other presumably reasonable people have fallen in lock step to the tune of “School Reform”. Not to take anything away from Renaissance (and whatever special “expertise” they claim to have) they offer not much that we can not get within the NHPS system already—if the commitment to truly educate our children is there! It’s like the Wizard of Oz—O’Neill only gives us that which we already have. So Clemente had 1 ineffective principal, who was allowed by Mayo and DeStefano to remain in place for 11 years! Does that mean we don’t have any principals within the already bloated NHPS system that knows how to run a Middle-School??? This arrangement is in place without regard to whether it succeeds or fails. If the grant doesn’t come thru, it will still take an additional termination fee of $400,000 to end it. With no grant in place, where will that additional money come from? Kids First…yeah, Right!!!

posted by: Bubba on May 24, 2011  7:00pm

I know someone at Clemente. The place sounds like an absolute nightmare. A total lack of discipline and order.  Chaos ALL the time. Students tell staff F… you and worse with impunity. Teachers spend more time on behavior problems than on teaching. Test scores will never improve in such an atmosphere. Reggie and Leroy should not need Renaissance and another boatload of tax payers dollars to figure this out.

posted by: Leslie Blatteau on May 24, 2011  9:55pm

I’m curious, hopeful and skeptical, all at once. I know Roberto Clemente needs improvement and I know even that is an understatement.  For as long as I have worked in New Haven Public Schools, since 1999, and lived in the Hill, since 2005, I have heard the stories of what goes in in that school.  And I have walked the halls of the old building and saw the chaos myself.  Yet I also know there are wonderful children, adults and families who call that building their home away from home.  So what’s a district to do? 

As a dedicated urban educator I have some ideas, but I don’t work for Renaissance.  I guess what bugs me about this decision is the clear messaging that community doesn’t matter with respect to the decision to bring Renaissance to New Haven.  I read the small print of the contract and the ideas/tactics that Renaissance will use at Clemente will be kept under lock and key by those who run the school.  The people who follow these directives will also be under additional directives to not share their ideas beyond the walls of the school.  How can we improve our city’s schools with this mentality?  I get it—they’re selling their ideas.  But I believe there is something fundamentally wrong with that premise. 

If we are pulling together to improve our schools, if it really takes a city, why collaborate with an agency who seeks to make a profit off the opportunity gap?  Why bring secret keepers into our district?  What if what they end up doing some stuff that actually works?  Will we have to hire them to turnaround all the struggling schools?  How much will that cost?  And is it indeed our own sad reality that we don’t know how to fix Clemente?  Have we really even tried? 

I ask these questions as a proud New Haven taxpayer and public school teacher.  We have to do better.  And I don’t think better relies on secrets from New Jersey.

posted by: Stephen Harris on May 25, 2011  7:05am


The issue isn’t whether Renaissance is good or bad. Let’s just say they’re good. The issue is the method employed to solve the discipline problem. We don’t need to hire an outside company to do what can be and should be done in-house.

Why does it seem like the solution to every problem is to hire an outside consultant? The City could save some money by relying on in-house staff more often and only hiring outside consultants when truly needed.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 25, 2011  8:28am

How about hiring him.

Lean on Me Meeting with Parents.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on May 25, 2011  9:08am

Stephen and others:

The public school system CAN’T figure it out themselves.  If they could have they would have a long time ago.  And it’s not just in New Haven, it’s just about every single urban district in this country.

Folks, its not about individuals.  It’s about a SYSTEM that has grown over the last 50 years and has ossified into an ineffective culture.  And it is so much harder to TURN AROUND an ineffective school or an entire system than it is to just start all over.

The push to privatization is not as evil or nefarious as my friend 3/5 believes.  Privatization is simply about using the power of competition to work for the public. 

And right now, there is no real competition in most public school systems.  Today, NHPS is run by a single entity (the BOE) and the track record shows us that the adults (teachers and administrators) make out pretty well.  But the children, particularly poor children, don’t do so well.

So specifically, what can Renaissance do that NHPS cannot? 

Renaissance can and will try to hire the absolute best people to do the work.  They HAVE to be successful or they won’t get paid.

Conversely and up until very recently, NHPS had absolutely no incentives built into its employment system which differentiated between people who were effective in their jobs and people who were not.  Still to this day, teachers and administrators remain employed for some extended period of time even if they are known to be ineffective - or worse.

To that point, it would be inconceivable that Renaissance or any other private education management organization upon learning of it, would continue to employ a sexual predator.  The employment protections that exist for individuals like that are sadly part of the fabric of our system. And they are very harmful to students and taxpayers.

Other constraints that are part of the public schools which work against great outcomes?
Political patronage, union collective bargaining and binding arbitration, teacher certification and tenure laws - all are examples of policies that are hard-wired into our current system that work against the goal of educating children.

So to understand why we can’t do it “in-house” as well as we can do it “out-sourced”, you have to examine and understand the problems of the entire SYSTEM.  (

BTW, I am not advocating abolishing the BOE as an overseer. We need a REGULATED private system.  We don’t need or want the wild west of school providers here.  The city should continue with developing its excellent template for a portfolio approach - and maintain systemic performance by holding all schools accountable for results.

Lastly, if we privatized the ENTIRE the system, we would see the overall cost of the system GO DOWN and the performance GO UP!  And at the some point, we as a community could decide if we wanted to pay a little more for a system that promised to deliver far more.

posted by: brutus2011 on May 25, 2011  11:10am

Yes, the system does not produce the desired student outcomes. But it does produce the salaries of those who have set up and administer the current NHPS system. Therein lies the solution. Change those who are being paid (very well) to run NHPS. Forget private contractors because they bring in another set of unknowns that will take time and money to figure out. The community needs to stand up and see to it that our elected officials do their jobs. Give me 24 months—I will enlist the community and our schools will be as orderly as Sunday School! It will never happen until you turn NHPS management upside down. The last thing Dr. Mayo and his subordinates want in real change. Or, they only want effective change if they get to keep their jobs! Just like the managers on Wall Street a couple of years ago….ooops, we messed up and almost tanked the financial system…now we need taxpayer bailouts, but we still want our jobs and failing that, our bonuses and golden parachutes. Same thing here.

posted by: ElisaQ on May 25, 2011  11:12am


The changes that you call for have failed in Philly ( and led to corruption in D.C. (Michelle Rhee is a shameless self-promoter, not a victim).

Private enterprise cares about profit, not kids.

posted by: Stephen Harris on May 25, 2011  11:37am

@ Fix the Schools

A blanket condemnation of public schools is unjustified since there are well run public schools despite the fact they are, yikes, unionized.

For-profit consultants are not evil people, they just aren’t necessary. Most school problems stem from neighborhood and/or family problems. I don’t see how private consultants can step into situations their not familiar with and fix them in any lasting way. It seems to me that local administrators and teachers would have a greater grasp of the problems. If in Clemente’s case administrators and teachers need to be pushed, then Dr. Mayo should push them. If he’s not then political pressure can be applied.

I understand the libertarian bent toward privatizing everything (it seems the Chicago School won’t go away), but it really isn’t the cure all some think it is. And “the market” is just a mechanism in which the supply/demand equilibrium is worked out.

Education is not a product, like a toaster, that needs to have its price point determined by a supply/demand curve.

posted by: SIMPLE SOLUTION on May 25, 2011  4:38pm

Why do the teachers at Clemente have to reapply for their jobs?

If the teachers at Hooker, Edgewood and Hale so “exemplary” (as they and the district would like you to believe) then why not simply disperse some from each of the three into Clemente?

Meantime, use Clemente’s staff to fill the holes created at Hooker, Edgewood and Hale.

If, after three years, the scores remain poor at Clemente and high at Hooker, Edgewood and Hale, then that would be indisputable evidence of what those with even a half a brain already know:  that teachers aren’t the major problem at Clemente!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on May 25, 2011  4:56pm

posted by: SIMPLE SOLUTION on May 25, 2011 4:38pm
Why do the teachers at Clemente have to reapply for their jobs?

Because the Corporate Vampires down the road want to do this.

The Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps
Wed, 05/25/2011 - 02:13 — Glen Ford

posted by: teachergal on May 25, 2011  7:08pm

Simple Solution, I like the way you think.

Of course,your idea, would never happen because teachers from Edgewood would have to teach the poor children from the other side of town. But, I think it’s a great idea. Let’s see them put their money where their mouths are. It’s not the teachers, the program, it’s poverty and lack of support that is at fault here.

The Hill and Edgewood are many moons apart! What these kids and families deal with are totally different. Everyone knows it but the powers to be would like us to believe that all students learn the same despite their backgrounds. Hmmmmmm….something wrong there.

posted by: Tom Burns on May 26, 2011  12:22am

Simple solution—of course you are right—already done in Californis where supposedly good teachers were put in a “Bad” school and the “bad” teachers were put in a good school—-no change—of course——

Standards of behavior for students in public schools must be upheld or we will never improve—-

We know this as does everyone else—but the threat of lawsuits stymie our efforts—so the district takes the path of least resistance and looks the other way—for now—-

Well those days are over—our reform movement is second to none and has already planted the seeds for amazing results——Dr. Mayo knws what it takes to run a classroom—and discipline is at the forefront—I’ve been told he was a superstar in the classroom—

Fix—lets follow your lead—the likes of Silverado, AIG, Goldman-Sachs, Lehman Brothers and on and on—-you have NEVER taught even ONE student anything in a public school—-and I invite you to do so—because it will be the hardest yet most rewarding thing you will ever do—of course you won’t take me up on the offer—because it is much easier to bloviate from your ivory tower than it would ever be to make a difference in a childs life—You should be embarassed and I ask you to check yourself in a session of meditation—Get on board with the solution for ALL of our youngsters—for if their is a GOD in heaven you will be judged on your actions today—and they are very misguided—-

I have never been more excited about the possibilities in New Haven—-we are too talented and to able to not succeed in this momentous endeavor——

To three-fifths(our protector)—- we are not being taken over—we allowed one for profit to take the risk of turnung around Clemente—-I admire their taking a chance on succeeding at a school that has had its issues—while taking on the school as a whole—-we will watch carefully—

Thats the difference between Achievement First and Renaissaince—Renaissaince has guts—-Achievement First would never take on this task—

If they get it right—especially concerning student behavior—-New Haven will be the beneficiary———

Get on board this train—for it is going to great places—-Tom

posted by: SIMPLE SOLUTION on May 26, 2011  6:17pm

Tom Burns—Reggie Mayo may have been a “superstar” in the classroom, but he taught long, long ago.  Times have changed greatly since.

...  Take an unannounced visit to Clemente, CelenCelestyna., and see what goes on.  Students are running out of classes (and even buildings), brawling, setting fires, destroying school property and assaulting teachers.

Mayo’s response?  To: tell principals to keep suspensions down, hire a publicist at $79K per to sweep things under the carpet and come down especially hard on teachers who write up students (for example: our principal held a staff meeting and presented a poster with every teacher’s name and the number of office referrals by each teacher, then said “it’s obvious some teachers can’t handle their classrooms.”)

Further, Mayo has cut paraprofessionals who are essential to the small group intervention instruction the district tells parents their children are receiving.  Worse, Mayo is considering cutting paras altogether; meantime the precious few paras we do have are being used a substitute teachers.  To combat teacher complaints, my principal and the “brain surgeons” from Cambridge are spreading LIES, claiming paras “sit around do nothing.” In many Tier 3 schools, paras help control emotionally disturbed, ADD, ADHD students who, by the way, usually don’t receive the service hours mandated by their IEPs.

This is why I hate this reform effort.  It’s simply a showpiece.  Why should the teachers at the Hookers, Edgewoods and Hales be rewarded when their students are generally well-behaved and educated to start with, and whose parents are extremely involved? ...

Similarly, why should teachers at the low-performing schools be punished (or at the very least LABELED) for circumstances beyond their control?

Not fair and I didn’t vote for it.  This reform serves the union (at a time when teachers’ unions are being heavily scrutinized) and Mayo (who needs to justify his obscene $226K salary).  Both look good, both get the positive ink, but in reality, both are extremely flawed.

PS—Tell that Spin Doctor Hoffman he can release the school climate surveys now; it’s safe—the three-day weekend is right upon us and few are looking!

posted by: brutus2011 on May 26, 2011  9:33pm

to Tom Burns: You are very knowledgeable and are correct about one central point: order must be restored to our schools, lunchrooms, hallways, and classrooms for effective reform to take place. Your statement that things are about to change lacks credibility. For things to change, then the people who have been making the decisions for the past decade and a half need to be replaced. And, as importantly, the system, and the support staff, needs to changed as well. Dr. Mayo may be all that you say he is; but it is clear that he runs the show with an iron hand and protects staff that he should have replaced. He also has reacted to adverse student outcomes with additionl layers of bureaucracy that research has shown is ineffective.(Do a Google seacrch, or call the Yale SOM, and you will find the scholarly articles that I refer to) NHPS simply does not need a Chief Operating Officer, a Chief of Staff, and numerous other highly paid managers along with a very highly paid Superintendent of Schools. If things were different, I would sing Dr. Mayo’s praises as well. The evidence is clear that his management structure, strategies, and personnel have not worked. Why do the same or similar things with the same people and expect different results? The top-down industrial revolution management model employed by NHPS is, and was, ineffective. There is too much favoritism, cronyism, and just outright administrative shenanigans for the kind of encouraging educational system that kids need to exist. There are too many people who fear for their jobs so much that unless they follow senior management lead then they are liable to be thrown under the bus. And, I would wager that you know exactly what I mean. What do I suggest? Consider advocating for greater teacher involvement in building learning administration. Perhaps suggest to Dr. Mayo that he request that Mayor DeStefano explore using special NHPD deputies to be part of the non-learning administration of our schools. After all, a special public safety officer would be immune to the lawsuits that you have referred to as such an obstacle to restoring proper student behavior in many of our schools. Explore using the incredible technology available today to deliver instruction in our classrooms. Consider partnering with Gateway Community College, and incredibel asset to our community, to develop programs to train paraprofessionals in our neighborhoods to work with our young people. In addition, this would provide gainful employement, and hope, for many of our residents who face crushing poverty and want the best for their, and our, chidren. My point is that there is so much that can be implemented that does not require a genius. Or as much money as is currently expended. We need a new groove. So, come on Tom, lets put on our dancing shoes, use our talented teaching corps, and get this job done right!

posted by: brutus2011 on May 27, 2011  12:31pm

This paper was just released about US school reform.

posted by: Tom Burns on May 28, 2011  1:34am

To Simple Solution and Brutus 2011-I don’t know who you are but I do hear your cry—and understand your concern—-Please understand we are in the infancy of this reform movement and not enough has changed yet——we are in the second inning of the game and are behind on the scoreboard—-but we have hope and show promise for a comeback—year 1 is just closing—and I want to win this game faster than anyone else but we will have to play the whole 9 innings to get a result—we have a good team and will continue to work hard and get results through TEACHER VOICE in decision making—this is the foundation for any successes we hope to achieve—-you guys and gals in the trenches are bombarded everyday with a myriad of formidable tasks—- and I thank you for not giving up and for forging ahead——Believe me—THIS—is different—-it has to be——-The game will get closer as we continue to work as a team and in the end—we will succeed and the whole school community will be the beneficiary of our hard work and determination—-Everyone can CHANGE, and they are changing—from top to bottom—maybe not as fast as some of you would like but changing in any case—either by replacement or by an individuals choice to change—-For those of you who know me and have experienced the ride we have taken together over the last 15 years, you know you can trust me to follow a path that is best for everyone—-students,teachers, administrators, central office personnel staff, parents, custodians, cafeteria workers, security guards, truancy officers—etc, etc—-we are in this together—I guarantee that two to three years from now the change we seek will come to fruition—where students, teachers, parents, administrators, staff and central office all work as one in harmony and going to school for all of us will become a pleasure where everyone has the chance to reach their utmost potential—Remember, its the second inning and we all need to keep cheering and believing until the game is over———I will, will you—-Tom

posted by: Tom Burns on May 28, 2011  4:45pm

Brutus 2011—thank you for that link—great stuff-it will be shared

posted by: Teachergal on May 29, 2011  9:31am

Brutus makes some excellent points. I am a teacher in this district. I have been a victim of favoritism and cronyism and have been passed over for jobs that I have been qualified for and watched while unqualified, less experienced persons have been placed. This is a common practice in New Haven. Those at the top would like you to believe it doesn’t happen BUT I can tell you from experience it does. I worked so hard over the years to advance my education and move forward into more of a leadership position while watching much younger, less experienced people being placed in jobs I would have been excellent at. Why? Because I didn’t kiss the right butts over the years. I was not political enough. I was a good teacher who played by the rules, got my education, was a leader, but was not connected to the right people. Believe me it hurt but realized I must let the hurt go and continue to be the best teacher I can for the Tier 3 students I teach. They are the ones that will benefit from my experience and knowledge and they are the lucky ones.

Brutus makes another very important point. Administrators need to learn “collaboration”. Teachers have much to offer and should be included, really included, in the process of reform and decision making. The comer process should be used in all schools. Principals need to understand it is not another meeting for them to spew their ideas but a process by which all players get to voice their ideas. I recently read minutes from a past SPMT meeting that had at least 15,agenda items. This is not SPMT it is another staff meeting where ideas are not discussed with the principal dictating what will happen. This is why I am
not a member.

Renaissance is a private organization who will make money on the backs of New Haven tax payers. It makes me laugh that we couldn’t do it ourselves but until NH wants to give teacher leaders some say in implementing research based strategies that work we will have to bring in outsiders that are apparently smarter than us. 

that work we will have to pay outsiders to do the job.

posted by: brutus2011 on May 29, 2011  5:02pm

Here is another worthwhile article: 

or if I missed a digit then go to:  and enter the article name :  Incompetent Teachers or Dysfunctional System in the search box

posted by: Manners on June 15, 2011  10:15pm

Rennaisance only asked 4 or 5 teachers to come back for the next academic year. 2/3 (maybe more)of the faculty declined to return. RSS when told by a teacher she was not interested in returning to Clemente.  RSS responded with “Good we didn’t want you anyway”! Is this the professionalism we can expect from RSS?
The teacher’s “evaluation” came from the administrators and coaches. I question when did a coach get to evaluate staff?  Incidently, these so called “coaches” do basically little in the name of education at the school. (and I am being kind). Ask Mayo “what the hell is going on”? Wasn’t RSS supposed to work with the existing faculty. Once again. Snake-Oil salesmen in our mist!!! Next thing, some kids won’t be there either.