So, you may be wondering, where is this Connecticut mom going with this blog title? Well, let me tell you a little story about “you just can’t make this up”.

It all begins with a roll-call vote on HB 7424 about our state’s budget in both the House on June 3 and the Senate on June 4, 2019 of the Connecticut General Assembly where the Majority legislators voted YES to a new state law  Public Act 19-117, Section 183  (page 219). This new law is centered on a $100 million “gift” from billionaire hedge funder Ray Dalio, the author of the best-seller, Principles: Life and Work, about how important radical transparency is for success and his philanthropic foundation and a $100 million taxpayer match to strengthen public education in Connecticut. This more private than public deal is called the Partnership For Connecticut Inc.

The Voting Records of Every YES and NO Vote on this secret Dalio Deal aka the Partnership For Connecticut Inc.

On the surface, anyone who wants to improve our Connecticut public education system would say this Dalio philanthropic $100 million dollar “gift” sounds like a great deal, especially for parents who only want the best for their children’s future but may have limited means and/or resources.

One could argue that many legislators jumped on this Partnership for Connecticut  Inc. bandwagon because of Ray Dalio’s Radical Transparency Principles because as we all know their taxpayer constituents want transparency in how our local and state government is spending their tax dollars. 

Yet, there have been so many questions and concerns raised by lawmakers, especially from those who voted NO to this deal, as well as, concerned parents like me, taxpayers and voters. The following provides reasons for the concerns:

*  The Majority Connecticut legislators voted YES to honor the Radical Transparency Principles guru Ray Dalio’s ONE request in order to receive their $100 million dollar strings-attached “gift”. Ray Dalio and his more private than public Partnership for Connecticut Inc. will be fully exempt from Connecticut’s transparency and public disclosure laws. Which means, in a nutshell, this Dalio’s more private than public entity has FULL access to our public school children and their private student data and full access to our state’s checkbook to spend our $100 million-plus taxpayer match any way he/they see fit – even if it goes against the will of Connecticut taxpayers and parents!

I also learned that our status quo will try to use this Partnership For Connecticut nontransparent deal to circumvent parent rights and any efforts to expand educational choice in the State of Connecticut until we “try-out” this new Radical Transparency social engineering experiment.

Why SHOULD This Matter to Taxpayers, Parents and Voters? 

Most parents regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status strive to be the best parent and role model we can be for our children. As parents, we work hard to help our children develop the life skills needed to grow into independent thinking, productive, informed, engaged and responsible citizens. This includes ensuring our children acquire the foundational knowledge and skills required to participate in the political process such as voting while living in a very divided partisan modern society

As we all know, there is not a golden parenting manual that guides us through the many trials and errors of being a parent but that also doesn’t mean parents of certain “at-risk” communities are victims in need of saving to such a degree that our state government and a wealthy private entity are emboldened to take matters in their own hands by trampling on our natural rights as parents to make decisions concerning the education and upbringing of our children.

In other words, our state government and billionaire hedge funder doesn’t get the right to play God and circumvent certain protections of both the State and U.S. Constitution. Our public-school children are not government property to sell to the highest bidder! Our public-school children are little human beings who are the primary responsibility of their legal guardian to which they have a duty of care towards their children.

In addition, we have freedom of information and public disclosure laws that legally require the state to be transparent in all its decision making and public spending. These laws are in place to help protect the public taxpayer’s investment, and the public’s interest as a whole to include our public-school children and their private student data. Yet, this hedge fund billionaire asked to be exempt from our state public disclosure laws and our lawmakers just handed over their governing authority to protect the public’s interest which include our taxpayer dollar investments and our public school children!  – Who does that? An elected official who doesn’t want to be re-elected in 2020 – that’s who!  In addition, did our lawmakers have the legal authority to hand over their limited governing authority that was bestowed to them through the Constitution? 

What Are the Radical Transparency Principles of Ray Dalio that May Enter Our Public Schools ?

First, I must say that most people I speak with say the Dalio philanthropic enterprise is committed to help our children succeed. As a mother, while I may appreciate those sentiments, I have a hard time understanding and as a parent will never accept why any adult wants to work with other people’s children in secret especially in our public schools!

Yet, it appears there are good things happening with the Dalio’s For instance, in 2016, the Dalio Foundation partnered with the great educators and administrators of Connecticut and formed the Connecticut  Rise Network. The RISE Network was founded and developed by public school teachers and leaders in support of fellow educators advancing student outcomes…The Network and its programs are supported by the Dalio Foundation. But I will say, I am concerned about the Dalio Philanthropic enterprise having access to our children’s private student data. Who are they giving our kids data? Who are the partners? Did parents opt-in?

In my opinion, I can’t help but wonder is the timing of Dalio’s support of Connecticut Rise have something to do with lawsuits and complaints filed against Ray Dalio’s business in 2016 for his Radical Transparency Principled business practices.    

As a mother, I have also learned that everything that glitters ain’t gold!

So, let’s talk about the Radical Transparency Principles and “their rating metrics” that our lawmakers failed to mention even though there is a clear internet footprint.

How about the allegations that Ray Dalio himself has allegedly engaged in ongoing radical transparency principled business practices that “has produced an environment that has been likened to both a “cult” and a social experiment” according to one news source that reports concerns from former employees. This includes using terms such as “overseer” and “public hangings” to belittle his employees for “bad behavior” (whatever that means)! If true, do we as taxpayers and parents want this type of business practice introduced to our public-school age children and our working age youth?

It is also alleged his radical truth principled business practices video tapes the daily interactions of his employees and uses these videos to humiliate and intimidate his employees! If true, do we as taxpayers and parents want this type of business practice introduced to our public-school age children and our working age youth?

For the record, if this information is true, let me remind our legislators and members of the State Board of Education that our children are not his employees to do with what this more private then public Partnership for Connecticut wants. And as a mom,  I pray to God that none of the Dalio’s business agreements, with Connecticut allow them to videotape any of our public-school children, without their parent’s consent. As a matter of fact, there should be legal agreements that prevent this nonpublic entity, from collecting data or videotaping our children for their personal, business or foundational use because our children’s data are protected by both state and federal law!    

We all, as parents, taxpayers and voters, must ask our elected officials and education decision makers, if any of the radical transparency principles of Ray Dalio outlined so far is true, are they appropriate, for our public-school children?

In addition, as a Black mom whose family was once slaves, I can recall through teachings of the slavery era where overseers used public hangings to deter slaves from running away.  So, any radical transparency principles that call people “overseers” and use terms like “public hangings” to belittle people, in my opinion, will NEVER be acceptable to any Black parent of Black students. Let me be very clear, Mr. Dalio’s teachings, if true, in my opinion, appear to dehumanize all who work for him, and this type of leadership will NEVER be okay to expose to any of our public-school children.   

I need to be very clear again, as a mom of a daughter that would fall under the age criteria of this so-called private-public Partnership for Connecticut, I would never want Mr. Dalio choosing the consultants for any part of any interactions that engage our public school children without public input. Our state has background checks and requirements regarding contractors working in our state for reasons to ensure safeguards for our children and the public’s interest and since our lawmakers bypassed those safeguards by exempting the Dalio’s more private than public entity from public transparency, he most definitely should not gain full non-transparent access to our public school children or tax dollars to be used for his personal social experiment slush fund!

Furthermore, this private/public Partnership for Connecticut behaves like a state quasi-public governmental entity carrying out its public policies and objectives which should mean they are subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the public.

Yet, as a consequence of our Majority lawmakers voting YES to exempt them from our public disclosure laws, this nontransparent entity will not be held accountable for how public tax dollars are managed and spent. Again, this includes not protecting our public-school children’s private student data. This string attached Dalio “gift” from the Dalio Philanthropic enterprise is a very high price to pay for the so-called strengthening of our public education system.

We as taxpayers, parents and voters should also take into consideration the potential conflicts of interest that appear to exist for members of the Partnership for Connecticut Inc. board who are also public servants/legislators who have an obligation to the taxpayers and citizens of Connecticut for transparency in their public responsibilities.

We must also take into account this private public entity’s exemption from public transparency laws that may lead to violations of the educational rights of Connecticut public school children which includes the legal responsibilities of School Governance Councils that exist in our lowest-performing schools in the state identified by the State Department of Education. Please note, in 2010 this mom led the efforts with other diverse parents and education advocates, to implement Connecticut’s first parent empowerment law. It was modeled after California’s parent empowerment law called the “Parent Trigger. California’s parent empowerment law was written by former Senator Gloria Romero and the parent organization Parent Revolution led the fight on the ground. So, does this private entity believe, we as parents, are just going to hand over our parental rights and our children because of a 100 million dollar carrot?

There are also concerns of no accountability regarding public student’s rights under the Federal Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when a non-governmental entity that is not subject to FOI can have potentially unlimited access to private student records.

There has been no analysis regarding whether the receipt of federal education funds, such as under Title I, or Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) could be jeopardized by potential conflicts in policy goals of this nonpublic entity.

In closing, concerned tax-payers, voters, and parents of Connecticut must never allow our state government to circumvent our public disclosure laws because there should be no secrets related to the decision making and spending of our tax dollars and there should definitely be no secret decisions made or interactions with our public school children.

As a result, WE, the  taxpayers, parents, VOTERS, and concerned citizens of Connecticut demand the following:

1. A special session to be convened immediately to ensure the Partnership of Connecticut Inc secret deal, a nontransparent entity, is not violating any state and federal laws pertaining to the rights of our public-school children and their private student data.

2. Repeal all nontransparent sections of Public Act 19-117, Section 183, during the 2020 Regular Legislative Session that convenes February 5 and adjourns May 6.

3. If lawmakers choose to continue with this nontransparent secret partnership then they must support efforts to allow our child’s per pupil allocation to follow our children to another public or private school education option, and all parents must have the legal right to opt out of this social engineered experiment called the Partnership for Connecticut Inc.

P.S. Stay tuned for the launch of the Repeal Secret Deal CT campaign coming very soon!

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