Sauda Efia Baraka, an ex long-time member of the Board of Education, declares in a commentary that first appeared in the Connecticut Post that “Working Families Party elected officials have long shown their commitment to build a city that works for everyone, not the well-connected few.”
Since 2009, WFP has maintained a presence on the Bridgeport Board of Education. We led the fight both at the state and local levels for increased funding and an equitable cost-sharing formula. We worked to ensure no school closures or teacher layoffs. We fought for including parents and community members in the decision-making process. For the renovation of Geraldine Claytor Magnet Academy and the new Harding High School, we created new forums for direct parent involvement, incorporating them in the process from building design to curriculum development.
To address the fear and concerns expressed by our undocumented families, we collaborated with Make the Road to pass a “safe haven” resolution that prohibits Immigration and Customs Enforcement from entering schools and restricts the sharing of student files that may be used to determine their legal status.
WFP members were also critical in the establishment of two ad-hoc committees to evaluate graduation and dropout rates in Bridgeport. We also pushed the board to pass a graduation requirement for students to complete courses on either African-American Studies or Latinx Caribbean Studies and helped create new mentoring programs in several schools.
These policies show how important the work of WFP has been for Bridgeport. For the past few years, WFP elected officials have worked tirelessly to improve education equity and fight racial discrimination in our school district. We have fought to make our city a place where everyone is welcome, no matter their race, country of origin or sexual orientation, and where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Equity, openness, diversity and justice guide our work in the city and are our blueprint for the future.
This November, five candidates will run under the WFP line to ensure these ideas, these values, in City Hall: Cynthia Torres and Kyle Langan, running for City Council (District 132), and Amina Brown, Dasha Spell and Eric Stewart-Alicea, running for the Board of Education.
There is an urgency to this fight. Bridgeport lays at the center of one of the most unequal, racially segregated metropolitan areas in the nation. Our schools struggle under an administration that has made a habit of blaming others for their neglect and mismanagement. No city in Connecticut dedicates less money than Bridgeport to education. The result is a school system where low test scores are just taken as given, wide disparities by neighborhood and race are ignored, and where economic development always seems to happen elsewhere, but never quite stop in town.
We need leaders who are willing to respond to these issues head-on. Bridgeport, however, has long been plagued by politicians more focused on keeping things as they are than on addressing the problems facing their constituents. City councilors prefer to rubber-stamp all decisions from the mayor while refusing to hold anyone accountable. Most Board of Education members seem resigned to budget cuts as far as the eye can see, with little regard on how they will impact students. The Democratic Party machine that runs Bridgeport has failed to offer solutions for the city. They care more about remaining in power than on offering a vision for the city.
There is another way. In our time in the Board of Education and City Council, WFP elected officials have shown what local leaders committed and willing to lead can accomplish. Time and time again we have shown that we are able and willing to hold those in power accountable, bringing real accountability to city government. We have proven that having a voice for working families at the City Council and Board of Education matters. Cynthia Torres, Kyle Langan, Amina Brown, Dasha Spell and Eric Stewart-Alicia are willing to stand up against the machine and demand change in our city. They are the leaders, the voices that we need in the room to fight for working families and social justice in Bridgeport.