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Bridgeport Schools Receive Grade D From ConnCAN Education Group

August 29th, 2014 · 54 Comments · Education, News and Events

The education advocacy group ConnCAN has issued a report card on the success and failure of Connecticut schools with the education district in Bridgeport receiving “a “D” for elementary, middle, and high school performance.”

About one in three schools in Bridgeport received an F, according to the report. Success schools are also highlighted in the report. “Bridgeport is home to six elementary/middle schools and two high schools recognized for their performance as ConnCAN Success Story or Top 10 schools.”

Using the state’s new School Performance Index (SPI), ConnCAN rates and ranks every public school in Connecticut, as well as the academic performance of specific student groups in each school, including students identified as African American, Hispanic, low-income, and English Language Learners.

ConnCan has been an active player in the Connecticut school reform movement, including support for former Bridgeport school chief Paul Vallas and all three endorsed Democrats for school board last year that lost in a Democratic primary.

To see Bridgeport’s ranking and compare schools see here. For methodology, here.

“We designed these tools to provide parents, community members and lawmakers a clear and honest look at how well our schools are doing and whether children are learning what they need to succeed,” said ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander. “These report cards offer bright spots where educators are proving every day that if given the opportunity and support, every child can succeed academically.”

“This year’s Report Cards also show that we have a long way to go until every child has access to the high-quality education they deserve, no matter where they live. As these Report Cards demonstrate, thousands of Connecticut kids are in failing schools, and too often the quality of a child’s education depends on where they live or the color of their skin,” Alexander said. “That is a reality we are not willing to accept. We need to improve public education in our state so every child has access to a high quality education with great teachers, principals, and public schools.”



54 Comments so far ↓

  • Steven Auerbach

    I want to throw up! Get rid of the teachers unions and fire them for nonperformance. Reward them for excellence. Isn’t it ironic Bridgeport has notoriously made front-page news? They hated Salcedo, they hated Vallas, they hate change. They fail their students. As a substitute making nothing and paying $6000 for healthcare, I have had the honor of working in 30 schools over the past two years. What I have witnessed was nauseating. So many teachers are just not teachers. They make excuses for their inability to control a classroom and demand excellence. The work they leave for a sub is non-challenging and keeps students occupied for 10 minutes or they leave nothing and expect you to stand on your head and entertain them. I am in an elementary school for the next 11 days. The computer does not work. There is nothing on the walls, nothing in the drawers. There are no textbooks and there is no teacher. These students, 8th graders (usually the worst), will start the school year without a math teacher. The teacher went to another school in the district. It is sad.

    My point was not to be a poor-me story, the point was you should notice the schools getting higher grades. Yes they are in better areas that pay lower taxes but they also have a lower-profile board of ed without the drama Bridgeport has. When you do not demand excellence you do not get it. Of course let me be clear, Bridgeport has some of the most exceptional and revered teachers who are gold. You can tell the students will remember them lovingly and they have made a huge impact. Others, not so much. A grade of D or F is certainly not going to help development in this city as a top school system is a real issue and a magnet for housing and development. They are not mutually exclusive.

    JML, you want me to waste my free time going to the board meetings? Please.

  • John Marshall Lee

    You have seen a lot over the years. But you do not wish to share at a BOE Board meeting, only two minutes. Prepare an outline, prioritize your observations, provide suggestions as remedies, and use the BOE committee system to learn and share.
    The Board is actually functioning, but it takes time to raise a craft this large from the depths. There is a balanced budget as well as some grant revenue. Attention is getting to necessary issues, if slowly. If the system is left to fail, it will sink all the optimism of your love for Bpt. Time will tell.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I will bet the schools getting better grades are the ones with a good and qualified principal.
    One teacher I know received her schedule this week and she spends very little time in the classroom with her students. Here is an example. Friday is a six-hour day, this teacher has her students for one hour, yes that’s it, one hour. The kids spend the entire day in band, choir, art and some other waste-of-time courses. Now can someone tell me why these kids have so little time in their classroom with their teacher?

  • Tom White

    It’s a social and behavioral problem, not an education problem.

  • Maria Pereira

    A more appropriate name for ConnCAN would be “Can CON.”

    Jonathan Sackler is the founding Chairman of ConnCAN and serves on their Board of Directors. He is the Director of 50CAN and Students for Education Reform. 50CAN is an organization that is working to create a ConnCAN, NYCAN, RICAN, MACAN, etc., in all 50 states. He is also a Trustee for Achievement First Charter Schools and co-founded it with outgoing Commissioner of Education, Stephen Pryor. He is a hedge fund millionaire who resides in Greenwich.

    Jonathan Sackler, his wife and parents have already donated $91,000 to both the CT Democratic Party and the CT Democratic Party’s federal account in both 2013 and 2014. Both accounts can utilize every dollar to help Governor Malloy with his re-election bid.

    On May 29, 2012, within 24 hours of Malloy’s controversial education reform bill’s passage, he held a fundraiser in his home for Malloy. He raised over $40,000 dollars that day from the likes of Steve Mandel, the Greenwich hedge fund billionaire who was involved in the illegal takeover of BPS and the primary funder of Excel Bridgeport, Alex Johnston, then CEO of ConnCAN, Megan Lowney, heavily involved in the illegal takeover of the BPS, Steve Mandel, employee and a member of Excel Bridgeport’s Board of Directors, the CEO of Michele Rhee’s Students First, Nate Snow and his wife, involved in the illegal takeover of the BPS, President of the Excel Bridgeport Board of Directors and Director of the CT chapter of Teach for America, etc. Steve Mandel is also on the Board of Directors for Teach for America.

    Let us not forget his generous $50,000 donation to Residents for a Better Bridgeport. The PAC set up to fund the yes vote on the failed charter referendum. Andy Boas, a CT millionaire, also serves on ConnCAN’s Board of Directors and founded The Charter Oak Challenge Foundation, which donated $14,000 to Residents for a Better Bridgeport. Andy Boas also serves on Achievement First Charter School’s Board of Directors.

    Let us also not forget “A Better Connecticut,” a PAC in which Jennifer Alexander served as president. This is the PAC that was set up to heavily fund the Row A BBOE candidates in last year’s primary. It helped fund Kathy Bukovsky, Simon Castillo and Brandon Clarke’s failed campaigns.

    The top five contributors were as follows:

    Education Reform Now Advocacy located in NY

    50CAN Action Fund, Inc. located in NY and linked to Jonathan Sackler

    Real Reform Now Network, Inc. located in NY

    Students for Education Reform Action Network, Inc. located in NY and linked to Jonathan Sackler

    And surprise surprise, we have none other than Families for Excellent Schools located in none other than NY. This is the charter school organization currently funding the massive door-knocking campaign in Bridgeport.

    I hope you can clearly see how incestuous the relationship between these pro charter school organizations and the many millionaires and billionaires who are behind both the CT and national education “deform” movement.

    I wonder if Jennifer Alexander, Jonathan Sackler, Andy Boas, Steve Mandel, etc. send or sent their children to charter schools. I think it is pretty safe to say they do or did not. Their children attend or attended exclusive private schools. Be wary of those who tell you how wonderful charter schools will be for your children, however they would never consider placing their own children in charter schools. If they aren’t good enough for the millionaires and billionaires of CT who are funding this massive propaganda, why should they be good enough for you and your children?

    • carolanne curry

      Maria Pereira // Aug 29, 2014 at 1:59 am
      Maria, to your posting:
      This was perhaps one of the clearest written schematic of the cast of players and their very clear goals. Con is an operative word, yes.
      Besides the hypocrisy of these players, there is nothing that even hints of their awareness of what genuine education is all about.
      Well done, Maria.

  • Tom White

    Thank you Maria, for shining a light on the underpinnings of the so-called education reform groups and funding sources. There is a lot of blame to go around, including the education bureaucracy, teachers unions, CEA, etc.

  • Maria Pereira

    Sorry Steve and Tom, I disagree with you on several of your comments.

    Teacher’s unions are not a major contributing factor to failing schools. Reputable studies have consistently upheld the number-one indicator of a students academic success is their socioeconomic status. It is not race, ethnicity, gender, teachers, principals, etc. The children who perform the worst on standardized tests are those who qualify for free/reduced-price lunch, English language learners and special-needs students. These students also require significant financial resources above and beyond what a typical BPS student requires.

    To put this into perspective, 99% of BPS students qualify for free/reduced-price lunch. No other district in CT has a higher % of these students. 13% of our students are ELL and 12% are special needs. When you compare these figures to Fairfield, Trumbull, Westport, Greenwich, Darien; there is really no comparison. By the way, every single one of those municipalities is 100% funded in education where Bridgeport is the most underfunded district in CT. Malloy’s ECS taskforce estimated Bridgeport was underfunded by $43 million per year and the CJEFF lawsuit that is going to trial in January estimates Bridgeport is underfunded by over $100 million per year.

    There are definitely poor-performing teachers, principals. etc., however there are poor and wonderful employees in every public and private institution.

    It takes four years in CT for a teacher to earn tenure. If a principal gives a poor teacher a good evaluation for four consecutive years and a poor teacher earns tenure, is that the teacher’s fault or the principal’s? Every principal in Bridgeport earns over $100,000 a year. Teachers start at around $43-45,000 a year.

    If a corporation flounders and files bankruptcy, do you blame the CEO, Vice Presidents, CFO, etc. who makes all the decisions or the employee who has no input on major decisions and just comes to work every day?

    In closing, Adam Wood, Andy Nunn, Ruben Felipe, Brett Broesder (former ConnCAN employee), Larry Osborne, Tom McCarthy, George Garcia, etc, are not unionized employees and they are considered by many to be poor-performing city employees with bloated salaries, yet they are still earning a nice paycheck. Doesn’t this in some way contradict your assertions “unions” are the root of all evil and “teacher’s unions” are why we have poor-performing schools?

  • Maria Pereira

    If I may, I would like to now take a look at “Can CON’s” analysis. First of all, “Can CON” set up the criteria that defined which schools are considered a “success story” and the grading system for this report, how convenient.

    Their analysis does not even include special-needs students, however the Connecticut State Department of Education does review these results. The vast majority of CT charter schools significantly underserves this population, therefore “Can Con” must consider this subgroup unimportant and these children are just a bunch of throwaways.

    Only seven schools on their entire list of “success stories” has a rating for English language learners. Another subgroup of students CT charter schools consistently underserve.

    In Bridgeport, Multicultural Magnet, a K-8 school, is rated an “A” with a student population where 100% of students qualifies for free/reduced-price lunch and 88% of the students are minority. In addition 13.6% are ELL and 7% are special needs.

    We also have High Horizons and Park City Magnet, a K-8 and PK-8 respectively, rated as “B’s.” Once again, 100% of these student populations qualify for free/reduced-price lunch. 90% and 88% of these students are minority. They both underserve ELL and special-needs students when compared to the traditional BPS.

    The only state charter school located in Bridgeport that is listed as a “success story” is Park City Prep, which only serves 6-8 grade, is 96% minority, however only 69% of their students qualify for free/reduced-price lunch. In addition, as of the most recent data available on CEDAR, only 2% of their students are ELL and 9% are special needs. This school serves fewer than 300 students.

    Basically, 75% of our elementary magnet schools are meeting “Can CON’s” criteria for success, while only 25% of the elementary charter schools in Bridgeport are meeting “Can CON’s” criteria for success. Based on “Can Con’s” OWN report, 75% of your beloved elementary charter schools are performing poorly.

    The reason you must compare charters and magnets to each other is because you can only be enrolled through a lottery. You could live across the street from these schools and still not gain entry.

    Park City Prep only served 6-8 grade students through 2012/2013 and no BPS is structured in that way, therefore, it is difficult to compare it with another BPS school. How is it this school is 96% minority, however only 69% of their children qualify for free/reduced-price lunch? This is what you call “cherry picking.” They in all likelihood market to families in Black Rock, Brooklawn, North End, etc., where they are able to recruit children from middle class or more affluent families.

    Remember, the number-one indicator of a child’s academic success is their economic status and the students who perform the worst on standardized tests are low income, ELL and special-needs students, therefore if a school significantly underserves these populations, what do you think happens to their annual test scores? They become inflated because they are not servicing the most challenging students.

    “Can CON” should “can” this report because it is a complete manipulation of data and does not measure ALL of the required subgroups.

    Based on this ridiculous report, which is better described as pure propaganda, I give “Can CON” an F.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    From what I am reading here, there is no hope for Bridgeport kids because we don’t have enough money to fund the schools properly. Now do I believe that? No I do not. There is plenty of blame to go around. You can start with the BOE that has finally been duly elected by the people but they seem to be spinning their wheels lately thanks to Mr. Moales.
    We can thank the BOE for appointing principals based on their race their than their qualifications. You just have to check the list of principals and assistants.
    I blame the teachers for not speaking up when they see things are not right and why is that? It’s because in most cases the teachers are second incomes in their families and don’t want to rock the boat.
    Do I feel if you are poor and need a free lunch or a lunch at a reduced cost you are bound to be a failure? NO! NO! NO!

    • Maria Pereira

      There are currently 28 elementary schools and the principal make-up is as follows:

      At the high school level the principal makeup is as follows:

      Bridgeport’s public high schools are collectively ranked last in CT.

      Someone may not “feel” that poverty is the most significant factor in determining a child’s academic success, however, the “facts” demonstrate otherwise.

      My daughter’s best friend arrived from Costa Rica and spoke very little English, was considered low income and she and her family moved nine times from Pre-K through the 12th grade. She just graduated from Central High School in June, ranked in the top 25 of her class and received a four-year scholarship to Fairfield University. Is it possible and the exception to the rule? Yes. Is it the rule or likely? No, it is not.

    • Steven Auerbach

      I agree with Andy.

      Does the Principal at Multi Cultural Magnet get a bonus for an A grade? Do the teachers there get a bonus? The students there qualify for free lunch and are minorities. Why are their grades superior? Are we not attracting teachers to the City? Are salaries here substantially lower? What benefits do teachers really get being in the Union? If Multi Cultural Magnet is getting an A, why are they not the model for the entire district?

  • Maria Pereira

    The principal of Multi Cultural Magnet school recently retired. The principal and teachers do not receive bonuses, and in my opinion they should not.

    When you offer administrators and teachers bonuses, salary increases and job security based solely on standardized test scores, this is what it leads to.

    www .examiner.com/article/atlanta-test-cheating-trial-schedule-to-start

    Most parents who know how to navigate the lottery system are referred to as “choicers.” They are often involved in their children’s education, informed and can navigate online application forms. This leaves non-English speaking parents who are unfamiliar with school data and rankings at a disadvantage. Then we have the digital divide where many of these parents have no computer access or skills, therefore the “cream” students are the ones who are often accepted into magnet and charter schools. Administrators and teachers are being paid to get these kinds of results. After all, taxpayers aren’t paying them to do a poor job.

    The former Atlanta Superintendent is being prosecuted for “cheating” and receiving approximately $200,000 in performance “bonuses” based solely on standardized test scores. Cheating scandals have become a troubling national trend due to the increased focus on bonuses and job security.

    The vast majority of our teachers are not teaching because of money. For heaven’s sake, a starting teacher can teach in Trumbull or Fairfield and walk in the door on day one earning between $5,000-$8,000 more per year than they could in Bridgeport.

    Most of our teachers just want to be acknowledged for their good work, commitment and dedication. They would also appreciate being respected and treated as the professionals they are. Bashing teachers and their unions doesn’t accomplish one positive thing.

    If an entire school does well, the vast majority of them would probably appreciate a nice dinner in a nice restaurant so they can celebrate with their supervisors, colleagues, parents and students.

    All our magnet schools are models for the entire district. Frequently their best practices are rolled out to the other schools.

  • JMart

    Let’s stop rewarding IRRESPONSIBILITY. This is from a school district in Oregon, I can give examples like the one below from all over the country.

    By a vote of 7 to 0, the board approved a revised plan Monday night to call for parents to be cited. They approved it with one caveat, however. Citations can only be issued if all other attempts to contact parents about their child’s truancy fails.

    If parents don’t cooperate and the student is still chronically absent, the Newberg Police Department can give the parents a $242 ticket.

    Even though the opinions varied, Chehalem Valley Middle School Principal Jon Franco told KATU that the idea worked at his last school in Hillsboro, Ore. He also said that attendance correlates with success.

    “And with the new requirements in regards to standards and passing state benchmarks and increasing the graduation requirements, if they miss even a day, they’re behind,” Franco said.

  • JMart

    Let’s stop tap-dancing around the real issue of why the Bridgeport School District is a failure.

    Parental Irresponsibility.

  • JMart

    Across the country, public school districts like Detroit’s are teaming up with prosecutors to fight truancy, threatening jail time and fines for parents of children who chronically skip school. The moves are the latest step in the nation’s march to hold students to higher educational standards and to hold their parents to higher standards of accountability.

    In Detroit, 63,000 of the 180,000 public school students missed more than a month’s worth of classes last school year. The parents of 67 of the worst offenders have been summoned to a meeting this week and told they face jail time if they cannot get their children to attend school.

    Around the country, schools that have tried less severe methods to get students to class are losing patience with chronic truants and threatening to punish their parents. Most states have truancy laws, but many are beginning to aggressively enforce laws that allow judges to punish truants’ parents, and a few are passing laws to toughen parental penalties.

    “They’re doing it in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Kentucky, Florida and California,” said Bill Modzeleski, director of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program of the federal Education Department.

    In Brewton, Ala., in May, a grand jury indicted 10 parents on misdemeanor charges punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. In February, six mothers in Springfield, Ill., were charged with a misdemeanor for allowing their children to cut classes, and they risked up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

    Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio has been pushing legislation this fall that would punish truants and their parents. It passed the state Senate last month and awaits House action. In March, Gov. James S. Gilmore III of Virginia signed a bill that would punish parents with up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Last December, several counties in Florida decided parents of truants could be fined up to $500 and serve up to 60 days in jail.

    And under a New York City pilot program that just finished, parents who received welfare risked losing some benefits if their children did not attend classes regularly. City officials were not sure whether anyone actually lost benefits under the program. The school system is evaluating whether to expand the program.

    Across the United States, school systems have reported some initial successes with the truancy policies, and many teachers and school administrators applaud the moves, but parents and students are split over punishing truants’ parents.

    The American Civil Liberties Union is troubled by the notion of holding parents responsible for the actions of their children and questions whether such policies will help.

    “One person should not be held culpable for the infractions of another,” said Nadine Strossen, president of the group. “Kids are not the property of their parents, and the law should not treat them as such.”

    Although Ms. Strossen acknowledged that prosecutors would have an easier time showing that parents of elementary school students were responsible for a child’s truancy, she questioned whether jailing parents would improve a child’s attendance. “What good is this going to do to not only the kid who is truant but also to his brothers and sisters to have his parent imprisoned?” she asked. “How is the kid going to get to school if the parent is in jail?”

    As school districts struggle to improve the discouragingly low standardized test scores of millions of students nationwide, they have made curriculum changes. Convinced that children cannot learn without coming to class, administrators have also adopted programs in the last few years to try to encourage students to attend school. Many have tried revoking the driver’s licenses of students who skip school, having police round up children found at shopping malls during school hours, and threatening to require students to go to summer school.

    “They’ve tried everything from soup to nuts to try to address this problem,” said Mr. Modzeleski of the Education Department. Some districts are punishing parents because “they have seen these programs that they have instituted have not worked,” he said.

    In Detroit, as in many other school districts, laws requiring children to attend school have been on the books for decades. “It is the push for enforcement that’s new,” said Kathy Christie, director of the information clearinghouse at the Education Commission of the States, a nonprofit organization in Denver that works with state policy makers on education issues. “The penalties are not new,” Ms. Christie said.

    In Detroit, where barely half of the students graduate, public schools are in the midst of an overhaul. The elected school board was thrown out by state legislators and the mayor and governor appointed a new board in March. Over the summer, an extensive effort was made to repair rundown schools, with Mayor Dennis W. Archer calling on local businesses to pitch in. The stepped-up enforcement of truancy laws is one of many initiatives intended to improve schools here, and is meant as a signal to parents to get involved.

  • Lifelong Bpt

    First–I agree with JMart on parental engagement. While poverty in the home plays a role, it should not be the excuse. I grew up poor, but my mother stressed education as the way out. School came before sports, she made me sit out football practice the week of the SATs so I could study. Did not go over well with my coach, but my mother knew I had better chance of becoming a doctor than playing in the NFL–lol. Fully funding the schools is key, but while our Gold Coast neighbors do have adequate funding, those BOEs also deal with active parents who know their power as voters. The parents in BPT are too busy fighting each other instead of demanding more of the whole board. And there is a large group of parents just sitting on the sidelines. Parents in BPT do have other factors that come into play (language barriers, etc.), and the BOE needs to do more to reach them. One thing they can do is run more efficient meetings. It’s a lot to ask working parents to sit for some of the BOE marathon sessions. Perhaps a time limit on BOE members to speak on a subject, like they have on the public speakers. Perhaps settle some of the arguments in Committee meetings.
    Second–I also question the motives of some of these organizations like ConnCAN. But in this case I’m not going to shoot the messenger. They are stating what we already know about BPS. The true public schools are in tough spot, they have to take all students. The Magnets and Charters get the top performers and they send back those who don’t make the grade. “The elementary magnet programs expect all of our students to be successful. However, in order to maintain academically high standards, students who do not meet our minimum academic and behavioral requirements may be reassigned from the magnet schools and returned to their district schools.”–taken directly from BOE document on the Park City Magnet page. So basically some of their high scores are inflated because they can drop the lower performers back into the non-magnet schools.
    Each of the elementary magnet schools have a waiting list. Some of those people are probably on Charter waiting lists as well. It’s apparent more charters are coming–each Gov. candidate is for them. Perhaps the BOE can give up that fight against them, and turn back to the city & state to get the funds necessary to expand the Magnet school system. I’d support that lawsuit. The non-magnet district schools get a bad rap, but they are dealing with ALL students, high performers, disruptive students, students with special needs, and they are expected to perform at higher levels. At the very least, they need more aides to help out in the classroom.
    As far as teachers are concerned, they should police themselves. If I were a top performer, I would have a problem with a colleague who was just “collecting a check.” I don’t know how they do it, but the union should demand more. Look at baseball, the union was silent for years about steroids, but now all the players have been tarnished, the clean, respectable players have decided to be heard and call out the cheaters. There are some awesome teachers out there. They need to be celebrated and rewarded for their efforts. not anything too crazy, but we could start by making sure they are not buying supplies out of their own pockets, like so many of them do.

  • Bob Walsh

    Like the ACLU asks, how are you going to make the parent criminally responsible for truancy???
    Before you answer, take this a few steps further. You as a parent have a child who you suspect may have substance abuse problem. Are you ready take on shared legal responsibility for any crimes he may commit because you did not do enough to address his problem?
    They get in a car you bought them, go out drinking and kill someone. Are you prepared to face criminal manslaughter charges because you did not install a breathalyzer as part of the ignition system?
    But even more simplistic. Your truant child keeps skipping school so the state is going to lock up a single parent and do WHAT with their children. Please cut it out.

    • Maria Pereira

      As scary as this may sound, I agree with Bob 100%.

    • JMart

      Bob Walsh, I agree with you about putting anybody in jail over truancy. There are other ways to correct this, examples: fining, taking welfare away and taking ECS money away and giving it to other towns who are doing well.
      www .youtube.com/watch?v=f5WXGNlXsQw

      • Bob Walsh

        This is so totally tea party it is disgusting. Your comments have nothing to do with the children, nothing to do with improving schools. “Taking welfare away!” Not that this solves anything but punish people who are on welfare for being on welfare.
        Take away ECS money. Punish the students. Punish the school district.
        Your comments have nothing to do with anything except how to cut spending on the backs of the most vulnerable.

        • Maria Pereira

          Agreed, Bob. You NEVER punish children for the decisions their parents made. A woman chose to have 12-15 children, however her children should pay the price by being forced to live in a single hotel room.
          Another woman has six children, however her six children should go without food because of her decisions.

          Thousands of people line up for applications for housing assistance and that makes them bad people.

          You want funds taken away from public schools when a child is truant, however truancy often has nothing to do with school. It frequently has something to do with what is happening in the home. It could be illness, domestic abuse, drugs, alcoholism, poverty, a child working to contribute to the home, but JMart wants to take away welfare from these families instead of finding the route cause of the truancy and offering the services necessary to help the child and family. Unbelievable.

        • JMart

          I’m talking about responsibility. How has the Bridgeport student gained with all this ECS money? 70% dropout rates. Students who are four grades behind an average student in the state.

          That’s not coming from bad teachers. It’s because of bad parents.

          • Maria Pereira

            First of all, Bridgeport does not have a 70% dropout rate. I am sure you can reference the basis for this completely incorrect percentage. All what ECS money? We are the most underfunded district in CT. Bridgeport has the largest percentage of low-income students in CT. We also have a significantly higher percentage of students who are ELL and special-needs when compared to the state. Comparing Westport or Darien to Bridgeport is just idiotic. How is a non-English-speaking parent supposed to help their child with homework, projects, etc., when they can’t understand the work their children are assigned? I guess all these parents are bad parents.

        • JMart

          You have tried 1000 tax and spend ways to correct this; it just keeps getting worse. Now is the time for RESPONSIBILITY.

  • Tom White

    Maria, your oversight and understanding of the players is impressive and appreciated (at least by me). There is a lot of blame to go around, including the teacher unions. I don’t blame these so-called education reformers for trying to take over.

    JMart (whoever they are) summed it up correctly. It is the parents, a lack of family structure. Many years ago when I substituted in Bridgeport and other towns, I was shocked at the contrast. It convinced me of the importance of family structure. I was impressed by the Vietnamese families who insisted their children learn through total immersion.

    Household income may correlate statistically with student performance, but I believe it is parenting and family structure, even with low household income, that supports interest in learning. The profile of the population in Bridgeport (and other urban centers) contributes to failure of schools.

  • Maria Pereira

    I had a dear friend who owned a business in Bridgeport and they had a very shy and reserved high school student who would work part-time and do some vacuuming, take out the trash, landscaping, etc. One of the reasons he had to work was to help provide for his family. One day my friend asked this student how they were doing in school. The student replied they were not doing so well. My friend asked them why. It was the dead of winter and we all know it can be pitch black outside by 4:30-5:00. The student told my friend his house had the electricity shut off because of a past due balance and he had no light to do his homework and study. I believe he had been without electricity for over two weeks at that point.

    I have never forgotten that story. So much for poverty not impacting a student’s academic success.

  • Maria Pereira

    On the topic of truancy, this is not a significant issue on the elementary school level. If a child is truant at the elementary school level, that is an absolute reflection on the parent.

    In Bridgeport, truancy does escalate at the middle school level. I was recently at a meeting where Ms. Rabinowitz shared in 2013/2014, 700 out of approximately 5,000 of our high school students missed 15 days or more of school. Do you know how many truancy officers BPS has? We have three, one in each high school. How can three truancy officers address 700 truants? Due to the severe underfunding of the BPS, the staffing cannot be increased.

    In Connecticut, once a child turns 16 years old, their parents cannot administer any form of corporal punishment. There are parents who are committed to their child’s education but their child is completely disengaged. The child is adamant they are not going to school, they are disrespectful and will not follow their parent’s direction. What is the parent to do? They cannot physically place their child in a car or bus and they cannot put their hands on their child. Assumptions about parents should not be made based on the actions of a rebellious teenager.

    I was an honor student before I entered high school. Once I entered high school I became completely distracted by the social aspects of high school. In the ’80s you were allowed to miss 14 days per marking period. Can you believe that? Now you are allowed 14 absences per school year. I would regularly reach the maximum absences allowed just about every marking period beginning in my sophomore year.

    My mother was quite ill during my high school years and my father was a factory worker providing for six children and his ill wife. I was not drinking, using drugs, stealing, etc., but I did became unfocused in regards to my own education. The decision to be truant was my decision. It certainly was not a reflection on my parents.

    I will tell you this, to this day I honestly believe the only reason I did not drop out was because of a wonderful teacher by the name of Alfred Prezioso. This teacher was incredibly influential in my life. I have often completed Google searches to locate him to no avail. For some time now I have wanted to share with him how much he positively impacted my life. That is probably why I get so upset when others bash teachers and the teaching profession. I honestly can only think of one poor teacher in my entire life, however I probably had 50-60 teachers in the BPS. I just don’t think the other 59 teachers should be disparaged because of what one schoolteacher did.

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