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Mayor’s Education Director Says Working Families Party School Board Members “Obstruct Progress For Our Children”

March 1st, 2013 · 30 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, News and Events

The Connecticut Working Families Party is catching heat from OIB readers for its single-minded public castigation of Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas who says he’d like to stay on another school year as the nine-member Board of Education completes an evaluation of his job performance. Three of those school board members Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John Bagley serve as members of the WFP which has taken matters into its own hands with a public campaign against Vallas. The WFP minority voting bloc on the school board does not appear to be satisfied unless they choose the next school chief. Joshua Thompson, director for Education and Youth for Mayor Bill Finch, says the WFP is promoting “outright lies” regarding Vallas’ record. Thompson statement follows:

“I want to make something 100-percent clear, the elected Board of Education had one task, which was to be objective in the evaluation process of Superintendent Paul G. Vallas. The Working Families Party members of the Board of Education have more than failed at that task.

“Our children deserve adults to carry this process out with integrity. During the past week, while the evaluation was occurring, we had elected members who belong to the Working Families Party signing petitions and holding rallies calling for the resignation of our Superintendent. The petitions that were signed and the rallies that were held promoted outright lies in regard to the Superintendent’s record not only in relation to his work here in Bridgeport but in regard to his work in other cities as well.

“My question is:

Who is funding this effort to promote inaccuracies?

And, who in their right mind would financially support politicizing our children?

“I am very concerned that we have elected board members whose values are tied to that of the Working Families Party. WFP members are currently going door-to-door here in Bridgeport promoting blatant inaccuracies in an effort to obstruct progress for our children. With Superintendent Vallas’ evaluation coming up this Monday, it is clear that anyone who is part of the Working Families Party did not objectively evaluate the Superintendent’s performance–a level of progress that we have never seen in Bridgeport.”

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30 Comments so far ↓

  • Fluckarella

    Bridgeport Code of Ethics for BOE.

    Code of Ethics for School Board Members
    A school board member shall abide by the following Code of Ethics for School Board Members:

    a. I will uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and court orders pertaining to schools. Desired changes shall be brought about only through legal and ethical procedures.

    b. I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and will seek to develop and maintain public schools that meet the individual needs of all children regardless of their ability, race, creed, sex, or social standing.

    c. I will confine my board action to policy making, planning, and appraisal, and I will help to frame policies and plans only after the board has consulted those who will be affected by them.

    d. I will carry out my responsibility, not to administer the schools, but, together with my fellow board members, to see that they are well run.

    e. I will recognize that authority rests with the board of education and will make no personal promises nor take any private action that may compromise the board.

    f. I will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups or to use the schools for personal gain or for the gain of friends.

    g. I will hold confidential all matters pertaining to the schools which, if disclosed, would needlessly injure individuals or the schools. In all other matters, I will provide accurate information and, in concert with my fellow board members, interpret to the staff the aspirations of the community for its school.

    h. I will vote to appoint the best qualified personnel available after consideration of the recommendation of the chief administrative officer.

    i. I will support and protect school personnel in proper performance of their duties.

    j. I will refer all complaints to the chief administrative officer and will act on the complaints at public meetings only after failure of an administrative solution.

  • anna

    Working Families Party or broken family? WFP is a selfish crew.

  • CT Taxpayer

    I’m going to agree and disagree with Joshua Thompson. I agree the BOE members have an obligation to be objective in evaluating the superintendent, and I agree news stories suggest the WFP board members are not meeting that obligation. Where I disagree with him is in blaming only the WFP because I don’t see objectivity on the part of the other BOE members either, as they are not asking any critical questions. An inside source has told me the deal is in; Mr. Vallas will be offered a contract because the majority, the non-WFP members of the board, intend to approve it. I can’t promise my source is 100% accurate, but I believe what this person told me because this is someone with significant connections to the BOE.

    That said, I am amused by Joshua Thompson, who just hopped off the bus a matter of months ago, but who isn’t embarrassed to speak so authoritatively about “a level of progress we have never seen in Bridgeport.” It is likely true the schools have never experienced this much CHANGE before now, but one shouldn’t equate change with progress. We have yet to see if the changes are resulting in progress, and I will judge the superintendent when I see the results. ALL of the BOE members should do the same.

    One other thing Mr. Thompson, how did these become “our” children, as you put it? Do you have any personal connection to the students? I think not.

  • Jimfox

    Who’s working for our kids on the BOE?
    Obviously the Conn. Working Families Party is not working for our kids.
    Then who are they working for? More WFP BOE members?
    Bobby Simmons, Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John Bagley.
    If you don’t know the good work of Mr. Paul Vallas by now, then you didn’t do your homework. The four of you are either the dumbest people we ever had sitting on the BOE, or just obstructionist. I didn’t vote your ass in to be an obstructionist.

  • BridgeportBooster

    The BOE’s one responsibility is IMPROVING the education of students. They are there to serve the kids. That is ALL. The Working Families Party keeps trying to make it about them. They are against the children of this city and they need to GO!!!

  • Ron Mackey

    Follow the money, just follow the money, it is those who are pushing for Vallas and Mayor Finch who have the money that will be made by their associates, the WFP don’t have a dime in this play. Mayor Finch was not happy with a 6 to 3 voting margin on the BOE or having the state come in and put Vallas in place, no he had to try to take the “voting rights” away from the voters of Bridgeport to elect the BOE. Mayor Finch created this fight because he wanted full and total control of the BOE.

    • BridgeportBooster

      Ron Mackey, get a clue! WFP is financed by teachers unions who don’t want to see any changes to the system that impact their membership (i.e. performance evaluations and tenure) even if those things can help kids. Lennie, follow the WFP’s money! You’ll see the NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO all over their financial reports. They yell and scream about outsiders but what about them? They aren’t even based in Bridgeport or in the state of Connecticut! Do your research.

  • Ron Mackey

    BridgeportBooster, follow the money. Which group will get these multiple million dollar contracts, WFP or Vallas, Finch & Friends? I guess you refuse to address the other comments I made concerning Mayor Finch but that’s okay, I understand.

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    Questions to be considered:
    1. Was/is Vallas the contract in question an interim superintendent or is this an official contract to fill the position full time? If it’s interim should we not be offering full time and with the terms of the contract to timeline his five-year plan?
    2. Is there a condition of the $3.5 million forgivable loan from the state to do a search for a full-time superintendent? If it is a condition, why is this not being addressed? I understand BPT must submit three candidates and Pryor can reject one.
    3. Since Vallas has the blessing of Finch, I have to wonder if the WFP is doing what is necessary to stop the machine and the status quo from achieving their ultimate goal of an appointed school board. And is this a smear campaign against the WFP by the DTC? There was a time the questions they asked at the BOE meetings were applauded and they are the reason we defeated the charter revision.

    • Sunshine96

      Dear JB,
      I think you give the DTC too much credit. Do you really think they could have collectively come up with such an idea?

      • Jennifer Buchanan

        Yes Sunshine, I do. As I learn more and more about the reach of the DTC with regard to HB 5724, and how the WFP has taken sure votes from the DTC agenda–Charter Revision vote–I believe the DTC is very organized and able to execute such an effort. Excel is just one branch of the machine.

  • Mojo

    *** I really don’t need someone who “works” for the Finch Admin. to tell me the WFP has overstepped their boundaries in what looks like a personal vendetta against Vallas. Also, OIB in the past has been very supportive of many WFP stands either for or against agendas concerning the BOE in general and why WFP members, other than the four BOE members in question need to recognize sometimes you can attract more bees with honey than with vinegor and there’s a time and place for political posturing when it comes to BOE issues. With local elections forthcoming in the fall, this prolonged issue with Vallas can hurt the WFP with voter support for any local political seats. And this BOE debacle has all the makings of getting worse before it gets better, no? *** TIME WILL TELL SAYS JML ***

  • BlackRockGuy

    It is time for the City Council to show some guts and cut Finch’s personal staff … they don’t do anything.

    • BlackRockGuy

      As far as WF members signing petitions and mobilizing people, that is called democracy, something Finch doesn’t agree with …

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Is there something wrong with Mayor Finch supporting Vallas for head of the BOE? Even I who am not a Finch fan see nothing wrong. I would expect the mayor to endorse or support a candidate for the head of the BOE.
    I have seen nothing positive from these WFP BOE members as to how to fix the BOE or arguments against what Vallas is doing. The surest way to an appointed BOE is for the WFP to keep up their tactics as this will turn a lot of people off like me. Shame on them.

  • yahooy

    Again. Will someone please list Vallas’ accomplishments since he started in Bridgeport.

  • CT Taxpayer

    yahooy, as many times as people have asked that question, it has gone unanswered. As I said in my earlier posting, don’t equate change with progress. Sometimes change results in progress, and sometimes it doesn’t.

    I have heard of high school students who have lost most of their elective courses. That is change, but it isn’t progress.

    I have heard of high school counseling positions that have been cut. That is change, but it isn’t progress.

    I have heard of classes that are far larger now than they were before. That is change, but it isn’t progress.

    I have heard of the online testing that started and then mysteriously ended because of technical problems the leadership failed to anticipate. That is change, but it isn’t progress.

    I have heard of a teacher evaluation plan that is a nightmare, not because it will result in instructional improvement, but because it takes so much time to implement it is being done in a slipshod manner. That is change, but it isn’t progress.

    I know of new schools that are being built and others that are being planned, but just as no one should equate change with progress, no one should equate a new building with a quality education.

    I know of central office administrators whose numbers have been so badly depleted because of job cuts that building principals get very little direct supervision. That is change, but it isn’t progress.

    I know of a 20-something-year-old who has been given a job that pays in excess of $100,000 a year as the mayor’s director of education and youth, and yet he doesn’t work directly with any young people. How can a city that recently had to borrow a huge sum just to meet current expenses afford such a position? That is change, but it isn’t progress.

    • yahooy

      BRAVO!!! Poverty is conquered by the rapier of education. That’s all that matters. Not how many very lucrative contracts can be meted out to the Calamarian few.

  • banmenow

    CT Taxpayer,
    Well said! Thank you! A lot of people can show changes Vallas has made but can anyone show there has been an improvement? Expect the CMT CAPT scores to be lower than ever this year. And that is the benchmark used to measure improvement.

    • Bridgeporteur

      CT Taxpayer. Well said! I had been hearing all these things you said but this is the best synopsis I’ve heard. Employees and teachers don’t speak out because of the vindictiveness of the Bridgeport political culture.

      In spite of all the new buildings that are causing us Bridgeport property owners to pay such higher taxes, test scores and dropout rates are getting much worse. I think these new schools with their hundreds of millions of dollars are the real prize these outsiders are after. All this stirring up and personal attacking is just a distraction from what they are doing.

      Let’s not make the mistake we made with Ganim where nobody questions and we all go along with the big wave of “progress!”
      Even though these WFP members are a pain to some people, at least they are speaking up. That’s the point.

  • Baffled in Bridgeport

    The Finch administration is shameless not to mention hilarious. Thompson is the best they could do? Really? They send a 27-year-old kid out to tell taxpaying grownups and parents about our kids and good governance? Really? A kid with 20 minutes experience paid $100,000+ to advance an education reform movement that has been dishonest, elitist and ineffectual. Talk about pranks.
    Maybe Thompson will next ask Kenny Moales if he thinks sitting on the BOE, chairing the Finance Committee and monitoring contracts is a conflict with his church school’s $225,000 contract with the BOE or the award of every last state-funded school readiness slot in Bridgeport to his schools. Now that is obstructionist … not that obstructing justice and good government has ever troubled the Finch administration.

  • Ron Mackey

    anna, what piece of the pie would WFP get if they stop Vallas from another term?

  • yahooy

    Lower taxes resulting from shifting from constructing new schools to investment in instruction.

    • anna

      WFP is a splinter group of the Democratic party financed by unions including the BEA. They want control of the BOE to control contracts so they can reward the unions that finance them. You think the WFP board members are going to negotiate hard against the BEA that finances its effort? They will give them whatever they want. And taxpayers pay through the you know what …

    • John Marshall Lee

      yahooy,
      Lower taxes will only come from constant budget review of Operating and Capital budgets on the City side and the Educational side. That is certainly not the way the City operates today. Any savings on education will not find its way to lowering our property taxes. If you disagree, what is the mechanism that will make that happen?

      Constructing new schools or retrofitting old plant or equipment at the moment consume dollars from the education budget the majority of which are supplied by the State of CT. What financial advantage do you see in moving a dollar from plant or equipment into personnel for instruction?

      More $ may be needed in multiple areas but we need to establish baselines, trends and look at the facts of the situation rather than throw out wishful opinions that satisfy our personal likes or dislikes. Right? Or wrong? Time will tell.

  • Ron Mackey

    anna, let’s say Mayor Finch wins and Vallas get his new contract, then who will get those contracts, Vallas and his group, the DTC, Finch’s friends, who anna?

  • Mojo

    No doubt it seems more about the “Benjamin$” than it is the kids, regardless of which side is pushing for overall control! And the sad part is the active voters and school children’s parents or guardians really don’t have a clue one way or another. *** LORD HELP US! ***

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