Oh Boy, Here It Comes: School Board Standoff Between Jessica And Maria

Jessica Martinez
Jessica Martinez

Strap in. No, hunker down. No, bring along a makeshift bunker. The fireworks on the newly minted Board of Education that convenes in December will be ear-splittingly pyrotechnic. Jessica Martinez’s election to the school board sets up a fiery antithetical policy standoff with Maria Pereira of pro- and anti-charter school competitors. Both don’t give an inch. And both pure passion.

Maria Pereira
Maria Pereira

First order of business comes in December when Mayor Joe Ganim chairs the organizational meeting to select school board officers.

Here’s the makeup of the board:

Democrats Pereira, Martinez, Dennis Bradley, Ben Walker, Sybil Allen, Hernan Illingworth; Republican John Weldon; Republican/Working Families Party Joe Sokolovic; Republican Chris Taylor/pending recount with Working Families Howard Gardner. Taylor has a 15-vote lead over Gardner.

So who’s likely to be school board chair? Hard to do an over/under based on the personalities and new faces.

Bradley had the position for a year until outgoing Republican Joe Larcheveque managed support from a bloc that included Pereira last December.

One thing’s for sure, Martinez and Pereira will engage in serious give and take.

Pereira, the most senior member of the school board, was first elected to a four-year term in 2009. Eschewing reelection in 2013, she reemerged on the board in 2015. Ask her about charter schools and she will cite day-and-night stats and perspective why they suck oxygen from traditional school districts. Charter schools receive public funds but operate independent of traditional school districts.

Hold on a minute, argues Martinez, let’s give our kids choices, don’t pigeon-hole them in low-performing schools.

Martinez and Pereira have occasionally dueled in the comments section of OIB.

The nomenclature will be easy in this battle. For those familiar with Pereira she is is simply known as “Maria.”

In the coming weeks it won’t take long, for those getting to know Martinez, it will simply be “Jessica.”

Upcoming: the Maria and Jessica show. We’ll try to accommodate a front-row seat.

Keep earplugs handy.



  1. We ALL know that Jessica Martinez is a paid puppet for charter schools. In 2016,The State of Massachusetts had a referendum on whether or not to continue expansion of charter schools . The people of Massachusetts voted to STOP charter school expansion. Maybe it is time to explore Connecticut laws and see if it allows for a referendum on expansion of charter schools. Once people find out that charter schools are a fake and a phoney, people will turn against the long-time paid mouthpieces for charter schools such as Martinez and other members of the BPT GA delegation.

      1. The state run charter schools in Bridgeport are NOT “high performing”. They underserved the most underperforming subgroups of students and then claim they have amazing test scores.

        We serve ALL students that walk through our doors.

        1. Maria,

          How to address this problem? All students are entitled to a quality education. Are charter schools being sold as “the better alternative” to public schools? Or is it a matter of an existential curriculum? You know what I mean, “Just be yoursekf and we’ll give you an A.”

    1. Here is my take on Charter Schools and why I don’ believe Local BOE funds or State fund should be used to fund them.

      This is a section of the Connecticut Constitution on Education:


      SEC. 1. There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The general assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.

      SEC. 2. The state shall maintain a system of higher education, including The University of Connecticut, which shall be dedicated to excellence in higher education. The general assembly shall determine the size, number, terms and method of appointment of the governing boards of The University of Connecticut and of such constituent units or coordinating bodies in the system as from time to time may be established.

      SEC. 3. The charter of Yale College, as modified by agreement with the corporation thereof, in pursuance of an act of the general assembly, passed in May, 1792, is hereby confirmed.

      SEC. 4. The fund, called the SCHOOL FUND, shall remain a perpetual fund, the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated to the support and encouragement of the public schools throughout the state, and for the equal benefit of all the people thereof. The value and amount of said fund shall be ascertained in such manner as the general assembly may prescribe, published, and recorded in the comptroller’s office; and no law shall ever be made, authorizing such fund to be diverted to any other use than the encouragement and support of public schools, among the several school societies, as justice and equity shall require.

      I keep going back to this part of the language: “…and for the equal benefit of all the people thereof.”

      I have two daughters on Special Education. Charter Schools do not recruit or accepts Special Ed students. Therefore, Charter Schools are NOT for, “the equal benefit of all the people thereof.” To fund Charter Schools as the city and state has been doing, is to violate my kids Constitutional rights.

      1. This question is for Maria Pereira, I ask her because she is one of the best informed BOE member. On section 4, at the bottom, it reads: “among the several school societies.”

        What does this mean? I suspect that when Malloy and the State Dept. of Education made the decision to fund Charter Schools, they interpreted this part of the language in the State Constitution to mean Charter Schools. Are Charter Schools considered “school societies?”

  2. Frank, public schools are failing Bridgeport students but those schools that are failing are not shut down for failure. Home schooling, charter schools, magnet schools, parochial schools and public schools all are needed to educate the students in Bridgeport and if whatever school fails then those schools need to be closed down. To think that in this time that public schools are the only answer is dead wrong. How much longer must parents put up with a failing Bridgeport public school system?

    1. Ron Mackey,respectfully I disagree with you. There is a cliche. “A rising tide will lift all boats.” If the people support ONE STRONG BRIDGEPORT PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. thousand and thousands of Bridgeport school children will benefit. The present”balkanization” of Bridgeport students leaves a few hundred who are winners and thousands who are losers. In my book,that is called discrimination. Ron,please support strong and vital BPT schools in every neighborhood and let us lift all BPT students to a higher ground,not just a select few.

      1. Frank, as unapologetic black man I support whatever is the best way to educate black students. I don’t care if it’s the public school system, magnet schools, parochial schools, home schooling, whatever works and close those schools that don’t educate. Blacks are already behind and there’s no time to wait. All of that bull…. that’s always going on with the BBOE is not doing anything to advance the education of black students. Frank, how much longer must parents wait for the Bridgeport public schools to get better?

    2. And,we still have the Moukawsher decision,put on hold by the Suburban-centric government of The State of Connecticut. The Moukawsher decision clearly stated-the educational system in the State of Connecticut is unconstitutional according to the State Constitution. Urban children in Connecticut are provided an inferior education compared to the suburbs and the financing from the State of Connecticut re-enforces this gap.

  3. Isn’t it about the kids, getting them the best education possible at this moment with the professionals, the tools and the fiscal resources on hand? And how do we measure that best education outcome and expect it? Let’s keep our eyes on the target and make sure that all in the system are doing the same. Hopefully the BOE Committees will have investigated what are thought to be priorities and found a way to support those priorities as well as to monitor the outcomes as they happen. Good policy and good attention to best practices meant to accomplish the goals should have people staying within the reality of our District. Discussion of other types of school organizing might come about if other types are making advances of significance through their practices. Otherwise we should stick to the issues and let the administration manage while the Board monitors practices observed, especially those that depart from policy and protocols, especially those that put youth at greater risk or the community at greater liability. Time will tell.

  4. Frank the public schools in Bridgeport are failing the children of Bridgeport by giving them a substandard education. You’ll hear people on this forum talk about children that don’t care, patents that don’t participate in their children’s education and even teachers that do anything in the classrooms. What you won’t hear is that at anytime in the academic lives of Bridgeport students that they had/have unlimited resources to ensure their academic success.

    As a caring parent of which there are an abundance, they want what’s best for their children academically and they absolutely know that public schools don’t meet that criteria so what do they have to lose by charters? Do you bet your children’s future on one that you know is s failure or on that just may be the key to your children’s future? I had four children that went through the Bridgeport school system with the oldest being 46 years old and or wasn’t any good then and its only gotten worse.

  5. Donald…I gave an answer to Ron Mackey “above.” Please join the crusade to improve the Bridgeport School System and lift thousands and thousands of Bridgeport school children. Please do not make a few hundred as winners and condemn tens of thousands as losers. Your legacy was to lift all;black,white,male,female. Please apply those same standards to BPT schoolchildren today.

  6. Parents are opting to send their kids to charter, magnet, private and parochial schools because the Bridgeport School System is a failure. Which part of it broke down first? That’s an “egg or the hen” question. 

    There’s plenty of blame to go ’round the mulberry bush. Obstinance has become the lingua franca of a politicized Board Of Education.

  7. Kid, that was a diplomatic observation. If Maria and Jessica channel their passion to a point of agreeing to disagree on the issue of “other means of education,” they will be an incredible duo on other issues that will come before them. I hope they agree on one very important distraction, Testo, keep him away from our BOE business. Jessica, you won your seat, the voters supported you, stay away from the devil!!!

      1. Derek,perhaps I was not sufficiently clear but mu statement as above was concerning the health circumstances of a very dear member of my family. Beyond that,it is not always necessary to have a smart-aleck retort to every comment. I hope that clears up any misunderstandings of my initial somewhat ambiguous posting.

  8. Maria Pereira and Jessica Martinez are zealous advocates for  quality public education in Bridgeport with strong opinions on the subject of what is in the best interests of Bridgeport’s school children. That’s all good, all good. The real trick is getting these strong-willed individuals to sit down at one table with the other board members. All have the right to voice their opinions and perspectives. All should be heard. Democracy works only when all parties work toward consensus, a common goal. Compromise is not giving in. 

    Ladies, please. Do what is best for the school children of the city of Bridgeport.

    1. Agreed, both should use their energy and passion to ensure the Bridgeport Schools get all the funding they need in order to deliver the education the student of Bridgeport deserve. Maybe if we fully funded education we could afford to reduce the budget of the Policy force.

    2. I agree with you Bridgeport Kid, I find it most hard to support any school or educational system that doesn’t include the handicapped or “special” children and seem to pick and choose the children it will address. When charters show that they can be effective with ALL children, I may take a closer look at the benefit of having them.

      1. It is my dream to be able to add something positive about the BBOE. Unfortunately, their dysfunction and ego’s don’t allow for many positive things to be said. I fear that the two BBOE members will make it personal and both will want to always be “right” or to “win”. But the sad reality is, when that happens, the kids lose again.
        Asking for a miracle this season that ego’s and the need to win take a back seat and the needs of 22000 students come first as well as the 1500 teachers.

  9. Derek, again, there is no way in the world Maria Pereira will ever come to a compromise with Jessica Martinez.

    A leopard can’t change its spots
    A person cannot change who they are (their character), no matter how hard they try.
    This idiom comes from the Old Testament (Jer. 13:23). The Hebrew prophet Jeremiah tries to persuade an evil shepherdess to become good but when he realises that it is impossible to convince her, he says: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?”

    ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ George Santayana.

    1. Ron,

      I have some faith that the newly minted BBOE will work together. There are too many pairs of eyes watching. No more time for disruptive behavior. Anyone says “My way or the highway” should be shown the door.

  10. There’s still 7 other board members. In a perfect world, the fix wouldn’t already be in. I spoke with three recently elected board members; to a man I said I hope you guys agree to disagree and do what’s best for the students of BPS. One, a parent, said I will always error on the side of the children. Another, who’s going through a recount stated the same thing. The third, a returning board member, swallowed his spit, and looked the other way. It’s a shame that true public school advocates are not on the board. Maria, Ben, Joe, Chris’s/Gardner I wish you all the best.

  11. The term “barkay” can be used at the end of an argument, signifying that you dont care about the topic anymore.

    Also used as a sarcastic retort to somebody who is annoying you. Quit annoying Hector Brother Mackey he’s not used to getting the truth unfiltered and unadulterated.

    1. lol, they are also a band from the 70’s with the iconic single “Attitude” Donald(SQUARE) you have no idea what I am used to or in fact ANYTHING about me SQUARE. You’ve been house for a long time probably from before your time in the fire-HOUSE.

        1. Ron your comment on how people don’t change , bought to my mind the song by the Bar Kays “Attitude” which essentially said the same thing. I even wrote the line that most closely resembled the thoughts in your comment. It was not meant as a slight , I have the utmost respect for you and your thoughts …dd not so much.

          1. The Bar Kays were Otis Redding’s backing band. Several were killed with Redding in a plane crash in 1967. Two survivors reformed the band. They were the house band at Stax Records 1968-75 and went on to a successful career as an R&B act.

      1. Hector, you don’t know what I know about who I know, but I do know that you are circumlocution when you don’t have to be. Be a man about yours if in fact that you are. As a grown man I say what I mean and mean what I day, no ambiguities.

        1. I can’t be circumlocution, While .in your opinion, my sentences or phrases can be. If you did know people who actually know me as you inferred that you wouldn’t question what type of MAN I am. If your use of big words is an attempt to demonstrate your academic superiority, don’t worry it doesn’t. What would impress me would be some sort of Historical Knowledge. You would do good to put down the dictionary and pick up James Baldwin, Alex Haley, Piri Thomas even some Donald Goins or Lenny Grimaldi would benefit you.

          1. Hector, when you said this, “Donald(SQUARE) you have no idea what I am used to or in fact ANYTHING about me SQUARE. You’ve been house for a long time probably from before your time in the fire-HOUSE. My point with circumlocution was just get to your point without my having to read between the lines.

            While I appreciate your concern of my reading habits and your suggested reading list, I do read James Baldwin, but muy reading preferences go to Brothers like Haki Mahubuti, Molefi Kete Asante and Jawanza Kunjufu and other writers in this vain. As far as my using big words and the dictionary, my parents instilled in my head to learn a new word every day and then use that word ten times throughout the day and you then own that word. They felt that this would make me well spoken and would serve me well the rest of my life. It has and I did the same with my children and now with my grand children, oh yes one other benefit we’re all helleva scrabble players.

  12. Just wondering, if charter schools are as horrible as Maria, Frank, et al say, why are so many parents trying so hard to get their kids enrolled? Are they all stupid?

    1. Charter Schools are a reaction to failing schools. In school system like Bridgeport where funding as been allocated away from the schools charter schools pop up as an alternative. The issue there is charter schools are unregulated and can pick and choose who gets in. They can also divert funds from the city to pay for operation, taking more money away from the public schools. Some charter schools have done amazing work, many though have failed. I think of the like pox you see in chicken pox; the pox isn’t the disease, it shows you have it. In towns where they fund their schools like Westport, Darien, ect. there is no talk of charter schools.

    2. Bob, I was not always a fan for charter schools but after seeing how Bridgeport public school system continues to fail the students year after year and hearing and reading about charter schools that are black and successful. Well, I started you look even deeper into black charter schools. Charter schools are not the answer and neither are public schools or private schools or magnet schools, parochial schools, home schooling, we need is whatever works and close those schools that don’t educate. There are charter schools in New York that have unions, there are plenty of charter schools that are failure and they should be shut down but what do we with public schools that fail? We do NOTHING, we allow those failing public schools to just to continue to fail the students.

  13. Bob, I came to Bridgeport in 1968 and had children in the Bridgeport school system since 1975 and I was wondering if Bridgeport ever funded their schools like Westport or Darien? Prior to charter schools in Bridgeport which were introduced in 1997 Bridgeport schools were failing. I think it defies credulity to say that since charters can’t accommodate all the children of Bridgeport then the only option is to let all the children have the same opportunity to attend a failing school.

    1. I was wondering when someone was going to say that.

      The most important question is, why are Bridgeport public schools the worst in the state of Connecticut? Forget about charter schools syphoning money from the BOE budget. The city has been thriwing money at BPS for decades and it has not improved anything. The entrenched political class has used the public school system to dole out service contracts and jobs and “to hell with the students.”

      Now’s the time fir the BBOE to put students FIRST. The newbies would be well served familiarizing themselves with Hoyle’s Rules of Order and Parliamentary Proceedure. Mario Testa’s shills on the board can be outmaneuvered and outvoted.

      1. Derek, the Bridgeport public schools system has been syphoning taxpayers money with a failing school system so they should be able to have their tax dollars support the education of their students wherever they send their children to school and not fund a failing public school system

        1. The BPS is the most underfunded school district, on a cash basis, in all of CT and has been severely underfunded for over three decades. No municipality contributes less, on a percentage basis, to its public schools than Bridgeport. Therefore, not $1 should be “siphoned” away to support Charter $chools. Not one dollar.

          We are losing $4.6 million in funding charter and special education and transportation costs this year alone which further proves that Ron Mackey has no idea of that which he speaks.

  14. In a manner of speaking the discussion about Charter vs. Public is a distraction unless you are a parent in a failing school knowing that your child can and would do better somewhere else, either because the environment is friendlier and less biased, or that almost all of the educators care about results. If parents have removed a child from a failing school and moved them to a Charter School where real grade level progress is being made, that is positive for the community as a whole it seems to me. However, what are those markers for public schools and for Charter Schools, that may be imperfect at first, but have some chance of telling those of us not in classrooms how to keep score even roughly? Time will tell.

    1. WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?

      You’re saying that if the BOE makes the Public School environment, “friendlier and less biased” and hire more educators that care about results (implying they don’t), there wouldn’t be a need for parents to move their children to Charter Schools. You see, that’s the Problem with Charter Schools–people who think like you

      “…and moved them to a Charter School where real grade level progress is being made…”

      Ja ja ja… I believe that when you show proof or when Maria Pereira says that you are correct.

      1. Attack dog? What is it that must be made simpler for your understanding? Educators who care about results? I know a few but also learn about many of their colleagues who wish to put blame on other factors to the exclusion of their own failings or lack of interest. What has the teacher union presented to the tax paying public as a reasonable measure of progress (against lots of odds)? And if the union cannot suggest markers or metrics to show trends, who can?
        While the battle persists against historic and cruel financial starvation of Bridgeport public schools by local and State processes, students are also placed at times in unsafe or “bias based” situations when administrators ignore their own strict instructions about bullying.
        Joel, give it up. Your opposition are people who think differently from you. Not people who think. You can learn from others as you would have others regard some of your statements…..as factual and accurate.
        But we can also put your recent comments after what seems like an extended vacation from OIB on the “Ganim2 is Wonderful” wavelength. The problem is that this bumper sticker is easy to embrace emotionally if you do not seek substance, but are attracted by fluff. I keep sharing the fact that Ganim1 conceived of the Pension A (Bonding to Cover Liabilities in 2000). We were to create a lump sum that would pay retirement benefits from that lump sum to perpetuity. But the fund has twice faced the realities of real markets that dived and only $60 Million remains in Plan A of the $350 Million borrowed and placed in Plan A for long term investment. The worst part of the concepts are:
        **The taxpayers continue to fund $30 Million annually through Police and Fire operating budgets to repay the original $350 Million borrowing. That means over $900 Million will have been paid by the public for that Pension A plan–Principal and Interest in 30 years!!!
        **Today, in order to fully fund over $30 Million of retiree benefits to Plan A beneficiaries, the City is contributing $15 Million this past year so as not to fully bankrupt Plan A itself.

        Joel, any response for this long term financial planning concept? Does a Mayor and his financial people owe a duty to and respect for taxpayers when his concepts get struck by reality? Or will you respond with What? What? What? Time will tell.

    1. Joel, you have shared with us the fact that you have two children who are Special Education students and that they are not candidates for Charter Schools on that account.
      I wonder if the time you spend attacking those with opinions (as well as facts) at odds with you might be better spent with those two kids? The content you readily dredge up to share on OIB is likely not useful to helping your kids progress in school. Why do you persist in it? You have a mind that could wrap itself around the types of things necessary to implement the 150% of student expense allocated to non “IEP” (individualized education plan) students. Your personal return, years from now, may show a better return on investment, perhaps? How are the IEPs working for you? Time will tell.

  15. Let’s keep Bridgeport failing public school system and let’s continue to produce failing students who will have a hard time to be able to function in society. Public schools are NzoT the only answer but that’s the only game in town so failure is the answer for Bridgeport’s students

  16. Here is a article by Roy S. Johnson on Roland Martin on School Choice is the Black Choice.  Roland Martin, is the  host of TV One’s “News One Now” and senior news analyst for the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Show.

    Many black education professionals and parents remain vehemently against charter schools. In the recent local school board elections, many candidates were primarily judged on whether or not they supported charters.
    Why the passionate lack of support among many African-Americans in the state?
    Martin, who serves on the board on 50Can, a national education advocacy group, attributes it to African-American’s history with public schools, a lack of trust for others and a dearth of information.
    “The gateway to the middle-class for blacks was education,” Martin says. “People became teachers, administrators, and principals, and many began earning six-figure salaries. When charters and choice are positioned as ‘billionaires coming in to take our schools and money,’ black folks have a visceral reaction. I understand.”
    Few African Americans were traditionally among the leaders of the national education reform movement, which caused significant mistrust. “Black people are two things; we’re intensely loyal but also don’t trust people,” he says. “If we don’t know you, we ain’t trusting you.”
    Martin hopes his presence in the movement, as one of the nation’s most recognizable and trusted African-American journalists, will change that level of trust.
    Martin often hears African Americans charge that “charters don’t work for us.” His counter: neither do many public schools.
    “Black people are still waiting on five- and 10-year plans for school districts to turn around,” he says. “But guess what? By the time it happens–if it happens–that child in third grade is either in high-school or out of high-school. You’ve lost them.
    “When you look at the number of failing schools, it’s unfortunate so many of our kids are trapped in them.”

    He believes charter schools allow parents more of an opportunity to ensure their children have the kids of the curriculum they desire rather waiting for a school system to provide it.

    “We view public schools as the thing when it is only one delivery system for education,” he says. “Before Uber and Lyft, if you wanted to go to the airport you either had to drive yourself or wait for a taxi or limo. Now the consumer says, ‘I’ve got choices. I don’t have to wait for a taxi–which can be like public schools. I don’t have money for a limo–which is like the private school.’

    1. My biggest hope would be an educational system that “tells the truth” about History. How do we continue to allow our children to be taught so many untrue historical “facts”?

  17. Hector, when you said this, “Donald(SQUARE) you have no idea what I am used to or in fact ANYTHING about me SQUARE. You’ve been house for a long time probably from before your time in the fire-HOUSE. My point with circumlocution was just get to your point without my having to read between the lines.

    While I appreciate your concern of my reading habits and your suggested reading list, I do read James Baldwin, but muy reading preferences go to Brothers like Haki Mahubuti, Molefi Kete Asante and Jawanza Kunjufu and other writers in this vain. As far as my using big words and the dictionary, my parents instilled in my head to learn a new word every day and then use that word ten times throughout the day and you then own that word. They felt that this would make me well spoken and would serve me well the rest of my life. It has and I did the same with my children and now with my grand children, oh yes one other benefit we’re all helleva scrabble players.

    1. Excellent authors and kudos to your parents, Donald I’m sure you’re a gentleman first class. It’s never personal until it is. You had a comment that expressed that Puerto Ricans were not part of the March’s or protest during the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or 70’s that was erroneous and in my opinion hurtful, We have stood back to back with all oppressed people all over the world. to say I’m not accustomed to the truth unadulterated or unfiltered gives me the impression you really don’t know me because I am WIDE awake and have been for many years.

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