In a commentary that first appeared in the Connecticut Post, Parent Advisory Council President Tammy Boyle writes in opposition to new school board member Kadisha Coates claiming school board members Dave Hennessey and Andre Baker’s “support of charter school parent and advocate Coates was a stunning betrayal of the commitments they made to BPS parents.” From Boyle:
As a Bridgeport public school parent, I felt compelled to write this letter in response to the outrageous selection of Kadisha Coates as the newest member of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
Coates is a vocal charter school parent and advocate who testified at both a local charter school hearing earlier this year and at a State Board of Education hearing in support of adding two additional charter schools in Bridgeport.
Board member Kenneth Moales Jr. is identified as a governing council member in the application submitted by Dr. Steve Perry for yet another charter school slated to open in 2015.
When he served as chair of the BBOE he should have been the staunchest proponent of our true public schools. However, he chose instead to repeatedly denigrate the Bridgeport Public Schools, parents, teachers and staff. Therefore his vote to support charter school parent Coates came as no surprise.
Hernan Illingworth is the former District Parent Advisory Council president and at one time was the elected leader who represented approximately 30,000 BPS parents. However, today he is often viewed as an opponent of the very parents and organization that he once represented. In his capacity as a BBOE member, he frequently demonstrates disdain for the PAC and its leadership. Therefore his vote for Coates was not surprising either.
Joe Lasrcheveque, the lone Republican on the BBOE, has two children at Black Rock School and recently enrolled his oldest son at Park City Prep Charter School. His wife, Anne, recently won election to the Democratic Town Committee and is a staunch supporter of Mayor Bill Finch. It is rumored that Finch has been working for months to obtain enough BBOE votes to place his Republican ally in the role of BBOE chairman in December. Therefore his vote for Coates was expected as well.
The votes in support of Coates that were truly shocking were those of Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey. These two BBOE members who so many BPS parents volunteered to help elect and voted for chose to betray those who worked tirelessly to help them get elected.
Their votes in support of charter school parent and advocate Coates was a stunning betrayal of the commitments they made to BPS parents. These two candidates garnered our support by vocalizing their opposition to charter schools, privatization, Finch and his pro-charter school agenda and privatization crusade. Baker has now chosen to align himself with the very mayor he frequently criticized and Hennessey was seduced by the possibility of ascending to the role of BBOE chairman.
When speaking with my parent peers and fellow community members regarding this incredible betrayal, I have repeatedly heard them describe Baker’s and Hennessey’s support of Coates as a “slap in the face” to not only BPS parents, but to the Bridgeport community as a whole.
There is only one reason a charter school parent would want to serve on a local school board, and it is certainly not to improve or advocate for BPS, their children or families. Coates’ appointment to the BBOE is equivalent to a manager from Burger King serving on the board of directors for McDonald’s. Serving on the board would be used to the benefit of Burger King and to the detriment of McDonald’s, and Coates’ intentions are no different.
It is completely unacceptable that a charter school parent is going to make vital decisions that will directly impact both my children and me. In fact, Coates will participate in selecting the next superintendent of the BPS, which will play a critical role in the future success of 21,000 BPS students, 30,000 parents and more than 2,000 teachers and staff. All the while her child will remain enrolled in Achievement First Charter School unscathed by her decisions.
I truly believe that out of everything bad that happens you can find some good. And I can honestly say that this travesty has inspired me to work to defeat Moales Jr., Illingworth and Coates in September 2015. I hope all of you will consider joining me in making this goal a reality. And as for Baker and Hennessey, we will see you at the polls in 2017.
In closing, I want to be clear on one critical point: Kadisha Coates does not represent this Bridgeport public school parent nor does she represent thousands of other BPS parents in her dubious capacity as the newest member of the BBOE.