Supremes Must Get Off Their Robes And Make A Decision–Finch Urges School Choice In Legislative Testimony

Mayor Bill Finch on Tuesday testified before the General Assembly’s Education Committee in support of Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed education initiatives for the current legislative session. In his speech the mayor extolled school choice. “We must allow parents to decide which is the best school for their children.”

The mayor has urged the Charter Revision Commission he empaneled to frame a question for voter approval centered on an appointed Board of Education. In keeping with the education theme it’s been more than seven months since the elected city Board of Education threw in the towel in favor of a state takeover of city schools. The city has a new state-appointed board that hired Paul Vallas to run the schools. But when will the Connecticut Supreme Court act on the legal challenge of this move? How can a new state board and a new super conduct business while waiting for the Supremes to make a decision? Mayor’s testimony to the Education Committee:

Several years ago, I traveled to New York to visit Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s zone. During that meeting he told me that education is the Civil Rights issue of this generation. I wholeheartedly agree.

Connecticut’s current education system is inadequate and cannot fulfill our obligation to provide our children with the opportunity to succeed. Fewer children from Bridgeport and many of the State’s other urban centers have the necessary skills to succeed in college or to match the needs of Connecticut’s employers. We need a new vision for our children which can only come from an overhaul of our current education system. I believe the Governor’s bill is critical to the beginning of treating all Connecticut children equally.

As we began to have these conversations on school reform, all decisions should be based on the simplest premise of all–What is best for the children?

Reform in our education system is imperative and I am committed to bringing about change to increase test scores, college and trade school entrance and reduce our dropout rate. However, in order to accomplish many of my goals, I need you to support the Governor’s Education proposal to give my children a fighting chance to compete in a globally-competitive workforce.

I support the Governor’s efforts in education reform and would like to highlight a few of his proposals that I believe are fundamental to reforming our system.

• Enhance families access to early childhood education

• State support and intervention in low-performing schools

• Expand the availability of high quality school models, including traditional schools, magnets and charters.

• Ensure that our schools are home to the very best teachers and principals–working within a fair system that values their skill and effectiveness over seniority and tenure.

Additionally, I would like education reform in our state to also include:

• Parental choice–We must allow parents to decide which is the best school for their children.

• Reform the formula for school funding–The state’s existing education cost-sharing formula is an unfair system that depends too much on regressive local property taxes to support school spending. This system has led to inequity among school systems and widening the state’s achievement gap.

• Acknowledgement of where funds come from: The current system disproportionately taxes the working poor. The current system is most unfair to Bridgeport, whose taxbase is 83% residential and only 17% commercial or industrial. Other cities are as much as 40% commercial and industrial. An increase in State funding and a commitment to PreK-12 public education will help Connecticut to compete economically with its neighbors and the world.

As the parent of two public school students in Bridgeport, one of the lowest performing districts with the highest concentration of failing schools in the State, I will continue to passionately fight the inequality in education. I stand ready and willing to work with the State, so that we may someday be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say each child has an equal opportunity to succeed. In balance, bills should be passed but this should not be our final step in this fight.

Much more is needed to bring equality to our state.

I thank you for addressing this issue and for giving me the opportunity to provide testimony on this important reform effort.



  1. Mayor Bill Finch needs some new speechwriters. (Lennie are you available?) Mayor Finch gives NO reason why he is smarter than voters of Bridgeport in selecting the members of the Board Of Education except where he states in his statement, ” I stand ready and willing to work with the State, so that we may someday be able to look ourselves in the mirror and say each child has an equal opportunity to succeed.” What talent, skills and ability does Mayor Finch have to run the Bridgeport Board of Education? NONE.

    1. Ron,
      It’s all about school contracts, that’s what the City of Bridgeport lives on, school contracts.
      $250 Million here $300 Million there, that’s the industry that pays the most in kickbacks to the DTC and Mario Testa/Bill Finch and the Machine.
      Fixing up schools, replacing schools; that’s the ticket!
      NBC moves to Stamford with 500 jobs, so who cares; right, Mario/Finch?
      NBC, GE, Modern Plastics, Derecktor jobs, who cares?
      And CT Post feeds off the Machine, and the FBI sits on their ass …
      Control the BOE and you control Millions.
      That’s been the industry of Bridgeport for the past 30 years.
      Keep the taxes high, you keep manufacturing out of Bridgeport, right Mario/Finch?
      See who’s writing checks to the Finch Camp & DTC, the same venders and contractors that work on the schools.
      If you have control of the BOE Members, you control the school bids, right Mario/Finch?
      DTC needs the State BOE to get out of the way before the next school projects.

      Question: How will a Charter change help the Bridgeport BOE?
      Answer: It can’t! Finch’s new appointed BOE members will control all school contracts and budgets.

      Removing elected BOE members over appointed puts the Bridgeport BOE back on the road to corruption.
      Will the Supreme Court allow this to happen?
      Will the Supreme Court question the Mayor’s motive for a charter change at this time? (Appointed Vs. Elected Board BOE)
      So if the Supreme Court overrules the taking of the BOE by the State BOE, Finch will have in place a New Charter.
      So if the Supreme Court orders a new election and to reinstate all past members for the BOE, the Charter change will null and void the Supreme Court’s order.
      Is that what Finch thinks? God help us!

  2. Pure and simple, Mayor Finch is full of shit. I have one question for him. If you are so interested in education and giving our kids the best education possible WHY HAS YOUR ADMINISTRATION KEPT $2.5 million in ESC funds? Why has your administration kept $1.2 million that is supposed to go to the library?

  3. “We must allow parents to decide which is the best school for their children.”

    That’s easy for Bill to say when, I believe, both his young kids hit the jackpot and are enrolled in the new Discovery School?

    The Fix was in!

  4. First Finch testifies back in July before the state Board of Education saying Bridgeport cannot manage its schools. Please take us over for 3-5 years until we can straighten this mess out. We are so bad we don’t even have a budget in place (I believe that is still the case).
    Then Finch testifies before the charter commission saying look I am the only one who can straighten out the Bridgeport schools but in order to do so I need the ability to name my own Board of Education.
    Then he testifies before the legislature and says look, just in case I am wrong and I can’t fix the schools, you have got to give these kids the choice to go anywhere they think they can get a decent education.

    1. Unfortunately, your storyline is entirely accurate. Our Mayor appears, gives his “poor us” talk about a City with only 16 acres, but the largest population, and the 20,000 disadvantaged youth in our schools. The trouble is he then uses a word repeatedly. That word is ACCOUNTABLE and he claims he is!!! By what standard of judgement is he accountable??? Is there anyone who reads this blog (as many people do, some who work for the City, and most who do not) who would like to make a case for Mayor Finch being ACCOUNTABLE?

      How about information about the educational process??? It is more than four years and no final statement from the public and private money spent locally for a definitive statement on what was wrong and how to deal with it summarily. For a Mayor who admires and attempts charisma (sometimes it works, like JFK), that system has not been accountable, nor has he. But Acting Superintendent Paul Vallas, not relying on charisma, has drilled down in four months to what needs to be done fiscally in the City. So we should be getting a real example of ACCOUNTABILITY now, in terms of the current year budget, eight months late, with huge deficits predicted and unmanageable. Voila Vallas, and see how close a competent educator gets to a real solution and ACCOUNTABILITY for funds, for progress, and for youth futures in our City.
      Hold the Mayor to this big word that starts with an ‘A,’ ACCOUNTABILITY. Perhaps this is a teachable moment for him. Perhaps the Charter Review Commission will observe how necessary ACCOUNTABILITY is in City governance at this time, and provide necessary timelines and structure to support it and to measure it. Time will tell.

      1. He paints such a bleak picture of Bridgeport, it makes you wonder why he would want to be mayor, eh?
        Must be that wonderful paycheck he gets and hasn’t produced a damned thing for it.

  5. Grin Reaper, you make some good points; that’s why I said, “Mayor Bill Finch needs some new speechwriters. (Lennie are you available?)” He can’t put a good spin on his TAKEOVER. We all know it’s about power, money and control, but he wants everyone to think he is sooo concerned about the children, that’s why he took the power from the children’s parents from voting for who they wanted to run the BOE because he, the almighty Bill Finch, is so much wiser and smarter than the parents, so he wants to be the “daddy.”

  6. Get out of town with this, Finch. You want to know what is best for the children? Bring a high school student who knows nothing to the community and tell him to make a speech. Then we can truly assess what is the best move to make.

  7. Heard through the grapevine most department heads in the BOE have to reapply for their jobs (in March?) and either most won’t qualify or their jobs will disappear.

    Will it become a rudderless ship?


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