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Vallas’ Performance Evaluation, Possible Contract Vote, On Monday School Board Agenda

March 4th, 2013 · 47 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, News and Events

The battle for control of the Board of Education continues Monday (tonight) with a scheduled special meeting for “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Superintendent’s Performance Evaluation,” according the school board agenda. The meeting will take place 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, Conference Room 305, 45 Lyon Terrace. The nine-member school board is split with four of its members declaring opposition to extending school chief Paul Vallas’ contract while a slim majority of five is poised to offer him a new deal. Vallas says he’ll stay on another year if an offer is made. Will the majority of five hold up?

Three Working Families Party school board members Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John Bagley claim Vallas is not fit to remain as school chief. Renegade Democrat Bobby Simmons has generally joined them as an opposition bloc to Vallas initiatives including his proposal to build a new Harding High School on property owned by General Electric on Boston Avenue. The city has entered into an agreement with General Electric that is pending approval by the City Council.

Democrats on the school board Jacqui Kelleher, Ken Moales, Tom Mulligan, Hernan Illingworth and Leticia Colon say they like the progress made under Vallas. School board meetings have become a battle of attrition, particularly at the committee level, as WFP members attempt strategically to extend meetings deep into the night with anticipation that a member or two of the majority voting bloc departs the meeting for family and work obligations. Kelleher, a professor at Sacred Heart University, chairs the full board meetings. Critics of the WFP tactics claim Kelleher has been overly diplomatic in reaching out to board members who’ll oppose under any circumstances. So how Kelleher chairs the meeting tonight is key to whether Vallas’ contract is voted on and extended, put off for another day, or possibly defeated.

The majority of five is a fragile existence that at times has been outmaneuvered by WFP school board members.

The second agenda item Monday night is “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Employment and/or Election/Appointment and Superintendent’s Contract.” This item, according to the agenda, could go into executive session.

Either way, Monday night’s school board session could end up as a Monday Night Fight. Reserve your seats.

Vallas is being judged by this evaluation.

(Editor’s note: video above was filmed and produced by Jessica Martinez, a parent member of Parents 4 Progress that has come out in support of Vallas.)

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47 Comments so far ↓

  • banmenow

    It would be much easier for people to decide if Vallas should stay or go if they knew the evaluation. What is Vallas being evaluated on? What tools are being used to measure his success or failure? Is that information being made public? When is the board going to share that information with the public? Why would they extend a contract if his evaluation is poor?

    • LennieGrimaldi

      ban, I added a link to Vallas’ evaluation criteria in the body of the story.

      • banmenow

        Lennie,
        Thank you! Was reading the blog from my phone and missed the link altogether.
        I have since had a chance to look at the Superintendent’s Evaluation Process.
        Let’s look at Goal 1. Aii Pursuing outside revenue by increasing grants … To date no one from Central Office has told us which grants have been applied for, which grants have been denied and which grants have been awarded. To my knowledge grant funding is way down this year.
        In years past the grants office has always kept local schools and teachers aware of various grant opportunities. So far this year, central office has not shared any grant opportunities with teachers.
        Goal 1 Av Identifying and implementing cost saving measures … Services to the students have been greatly reduced this year. Special Ed teachers have a much higher case load. Schools are missing guidance personnel. Schools are lacking qualified security people. Teacher vacancies have been filled with subs instead of certified staff. All at the expense of students.
        Goal 2 A. Design and provide professional development … The professional development this year is the weakest I have experienced in over 25 years. There is no plan. Three new programs, and very little training. One full day; 4.5 hours for a brand new math program. There has been about 6 hours for a brand new reading program and 0 hours for science. Two Wednesdays a month teachers have to work an extra 50-60 minutes for Professional Development activities. These days are usually taking care of items principals are suppose to do. Not training for the teachers.
        Goal 2 B. Increase the number of qualified African American … I don’t have exact numbers of this but by appearances, it doesn’t seem this goal was reached either.
        Goal 2 C. Recruit engage and retain teachers … We now have MANY Teach for America teachers on staff. Most of them are here for the short term. The are supposedly bright people in their field, but never went to school to become teachers. Many have great content knowledge but no classroom management. Most are here for the three-year obligation the program sets forth and then have other career plans. A very small percentage want to be teachers for the long term. Most are teaching under the premise that it is a short-term gig, and they have this immunity attitude that despite how bad they are there is nothing the district can do to them because they are only here for three years. Teachers who went to school with the desire of becoming a teacher and are certified are not being supported. They are not being encouraged and several first- second- and third-year teachers I know are all looking to jump ship.
        Goal 2 D. Improve teacher attendance … Downtown has become bullies in regard to attendance. Teachers get 15 sick days and four personal days a year. Teachers can accumulate sick days, but lose personal days if not used. They give teachers these days, but yet say if you are out more than four days over the course of the 186 work year you have poor attendance and will be reflected so in your evaluation. Since the district hardly ever provides subs, they must be saving a great deal of money. Every time a teacher is out in my building a sub is never provided.
        Those are just a quick assessment of the first 2 goals. There are four more. Not many of the goals he will be evaluated on really focus on the education of children. Not much focus on how to improve the test scores, which is the benchmark teachers and principals are held to and how the state sees the district. Yet somehow the super can wash his hands of being held accountable for test scores.
        So far the superintendent is not doing too well.

        • BOE SPY

          Vallas did get a forgivable loan to close the budget gap that existed when he came. A forgivable loan is the same as a grant. There was also the ING grant and wish grant teachers could apply for to get what they need.
          The city has an attendance policy every employee follows. The policy states any more than three sick occurrences in six months are unacceptable. Three sick days or more in a row and you need a doctor’s note to insure it is safe for you to return to work. Teachers just need to follow the same policy every other employee does, downtown bullies or not. Personal days are ‘gifts’ you get for non-sick emergencies. They are not extensions of your vacation time or extra days off. You already only work 185 days a year. Now you want to cut that back to 185, -15 sick, –4 personal for 166? As professionals you should be using them professionally. No one should ever use all their personal days all the time. If you are then you have big personal problems.
          African Americans represent 12% of the population and Hispanics are 16%. If the city plots to hire at a level to purposely get a workforce that is not in line with those numbers that would be racist.
          The guidance and SP.ED. staffing is in line with state law. ‘Nuff said. BPT schools have always had a lot of full-time subs and Teach for America on staff. It is no different than when Ramos was here. The professional development, as well as most of the school year has been interrupted by the weather. Professional development under Ramos was little more than a day off or a coffee klatch/bitch session. At least now there are specific goals to achieve regardless of whose goals they are.
          Let us not forget the cost-saving measure of moving all the 925 teachers back to the classroom. The BOE was top heavy. All the outside audits said that. The old BOE was little more than an old boy network. All you needed to do to get out of the classroom and a cushy job was to support Ramos or be related to someone.
          Vallas has only been doing this for a year and he has almost fixed as much as Ramos screwed up in four. So far Vallas is going better than anyone we have had in a long time.

          • Bridgeporteur

            BOE Spy. Your case seems to look good on paper but let’s see what the drop out rates and test scores do. The schools still seem like dead places with no life afterer class, very uptight atmosphere especially with the uptick in security. The real issue is that too many of our tax dollars go to new construction, destroying park land, increasing our taxes, etc with a continued drop in achievement. Vallas is not doing enough. Put the money in the classroom, not to outside developers who get in and get out and the students don’t prosper

        • Sue

          Ditto on all points.

  • Ron Mackey

    Look, this a DONE DEAL, Democrats on the school board Jacqui Kelleher, Ken Moales, Tom Mulligan, Hernan Illingworth and Leticia Colon have all been given their “MARCHING ORDERS” so they will do only what they have been told to do, or else …

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    What I don’t understand, if he has a 59year plan, why not a contract so he can see through the plan?

  • Mojo

    *** Looking at the Supt. evaluation sheet still leaves one puzzled as to what Vallas has done or not, no? And as usual, those who live outside of Bpt but earn theie money here have the most to say and lose seems like! Is it really about the kids or is it about politics, money, making workers accountable who are set in their personal ways or just plain anti-Finch everything! In the long run regardless of who goes, comes or stays the city’s school system is doomed to take one step forward and two steps back like they always do! Why, ’cause in the end it’s really never about the kids, it’s about me type of mentality in Bpt. *** LOST CITY ***

  • observer

    The evaluation is a 5-6 page document, developed very recently that supposedly rates Vallas. (Normally that should have been done when he started, now he is measured against goals set after the fact.) It has a scoring card of 1-4 for each measure. One of the most basic measures, student performance, won’t be known until CAPT & CMT results come out in late summer.

  • Dave Walker

    The evaluation that is linked to the article is dated 12/5/12. That is only about three months ago?

  • John Marshall Lee

    Dave,
    Unless someone wants to show some hard evidence alternative to comments above, Bridgeport is a community that doesn’t really evaluate employee or leader (in so many cases) performance in a regular, comprehensive, fair to all concerned manner that is known in advance. This was a topic with the past Superintendent who got contract extensions but terms of evaluation were unknown or perhaps unknowable.

    Paul Vallas did not get here because a Bridgeport BOE selected him. Did the group or individual who did the selection have goals and tasks in mind? What were they? How has he done relative to them?
    * Fiscal–You may find fault with one or more of the tasks listed but balancing a budget within 6 months of arriving when the district had faced a $18 Million deficit halfway through the school year ending June 30, 2012 is no mean feat. A five-year plan makes it useful and fights annual budget fights and disruptions that had previously been our lot. Securing $3.5 Million from the State, forgivable under conditions, was another area no one previously had demonstrated credibly. Open, accountable, transparent and accurate reporting and display of fiscal reality, including grants has been a reality in public schools as different as night and day from previous years.

    * Personnel: The solution to Bridgeport’s public school fiscal crisis reported in the CT Post was termination of 200 employees, and the majority would be teachers. Ultimately three teachers moved on as alternative positions for which they were qualified left. Significant numbers of additional qualified African American and Latino teachers are in the system this year according to info supplied by Vallas responding to Board member questions at the final evaluation Q&A meeting. Attention to teacher attendance is important since some in the System have used their storehouse of “sick days” to pave a career change, rather than to provide income when they are not healthy, not working, and otherwise would be without income. When a teacher is out of the classroom, or a student is out of the classroom, important days are lost to that student’s education.
    * And beyond … it’s a long list. And many things are work in progress from where I sit. It is also work that is set under GOAL and TASK headlines.

    Personally, I would vote another year if he will take it. He believes in this plan and someone who believes in it needs to shepherd the different parts to their conclusion, completion, discard or reform. By the way, it may seem off topic, but what are the GOALS and TASKS the BOE members have set themselves? Perhaps they will post them on the Public Schools site? Voters will want to look at them at election time. Time will tell.

    • BlackRockGuy

      I don’t know who is running for Mayor and am not sure if I will be able to remain here … but I hope you consider running for office … you do a great job as a gadfly but we need someone with your meticulous nature in investigated financial statements that are frequently baffling even to people like myself with an MBA.

  • Sonny

    John, I too would vote for Vallas to have another year if he will take it. Vallas is shaking things up, but is finding it difficult to change a system culture that tolerated lax spending habits, duplication and absenteeism.

  • banmenow

    John,
    The truth is no highly qualified superintendent is knocking on Bridgeport’s door looking for a job.
    You say Bridgeport is a community that doesn’t really evaluate employees. Well for over 25 years I have had written evaluations on my performance annually. I am observed on a daily basis. I have 9 to 12 informal observations and 3 formal observations. I have to write 3 goals and am evaluated on those goals based on how well my students score on the CMT’s. Part of Vallas’ evaluation should be how well we do on the state tests. Unfortunately, those results won’t be available until July. Too late to hold his feet to the fire.
    You keep claiming Vallas has balanced the budget. Let’s look at that on June 30th. I am not sure it will be balanced. More and more consultants are being hired. Look for an increase in overtime from the IT department with the installation of newer technology. Vallas seems to implement programs, but since they were not in the budget I am not sure where the money is coming from. The $18 million shortfall you speak about I don’t believe was really accurate. That was more grandstanding and political game play than an actual true dollar amount. The forgiven $3.5 million I believe was a bargaining chip used to persuade Vallas to take the job in the first place. It had more to do with other people like Malloy and Pryor than Vallas.
    The post reporting 200 teacher layoffs was like screaming the sky is falling. There were never going to be layoffs of that magnitude.
    HR may claim they hired more minorities but now halfway through the year are they still gainfully employed by the BOE? Or have they already abandoned ship? I truthfully am not a big supporter of this initiative. I want the best teacher available in front of my children. The color of their skin does not matter to me nor does their ethnic background. My building has at least eight new teachers this year, all are white!
    Attention to teacher attendance is important. Harassment and bullying Is not acceptable. Teachers accumulate sick days. However, there are conditions in the contract that are in place to prevent teachers from abusing sick time. Teachers can and do abuse it when administrators fail to do what is expected of them.
    I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know if keeping Vallas another year or even longer would be in the best interest of the students of Bridgeport or not. I don’t know if someone else could do any better.
    What I do know is the system is in chaos. What I do know is teacher frustration is extremely high. What I do know is teachers feel overwhelmed with too many changes in evaluations, curriculum and programs with little to no support. What I do know is teachers and principals are frustrated by lack of subs. What I do know is Vallas is taking in the big bucks while not giving us his undivided attention. What I do know is he has hired too many overpaid consultants that he has previous ties with. What I do know is Vallas has made a lot of changes. I also know change is not the same thing as progress.
    What I know is we need progress. We need to improve test scores. We need to graduate more students. We need to address the needs of students who are not college bound. I am not sure Vallas has made the right changes to accomplish those things.
    And what I think is you have let the nature of your relationship with Vallas turn into a friendship rather than your usual role of watchdog. I think because you now have a friendly relationship with him, you are easily snowed by him. I think you need to take your rosé colored glasses off and move your head away from Vallas’ backside.

  • Ron Mackey

    banmenow, good point about Vallas, he is a very friendly person and it is easy for people to have a friendly relationship with him and to get caught out liking him.

  • John Marshall Lee

    banmenow,
    I am a taxpayer who started contacting City offices five years ago to gain more information about how this City works. How it should work according to Charter, Ordinances and other man-made rules are a part of it. How it should work to provide opportunity for OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT democratic governance by and for its citizens has been my basic topic. I have not sought a City contract, office or any special advantage in this pursuit. I have always been self-employed since graduating from college. I have mentored in the school system for over seven years.
    From your subject matter and knowledge I believe you have been in the system for many years, and probably are in the classroom. You have much more experience and evidence with the system than I do, but you are not relating the Vallas 15-month experience in this community with the period when he came to the community. That is my baseline … a period when Board of Education, Superintendent, business community and Mayor office were all critical of something significant and found no real agreement; failing test scores, graduation %, absenteeism rates, and student disruptions were in the news predominantly; and the Mayor who has always had the power of appointment to Boards and Commissions, yet does no formal evaluation of sitting members during their terms to allow more than 80% of those serving today to be in expired terms, flat-lined education budgets for several years, still claims he is an accountable Mayor and taking the road to Hartford tried to end up controlling education in the City.

    That’s a mess from my viewpoint. Into that Bridgeport situation I have come to see Vallas as an individual with experience in sorting out messes, including school systems that are achieving less than their potential for the youth involved. He has been public with his plans for reformation of the status quo (and if you were for the status quo, you may not be happy). It seems some of the plans have been executed but not yet satisfactorily (but Vallas doesn’t order books personally and there are a lot of people who may be taking their time coming to the NEW responsibility called for by their position). And there is so much good info to monitor the actual and the plan, especially from a fiscal point of view that I am writing to encourage another year at least. Get out the laundry list of dissatisfactions. They need work. Look at the larger City system and how the small Vallas team has made a significant difference to our City’s future. Time will tell.

  • banmenow

    John,
    For the last five years you have been asking hard questions. You have been looking for accountability. But where has that really gotten the citizens of Bridgeport?
    You are using a baseline of where we were pre Vallas to where we are now. Has anything really changed? We had a dysfunctional board then and we have a dysfunctional board now.
    We had poor test scores 15 months ago and there is no indication our test scores are on the rise. The indicator we used to project success on state tests was thrown out by Vallas. Instead of keeping a system in place with data that proved its success, Vallas threw it out. He replaced it with a program run by people he used in the past. Guess what? It failed big time.
    So you ask us to compare pre Vallas times to now? But if we are in the business of educating children, we are still failing. Yes Vallas may have balanced a budget on paper. Yes he may have gotten loan forgiveness. Yes he may be known as a reformer. But if the students of Bridgeport are not performing any better we are still failing. If our school system is not attracting new homebuyers we are failing.
    Sometimes it is best just to cut our losses and move on.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Balancing a budget on paper? Avoiding layoffs of 200 people, mostly teachers, according to Ramos and the CT Post? FY 2012 is closed and I know of no one banging on the door of the Bridgeport Public School System looking for payment, do you? (But I am aware of multiple rumors the City payment system to contractors in the past is part of the reason why snow removal arrangements with local owners of heavy duty equipment were slow to assist the City … and the Mayor has not yet reported what he and his team “learned” from the experience and the “venting” by an informed and exercised citizenry that raised multiple issues to him, to the public works officials, and to the City Council members present!)

      “Move on” to what or to whom? What is the problem with staying the course on the plan on the table and monitoring closely the behavior of each of the stakeholders who will contribute to getting our youth educated and our real estate values increasing because of school attractiveness? Time will tell.

  • Bridgeport educator

    banmenow, whoever you are, you are spot on! The schools are dirty and buildings are neglected. There are few or no substitutes and teachers are called off their prep period to cover classes or students are hoarded into the library or cafeteria. There are very few supplies and teachers are now purchasing their own copy paper. All classes are overcrowded. Electives have been decimated. Regular ed students and students with special needs are in regular ed classes in greater numbers than ever before and without consistent full-time special ed co-teachers. The morale and energy of the faculty and the students is at an all-time low. The schools have no spirit. Why don’t the above commentators who claim “it’s all about the students” never talk about the students in the building and instead they focus on what will come … but never does. There is no balanced budget, just a postponed one. There is no usable better curriculum, just a common core bandwagon that takes years to implement and costs thousands of dollars to support. There is no money or even interest in drama, music, art, or library. There have been many “changes” but no improvements. The teachers are completely frustrated, the administrators who have remained are attempting to manage the chaos and fear retaliation if they point it out. All the commenters who think the current Superintendent and his BOE supporters are right need to go into all the schools … see the hallways filled with despair and anger and abandonment.

  • John Marshall Lee

    banmenow and Bridgeport Educator,
    I am happy you are participating in this dialogue because you are sharing your state of mind and emotions about your profession or job with those who are reading OIB. Of course much of what you have written is opinion or subjective and though you use newspaper or other blog commentary to assess or evaluate Paul Vallas, why am I out of bounds to use CT Post headlines from two years ago to show the frustration of the broader community? Are you Bridgeport residents or taxpayers? That might also serve as background to readers on the positioning of your comments.

    Are you happy with your leadership in your local school? Are all of your discontents and observations on record with your principal? What have they done with them? Let us know, please. Time will tell.

    • Bridgeport Parent

      Read my response below John … I think you have been fooled. Sorry to say a few years from now you will be shaking your head wondering how you were snookered.

    • banmenow

      John,
      I am very pleased to be participating in this dialogue. Please don’t dismiss my statements as sharing my state of mind or emotions of my profession. Much of what I have written is not subjective or based on headlines. It is rather a careful reflection of my experiences.
      You see John there are two sides to every coin. I represent one side of the coin and you represent the other.
      My side of the coin is that of the trenches. The day-to-day grind of the classroom. The surroundings of children wanting and willing to work hard for an education. The side of the coin where there are no supplies. The side of the coin where textbooks are not in the hands of every student. The side of the coin that does not provide teachers with a meaningful, sustainable professional development program. The side of the coin where children are not a priority.
      You represent the other side of the coin. You ask good questions, you seek understanding and knowledge. But your side of the coin is easily distracted by dinners with Vallas. Your side of the coin believes numbers on pieces of paper and believes anything Vallas says.
      Perhaps instead of being dismissive of my opinions and emotions about my profession, you should use them to get a clearer picture of the state of education in Bridgeport.
      You question my background. For your satisfaction, as I owe no one an explanation; I am a Bridgeport resident. I have been since 1984. I have been employed by the district since the early ’80s. I have several advanced degrees in education. I have served the district and the children of Bridgeport in several capacities; as a teacher, as an administrator, at the local school level and downtown. So I am quite well positioned to comment.
      John contrary to your belief, I am not anti-Vallas. I am merely PRO BRIDGEPORT. You had previously mentioned about students and teachers being absent. You reminded me of the missed learning opportunities and time wasted if students and/or teachers are not in school. Well that is my point about Vallas. I don’t believe we can wait any longer to decide Vallas is not the man for the job. Time is passing too quickly and we are not servicing the children of Bridgeport.
      I am not happy with the leadership at our schools. I have gone on record with many of the members of Vallas’ team and with Vallas himself. You ask what have they done. The truthful answer is very little. I am bound by protocol and procedures. Too many people working under Vallas are afraid to speak up. They fear for job security. Remember the higher up you go the less protection you have. High-ranking Bridgeport Board of Ed employees serve without the benefit of union protection. Don’t spout party lines, you are out of a job. The lower-down employees DO NOT have access to Vallas and team despite how accessible Vallas claims to be.
      I believe you are a bit of a history buff. Isn’t History the best indicator of the future? Have we not learned anything from the Districts Vallas has been in?

      • BOE SPY

        This makes no sense. If students are not getting educated, the teachers are failing not the super. Try this. Instead of making copies put the info on your smart board or overhead. Then tell the students to take out their notebooks and write it down. In the past all the unions ‘gave back’ to prevent layoffs. All but the teachers. The teachers would not give up February break for the students. Now you are cross with Vallas for not micromanaging your classroom for you and giving you enough. If you are really that unhappy with the administration maybe you should do your talking with your feet.

        • banmenow

          SPY,
          You have me confused. You defend Vallas and 15 minutes later post you hope they throw him out.
          You claim if students are failing blame the teachers not Vallas. Well the buck stops at Vallas. I claim the district is failing the students. I don’t claim my students are failing.
          You are not much of a spy if you think overheads still exist in the classroom. I for one utilize my SMARTBoard every day. My students do take out the notebooks I have purchased for them every day and take notes, do work and exchange ideas. They also write with the pencils I have purchased.
          I have a contract that requires me to work 186 days. There is clear language about how missed days are made up. The contract clearly states days will be taken off of April vacation. Teachers make plans for February knowing those days are protected. To change that contractual language without due and proper negotiations would be wrong and unfair to teachers who made plans.
          I don’t remember complaining about Vallas not micromanaging the classroom.
          My point is clear and simple. Vallas has made many changes. Some are good. Most are not. Change for the sake of change is wasted time. Change that is effective, sustainable and shows student growth is worth every ounce of growing pain.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    JML I think you are off base with your last blog. I know one of the two people you address banmenow and Bridgeport educator.
    I do not believe their comments are from newspapers or OIB or any other source. Their opinions are from working in the trenches. One thing this blog and other commentary sources never mention is what is actually happening in the classroom with the kids. All or most of the bullshit written is about the elected members of the BOE.
    One of the people you ask about is a Bridgeport resident the other I don’t know. To me it makes no difference as they are both charged with educating children, where they reside means squat.
    It would be nice if the principals were all courageous and all were qualified for their positions but unfortunately this is not the case.
    The dollar amounts are important but they do not reflect what is actually going on in each school.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Andy,
      You and I have provided names and backgrounds for some time. People can judge our comments as right or wrong, factual or opinionated, off base or on target.
      If I followed all the allegations from Pelto or others, or everything Linda Connor Lambeck has written, or all of anybody else, shoot me. I have had a dinner meal with Paul Vallas after the final Q&A meeting to go over material I wanted to understand better. I continue to see him as Open Accountable and Transparent in what he has put out and how he has answered. He is human. I repeat, we don’t do evaluation in Bridgeport (and I did not mean teachers) but I do mean the culture of government, and that is part of the failure to hold people accountable. So everyone needs to suck it up, and if you are doing it as a teacher, principal, para, nurse, media person, special education, social worker, keep doing it. The people are more aroused than a year ago. Let’s reason together and evaluate Mayor, Council and BOE also. The mechanisms are there. Time will tell.

      I am married to an educator who is very dedicated, buys supplies for her students, works weekends and vacations, and got docked by her BOE when the volcano did not let her return to the US … I understand a lot. That has me looking further. Keep reading. Keep feeding the facts. Time will tell.

      • banmenow

        John,
        Thank you for making me laugh today. That is exactly what I did when I read your post to Andy.
        Perhaps you directed your response to him because you are friends. I am not entirely sure why it was directed at him. Most of what you posted to Andy was a response to comments in my postings.
        You may blog under your given name now, but you haven’t always. For a long time you were BEACON2. Andy was known as Town committee. Andy was first to start blogging under his real name. Once he did you decided to also.
        Do you think posts are less credible when written under a screen name? I use a screen name. So what? Although I do several readers know my true identity.
        I have never claimed Vallas was not open. I am all for open accountable transparent governing. My concern is Vallas is making changes that are not getting to the needed improvements. Although I must say Vallas isn’t always open about the days he actually works for Bridgeport while actually in Bridgeport.
        I like how you think everyone needs to suck it up. Does that include you? You seem to like to write long posts, but if someone has a different opinion from yours, you begin to deflect and take a pompous attitude. I will keep doing what I do. I do it well. I do it with pride. I do it swimming upstream. I do it because I truly make a difference in children’s lives.
        I know your wife. I know she is an educator out of the classroom. And while all educators have challenges, please don’t try to compare Stratford to Bridgeport.
        You do understand a lot. I understand a lot. Together we represent the whole. You just refuse to acknowledge you may understand the fiscal side, but are clueless about the day-to-day challenges in the schools. Take the time to pull your head out of books, reports, meetings and look in the classrooms. Because that is where the education is taking place.

        • John Marshall Lee

          Your posts on Vallas have been longer than mine. You have some facts to report. That’s good. But instead of looking at us as two halves of anything (your frame of reference), I think of us as trying to look at a similar scene, mess, educational initiative and draw different conclusions.

          For instance, Stratford is part of a continuum in Fairfield County from Weston or New Canaan to Bridgeport. They are struggling with their population of students to meet new types of goals with new types of accountability and evaluations, and frustration is part of the game today.

          Are teachers posting for fear that businessman Vallas has to deal with union negotiations soon? What is his reputation in that area? That might be a reason for an anti-Vallas movement, right? I am happy you support OATs but it is the first time you have mentioned it.
          I suck it up all the time. Why else would I be devoting all the time, energy and funds, indeed to learn personally, inform others, and be called “pompous” and other less elegant terms? Perhaps your own high horse needs some reining in. Look at the length of your messages denying the current Superintendent additional time to get the plans (that are public), with funding (that is on schedule at this time, despite your doubts about June 30, 2013) and having to direct this through more than 2,000 people who work in the Bridgeport educational establishment. Rome was not built in a day, both of us know. If Paul Vallas is not real, if his plans are bogus, you tell me I will have been snookered. But if he is even partly for real, and if many of those 2,000 work steadily towards best practices as the community reasonably expects (and as so many do), then maybe some of the better results you and I are waiting for will in fact happen. You might want to call me at 203-259-9642 to introduce yourself because a conversation is more nuanced and direct than long memos.

          My City governance education began five years ago. Too much of our civic structure is broken for us to expect great results, and a Charter Reform group last year did not take a serious look at the truly broken parts. OIB and a few other places are where serious discussion can occur. That’s at least a part of what we have been doing, I believe. Take a chance. Education in this community needs to be a lifetime effort for many parts of the community. And if public funds of $12-15,000 annually spent in public schools for 12 or more years is wasted, time will tell.

  • Bridgeport Parent

    You are being fooled and manipulated.

    It is the same “reform” circus happening throughout our country in the poor cities. Ask yourself how are things going in Chicago, Philly and NOLA.

    At the last BOE meeting, Vallas says maybe these cities are not doing well (therefore he is acknowledging they’re not) because he is not there.

    There are three problems with that statement … first, as stated, he admits things are not going well in Philly, Chicago and NOLA, his old stomping grounds. Second, he is telling you his methods are not sustainable. Once he leaves, the chaos he created will not solve the problems on a long-term basis. Third, don’t you find this a little pompous and grandiose?

    Three major cities and their school systems are failing because Paul Vallas is no longer there? Why didn’t he stay long enough to ensure long-lasting results? Why does he pack up, rinse and repeat every 2-3 years? Maybe because this is not reform in the true sense of the word. Maybe because he knows when to get out to make another quick buck somewhere else. He reminds me of Harold Hill in The Music Man.

    Maybe some of you find him likeable … I think he is extremely narcissistic and manipulative. He knows how to “work the room.”

    You also have to wonder why he thinks bringing in more “elite” TFA is going to the solve the problem. More young inexperienced temporary interns with five weeks of training is what’s best for some of the neediest students? Really?

    You must pay a first-year salary and a TFA finders fee, which is more expensive than employing a graduate of a teacher education program who wants to begin a career in teaching and learning. 80% of the TFA’s will be gone in 2-3 years and you will be starting all over again with recruitment, training, evaluating, etc. Paul will be long gone by then.

    TFA also breeds teacher churn. Teacher churn is a way to deprofessionalize teaching. You reduce labor costs if you have them while they’re young … no family health insurance, no time to build up a pension. Reduce the labor costs and funnel the money elsewhere. And if teaching is reduced to test prep and testing then you really don’t need professionals anymore. A great teacher is compliant, confused and controlled.

    He is very good at draining the resources and funneling money to his corporate cronies. It appears his main motivation for staying now is to spite the people who do not worship him. He equates surviving in Bridgeport to his son surviving Afghanistan.

    He stays because no one will ever disparage his image and please please never ever forget it is “all about the kids.”

  • Bridgeport educator

    Thank you Bridgeport Parent. One can only hope “Parent Leader” reads your comment.

  • yahooy

    No. Vallas is not good for this city. He has the audacity to suggest his three prior gigs are failing ‘because he is not there’ while all the time he proclaims himself a ‘fixer.’ Each of those cities paid Vallas big money to come in and restore their educational systems to a high level of effectiveness. Nobody expected him to stay forever. Rather they expected him to have built a structure that would long endure. Apparently he did not. The next time Vallas arrogantly suggests the systems are failing because he is not there ask the man one question … would any of those failing systems have him back?

    • Bridgeport Parent

      No they do NOT want him back … two comments left by NOLA parents on a Louisiana news article are anything but complimentary … this will sound familiar soon:

      Vallas robbed the kids in his direct run schools of the opportunity to choose higher performing schools by not giving them access to school choice under NCLB. He tried to make the Feds think this system of open enrollment was real school choice. He trapped students in his low performing schools so that they would not bring down the performance scores of the RSD’s charter schools. Vallas starved these direct run schools of the supports they desperately needed since they had the most challenging students. Vallas should be brought up on chargers of educational malpractice, not given this glowing send off that is painted in this article. He is the face of disaster capitalism if I have ever seen it. He’s brought in a slew of his friends from around the country and given them big contracts to do basically nothing towards transforming the direct run schools.

      AND

      I am a parent of a child in the RSD. In order for most Louisiana readers to relate, let me give this example: Just imagine how it would feel to read a glowing article about BP’s Tony Haywood after the tragic disaster in the Gulf. That is what it feels like to read this article about Paul Vallas, knowing that his time here has been detrimental to the lives and education of thousands of students, teachers, and families. He has failed our city, hurting the most vulnerable citizens .. our future, our children. And THAT is the truth.

  • Mojo

    *** So far most of the political info, rumors, opinions, etc. on Vallas are “short on actual facts.” Also Philly, Chicago, etc. are far bigger cities with much larger problems compare to Bpt with about a count of 23,000 kids in the entire school system. Mere observation on most of the past Vallas-attempted school repairs in different parts of the country appeared to be “short-term” political solutions for large “long-term” educational problems that probably still remain today if not given the time and continued receipt for success that might have been mapped out by Vallas while there? So when comparing apples to oranges and the habits of changing paddles in midstream by the towns or cities that are willing to hire people like Vallas & Co; then who’s to blame for “continued educational failure?” Was not this city’s educational system and BOE in chaos way before Vallas & Company’s coming here? And is am employee (expectations & evaluation) sheet submitted three months before Vallas is to be reviewed by the BOE for a possible contract extension or not, the way to conduct a professional performance evaluation? Seems like “miracle short-term solutions” for “engraved” long-term educational problems, in a city that’s plagued by political bias feelings throughout its city government has not worked in the past, present nor foreseeable future! *** ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY BUT WAS BURNED DOWN IN ONE! ***

  • yahooy

    As a taxpayer I have a reasonable expectation Vallas will provide services that will result in improvements to the Bridgeport educational system and those improvements will be developed in ways that will permit a sustained manner for continued improvement and success. Has Vallas provided me with the improvements I have every reason to expect to have already been implemented? Time to tell is NOW. No?

  • Bridgeport educator

    Mr. Lee, my observations are from what I have seen. I was born and educated in Bridgeport and have taught in Bridgeport for well over 30 years. What I report here now may be too real and too unpleasant for you but it doesn’t make it untrue. FYI, I have little respect left for the BEA. It was once a strong teacher/student advocate. School leadership should be aware of the issues in a school. A teacher should not have to register them with a building administrator, unless the administrator intentionally wants to look the other way and put the onus on the teachers and pretend the issues don’t exist. It is just because of what seems to be a suspicious, clannish and condescending attitude toward posters who disagree with you that very few real teachers or parents will reveal themselves here.

  • beware

    I have been reading this blog for awhile, but never felt the need to post and it took a little bit of time to get an account. As an outside observer, but a parent and former private school educator, something is not quite right.

    The school system and all of the problems associated with a city with high poverty are in need of long-term solutions and a leader who is willing to stay a long time and make a commitment to the community. Another year or two isn’t going to be enough. You won’t see gains for a few years and there is way too much of a focus on test scores. Is that the only way to measure success?

    Weighing the pig over and over doesn’t change its weight. The kids do not need to be tested, prepped, tested again. This does not happen in private schools and constant testing narrows the curriculum. Where is music, the arts, free-choice reading? Are teachers allowed to innovate and plan creative lessons? Are the kids fed scripted practice for the standardized tests and the future national standards being foisted on the states?

    I really haven’t read anything very innovative about Vallas in the other cities he supposedly reformed. Why are they in need of help again only a few years later? Shouldn’t there be results to measure his past success?

    Why not make an agreement he will stay until the BOE can find a long-term replacement? Find a professional educator, one who has taught for at least ten years, with the proper certification and the desire to live/establish a permanent residence in Connecticut and settle here for awhile.

    No matter what happens it seems Paul Vallas will be gone in a year or two anyway … so you are just delaying the inevitable.

  • BOE SPY

    I hope they do throw Vallas out. The same thing will happen as when they got the elected BOE back. It seems BPT only likes things to function in a dysfunctional way. I just sit back and laugh. Bring back Ramos. That is what all the other cities that threw Vallas out did. One of the biggest knocks against Valls is ‘Look at the other cities he was in. How are they now?’ Well, those other cities were doing horribly. Vallas came and made a bunch of changes. They got mad and threw him out, went back to what they were doing before him and now they are horrible again. This is what BPT should do.

    • beware

      Actually, that’s not true if you research and read carefully. He was not thrown out in all of them. He left on his own and claimed success. He was even quoted in one article (I will try to find it) that it was best to get out by year four. So that is not accurate.

  • Mojo

    *** However many ways are used to solve the problem, it will always equal to the same answer. When you bring in experienced education experts with “short-term solutions” to engraved “long-term problems,” you’re left with nothing but more questions! *** QUESTIONS WITH NO ANSWERS ***

  • BlackRockGuy

    Comments were disabled for the video … Could it be parents4progress have a problem with dissenting opinions? I know they have a problem with telling the truth.

  • Maximizer

    Please please remember how Vallas came to Bridgeport, and please remember all the behind the doors manipulation that caused the BOE to be disbanded in the first place. When the appointed board dismissed Ramos (good move) they were told who the next superintendent would be. This was a very orchestrated move by Malloy, Stephen Pyror and the money from the Zoom Foundation (Meghen Lowney). Finch loved the aoppontment of Vallas calls him a celebrity – how about an educator? That would have been nice.
    Unfilled teaching position are being filled by short term subs….but there is a shortage of them and to fill the day to day absences, those classrooms are being filled by interns….who have had absolutely no time for observation of classroom teachers and have little or no knowledge of the curriculum. More lost learning opportunities for our students.
    I truly believe that parents want people tecahing their children who have a passion for education, have received education degrees, are preparing their BEST portfolios and intend to make teaching their career. Unfortunatly that does not describe the TFA teachers anywhere. It is something for them to put on their resume as addressing the needs of the poor disadvantaged kids.

    Teachers of color? Oh please get off that bandwagon….go look at the population in the schools of educationm, local and throughout the country. The majority of education students are not people of color. So just where will any district recruit teachers of color? I have no idea and neither do you.

  • CT Taxpayer

    I am disappointed but not entirely surprised the BOE, which so often has its meetings in the large Aquaculture meeting room, has decided to have this controversial meeting in room 305, which may be able to handle about 25 members of the audience, if that. I believe Jacqui Kelleher is a decent person and an educator of substance, and so my suspicion is other powers are calling the shots here.

    In reading the postings, I especially liked one that referred to some of the descriptive names the superintendent has been given by the mayor (not that the mayor has any right whatsoever to make any evaluative statements about anything in education). My favorite, although not mentioned on this part of the blog, is that he is a “rockstar.” Please. Bridgeport doesn’t need a rockstar; it needs an educational leader who actually knows something about education and who is prepared to make a commitment to Bridgeport. Whether that commitment is for three years or ten years, it ought to be by a superintendent who is willing to make himself the full-time superintendent, not someone who has so many jobs underway he really can’t devote sufficient time to Bridgeport. The supporters of Mr. Vallas apparently must think Bridgeport has to accept a part-time superintendent, although at a full-time salary, because this is all Bridgeport can get. An attitude like that is the reason Bridgeport faces such severe challenges.

    Another kind of comment I often read is the comparison of Mr. Vallas to Dr. Ramos, as though those are the only choices in the superintendency. Bridgeport deserves better than this kind of thinking.

    Sadly, by this time tomorrow, we will have read a news story about the contract the BOE awarded the superintendent, and all because the BOE didn’t do its due diligence.

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