What’s Wrong With More Educational Options For Students?

Former school board member Maria Pereira has silenced her voice as Bridgeport chair of the Connecticut Working Families Party, but certainly not her lungs against charter schools. Megan DeSombre, who hosts the Education Bridgeport website, shares her take on Pereira’s latest salvo. Maria divorced herself this week from affiliation with the WFP over what she says is the WFP support for Governor Dan Malloy. Is that the real reason? Or did the WFP want Maria out because she’s too much of a lightning rod? From DeSombre:

Internet-troll extraordinaire Maria Pereira is at it again!

Pereira, never one to back down from a virtual fight … or any fight for that matter, however ill-advised, left an irate comment on a recent Connecticut Mirror article.

The article in question centered on the state Board of Education’s approval of four new charter schools, including two in Bridgeport.

Rather than be excited for Bridgeport families who will now have more educational options than ever before, Pereira is infuriated that her side didn’t “win.”

Here I am thinking that the end game was about making sure all children have access to quality education. Silly me.

Here’s her comment:

“Howard Gardner is not a teacher or BEA member. I believe you are referring to Rob Traber. Let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. Bridgeport sent Vallas packing, reversed the illegal takeover of the BBOE, recently defeated 3 pro-charter schools BOE candidates and defeated a charter referendum allowing mayoral control of our BOE. Malloy, Finch and the SBOE have done nothing but disrespect the residents of Bridgeport and they should certainly know by now, that Bridgeport will not take this lying down. This vote was not unexpected and we are ready to move to Plan B!”

“Moving to Plan B?” One could only imagine what that could mean coming from Pereira.

If recent history tells us anything, Pereira’s “Plan B” is most likely another lawsuit–you know, kind of like the lawsuit filed by Pereira’s buddy Carmen Lopez last year, which wasted thousands in taxpayer dollars only to have the state Supreme Court rule that the lawsuit should have never made it to trial …

The real question is who will file this lawsuit? Will the Bridgeport Board of Education again sue the state? Or will it be Lopez or another Working Families Party lackey?

I sure hope I’m wrong about this. The last thing Bridgeport needs is another divisive and costly lawsuit.



  1. Dr. Steve Perry of Capitol Prep? Is this the same Dr. Perry who “tweeted” his opposition ought to “strap up … because there will be head injuries”? This is the same guy, right? Really? Megan DeSombre, would you care to weigh in?

  2. Is Pereira married? If so (God help him), maybe he can sit her down and explain to her what she has and will continue to do is harmful to the children of Bridgeport along with further destroying her already-destroyed reputation.

    Hate can eat you up inside and she has so much hate for everything, she is working on a second lifetime’s worth.

  3. park city–if that were the tweet, then it was inappropriate. Although I think the “strap up” was not a gun reference. More like a football helmet “strap up.”
    But seriously, if you are a BPT parent with a child in the school system, you are probably past the point of frustration. The schools are failing and the parents are all fighting each other. The parents should be united and putting pressure on the BOE to handle its business in a more professional and efficient manner. This BOE–despite all of the pre-election rhetoric of working together and change–is in constant state of war, majority and minority both guilty. The parents are their foot soldiers and the children are the casualties. The parents need to unite and demand the leaders (and shot-callers like MP) come up with positive, constructive ways to improve the system and stop with all the fighting. From what I’ve read, the state & city does need to pony up more money. But really, money alone will not solve this. If the state gave us an extra $40 mil, this BOE would probably have 4-5 angry meetings about who gets to sign the check!
    Question–if charters are not an answer, what about expanding the Magnet School model? Some of the argument against charters is they do not take everyone. But then again, it appears neither does the Magnet programs. I mean, I hear Central High referred to as either Central and Central Magnet. Why can’t all students under one roof be under the same umbrella (Magnet)? What would it cost for that to happen? And if the Magnets are selective, why isn’t anyone looking to change that system? Magnets seem to outperform both traditional and charters.

  4. The anti-charter people point to the magnet schools and how much the charters divert from the public schools. The magnet schools are the same idea as the charter schools. That argument devolves to who gets the money but who gets the money is unimportant. Charters do divert money away from the districts but they also divert students away. If BPT spends $12K per student, how much do the charters get per student and what do they offer for that money? I do not know, but they could be putting money into the district. I.e., if I take a student out of the district and they pay me $11K to do that, then I put $1K into the district. If I offer one more course the public schools or my student does better in the same courses, then I offer a better product. In this example, I am paying the district to do a better job. Regardless, if taxpayers want this choice they should be able to get it. If charter schools turn out to be no good they will go away on their own. It is all about attracting students. If the district schools want to get rid of the charter schools, all they have to do is attract the students back No students, no school.
    The most important thing is people have a choice now. All school systems offer a product. Public school systems have had a monopoly on that product since the beginning. As in any monopoly, your choice is to buy what we offer and like it or pay for private school. Many people choose to do that because private schools offer a superior product. Competition has always led to a better product at a lower price with more choices.

  5. If it is not about who gets the money, why do they have such a problem with charter schools and not homeschoolers? Ohhh, that’s right, homeschoolers don’t get the money.

  6. Quality education should not be based on a bidding war to see who can deliver an acceptable product at the lowest price.
    When it was announced the state awarded B’port two schools in Bridgeport, “Mayor Bill Finch was thrilled.
    ‘I strongly believe that every child in Bridgeport deserves a fair shot at getting a high-quality education,’ Finch said.” from the CT Post.
    Call me old-fashioned but I strongly believe it is the city and state’s obligation to provide a quality education to any and all children. And not just a lottery ticket for a chance.

    1. Bob–it is the city/states obligation to OFFER a quality education. A student could, conceivably, get a free ride to Yale and not receive an education. It would depend on what they do while they are there. Education is out there. If you want it, you have to go get it. It cannot be provided. I know this is a question of semantics, but it is an important question.

  7. Education starts in the home. If the adults or adult uses school as a babysitter and shows no or little interest at home, then the result will be the same no matter what the school is called. The educational process always has and will be determined by the parent. Look in the mirror for poor results!!!

    1. So to hell with the kid whose single-parent household works two jobs. Screw them and condemn them to a lifetime of minimum-wage jobs. Nice, Charlie.

      1. Single parent has nothing to do with it. My mom did it with me and my siblings. None of us work minimum-wage jobs, and we lived most of our lives in the projects. It can be done.

      2. I mentioned nothing about single parents working one or two jobs. I stated they should show an interest in the kids’ education. A school teacher never has or never should take the place of the parent. Showing an interest can take 15 or 30 minutes at the supper table or once during the day.

      3. There are parents who do not work any jobs. They drop their kids off at school in their pajamas and pick them up at the end of the ‘after school’ program in the same pajamas. The kid is in school from 6AM-6PM and could care less about education.

  8. When I was on the City Council I normally voted against Charter Schools simply because other council members would fall all over themselves talking about how great this would be for maybe 100 students while totally ignoring the 20,000 other students left behind. So sad.

  9. Bob–I agree with your sentiment about lowest bidder, etc. but there should at least be viable choices.

    Charlie –You are correct, it does start at home. If parents stress the importance of education, that is half the battle. But then the schools have to be able to deliver on their end. If a parent does not like the direction of their school, then they should have choice. And that means both ways. Charters are not for everyone either. Parents pull their children out of them too, but it’s the power of choice. Maybe competition among the schools is a good thing. Schools are service–provide the best service.

  10. Bridgeport’s traditional magnet schools, High Horizons, Multicultural and Park City are grandfathered under old rules that allow them to be selective, i.e. after you win the lottery at HH your child must take an aptitude test, if your child fails it they are disqualified. Discovery does not have that requirement and Classical Studies as a theme school also does not require it.

    The money issue: When a child goes to a magnet school and for whatever reason ends up at their district school the money follows the child. When a child goes to a charter school, and ends up at their PUBLIC school (neighborhood or magnet) the money stays at the charter school for that school year.

    The fight: “Corporate Deformers” (my choice of words), are taking a two-pronged attack to public education. The first is the privatization of public schools through voucher programs and the creation of charter schools. Charter schools are private institutions primarily funded by public money … this is where charters are public schools comes from, it is a marketing ploy. The second leg is the implementation of Common Core. The CC testing is designed so the vast majority of students fail. Then companies such as Pearson can come in and offer their products as the solution. Common Core consolidates books, testing, test scoring, tablet apps, etc. to an elite group of companies.

    1. Eric,
      Thanks for the response/clarification.
      On the grandfathered magnet schools, sounds to me they are allowed to discriminate more than Charters. Charters are lottery and then you get to at least try. So the argument of Charters taking only “the best of the best” applies to some magnets as well … yet I don’t hear the huge public outcry over that.
      On the whole privatization, etc. I see why the fight when funds for public schools are limited.
      Maybe the push for charters is the lack of faith in those running the public schools to do the right thing. I mean, what is your confidence level in this BOE??? Mine is very low. And at some point I would not care who was making money, I would just want my child to receive the best education possible. That is why well-off parents send their kids to private schools.

      1. I think the magnets slide because they are public schools, so people don’t get bent out of shape. As someone who ran for the BOE with the intention of being the voice of the parents (two daughters in BPS), I must say so far I’m not shocked things are the way they are. I think there may be unresolved issues from the previous board, in addition it doesn’t seem as if all the BOE members have the best interest of public schools at heart. With that, I wouldn’t characterize the new Dems as shills for the WFP, it was no secret the WFP and the “challenge slate” decided to work together. My worry is the needs of the kids are not met because interlopers choose the impose their ideals on the process. Our schools are hurting, which means our young scholars are suffering. There is certainly no magic panacea that will make all of the ills go away, but we have to start somewhere. Municipal leadership from the Executive office on down needs to get serious about addressing our schools.

        1. 1) “I think the magnets slide because they are public schools, so people don’t get bent out of shape.” So inequality is okay within public schools because they are “ours.”
          2) “I think there may be unresolved issues from the previous board, in addition it doesn’t seem as if all the BOE members have the best interest of public schools at heart.” Agreed–too much time being paid to payback and letting everyone knows they are boss, but people are starting to tire of this.”challenge slate” decided to work together.” If they are not, then they need to start finding their voice … not the judge’s voice, not MP’s voice, but their own.

          Eric, I find you informative and thoughtful, the one issue I have is this constant rhetoric (not just from you) about the “interlopers” and “outsiders.” The needs of the kids were not being met long before the “interlopers” came in. I agree, some of the “interlopers” are potentially trying to benefit, but not all are bad. I’d even go so far as to say some of the insiders are doing more damage.
          Thanks again. This is a debate that will go on for some time. Perhaps you will get the chance to run again and be heard. I think it will take a concerned parent–without the political scars of the current BOE–to help right the ship.

          1. My interloper comment was actually meant towards some of the very people Megan DeSombre writes about. I’m blown away by some of the actions that have happened at meetings.

            Yes, the magnets are ours, so yup it’s okay (it’s not, but that’s not going to change).

    1. This article fails to mention 50% of the non-special needs kids in the public schools are dropping out. Special ed is a problem but there is something to be said about spending your money where it does the most good or getting the best return on your investment. A kid with severe disabilities may, with a good bit of instruction, be able to toilet himself at the end of his education. While if you spent the same amount of money on an average student it may make the difference between community college and Ivy League. These would be our choices, a special ed kid can collect benefits or, with enough education, bag groceries. A non-special ed kid drops out, into a life of crime and prison or, with charter schools, graduates, goes to college and becomes an engineer.
      The article also used percentages to confuse you. It says ’27 percent had transferred to a traditional public school by third grade; the corresponding rate for general-education students was 17 percent.’ You have 30 kids in a class. Say, 5 are special needs. If one of those special needs kids ‘drops out’ of the charter school then you have a 20% dropout rate among special needs kids. At the same time four of the regular kids could drop out and you would only have a 16% dropout rate. Whenever you have a small population of one kind or another, losing one kid will make a large percentage. You have to look for this kind of deception whenever an article only offers percentages without also giving numbers. Like instead of saying ’27 percent had transferred to a traditional public school by third grade.’ They should say ’27 percent (8 of the 30 special needs kids in the school) had transferred to a traditional public school by third grade; the corresponding rate for general-education students was 17 percent (30 of the 180 kids).’ Also, those 38 kids were replaced by 38 other kids, some who may have been special needs, who could use this opportunity to its fullest potential.


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