Who’s Kadisha Coates?

Video of Kadisha Coates’ school board interview: Thursday night Kadisha Coates became the newest member of the Board of Education replacing John Bagley who resigned in October. Megan DeSombre who hosts Education Bridgeport and regularly attends school board meetings has profiled Coates, a charter school advocate, on her site including the following piece in September. DeSombre is also a charter school proponent.

I think it’s safe to say that most parents, no matter where they’re from, envision college in their children’s future. Bridgeport parent of three Kadisha Coates is no different.

When I sat down with her a few weeks ago to talk about what she, a prospective charter school parent, thought about Bridgeport Public Schools she told me that college preparation was a chief concern and part of the reason she sought out alternatives to the neighborhood schools.

As of this Fall, Coates’ two school aged children (the youngest is still an infant) will be attending Achievement First and Great Oaks Charter School respectively. They previously attended Saint Teresa’s in Trumbull.

“This is a Rough System Here in Bridgeport”

Coates and her husband Martin moved to Bridgeport when her first child was an infant. As a younger mother in a new city, she had no idea what the school system was like, so, when her son was about a month old, she began asking other parents and friends what she should do.

“They said, well … this is a rough system here in Bridgeport. So you will have to apply now for him to get into a good school.”
“Everyone was telling me this is the way to go,” said Coates. “You have to put him in a Catholic school if you cannot get him into what they called a “proper” quote unquote school in Bridgeport, because the education’s not there.”

She kept applying, hoping to get her son into one of the city’s selective magnet schools.

“So I did that over and over again, and this child is getting old and I’m still paying this tuition I can’t afford,” said Coates.
“Even with a two parent household it was rough. Without my mother and sister’s help for after school, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Coates said she prayed hoping that everything would “line-up” for her children, not knowing whether or not they’d be prepared for the road ahead.

“You don’t want to go to college and then say OK, oh my gosh, I don’t even know if I’ll get through this. The biggest problem isn’t getting to college,” said Coates. “It’s graduating.”

Now, she says she has peace of mind knowing that her children will not only receive a “proper education,” but also that the school “actually lets them know from a young age college is out there.”

“They’re not just getting the reinforcement at home, but they’re also getting it at school.”

Getting into College is Only Half the Battle

It’s really no wonder that parents like Coates are concerned about college. The statistics speak for themselves.

According to state data, only about two-thirds of Bridgeport Public School students graduate on time, and even that doesn’t paint a full picture of the problem.

Central High School, which contains a selective magnet in addition to a traditional public high school, has a graduation rate that hovers around 75 percent collectively. The graduation rates at Bassick and Harding high schools are far worse. In fact, Bassick’s 2012 graduation rate was actually below 50 percent. Even scarier, according to the Connecticut Post, in 2013 only 18.4 percent of Bassick High School graduates went on to four year colleges.

Unfortunately, as Coates noted, getting to college is only half the battle.

Over 10,000 Connecticut students were enrolled in remedial college classes last year.

Even more telling, only about 40 percent of college students at public colleges and 48 percent at private colleges graduate in four years in Connecticut.

Despite the statistics, Coates is hopeful that things will turn around for Bridgeport.

“I think there needs to be some type of change,” said Coates. “Something across the board to where standards should be for children.”

That change she believes will come from parent leaders.

“You know, a lot of people look at Bridgeport and say, OK, it has a lot of improvement to do, but I’m optimist as far as the educational system. I think everything in Bridgeport will get better, but [it’s] because of parents that are willing to voice their opinion,” said Coates.
“Because of those leaders, Bridgeport will be an awesome place.”



  1. Kadisha Coates will certainly not be endorsed by the WFP next year, therefore she will need to find a home on Finch’s BBOE slate next year. I cannot find a single black community leader who even knows her, therefore she will not have grassroots support in the black community. We are gearing up for next year Ms. Kadisha Coates. Ready, set, go!

    1. Maria, I share your disdain for the education Rheeform movement, charterization and privatizing/profitizing our public schools. However, don’t you think you should allow Ms. Coates the opportunity to at least reveal herself to the public before you condemn her?

  2. flubadub, if you check the Families for Excellent Schools twitter account you will find a photo of her with a caption entitled “Kadisha Coates FES parent leader.” She testified at last year’s charter schools hearings located in Bridgeport in support of two additional charter schools in Bridgeport, one of which Kenneth Moales will serve on its board, and then she testified at the state Board of Education in April on behalf of all four new statewide charter schools. When she testified at the SBOE she was assisted and seated with ConnCAN staff. She was also featured in a series of articles published by Megan DeSombre whose blog is funded and supported by ConnCAN. In the story published above she repeatedly criticizes the Bridgeport Public Schools although she never attended one of our schools and her children have not so much as spent one day enrolled in our schools.

    In my five years attending BBOE regular, special and committee meetings I have never seen her in attendance. She was uninformed and lacked any level of knowledge about our BPS at last night’s interview.

    She arrived at last night’s meeting with the wife of the former director of FUSE at Dunbar School who is also a former TFA recruit and works for a pro-charter school organization. Meanwhile her husband, the former director of FUSE at Dunbar School arrived with Ruben Felipe.

    She had the nerve to keep a straight face while stating she sees the number-one issue impacting the BPS as underfunding, yet the five charter schools located in Bridgeport will siphon away $4 million dollars from the BPS this year alone.

    I have thoroughly researched Ms. Coates and she has already revealed “herself to the public.” If this isn’t enough to support her only interest in joining the BBOE is to support Kenneth Moales and charter schools, I do not know what is. I will do everything in my power to expose her at every turn and I will continue to expose Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey every chance I get.

  3. WOW, Megan DeSombre has profiled Kadisha Coates, now that’s deep, it seems that pro-charter school group did a hell of a job to get one of their own on the BOE. Time will tell where Ms. Coates stands.

    1. Not so sure it is going to take much time to figure out where Ms. Coates’ loyalties lie (pun intended). These corporate reform folks just won’t give up. So Bridgeport, rest up. The next election will mean everything.

    2. Listen to her outrageous claim, if we had better schools we would have better infrastructure. Can anyone tell me what “better schools” has to do with railways, streets, bus transportation etc? This is a statement made by someone who is completely clueless about education.

  4. Here is one of Linda Lambeck’s twitter postings today. If I were her I would be nervous too. She will not be received well at BBOE meetings.

    linda lambeck
    ‏@lclambeck An update: Kadisha Coates, new #bridgeport boe says she is not yet comfortable giving an interview & so far is intimidated by process.

    12:25 PM – 14 Nov 2014

  5. Take a look at the 13-Nov-14 CT Post article on the BOE’s five-vote selection of Kadisha Coates to fill the vacancy left by John Bagley’s still-unexplained resignation.

    www .ctpost.com/local/article/Bridgeport-school-board-fills-vacancy-5891857.php?cmpid=twitter#photo-7140190

    The CT Post online article includes a photo of Kadisha Coates sitting in the BOE meeting with “friend” “Christine Guan.”

    From the NY Times 7-28-13:
    Christine Guan and Indra Sen

    Christine Guan and Indra Narayan Sen were married Saturday at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing. Vivek Chilukuri, a friend of the couple who became a Universal Life minister for the event, led a ceremony that included readings of Indian poetry.

    Immediately following, the couple and their parents performed a traditional Chinese ceremony at World Fair Marina, a restaurant and catering hall in Flushing.

    The couple met at Georgetown, from which they both graduated. They received master’s degrees from Harvard; she in education policy and management, he in public policy.

    The bride, 27, is keeping her name. Until March, she was the program coordinator at Teach Plus, a nonprofit organization in Boston that provides training and development programs for teachers. She was in charge of teacher recruitment for the Teaching Policy Fellows program. From 2008 to 2011, she was a Teach for America corps member in Houston, where she taught kindergarten and first grade at Kipp Sharp College Prep Lower School.

    She is the daughter of Yan Yan Liang and Jan How King of Flushing. Her parents make clay jewelry and sell it at craft fairs.

    The groom, 27, works for Family Urban Schools of Excellence, a charter school company in Hartford. He is the executive director of the Paul Laurence Dunbar School, a public school in Bridgeport, Conn., that is partnered with the company.

    He is the son of Susan Shu Sen and Pabitra Narayan Sen of Berkeley, Calif. The groom’s mother is an artist specializing in Chinese watercolors. His father is a research professor in the physics department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Source: www .nytimes.com/2013/07/28/fashion/weddings/christine-guan-and-indra-sen.html

    I recall seeing Mr. Sen at the “blazer ceremony” earlier this year at Dunbar at a BOE meeting, when his employer JUMOKE FUSE was running the school and he was the executive director while a convicted felon on the Texas sex-offender registry was working with kids … which FUSE knew but had withheld from the Bridgeport BOE. I recall Mr. Sen sitting next to the now-infamous “Dr.” Michael Sharpe (in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a link to Courant articles regarding the multiple felon Michael Sharpe now being investigated by the feds concerning his leadership of Jumoke/FUSE articles.courant.com/keyword/michael-sharpe).

    As someone who volunteered many hours to canvass for and who donated to the campaign of Andre Baker, Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner, I am disgusted by Andre and Dave’s vote with Moales. Moales was the main reason I got involved–to undo the Moales majority and Moales’ counterproductive mismanagement and gross conflict of interest (he serves on the board of a charter school and at BOE meetings publicly denounces the public schools and telling how he implores people to “run to the charter schools” from the public schools).

    Now it appears the Moales majority has returned … or will it be the Baker or Hennessey majority? Same difference now.

    Thank you Howard Gardner for maintaining your integrity.

    BTW: It took me about three minutes to make this connection via a rudimentary Google search the other night. Any of you five elected members of the BOE who voted for Coates … take any time in the past day or two to do a basic Google search?

    Embarrassing to say the least.

  6. Pete, thank you for your posting. I would also like to thank you for not blindly supporting Dave Hennessey and Andre Baker. They have shown their true colors, and now we must work collectively to white them out.

  7. Pete,
    As I previously posted, I will place the blame at Sauda’s feet and nowhere else.
    This was a coalition put together to win but not necessarily to govern. And it didn’t take long until some people decided they had to stop the new Harding High School at any cost. And it cost them dearly. It immediately created friction for Andre Baker and John Bagley with their constituents in the East End.
    It didn’t matter what the residents wanted but what the so-called leaders wanted.
    And quickly the coalition disintegrated.

    1. Bob, you would have no idea what the coalition committed to do as it relates to governance because you did not attend a single meeting. Andre, Dave and Howard were asked a variety of questions on education issues and policy before the coalition decided to support them.

      The strategy from the beginning is they were a “team” and would work together as a “team.” They repeatedly stated it on camera at the debate held just weeks before the general election. Your assertions are completely false.

      There has never been a single Warren Harding High School parent who spoke before the BBOE in support of building Harding on the contaminated GE site. Those who organized a rally supporting it were Bishop Griffith, Milta Feliciano, Lydia Martinez, union laborers, etc. There wasn’t a single WHHS parent who spoke in favor of it.

      Everyone supports a new Harding High School. What many of us do not support is building it on an industrially contaminated site.

      Sauda, John, Howard and Dave voted against approving the GE site for the new Harding High School. The only person in the coalition who supported it was Andre Baker.

      John Bagley has plenty of support in the East End and not surprisingly you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    2. Bob,
      Thanks for your take on the insider political dynamics, which I’m not privy to.

      I was addressing the 5-4 vote this week by the BOE for Ms. Coates.

      The Harding plan appears to be proceeding due to a 5-4 BOE vote on Apr 29–the same day GE’s final remediation plan (how many hundreds of pages?) was provided to the BOE.

      Source: www .ctpost.com/local/article/BOE-moves-forward-on-Harding-plan-5439414.php

      “An unread, 5-inch-thick remedial action plan finally in their possession, a narrow majority of the city Board of Education seized the opportunity early Tuesday morning to jump forward with a plan to put a new Harding high School on land that General Electric Company must first rid of toxins.

      “Led by freshman school board member Andre Baker, an East Side resident and former city councilman, the 5-4 vote to approve the site plan gives the project the green light, subject to state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection approval of the cleanup plan.”

    3. Of course you would blame Sauda for Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey’s decision to betray everyone who worked to elect them, and even more importantly their decision to betray 21,000 students in the Bridgeport Public Schools. It is called deflection and denial.

  8. Also Pete,
    Once Andre Baker won his State Rep primary, the so-called leaders should have immediately been vetting potential candidates, developing a process and begun planning for selection but apparently no thought was given to this.
    Instead, haphazardly people seem to sit around and wait. No leadership. Big problem.

    1. Bob,
      Over the past month or two I’ve heard conflicting info on whether Andre Baker is planning to resign from the BOE as widely expected, once Baker joins the General Assembly in Hartford. But again, I don’t have any insider info.

      Are you confident Andre Baker will resign from the BOE come January? Sure, it seems one would have to. But what’s the real story?

      1. Pete,
        Andre Baker is legally allowed to serve as both a municipal and state elected representative. The reason you are hearing conflicting stories about whether Andre Baker is or is not resigning from the BBOE is because he has gone around this city telling people he is resigning and then a week later he tells someone he is not resigning.

        He clearly has difficulty making a firm decision. First he wasn’t going to run for state rep, then he was, then he wasn’t and then he did. That is exactly what we need in elected officials. Indecisive flip-flopping.

  9. Bob, what does Andre Baker’s new State Representative status have to do with filling John Bagley’s vacancy? The vacancy at hand was that of John Bagley not Andre Baker’s. Apparently senility seems to be settling in.

  10. Maria, I am not confused at all.
    So tell us, what did Andre say to Sauda when they sat down after his primary win? Did he say he was staying or did he say he was resigning? Sauda did have a sit-down with him, right? That is what leadership is all about.
    But even more so, what did Sauda do to plan for a vacancy? Anything? This was back in August. You call Andre Baker either a liar or indecisive? Does Sauda feel the same?
    If so, definitely should have been planning for the worst. Was she? While she still had somewhat of a majority in place she could have put in place a procedure to deal with vacancies. Did she?
    I think we all know the answer is no, otherwise when it came to Bagley’s resignation she would have been better prepared.

    1. Bob, you do not have a single iota about what has or has not been done by Sauda. Andre has told a variety of politically involved residents he was not going to resign. He has also told politically involved residents he was resigning. And last but not least he has told another group of residents both that he is not resigning and that he is resigning. Either this is some type of strategy or he is completely indecisive.

  11. Bob, I do not speak for Sauda because Sauda speaks for herself. I do not influence, dictate or control Sauda and she does not ever attempt to influence, dictate or control me. We are both strong and independent women who make our own decisions. If I knew about any personal conversations she had with Andre Baker, it would be highly inappropriate of me to share it on this blog.

  12. I want to know what experience she or any of the current clowns on the BoE have in management and oversight of a $200M+ budget. As a citizen with no children I want to know how what skills are being brought to help manage the outrageous costs. Seriously, $.40 out of every dollar is being spent on this failing system and not one of these jokers have a clue about what to do.

    I mean I’m no fan of the Finchmeister, but the pink pig at the trough in the room is the dysfunctional, incapable board of education.

    1. Brick,
      Experience with budgets or fiscal oversight, or any other type of qualification of substance, is not a requirement for elective office, to become Mayor, to sit on the City Council or to be part of the Board of Education. I try to attend many City meetings but only sample a slice of them. However I will suggest the lack of citizen practice in this community in recent years in participatory governance may be a larger reason for dysfunction than we are aware. There are people who are attempting to advance education results and keep that ball rolling uphill. They may have a looser connection, if any, to City Hall than in the past. But that makes it harder to follow the action. And it seems messy.
      But when you compare the lengthy BOE meetings that are more open to citizen input and listening to the comments of the elected to a typically brief City Council meeting where very little of substance is revealed to the public present, we use the term dysfunction to talk about the BOE, rather than the legislative body for the City, and the only body having the capacity for broad City oversight. Keep looking for people of capacity and judgment to people OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT governance bodies. Time will tell.

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