Baraka Stresses Courage And Independence On Behalf Of Students

Sauda Baraka and son.
Sauda Baraka and son.

Two-term Board of Education member Sauda Baraka, first elected as a Republican, seeks another term running on the Connecticut Working Families Party line. She highlights her eight years and school board philosophy in this commentary.

For the past eight years, it has been my honor and privilege to represent the students, families and taxpayers of the city of Bridgeport as a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education. I have always tried to remember that a Board of Education member owes a fiduciary duty to all of the public school students in this city. Our unwavering objective must be to achieve a standard of educational excellence, and I have done my best to remain focused on that goal.

I was deeply humbled and gratified when the voters of Bridgeport, in an unprecedented display of independence, re-elected me in 2009 to the Bridgeport Board of Education on the Working Families Party line, a minor party in the city.

My record demonstrates that I have not been a part of the rubber-stamp majority on the Board of Education, but have been independent in the true sense of that word.

This year, I am asking, for a third time, for the opportunity to make a contribution to the city I love and to the public school children that I have taken an oath to serve. I view my role as a member of the Board of Education as an extension of my efforts as an involved parent. All of my children have attended Bridgeport public schools, and one is currently a high school student.

These past four years have been challenging, and formidable challenges lie ahead.

The people we elect to the Board of Education must never be afraid to ask the tough, hard, necessary questions, even if the answers to those questions may be potentially embarrassing to the political machine.

I believe I have demonstrated the ability to speak out, and not be cowed into silence by the “go along, get along” mentality that has proven to be a blueprint for failure.

I opposed, as a board member and as a litigant in court, the illegal board takeover of 2011. This cabal, secretly engineered by out-of-town hedge fund moguls and their paid operatives, was a blatant attempt to disenfranchise the people of Bridgeport. Regrettably, it was supported by machine Democrats and Republicans alike, until the Connecticut Supreme Court said that they broke the law.

Once in power, the illegally appointed Board of Education hired Paul Vallas, who was not qualified to hold the public office of superintendent under Connecticut law.

I also opposed proposed changes to our City Charter, which would have disenfranchised all city residents and given even greater power to the unresponsive Finch machine. Our right to vote is precious, and I will always work to protect it.

The Board of Education we elect in November must have the courage, the integrity, and the independence to stand up to outside corporate reformers, and the apostles of privatization and charter schools. My commitment to educational excellence is total and it is a commitment to all of our students.

These for-profit enterprises pilfer valuable resources from our public schools and redirect those resources to a small group of students.

This, in a democracy, is unacceptable.

As citizens we need to defend our public schools. Education is the building block from which our children will rise to greatness. It is where they conceptualize, then actualize, the democratic principles that govern our great country and form the foundation of our society.

I reject the paternalistic top-down attempt to impose policies on the Bridgeport community without asking us what we think. These arrogant corporate bullies, who masquerade as “reformers,” would not display such condescension in Fairfield, Trumbull or Shelton. As long as I am a member of our Board of Education, I will oppose any elitist philosophy that fails to respect the rights and the worth of public school parents in this city.

I also believe that our schools must educate the whole person and that process does not end at the close of the school day.

During my first term, I chaired an ad-hoc committee of concerned city residents seeking to address the school dropout crisis. I was successful in establishing it as a standing committee, which was subsequently dismantled by the illegal board. With a near 50 percent dropout rate for our high schools, we must be vigilant and determined to engage our children for success.

We must support our teachers and professional educators, who are trying under daunting conditions to provide a quality education for our children. We must reject a “teach to the test” mentality, which would make a golden calf of standardized testing. Instead, we must encourage our educators to teach life skills, subject matter competence and critical thinking skills.

This year, I am once again a candidate for re-election on the Working Families Party line. I am joined on that line by Eric Stewart-Alicea, a parent leader and a newcomer to elected office, as well as Andre Baker Jr., a veteran member of our City Council, who also appears on the Democratic Party line. All three of our names appear on Row C of the ballot. I am also excited by the recent primary victory of Row B Democratic candidates and hope to work together with them on the Board of Education to achieve a standard of educational excellence for our children.

With your help, we can recognize the problems that exist in our schools and craft meaningful solutions. I ask for your support for all three of us on Row C on Nov. 5, 2013.



  1. *** She has some good ideas at times but sometimes chooses the wrong way to express or seek her goals by being an obstructionist and accomplishing “zero” in the end! *** OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW! ***

  2. In this profile Sauda Baraka gives clear reasons why she should be re-elected but especially this, “I also opposed proposed changes to our City Charter, which would have disenfranchised all city residents and given even greater power to the unresponsive Finch machine. Our right to vote is precious, and I will always work to protect it.” This was obstructionist and accomplishing the right for ALL Bridgeport voters to have their right to vote for their choice of who should be on the BOE, thank you Sauda.

  3. *** She was not alone on this one by far! However when it comes to BOE business I am at a loss for some of the good ideas, work, etc. she has brought forth. She seems to be a favorite of the WFP and other education supporters or they would not have endorsed her, no? *** ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN? ***

  4. Anybody know how the 2013-2014 Bridgeport school year is progressing? Are more parents taking responsibility for their children’s school progress, or will it be as pathetic as last school year?

  5. It is true Ms. Baraka is independent of the Finch administration. No doubt about that. But she is hardly “independent.” For the last four years she has been part of a cabal of board members that has opposed and obstructed any change. With the school system failing and the students forgotten Bridgeport deserves better. It’s time to stop the political games and start putting Bridgeport’s kids first.


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