The Fight To Select School Board Members Heats Up

An organization calling itself the Coalition to Protect Our Voting Rights consisting of education advocates, clergy and political operatives will kickoff a “Vote No” campaign Saturday, 1 p.m. at 1242 Stratford Avenue to work against the Nov. 6 ballot question that if approved by voters will empower Mayor Bill Finch to appoint members to the Board of Education. The rally comes as the mayor’s political organization has stepped up voter outreach in support of the ballot question.

In a media alert the coalition claims “Citizens will rally inside the campaign office to hear community leaders speak out against the ballot question that threatens the civil rights of Bridgeport residents. Community members and activists will then take to the streets with clipboards and the phone-lines with our message that we must VOTE NO to protect our civil rights.”

Former Board of Education President Max Medina is serving as chairman of the organization. Connecticut’s Working Families Party, Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition and Bridgeport Education Association, representing unionized teachers, are among opponents to the ballot question.

The ballot question has taken center stage locally with less than four weeks to election day in a presidential cycle. Mayor Bill Finch’s well-funded campaign organization has begun a voter outreach urging voters to reform city schools by allowing him to select board members to bring schools to a new level of progress after decades of despair. Mail pieces and phone calls are flooding city voters.

The mayor is aided by Excel Bridgeport, an education reform group formed last year in the aftermath of state control of schools, overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court, claiming the old way of doing things doesn’t work, citing cities such as Hartford and New Haven as mayoral-appointed models that work better than an elected body in the state’s largest city.



  1. 5.5% is the story of how Bridgeporters have already abandoned their BOE vote. Yesterday’s vote was worthless. But it’s not until unionized teachers feel threatened that a last-minute effort is organized to derail the pro-children vote.
    Even their chosen name is hasty and incorrect: The Coalition to Protect our Voting rights has little to do with children, education or voting. It’s merely protecting the status quo that has become intolerable to citizens statewide. They’re putting their jobs before Bridgeport’s children. Opposition is weak, disorganized and lacks a credible track record. Say goodbye to the failed policies of the past. Vote yes and say hello to the future.

    1. Local Lies lives in Trumbull. So does he support getting rid of an elected BOE in his own town?
      I have never seen him say that.
      Is he in favor of eliminating ALL elected BOEs in the state?
      I have never seen him say that.
      He is just like Finch. He thinks the average B’port voter is too stupid to do the right thing or to one of these days get it right.
      Here’s hoping on Nov 6 the voters will get it right and prove Finch and Local Lies wrong.

  2. I wonder how many of these people in this new coalition actually have kids in Bridgeport public schools. If I recall correctly from this very blog, the parents of Bridgeport public school kids actually want people to vote yes on the charter revision! That’s probably because their kids are getting screwed over every day in these horrible schools and they’re sick of it. I’ll side with Bridgeport parents over “political operatives” any day.

    I assume this new coalition is being bankrolled by the Working Families Party. They came to my door a few weeks ago trying to confuse me about what’s actually in the charter revision. When I laid the facts on them, the misinformed canvasser balked and said “thanks for your time” and ran off. They talk about voter suppression?! What about their tactics they use to try to confuse voters to vote their way? You can’t publicly criticize the machine for doing that and then turn around and do it yourself too. They’re a bunch of hypocrites.

    Has anyone done any research on the WFP? I just did a Google search after that door-knocking episode. Turns out they are based in New York and are completely financed by labor unions to push labor interests. All their board members are labor union chiefs. Kind of ironic given how the last mailer I got from them during the BOE election was decrying the “outsider special interests.” Doesn’t get more special interests than labor! And I hate this outsider vs. insider crap, but don’t attack your opponents for being “outsiders” when your own party/organization isn’t even based in this STATE and 0% of your board members live in Bridgeport! As good old Joe Biden said last night, “this is a bunch of malarky!”

    1. BridgeportBooster,
      I am a parent of Bridgeport school children. I have been a very active parent in the schools for all six of my children. Five of my children are finished with their Bridgeport Public School education. Please know they were not screwed over in these horrible schools. As a matter of fact two are employed college grads. One is gainfully employed in his field without college. And two are currently in college. Not too bad for horrible schools.
      And by the way, I will be voting NO!

      1. Booster, I believe there were 20 parents at the rally in favor of an appointed board. So those 20 parents represent the parents of the 20,000 students who attend B’port schools.
        Only a Finch hack would know what is in the charter details because it is all BS written by the attorneys as an excuse for not putting one simple question on the ballot.
        Do you support eliminating the elected board of education?
        But we all know Finch did not have the balls to put that question on the ballot.

        1. Grin Reaper: I doubt today’s NO rally will top that number of parents with kids currently in the system. And at least that rally had parents speaking out. Max Medina is the chair of this group and likely the main speaker today. How many kids does he have in the public schools today? Zero.

          “Only a Finch hack would know what’s in the charter”? Boy, you sure do love contradicting yourself. Didn’t you just post above “Finch … thinks the average B’port voter is too stupid to do the right thing.” You mean too stupid to actually READ the charter revisions??? You’re the one who’s patronizing the electorate. They’re stupid if they read the charter and they’re stupid if they don’t.

          I will vote yes on the question. And you know why? Because I’m tired of Bridgeport schools always being at the bottom of the barrel. We finally have a superintendent making major CHANGES and the only reason we have Vallas in the first place is thanks to an APPOINTED school board.

          And I’ll tell you another thing that convinced me: the participation of the Working Families Party in this question. After their doorknockers came to my house and flat out LIED to me about what the question is about and I did my research on them, I was thoroughly disgusted. Don’t tell me you’re fighting for Bridgeport voters and children when you’re using voter suppression tactics and your entire organization was built just to to protect union jobs! They’re a bunch of hypocrites.

          And they’re bankrolling the entire NO operation because they know if the question passes they’re outta here! They don’t care about the “rights of Bridgeport voters,” they care about their own political power and their ability to influence BOE decisions so they are always pro-labor. Puh-leeze!

          1. BridgeportBooster:
            Your colors are showing today.
            You don’t like unions–specifically teacher unions.
            You are not in favor of any alternative to the one-party DTC government we live with currently, even if its members have been democratically elected and represent a part of the community beliefs.
            You are willing to entrust over $300 Million of annual spending to a Mayor who is not fully accountable to the taxpayers for his current control (because of weak checks and balances) for over $250 Million annually and directly.
            You have no respect for the deep embrace this community will honor upon reflection for the right to vote (rather than to hold a Mayor who is currently flunking current appointment status for 80% of the 135 appointments he enjoys in the City today.)
            Having a child in the system today is not the only or most important criteria for listening to your neighbor with a vote. I have no children in this system, but I have enjoyed mentoring more than one Bridgeport student and understand the frustration of teachers, parent, administrators, Board members and citizen taxpayers at times when crises erupt and everyone starts firing at everyone else. Where was the Mayor with the bully pulpit in his first term? He was in Hartford, with Democratic party operatives, making plans to subvert the voters and residents of this City. And he is still trying.

            Max Medina was present and was a person of few words. He has a right. He has had family in the schools and he devoted some 15 years towards the BOE. Many people are proud of the way Bridgeport used to work and are hopeful for the way it can yet work, if anti-civil rights Democrats will be turned down on this terrible effort.
            The schools will open. The teachers and students will show up. Most class sizes are reasonable. Most students have books and learning tools. The system is not perfect but is responding to the initiatives of the Vallas team to put the system on track with the available resources. That should not end when the NO vote wins. Time will tell.

      2. barney: Congrats, your kids are some of the lucky few who leave this system and make it to college. Bridgeport has I believe a 50% graduation rate. According to www only 4% of high schoolers in Bridgeport are on grade level!!! Please, don’t tell me these schools are not awful. Because you’re dead wrong.

        1. John: Everyone is entitled to their beliefs. HOWEVER, parents of current students are directly impacted by the failure of the elected board. So therefore they have more at stake in the game (their babies) and their opinions matter more in my book.

          Also, I think teachers unions are important, but when they adopt policies that harm students and prevent progress and change and then claim they care about kids, I find that a bit hypocritical. Just like I find the WFP hypocritical. Same reasons. Unions are designed to protect the interests of their members. There is nothing wrong with that EXCEPT the times when those interests are contrary to the interests of students.

    2. Based on the BOE directory, all three WFP members live in Bridgeport, and two of them currently have a child in the system. I would think if they lived outside of Bridgeport they would have to get their heads checked for not sending their children to their town’s schools.

  3. So let’s get this right. Bill Finch should be in charge of Bridgeport’s schools because he will take “adult politics out of education?”

    There is a reason for the phrase democracy is messy and cumbersome, but the alternative is even worse.

  4. You know from previous posts I will be voting NO on the Charter question. I am a resident, a taxpayer, and attend City meetings, listen to discussion and read background minutes, reports, etc.
    Seventy proposed changes to our Charter missed the most critical City need, to create a meaningful financial check and balance in the City governance structure, instead consolidating ACCOUNTABILITY on the Mayor for all expenditures and program results in the City. But our Mayor is not accountable for basic Charter tasks today. The Charter Review group heard no one show evidence the current Mayor is accountable in his current five years as executive. I and others questioned his ability to be ACCOUNTABLE to the people of the City.
    Local Eyes and BridgeportBooster, you are welcome to your opinions too. But please tell readers of OIB where this Mayor shows his ACCOUNTABILITY as regards fiscal matters (annual budgets being balanced or not); as regards keeping current the terms of the 135 people on City Boards and Commissions (rather than 80% of positions being vacant or filled by an expired appointment); and providing data necessary to intelligent exercise of legislative power by the City Council well in advance of decision making. That would be helpful to interested citizens as well. Come to meetings and see what Council members have to deal with in evaluating initiatives. Time will tell.

    1. Dear flub,
      Go to the City web site first. Look on the overhead tool bar for City Clerk and CLICK. Look on left for Final Report of Charter Revision Commission July 23, 2012. The first ten pages of this document provide reasonably simply the 70 Charter reforms (from a word or two to new sections) and the numerous errata (errors) that have been corrected. Not particularly devious but hidden from most who will not go to become informed. Hope you will do so. Time will tell.

      1. I read the Conn Post insert where the revisions were printed but I didn’t see anything in there that merited this kind of attention as the changes to the BOE. John, do you have a different take?

        1. BB,
          I am headed out to lunch. Happy to provide my take per your question, but why don’t you let me know what you think of Mayor Finch’s ACCOUNTABILITY to the Charter, to those who vote and to the taxpayer? I can’t seem to find anyone who finds the current Mayor accountable for much, and yet he is asking to be accountable for yet more. What’s your thought? Time will tell.

          1. I think Finch wants to seek higher office and is politically motivated to not screw this up. He wants to run a future campaign on how he saved the schools in Bridgeport. It makes political sense for him do the right thing. No better accountability for politicians than their own self-interest. The Democrats get this too. Why else would they have nominated the three from the state-appointed BOE over the typical DTC hacks they usually nominate for the BOE?

  5. This entire process is all about who will gain control over the highly lucrative BOE contracts for goods and services. It represents a super significant portion of the entire BOE budget. Do we really want to put that much power in the hands of Finch’s handlers? Of course not.

  6. Even the title of Lennie’s topic here is misleading. The fight is between the people’s right to vote and elect BOE members and the mayor’s desire to appoint BOE members. By now OIB readers must have noticed Local Eyes is back and is obviously unable to see through this dark, smoke-filled room. Even if we brighten things up for him and air out the room, he will still have difficulty seeing. Local Eyes has recently gone through a painful and traumatic experience and lost one eye. I organized a search group to find his lost eye and just yesterday received confirmation we recovered the eye. Unfortunately, doctors cannot reattach the eye. Here’s the video:

  7. *** Recieved a phone call tonight from the vote “yes” campaign people and their pitch was a “yes” vote would solve all the Bpt education problems! After, they asked if we would like A/B applications sent in the mail or a ride to the polls. Nothing in their vote “yes” pitch talked about “elected or appointed” BOE. The vote “no” to preserve your voting rights coalition had better get in gear and get ready to spend some benjamin$ real soon if they want to get their message out to the voting public! *** OIZombieland ***

    1. I received the same call, Mojo. The caller had a strong Oriental accent. She asked me to vote yes on question 1 but could not tell what was the question nor the intent or purpose of the question. It got worse a second after I hung up and noticed this piece in my mail. From Residents for a Better Bridgeport and I quote:

      “I’m voting yes on one because our city and our schools are making progress–and they should keep making progress.”
      –George Estrada, Vice President, University of Bridgeport

      On the other side:
      “All children deserve a chance to get ahead. Voting yes on 1 means better schools, More opportunities for kids, and more rights for parents.”
      –George Estrada, Vice President, University of Bridgeport

      I have a few question for George Estrada and the university of Bridgeport. Is George Estrada the Vice President of the University of Bridgeport?
      Does the University of Bridgeport support a yes vote on question one (1)?
      Mr. Estrada, if “voting yes on 1” means better schools, more opportunities for kids and more right for parents, why would you vote yes to take away the voting right and opportunity for a parent to run for board of Education if he or she wanted to do so?
      This mailing piece in my hand will end up in the hands of the University of Bridgeport Board of directors. Keep in mind this board is not appointed by City of Bridgeport pols.

  8. Here is the bottom line. If you vote YES your school could be as good as Hartford or New Haven!
    Is that what you think Bridgeport should be striving for??? As good as Hartford? As good as New Haven?
    And why is it the very best school districts like Westport, Greenwich, Ridgefield, Madison, etc. all have elected Board of Eds? Because it’s about the money!!!
    Vote NO. Vote elected over selected any day of the week.

  9. Update:
    George Estrada is indeed the Vice President of a division at the University of Bridgeport. I did a directory search on the UB website and this is what I got:
    Estrada George
    VP Facilities Maintenance
    Main Campus Wahlstrom Library 752

    Yes, VP Facilities Maintenance. I asked my wife to read the residents for a better Bridgeport piece I received. I asked her to tell me who is making the statement she just read and she responded George Estrada el Vice Presidente de la Universidad de Bridgeport. She then added she didn’t know the Vice President of the University of Bridgeport was hispanic. I then showed her what the UB directory spelled out as to what role George Estrada plays at UB.
    George Estrada, UB lying!

  10. I used to have a lot of respect for what he stood for. I mistakenly thought he was a man of principle.
    George Estrada turned out to be a political whore who will say and vote as he is directed to by the administration.
    Here is a quote from Estrada: “I’m voting yes on one because our city and our schools are making progress–and they should keep making progress.”
    How the hell does he know this? This statement is right from the administration. Estrada is full of it.
    Here is another quote from Estrada: “All children deserve a chance to get ahead. Voting yes on 1 means better schools, More opportunities for kids, and more rights for parents.”
    Estrada knows this how? Another manufactured statement by the administration. What job is Estrada looking for now? Is he tired of being a high priced maintenance boss?
    Hey George, grow a pair of balls for once in your life.


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