The School Board Blackboard Lesson–Video Pushes Yes Vote On Charter Question

Residents for a Better Bridgeport, an advocacy group powering the voter outreach in support of a yes vote to the Nov. 6 ballot question, has produced a video in its quest for a mayoral-appointed Board of Education. The video, a mini documentary, features Mayor Bill Finch and Charles Tisdale, executive director of the anti-poverty agency Action For Bridgeport Community Development, as well as school teachers and students. The video draws a contrast on the failed policies of the elected Board of Education with improvements made under an appointed body during the state takeover of schools before intervention by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Finch political operatives formed Residents For A Better Bridgeport, financed largely by city business interests in support of a mayoral-appointed school board. Lillian Wade, political activist and president of the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, is the treasurer.

A website  features the direct-mail pieces hitting boxes including residents highlighting education improvements made the past year.

Finch is putting his prestige on the line pushing a yes vote on the ballot question.

Opponents to the question include the Bridgeport Education Association, Connecticut’s Working Families Party with three of its members on the Board of Education, the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Bridgeport Republican Party leadership, as well as an assortment of political activists and elected officials.

The big question: do opponents have the financial firepower of Residents for a Better Bridgeport? How do opponents make their case for a no vote without dough?



  1. The video draws a contrast on the failed policies of the Finch Administration for flat-funding the BoE for the last four years.
    So if we had a 50% dropout rate what happened to the money? Where did the State funds go after these kids dropped out? That’s Millions of dropout dollars Finch can’t account for.


    1. You want to INCREASE taxpayer funding to a system with those kinds of horrific results??? Liberalism at its worst. Keep pouring money into a broken system and expect it to work better. Keep dreamin’!! Wanna know why the school budget increased this year for the first time in many years? Because we had an appointed BOE and Superintendent who is REFORMING a broken system and instilling confidence in the city, state and philanthropists so that they want to invest in the schools. Common sense!!


      1. Grants don’t last forever. This is a crock. Finch just wants to funnel our tax dollars to building contractors and for-profit education corporations. The same people who were the majority on the original Board are the same type of people Finch will appoint to another appointed Board except this time there will be no minority Board to ask questions and it will be composed entirely of political hacks with no interest in anything other than ripping off the taxpayers of this city.

        1. Let me get this straight BlackRockGuy, you want more funding for the schools but you don’t want it to come from the city, state or philanthropists because “grants don’t last forever?” What do you want, then? What is your solution? SMH!

  2. This is another Finch lie pure and simple. The new high schools were on the drawing board long before this latest controversy. This sanctimonious bastard flatlined the BOE budget for five years and now he is crowing about fixing a $12 million deficit in the BOE budget. Bill, did you give the BOE the $3 Million you received from the state for the BOE? The appointed board did absolutely nothing on their own.
    Bill, let’s look at the other boards you have appointed people to. Police Board has done nothing but rubber stamp the chief’s wishes while crime goes up. Zoning board and ZBA have had to cancel meetings due to lack of a quorum. How’s the ethics commission doing?
    Bill, you have no clue as to what you are doing.

  3. Cute video rendition with primary school music. The Mayor uses the children and their signage to indicate the desperate metrics in the current system. (But he says nothing about future metrics to be used by a Mayor-appointed BOE and on which parents, taxpayers and ultimately voters will hold him accountable. Why not?) And the Mayor talks about evaluations, never informing the public that 137 members of Boards and Commissions are not evaluated by the Mayor currently (and there are City employees who have requested evaluations but never received them) and he has allowed more than 80% of those positions to devolve into vacant positions or sit in an expired category that allows him to exercise puppetlike control of his agenda in the future with no explanation to the public.

    The financial gap has been variously described but the Bridgeport Public schools site has described the 2011-12 gap as $7,540,927 with another reimbursable shortfall of $3,200,000 for a total of $10,740,927 (not $12, 15 or 19 Million as has sometimes been mentioned). The City pledged $2,014,274 to the cause, the State provided a “forgivable loan” of $3,500,000 and with six months to go a “hiring/spending freeze” was imposed that records $5,226,653 of savings. (The sale of 948 Main Street is credited to the City in the amount of $750,000 and crossing guards for $788,000. How these and other items have working out already will have to be confirmed by others.)

    But all the news about NEW SCHOOL BUILDINGS and SENIORS getting college opportunities, technology, increased high school number, etc. are not the result of eight months of activity as suggested. As a matter of fact, the signs on the walls are very similar to ones that have hung on the walls of Bridgeport public schools for years. All that is needed is a Board of Education that is accountable to the people through meetings with public opportunities to speak, for instance and respectful communication and discussion with all members of the community. After the change to appointed Boards of Education, New Haven and Hartford students demonstrate the same problems, issues and concerns that bother us in Bridgeport. There is no silver bullet. The Mayor is not the Lone Ranger and Adam Wood, while often silent in public, is not Tonto, who had no hand-held communicator.

    A NO vote is appropriate at this time. The public is being cajoled into feeling good about YES so the Mayor can be accountable for “EVERYTHING” in the community one time every four years. As a current student from Central Magnet HS said this week: “Save my vote for BOE for when I turn 18 two years from now. I get four report cards each year where I must be accountable to myself, my family and my future. The Mayor only gets one report card every four years on election day. That is not accountability.” That is another student heard from who has attended BOE meetings regularly during the past 12 months. NO (because of accountability lacking) or YES (because???) … Time will tell.

  4. *** What credentials would the BOE have to evaluate any Bpt school teacher? Also, in one year of having Vallas as Supt. have the overall schools improved that much? Just how many new schools proposed to be built were already on the School Building Committee’s list before Finch became Mayor? How many out of towners, businesses and non profits stand to gain and what from an appointed BOE? Who’s paying for all the vote “yes” political propaganda and advertisements for a tight money-strapped city and why? Kids will say and hold up any signs just to be on a video, no? It’s a wonder there were so many “failed policies” coming and getting passed by a 6 to 3 school administration “favored” elected BOE for such a long time! Who exactly is Lillian Wade and what’s her claim to fame concerning Bpt’s public schools? Could positive personal teacher evaluations mean more benjamin$-type bonuses for incentive? Does it take all this political chess matching just to get teachers to do their jobs and get parents more involved in a safe environment for all and overseeing the 5 Ws concerning how the school budget money is spent? Seems like all the same problems with all the same solutions talked about for years to me, “elected or appointed!” *** FORGETABOUTIT ***

  5. *** If an appointed BOE is achieved and the Mayor can be held accountable for educational failures, why wasn’t a Mayoral recall part of the Charter Revision changes? *** TALK IS CHEAP! ***

      1. Run a slate of candidates in ALL districts next year, possibly a combination of WF Party, petition candidates and registered write-in candidates in districts without enough petition signatures. Even if the Mayor wins this, let this be a shot across the bow.

  6. Wow! What a slick little piece of propaganda!
    The kids are adorable, and no doubt sincere–I’m sure those kids are getting excellent treatment during the course of their school days.

    But a random sample/cross-section of kids from all of the schools would, no doubt, produce different perspectives/testimonies on the effects of all of the miraculous, overnight transformations accomplished by Herr Vallas and his Chicago storm troopers. Indeed, I’ve heard of a terrible dearth of needed textbooks at newly remodeled Wilbur Cross school.

    And how are the academically/socially needy kids doing in front of their computer screens in the new Twilight Zone alternative school program? That’s what today’s adolescents need; less adult contact time and more exposure to insensate machines.

    And was the Peer-to-Peer drug prevention program reinstated as promised by Herr Vallas?

    It was interesting hearing Charlie Tisdale’s take on the new mission of the schools–since his organization, ABCD, is a prime contractor for city alternative-education dollars. This is not to downplay the wonderful work of Charlie and the great organization he has built, but for any given non-profit, money talks.

    Yes indeed, I’m sure a majority appointed board of wealthy out of towners came up with just the fix for the 20,000 poor kids of poverty striken Bridgeport–all for between $12-$19 million, partially accounted-for dollars. And they did all that without any fuss, muss, or argument–the way all “miracles” are accomplished.

    Well, one thing we’re obviously not teaching in the Bridgeport public school system is critical thinking.

    Indeed, critical thinking has been banned in the Bridgeport public school system–from the BOE on down. Isn’t it more efficient to just get along than go through a lot of messy analysis and argument? What good ever comes from analysis and argument anyway? And being analytical and questioning–what a terrible thing to expose to growing young minds. Yes indeed, a lock-step, rubberstamp, Mayorally appointed school board certainly is just what the Führer and Herr Vallas ordered for the colony of compliance the education-industrial complex needs to fulfill its profit-making mission in Bridgeport.

    Why just think; the Bridgeport public school system–if the sheep of Bridgeport vote YES on November 6–might even become as great as the school systems of Hartford, New Haven, Chicago, New Orleans or even Philadelphia. Why, it can make a citizen almost giddy!

    If these great education reformers were as intent on obtaining economic justice for Bridgeport families as they are on experimenting on and exploiting our kids and taxpayers, there could actually be a real chance of turning our schools around. But then, this is not a scenario they can exploit politically and financially, so it will never happen under our present local, state and federal leadership–which has bought into (figuratively and literally) the scheming designs of these “private sector” education “reformers.”

    Just vote NO to Charter Change! Surely all thinking people can see the alternative is just too scary.

  7. The proposed charter changes if approved will apply to all future administrations. This isn’t just about the current mayor. This is also about the future. I was and am for a blended board with four elected members and five appointed members with six constituting a quorum to conduct business. Instead we are faced with all or nothing. I disagree with the proposed structure that eliminates all elected positions. I also disagree with the financial accountability reforms in the proposed language. Bridgeport needs a finance board with smart qualified professionals pouring over that budget pensions and monthly reports all year ’round. I also disagree with the so-called economic development streamlining. It does not fix the vague process and accountability for growing the tax base and creating jobs. Developers and residents need a city that works to grow the tax base. No matter how smart the OPED director is, the system mandated in the charter works against predictable decision-making on new developments. I am voting no.

  8. Nancy Hadley, I would like a total elected BOE but I could go with a blend with 5 elected members and 4 appointed members with the balance given to the voters’ elected members.

  9. We DO NEED a charter revision that will include a provision for removing the Mayor (needs state approval) and also some sort of at-large Council members in a way that will insure some sort of minority party representation on the City Council.

  10. Who is this group??? And who are these kids??? The students in the Bridgeport public schools wear uniforms–didn’t see any. Recognized one first-year teacher and two students who are the BOE Board President’s children. Hmmm.
    And yes, all the new buildings have been part of the master plan for a long time–the only really new school will be the new Harding on the GE property–but that’s not opening next year! There will NOT be eight new high schools–that’s a big-time LIE.

    Vote NO!

  11. Nancy, agreed. All-or-nothing yes/no vote is unfortunate. There could have been a compromise option. Maybe it would have been useful to have that phone survey some time ago instead of just prior to the vote, to get an idea of what people think of it.

    I am hearing most people will vote “no.” However, the people saying they will vote “yes” say they want a high skill set on the board to resolve pressing issues, despite the loss of voting right.

  12. Antitestoo, yes, all of the votes would count. As I said, I would like a total elected BOE. My point was if there was a blend, although that is NOT the question on the ballot, the majority would be elected. It still will not matter either way because the mayor will ALWAYS have the controlling votes.

  13. I haven’t seen a SAMPLE BALLOT yet for the upcoming election. It’s my guess Lennie will show this when he has such.
    Regardless of the fact we in Bridgeport CT are voting for a President/V.President team, US Senator, Congressperson and State of CT Senator and Representative candidates, it is the CHARTER question that looms largest in my mind for the future of Bridgeport governance and the citizen/taxpayer/voters.

    The schools have an elected Board that for all intents and purposes has stepped into the shoes and role of a functioning Board that was State appointed, with non-local members as well, but active and interested in the results for children. The role of the current Board among other things is to set goals that are meaningful and can be understood by the public and then monitor and communicate them. MAYOR FINCH DOES NOT DO ACCOUNTABILITY IN THIS MANNER. IF HE DID HE WOULD HAVE TOLD US ABOUT:
    City of Bridgeport annual budgets that look like surpluses but are actually deficits;
    His APPOINTMENT POWER over Boards and Commissions he has enjoyed for five years, yet 80% of the posts are either VACANT or filled with a former appointment serving an expired term and some have been expired for seven years or more;
    Regarding APPOINTMENT POWER the Mayor has no standard objective performance evaluation mechanism today for the current appointments–How will he be accountable in the future for nine more appointments?
    This campaign is being waged with less than half the truth from the City we normally expect. Look at some of the people around some of the organizations and you will discover those who are embarrassed, did not make policy for their group, and/or who seem to be distancing themselves from the tactics used. The 2012 Charter question needs to be addressed by those who feel themselves without power as the major vote they have to retain what has been so dearly won by past heroes. People should not ignore this vote for want of understanding. Help your neighbor to see through the Mayor’s barrage of postcards, visuals and smiling entreaties. Vote NO with good reason on the 2012 Charter change. Keep an eye on the BOE going forward and look for their performance goals and a scoreboard for posting them regularly. The turmoil of the past couple years may be just what we needed in City education to move us to a more positive trend for youth. But voters need to observe and be informed. Time will tell.

  14. Another “Slick Willie” production! I wonder how much Finch’s Mandel’s Messiah and Megan Looney coughed up to produce this piece and pay off Charlie T? It’s easy for Charlie to talk about education considering his daughter went to private school. Miss Jettie must be rolling over in her grave on this one. OF course Charlie never met an election or a door he couldn’t steal.

  15. I take it Charlie Tisdale is in favor of and approves of the concept of Bridgeport voters giving up their right to vote and choose their representatives. An African American who came the closest to being the first Black mayor of Bridgeport. A voting machine went missing and he claims he was robbed of the election by the late mayor John C. Mandanici and the Bridgeport Democratic machine from back in the day. There will be no need to steal voting machines anymore in order to win an election after our voting rights are stolen. Lennie, could you write a piece about what took place during the Tisdale and Mandanici primary please?
    If an appointed BOE member can get away with voting for daycare funding for a daycare center administered by his church or organization, what can Tisdale expect for ABCD?

    1. Mandy and Tizzy hurled bombs at each other over the course of a couple of elections, Tizzy accusing Mandy of running the most corrupt administration in city history. And then Tizzy turns around and delivers Mandy’s eulogy. OIB!

  16. Teenagers, blacks and Hispanics, where is the “Change?”

    Among the major worker groups the unemployment rates for adult men (7.3 percent), adult women (7.0 percent) and whites (7.0 percent) declined over the month. The unemployment rates for teenagers (23.7 percent), blacks (13.4 percent), and Hispanics (9.9 percent) were little changed. The jobless rate for Asians, at 4.8 percent (not seasonally adjusted), fell over the year.

  17. Here is a blended BOE I can live with.
    9 members elected but the Mayor is the ex-officio President of the BOE.
    He wants culpability, make him the head.
    He wants deniablity, then don’t show up at meetings.
    Plain and simple.

  18. EDUCATION GOVERNANCE REFORM!!! November 6, 2012

    “Sounds like something good, must be good, it’s for the kids. They sent me lots of glossy post cards. Maybe they are finally taking care of business.”

    How would you submit the new Charter and the Charter acceptance question to the public?

    Is that how a Bridgeport registered voter may approach the ballot question? Now I am assuming they do not read OIB, are not employed by the City or were part of the Charter Review process, and certain other locations where people have read the Charter and reflected on what is really going on.

    Often, people will avoid a question totally. Just ignore it. If the Civil Rights aspect of this is played up that may get NO filled in where before the question was avoided. The question of mayoral accountability in this City will be tested as well. Time will tell.


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